Minister of Economics Naftali Bennett, the head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, paid a condolence call Sunday to the family of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Rabbi Yosef, a renowned Torah scholar, was the spiritual head of the Shas party. Shas and Bayit Yehudi have been at odds on several occasions in recent months.
Bennett told Rabbi Yosef’s sons that their father’s illness and death had united the entire Jewish nation. “Last week when I was in Jewish communities abroad, the Jews were praying for Rabbi Yosef. His passing united the entire Jewish people,” he recalled.
“I joined public life to bring about increased recognition of Jewish tradition, to strengthen our Jewish identity,” he continued. “I know that [lack of identity] is what pained the rabbi… Our joint mission is to restore the Jewish soul to the nation of Israel, and I am at your service regarding this mission.”
“The rabbi’s light will accompany us for generations to come,” he declared.
Rabbi Yosef’s sons told Bennett that the rabbi had wished to see him in the days before the Rosh Hashanah holiday, but had been unable to do so. He had wanted to tell Bennett to work toward helping guarantee a Jewish identity for Israeli Jewish children, and ensuring that Jewish children in Israel are familiar with the basics of Jewish tradition, they said.