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.  



  1. The Halacha in question is not a new Takana, it is no more nor less than what is accepted Halacha in the Rishonim (Rambam, etc.), Gemara, and even in the Torah itself. Are these Sefarim against the law?
    There is a point where one must protest enforcement of laws that are against one's core beliefs.
    Also, this is not a case where the law and its application were brought before a public forum - it was more like an administrative decision (and is being enforced selectively).
    To conclude, the city Sodom is the classic example of 'following the law', where the law is used as a tool of evil. I, for one, do not want Israel to become the same.

  2. 1.Israeli law does not obligate a citizen to appear for questioning.
    ‎2. Why arrest a respectable Rabbi whilst he is in the middle of a journey using plain clothes detectives?
    3. This is so obviously nothing to do with the law, rather an attempt of the left-wing to 'make a point', which by the way, is exactly what you are doing in your article.
    4. How can you expect or suggest that the demonstrators go back to their Yeshiva's when their Rabbi has been arrested and disgraced unjustly by the authorities. Is that what you would do if it happened to someone close to you?

  3. Really we live in a democracy?? I don't feel that way when we really don't have freedom of speech and protesting just leads to police brutality.

  4. Finally, a sane voice.
    Kol Hakavod David my old friend

  5. Well said, David!

    I really do not understand the other comments in this blog about the lack of democracy and "unjustly disgraced."

    First of all, we DO have the right of assembly and protest, that is clear! I personally have attended many many protests and rallies and have NEVER seen a hint of police brutality. Just the opposite, the police were instrumental in making sure that the meetings were secure and safe for the attendees.

    Secondly, I don't see how arresting this person (I really don't care what his title is) can be construed as unjust when none of us know the details. David is right, they SHOULD go back to their yeshiva and wait to hear what the police have to say after their investigation.

  6. If you don't think we live in a police State-Open up your eyes' I've seen police brutality many ,many times with police egging on protestors, so the person would fight back and then get arrested.

  7. Yocheved Golani29 June 2011 at 10:03

    If he can be arrested for writing the forward to a book that supports self-defense of Jews in the Jewish land, then why have police and courts not banned murder-inciting, treason-advocating arabs MKs?

    The inconsistency is ugly, self-explanatory and a disgrace. Leftists wish to destroy the Torah-true public from within, by denying it leadership, freedom of assembly (Gush Katif was a prime example of that) and reasonable protection from harm. L'hefekh, harm comes to us because we are Torah-true Jews!

    I'll bet you real money that the court denies it was legal or rational to arrest Rav Lior. The legal system will pplay mind games on the dati public so it can entrap us repetedly by getting us to lower our guard, confusing issues and ending consistent legal behavior.

  8. One's unlikely to find a group which doesn't consider itself unjustly singled out for 'special' and brutal treatment by the police and courts.

    Ask any chareidi. Or a Russian. Or an Israeli Arab. Or a Prime Minister!

    And not just in Israel. Try a black American; a French Muslim; a Turk in Germany; a Turkish Kurd...

    The police (in every democratic country) are equally criticised for being too soft on criminals and for being too tough on innocent people. It all goes with the territory of law enforcement.

    And, if there's a dumb or unjust law, the police and courts will inevitably look dumb or unjust for implementing it (which is their job).

    in Israel, the laws are drafted and passed in the Knesset.

    If there's a law which bans "haskomos" for books which are deemed "inciting" - I don't know if there is or if there isn't, I'm not a lawyer - then don't blame the police for enforcing it, or the courts for punishing people for breaking it.

    If you believe such a law is unjust or simply dumb, roll up your sleeves, get to work, and lobby your local MK to change or modify that law!

    That's how all democracies work. Ours included!

    Baruch Hashem!

  9. They're going after the Rabbis associated with the book - but what about the publishing house? Seems to me there's a specific interest to go after Rabbis.

    You advocate submitting willingly and quickly to such suspicious questioning, while the Rabbis chose to garner public support and awareness as protection.

  10. According to the Shulchan Aruch dina demalchuta dina only applies when the law is prosecuted equally for all citizens, if there is "eifah veeifah" the law is considered unjust and does not have to be observed. This is the case where left-wing professors who openly call for murder of settlers are not summoned for questioning by the police, whereas Rabbis who gave approbation to a controversial book are.

  11. David Tzohar: "left-wing professors who openly call for murder of settlers".

    Which specific professors are you referring to, and please can you provide a link to where they have made such statements?



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