Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef on Saturday night called for opponents and proponents of the government’s proposed judicial reforms to talk to each other, saying that the national divisions were “disturbing and very painful.”

Delivering his weekly sermon, Yosef said that “there should be dialogue so that there is not a civil war—we are all the people of Israel, we are all brothers.”

Mass demonstrations across the country have taken place on a regular basis over the past few months since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power and his coalition started pushing the legal overhaul that they say would restore the balance between the legislative and judicial branches and opponents claim is a power grab by Netanyahu and his allies in the Knesset.

The rabbi also talked about how the Supreme Court should not be involved in religious affairs.

“At least in religious matters they will not interfere. What do you have to interfere [with] the religious matters of the rabbinical courts? You are not above the rabbinical courts,” he said.

Yosef recently criticized National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir for visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, reaffirming the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s stance that it is against religious law for Jews to step foot on the Temple Mount. This policy has been in place since 1967 when Israel liberated the holiest site in Judaism.

“As a minister representing the government of Israel you should be acting according to Chief Rabbinate instructions, which have long forbidden visiting the Temple Mount,” Yosef wrote in a letter to Ben-Gvir.

The rabbi also criticized the previous government last year, specifically then-Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana for spearheading conversion and kashrut reforms Yosef claimed go against Jewish law.


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