Jerusalem – For the First Time: Rav Yaakov Yosef Speaks Up About the Emanuel Affair


    יעקב יוסף‎ Rabbi Jerusalem – For the first time since the Emanuel affair exploded, Rav Yaakov Yosef speaks about the storm that he caused. On Friday, [before the parents were released from jail] he gave an exclusive interview to Radio Kol Chai and presented his complete view.

    The following are the salient points of the interview:

    Why did you need to do this?

    “Personally, I didn’t need it. I love my quiet life, my serenity. I have a good family. I learn with 1,000 colleagues during the week, in kollels and with baalei batim. I live in an earthly Gan Eden. No one is happier than me.

    “But the gemora tells us in Gittin 56 ‘Because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Jerusalem was destroyed.’ There was a crime. You can complain against the guilty party ‘Why should the Jewish people have to suffer because of you?’ But the gemora explains that it happened because the rabbonim kept silent….

    “We may not keep silent. An evil was done here. They humiliated families, and innocent and kosher Jewish girls. They made them an object of derision. Terrible things. Some rabbonim, not just me, me and another 33 rabbis, took a position against this. We planned what to do and how to respond.

    Rav Yaakov Yosef explains how the event evolved: “It began with building a fence, separating the classes. How did I find out about it? I have a friend, a generous Jew who owns a plaster factory. They turned to him and asked him to donate the fence. He asked them why they need a fence. They explained why, and he asked them, ‘An Ashkenazic teacher’s lounge and one for Sephardim? Why do they need a fence between these two rooms? These teachers learned together in the same seminary. What, do some of the teachers dress immodestly?’

    “He told them, ‘I’m not the same kind of chassid as you, I’m a Ruzhiner chassid. We go according to the Baal Shem Tov who founded chassidus to draw people close to their Father in heaven. And you’re planning to go and build fences?’

    “He refused to contribute, and he came to me and told me the story.”

    Rav Yosef says that in the beginning, he didn’t believe what his ears heard. “It sounds like it was made up. Who would dare to do such things in our times — in 2008? We’re enlightened people. We finished the golus. Who would dare?

    “Then we heard that they turned to a Yemenite Jew, a contractor, to set up the fence during chol hamoed! They told him that it was an obligation, a mitzvah to do it!

    “The segregation came after that. The day after the fence was set up, the Ashkenazic girls turned their back on the Sephardi girls. Since then, it’s all history.”

    The Slonimer chassidim claim that there was no discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.

    It’s not true. It’s a lie. It is ethnical. We are completely convinced. The people who live there told us the true story that all this happened on the basis of ethnicity.

    So why don’t those people speak up?

    “They are very humble people. They are indigent, but very modest and humble. They have no ties to the media, they sit and toil in Torah study. Avreichim with wonderful families. How can a person stand and shout to the opposite side of the fence, ‘There are mechalelei Shabbos here.’ Who gave people the right to come and speak derogatorily about the Jewish people? How can such a thing be?

    “We made many suggestions to Slonim, until unfortunately we got to the situation that we’re in today.”

    Can it be that Slonim didn’t know that they were avreichim? Their chassidus usually is mekorev. The rebbe is a holy may, far from such things.

    “Apparently in these things, the Satan didn’t suffice with sending an emissary but decided to attend to things himself. We asked several times to speak with the Slonimer rebbe. They arranged a meeting for us, but each time, it was cancelled at the last moment. Apparently, they were afraid that if we would meet with the rebbe and explain certain things to him, maybe the rebbe would open his eyes and would realize who are those surrounding him, and apparently, they’re very afraid of that.”

    They claim that the ones who cancelled the meetings was your side.

    “Chas v’sholom. We’re running after them for three years. I have no personal interest in this affair. I don’t want to be chief rabbi in Emanuel, or open a kolel. I have no money involved here.

    “Does Yoav Lalum have a personal interest to have things in Emanuel go in a certain way? No. But the moment that Torah prohibitions are being violated, when they come and denigrate a complete public, we are forbidden to keep silent in the face of this wrong.

    “Where are all those rabbis that signed? Three years they were silent. How come now they’re speaking up? Let them maintain their silence.”

    How did they arrive at the decision to turn to the Supreme Court? Rav Yaakov Yosef says that for 3 years, he has tried to establish a national Beis Din that would navigate the affair quietly. Such a beis din would rule and be a supreme authority above the elementary and high school principals, but Chinuch Atzmai firmly opposed it.

    Rav Yaakov Yosef calls the principal involved in the affair “mirsha’at” (evildoer). Chinuch Atzmai not only didn’t disassociate itself from her but also backed her and her conduct.

    “We have a recording of more than 40 minutes in which the principal lambasted an unfortunate mother,” says Rav Yosef. “Chinuch Atzmai continues to give her backing? The Bais Din would have solved this. Chinuch Atzmai acted stupidly. This entire business has cost them more than a million shekels. What do they need it for? Appoint a Beis Din, be honest people. Do what the halacha says to do.”

    Perhaps you asked for certain conditions that they couldn’t agree to?

    “Not at all. The Torah says, ‘Make a hearing between your brothers.’ If a person wants a judgment in money matters, you have to hear both sides.

    “I am forbidden to rule without hearing both sides. It’s a Torah prohibition. And no one turned to Yoav to hear him, or me. Not even one.

    “Who says that what is written in a newspaper is correct? I am forbidden to judge the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in the U.S. Maybe it’s all lies.

    “Those 33 rabbis heard both sides. They told Yoav, ‘According to Torah and halacha, you can go ahead to the secular courts.’

    Is it true that several Avos Beis Din permitted going to the court?

    “That’s correct. But I’ll leave their names confidential so what happened to me won’t happen to them. There are Ashkenazic rabbis among them, who feel awful about the terrible situation.

    “Unfortunately, we are being intimidated. I’m the first who was burnt in this. That’s why I left an announcement about my withdrawal on the Kol Israel telephone. We are dealing with people who act as if they were from the underground world.

    But why is there a gap between all gedolei yisroel who signed against, and you? And you insist you’re right.

    “It’s a maaseh Satan. That’s the only way to explain it. Why didn’t all the great rabbis turn to us? Why didn’t they invite Yoav and speak with him?

    “They do things, give their signatures, without hearing us. How can it be? Either the signatures are false and their secretaries forged them, or the yetzer hora himself was involved in it.

    “All the time we offered compromises and this was even publicized in the media. Why didn’t the gedolim respond then? When they asked Rav Grossman last week, he tried to reach a compromise, and we were happy to accept it. He told us that he didn’t know there was a wall.

    “We would be happy to accept any compromise whatsoever, but not a compromise that would come at the expense of the girls who had been maligned. It’s a crime. If we would have remained silent, the separation would have continued throughout the country. We did it to prevent that from happening.

    What does the rav think about Judge Edmond Levy’s statement that “this verdict doesn’t need a rabbi’s confirmation”?

    “I think he got carried away. The atmosphere in the court was angry and furious, and that’s why he said these words. This problem of discrimination is a form of mental illness. Since when do you send a mentally ill person to prison? Why send them to prison? We’re speaking about their rabbis too, who should have fulfilled what the Torah says, ‘make a hearing between your brothers.’

    “No Jew is above the Torah laws, including this command which is a d’oraysoh. Therefore, we are speaking with all those involved with the other party in this matter. We call out to them, Rabosai, we are all children of one man. We are in an existential danger. That Persian goy wants to destroy us. And instead we are occupied with this.

    “It’s a mental malady that needs a cure. I still don’t know which psychologists know how to properly cure this illness.

    How did the rav respond to his father’s words on last week motzei Shabbos, that one may not go to courts?

    “I felt very uncomfortable that Father didn’t explain all. Many times, we give a permit to turn to the courts. Sixteen years ago, we had a case: the daughter of a deserving family registered for a school here. The principal, Neuman, didn’t want to accept her.

    “We tried everything, but weren’t successful. In the end we went, as a last resort, to Father. Father said, “Go to the Supreme Court.” How can it be? How can we go to the Supreme Court?

    “Well, what else could we do? A person who does everything that the Torah tells him to do, but in the end sees that he can only be saved — even if it only involves ten shekels — by the Supreme Court, that’s where he’ll go.

    “I am very pained that they went to prison, but it’s too bad that their leaders told them this nonsense. Not to let their daughters sit with Sephardi girls for a few days and instead to go to prison?

    “There’s a limit to all stupidity and irrationality. The other side also has talmidei chachomim. Some of the parents who were supposed to go to prison, signed and didn’t go to prison. I wouldn’t send anyone to prison. It’s not a criminal offense, it’s mental illness.”

    But why did you turn to the Supreme Court l’chatchila? If the Ashkenazim don’t want the Sephardim, let them learn in their own institution.

    “Because of this Supreme Court case, fair arrangements will be made throughout the country. I am not against founding a thousand Talmud Torahs and I would bless such a venture. But for the moment, they don’t exist. There are right now hundreds of schools and Talmud Torahs throughout the country, that are the only solution.

    “In the past decade, the religious and chareidi education has expanded. But look at the baalei tshuva. We are experiencing an immense momentum. Two million shomrei Shabbos, 2 million chilonim. And in the middle — one million mesorti’im (traditional Jews). I agree, build them a thousand Talmudei Torah — but I’m only looking for a solution now.”

    What could end the conflict?

    “We notified the Beis Din that we’re interested in a Zabla and we hope that this will happen soon. Not only to give a verdict, but also to listen to them.

    “We received a letter from the Beis Din that they have to unite both classes. We respect the Beis Din, I am a personal friend of Rav Levine for dozens of years. But what happened? We asked for Zabla, because it’s a shorter process.

    “The Beis Din adopted it. But one of the dayanim libelled Yoav as if he violated the Beis Din order, which had never happened.

    “That dayan said, ‘Rav Yaakov Yosef was here and he signed for arbitration.’ When did he see me? In a dream? I wasn’t there and I didn’t sign.

    “A dayan in Israel lies and tells the media, ‘Yaakov Yosef was here and signed on arbitration.’ That man has a son who unfortunately is now in prison. That’s why the Beis Din finds it difficult to deliberate on the matter.”

    People say that Rav Yaakov Yosef is truly a holy man but maybe Yoav Lalum is misleading him.

    “I know Yoav Lalum for many years. He is a ben Torah, and a G-d-fearing person. This whole matter has only given him tribulations. He is today the most threatened person around. He is at the head of the police list of people who need protection.

    “Should I keep silent? Should I abandon my friend Yoav Lalum? You can’t maneuver me right or left. You won’t find my signature where it shouldn’t be.”

    It happened in the past that you were once accused of being a Meshichist.

    “That happened before the rebbe passed away. At the time, many Jewish sages believed that he could be the Moshiach.”

    In your opinion, what does your father Rav Ovadya Yosef think about this affair?

    “My father feels the pain of discrimination. He speaks generally against going to the Supreme Court, and so do we. But when there is no choice, of course Father thinks one should too.

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    1. “My father feels the pain of discrimination. He speaks generally against going to the Supreme Court, and so do we. But when there is no choice, of course Father thinks one should too

      Here you lost it. You should have said that we disagree, instead you make it sound as if you and your father are on the same page.

      Now you lost your credibilty. Don’t know how we can trust you on all the facts and stories you have.

    2. To Rav Yakov Yosef
      If all is as simple as you explain
      Why didn’t you involve your father Shlita before going to court
      If your father Shlita would of asked to meat the Slonimer Rebbi he would of met and much could of been avoided.
      Can we conclude that your father Shlita was not on your side. ??

    3. It happened in the past that you were once accused of being a Meshichist.

      “That happened before the rebbe passed away. At the time, many Jewish sages believed that he could be the Moshiach.”

      The most random thing I’ve ever read.

    4. This is a true leader! what awesome powerful words.

      For those who know the personal issues between Rabbi Yaakov and his father, understand why he couldn’t speak to his father personally and get his father involved.

      • There was a “Hachtaras Melech” signed by Rabbonim from many different communities in Nun Beis. IIRC, R. Ovadyah Yosef and R. Mordechai Eliahyu were among the signatories. To be fair, I am certain they thought the petition applied while the Rebbe was among the living, in accordance with the RaMBaM.

    5. In my eyes the most significant point of the interview is that the Rav tried to schedule a number of meetinhgs with the Chassidim but the meetings were cancelled.Does this mean that Daas Torah in Israel is generally controlled by a few shvitzers and hockers who zealously guard their mouthpiece from hearing anything but their positions?
      Who appointed these shvitzers Daas Torah? The gaboim and assorted psychophants
      brought klal Yisroel to their knees. The Satmar and Viznitz machlokes were started and fueled by a few guys with sirens and SUV’s. Now that the Emmanuel parents are being freed it’s time to free the incarcerated Gedolim too.

      • Both sides accuse one another of canceling the meetings. How do you know who is telling the truth? I don’t know. Oh, but you must be a Novi. Yes, indeed, as we know the Gemoro says that after the Churban Nevious was given to children and fools. Since you do not appear to be a child, we know what you are.

        • Okay so both sides claim the other side cancelled the meetings. I can’t sort out the truth , but I am willing to bet that the meetings were cancelled by the drivers and other laidigaiers. That is the way of Klal Yisroel in our times.
          The point is that the Rabbonim never met and that a huge machlokes a tremendous chilul Hashem and other problems that we don’t know the consequences of at this point in time all of which came about without a face to face meeting in THREE years. The thugs fought and lead and the Rabbonim were manipulated. Reb Yisroel Salanter explains pnei hador kpnei a dog walks in front of his master but turns around to take orders. So too in the time of Moshiach the leaders will be like dogs following their masters while ostensibly leading.

    6. so everything is not as simpl,e as it seems onc again the chassidim want to take over what is not there whether a yeshiva or shul
      But they sure know how to use PR

    7. weren’t there sefardim who went to jail too for not wanting to have their children in the same school as the ones who did not want to comply with the regulations that the slonimer chasidim requested?

    8. Rabbi Akiva also thought Bar Kochba was Mashiach, the Kenesset hagedolah and hundreds of other rabbis also thought that Shabtai Tzvi was Mashiach etc…
      The greatness of a man is when he can then say he was wrong and mislead

      • This argument again? Although 30% of the “ashkenazi” track were sefard, they supposedly were only allowed in if they renounced their sefardic heritage and relatives. If so, allowing 30% sefardim in with those rules does not prove there was no ethnic discrimination.

        Lehavdil, in 1492 the Spanish said the Jews could stay in Spain, and not be burned at the stake, if they renounced Judaism and adopted Christianity. Are you going to argue that Spain did not engage in ethnic discrimination because there were “plenty” of Jews in Spain after 1492 (as long as they denounced Judaism)?

        I cannot comment on who was right and who was wrong in the Immanuel case as I do not live there. However, this silly 30% sefardim argument is misleading.

        • Total nontruth.A woman who lives in emmanuel has written her real name and provided important details on her new blog.And she writes that there is no obligation to speak ashkenazi havara at home ,it’s a open lir spread by the secular media.

    9. In English it sounds so much more tame. In any case, it is over B”H, everyone lost aside from King Edmond. What a waste of energy, how much loss of Ahavas Yisroel, and let’s hope Lalum will lose his appetite to carry out his threats.

    10. what’s wrong with opening two
      yeshivos all over israel
      ashkenaze and sefarde
      each one has different halachos & minhagim ?
      because he knows ashkenaze will have better children better homes
      es past nisht
      ales is kovod

    11. There must be much more to this story! sounds like a puzzle where we have only on piece of 200, and have the puzzle owner visualizing how the puzzle looks, telling us Here is the house, No pieces are missing! I dont doubt this was done in bad spirit, and I’ll trust myself that by not knowing the whole story, (but rather only one sides details) (where listening to lawyers in the past, know will always sound right, and the other side outrageously wrong). I’ll leave it to everybody to think about this and perhaps desist from jumping to conclusions by just using ones sinah against a sect, together with one sided views.

    12. 30 years ago bechorim called me NIGER in yeshiva because I was Sepharadi, They called us (the sepharadi group of refugees) Shaigetz because we were not Aryian like them. I never wanted to learn Gemara because of their Abuse and I never did. Till today I dont know where is Rashi on the page and where is Tosfot. However I wanted my son to learn Torah so I send him to a yeshiva. 2 years ago at father and son learning I was standing behind one of roshay yeshiva who told his friend next to him ” look at these sepharadim they want to take over”. !!!!!
      Remember world, it was beacuse of sepharadim that Israel has a religious institutions. All the Gehenam came from Ashkenazi Europe and cancer of free thinkers (Ashkenazim), All the chourban is of their free thinking fathers, 6 million was their doing, the reform is their chidush, the worlds decay and intermarriage is them. and only through them we are in the decay that we ourselves.
      So dont sit on your air chair and belittel Sepharadim and preach seperation. you must appologize for all coruptions your people brought to the holy nation and Land.
      If the rabannim dont plug this soon, we will have a big civil war.

      • i am sorry for the abuse you suffered in yeshiva. i am ashkenaz, but i too witnessed with my own eyes bachurim being called derogatory names, because their skin color was a little darker. there is no excuse for this sinas chinum. anyone who denies its existence is guilty of perpetuating it. the rebbes in yeshiva and the rabbis outside of it who allow and even encourage this behavior should be in cherem. as much as the ashkenazi yeshivos have accomplished in the last 100 years, this cancer of sinas chinum will kill them.

    13. Rav Yaakov Yosef is being honest and humble, to a reporter that is asking some tough questions. He deserves much credit. “A dayan in Israel lies and tells the media” when are we going to clean up the baatei dinim in Israel so that they are not run by by “rabbis” who obtained their position through nepotism and influence. When are we going to realize that many things “signed” by the gedolim are forced upon them or they are misled either of the matter or what they are signing. Middle management is hijacking the process for their nefarious aims. They are definitely don’t have Klal Yisrael’s best interest at heart.

    14. No one knows what really happened. But one thing is for sure. These chassidim seem to be above the torah law and of corse the secular one. Its clear cut that they were seperating themselves from the other yidden which were looking to become more frum. Its also clear that they disobey whatever the courts have said. People with their own ways and refering to it as “the torah way”, are simply so brainwashed. I cringe when I hear the words” דעת תורה”. Its become everyones היתר to do whatever they deem as correct. This has all happened because we lack דעת תורה and so every rabbi gets up to do whatever they want to call the way of torah. I hope we can produce some giants in torah who can take over and set the nation back on the right path.

    15. the % of Sepharadim who were in the school and some of who went to jail, were sepharadim who were willing to give up their tradition, halachos, havarah, nusach, everything that has nothing to do with halacha. The ones who were not accepted were people who were just as religious, but with more of a backbone.
      Call it what you want, if u force people to become like you to be accepted to your school, that is racism

      • i am one of those who, before today, was guilty of laughing at “meshichis” lubavitchers. however, looking at this whole crazy debacle, i am embarrased by the sinas chinum of my fellow ashkenaz “brothers” (aren’t we all brothers?) (or sisters?) the lubavitcher rebbe’s greatest message was true ahavas yisroel. lubavitchers welcome any jew into their homes, with any level of observance, even completely off the derech, with the belief that we are all brothers and all serve one hashem (and one rebbe? ha, can’t stop myself with the jokes, even as i “convert”) anyway my point is i am faced with the reality that “my people” are racist bigots who separate their own brothers in the name of religion, and i find it offensive. therefore, as of today, i am officially lubavitch. “yechi adonainu, morainu verabainu, melech hamoshiach!!!!” (wow i feel good! please come over for shabbos.)

          • What are you talking about.In the so called sephardi school there are 23% ashkenazim!And in the so called ashkenazi school there are 30% sephardim!It’s a mechtzah between more frum and less frum.

    16. There is no holy purpose in trying to make fun of people who believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe was and is Moshiach. He certainly fits the description in Ramban! Every single thing. So is it strange to believe he can be Moshiach? Even the Gemorrah says if Moshiach comes from the living, he is so and so….and if he comes from the dead then he is so and so…..And to be honest, there is nobody that we know of in the world today who fits the description of MOshiach as the Lubavitcher Rebbe does. We have to believe someone in our generation can be Moshiach….so why are you wasting time arguing about something as holy as this?

      • Oh come on, please! If that is your impression of moshiach, I for one hope he never comes. That debacle came about as the direct result of the abysmally low standards of Torah study in Lubavitch institutions (themselves a direct result of WW1, Stalin and Hitler YM”S) and the fact that Lubavitch never got their act together on that front after WW2. I know Lubavitchers will be up in arms, but I know the scene very well: I studied in a Lubavitch yeshiva (there being no other in that town) and was a regular visitor in the Lubavitch yeshiva in Jerusalem (I studied elsewhere) and visited Kfar Chabad. And these were the better places. Even the Rebbe was dismayed at what was going on in the USA. Don’t try to tell me that any of them match up to any other regular, or even sub-standard, yeshiva. Once one is so far from Torah study as these guys, any whacky thing is possible.

    17. Greatest test in our times…

      I don’t know what results would come of posting once opinion on this blogg, but if by chance someone reads it and would have Hashpa on either side is Tovo Oloh Bracha!

      In every generation starting from Avrohom Avinu we as Jewish people have been tested again and again. Sometimes we succeeded and sometimes unfortunately we did not. It is not the first time that the SAMACH-MEM sticks his nose in our daily lives and throughs in a test that ultimately disturbs the calm. It is so obviously that today we are once again being tested. As it is brought down in Avos, what is considered a controversy for the sake of heaven? The controversy between Hillel and Shamai!! Surely even the blind would see that in the case of Emanuel certain individuals have corrupted the eye’s of their leader… Slonimer Rebbe!!!!

      The same happen to the Baal Ha’atanya when he himself sought to speak vis-à-vis with the Gra of Vilna and he too failed. Yidden wake up how many times do we need to go through these bitter test show true Ahavat Yisroel and lets hasten the ultimate Geulah!

      If only the Lubavitcher Rebbe was physically with us he alone can yell and scream Shimu Shomayim!!!! How foolish can people become!!! PUTTING A BARRIER BETWEEN JEWS IS DECIDING TO PUT A BARRIER ON TORAH’S MOSHE ITSELF!!! MOSHE EMES VETOROSOH EMES!! WE HAVE ONE TORAH LETS NOT TRY TO DIVIDE IT!!

      Hashem Yerachem!!!

    18. All of those people which keep bringing in the sfardim which went to jail or go to the school are just so misinformed. Don’t you realize that in EY they must integrate and become an ashkenazi in order for them to get into the schools. There are people which changed their names to an ashkenaz one in order to hide their identity. So their children being in the school means that they’ve totally given up their true identity. Its a disgrace but that’s what they have caused since they run most of the mosdos. There’s no question that they are totally wrong for requesting such a thing and unfortunately the gedolim either don’t know or don’t want to involve themselves in perhaps something which is to difficult to conquer. Yes the ashkenazim run most of the mosdos in the 21st century but there was a time when the ashkenazim would come and learn by the great Rishonim which were mostly from sfard. I personally think that if this continues you will lose a lot of monetary support from the sfardim. They’ve been extremely generous in support of torah institutions but will stop if this baby game continues. I hope the gedolim can sit down and set guidelines.

    19. Something’s not right. Could very well be that Rav Yaakov Yosef was led astray by this guy Mr. Lelom, who seems to be the instigator here, who knows; but whatever, in no way should they have gone to the supreme court, where everyone in Israel is aware of the hatred towards religious and sephardim that these elitists have. In the meanwhile, there are two sides to every story and in the middle, facts get mangled on both sides.
      We need to pray for achdut and ahavat chinam between all the yirei shamaim, in order to strengthen themselves against the outside forces of those who hate them all equally, and then use anything and everything against them.

    20. why did yakov yosef not address the 30% shephardim in the school?
      ( Maybe he is the one with the mental illness?)

      and what about the racism of sephardim against ashkenazim,and sephardim against other sephardim (iraqi`s, pharsi`s , chalabi`s, teimani`s ,morrocan`s) that OK!!!


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