Shas MK concedes seat after saying women who show cleavage risk cancer

Rabbi Baruch Gazahi was forced to resign because four years ago he declared that women get breast cancer and have miscarriages because of immodest behavior.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Rabbi Baruch Gazahi handed in his resignation from the Shas list Tuesday just before becoming the first Ethiopian-Israeli to enter the Knesset on behalf of the ultra-Orthodox party, due to controversial remarks he made several years ago on women’s immodest dress.

In a Torah lecture he gave in 2016, the rabbi said that “one of the reasons women suffer from breast cancer” is because they expose their cleavage, “because everyone looks at them and it causes the evil eye.”

He also told his audience that women suffer miscarriages because they post immodest pictures of themselves online.

“It is also one of the reasons why women, God forbid, have miscarriages,” he said.  “Why? She gets pregnant and immediately posts a picture on Facebook of her belly.”

Interior Minister and Shas head Aryeh Deri said that he spoke to Gazahi about the clip.

“The rabbi told me that these were some sentences that were taken out of context from a two-hour-long lecture to his students about four years ago. I clarified to him that these words are not acceptable and do not represent Shas, and Rabbi Gazahi understood.”

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The 38-year-old rabbi, who did not grow up religious, has a history of comments about women that clash with the modern ear.

Clips now circulating show him saying that “a woman needs a man,” that women who come to work wearing midriff-baring shirts should receive only half their salary because it restricts the kind of work they can do, and that women claim sexual harassment at work just because their bosses told them that they’re pretty.

On other occasions, the married father of five has told men off for behaving immodestly as well, saying that they should not engage women in casual conversation because it is not “healthy,” even at work.

“What are you talking to the secretary for? Go read Psalms” instead, Gazahi said. In that vein, he has also said that men should shut women up who try to talk to them.

Gazahi, an Ethiopian immigrant who headed the Shas youth wing in the last elections, was ranked twelfth in the party list. He was to enter the Knesset thanks to the passage late Monday night of the expanded Norwegian law that allows a certain number of ministers or deputy ministers of each party in the coalition to quit the legislature and allow the next candidates in their list to take their place. Shas is allowed to replace three deputy ministers in the Knesset.

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