Aryeh Deri has not only returned to the Shas party to manage its election campaign, but has resumed his activities with the force and passion for which he is famous.
His resignation and return to politics in short succession last month drew lots of media coverage.
It was reported and then confirmed that well-known philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz traveled from Los Angeles to persuade Deri to return. Two political analysts of Israel’s chareidi press wrote that Rechnitz’s contribution was huge, if not decisive, in persuading Deri to desist from retiring.
In an interview with the American Yated Ne’eman one week ago, Deri was asked pointedly what impact the visit of Rechnitz had on his decision to return to Shas.
“I don’t like to speak much about these issues,” Deri said, “but immediately after my resignation, I kept to myself. Rabbonim and roshei yeshiva, activists and friends, were putting a lot of pressure on me. I went north with my wife and announced that…I wanted to be by myself and not subjected to any outside influence. The only person I met during those days, because I could not refuse him, was Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.”
Deri said that Rechnitz traveled specially to Eretz Yisroel even though his daughter was about to give birth.
“At any rate, I could not refuse,” Deri told the Yated. “I said to myself, ‘This is a Jew I don’t know who has no personal interest in these affairs. He is a Jew who I heard was one of the greatest Torah supporters in this generation. As a part of the yeshiva world, I could not refuse to meet him after all he has done. I regarded his visit here as nobility, magnanimity and mesirus nefesh. I have to say that despite published articles that allege that he was here to achieve unity and create an interparty bloc, it is not true.”
Deri added: “He came for one purpose: as an emissary of very important rabbonim in America. He brought me letters they wrote about this matter and I was very impressed that he and the gedolei Torah of America were really concerned that my retirement might weaken Shas and subsequently the Torah world at a time when the Torah world is experiencing great difficulties. We talked for many hours. I got to know a special Jew, a good Jew, a Jew devoted to the world of Torah. There is no doubt that he had a part in my return. The initial, significant softening of my attitude was because of him. After conversations with him, I was more amenable to accept and understand that I had no choice and that I had to go back and obey the command of Maran the rosh yeshiva with no questions.”