Bennett and Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
Bennett and Rabbi Yaakov Ariel Minister Bennett's spokesperson

A ceremony honoring Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday and who retired from his position as Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, was held Wednesday evening at the Great Synagogue in Ramat Gan.

The ceremony was attended by Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan and MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home).

Bennett spoke about the rabbi and said, "We say the expression 'talmid chacham' (wise student –ed). The expression is made up of wisdom - but what is the meaning of a student? A student is someone who constantly learns, someone who constantly tries hard.”

“The morning after you retired, a picture of you sitting in the beit midrash as one of the students was all over social media. The message spread like wildfire - and that's the essence, the daily hard work and the learning and constant improvement,” he added, turning directly to Rabbi Ariel.

Bennett noted that Rabbi Ariel always stresses the connection between the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel and the people of Israel. "The rabbi said that Bnei Akiva was the greatest movement and it was an answer to the sin of the spies. The main sin of the spies was not their fear of losing the war against the giants, but rather the fear of defeating them and establishing a Jewish state in the Land of Israel."

The minister added that the spies were afraid of the connection between Torah and the land. "As long as we are in the desert, everything is simple, but when we have a country, suddenly there are very difficult dilemmas, suddenly you have to deal with the issues of what work is essential, what work can be done on Shabbat, what is our economic concept - a welfare state or a free economy. The rabbi chose to deal with all these issues.”

"The rabbi broke through and left behind his light in the same way. I wish you many more years of Torah and of doing," Bennett said.