JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a dramatic political development within the Lithuanian charedi party of Degel Hatorah, the two most prominent members of the Council of Torah Sages are split over whether the party must maintain its agreements from previous elections.
The issue at hand is the local elections due to take place next month in Israel. The city of Elad is currently headed by Yisrael Porush, who was elected in 2018 and has proven an able mayor. However an agreement was signed with Shas that their candidate for the charedi town would be elected in the current elections. Despite this, Degel Hatorah announced last week that they would be supporting the current mayor Yisrael Porush, angering Shas leaders including Aryeh Deri.
Deri spoke last week at a rally for Sephardi candidate Yehuda Butbul, stating that “There was a clear agreement signed with the gedolim. Violating this agreement is a dangerous precedent which could have ramifications in the future. Its a Chilul Hashem and I don’t want to use harsher words.”
In a sharp letter from Rabbi Dov Landau published Tuesday in Yated Neeman, he responded to Deri by stating that “Knowing the needs of Elad for many years, I have come to the conclusion that the matter of who heads the city does not belong to any party. It is solely a matter of what is best for Judaism and education and maintaining the Torah and its mitzvos.
“Therefore all of the agreements signed between parties have no value and do not obligate anyone. Those who condition the matter on various communities and parties are doing great harm to the Torah and Judaism.”
Rav Dov Landau’s letter
Despite Rabbi Landau’s unequivocal stance, his partner in the Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Meir Zvi Bergman, disagreed. In a letter written Wednesday, Rabbi Bergman wrote that “It is well known how my father-in-law Rabbi Shach toiled to establish Degel Hatorah and Yated Neeman to follow in the ways of Torah and Mussar.
“Therefore it is clear that if Degel Hatorah, at the behest of the Gedolei Torah, signed agreements which they committed to fulfil, the way of the Torah is to fulfil agreements, as required by the Torah. Those who claim that the Torah and Judaism can best be guarded by a certain representative, even when everyone is charedi, and therefore agreements shouldn’t be fulfilled, these are words with no basis. On the contrary, fulfilling agreements is the way of Judaism and the only way to prevent disputes and Chilul Hashem.”
Rabbi Meir Zvi Bergman’s letter
With the two leaders of Degel Hatorah split over the issue, it is unclear what will be the final word in Elad, and whether Porush will continue or Shas’s candidate will prevail.