Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Tzfat, on Tuesday spoke about the suicide of author Chaim Walder, saying Walder "will not go to Heaven."
In an interview with Kan Reshet Bet, Rabbi Eliyahu said, "He will not go to Heaven at all. People like that do not go to Heaven. The suicide was predicable - in an attempt to silence the victims, he threatened to kill himself."
Rabbi Eliyahu continued: "The severity of what he did is like murdering [someone]. Now, we need to look at the victims as well. Not at him. I saw the horrific scar he left on those children."
"It's obviously not pleasant when someone commits suicide, and it's painful, and we are people. But at the same moment I said - at this moment, dozens more girls are being spared from attack. The world has become more pure. It sounds a bit inhumane to think this way. One who saw, with their own eyes, the young girls and the men who were hurt, cannot help but think of them. I know them and I saw them, and I saw the horrific scar that he made on their souls. You can't help but avenge them."
"The man was an artist, a brilliant person," Rabbi Eliyahu said of Walder. "He knew how to touch people and move people, and that's how he would invest himself and create the bonds. He helped a lot, he supported. In the end, people would fall into his spiderweb."
"I spoke with him. I told him clearly: 'There is repentance in the world. You can ask forgiveness. He was addicted to it - more than someone who is addicted to drugs - and he denied [it]."
Walder was found dead on Monday at the Segula cemetery in Petah Tikva, after taking his own life.
On Monday, it was reported that Israel Police had opened an investigation against him, on suspicion that he had committed sexual crimes. It was also reported that the rabbinic court headed by Rabbi Eliyahu had received 22 complaints from women and girls who he had allegedly hurt.
On Monday morning, Walder told his family that he was going to a meeting, but he then disappeared and they lost contact with him. His family turned to the person who Walder had claimed to be meeting, but that person said that Walder did not arrive. At that point, the family turned to the police, who used GPS tracking, by means of which they located Walder at the cemetery, near his son's grave. Walder was 53 years old and a father of six at the time of his death.