Tzfat Chief Rabbi Calls to Vote for Yachad

In rare move Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu writes to his students, explaining why he moved from Jewish Home to Yachad and urging them to do likewise.

Ari Yashar,

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Flash 90

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzfat (Safed) and a leading religious Zionist figure, has written a letter to his students expressing his support of Eli Yishai's Yachad - Ha'am Itanu joint list with Otzma Yehudit, after switching his support from Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home.

Walla! revealed the letter, claiming that it constitutes an infringement on guidelines forbidding political involvement for municipal rabbis.

Rabbi Eliyahu, who previously was a candidate for Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, explained he had shifted in his support because "Yachad breaks down the barriers between the Zionist public and the haredi public. The connection that Yachad makes strengthens the healthy forces of the haredi public and can develop in true positive directions."

Speaking about the party he formerly supported, he noted "I really love Naftali Bennett. In the last elections I voted for him and worked for him. It's very important that he succeeds in the coming elections for the people of Israel and for the land of Israel. It's also very important that Binyamin Netanyahu be prime minister. Despite that I have several arguments with them, they represent me with honor."

"For them I vote Yachad, and also for them I call to vote Yachad," said Rabbi Eliyahu, urging support for the party to round-out a right-wing coalition.

"What will we do if Yachad is fifty votes short in the final count?" posed the rabbi. "We all know that in the last days (before elections) there's a wandering of votes, a situation could be formed whereby due to 50 votes over 120,000 votes will be lost. If that happens - Netanyahu won't be prime minister and Naftali Bennett won't be a minister. For them I vote Yachad."

Rabbi Eliyahu also had some criticism for Jewish Home, describing the "trend of compromise in Jewish Home."

"We all were surprised when we saw Jewish Home bring female singers who sang the Jewish Home anthem," he said; many religious Jews follow the ruling forbidding listening to female singers as an issue of modesty.

The rabbi said that "for their benefit we need to signal to them that this isn't the right direction. We love Jewish Home. But it must understand that this direction must be stopped. We need to strengthen the Torah side of Yachad. Maybe that will reset the decision makers in Jewish Home."

Rabbi Eliyahu also criticized Shas, saying "all the Sephardic rabbis were Zionist in matters of the land of Israel and haredim in matters of mitzvot (Torah commandments). They love the land of Israel and settlement. They love IDF soldiers. They love every Jew and are precise in the mitzvot."

"The thronging of the Sephardic public to Shas comes on the background of the (religious) compromise that was once in Mafdal (the religious Zionist party)," he said. "(Shas chairman Aryeh) Deri used that to pull the Sephardic community in the direction of Oslo. We need to help Yachad beat Deri and Shas."

The rabbi also criticized leftist groups for acting covertly to support foreign policies and encourage Arab citizens to vote en masse and thereby threaten the Jewish nature of the state.

He noted "those who know the Arab ballot boxes known that they forge in huge quantities without any pangs of conscience. ...We must do all we can to shake things up - to vote and to bring others. To hang signs. To act with all our force for G-d, for the state of Israel, for settlement, for the Jewish state."