[VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
A day after the Bayit Yehudi party announced its support for Rabbi David Stav for Israel’s next Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Stav held a press conference in his Shoham home. Joining the rav was Shoham Mayor Gil Livne.
What is the Chief Rabbinate?
Rav Stav explained that from his perspective, the position of chief rabbi is not just another political post. Rabbi Stav explained it is a position with a great deal of responsibility towards ensuring tens of thousands of Israelis are married in accordance to Halacha and that the Jewish People eat kosher. He explained there are hundreds of thousands of people who want to make certain their children are married in line with Halacha “but we must help them in proving their Jewishness. Many came from the former Soviet Union and others from S. America. We must help them. There are many who do not marry according to Halacha because of bureaucracy or some are here illegally and fear expulsion.”
The rav explains there will be as much compromise as possible regarding bureaucratic red tape but zero compromise on Halacha regarding assisting people to prove their Jewishness. He stresses this is of paramount importance and instead of a clerk saying “go find papers and come back”, the clerk will say “I will use our resources to help you prove you are Jewish”. Rabbi Stav states it is critical to understand that Halacha will not be compromised and the bar will not be lowered but the system will now work to assist those who do not have the means to gather the required information on their own.
“Giyur is Halachic and it demands one’s accepting a life of adherence to Torah and mitzvos and the policies existing today under Rabbi Amar will not change in any way!” A candidate for conversion will have to be committed to Shabbos, kashrus and a religious lifestyle.
The rav refers to his 3 Elul Plan, which address the master plan for the Chief Rabbinate in many areas including kashrus, Shabbos, marriage and divorce. He speaks of the upcoming Shmitah year, 5775 as well as the need for all to live with one another peacefully, frum and non-frum and chareidim and others. He feels the Chief Rabbinate must stress that which unites and not that which divides, which was the impetus for the establishment of the Tzohar Rabbonim 18 years ago.
The rabbi believes that Tzohar has proven that even is a person is secular, s/he often wants to do things correctly and wish to maintain a Jewish connection and these persons must be brought closer, not distanced.
Rav Stav used Shoham as an example, explaining the community is overwhelmingly secular. However he explains, all the restaurants are closed on Shabbos, an achievement that resulted from dialogue and mutual respect for one another.
Regarding his suitability for the position of chief rabbi, Rav Stav stated he currently serves as the chief rabbi of Shoham and a dayan. “I was a rosh yeshiva in the past and today, I head an organization of 700 rabbis.”
Rabbi Stav explained the Chief Rabbinate he envisions would provide legitimate kashrus on a basic and mehadrin level to accommodate everyone, including chareidim, but also see the Chief Rabbinate acting as a regulator and hopes to open the market to other hashgachas, to work together to provide acceptable kashrus for all.
Marriage & Divorce:
There must be a reform to simplify marriage registry as is planned by the Ministry of Religious Services today. Regarding divorce, he feels the Chief Rabbinate must push pre nuptial agreements, which would avoid many of the problems existing today.
Rabbi Stav remains committed to the Halachos which were set by Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita and Rabbi Moshe Amar Shlita. However he feels in line with this Halachic framework much can be done to assist candidates. “There is room for more love and assistance before and after the giyur process”. One of the problems is the community does not adopt the candidates. I plan if elected, to be the Chief Rabbi of all, not just the dati leumi.
Rabbi Stav stated that just like there was only one kohein gadol, there should only be one chief rabbi of the country. He immediately added “I understand at present this cannot be the case.”
Adherence to Rav Ovadia’s Piskei Halacha:
Other highlights include Rabbi Stav stated that most rulings set by Rav Ovadia as chief rabbi and the period following are acceptable to him and the Chief Rabbinate, pointing out there are various opinions among Gedolei Yisrael. The rav called on the tzibur to judge him by his performance over the past two decades, with Tzohar and elsewhere. “My life is open before you and there are no secrets” he explains.
“…There are many insults leveled against me. If I took it personally I would have abandoned this a long time ago but I believe this is a battle for the future of the Jewish People and against assimilation and the future of the State of Israel.”
Additional Points in Rav Stav’s Vision:
· Regarding kashrus, store owners will no longer pay a mashgiach as is the case today, but the mashgiach salary will be paid by the religious council.
· Dayanim will be compelled to adhere to piskei Halacha from predecessors to avoid additional chumros.
· A minor whose mother is not Jewish may enter giyur providing there is proof s/he is going to adhere to a frum lifestyle.
· The Chief Rabbinate will publically announce and encourage organ donations in line with rulings from Gedolim.
· Every mohel will have to be certified by the Chief Rabbinate and there will be a recommended price for a bris. This price will be set by the Rabbinate. A mohel will have to take a refresher course every two years, both Halachic and medical.
· A Chief Rabbinate hotline will operate 24/6 in the hope of improving the connection between the organization and the people.
· The Chief Rabbinate will call upon the Knesset to pass laws permitting very harsh sanctions against recalcitrant husbands.
See the 41 minute press conference:
Click HERE to watch this video on a mobile device.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)