Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch 2015
Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch 2015Photo by Flash90

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, a leader of the staunchly anti-Zionist Eida Haredit movement, lambasted Jewish Home chief and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, calling on him to remove his kippa.

During his weekly talk with yeshiva students, the senior Eida Haredit rabbi blasted Bennett as “corrosive”, accusing him of undermining religion. The rabbi even made thinly-veiled comparison between the Jewish Home leader and a swine.

Sternbuch began his talk by referencing a Talmudic discussion on pork. While the pig has hoofed feet, one of the two requirements for kosher animals, it does not chew its cud, rendering it impure.

“Everybody knows that the pig is the ultimate symbol of forbidden food, and the Jewish people distanced itself so far from the pig that it has become synonymous with everything that is abominable and loathsome; the reason being that it sticks out its hoofs while laying down, as if to say ‘look at me, I’m pure’ [the split hoof being one of the two signs of a kosher animal], so it is much more dangerous than other forbidden [foods].”

Sternbuch went on to compare this attribute of the pig with what he claims are insincere displays of religiosity among some ostensibly observant Jews.

“We learn from this that the heretic who is open about his wickedness is not terribly dangerous, but the one who cloaks himself in [false] piety, as if he is haredi or zealously religious is far more dangerous. He is like the pig, which is worse than all other [forbidden animals] because while [on the inside] it’s impure, [on the outside] it also has the appearance of being permissible.”

Refusing to mention Bennett by name, Sternbuch calls on him to remove his kippa - which he derided for being relatively small in size - claiming it would reveal his true nature.

“That’s how it is also today. We’re suffering first and foremost from those who pretend to be religious and [claim] to work in the name of religion; how great it would be if that corrosive man who joined together with the government to undermine religion would take off that half kippa or third of a kippa on his head. It would definitely be a mitzvah and a great merit.”

The Jewish Home party Bennett leads is seen as being widely representative of the religious-Zionist public. The party - and Bennett in particular - have often been the target of attacks by some haredi leaders, particularly for efforts to encourage army enlistment and integration into the workforce among the haredi public.

Eida Haredit is the most extreme of the major haredi factions in Israel. Virulently anti-Zionist, it does not participate in national elections and shuns even Israel's haredi political parties.