Former Chief Rabbi Shapira Issues Ruling Against Expulsion

In response to requests from students, and public confusion on the status of the Disengagement Plan according to Jewish Law, former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira has issued a ruling.

Ezra HaLevi and Yishai Fleisher, | updated: 12:57

Rabbi Shapira, former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel and the head of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva, has written a complete Halakhic responsa (legal ruling) regarding "the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, in order to hand a part of the land to non-Jews."

The Jewish legal ruling reads as follows:

Paragraph after lengthy paragraph on the way of the Torah in these important matter can be written, but at this time I will give you as an answer the brief, practical, halakhic verdict - so that the house of Israel will know the way of the Torah and go in the way of its commandments.

A) According to Torah law, it is completely forbidden to give land in Israel to a non-Jew, due to the prohibition of Lo Techanem ('Do not give them a foothold in the Land') and due to the nullification of the commandment to settle the Land of Israel that is incumbent upon every individual of Israel. This prohibition applies to every Jew, soldier and civilian alike. An order to take part in the evacuation of Jews from their homes in order to give over the land to non-Jews is an order that is against the religion of our holy Torah and forbidden to fulfill. Every order that is contrary to Jewish law and compels one to violate the words of the Torah holds no validity, is forbidden to fulfill and no person has the authority to deliver it. About such instances the Rambam (Maimonides) wrote, "It goes without saying that if an order of the king nullifies a commandment, then it is not listened to (Laws of Kings)." Anyone who violates this prohibition will not be exonerated, not in this world and not in the world to come.

B) In general the prohibition of handing land over to non-Jews includes helping those engaged in the transgression. Therefore, one must not participate in blocking the entrances to Gush Katif or assist, in any other manner, the expulsion of Jews from their homes. Similarly, it is upon every soldier called for reserve duty to refrain from showing up if his service is designated to enable other soldiers to take part in the transgression.

C) A soldier or police officer that harms the holy items of Israel and, G-d forbid, destroys heavenly articles and holy accoutrements such as Torah scrolls, phylacteries, mezuzas - whether it is done within the context of the evacuation transgression or not - he is desecrating the holy of Israel and violates the command Lo ta'asun ken l'HaShem Elokeichem (Do not treat G-dly things as we are commanded to treat idolatry).

D) One who destroys an object in a synagogue, he is like someone who destroys a stone in the Sanctuary [of the Holy Temple]. (Mordechai, chapter Bnei Ha'Ir, in the Magen Avraham, 152:6). There is an absolute prohibition for every soldier and every policeman to take part in the destruction of a synagogue and a study hall. And within that prohibition is the prohibition of destroying vessels belonging to the synagogue, for they are like the synagogue itself (Biur Halachah, siman 152). Woe to him and woe to the soul of a soldier or policeman who takes part in this sin.

E) A soldier or policeman who damages the property of the residents of the region is committing robbery. There is no "Law of the Kingdom" [the concept in Jewish law which gives deference to the actions of a king even over certain ethical values]. In this case rather, the "violent theft of a kingdom," is contrary to Torah law. (Shach, Choshen Mishpat 73:39) It is the right of every person to defend his property from harm or damage that are done through acts that are contrary to Torah law.

F) It is incumbent upon every Jew to do all he can to stop transgression. Moreover, every single Jew is required to protest. Of course, it is not allowed to use violent means against soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, or the Israeli police.

G) Only great sages of the generation whose decisions are widely accepted in Israel are allowed to adjudicate difficult questions in all parts of the Torah, and are allowed to render such decisions that affect all of Israel. All those who have not reached this level should abstain from rendering decisions on these issues. If he does render decisions on this matter, the Rambam has already called him (Laws of Talmud Torah, chapter 5:4), "An evil person, a fool, and haughty," and it is furthermore said about him, "Many corpses she has made to fall, etc." and it says about him "and many are its dead." These are the small students which have not studied Torah sufficiently; and they wish to aggrandize themselves before the ignoramuses and the people of their city; and they leap and sit at the head to instruct Israel; and it is they who increase conflict; and they are the destroyers of the world who put out the light of Torah and who ruin the vineyard of the G-d of Legions. It is about them that Solomon has said in his wisdom, "Small foxes have taken hold of us, small foxes destroying the vineyards."

H) Those who follow the rulings of rabbis who have not reached the level of rendering decisions in these matters (as was addressed above), are not categorized as inadvertent transgressors, and they too will be judged. (See Pitchei Teshuva, Even haEzer 17:140 and Yoreah Deah 99:5, in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek haKadmon)

I) From the straits, in the 'days between the straits' [the three weeks of increasing mourning culminating with the 9th of Av], G-d will hear the voice of His nation, and will answer us bountifully, and out of suffering and tribulation He will find for us salvation and well-being and He will take away the shame of His nation from the whole earth, because G-d has spoken.

(signed),
Rabbi Avraham Kahane Shapira

Rabbi Shapira also sent a sharply-worded letter to IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss, regarding the latter's ruling bidding soldiers to fulfill military orders connected with the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and northern Shomron. Rabbi Shapira wrote, "If, as you claim, you are my student, I request of you, please listen to my opinion, and do not rule contrary to what I rule. And if you are not my student, please do not use my name to fulfill your missions."



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