Chief Rabbis Join PM for Torah Study Session
Yesterday evening, the day before the start of the festival of Sukkot, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara took part last night in a unique chavruta or Torah study session with Israel's two new Chief Rabbis.
Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and his Ashkenazi counterpart Rabbi David Lau took part in the fourth "Renewed Tanakh Cycle" at the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem.
"Tanakh" is the Hebrew acronym for the books of the Written Law (the Five Books of the Torah, The Prophets and The Writings). The tradition of Israeli Prime Ministers studying the Tanakh was begun by Israel's first PM David Ben Gurion, and continued by its sixth PM Menachem Begin.
Netanyahu re-started the tradition in May 2012, dedicated the new cycle to the memory of his wife's father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who passed away last November.
Ben-Artzi was himself a famous researcher and Tanakh expert.
At the start of the session, held in conjunction with Jerusalem's Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Netanyahu described his feeling of "privilege" to be studying the holy book.
"Moses our Teacher could not enter the Promised Land and we are here in his merit and in the merit of the struggle of our people to be here, the inheritance of our ancestors, and we welcome every moment," he said.
"It is a very great privilege to read this great book and know that we are realizing what the Almighty commanded our people. The fact that this is our inheritance and we are here, reading these words today, and knowing that we will remain here forever – thus we are fulfilling the precept."
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to Rabbi Yoseph's father and spiritual leader of the Shas Party, Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph:
"At this time I would like to send my best wishes for a quick recovery to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, via his son, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, and I am certain that I speak for us all."