Sephardi Chief Rabbi: Yeshiva students protected Israel from rockets, not IDF

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Sephardi Chief Rabbi: Yeshiva students protected Israel from rockets, not IDF

'Thank God for the miracles and wonders we had. Thanks to what? Thanks to the IDF chief? Thanks to the Torah students and yeshiva students,' Yitzhak Yosef said.

Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef.
Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef sparked outrage on Sunday when he claimed yeshivas students were responsible for protecting Israel from thousands of rockets since October 7. 

“13,000 missiles were lobbed at our country (since the October 7); thank God for the miracles and wonders we had. Thanks to what? Thanks to the IDF chief of staff? Thanks to whom? Thanks to the Torah students and yeshiva students, who sit and study the Torah,” Yosef said.

The Israeli public was saved from the thousands of rockets from north to south “only thanks to the members of the yeshivas and their students. They protect all the soldiers and all the nation of Israel.”

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid lashed out at Yosef shortly after, telling Kan public radio: “I wonder whether he would agree to not have the Iron Dome in his neighbourhood, seeing as how their prayers will protect them. I’m sure the answer is no. The people who applauded him should enlist like any other young Israeli.”

Yosef’s remark comes as the issue over drafting ultra-orthodox to the army has been re-ignited following a Supreme Court ruling forcing yeshiva students to be drafted after decades of exemption.

The Sephardi Chief Rabbi has been condemned numerous times in the past for racist and insensitive remarks.

In 2018, Yosef compared black people to monkeys when he said: “You can’t make the blessing on every ‘kushi’ (derogatory term for black in Hebrew slang) you see — in America you see one every five minutes, so you make it only on a person with a white father and mother. How do would you know? Let’s say you know! So they had a monkey as a son, a son like this, so you say the blessing on him.”

Yosef has also accused secular Jews of being “miserable” while claiming that those eating non-kosher food become “stupid.”

“A person who eats non-kosher food, his brain gets stupid, he can’t understand things, doesn’t get it. As soon as he starts keeping kosher, you can start to influence him,” he said last year.

Rabbi Yosef said he “sees everything that is going on in the secular public, and they are miserable. They are dissatisfied with their lives. It’s all about lust… It’s incredible… You can see the permissiveness in the secular public, as well as the problems it causes. They are envious of us, you know, it’s all jealousy. They see the ultra-Orthodox public, they have holidays, they have children, and we go out on holidays with them… Everything starts with jealousy, and jealousy breeds hatred.”

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