In his first comments on the latest controversial comments regarding his candidacy for the position of Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, Rabbi David Stav thanked supporters for their help, and expressed regret at the “divisive atmosphere” that has marred the campaign for the position.
“I want to personally thank my supporters for the thousands of e-mail messages, text messages, and phone calls. I received a great deal of support from other rabbis, public officials, and others over the attacks I have experienced. I do not take this support as understood in and of itself, and I thank everyone for their support from the bottom of my heart.”
Rabbi Stav said that his “heart was broken over the divisiveness that has arisen over the elections for the Chief Rabbinate. When I started out on this path I my vision was not fixed upon my own needs, but upon the path of Torah and the mission to restore the path of the great Rav Kook to the Chief Rabbinate. These have been difficult days for myself and my family, and I thank everyone for their support.”
In the past several weeks, Rabbi Stav has been under attack from hareidi religious elements, who claim his approach to Jewish law as the head of the Tzohar organization is too liberal. Rabbi Stav's comments were prompted by a harsh attack against him by former Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. On Saturday night, Rabbi Yosef told a large crowd that choosing Rabbi Stav as Chief Rabbi would be “like putting an idol in the sanctuary of the Temple.” Several prominent rabbis, he said, “testified before me that [Rabbi Stav] is dangerous to Judaism, is dangerous to the Rabbinate. Should I keep silent?” he asked.