By Rabbi Yaakov Klass
The Israeli Chief Rabbinate has issued a threat which if carried out could lead to the direst of calamities, with ramifications for the future of Klal Yisrael. Please, do not get me wrong I fully agree with their threat as it addresses a challenge to the very fiber of Judaism, a challenge to Halacha that must not be allowed to stand.
There is now a challenge to the status quo, set in place by the founders of the modern State of Israel, by which all matters relating to religion are to be under the aegis of the Rabbinate. This is especially near and dear to every Torah observant Jew as in the entire world there is just one small sliver of land that is the Jewish homeland, the State of Israel – Medinat Yisrael. The current challenge, just another in a long string of such efforts at eroding the yearning of Jews throughout the millennia – and the cry of Religious Zionists – Medinat Yisrael al pi Torat Yisrael – to have and possess a Jewish state that loyally follows its benefactor, G-d, who deed the land to the Patriarch Abraham.
Now, there are those who wish to cause us great harm by insisting that Religious law be set aside and allow, actually demand that women be ordained as Rabbis. A petition has been filed with Israel’s Supreme Court by a number of groups, among them the Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women’s Status at Bar Ilan University. This is a matter too far off base, especially in light of the late Rabbi Emanuel Rackman’s history as an early president of the Rabbinical Council of America – Histadrut Harabbonim (RCA), a group that is steadfast in its allegiance to Halacha. The Rabbinate has threatened that if such a move becomes law it will suspend all ordinations.
Surprisingly, it seems that one of its supporters before the court is Israel’s Kippah wearing Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has been at the forefront in the pending criminal charges against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
My chaver and colleague Rabbi Aharon Ziegler both at The Jewish Press and the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim, wrote a beautiful column in last week’s Jewish Press where he cited the Gaon Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Zt”l, apropos to this dilemma.
“In Hilchot Teshuvah (3:8), the Rambam writes, “Shlosha hen hanik’ra’in apikorsin – There are three categories of heretics,” and one of them is “hakofer befirusha, vehu Torah shebe’al peh, vehamak’chish megideha – one who denies the Oral Torah or doubts those who transmit the Torah.”
“Based on this statement, Rav Soloveitchik inferred that anyone who contradicts the Sages, or taints them with accusations like misogyny, is deemed “a doubter of Judaism.” He understood “one who contradicts the Sages” to mean even someone questioning their motives, denying their spiritual uprightness, or associating negative personal traits to them. “Rav Soloveitchik added that even if one rejects the great sages of a post-Talmudic generation, he is rejecting the tradition they embody.
“I might add that the sin of Korach and his cohorts lay in rejecting the teaching of Moshe Rabbeinu. When one rejects the sages of his day, he comes to deny even the explicit word of Hashem (that Aharon should serve as kohen gadol).
The severity of such traipsing on our Halacha is such that it demands our protest. On behalf of both the presidium and the entire 950-member body of the Rabbinical Alliance/Igud we register both our strongest protest in this matter and our steadfast support for the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Lau and all their colleagues.
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Kahal Bnei Matisyahu, Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Chairman of the Presidium of the Rabbinical Alliance of America