March 27, 2008

(Reb Yudel)

News roundup

I should be working, but haven't yet licked my blog addiction. News of note:

Finally, from earlier this month: How Bush's delusional incompetence brought Hamas to power in Gaza (Vanity Fair)

March 8, 2008

(Reb Yudel)

Jewish Week: Leading Rabbi Apologizes For Shocking Statement

Wasn't Samantha Powers fired for less?

The Jewish Week reports:

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University's rabbinical school, issued an apology today for a statement he made that appeared to advocate shooting the Prime Minister of Israel should the government "give away Jerusalem."

The statement, part of a 39-second clip posted on YouTube this week, is from a discussion the rabbi had in Israel with American students learning at Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem. It is not known when the statement was made.

In what appears to be a response to a question about serving in the Israeli army, the rabbi, a leading decisor in the Orthodox community, says: "First you have to know what the army is going to do. If the army is going to destroy Gush Katif, there's no mitzvah to destroy Eretz Yisrael.

"If the army is going to give away Yerushalyim [Jerusalem], then I would tell everyone to resign from the army - I'd tell them to shoot the Rosh Hamemshalah [Prime Minister]," which prompted laughter from his audience.

"No one should go to the army if they [the army] are doing aveirus [sins," the rabbi continued. "We're talking if the army is seeing to it that the country is secure, if they're doing the right thing.

"I'm not sure if the army is doing the right thing," he added, "we have to look into that."

Rabbi Schachter, much revered by his many students and highly respected throughout the community as a Talmudic scholar, has been known to make blunt, politically incorrect statements in the past. In 2004, his remarks seemed to compare women to animals in expounding on the issue of reading from a ketubah at a marriage ceremony. He said the marriage would be valid "even if a parrot or a monkey would read the ketubah."

Prior to that incident, the rabbi described Jews as superior to other people, noting that "Jews and non-Jews "have different genes, DNA and instincts." His defenders say he is naïve, not mean-spirited, in part because he has little dealing with the community at large, cloistered within the study halls of Yeshiva. They say he speaks casually in class, unaware of the larger ramifications of his remarks.

Critics agree, but note that such a person, despite his brilliance, should not be in such a position of prominence.

For example, Rabbi Schachter was just named as one of two American rabbis to oversee the conversion process for the Rabbinical Council of America in its agreement with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

In a statement issued today, Rabbi Schachter said: "Statements I made informally have been publicly excerpted this week. I deeply regret such statements and apologize for them. They were uttered spontaneously, off the cuff, and were not meant seriously. And, they do not, God forbid, represent my views. Jewish law demands respect for representatives of the Jewish government and the state of Israel."

Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, said: "Rav Schacter has apologized for his off the cuff statements that certainly do not represent his views. Let me make it clear that Yeshiva University repudiates any such statements or any such sentiments."