Police Arrest Rabbi Shapira

Large police forces arrest Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira at home, confiscate copies of his book, The Torah of the King. Lawyer says they blindfolded him.

Eli Stutz , | updated: 9:18 AM

Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira
Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira
Hakol Hayehudi via Youtube

A large police special patrol unit raided the home of Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira on Monday morning, showing him a warrant and arresting him. Rabbi Shapira heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the town of Yitzhar in the Shomron region. His associates say the reason for the arrest is likely his new book, The Torah of the King.

Police also simultaneously raided the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva itself, searching for copies of Rabbi Shapira's book. Police left the town after they found some 30 books and confiscated them.

The Rabbi's book was recently published in its second, updated edition. The Supreme Court has ruled that the content of the book is not grounds for an investigation against Rabbi Shapira.

The book, The Torah of the King, deals with Jewish law pertaining to Kings of Israel and the waging of wars, describing, inter alia, the situations in which a Jew is permitted to kill a non-Jew. The book does not contain any explicit references to Arabs or Palestinians.

Reviews of the book among Rabbis have been mixed, with some such as Rabbi Shlomo Aviner criticizing its publication and taking issue with the accuracy of its content. On the other hand, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh has defended Rabbi Shapira's right to analyze the issue, saying that the book is not a practical guide, but a theoretical exposition. Rabbi Levanon has also stated that while he himself may not have chosen to publish a book like Rabbi Shapira's, there are well-founded sources in Jewish law and tradition that would support its publication. The rabbis did not express opinions on the issue of free speech. 

Sources close to Rabbi Shapira protested the conduct of security forces surrounding the morning raid, saying that Rabbi Shapira had not been summoned for questioning or the like prior to the abrupt arrest.

In January this year, Rabbi Shapira was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a fire in a mosque in the Arab village Yasuf. A few days later, Jerusalem Magistrates Court Justice Anat Singer ordered his release of Rabbi Shapira, and criticized the State's conduct in the case.

A Honenu legal defense organization representative, attorney Moti Grossman, who met with the Rabbi in his cell, told Arutz Sheva that investigators abused Rabbi Shapira. "It was very difficult to see him," said Grossman. "He came to me blindfolded as is done with the worst of terrorists. Seeing him blindfolded was an especially difficult sight, because we are talking about a rabbi."

Grossman said that the Shin Bet (General Security Service) tried to link Rabbi Shapira with the burning of the carpet in the Yasuf mosque, but that Rabbi Shapria strongly denied this. According to Grossman, the Shin Bet is trying to place heavy pressure on the rabbi. "He wasn't allowed to keep even the tefillin (phylacteries) he brought with him, except during the time of prayer. This is an attempt to put pressure on Rabbi Shapira."