Bnei Brak – Candidate for the chief rabbinate Rabbi David Stav said on Thursday that while he respected Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef he would not take criticism from convicted criminals.
Stav made the remark, seemingly a reference tothe past conviction for bribery of Shas chairman Arye Deri, at the President’s Conference during a live conversation with veteran reporter Ilana Dayan.
Asked about how he felt after Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas movement, fiercely denounced Stav last week, the rabbi said that he greatly respected Yosef and his rulings in Jewish law and had based many of his own opinions on those of Yosef himself.
“I don’t need to take criticism from people in people in Shas who are convicted criminals and who are not aware of the works and rulings of their own rabbi,” Stav said acerbically, in reference to the increasingly strict interpretation of Jewish law in the haredi community despite the relatively lenient rulings Yosef has issued in the past on several important issues.
Referring to the political challenge of getting elected by the 150-member electoral committee, many of whom are loyal to haredi parties, Stav said that he was still optimistic that he could get the requisite number of votes.
He added that although Likud has still not publicly backed him, along with reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu favors Rabbi David Lau for the position, Stav noted that there “many Likud MKs who do or will support me either publicly or privately for chief rabbi.”
Asked why the prime minister was not endorsing him, Stav said that it was a question for the prime minister himself.
During the discussion, Stav was challenged as to exactly how he will bring change to the chief rabbinate if he remained committed to an Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law.
Stav replied that he hoped to turn the chief rabbinate into a body that could inspire people to be proud of their heritage and to want to uphold it, but said that damage had been inflicted to the institution and to the image of religion in Israel over the past two decades.
The elections for both the positions of chief rabbi have now been scheduled for the week of July 24.