Thursday, August 11, 2005

Israel's Chief Rabbinate: Rubber Stamp or Representative of G-d?

A Jerusalem Post editorial echoes what many have been saying over the course of (at the very least) the last year+. Namely, calling into question the purpose and merit of the continued existence of Israel's Chief Rabbinate.
There is former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Avraham Shapira, who this week reiterated his view that evacuating settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria would be downright sinful, and that soldiers and policemen must refuse orders to participate in the crime. Whoever handed over part of the Land of Israel "will not have clean hands "not in this world and not in the next," said Shapira.

Then there are the current chief rabbis, Yonah Metzger and Shlomo Amar, whose statements against refusing orders have been barely audible. Amar has even participated prominently in a prayer rally against the "evil decree."

If the chief rabbis of the State of Israel are unable to naturally and confidently explain the right of the government to make decisions and the obligation of religious Zionists to obey those decisions, then why do they not resign their posts? If they cannot speak out stridently against calls to Orthodox soldiers to refuse orders "a campaign that threatens to tear apart the state" they are failing in the obligation of leadership they accepted when they took on the post of chief rabbi.

So, here is the question: What is the purpose of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel? Is it to merely give a rubber stamp of religious approval to all of the State's actions, or are Israel’s Chief Rabbi's meant to speak out on all issues that affect the Jewishness / religiousness of the State of Israel, regardless of whether it may go against a particular policy of the government?

If the Chief Rabbinate truly feels that the "Disengagement" plan, or any other government policy goes against Jewish law, should they not be allowed to express that from within their official capacity? If not, then why have a Chief Rabbinate altogether? If the Chief Rabbinate views a particular policy as being a conflict between democratic and Jewish values, is it not logical that they would defer to the Jewish values over the democratic ones?


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