Jerusalem – With just over two weeks left until the Israeli Knesset elections, tension continues to escalate between Rav Ovadia Yosef, leader of the Shas party and Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, leader of the newly created Koach L’Hashpia party amid growing concern that with its economic platform which includes promises of “a loaf of bread for a shekel” that Koach L’Hashpia will divide the chareidi vote and take away seats from the Shas party.
The founding of the newly established party is also considered by many to be a slight to R’ Yosef’s status as religious leader of the Shas party.
Shas supporters, concerned over a possible loss of votes to Koach L’Hashpia, have been reportedly speaking with Ashkenazic rabbis in order to get them to withdraw their support from R’ Yitzchak and his party, according to reports on Israeli news site Walla.co.il, and despite earlier announcements by R’ Yitzchak indicating that he had the full support of R’ Aharon Leib Shteiman, R’ Shteinman has categorically denied R’ Yitzchak’s claims and stated that he does not support Koach L’Hashpia.
R’ Yitzchak, who is well known for his kiruv efforts, has also made headlines for his outspoken anti-Zionist views.
In a fiery speech delivered yesterday, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Porat Yosef had sharp words for R’ Yitzchak, according to reports on Israeli news source Maariv.
“If you rebel you will go straight to hell along with your torah,” warned Rabbi Cohen. “He who does not listen to the Rabbanim will fall to the deepest depth. His pocket is his torah. His desires are his torah. There are those who stand by the Western Wall saying” come, come, put on tefillin. I am not mocking them, but don’t think that because of this you are able to conquer the world. The one who is attempting to get others to repent needs to repent himself.”
R’ Yosef delivered an emotional address immediately after Rabbi Cohen’s words saying, “you have just heard the words of our living G-d directly from the our teacher and our Rabbi, the head of the Yeshiva Porat Yosef, who spreads Torah throughout the nation of Israel. Be careful not to violate his words, because his mouth, which deals only in Torah, is holy and whoever heeds his words is heeding the honor of the Torah.
R’ Yitzchak says that he will help us, but he is going in a separate direction, separating from us, just like Lot separated from Avraham Avinu and what became of Lot? Join with our wise men, this is what our Rabbis tell us to do, this is a mitzvah that we must do.”