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Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Bans Non-religious Papers

The spiritual leader of the Shas party published a ban on non-religious newspapers last week.

Pious Jews must refrain from reading the secular press because it contains “heresy and contempt for the Torah and the sages,” Rabbi of Israel, proclaimed in his column in the Orthodox weekly Yom Hashishi (Friday).

Secular newspapers are not to be permitted, “especially when there are children in the home who might be spiritually poisoned,” the rabbi said.

He stressed he was not issuing a temporary edict but a strict halachic ban supported by all rabbis. He urged that it be circulated widely among the public.

Shas is one of the three Haredi — ultra-Orthodox — political parties in the Likud-led coalition government. Its constituency is largely Sephardic.

Yosef has shown no qualms about giving interviews on secular television and his spokesmen maintain contacts with non-religious journalists.

Nevertheless, he blasted the secular press violent incitement against anything which smells sacred.”

He warned that even selling secular newspapers is a sin because it “assists the sinners.”

The Sephardic rabbi particularly banned the reading of any newspaper on the Sabbath, even the pious journals. He said it applied especially to yeshiva students who might be tempted to peruse Orthodox newspapers on the holy day.

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