Tensions between Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau over several matters became even more heated on Sunday, as they issued seemingly contradictory position statements on the contentious issue of mikve usage. …

In his statement on Sunday, Lau said the privacy of a woman seeking immersion should be respected, but said that Jewish law requires that a mikve attendant must be present in order to check that the immersion was valid In a new and relatively lenient ruling however, the chief rabbi said that a woman may wear a loose fitting gown to immerse in, as used by female converts when immersing in the presence of witnesses.

This solution has not been approved by the Religious Services Ministry, which formally sets the rules and regulations for mikve usage.

Shortly after Lau’s statement was issued, haredi journalist Yishai Cohen of the Kikar Shabbat website tweeted a halachic statement by Yosef from October in which he said that, in certain cases, if a woman wishes not to immerse in the presence of a mikve attendant due to personal privacy, she can ask for a relative to accompany her instead.

This is a more lenient position than Lau’s, and something that campaign groups have demanded for some time.