NIF Israel Executive Director Eliezer Yaari attended Kol Nidre services at Jerusalem's Yeshurun Synagogue on Sunday night, marking the 15th anniversary of his father’s death in the synagogue where his father prayed. The experience turned sour when he realized he was hearing a political sermon against the left delivered by the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger.
In an article published in the newspaper Yediot Ahronot yesterday morning entitled "Satan comes to Kol Nidre," Yaari recounted how Rabbi Metzger began talking about gammatria, the traditional Jewish numerology in which Hebrew words also represent numerical values.
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger
According to Eliezer, "The rabbi told us that Hasatan (the Satan) equals 364, and this is the ‘first sign’ of Satan’s dominance over every-day life. The absent day in the complement of the year is Yom Kippur. But the honorable rabbi also added that we must remember that Satan is also called Smol (Hebrew for left). The left is Satan, it has created evil. But today when Satan does not have control over us, left and right can pray together. The right is necessary and vital (Yemin, right in Hebrew) and means prosperity and courage, while the left is Satan.”
Eliezer expressed his outrage further: "Those who demand human rights, freedom, rights of the poor, the weak, the beaten woman, and the cheated stranger are somehow Satan. The terrible left is only allowed on Yom Kippur to pray with the rest of Israel but during the remainder of the year is Satan, no less."
Yaari continued, "These were words of incitement, in the synagogue where David Ben Gurion, Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz and the like have prayed. And I thought to myself, in those days people would have shouted out at such sermons from the pulpit, clapped or beaten on their tables. This time there was a thin silence."
The article has generated enormous debate about the role of the Chief Rabbi. Since the article was published Tuesday morning in Yediot, Israel's largest circulation newspaper, Yaari has been inundated with emails of support and requests to be interviewed by the Israeli media. He was also interviewed together with Rabbi Metzger on Israel Radio.