Rabbi Eyal Karim
Rabbi Eyal Karimצילום: ללא קרדיט

Rabbi Eyal Karim submitted his affidavit to the High Court in response to the petition against his appointment as the Chief Rabbi of the IDF

Rabbi Karim was selected by Chief of Staff Gabi Eizenkot for the position of IDF Chief Rabbi in July. His appointment has been delayed over purely theoretical halakhic (Jewish legal) opinions he wrote 13 years ago for the Orthodox news website Kipa.

Rabbi Karim responded to a question during an 'Ask the Rabbi' session in 2003 asking how Jewish law could condone the rape of enemy women by Jewish soldiers during times of war.

The questioner was referring to the law of battle in Deuteronomy in which the Torah does not 'condone' rape at all, but commands a fighter who takes a woman captive to marry her only after giving her 30 days in which to mourn her capture - or recompense her. In both cases, he has to accept responsibility, as opposed to the horrific maltreatment and mass rapes of captive women in other cultures and civilizations.

Like any other issue in the Torah, there are discussions, debates and commentaries of rabbis through the ages and Rabbi Karim joined that historical responsa process by answering. In his response, Rabbi Karim explained the Torah’s rationale, but did not explicitly add that this is forbidden in modern times, an unnecessary qualification since the IDF does not make its decisions based on halakha and the question was a theoretical exercise in understanding a Torah topic.

Rabbi Karim wrote in his affidavit that he did not at any point imply giving permission to IDF soldiers to rape women, and that his words were taken out of context.

"I never wrote, said or thought that IDF soldiers are permitted to rape women in war-time.” he wrote. "I believe it is absolutely forbidden for soldiers to do so. That was my opinion then, and it remains my opinion today."

Rabbi Karim also wrote that while "the Torah explicitly forbids homosexual relations," it does not say the persons involved should be scorned, and all members of the LGBT community "should be treated with respect."

"In my opinion all people are created in the image [of God], and so every person must be treated with respect, regardless of sexual orientation."

The state also defended its appointment of Rabbi Karim. It said that he was "the best man for the job" and noted that his statements from 2002 are not his legal rulings but are rather his review of rabbinical law.