Rabbi Lau: Expulsion Endangers National Unity

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi, and current chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, warned Thursday night of the dangers to national unity inherent in the Gaza-Samaria Disengagement Plan.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz , | updated: 12:59

Addressing a gathering in Givatayim at the grave of Rabbi Avraham Matityahu Friedman, known as the Rebbe of Shtefenesht, Rabbi Lau said that the plan to uproot the Jews of Gaza and Samaria endangers the people of Israel, threatens the unity and brotherhood of the nation, and compromises human dignity. Rabbi Lau further expressed his hope that the Rebbe of Shtefenesht would pray from his place in Heaven and rouse all of the righteous to be advocates for the rescinding of the decree against Gush Katif. It was the first time the rabbi had publicly expressed such explicit and harsh opposition to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan.

Prayers at yesterday's memorial service were dedicated this year to the success and relief of the Jews of Gush Katif. Taking part in the memorial, in addition to Rabbi Lau, were the chief rabbi of Kfar Darom, Rabbi Avraham Shreiber, and other representatives from Jewish communities in the Gaza region. Organizers say that thousands of people were in attendance in honor of the deceased Rebbe.

Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Solomon, chairman of the Shtefenesht Institutions in Israel, founded in memory of the late rabbi, told Arutz-7 Radio that Rabbi Friedman's final sermon on the last Sabbath before his death emphasized the urgent need "for ingathering of the exiles to settle in the Land of Israel." The Rebbe also sent Chassidim to the Land of Israel to found synagogues, Rabbi Solomon said. The Rebbe of Shtefenesht, in Romania, died in 1933.

In his address to the gathering, Rabbi Shreiber of Kfar Darom described what he referred to as the miracles and the dedication of the residents of Gush Katif. He also touched on the great injustice done to them through the Disengagement Plan and the plan's threat to the Land of Israel.

Referring to the love and sacrifice due one's fellow, Rabbi Shreiber encouraged the large crowd to consider "the entire communities and Torah schools, the mikvaot that are about to be destroyed, God forbid. One sees the soldiers who may remain scarred for their whole lives, and, of course, the residents. It is like taking a sharp knife and cutting into the People of Israel."

Describing the righteousness of the residents of Gush Katif, Rabbi Shreiber told the story of Tehillah Cohen, the daughter of Rabbi Ofir Cohen, who lost both her legs in a terrorist attack on her school bus. In the ambulance while being rushed to the hospital, according to Rabbi Shreiber, "she asked the paramedics to cover her so that she would maintain her modesty. She asked on the way that the paramedics say chapters of Psalms in order to give her strength."