Friday, Jul 23, 2021

Main Contenders for Chief Rabbinate Symbolize Battle Against Torah World

The scathing peice quoted from an interview with the Haaretz newspaper where Rabbi Stav was scornful of the yeshiva world.

 

“The big question is whether the Torah learning of certain groups has turned into a sort of excuse, and this question must certainly be investigated,” Stav said. “Torah learning cannot be an excuse for lack of involvement and participation. I understand and respect the world of Torah and talmidei chachomim, [but] I do not accept a complete sector avoiding the netel (burden) by saying they are talmidei chachomim, especially when they are not. We need to find an arrangement for those who are not learning and not in the world of Torah to bear the netel.

 

“I will tell you something which, in my eyes, is not a [impossible] utopia,” he said. “In my opinion, within 10-15 years, there will no longer be a division between chareidim and Religious Zionists, but a division between workers and non-workers, those who contribute to society and those who don’t, those who participate in culture and those who do not. The question of what you wear and whether you say Hallel on Independence Day will become secondary.”

 

Miyom Leyom cited rulingsfrom Stav’s work, Tarbut Bilui Upenai (The Culture of Entertainment and Leisure). In one chapter titled, Books of Idolatry and Heresy, Stav rules, “Possibly, when the prohibition against reading [heresy] causes a person to feel that Judaism is hiding something from him and this disturbs his belief, reading such items may be permitted due to this rationale.”

 

Seeking examples of people going on trips and tours from ancient Jewish history, the book cites Yitzchok going out lasu’ach basadeh, to pray in the field. As an example of ancient Jewish involvement in sport, it mentions Yaakov wrestling with an angel.

 

Bein Hazemanim, another book authored by Stav, permits reading immoral books under certain conditions.

 

“The Shulchan Aruch rules that someone who reads sifrei cheshek transgresses by arousing the yeitzer hora, etc.,” it says. “But possibly, this is only a suggestion and not an absolute prohibition.” The book permits viewing movies that have “positive values” even if they contain “a few scenes with light tznius problems.” It advises covering one’s eyes to avoid inappropriate scenes.

 

Of his heavily criticized books, Stav had this to say: “A rabbi in Israel has to deal with whatever his community is dealing with. A rabbi doesn’t get to choose the issues. If his community does nothing but study the Torah, that is what he should deal with. But my reality is different. I live in a national-religious society that consumes culture, literature, films and travel and I try to provide it with the tools to deal with the halachic questions that arise from that.”

 

Stav also has controversial opinions regarding fundamental halachic issues. In 2008, he stated at a conference that since most converts in Israel do not keep halachah anyway, the rabbinate should do away with the farce of kabbolas mitzvos and rule in line with the p’sak of Rav Ben Tzion Chai Uziel (Sephardi chief rabbi between 1939-1948) that a convert does not need proper kabbolas mitzvos at all. Tzav suggested that commitment to join Klal Yisroel in addition to the acceptance of basic principles of belief and Jewish tradition would suffice for a kosher geirus. Stav also supports pre-nuptial agreements for marrying couples, a measure that the chareidi world strongly opposes.

 

Unfortunately, Rav Ovadiah’s opposition to Rav Stav may have helped his candidacy. Until now, many of the Religious Zionist sector bitterly opposed Stav’s candidacy. Many of their prominent leaders tried to introduce a special law so that Rav Yaakov Ariel could run for chief rabbi in his stead. Now, Stav’s opponents may unite with his supporters in defiance of Shas. Rav Chaim Druckman and Rav Zephaniah Drori, who opposed Stav, are now supporting him.

 

To make things worse, the greatest potential opponent of Rav Stav, Rav Yitzchok Dovid Grossman of Midgal Ha’emek, announced that he will not be running for the poition. During a long phone conversation with Rav Shmuel Wosner, Rav Grossman said that his father, Rav Yisroel Grossman, asked him before his passing not to run for the position of chief rabbi. He was also concerned that becoming chief rabbi might harm his kiruv and educational institutions in Migdal Ha’emek.

 

Rav Wosner advised him that due to the mitzvah of obeying his father and because of even a slight possibility that his institutions might suffer, he should not become a candidate for the chief rabbinate.

 

The investigation of Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger about charges of bribery and money laundering may also fortify Stav’s position. Knesset Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein sent a letter to the Ministry of Religions saying that under present circumstances, the ten members of the voting council normally selected by both chief rabbis will now be chosen exclusively by Sepahardi chief rabbi Rav Shlomo Amar. It is feared that Rav Amar may be inclined to select people who favor Stav.

 

That leaves Rav David Lau, son of former Chief Rabbi Rav Yisroel Lau, as Stav’s strongest contender. Although strongly supported by the chareidi world, Rav Lau does not have the universal admiration Rav Grossman receives from all sectors of Israeli society, and is less likely to win. Another contender favored by the chareidi world is Rav Yaakov Shapiro, rosh yeshiva of Mekaz Harav, who just announced that he will also be running for the position.

 

Stav is convinced that he will win by a landslide and that he is the answer to Israel’s religious challenges. Asked what would happen if a chareidi rabbi wins the election, Stav painted a dark picture.

 

“Then in all likelihood we will see mass assimilation within a decade,” he warned. “Millions of people whose Jewish heritage has come under question will just give up and go to Cyprus [for a civil marriage ceremony]. Tens of thousands of people will opt against dealing with the bureaucracy involved with marriage and divorce. The state of kashrus will deteriorate further. Israeli society will feel it in every aspect affected by the rabbinical world.”

 

Meanwhile, Sefardi contender for the chief rabbinate Rav Shmuel Eliyahu said that if he is elected as chief rabbi, he would cancel the heter mechirah (selling of land to non-Jews during Shemittah) the chief rabbinate has relied upon since the days of Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Kook. Shas sources say that Rav Ovadiah decided that his oldest son, Rav Avrohom Yosef, will also contend for the position.

 

RAV AMAR WILL NOT BE CHIEF RABBI OF YERUSHALAYIM 

 

Meanwhile, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar denied reports that he would become the next Sephardi chief rabbi of Yerushalayim.

 

“I hereby publicly declare that I have no intent for this at all,” he wrote. “Also, Maran [Rav Ovadiah Yosef] has designated this for his son, Rav Yitzchok Yosef, a position I wholeheartedly support now and supported in the past… My whole objective is to study Torah and teach it at shiurim in Eretz Hakodesh and in every place, and to answer people’s halachic questions.

 

Rav Ovadiah Yosef continues to suffer agonizing back pain since his fall some weeks ago, but his sons emphasize that his general health is good.

 

“Since my father fell, he is getting better all the time,” said his son, Rav Dovid Yosef. “But he is suffering from severe pain that makes it difficult for him to learn or sleep. I ask the whole tzibbur to pray for his refu’ah so that he can continue to lead us in health until bias goel tzeddek.”

 

Bnei yeshivos and avreichim have been encouraged to observe a ta’anis dibbur while learning as a zechus for his refuah sheleimah.

 

Rav Ovadiah had difficulty going to his bais medrash for tefillos and davened with a small minyan in his apartment. Despite his excruciating pain, he learned constantly and continued writing the sixth volume of his Chazon Ovadiah on hilchos Shabbos. This week he was taken to Hadassah Hospital where doctors tried to alleviate his pain with injections. After concluding that he has a fractured vertebra in his lower back, doctors considered bringing in a world famous expert to supervise surgery. But following improvement in his condition, Rav Ovadiah was released with the hope that the fracture will heal itself.

 

YESHIVA FUNDING TO BE SLASHED IN HALF

 

Yeshivos and kollelim received letters from Israel’s education ministry saying that their budgets will be slashed in half if Israel’s budget passes in its second and third readings.

 

“Institutions should note that by decision of the government on 05-13-2013, it has been decided to cut the budget of Torah institutions by 200 million shekels in 2013 and by 400 million shekels in 2014,” the letters said. “If this cut is included in the budgetary law, the point value may drop to the half its value for the remaining months of 2013.”

 

Monthly avreichim stipends of 720 shekels for a full day’s learning would drop to 360 shekels. This could be disastrous. Many kolleim are already in financial stress due to a decrease in donations from abroad. A number of kollellim lack funds to pay their avreichim at the end of the month. One gemach director said that during the past three months he received three times the normal requests for loans, ninety percent of them fromavreichim who had not received their stipends in time.

 

Due to lack of funding, many yeshivos have asked their talmidim to help decrease expenses. Yeshiva Kol Torah of Yerushalayim issued an “important notice to the talmidim of the yeshiva” explaining how they can help.

 

“The terrible edicts placed on the Torah world by the government have caused a sharp, painful decrease in the yeshiva’s income and we must all do everything possible to help the yeshiva persist in these difficult times,” the notice said. “The bochurim are asked to pay special attention to saving expenditure and to consider how to save unnecessary wastage. They should be very particular to not leave lights burning unnecessarily, to let faucets flow wastefully, to waste paper towels, photo-copy paper, disposable utensils, electricity, food and drink, and suchlike. Being careful of this can save the yeshiva a considerable amount.”

 

The Education Ministry also announced that it will cease funding many schools of Shas’s Maayan Hachinuch HaToraninetwork following findings by the Finance Ministry that approximately 30 schools of the network are not properly licensed. Unlicensed schools will receive warning notices, followed by fund cuts and orders of closure if they fail to comply with regulations and get licensed.

 

In light of the government’s edicts against the poor, Aryeh Deri said he was considering suing the government in the World Court for the fostering of suffering and poverty.

 

He begged MKs to “have a little pity on the poor. Daily we see new edicts that are destroying families. Altogether the government is spending NIS 7.2 billion on child allowances, and now they want to reduce that to NIS 4 billion.”

 

“The child allowances are for chareidi and Arab families with many children, so who cares if that gets cut?” he said. “They aren’t part of the ‘Israeli consensus’ anyway. Do you think chareidi Jewish and Arab families do not have to feed their children? You wait and see, we will take this to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”

 

RABBIS BANNED FROM TAKING FEES FOR WEDDINGS

 

Following a 61-0 vote, the Knesset passed a preliminary reading of a law that bans rabbonim from taking fees for officiating at weddings in their areas of jurisdiction. The bill needs to pass three Knesset readings before final approval. At present, rabbonim employed by state-run regional religious councils charge fees for marrying couples even though this is one of their official duties. This helps them add to their sometimes meager salaries.

 

“Young couples carry a very heavy financial burden,” MK Shuli Mualem of Habayit Hayehudi, who helped introduce the law, explained. “This bill seeks to revolutionize the field of marriage services in Israel and to put an end to the confusion regarding payment for wedding services. It is precisely in these days of budget cuts that it is important to look for ways to alleviate the burden on the public.”

 

Habayit Hayehudi head Naftoli Bennett said that this measure was a step forward in his goal to revolutionize religious services.

 

“Little by little, we will transform religious services into something friendlier and more pleasant,” he said.

 

ANGER AT THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OVER SEPERATE-GENDER COURSES

 

Secular faculty and students at Yerushalayim’s Hebrew University are fighting against the right of chareidim to have separate-gender facilities. Some 300 faculty members signed a petition against a proposal by the university to offer separate-gender BA programs for chareidim. These were not to take place in the actual university but in an outside location under the university’s auspices. The university already has separate-gender preparatory course but for some reason, the BA course is causing more resentment.

 

“Now is the time to clearly state: the university must not agree to take part in any plan of gender segregation or creating special courses for a fanatical minority that opposes equality between citizens or between university students,” the petition stated. “Anyone who wants to come to learn in the university must understand not only the conditions of admission, but what the university is. The university is based on openness and mutual respect. Everyone, religious or not, is invited to learn if he meets the criteria for acceptance, but no one can bend rules and demand gender segregation and the disqualification of others. The university should not adapt itself to the chareidim. Rather, the chareidim must adapt to the university.”

 

Elsewhere, the situation is different. The Haifa Technion has a course for men and is about to open another one for women. Bar Ilan University opposite Bnei Brak is establishing a special campus for chareidim on its outskirts, which has separate entrances for men and women.

 

“We’re not interested in changing them…,” said Bar-Ilan rector Professor Chaim Teitelbaum. “If that’s the way they feel more comfortable studying, then that’s more important. There’s no point in insisting and demanding they study like the rest of the students. Our approach is live and let live. Both sides benefit from it.”

 

Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) says that although chareidim may suggest gender segregation in colleges and universities, they cannot impose it. The Hebrew University faculty has decided to discuss the issue in depth before bringing it to a vote.

 

SECULAR YESHIVA IN YERUSHALAYIM NEIGHBORHOOD

 

Another source of friction in Yerushalayim is the city council’s go ahead to build a secular yeshiva in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood. Chareidi residents promised to fight back, arguing that the site was suitable for a much needed chareidi kindergarten. In fact, chareidim once tried to set up a kindergarten there until neighbors complained.

 

Eiran Baruch, head of the main secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv, is undaunted.

 

“We are not afraid of protests,” he said. “We are doing good things, studying Torah, and involved in communal work. We educate young people to love Torah… Kiryat Yovel is pluralistic neighborhood of mostly traditional people… Just as no one opposes a religious Zionist yeshiva in Kiryat Moshe and a chareidi yeshiva in Bucharim, so there is no reason to oppose our yeshiva.

 

Chairman of Degel Hatorah and Deputy Mayor of Yerushalayim Yitzchok Pindres said that the impasse is part of the mayor’s ongoing effort to secularize Yerushalayim.

 

“Again, the true face of Mayor Nir Barkat is revealed,” he said. “Time after time, he betrays the chareidi public and does all he can to secularize the city and induce its chareidi residents to leave. We are speaking of an incomparable injustice. Hundreds of children have to travel on organized transport to every corner of the town, the whole neighborhood is suffering from a drastic shortage of buildings for schools, and the mayor gives the last public area in the neighborhood to a fake organization whose students are not connected in any way to the neighborhood… The city council opposes operators of kindergartens in private apartments and sues them, while at the same time it provides no alternative for the children.”

 

Shlomo Braskah of Shas, another deputy mayor of Yerushalayim, said it was ridiculous that three yeshivos in Bayit Vegan and Ramat Sharet received only 2.5 dunams (0.6 of an acre) of land between them, while this one yeshiva would be receiving 7.5 dunams (1.85).

 

NEW RELIGIOUS NEIGHBORHOOD IN VALLEY WHERE DOVID KILLED GOLYOS

 

Secular residents of Beit Shemesh and its adjacent Elah Valley are angry at a decision to allocate 15,000 new housing units for chareidim in their town. This, they complain, will increase Beit Shemesh’s population from 95,000 to 250,000 and turn it into an overwhelmingly chareidi town. Presently, chareidim comprise close to half of the city’s population.

 

On Monday, secular Beit Shemesh residents protested in front of the Interior Ministry in Yerushalayim. They want Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to reverse the town plan formulated by previous housing minister MK Eli Yishai of Shas. They also claim that the new housing will destroy unique plants and animals of the Elah Valley, in addition to damaging important archeological sites, and are demanding that the area be turned into a national park.

 

Housing and Construction Ministry Gideon Sa’ar insists that the tenders to the area were open to all and that the ministry had zero input in deciding who won the right to build in the historic area.

 

HIGH COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF SHABBOS

 

Israel’s High Court ruled that the Tel Aviv municipality must take greater measures to force the city’s shops to close on Shabbos. This happened after shop owners appealed the decision a lower court issued six months ago, ruling that the municipality had the right to turn a blind eye to large networks that blatantly opened on Shabbos.

 

“With its present behavior, the city council enables the continual violation of this law [of closing on Shabbos]. There is also a feeling that it suits the municipality not to insist on its compliance due to the economic profit resulting from fines [imposed on such businesses].”

 

Until now, the municipality was satisfied to fine such businesses 660 shekels and leave them to do as they pleased.

 

Religious judge Elyokim Rubinstein wrote that “small-business owners follow the way of their grandparents and keep Shabbos, while at the same time their non-religious customers hurry to supermarkets that remain open. The municipality takes its Shabbos tax through a weekly fine and is satisfied at this purported observance of a city bylaw.”  

 

ARAB STONING AT HAR HAZEISIM

 

Arabs continue to attack visitors to Har Hazeisim. Chaim Miller, head of the Movement for Yerushalayim and its Residents, appealed to MKs to do something about it, complaining that surveillance cameras and increased security have not stopped Arab attacks. Recently, Arabs at an area school hurled large stones and cement blocks at a passing car. In response to Miller’s letter, the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Council held a long meeting where government officials were urged to stop the vandalism from the school.

 

Miller also complained that an Arab family’s defective septic tank was overflowing onto an old part of the cemetery and it was unclear who was responsible to repair it.

 

LITZMAN PROPOSED TWO LAWS

 

A 48 versus 9 vote Knesset vote toppled MK Yaakov Litzman’s proposal to anchor Israel’s historical status-quo agreement between religious and secular Jews into law. Litzman wanted to guarantee there would be no changes in things like having public transport and doing work on Shabbos and Yom Tov, halachah related issues of personal and family status, army service for Torah students, and the protection of holy places.

 

Litzman proposed the law in reaction to Lapid’s suggestion last week that public transport should be increased on Shabbos in order to enable poor grandfathers to visit their grandchildren on Shabbos. An explanation attached to Litzman’s proposal stated, “In past years there has been a continual downslide and deep erosion of the status quo. Examples of this include Shabbos observance, which no one dared to desecrate in the not so distance past, attempts to alter the systems of marriage and conversion accustomed to until now, and kashrus issues. And now there is the threat against an arrangement that worked for over sixty years concerning the status of yeshivos and the Torah world.”

 

The proposal collapsed. The status quo agreement remains unanchored in law and subject to the will and whim of politicians.

 

Litzman proposed yet another law that would have criminalized Lapid and Bennet’s scheme to keep the chareidim out of the present government had it existed just after the last elections. His proposal suggests ten years imprisonment for anyone who refuses to do business or work with a chareidi because he is chareidi. It also prohibits “boycotting due to religion or boycotting chareidi Jews.”

 

An attachment to the proposal explained the impetus behind it:

 

“When the latest government was being established, it turned out that a certain group chose to exclude the representatives of a significant part of the public from the government solely because they were chareidi. In addition to not being publicly criticized, this terrible declaration became the basis upon which the 33rd government of the state of Israel was established. This sort of exclusion has no place in a pluralistic, considerate, properly functioning society that knows how to respect and appreciate others despite differences between them. Therefore there is a need to uproot this phenomenon.”

 

The proposed law would be retroactive.

 

“In addition to imprisonment for those who contravene or participate in contravening the law,” it says, “every result achieved through that contravention would be deemed as void.”

 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

 

The cabinet approved Interior Minister Gideon Saar’s proposal to extend daylight savings time (DST) by an extra month in defiance of ongoing chareidi resistance. DST will be extended an extra month to the end of October in conformance with DST time prevalent in Europe. During the extra month, sunset will be pushed from about 5:00 to 6:00 pm. The government hopes to rush the law through three readings in time to instate the law this year. Chareidim complain that ending Shabbos late for an extra month encourages providers of public services to begin working before Shabbos ends. It also means an extra month of late sunrises, which make it difficult for people to daven Shacharis early enough to be on time for their jobs. Furthermore, Yom Kippur will occur during daylight saving time, making the fast psychologically more difficult by ending an hour later.

 

The Keter Institute for Economy, a religious organization that studies the interface of halachah with modern economy opposed the decision, saying that it “clearly harms workers who wake up early to go to work and could run into difficulty when it comes to davening Shacharis.”

 

“The institute recommends that alongside legislation to extend daylight savings time, the Knesset also legislate a law that will allow a worker to leave his house less than 40 minutes before prayer time, and allow him to pray Shacharis at work without getting his wages docked.”

 

“More Jews around the world live with a longer period of daylight savings time than the clock that has been customary in Israel,” Saar countered. “This is not a halachic question. In addition, the length of the fast that is so disconcerting to the people involved, will remain exactly as it was — a full day. The new extension of daylight savings time will be good for the religious people, for secular people, and for everyone.”

 

WARNING TO NEW IMMIGRANTS

 

As it presently stands, the Economic Arrangements Law attached to Israel’s 2013/14 budget may discourage Jews from immigrating to Israel. Lawyers have warned that the law includes a number of inconvenient clauses such as cancelling the exemption immigrants have from reporting foreign-source income for ten years. It would also tax dividends received by new immigrants from foreign companies if the dividend came from income derived in Israel. The reason for some of the changes is to comply with the standards of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

 

“Israel may gain a few points in the international arena, but people’s trust in the country will split,” a lawyer pointed out. “If the legislation passes, I will advise my clients to consider whether to remain in Israel or if to come here in the first place… I agree with the tax authority’s stand but I think it is short-sighted.”  

 

LAPID SAYS CHAREIDIM WILL REVITALIZE ISRAEL’S ECONOMY

 

Yair Lapid claims that thanks to his efforts, the chareidim will revitalize Israel’s economy no less than the great immigration of Soviet Jewry in 1991. Speaking at the President’s Conference, Lapid was confident that tens-of-thousands of avreichim would soon leave the bais medrash for the workplace.

 

“The young chareidim have dedicated their lives to knowledge and information,” he said. “They know how to think and they know how to research. If we want to create an economy based on innovation and creativity here, their entrance into the market will be an influx of energy comparable on to what happened in 1991 when over a million intelligent, diligent immigrants came here from the former Soviet Union and elevated Israel’s economy.”

 

Meanwhile, Ichud Hatzalah volunteers wrote Lapid asking him to help them fight discrimination against their organization. This was two weeks after Lapid wrote an open letter dripping with honey to “my brothers the chareidim… Chaim and Osher.”

 

Chaim Matzliach and Aryeh Amit, two medics of Ichud Hatzalah told Lapid that their organization was barred from participating in two large army exercises.

 

“Two weeks ago after the presentation of the Perry Committee conclusions, you publicly wrote to Chaim from Bnei Brak and Osher from Yerushalayim,” they wrote. “We, Chaim and Aryeh, are happy to meet you… We are permanent volunteers of the emergency organization Ichud Hatzalah, which has about two thousand medics volunteering to save lives in Israel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most of them are chareidim including many Oshers and Chaims from Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim.

 

“When we heard of your call to Chaim and Osher, we were excited, thinking that perhaps you actually cared for us and perhaps intended to act on what you said so that while bearing the burden, chareidim would receive fair, equal from Israeli society and government institutions.”

 

The letter goes on to appeal for Lapid’s help in redressing a wrong — at the last moment, Ichud Hatzalah was barred from participating in two IDF civil defense exercises.

 

“Mr. Finance Minister, the government in which you serve as a senior politician and in which you raise the flag of chareidi participation, must understand that participation and shivyon [banetel] is a two way street,” they conclude. “A monopoly cannot take exclusive control of saving lives, make threats, and prevent the equal participation of thousands of chareidim

 

“[Signed by] your brothers, the chareidim.

 

Meanwhile, the head of Ichud Hatzalah, Eli Bir, together with an Israeli Arab, Lellian Murad who volunteers for the organization in east Yerushalayim, received the $10,000 Victor Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute for International Education (IEE) for “their immediate emergency services provided to every person regardless of ethnicity, religion, or nationality.” The annual prize is given to two people, one Jewish and one Arab, who work together to further peace in the Middle East. The two said they would donate the money to Ichud Hatzalah to buy new medical equipment. Ichud Hatzalah has about 2,000 volunteers all over Israel.
At the same time, the Lapid-Bennet alliance that forced the chareidim out the coalition is moving into the municipal arena. The two leaders have instructed their party managers to work together in many towns. In some places they will select one candidate to represent both parties and in others both parties will support candidates from third parties.

 

In many municipalities Bennett’s party is split. The National Union (part of Habayit Hayehudi in the Knesset but actually a distinct party) is running separately. In some municipalities, the National Union is even competing against Habayit Hayehudi.

 

PERES SPEAKS OF HIS RELIGIOUS PAST

 

During his 90th birthday celebration, Peres mentioned learning gemara with his grandfather as a young boy. The birthday was celebrated at an expensive extravaganza at the Yerusahalayim’s Biyonei Ha’umah convention center. Peres spoke of how his grandfather, Rav Tzvi Meltzer HY”D, who learned in Volozhin and was murdered by the Nazis, learned gemara with him in his formative years and shaped his personality.

 

Peres’s biography, K’uf Hachol (Like Flying Sand), discusses his religious upbringing at length and says that the most revered person in his life who truly educated him was his maternal grandfather who taught him a daf of gemara every day.

 

“The most powerful experience of his childhood was Kol Nidrei in shul on Yom Kippur,” the book relates. “The adults wrapped his head in a tallis, and beneath the tallis, the ‘fear of Hakadosh Boruch Hu’ fell upon him. He felt tension and great yirah, imagining that he was leaving the world around him and rising to the heavens… With all his strength he prayed to Hashem to forgive his sins… He was a religious boy, wearing a yarmulkah, particular about observing mitzvos and imbued with absolute belief. ‘I knew that a person was born to fulfill mitzvos. Woe to a mortal who desecrated Shabbos or was tempted to eat something that was not kosher, or who failed to pray with intent, with his whole heart.’ One Shabbos, his non-religious father turned on a new radio he had purchased in a large town, and Shimon, furious at the desecration, broke the radio to pieces.

 

“’When I was a boy,’ Shimon wrote in later years, ‘…I learned Tanach, Mishnah, and Gemara… Almost nothing interested me in my childhood except the Jewish faith.’”

 

Tragically, the biography relates how secular and heretical influences invaded Peres’ life, drowned his fervor for mitzvos, and led to him becoming a Zionist, prime minister, and president of Israel.

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