Another Rabbi is Arrested

Hundreds of rabbis gathered in Jerusalem last night to protest police intervention in Torah study; a few hours later, another rabbi was arrested.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 09:40

Torat haMelekh
Torat haMelekh
Israel news photo

Hundreds of rabbis gathered in Jerusalem on Wednesday night to protest police intervention in Torah study, and a few hours later, another rabbi was arrested.

Rabbi Yossi Elitzur, a contributing author to the controversial Torah work Torat HaMelekh (Torah of the King), was arrested around 2:30 this morning in his hometown of Yitzhar, in the Shomron (Samaria). So reports the Honenu civil rights organization.

The arrest followed by just a few hours a show of strength by hundreds of rabbis, who gathered in Jerusalem last night to protest the arrest and/or interrogation of Torah scholars because of their Torah opinions. The police are demanding 5,000 shekels in bail for Rabbi Elitzur's release; he will be brought to court in Rishon LeTzion at 11:30 this morning.

The case began nearly four weeks ago, when the work's author, Rabbi Yitzchak Shapiro, was arrested in the middle of the night in his home in Yitzhar. The police also confiscated 33 copies of the book, which discusses the legal aspects of life-and-death issues between Jews and non-Jews, especially in times of war. The rabbi was released after several hours.

Two weeks later, least two other rabbis were summoned for questioning for having given approbations to the book. Neither of the two, Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, showed up for questioning – but the very summons infuriated a large sector of the rabbinical world. Last night’s event was the result, at which leading rabbis asserted that the Torah and rabbis’ scholarly opinions thereof are immune to police investigations.

Despite, or because of, the event, the police have now proceeded to arrest Rabbi Elitzur, for the second time. He was taken to the offices of the Serious and International Crimes Unit in Lod.

The State Prosecution was reportedly surprised to learn that relatively “moderate” rabbis also took part in last night’s protest. Even Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, though he did not take part, expressed support, telling Arutz-7, “I oppose a situation in which a rabbi writes a letter of blessing or approbation for a Torah work, and then is accused or taken for questioning.” He said that he does not necessarily support the publication of the book, “because those who are not Torah scholars could misunderstand what is written there… But I suggest that the police come to the Chief Rabbinate for explanations about the significance of an approbation and suffice with that.”

Rabbi Metzger further remarked on the double standard applied by the police, in that “university professors express anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli, and anti-Jewish positions, and support Bishara, Hanin Zouabi and other enemies of Israel, and are allowed to do this in the name of democracy and freedom of expression.”