Nominee for IDF Chief Rabbi explains contentious past rulings to High Court

The court focused in particular on a response Karim gave to a question about a passage in the Book of Deuteronomy about the taking of female captives during a time of war.

November 23, 2016 20:44
2 minute read.
Le Rav Eyal Karim

Le rav Eyal Karim. (photo credit: IDF)

Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim submitted a written declaration to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday clarifying contentious rulings and responses on matters of Jewish law he made between 2002 and 2003.

The rulings led the Meretz Party to file a petition with the High Court against Karim’s appointment, and the court earlier this week froze the appointment and demanded to see a declaration from the rabbi regarding these issues.

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The court focused in particular on a response Karim gave to a question about a passage in the book of Deuteronomy about the taking of female captives during a time of war, in which he explained the Torah’s rationale but did not explicitly state that it is forbidden in modern times.

Karim issued a clarification on the same website in 2012, stating explicitly that “obviously the Torah never permitted the rape of women,” and saying that the biblical verse in Deuteronomy about female captives was meant to prevent rape during wartime.

In his declaration to the court on Wednesday, Karim said that he had made a mistake when he had initially answered the question by not going into the detail required of the complex issue, and in not wording his response precisely enough, and for the offense this had caused.

He noted, however, that he had already fully apologized for this mistake.

The rabbi also said that he had written his response regarding a theoretical situation, which he said could never happen in modern times.

“I never said, I never wrote, and I never thought that it is permitted for an IDF soldier to rape women during a war,” the rabbi declared, saying it was totally forbidden.

“This was my perspective and is my perspective today.”

In other another controversial response, Karim compared homosexuals to ill or disabled people and said that they should fight against their sexual orientation.

In his declaration to the court, Karim said that he had been trying to express “the obligation to love, support and help” gay people, but that he now sees how that reference and approach is illegitimate.

He also said that he now rejects the idea of homosexuals fighting their sexual orientation.

“However, on two points I cannot change my position,” he continued. “The first is that the Torah totally forbids homosexual relations; the second is that my unequivocal position is that the basic way of relating to all people, including the LGBT community, is through love, support, and inclusion.”

To conclude the rabbi said that in his world perspective and general outlook, “one must act with equality to everyone as they are, respect them and draw them close without distinction between their faith, background, gender or sexual orientation.”

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