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Jewish Journal

YU’s rosh yeshiva cracks a bad joke

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 7, 2008 | 4:55 pm

I think as little of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as the next guy, but some Orthodox leaders have shown the propensity to take that animosity way too far. In January, Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said that if Israel were properly run, Olmert would be “hanged from the gallows” for collaborating with “these Nazis.” And last week the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva University joked that Israeli soldiers should resign from the Army if Olmert divides Jerusalem, and should shoot the PM too.

Jewschool reports:

Yes, yes, yes, that’s what he said. Unfortunately, the YouTube video of this unfortunate quote was removed, but the Jewish Week wrote down a transcript. That’s called incitement folks, it’s bad. Here in Israel, we’ve already had one prime minister murdered after Rabbis couldn’t keep their mouths shut, and apparently this Rabbi thinks the world would be better if it were to happen again.

In all fairness, I should also report the apology that Rabbi Schachter issued recently,

  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.

OK. It’s something of an apology. However, it seems difficult to accept. Rabbi Schachter apologized for speaking off the cuff and for not respecting representatives of the Jewish government. Where’s the concern for human life? Where is the apology for saying the same things that have already resulted in one murder? Rabbi Schachter is an important public figure and a rabbinic leader. His words are received hungrily by thousands of students, and even among other Rabbis he calls the shots. He is the halakhic decisor for the Orthodox Union and for dozens of rabbis across the country. The Mishna (Avot 1:11) tells us, “Sages, be careful with you words!” We know in our own recent history how important a principle that is. Rabbi Schachter needs to know it too.

(Hat tip: Luke Ford)

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