Menachem Mendel

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Rabbi Benny Lau’s Comments on Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef

A number of days ago Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef had some fairly harsh and nasty words to say about Rabbi David Stav.

Earlier today at a conference on Religious Zionism that was sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute, Rabbi Benny Lau is reported to have said the following words in response to Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s comments. I am sure that these words were difficult for Rabbi Lau to say.

יש להפסיק לעלות לרגל לרב עובדיה, יש למחות בקול רם! זאת חציית קווים שאי אפשר להבליג עליה! אני צריך לחזור בתשובה, ×›×™ שנים רבות לא פתחתי את הפה כשהרב עובדיה גידף וחירף אנשים בציבוריות הישראלית. אני יצרתי לעצמי, איזה שהוא דגם של הפרדה. הייתי מחובר לתורה שלו, לגדלות שלו, לעוצמה שלו, ודווקא בגלל כבודו של הרב עובדיה – אני מתבייש, מתבייש מתבייש..

Making pilgrimages to Rav Ovadiah must stop, a loud protest must be heard! This is a crossing of all lines that is impossible to be restrained about. I have to repent, because for many years I didn’t open my mouth when Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef insulted and defamed public figures in Israel. I made for myself a sort of division. I was connected to his Torah, to his greatness, and especially because of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s honor I am embarrassed, embarrassed, embarrassed.



To emphasize how difficult this must have been for Rabbi Lau, I want to remind people that he wrote a book about Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, much of which was made possible by Rabbi Yosef giving Rabbi Lau access to many of his private writings, including journals that he has kept over the years. Rabbi Yosef even wrote the following approbation to Rabbi Lau’s book:


Many of Rabbi Yosef’s books are on my bookshelves and Rabbi Lau’s comments are therefore all the more difficult to hear, but maybe necessary.

6 Responses to “Rabbi Benny Lau’s Comments on Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef”

  1. 1
    Reb Chaim HaQoton:

    Simply because we respect Rabbi Ovadia Yosef so much and value his opnion so much and recognize his prowess in Torah study, perhaps we should actually take what he says seriously instead of simply dismissing him so quickly because it doesn’t fit with our own view.

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:

    I think that there is a difference between saying that someone isn’t qualified to be Chief Rabbi because of their level of learning, their understanding of the role of the rabbanut etc., but Rav Ovadiah’s comments had little but vitriol.

  3. 3
    Abul Bannat:

    “Yovdu oyvecha”!? in the context of criticizing a candidate for chief rabbi? How can that possibly be appropriate? Most telling in this rant is that on the one hand he admits having never met Rav Stav and while all of the off-hand remarks are conclusory without a single reference to any specific statement or action. How can this be viewed as anything other than politics as usual.

  4. 4

    I’m embarrassed that these rabbis (yosef and lau and the others) air their dirty laundry in public. this has nothing to do with judaism. it’s just some good old boys behaving badly. bad rhetoric – pure name calling – you are the apikores – no you are the idolater. can’t imagine why you find this the least bit interesting?

  5. 5

    I agree with Reb Chaim HaQoton. If R. Yosef is the great man everyone appears to agree he is, then why dismiss him just because of a few words you (or R. Lau) dont like, why inflate form over substance?

    And what’s so bad about what he said, anyway? He called him a bad man – ZZZZZZ. That’s “harsh and nasty”? Come on, MM. It’s pretty obvious this is just feigned offense, from people who obviously support R. Stav’s candidacy. The fact that R. Lau once wrote a book in appreication is immaterial. R. Stav is running for a political office, remember. Here in America, we went through 8 years of the President being called a Nazi, a Moron, an Imbecile, a Child Killer, etc etc, and we heard nary a peep from the left.

  6. 6
    Menachem Mendel:


    I guess that we just have different expectations from rabbis. I am 99% sure that Rav Ovadiah knows nothing about Rabbi Stav, except for the fact that he would like to make changes in the Chief Rabbinate and as a result there will be fewer jobs for Shas-affiliated rabbis.




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