Metzger slams recent trend of 'rabbi letters'

Chief Ashkenazi rabbi says letters addressing social, political issues lead to disparagement of religious leaders.

311_Amar and Metzger at Joseph's Tomb (photo credit: Courtesy)
311_Amar and Metzger at Joseph's Tomb
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger spoke out sharply on Wednesday night against the trend of rabbis’ letters addressing various social or political causes, declaring that such letters led to disparagement of religious leaders.
In an address to members of Netzach U’Magen, a religiously- oriented organization that commemorates fallen Israeli soldiers, Metzger slammed the “mode” of letters that the Israeli public had recently witnessed.
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“It started in the North, when they decided whom to sell [homes] to, and then came the counter-letters,” he said of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu’s directive against letting “non-Jews” own or rent real estate, which gained broad rabbinic support, and the ensuing modified version, penned by Rabbi Haim Druckman, warning against “hostile elements.”
“And then about whether the district court was right or not in convicting former president Moshe Katsav,” he continued, referring to the recent letter that leading national religious rabbis wrote in support of Katsav, a convicted rapist.
“On every letter you have in favor of something, you have a counter-letter,” he stated.
“Yesterday, I was presented with a new letter by rabbis who support the social workers’ strike. Who doesn’t support the social workers? As head of a panel of rabbinic judges at the High Rabbinic Court, I know what holy work they do. Of course, everyone wants them to make a decent living,” he said.
“But these letters,” he continued, “cause contempt for the rabbinic establishment. Next thing you know, there will be a rabbis’ letter against the rise in gas prices, or one in favor of returning [ousted Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak to power.”