"It Doesn't Matter What Kind of Kippah a Jew Wears"

Shas spiritual leader's son rejects incitement from his father's party, calls for more to be done to help agunot

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David Lev,

Rabbi Yitzchak Yoseph
Rabbi Yitzchak Yoseph
Arutz Sheva

Rabbi Yitzchak Yoseph, who is seeking the position of Chief Rabbi, said in an interview with Channel Two Sunday that he was not running for the job based on his “family connections.” His father, former Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph, never groomed him or his brothers for the position.

“Over the years our father endorsed and assisted many rabbis for various positions, whether it was former Chief Rabbi Bakshi-Doron, Rabbi Meir Lau, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and others, both for national and local posts. But he never expected or even wanted us to run for these positions,” the younger Yosef said of his father. “He understood that people would just attribute it to his influence, that they are 'the sons of' as opposed to scholars in their own right.”

Rabbi Yoseph said that he was opposed to the recent comments by Sephardic hareidi rabbis against the national religious community. “It hurt me a great deal to hear these comments. It doesn't matter what kind of kippah a Jew wears, whether black, knitted, or other variations. The main thing is to endear the Torah to the Jewish people, and to bring unity to the Jewish people.”

There are many religious issues that are crying out for attention, he said. “The issue of men who refuse to give their wives a divorce is a major problem. My father was talking about this 40 years ago.”

According to Jewish law, a woman may not remarry unless her husband grants her a "get" or document of divorce. Women who are separated from their husbands but not divorced are called agunot.

“I don't understand how anyone can fail to react to the tears of women who are agunot, whose husbands refuse to give them a divorce. We believe in making things as easy as possible for the public,” Rabbi Yoseph said of his approach to Jewish law regarding agunot, and other areas.

When asked by reporters about his opinion on allowing public transportation on Shabbat, Rabbi Yoseph said that “we must ensure that Israel retains a Jewish identity. This is not a country like America or Russia, this is the Jewish state.”