New shekel notes 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Bank of Israel)
A senior Haredi rabbi has decreed that it is forbidden to speak to Christians, and forbidden to even look at the new NIS 50 banknote, because it bears the image of the Hebrew poet Shaul Tchernichowsky, who married a non-Jew.
Rabbi Ben Tzion Motzpi, a respected and highly conservative Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbi from the Sephardi community, gave these rulings recently in response to questions submitted to his ask-the-rabbi forum on his website.
One questioner said that he attended a lesson the rabbi gave in Haifa last Wednesday night, and was surprised to see Motzpi take out a NIS 50 bill and tell everyone that it was forbidden to look at it.
“It is known that he was ‘married’ to a fervently Christian woman who would pray in church every Sunday,” said Motzpi.
“People say that during the time of [first Ashkenazi chief] Rabbi [Abraham Isaac Hacohen] Kook, he pleaded, requested and tried to persuade him that she convert, and he refused,” the rabbi continued.
In an undated question – but which is numbered in the rabbi’s questions-and-answers series after the NIS 50 bill question – the rabbi is asked “how one should reply to impure Christians here who ask if you’ve read the New Testament, or if you believe in the impure,” a reference to Jesus.
“It’s forbidden to talk with them,” replied Motzpi. “The breath of their mouths defiles.”