Yishai slams attacks on those ‘attempting to uphold Torah’

Shas MK Nahari criticizes Israel Beiteinu, Lieberman for attempts to give the IDF conversion system independence from the Chief Rabbinate.

December 14, 2010 06:31
2 minute read.
Yishai reacts to the state comptroller's report.

yishai press conference_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Monday night defended those “who in their attempt to safeguard the Torah are perceived as racists,” in what may have been a veiled reference to the recent statement signed by city rabbis that Halacha prohibits renting or selling land in Israel to non- Jews.

At the opening panel of the 20th International Conference on the Laws of the Torah – taking place in Jerusalem and dedicated to promoting the reinstatement of Jewish jurisprudence on monetary issues as part of the general legal system – Yishai spoke of the recent “attacks against the haredi population, against anything pertaining to sanctity, to tradition.”

Such attacks, he said, tend to be worse when the Right is in power.

“There are attempts to distort the reality. What has safeguarded the Jews [in thousands of years of exile and persecution] is the Torah. If someone attempts to uphold the Torah, he is perceived as a racist, a cruel person with no compassion,” he said.

Yishai might also have been referring to criticism leveled at him over his conduct with foreign workers and their children.

“Our mission is to spread the word of Torah, alongside the incitement against it.

There is a great thirst in the public for it, the Torah with ‘all its paths pleasant and harmonious,’” Yishai added, quoting from Proverbs.

Speaking before Yishai, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Meshulam Nahari, also of Shas, addressed the clash with Israel Beiteinu, which wants to give the IDF conversion system independence from the Chief Rabbinate.

“We are currently facing a problem we never dreamed of encountering, to safeguard the status of the Chief Rabbinate, which is being eroded in these days by people who represent us in the world and are saying that the rabbinate shouldn’t have a monopoly over conversions,” he said of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who expressed that sentiment on Sunday.

“It starts with conversions, but can spread to marriage, divorce, kashrut,” Nahari continued.

“The Chief Rabbinate is a unifying factor in Israel. We must maintain its status and fortify it through legislation.”

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger addressed the topic of the conference and called for the formation of a system of rabbinic courts dealing primarily with monetary issues, but also aiding with other halachic issues, that would initially serve as a pilot in five large cities alongside municipal rabbis.

“Non-religious people will also be able to use the rabbinic judges’ services as arbitrators, and the load on the general courts could diminish, to the benefit of us all,” he said.

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