Rabbi Yaakov Yosef
Rabbi Yaakov YosefFlash 90

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, former IDF Chief Rabbi, believes that the IDF was right not to allow Rabbi Yaakov Yosef to speak to soldiers. Rabbi Weiss spoke to Arutz Sheva regarding the army’s decision to disinvite Rabbi Yosef from a day of Torah study for soldiers in the Kfir Brigade.

Rabbi Yosef, son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is a popular speaker among soldiers. In recent years he faced police questioning over his approbation for the controversial book Torah of the King (Torat Hamelech), which contains, among other things, Jewish legal rulings calling on Jewish soldiers not to endanger their lives for the sake of enemy civilians.

IDF officials may be concerned over a more recent incident, in which Rabbi Yosef stated that IDF Torah scrolls may not be kosher.

“The IDF Chief Rabbi recently said that 80 percent of kitchens in the army aren’t kosher. Did anybody speak out? Did anybody tell our soldiers to be careful, because some kitchens aren’t kosher?... If when it comes to kashrut they stay quiet, how can you expect them to worry about Torah scrolls? They generally prefer to keep silent,” Rabbi Yosef said in a lecture last month.

Rabbi Weiss said, “I have nothing against someone who interprets the Torah differently than I do. But when someone sees the IDF as problematic, in that he doesn’t recognize IDF kashrut, he doesn’t think IDF Torah scrolls are kosher… he should go somewhere else.”

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef believes IDF Torah scrolls to be perfectly fine, Rabbi Weiss added.

IDF officials have denied banning Rabbi Yaakov Yosef over his recent statements. “Two months ago there was a request to have a day of Torah learning, and among the lecturers’ names was that of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef.  After looking into the request something more relevant to the topic at hand was found, and so his participation was not authorized,” spokespeople said.

Rabbi Weiss cast doubt on the official explanation. He said it was likely that officials had deliberately chosen not to invite those who cast doubt on the IDF’s religious observance, adding, “That is my opinion, and I have no doubt that there are senior officials in the IDF rabbinate today who feel the same way.”