Rabbi Yosef's Kids 'Cynically Used' to Defend Deri

Children of Shas spiritual head gather at grave to back Deri and decry 'desecration of honor,' after recording revealed him slamming Deri.

Uzi Baruch, Ari Yashar ,

בני המשפחה על קבר הרב יוסף
בני המשפחה על קבר הרב יוסף
צילום: קובי הר צבי - בחדרי חרדים

Several of the children of Shas spiritual founder Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z''tl visited their father's grave on Monday, as part of a campaign to support Shas head Aryeh Deri after damaging recordings were released the day before showing the rabbi criticizing Deri.

In the recordings, Rabbi Yosef is seen in private meetings condemning Deri for his corruption that had him jailed in 1999 and explaining he didn't want to reappoint him as head of Shas - and even going as far as to refer to him as "evil."

The rabbi's sons and daughters gathered at his grave in Jerusalem "to request forgiveness" for the "disgrace" to his honor. Rabbi Yosef's daughter, Rabbanit Adina Bar-Shalom, wept at the grave "father, what have they done to you."

Bar-Shalom's comment is somewhat surprising, giving that recordings released this month exposed that Bar-Shalom herself slammed Deri recently, saying "he is not behaving in the way my father expected him to." She reportedly has been threatened with consequences if she doesn't write a letter condemning former Shas chairperson Eli Yishai, who recently broke off to form Ha'am Itanu.

Yishai's rabbinical counsel, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, lost no time Sunday night denying that the publication of Rabbi Yosef's recordings was done according to his or Yishai's opinion, and stating that the person responsible for the publication remains unknown.

Nevertheless, the rabbi's son Rabbi David Yosef at the graveside Monday accused and attacked Yishai directly, saying "arrogance. Dismissed in disgrace, he doesn't spare any means to grab on to the horns of the altar."

The accusations against Yishai come after he responded to Deri's public abuse of him - which even has seen an extremist Shas member arrested for death threats against Yishai - by saying he possessed recordings of Rabbi Yosef which clearly showed his support for him over Deri, and implied he would be releasing them at some point if pressed to do so.

Video from the visit to Rabbi Yosef's grave can be seen here:

Ahead of the organized visit to Rabbi Yosef's grave, large announcements were posted in the streets of Jerusalem reading "the land will be shocked - woe to us over the insult to the Torah."

The announcement read "in these crazy days when the fire of disagreement rinses our heads and the honor of the Torah is trampled at the head of every street, we will all gather today for a prayer rally to request forgiveness and cry at the holy marker of Maran rabbi of Israel may his merit guard over us (Rabbi Yosef - ed.) at the cemetery in Sanhedriya."

"Our Father and King open the gates of Heaven to our prayers without politics, enough of the disagreement," read the signs.

On the other side of the fence, sources close to Yishai were outraged over the "cynical usage" of Rabbi Yosef's memory by enlisting his family to advance the campaign to negate the damage to Deri.