Betzalel Smotrich:
'We respect Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef but don't need his approval'

Chief Rabbi had stated: "Main requirement of city rabbi is that he is expert in Jewish law, not an IDF officer or hesder yeshiva graduate."

Yehonatan Gottlieb ,

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Kobi Richter/TPS

MK Betzalel Smotrich (Yamina) responded today to Israel's Chief Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak's disrespectful comments regarding graduates of religious Zionist yeshivas.

Last week, Israel's chief rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef expressed support for a haredi rabbi in his bid to be elected as chief rabbi of a local municipality. "The main requirement of a chief rabbi is that he needs to be an expert in Jewish Law - not necessarily an officer in the IDF or a graduate of a religious Zionist yeshiva," Rabbi Yosef stated.

MK Betzalel Smotrich (Yamina) responded to the Chief Rabbi's words by tweeting: "The national religious Torah camp, in all its forms and varieties, produces scholars who are not in any way inferior and in many cases surpass their counterparts in the haredi world in their understanding and study of all Torah-related subjects, in addition to their connection to the State of Israel, sanctification of God's Name, and seeing God's Hand in the Jewish People's return to their historic homeland."

"Our rabbis have a deep connection to the Land of Israel, and excel in interpersonal relations rather than reprimanding them like the [rabbis of the Diaspora]," he added.

"We have great respect for the haredi Torah world," he continued, "and we recognize Rabbi Yosef's lofty character traits, and for that reason, we regret very much the disrespect he has shown toward our scholars.

"We will continue to respect Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, but we're really not dependent on his approval," continued Smotrich. "We pray that he merits to repent completely for disgracing the Torah and reaches the level of [religious Zionist rabbinic leaders], whose ways are those of peace and harmony."

His fellow Yamina MK Matan Kahana also responded to the Chief Rabbi's words, saying: "I was very sorry to hear what the Rishon Lezion, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, had to say. Religious Zionist yeshivas have shown their ability to foster great Torah scholars, among them chief rabbis of Israeli municipalities and heads of religious courts, while serving in the regular army and reserves."