Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior was detained by police Monday afternoon over
his endorsement of a book that purportedly incites violence entitled, Torat
Hamelekh (King’s Torah).RELATED:
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had refused to answer a police summons over his approval of the book, and stated
that rabbis should have autonomy to express their opinions on matter of Jewish
law and thought.
The arrest was made by the National Serious and
International Crimes Unit.
Lior, head of the Council of Jewish
Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and one of the most senior
national religious rabbis, was pulled over while driving on the road connecting
Gush Etzion and Jerusalem and taken to Lod for short questioning.
Monday night, Lior was greeted by his supporters who staged protests against his
arrest throughout the day.
Hundreds of young men sang and danced in his
honor under the bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem. The crowd, including the
rabbi, departed in a procession to the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s
Kiryat Moshe neighborhood.
Also part of the group were Rabbi Yaakov
Yosef, another rabbi who endorsed the controversial book and has refused police
summons for questioning, Chief Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Yitzhak
Shapira of the Yitzhar settlement, who is the author of Torat Hamelekh. MK
Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) was also present.
Addressing a packed
central study hall at the yeshiva, Lior reiterated that the issue at hand was
about freedom of thought with no ramifications of violence or
“We know that the dignity of Torah is a priority to other
things,” Lior said. “Those charged with implementing the Torah, true sages
) dedicate their lives to studying Torah, and Halacha is ruled
according to them.
“Sages don’t need the approval of a Commissar to
determine what can or cannot be said,” he said, using the Hebrew word “haskama”
for acquiescence, which is also the same word used for rabbinic endorsements for
books,” he said.
“To accuse rabbis dealing with Torah research of incitement to violence is wrong; sages have nothing to do
with violence, their sole purpose is to educate.
“The Torah does not need
Speaking after Lior, Yosef noted that “some people
have a hard time reading an entire book.”
He continued, “There are those
who never learned in a yeshiva. I would like to refer them to a synopsis of the
Yosef also noted that his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, president of
the Shas Council of Torah Sages, wrote similar things in his Yecheve Da’at
series, for which he was awarded the Israel Prize.
were arrested Monday in a number of Jerusalem demonstrations sparked by Lior’s
Three demonstrators were arrested at a large protest outside of
the Supreme Court that began around 6:00 pm.
Hundreds of demonstrators
massed and blocked the intersection outside of the court.
one of the demonstrators, and when dozens of demonstrators tried to grab him
away from the security forces, police arrested two additional
Police used cars and water canons to disperse the
The intersection was reopened to traffic at 7
Demonstrators also gathered outside the home of Deputy Attorney
General Shai Nitzan.
One demonstrator was arrested as protesters tried to
block the light rail at Herzl Blvd.
Six right-wing demonstrators were
arrested in a demonstration at the city entrance that began at 4 p.m. in which
dozens of young people blocked the main entrance to the city on Highway
By the time police had dispersed them and reopened Highway 1 to
traffic, the crowd had grown to over 200.
Simultaneously, about 20
right-wing demonstrators protested outside the Jerusalem police station in the
Russian Compound in downtown Jerusalem.
In a statement released on
Monday, police said Lior was detained “on suspicion publishing material that
incites to racism.” The statement added that Lior was released after being
questioned for an hour.
Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas)
expressed his indignation to Public Security Minister Yitzhak
“The rabbi was abducted on his way to Jerusalem like a
common criminal. It would have been appropriate that if the police want to
investigate the rabbi, they could have done so respectfully,” Margi
The chief rabbis also issued a joint message, saying they were
pained over the severe damage to the rabbi’s dignity.
But they also
stressed that in these times, “we must fortify ourselves with love to our fellow
Jews, and not be dragged into confrontations that could cause a split in the
Dozens of Knesset members also issued a letter to Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman, calling him to disperse “the Shai Nitzan gang” for
arresting a rabbi like a common criminal.
Knesset members from the
National Union were outraged over the arrest.
Uri Ariel said on Monday
afternoon that “hunting down rabbis who rule on matters of Jewish law is not the
task of the police and State Attorney’s Office.”
Ben Ari called for the
dismissal of the public security minister, since police “treat Arab leaders with
kid gloves, while here are disgracing a great rabbi.” Nachi Eyal, who heads the
Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, said that rabbinical freedom of speech and
their ability to issue edicts is as important as the academic freedom given to
lecturers at Israel’s universities.
“It’s a shame that someone in the
Justice Ministry wants to ignite a fire and harm an entire community whose faith
in the [country’s] legal system is already fading,” he said.
joined them in expressing their anger.
Heads of the Land of Israel Caucus
MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) and MK Arie Eldad (NU) expressed their “shock over the
police’s decision to employ detectives to arrest a rabbi in Israel, as though he
were a common criminal, just because of his halachic stance.” The caucus called
for the release of Lior and that the investigation be called off.
Eyal, who heads the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, said that rabbinical
freedom of speech and their ability to issue edicts is as important as the
academic freedom given to lecturers at Israel’s universities.
shame that someone in the Justice Ministry wants to ignite a fire and harm an
entire community whose faith in the [country’s] legal system is already fading,”
he said.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.