Rabbi David Lau (L) and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (R)
Rabbi David Lau (L) and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (R)Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Following reports that the Swedish police have allowed the Jewish Bible (Tanach) to be burned in the name of "freedom of expression," Israel's Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau penned an open letter to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

In his letter, Rabbi Lau writes, "I was horrified to hear of the intentions of a number of civilians who are Swedish residents, who plan to protest opposite the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm, [in a] protest which will include the burning of a Torah"

"The more serious issue is, according to the same news, that the Swedish police have approved such a serious and horrific thing, obviously under the guise of 'freedom of expression.'

"A few months ago, protesters in Sweden burned a Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy building. This in itself is a horrific thing and obligates everyone to protest with all their might and to condemn such a thing. But this wrong does not justify another wrong; one despicable act does not permit another despicable act.

"I call on you to insist with all your might that such a thing not happen. Freedom of expression does not permit doing everything, and any harm to what is holy to Israel is not an expression of freedom, but of antisemitism.

"I am convinced that everyone on the face of this planet understands how serious these acts are, and condemns them," Rabbi Lau concluded.

Meanwhile, Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef penned a letter to Sweden's King Carl Gustaf XVI, King of Sweden.

"Your Majesty, I write to you today with great concern and deep distress regarding an imminent event that has the potential to undermine the values of tolerance, respect, and religious freedom that we hold dear," Rabbi Yosef wrote.

"It has come to my attention that permission has been granted by the authorities for the burning of the Holy Bible in front of the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm tomorrow. I implore Your Majesty to intervene in this matter and prevent such an act from taking place.

"I must emphasize that our protest is not confined solely to the burning of the Holy Bible. We also vehemently condemn the recent act of burning the Quran in front of a mosque. As people of faith, we firmly believe that two wrongs do not make a right. It is imperative that we uphold the principles of mutual respect and dignity, even in the face of disagreements or tensions between communities.

"As you may be aware, the Jewish people are currently observing a period of three weeks marked by sadness, leading up to the solemn day of the 9th of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. This day serves as a reminder of the burning of holy books in the thirteenth century in Europe, which set a tragic precedent for further heinous acts throughout history. The German poet Heinrich Heine once wrote, 'Those who burn books will, in the end, burn people,' a statement that regrettably manifested in Europe during our lifetime. It is evident that freedom of expression should never serve as a justification for perpetrating acts of cruelty or inciting hatred."

Rabbi Yosef continued, "Your Highness, I appeal to your noble character and your dedication to promoting peace and harmony among all people. As the leader of Sweden, a country renowned for its commitment to human rights and religious freedom, I kindly request that you utilize your influence to ensure that the burning of the Holy Bible does not take place. By preventing this event from occurring, you would send a powerful message to the world that Sweden stands firmly against religious intolerance and that such acts have no place in a civilized society."

"In taking this stand, you would not only safeguard the dignity of the Jewish people but also protect the principles upon which a harmonious and diverse society is built. Our shared commitment to humanity transcends religious, cultural, and national boundaries, and it is through our actions that we can promote a world where respect, understanding, and acceptance thrive.

"Your Majesty, I trust in your wisdom and compassion to address this matter promptly. The Jewish community in Israel and worldwide, as well as all those who value religious freedom and human dignity, look to you for your intervention and support. May your reign continue to be marked by justice, tolerance, and peace.

"Wishing Your Majesty a long and good life, I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of your 50 years on the throne. Your steadfast leadership and commitment to your country and its people are truly commendable. May the years ahead be filled with continued success and the realization of your vision for Sweden."