Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yesh Atid shouldn't get too excited about Rav Yosef

Unless you've been living in a cave, or just avoiding sensationalist news in general (always a good idea), if you're living in Israel or following things here, you've heard that Rav Ovadia Yosef has called Rav David Stav, who's a candidate for the position of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, "evil".

In general, I try to stay out of things involving statements of gedolim, no matter how much I find them (the statements) distasteful. Often they are taken out of context and/or distorted, and sometimes the statements are made based on misinformation fed to them by their handlers. More importantly, I'm dwarfed by their commitment to and knowledge of Torah, and if they truly believe that their opinion reflects one of the legitimate paths of Torah (find me a non-Chareidi who denies that there are many legitimate paths of Torah), who am I to argue? Rav Ovadia reportedly severely compromised his eyesight learning Torah in an Egyptian jail cell. I know few people, if any, who could measure up to that level of commitment.

Thus, I'm not going to lambaste Rav Ovadia for his statements regarding Rav Stav. I don't think that they were taken out of context or distorted, and I can't imagine what misinformation they could be based on. I'm uncomfortable with the statements, but they were so unmitigatedly harsh that very little can be said about them that isn't blatantly obvious.

However, Rav Ovadia did not invent the harsh personal attack. In a column about Hananel Dayan, none other than Yair Lapid called the outstanding soldier such things as "miserable", "imbecile", "horrible", "muddled", "irrelevant" (although apparently not so irrelevant as to be ignored), and a "spoiled brat". The statements were so harsh that Dayan sued Lapid (and won) for using insulting statements (HT).

Predictably, Rav Ovadia has taken a lot of heat for his statements. But let's not pretend that he has a monopoly over this type of speech. Even Yair Lapid, whose campaign slogan was "We've come to change" finds this kind of talk useful at times. As Shai Piron would say, "Does he think that to speak this about a person he has never met is moral? Halachic? Jewish?" I don't think so, and neither does Piron. But maybe Lapid does.

1 comment:

  1. This is a silly comparison. You can't compare the speech of a columnist to someone who's steeped in Torah. Lately things have changed, but we used to expect a higher level of discourse from our "great" rabbis. It's actually very much a sign of the times that you can even think to make such a comparison.

    That said, let's see how Lapid does going forward, now that he has an important leadership position. So far he's doing pretty well and is outclassing many of his detractors both in and out of Knesset. Time will tell.