Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Rabbi Ovadia YosefIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Religious-Zionist leaders slammed Shas on Sunday after Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual head of the Shas movement whose rulings on halakha (Jewish law) are widely respected, unleashed harsh invective against Rabbi David Stav, one of the candidates for the past of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi.

Choosing Rabbi Stav would be “like putting an idol in the sanctuary of the Temple,” Rabbi Yosef declared Saturday night, during his weekly Torah class.

“Anyone who appoints a religious judge who is not worthy is like someone who brings an idolatrous offering upon the alter of the Temple. Putting an idol in the Temple – a person who isn’t worthy… He has no fear of Heaven,” Rabbi Yosef said.

“They say he was tested, what is that worth? Doeg the Admoni was a great scholar in the time of King Saul, and our rabbis say he had no part in the world to come,” he added.

“They testified before me that [Rabbi Stav] is dangerous to Judaism, is dangerous to the Rabbinate. Should I keep silent?” he asked.

Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein runs the Tzohar rabbinic group along with Rabbi Stav. He said he respects Rabbi Yosef – but that the venerable religious leader has been misled by those close to him.

“What the rabbi said pains me. I respect Rabbi Yosef and his rulings are important,” Rabbi Feuerstein told Reshet Bet. However, he continued, “A Byzantine court controls his words; after all, Rabbi Yosef has never met Rabbi Stav.”

“A group of uncultured ‘businessmen’ surrounds Rabbi Yosef,” he added.

However, he said, there is some good in Rabbi Yosef’s harsh criticism. “The cat is out of the bag. The criticism of Rabbi Stav makes the conflict clearer to the Israeli public.”