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Chief Rabbi: Why Are Professors Protected and Rabbis Not?

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger is critical of police investigation of rabbis on controversial 'Torah of the King' book.
By Eli Stutz and Uzi Baruch
First Publish: 8/16/2010, 10:40 AM / Last Update: 8/16/2010, 1:31 PM

Flash 90

Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger criticized police for summoning for questioning Rabbi Yaakov Yosef and Rabbi Dov Lior regarding their endorsements of the controversial book, "The Torah of the King." The book deals with the laws of killing non-Jews during war-time, and its author, Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira, is under police investigation connected with it. In an early morning raid on his house last month, Rabbi Shapira was arrested and over 30 copies of his book were taken. He was released after several hours.


Rabbi Metzger said on Voice of Israel Radio this morning that a rabbi should not have to be interrogated by police for his endorsement or blessing of a Halakhic (Jewish legal) book. Rabbi Metzger said, "Israeli professors traveling abroad openly criticize Israel and the IDF and are protected by freedom of expression, so why are rabbis in Israel not protected by the same freedom of expression as well?"

He said that the police should have first approached the chief rabbis of Israel to ask them the significance of an approbation for a book in our generation. He said he was confident that after hearing the rabbis' professional opinion, the police would not have decided to investigate Rabbis Lior and Yosef. 

Neither Rabbi Lior nor Rabbi Yosef arrived at police headquarters for their scheduled questionings. "The Torah is not open to investigation," the rabbis wrote. "The attempts to stop Israel's rabbis from expressing their Torah opinions through fear and threats is a grave act and will not succeed."

Fifty rabbis have signed a letter of support for the rabbis, and on Wednesday this week, a conference will be held in Jerusalem to support the "independence of the Torah."