With chareidim backing either Rabbi Yaakov Shapira or Rabbi David Lau for the next Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, the split vote is likely to benefit Rabbi David Stav.
According to an analysis from Yaakov Rifkin in the weekly BaKehilla, the candidates are making home visits to the members of the 150 people voting body, each trying to sell his case. There is much behind-the-scenes campaigning taking place as each candidate seeks to win over the hearts of voters.
As Rav Lau received the backing of HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita, one might think the others, including Rabbi Shapira would drop out towards not diminishing Rav Lau’s chance of being elected. Rifkin adds “even Rabbi Shapira understand everything possible must be done to prevent Rabbi Stav’s election”.
However, as is usually the case, there is another side and persons close to the Merkaz HaRav rosh yeshiva insist Rabbi Shapira is well liked and respected by many of the 150 voters as he is also popular among the dati leumi community. They feel that while Rabbi Lau may have chareidi votes, Rabbi Shapira has the dati leumi vote along with the support of leaders of many local and regional religious councils. As such, Rabbi Lau should drop out, not Rabbi Shapira.
And yet another scenario involves Rabbi Eliezer Igra. He is popular among the dati leumi community and will pull votes away from Rabbi Stav. Rav Igra is supported by prominent rabbonim including Rabbi Dov Lior as well as well respected dayanim, pointing out he will receive votes that would not go to Rabbis Lau or Shapira so they should drop out towards assisting his candidacy and blocking Rabbi Stav from the Chief Rabbinate seat.
For now, it appears the rabbonim are remaining in the race till the end. None of the candidates are signaling a willingness to bow out.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)