JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Shas rabbi who called the Modern Orthodox community “Amalek” was referring only to politicians who represent that community, said the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Yosef made his remarks in a sermon on Saturday night, a week after Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a member of the haredi Orthodox party’s rabbinical council, made the reference to the archenemy of the Jewish people.
“Rabbi Shalom Cohen said some things against knit kipot, but clearly he doesn’t mean those who wear knit kippot, for is it the kippah that determines who a person is? He was referring to a few politicians who have relinquished the source of life [the Torah] and colluded with people who levied decrees on the world of Torah,” Yosef said. “The rest of the knit kipot are loved. I never differentiated between knit kipot and black kippot. It’s nothing.”
Yosef is believed to be referring to Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, who is pushing legislation that would require haredi Orthodox men to serve in the Israeli military.
At an event July 13 announcing the candidacy of Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Ovadia Yosef’s youngest son, for Sephardic chief rabbi, Cohen said, “As long as there are knit kippot, the throne [of God] is not whole. That’s Amalek. When will the throne be whole? When there is no knit kippah.”
“Are these people even Jews?” he asked. “We would be unfortunate to end up with a [chief] rabbi who wears a knitted kippah.”