Rav Lior and The Law?
Rabbi Dov Lior was arrested yesterday, intercepted by police on his way to a meeting in the settlement of Migron, taken in for questioning in Lod police station, and released within two hours.
The allegations would appear to be linked to the "haskama" (approbation) Rav Lior provided for the book Torat Hamelech (The King's Torah) written in 2009 by R. Yitzhak Shapira. I haven't read the book, indeed neither has anyone I know, but it is reported to be controversial due to the subject matter being the halachik approach to killing non Jews, in a time of war or threat.
This arrest sparked outrage amongst rabbonim, members of Knesset and many in the National Religious camp.
Mainly youthful demonstrators took to the streets in their hundreds, particularly in Jerusalem, blocking junctions, and protesting outside the Supreme Court. Around 20 demonstrators are reported to have been detained.
When Rav Lior himself arrived in Jerusalem last night, he was held aloft, and paraded amongst the demonstrators, to singing, dancing and general jubilation. In a speech to the Mercaz Harav yeshiva last night, Rav Lior referred to those who would censor halachik books as "commissars", drawing parallels to Czarist Russia. I heard his son, Rav Yair Lior, on the radio this morning, evoking comparisons to the Soviet Union and the KGB.
The impassioned debate seems to pit the Torah vs The Law.
The other side of the story, is that the book in question may infringe Israel's publishing laws regarding racist or inciting materials.
Were that to be the case, then those promoting such materials would also perhaps be acting in an illegal manner.
I don't know what the allegations or suspicions are exactly, because there is no charge sheet. The case is being investigated.
Rav Lior was served with a summons to be questioned by police earlier this year, and did not appear at the police station as requested, of his own volition.
The State of Israel has a pretty good record of the law being applied to all its citizens.
At this time there is ex-President Moshe Katzav facing seven years in prison having been convicted of rape; there is ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in court on corruption charges; Minister Liberman is still under investigation for various allegations of corruption.... Ex-MK and ex-convict Arieh Deri is re-entering politics...
There is no reason that a rabbi should be "above the law".
This is a democracy, not a theocracy.
(And, even in a Torah theocracy, ruled by halacha, I understand even Kings were required to submit to the Sanhedrin).
If the book, Torat Hamelech, breaks the law, and writing a haskama, also, then let the State prosecutors have their day in court.
If it doesn't break the law, drop it.
And if it does break the law, but that law is poorly drafted, or unjust in this case, then we have a Knesset to redraft and fix that.
In my humble opinion, while the demonstrations are a touching show of loyalty to Rav Dov Lior, and indeed to the Torah itself, the principle of law and order in 21st Century Israel, is paramount.
The demonstrators should return to their yeshivas, or, if they really want to make a difference, go to law school.