Rav Ovadia Yosef has yet to address the so-called “exclusion of women” issue which the left-wing media in Israel is having an absolute field day with. But his son, Cholon Chief Rabbi Rav Avraham Yosef on Wednesday slammed the “kosher” bus lines phenomenon.
“There is no exclusion when it comes to a strange woman,” he said in regards of gender segregation supporters. “Apart from touching, apart from looking, apart from smelling any good smell she may have put on herself, we should not be interested in anything else.”
In an interview to Kol Barama Radio, Rav Yosef explained that during a meeting with a woman in the public sphere, “we must ignore, take our glasses off, look down.”
The interviewer, Mordechai Lavi, mentioned an incident in which a man scolded a blind woman sitting at the front of a bus. Rav Yosef responded, “He is a stupid man, and unfortunately there countless stupid people… If he doesn’t like it, he should get up and leave…
“It’s insolent, it’s a basic lack of understanding… It’s foolish and has nothing to do with fear of God.”
As for the public which adopts such a strict lifestyle, hesaid: “There are things that become popular and have nothing to do with Halacha. There are things which were done in the past generation, which I am not sure the great Torah sages were asked about… That has never been our way.”
He stressed, however, that he did not know whether his father had signed a letter in support of the “kosher” buses.
Rav Yosef went on to clarify, “I’m not rising against anything, God forbid. I have no plans to be popular on the secular side, but have no plans to be popular on the charedi side either.”
He slammed the media for its extensive coverage of the issue, saying: “You don’t know how much television and the non-Jewish radio, and I stress – non-Jewish, ignite hatred, and within the public people are asking questions in order to simply understand what they have seen or heard the day before…
“I don’t think it’s my job to address every incitement, every insane person… We won’t do God’s work.”
Earlier this week, Israel’s chief rabbis responded harshly to the demand by some to operate “kosher” bus lines in charedi neighborhoods. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said the charedi public had not right to impose its opinion on the rest of the population.
“We can’t be the world’s landlords. This isn’t the charedi public’s country,” the chief rabbi said in an interview to Kol Barama Radio. “We have no authority to impose our opinion on others. This is a public place.”
Addressing the incident in which a female passengers was ordered to sit in the back of a bus traveling from Ashdod to Yerushalayim, Rav Metzger added that “if we want separation, setting up a special bus company for certain lines is legitimate, and then we’ll be the landlords.
“But as long as they pay like we do, and it’s a public company which doesn’t only serve the charedi public – what can we do?”
The office of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said in a statement to Ynet, “A person can be strict about himself, but not about others. If the charedim want to be strict on their own buses, let them. But imposing it on other people is irrelevant.”