VIDEO: Yishai Publicly Slams MK Amsalem On Radio; Shas Newspaper Compares Him To Amalek; Bodyguard Given To Amsalem


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In his first public statements on the recent maelstrom raging in Shas around MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, party chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai for an hour lashed out against the lawmaker who is refusing to return his mandate to Shas, despite its spiritual leadership’s recent decision.

“Nobody knew who he was a minute before he joined Shas,” Yishai said in an interview with Radio Kol Berama, which is affiliated with Shas. Regarding the option of Amsalem forming an independent party Yishai ascertained that “without a rabbinical council of leaders behind him, not even his wife would vote for him.”

Amsalem was recently officially ousted from the party for expressing opinions such as that only a select minority should dedicate their lives to Torah scholarship, while the others should combine employment with study; that non-Jews in Israel from the Former Soviet Union with Jewish roots should be provided an easier way into converting to Judaism; that everyone should acquire the basic skills for mathematics and a foreign language, as provided in the core curriculum subjects; and that Sephardic Judaism should not bow its head before the Ashkenazi Lithuanian haredi leadership, which Amsalem says Shas is doing in its stances on matters of religion and education.

Yishai also refuted Amsalem’s claim that he and others prevented the MK from meeting with head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in order to truthfully present his stances on Torah scholarship, employment, secular studies and conversions. “There wasn’t even one time that Amsalem wanted to meet with him and he couldn’t,” Yishai said, and added that of recent “Chacham Yosef himself told his secretary he doesn’t want to meet with Amsalem, since he doesn’t listen to him and distorts his opinion.”

Amsalem did not respond to Yishai’s interview.

Earlier on Thursday, Shas newspaper Yom Leyom took the hostilities against Amsalem to new heights, comparing the maverick lawmaker to Amalek, whose memory should be wiped out.

The Knesset officer ordered on Thursday a bodyguard to accompany Amsalem at all times.

Amsalem’s office said in response that “the incitement in wall posters (pashkeviles) and newspapers that are tantamount to wall posters is very severe. The comparison to Amalek has but one meaning that is clear and dangerous. This is certainly not the way of Torah.” Sources close to Amsalem were undecided on the course of action they would take following the alleged incitement, but Idan Abuhav, a private attorney, decided of his own volition to both file that day a complaint at the Tel Aviv police on threats and incitement to violence, as well as write a letter to State Attorney Moshe Lador and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein asking that they order a criminal investigation into the implicit incitement to violence in the newspaper.


  1. The sooner Klal Yisroel spits out heretics like Amsalem, the better off we will be. He forced Chachom Hagoan Ovadia Yosef to declare his as such with his impious behavior.

  2. What’s the big deal? Amsalem’s right in a sense. The torah commands us to get a job! Were lucky that we get to learn, but to take advantage of it by wiping out the gov funds is a disgrace. If more people would learn and work, I think the seculars would appreciate us more and even other religous Jews would appreciate it.

  3. Is yelling, screaming, curses and name calling the only option for discussion between two peoples? This is a horrible role model to our young adults and children.

    What are some other choices?

  4. Poor Rabbi Amsalem. Does everyone have to think alike and toe the line? He’s not allowed to think for himself? Also, whether he’s right or wrong (I myself agree with him,) the nature of the way he’s being treated, and in effect his life has been threatened and he has to have police protection for his safety, is totally deplorable. Let’s not forget Israel is called the only democracy in the Middle East. Judging by the way he has been treated, rather than from a democracy, it reminds me of for example Syria, Iran and Libya.

  5. “ilusyh”, so you’re telling me we can make chillul Hashems all day, bc we dont care what other jews think of us? And please don’t tell me that Hashem wants the majority of Jews to learn and not work. If you really believe that,then how are Jews supposed to be supported? By the governments of the world? We see that’s falling apart now.

  6. my friend, he was not mevaze Harav Ovadia shlita. which opinions make him a heretic? the fact that he wants to introduce mathematics and a foreign language into the curriculum or that he holds that long term kollel is only for the elite? chas v’shalom the chareidim should go to work, right

  7. #4:
    “Does everyone have to think alike and toe the line?”

    Yes, everybody must listen to the halacha and daas Torah.
    As opposed to Amsalem, who thinks “that non-Jews in Israel from the Former Soviet Union with Jewish roots should be provided an easier way into converting to Judaism” (goodbye to halacha), and “that Sephardic Judaism should not bow its head before the Ashkenazi Lithuanian haredi leadership” (goodbye to daas Torah).

    Also, I can’t help but find it interesting that Amsalem claims to want be championing the Sephardim’s religious rights, but then blatantly disregards R’ Ovadia Yosef, the most prominent Sephardi possek around today.

  8. mdd, of course the Sephardim have their own daas Torah. Namely, R’ Ovadia Yosef. And as I pointed out in my previous post, I find it ludicrous that Amsalem demands that the Sephardim have their own daas Torah, even while blatantly disobeying R’ Ovadia Yosef, the most prominent Sephardi possek around today. Sounds to me like he just disagrees with daas Torah across the board.

  9. This conversation seems to be missing the point. The issue with R’Amsalem’s positions is that he serves in the Knesset as part of the Shas party (representing religious Sephardim), and yet is publicly promoting opinions against the party and its Daas Torah. He was not elected into the Knesset for his opinions — the Parliamentary system here is that when voting for Knesset members we vote for a specific party list, and each party receives a number of seats in proportion to the votes they receive. The first “x” number of individuals on that party list become MK’s, depending on how many seats the party wins. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that as a member of the Shas party he will represent the views of the Shas leadership, as those who voted for Shas are voting for the views espoused by that particular party. Certainly the vast majority of those voting for Shas expect their representatives to follow the Daas Torah of R’ Ovadia Yosef, who is the spiritual leader of the party. Whether or not you agree with his statements (and I hope if you are supporting his opinions in direct contradiction to all the gedolim here, both Ashkenazic and Sefardic, you have researched what exactly he is saying — R’ Ovadia has not shunned him simply because he believes chadorim should teach more limudei chol!) an elected official has a moral obligation to represent those who elected him. (Once in the position however, the “mandate” legally belongs to the individual MK, and although the party can remove him from the party, if he refuses to return the “mandate”, he can continue to serve out the terms.) That is why he is being pressured to give up his position, and that if why his refusal to give back the seat that was given to him by R’ Ovadia Yosef and the Shas leadership is viewed as a direct affront to R’ Ovadiah Yosef, and Sefardic Daas Torah.

  10. Mw13, I’ll tell you a secret a Ro v is allowed to argue on a different Rov. Do all Poskim in America never differ with Rav Eliyashev? Even not the most prominint pasken differently from time to time.

  11. I do not follow Rabbi Amsalem’s shitos on Talmud Torah, but his opinions concur with those of the Satmar Rebbe ztz”l and Rav Avigdor Miller ztz”l.