Shas Rabbis Reject Deri’s Resignation Request

December 29, 2014  

Shas’s Council of Torah Sages have rejected Chairman Aryeh Deri’s request to resign as the party’s leader Monday night, arriving specifically at Deri’s home in Har Nof, Jerusalem to deliver the news. 

“We are full appreciation of how Deri has managed the party and direct him to continue serving as Chairman,” the rabbis announced, adding they were “rejecting the request.”

In a letter submitted earlier in the Council of Torah Sages, which was leaked to Channel 10, Deri wrote that he had planned to resign due to “blasphemy and controversy.”

“There is no doubt that I should resign as Chairman and leave political life to stop the dispute and the terrible blasphemy, especially over the dignity of Maran [Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef – ed.],” he wrote, saying that “pain had pierced his heart” at the “contempt for Maran and his Torah.” 

Arutz Sheva‘s Knesset correspondent stated earlier Monday that Deri’s application was a ruse to rouse sympathy from the Council and the public, by demonstrating that the Shas leaders still favor Deri despite damning recordings leaked of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, tz”l – the party’s spiritual leader who appointed Deri in 2012 – condemning the party chairman. 

Drama continued over the issue even after the Council set off to meet Deri; when they arrived at Deri’s home in Har Nof, he was not there, according to Walla! News – and was forced to give over the message to his wife Yaffa. It is unclear where Deri went and why he would not have been home to hear the news. 

Longtime feud

In the recordings, which were leaked Sunday night, Rabbi Yosef is seen in private meetings condemning Deri for his corruption that had him jailed in 1999 and explaining he didn’t want to reappoint him as head of Shas – and even going as far as to refer to him as “evil.”

The footage leaked after Shas breakway party Ha’am Itanu leader Eli Yishai had threatened to leak never-before-seen footage of R’ Yosef showing the leader’s “true opinions” over Deri. 

Yishai’s rabbinical counsel, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, lost no time Sunday night denying that the publication of Rabbi Yosef’s recordings was done according to his or Yishai’s opinion, and stating that the person responsible for the publication remains unknown.

Both Yishai and Deri were appointed as co-chairs of the Shas party, along with MK Ariel Atias, before the last elections, but the Council of Torah Sages, then headed by the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, later ruled that Deri will be Shas chairman, further fueling the conflict between the two.

The long-standing rivalry between them resurfaced after Rabbi Yosef’s death, when Yishai was reportedly advised against attending the rabbi’s memorial service, due to political pressures from Deri.

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