Daily Israel Report

Rabbi Eliyahu: Police and Soldiers Must Say, "I Can´t Do It"

In light of confusion regarding the ruling of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu regarding how to avoid carrying out disengagement-related orders, the rabbi issued a series of answers clarifying his position.
First Publish: 6/24/2005, 3:23 PM / Last Update: 6/24/2005, 1:21 PM

Excerpts from the question-and-answers of the Rishon LeTzion and former Chief Sephardic Rabbi:

Q. Is settlement in Gush Katif and northern Shomron a fulfillment of the Torah commandment to live in the Land of Israel?
A. It is a "top-grade" fulfillment of this Biblical commandment...

Q. When [you] say that the disengagement will not come to pass, is this a prayer, or a description of reality?
A. Both. We pray that this evil thought will be nullified, and we are certain that the prayer will help and the decision will be canceled. We must greatly strengthen ourselves in prayer to the Creator that He cancel this immoral act of expelling Jews from the Holy Land, and I believe that the prayer will bring about a reality of "it will not come to pass."

Q. Is it permitted to actively help in the expulsion?
A. It is absolutely forbidden.

Q. A career officer or policeman - must he resign?
A. ...They need not resign in fear that the expulsion may happen. They must inform their commanders that they cannot carry out these orders, and ask to be excused from training exercises related to the disengagement.

Q. A reserves soldier who is called up to the army and whose service helps the disengagement directly or indirectly - must he ask to be released from this reserve duty?
A. ...Yes, certainly, he must ask for such a release and not help directly or indirectly.

Q. What happens if he is not released and is threatened with imprisonment?
A. We said above that the Torah prohibits us from taking part in this act. Therefore, a soldier must tell his commander, "I am not refusing orders, but I cannot fulfill this order."... [and if he ends up sitting in jail for this, it will be considered a merit for him, and 'he is fortunate that he was caught because of something the Torah commanded him.']

Q. If so, what did [you] mean in [your] ruling not to refuse orders?
A. We do not want to dismantle the army that protects the residents and the citizens, and therefore we are against refusal in principle. The soldier must say, "I can't." If they force him to do this forbidden act, he should enter the family's house, sit on the floor, cry with them, and be saved from the prohibition in a passive manner.

[The rabbi also spoke warmly in favor of moving to Katif at this time and helping Katif farmers plant now, even when the expected harvest date is months from now.]

Q. Road-blockings, which are a protest measure used by port workers, taxi drivers and others - are they a permitted manner of protest against expulsion of Jews?
A. We must maximize our "causeless love" for one another, as opposed to "causeless hatred." On the other hand, there is an obligation to protest. I therefore repeat what I have said in the past, that it is permitted to block roads only where there is an alternative route for the drivers...
In sum, we must do everything to increase unity in Israel, and we will continue to pray to the Creator that He give counsel to the government to cancel this decree... There must be public prayers everywhere; this is the best way to cancel the decree.