A popular rabbi who launched a failed bid to enter the Knesset last winter on Monday attacked chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef for meeting Pope Francis, whom he referred to as an “idol.”
Yitzhak made headlines in November when he declared it was “immodest” for women to drive, stating that in the past, only men had driven horse-drawn carriages.
The rabbi, known for convincing hordes of secular Israelis to embrace religious observance — by warning them, among other methods, of the grisly fate that awaits them in hell should they persist in their errant ways — said that shaking the hand of the spiritual leader of Catholic Christianity was a sin.
During a Torah lesson, Yitzhak said “those who are going to meet the pope today and shake his hands are the ultimate source of impurity. Is this what they were chosen for?”
He added that it was no “honor” to “shake the hand of the idol,” and that the rabbis’ actions would surely not please God.
“Is God happy today, to see the chief rabbis of the State of Israel shaking the hand of the idol?”
He said Yosef, the Sephardi chief rabbi and son of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, should resign.
Yosef wore a gold pendant in shape of the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, as was his father’s custom, to offset the cross worn by the pope.
But Yitzhak still contended that the meeting was sinful.
“Why are you degrading yourself?” Yitzhak asked Yosef. “You are a representative of the State of Israel. What are you a rabbi for? To purify the sheretz?” he continued, using a Hebrew word that in Jewish legal parlance means both vermin and a source of ritual impurity that cannot be purified.