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Rabbi Lior: What was Our Crime?

Students and rabbis gather to discuss recent arrest warrants over the book Torat Hamelech.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/20/2011, 6:01 PM / Last Update: 2/20/2011, 6:46 PM

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The Komemiut movement held a rally Sunday in Kiryat Arba in support of Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, who face the possibility of arrest over their approbation for a book written by Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira. The two have refused to present themselves for questioning.

Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hevron, addressed the conference and explained that he is not opposed to following the laws of the state. On the contrary, he said, “If rabbis sin against the state – they should be investigated.”

However, he said, “I have not heard what the rabbis' crime was [in this case].”

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef has stated that he will not appear for investigation because “the Torah is under investigation and I have no intention of cooperating in an investigation of a book that is solely about Torah.” Similarly, Rabbi Dov Lior explained that his lack of cooperation stems from concern that the state is attempting to impose its authority over Torah teaching.

“Our problem is with those who run the state through pettiness, people who cut themselves off from the past, and have reached the point of cutting themselves off from the Torah and from parts of the land of Israel,” he said. He added, “Rabbis need to state their interpretation of Torah, and whoever does not do so fails to fulfill his responsibility to the public.”

The conference was moderated by Rabbi Chaim Yerucham Smotrich, the rabbi of Beit Yatir. He expressed “great happiness” at the large number of students who turned out for the event.

Rabbi David Chai discussed the importance of respecting Torah. “The Gemara tells us that even a person who is not required to learn Torah is required to honor the Torah. The Torah has no cure for one who denigrates Torah scholars,” he said.

Rabbi Yehoshua Shmidt of Shavei Shomron noted the media's role in the affair. “When the media is looking for a gimmick, it finds rabbis willing to say things that aren't really Torah,” he accused.