Differing opinions have been voiced by a number of leading rabbis regarding the
exchange deal for Gilad Schalit.
The influential Rabbi Benny Lau of the
Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Greek Colony argued in favor of the deal on
Wednesday, saying that the changing geopolitical situation of the Middle East
meant that the circumstances of Schalit’s captivity were such that his life was
in certain danger.
Chief rabbi Metzger praises Schalit prisoner swap deal
Weighed against this, he said, “is the heavy cloud
hovering above us of the potential danger to life to many people which will be
caused by the release of bloody murderers who will be able to walk freely in
close proximity to Israeli citizens, posing a threat to
Although this poses a huge danger to the public, “It is still
only potential danger which according to all halachic arbiters, does not
overrule certain danger to an individual,” he said.
But, Rabbi Shlomo
Aviner, head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem and
a leader of the religious-Zionist community, said that the price was too high.
“We can not approve the Schalit [exchange] deal with these conditions, he
declared in reaction to the terms of the deal on Tuesday night. “Israel does not
need to conduct negotiations for captives. We have an army and it is
permitted to go to war to save even just one person.
“Our enemies will
stop capturing soldiers when they understand that we are not prepared to release
terrorists for them,” Aviner noted.
Jewish law places significant
emphasis on the importance of redeeming captives, although the Talmud stipulates
that they should not be exchanged for too high a price. Disagreement on the
nature of this stipulation has led to differing halachic approaches to the
Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar issued a statement on
Tuesday night welcoming the deal.
“Together with all of the House of
Israel, [we are] excited and happy at this great news of redemption and
salvation,” they said. “We call on the entire nation to increase their prayers
for Gilad ben Aviva and for all the brothers of the House of Israel who are held
in captivity that the happiness will be complete and not accompanied by any pain
or injury resulting from carrying out this deal.”
The endorsement of the
deal by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was an important factor in the
cabinet’s approval of the deal. According to some reports, Defense Minister Ehud
Barak met with Yosef on Monday and convinced him to support the release of
terrorists for Schalit. Yosef approved the deal and instructed Shas ministers to
vote in favor of it.
Noam Schalit paid a visit to Yosef’s house late
Tuesday night to thank him personally for supporting the deal.
Rabbis split on prisoner release