Rabbi Druckman
Rabbi DruckmanHillel Meir/TPS

In the national-religious public, the overwhelming majority already denounced Rabbi Moti Alon nine years ago, following the announcement of Forum Takana. Alon had lost his position in the consensus already then, and only a handful of foolish followers clung to him. This bunch will be reduced now, but probably will not go away.

A clear majority of the religious Zionist public thought, until a week ago, that Rabbi Chaim Druckman had erred in his judgement of Moti Alon nine years ago. Many of the rabbis told him this, including many of his associates and students. In the book "Hineni", which tells the story of Rabbi Druckman's life, I wrote that anyone who nevertheless tries to understand - not justify - the warm relationship of Rabbi Druckman to Rabbi Alon should be familiar with the relationship between the rabbi and his students. Rabbi Druckman refers to his students as his sons. Therefore he is with them in every significant event in their lives, in joy or God forbid in mourning. From that same paternal position came his support for Rabbi Alon. The feeling of those who criticized Rabbi Druckman’s conduct was that he was blinded by his love for Rabbi Alon.

Despite Rabbi Druckman's centrality in the religious Zionist community, the effect of his erroneous conduct in the affair was minimal. All the bodies related to him did not accept his position. The Bnei Akiva yeshivas and the Bnei Akiva youth movement did not give Rabbi Alon a foothold. The only place where Rabbi Druckman gave Rabbi Alon a place to express himself and teach was in his hesder yeshiva. Despite Rabbi Alon's lesson, his followers did not grow there. Rabbi Alon's follower's were not composed of graduates of Yeshivat Or Etzion, but mainly from his former students at Yeshivat Horev and other places where he taught in the past, until the first allegations were publicly presented. Along the same line, the student who currently complained is not a disciple of Rabbi Druckman.

The story of Rabbi Kopolovitch at the Nativ Meir High School Yeshiva is different. Most of those who accuse Rabbi Druckman of his conduct in this case do not know its details. The first time suspicions arose against Kopolovitch, he resigned as head of Yeshivat Netiv Meir for a certain period of time, but his resignation was explained by heart disease. Rabbi Druckman had not yet served as chairman of Bnei Akiva Yeshivas. He had no responsibility for what was happening at Yeshivat Nativ Meir. He had not heard of the news against Rabbi Kopolovitch, and was convinced that his retirement was due to medical reasons. After a period of time, Rabbi Kopolovitch returned to his post. In 1997, there were again suspicions of harm to students.

This time the information came to the attention of Rabbi Druckman, who at that time was chairman of Bnei Akiva yeshivas. As soon as he heard about the suspicions, Rabbi Druckman personally went to Rabbi Kopolovitch's home in Jerusalem and informed him of his forced resignation as head of the Yeshiva. However, Rabbi Druckman did not apply to the police to file a complaint, and he received intense public criticism. He later explained that he did not know at the time that it was his duty to inform the police. At that time it was not in the public awareness to file complaints to the police. "If I knew I had a duty to go to the police," Rabbi Druckman said, "I certainly would do it."

In the case of Rabbi Kuplovitch, Rabbi Druckman behaved differently, because he had no personal connection with him. Kopolovich was not his student, nor did he have feelings of love and fatherhood that influenced his conduct as in the case of Rabbi Alon.

Rabbi Druckman erred in his judgement in Rabbi Alon's case, and most of the religious Zionist rabbis said this before the case was reopened this week. Even great rabbis are wrong, and most of the national-religious public knows how to identify these mistakes in real time. The majority believed Forum Takana, which represents the position of most rabbis. The majority thought that Rabbi Druckman was wrong, and the majority still cherished and appreciated him, rightly so, despite his error in Alon’s case.

Elyashiv Reichner is the author of "Hineni" and a journalist at Makor Rishon.