Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the spiritual leader of Israel's Lithuanian haredim and of the Degel HaTorah political, party apologized today for slighting the Gerrer Rebbe, widely seen as the leader of Israel's hasidic haredim. Except that Rabbi Elyashiv, who quite regularly speaks out of both sides of his mouth, did not really apologize or, if he did, he did not do it for attribution. Matthew Wagner of the Jerusalem Post reports:
A purposely obscure, face-saving meeting Thursday between MK Moshe Gafni (Degel Hatorah) and the Gerer Rebbe, Rabbi Ya'acov Aryeh Alter, facilitated the merging of the Hassidic and Lithuanian haredi political parties into a united list.
After the meeting between Gafni and the Gerer rebbe, the Lithuanian Degel Hatora and the Hassidic Agudat Yisrael related contradictory reports on exactly what happened.
According to Agudat Yisrael, Gafni apologized to the Gerer rebbe in the name of Degel Hatorah for slighting the Hassidic leader.
According to Degel Hatorah, no apology was offered. The meeting had nothing to do with the ongoing tension between the two haredi parties that caused a split at the beginning of the year.
MK Ya'acov Litzman has demanded that Degel Hatorah apologize to the Gerer Rebbe for ignoring the Hassidic leader's opinion on joining Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition.
However, Degel Hatorah has been unwilling to compromise itself by openly admitting that an apology was justified. [This is the same reason Rabbi Elyashiv has not publicly retracted erroneous rulings including his ruling against Indian hair wigs and his riduculous claim that Rabbi Nosson Slifkin was a heretic and that his books contained heresy. Rabbi Elyashiv doesn't like to look human in public. – FM editor.]
The Gerer Rebbe disagreed with Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the supreme halachic and spiritual authority for Degel Hatorah on how to join the government coalition. The Gerer rebbe felt it was important for all Agudah members to accept positions in the government immediately, while Rabbi Elyashiv demanded a three-month waiting period.
Gafni and Avraham Ravitz the two Degel MKs split with the three Agudah MKs after Agudah refused to accept Elyashiv's opinion.…
What is the motivation for this 'reconciliation'?
However, despite their difference there is one strong impetus for running on a united list: both parties are dangerously close to falling below the three-mandate minimum if they run alone.
Ah, but there is more to this starry-eyed love affair than meets the eye. Chabad has quietly gone on the warpath against Agudath Israel and, therefore against the Gerrer Rebbe, forcing Agudah to accept Rabbi Elyashiv's non-apology:
Righwing haredi elements, particularly Chabad followers, plan to run an aggresive campaign against Agudah for sitting in the government during disengagement, said a Chabad source.
"An American Millionaire plans to fund a campaign that shows that [Agudath Israel's] Litzman was a partner in that crime."
So it seems Dr. Irving Moskowitz may be back to his old tricks.