Rabbis Refusing Interrogation
Question: As a politically left-wing person who tries to honor everyone, I cannot understand why the religious public demands extra privileges for rabbis. Why shouldn’t rabbis who have been summoned for police investigation show-up just like any other citizen? Even the Prime Minister and the President have been investigated, so why should the rabbis be dealt with ‘kid gloves’? Don’t you feel there should be equality before the law?!
Answer: Had a rabbi been suspected of committing a crime, we wouldn’t maintain that he shouldn’t appear for questioning. However, in this case, rabbis engaged themselves in the study of Torah, loyally fulfilling their duty towards the Torah and the public they represent. This cannot be investigated. In the field of Torah study, rabbis are indeed entitled to immunity from the law.
In greater detail: There are three reasons for the rabbis’ refusal to be investigated – each of which can stand on its own.
1) The Reason for Interrogation: Persecution
There is no reason to investigate the rabbis. The book, “Torat HaMelech”, including its approbations, was plainly published and made available for all to read – even the police and the State prosecutor’s. If, according to their leftist views, something is illegal, they can put them on trial. If there is nothing illegal – they should be silent. So why must the rabbis be brought in for investigation under warning? The only probable motive is the desire of the State Prosecutor’s office to humiliate and frighten the rabbis. The State Prosecutor’s office, which is controlled by people from the extreme left-wing, decided to persecute rabbis, to publically slander their names and portray them as criminals and inciters, with the hope that by doing so, they will successfully thwart their influence. The State Prosecutor’s office is exploiting its official, government function in order to promote its political positions.
Any decent person with a conscience in his heart cannot cooperate with such an injustice. Agreeing to be investigated constitutes acquiescence to the ugly discrimination on the part of the State prosecutor’s and interrogators.
People on the political left incite towards hate for the settlers, call for the public and government agencies to harm them, to break their bones, and destroy their houses. The State Prosecutor’s office refrains from bringing them to trial, especially when it comes to those from the world of academia, authors, and artists. On the other hand, there is a special unit within the State Prosecutor’s office whose job is to persecute right-wing Jews over much more insignificant remarks – with their sights fixed on the rabbis.
There is a ‘halachic’ rule: “Dina d’malchuta dina” [the law of the land is the binding law] (Tractate Nedarim 28a). However, the ‘poskim’ (arbiters of Jewish law) have written that this rule is binding only when the law and its enforcement is equally imposed, but in a case of obvious discrimination, one is not obligated to obey the law, for it is not ‘the law of the land’, but rather ‘the injustice of the land’ (see Ramban and Nimukei Yosef on Baba Batra 54b; Ritva on Nedarim).
Had the government taken a poll, asking the public whether a special unit should be established to enforce the law – specifically against the settlers – undoubtedly they would not have a majority. The State Prosecutor’s office exploits its status in order to promote its positions, in opposition to the rules of fairness and the public’s opinion.
There were periods of time when Jews were trampled upon, lacking the power to openly rebel against discriminatory laws. But here in the Land of Israel, can we possibly consent to such an outrageous and blatant injustice?!
3) The Torah and the Law
The question at issue: In a contradiction between the Torah and the law, which comes first? Individuals on the left, including Tzippy Livni, head of the ‘Kadima’ Party, demand that the State Prosecutor and the police forcibly bring the rabbis in for questioning, in order to make clear that the law is above the Torah. This being the case, we are compelled to explain in simple terms that the command of the Torah is above all laws.
Our forefather Abraham was ready to forsake his instinctive, fatherly love for his child, binding his one and only son on the alter – because that’s what God commanded him to do. Even before this, he was willing to descend into the burning furnace, not paying attention to the accepted law of worshiping idols. Since then, in every generation, Jews have been ready to sacrifice their lives to guard the Torah. Never did they agree to accept any other law over the Torah.
Even the king of Israel is subject to the Torah, as Yehoshua the son of Nun was told upon being appointed leader, that he has the power to severely punish any person who disobeys him and rebels against his kingdom – on the condition that he does not stray from the Torah right or left. And if he gives an order contradictory to the Torah, his words are null and void (Joshua 1). And thus wrote Rambam (Laws of Kings 3:9): “If the king decreed to cancel a mitzvah, he is not listened to.”
The Religious-Conscientious Decree is above the Law
This foundation – that the religious-conscientious decree stands above the law – was revealed to the world by the nation of Israel, and over time, has become the inheritance of decent people throughout the world. Someone who thinks that man-made laws stand above one’s conscience is an extremely dangerous person. He will collaborate with any dictatorship. He is ready to inform on his father and mother, and to disgrace the Torah, which all his grandparents gave their lives for. He learns in religious institutions, and afterwards, persecutes the rabbis in the name of the law.
Hypocrisy and the Law
Even the majority of the non-religious public agrees that one’s conscience comes before the law. When non-religious people demand that rabbis who refuse to bow down before the law be put on trial, they do not do this because the law, in itself, is dear to them, rather, because the law currently expresses their personal philosophy of life. In their eyes, a law that contradicts their world-view isn’t so “holy” any more. Notice what has happened to all the laws concerning the Sabbath or abortions. And who brought upon us the cursed Oslo Agreements – knowingly and willfully – if not as a result of the law?
In other words, they claim that their value system is preferable to our holy Torah, and consequently, all the government institutions must show us the might of their outstretched arm – until we submit to their set of values.
The media was outraged by the “severe rioting” after the arrest of our teacher and leader, Rabbi Dov Lior, shlita, and therefore they demand that the police deal with the demonstrators with an iron fist. This also is part of the systematic campaign of incitement against the Torani public. Exactly what “riots” were they referring to? Some of the public, in whose name and sake Rav Lior speaks for, went to greet him and to protest his falling prey to police persecution. What did they destroy? What did they burn? Who did they seek to hurt? The fact is that all of those arrested were immediately released the next day. Of course, the State Prosecutor’s office will do everything in its power – accompanied by shameful discrimination – to bring them to trial. Nevertheless, even they won’t be able to find significant charges against them.
The day before this all occurred, in another neighborhood of Jerusalem, a Jew got lost while driving and drove less than a mile away from the main road. Arabs attacked him, attempting to kill him for no reason at all, other than his being Jewish. The ‘muhktar’, or head of the village, was able to prevent the murder, clearly understanding that if a Jew was killed in his village, his residents would pay the price.
Note the deceit: Not one of the leftists or the false media who had tongue-lashed the religious “rioters” demanded that the police impose order in Arab neighborhoods. They were busy glorifying the “righteous” muhktar.
Everyone is familiar with the powerlessness of the police. Entire regions of Israel suffer from violence, robbery and harassment, and the police are completely helpless. And here, all of a sudden, the State Prosecutor’s office demands the police use all its power against the rabbis and the Torani public. Is this not using the police as a tool to promote political agendas?
If we had a Minister of Police with scruples, he would direct the policemen to the proper places. However, for his own reasons, he chooses to serve as tool in the hands of the judicial system, which is governed by the left.
Civilians Supporting Terror
From its very establishment, the State of Israel has had to contend with the Arab enemy. After realizing that it would be difficult for them to destroy us in a regular war, the Arabs proceeded to terrorist actions. They know that we don’t want to hurt citizens who do not take part in the war; therefore, they choose to hide amongst them, conducting their war of terrorism against us from within the civilian population. The normal, ethical point of view finds it difficult to cope with such warfare. According to moral outlook dominant amongst leftist circles, it is preferable for our soldiers to be killed than to harm civilian surroundings. This is how the judicial system succeeded in abolishing the targeted assassinations.
The question at hand is: what can be done, from an ethical point of view, against such an enemy? If we could kill only those who plot to harm us – that would be excellent. But in reality, they use their family members, neighbors, kindergartens, and hospitals as human shields. Is it permitted to strike those surrounding them, thus preventing terrorist attacks, or must we avoid harming them, even though, as a result of this, we will have to bury our own dead soldiers and citizens?
The Book “Torat Ha’Melech”
The book “Torat HaMelech” is part of this important discussion. I’m not sure I agree with its conclusions, because it has none. It is not a book on ‘halacha’, or Jewish law, but rather a reference book written in a scholarly style.
It is clear that what the false media attributes to it is a complete lie. The book does not call for genocide, or the killing of innocent Arabs. The basic motivation behind it is to clarify the Torah/ethical question with regard to striking civilian surroundings used as shelter for terrorists in times of war.
In general, it can be said that the international law worded in the Geneva Conventions in regards to the laws of war, is not far from the position of the rabbis. Just observe how the NATO forces and the Americans strike civilians during combat operations.
Libel and Incitement
As part of the war of opinions here in Israel, the State Prosecutor’s office accompanied by the false media and other leftists, seek to slander and accuse the rabbis of a blood libel, as though they support the murder of non-Jews. Some leftists weren’t satisfied until claiming that the rabbis supported no less than genocide! This, for example, is what professor Amnon Rubinstein claimed in a live interview broadcast on national radio. One needs nerves of iron not to explode from anger over such anti-Semitic slander. The entire world hears what they say about us, how they throw us to the dogs. This is why the public is so angry and defiant. Out of a sense of public responsibility, the rabbis and educators attempt to divert the growing anger towards constructive channels. However, when one starts to think and is reminded of the terrible injustices of the State Prosecutor’s office and the courts, the anger grows and drives one crazy.
Our consolation is that, just as the lofty and noble ideas of the Torah of Israel defeated idolatry, corrupt Hellenism, and rampant anti-Semitism, so too, it will overcome this murky wave of destructive forces emanating from our own camp. The more independent and uncompromising we are in realizing the truth and morality within our Torah, the quicker we will merit the complete Redemption.