R. Riskin 'Shocked' by Smotrich's Snipe at R. Stav

MK Bezalel Smotrich trades barbs with Rabbis Stav, Riskin, tells them 'not to preach' to Jewish Home over repealing of Conversion Law.

Gil Ronen ,

Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel Smotrich
Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

There has been mutual sniping between the more liberal Zionist rabbis and a more conservative Zionist MK, over the Conversion Law passed by the previous government, which allows municipal and neighborhood rabbis throughout the country to initiate and execute conversion processes. The latest round of political pugilistics sees Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat pitted against MK Bezalel Smotrich.

According to a report in Srugim, Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked met with MK Yaakov Asher from Shas and MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Tuesday, to discuss the haredi parties' demand to repeal the law, which has taken the absolute authority over conversions away from the Chief Rabbinate.

Rabbi David Stav, who heads the Tzohar Rabbis organization, said that he expects the Jewish Home to opt out of a government that repeals the law.

"The Jewish Home must not partake in a government that buries the Conversion Law,” Rabbi Stav said. “The redemption of Israel and bringing the children home is as important to the process of redemption as any community or yeshiva is. Conversion is a mitzva from the Torah, no less than the settlement of the Land of Israel, and I believe that the Jewish Home will insist on this matter.”

In response, MK Bezalel Smotrich, who belongs to the more conservative haredi-Zionist (“hardali”) stream, and to the Tekuma faction within Jewish Home, said on Galei Israel Radio that Rabbi Stav needs to “point his arrows” at Likud instead of the religious Zionist party. “The Jewish Home does not need Rabbi Stav's preaching about what the Nation of Israel is,” he said.

"I want to see Rabbi Stav getting up the courage to attack the Prime Minister and Likud,” he added. “After all, the people who are surrendering to the haredi demands, who want to repeal the government decision [regarding the Conversion Law], who currently demand that the Religions Ministry be taken out of our hands and be placed back under corrupt haredi control, like it was for many years, and to walk back the revolution that we started to advance in the last government's term, are Likud and the Prime Minister.”

Attacking the Jewish Home is easier than attacking Likud, Smotrich opined, but it is wrong.

In reaction to MK Smotrich, Rabbi Riskin said that he was “shocked” that “a Jew of the likes of Rabbi Stav is under attack.”

"The Jewish Home needs to be the home of all Jews, and not just haredim and hardalim, who do not take responsibility for klal yisrael [the entirety of the Nation of Israel – ed.] in the matter of the Conversion Law.”

Rabbi Riskin added that without the law, “in 20-30 years, Israeli society will split into two groups – 'Jews according to Halacha and Israelis who are not Halachically Jewish,” and “this situatiuon will destroy the ongoing realization of the prophecy of the ingathering of exiles, and the return of Russian Jewry to the Homeland.”