State law holds no authority for Rabbi Yosef, but the state pays his salary
Chief Rabbi Yosef attacks Israel's civil courts
Last week at a national rabbinic conference, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef declared that rabbis should warn the Israeli public that in the event of legal disputes, they should take their cases to the rabbinical courts, rather than to Israel's civil courts.
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, source: Wikipedia
We can always trust Israel’s Chief Rabbis to provide us with new evidence for why we must urgently do away with the Chief Rabbinate, which has no precedent in Jewish history and poses an ever-growing existential threat to the wellbeing of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.
This time, we turn our attention to a national rabbinic conference held last week, at which Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made a strong pitch to the assembled rabbis, aimed at enlisting them to undermine the civil judiciary and delegitimize Israel's courts and the laws they apply. Rabbi Yosef is truly his father’s son, for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef also declared that Israel’s civil courts were evil, invalidating an Orthodox witness to a Jewish marriage on the basis of his being a civil court judge.
The ultra-Orthodox newspaper "b'Kehila" published the words of Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef who announced last week at a rabbinic conference that rabbis should warn the Israeli public that in the event of legal disputes, they should take their cases to the rabbinical courts, rather than to Israel's civil courts. He explained that he takes the ultra-Orthodox position of rejecting the legitimacy of state law and of the civil courts, and that he denies their authority. He also denies the validity of women serving as witnesses in court, and denies the validity of non-Orthodox witnesses and state witnesses.
Among other gems, the Chief Rabbi declared the following:
"Rabbis should warn the public that in the case of a dispute they should only bring it before the rabbinic courts..."
"The civil courts decide matters against the Torah."
"They accept testimonies that are against the Torah. They accept witnesses who are not God fearing and desecrate Shabbat, as well as women. Are women eligible witnesses?!"
"It is prohibited to base rulings on state witnesses. A state witness is ineligible to testify, and nothing of his testimony should be accepted."
When we hear about the ultra-Orthodox Knesset members pressuring their Government Coalition partners to change Israeli law to allow rabbinical courts to hear civil disputes, we must keep this context in mind. The real goal is a state ruled by ultra-Orthodox religious law. This is a genuine threat to the rule of law in Israel, which the ultra-Orthodox parties attempt to hide with their slick words.
The real goal is a state ruled by ultra-Orthodox religious law. This is a genuine threat to the rule of law in Israel, which the ultra-Orthodox parties attempt to hide with their slick words.
As outrageous as Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef's recent pronouncements are, we should be reminded that this is not an exceptional view, but rather an ongoing thread in the religious thinking of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic and political leadership. We have pointed out, for instance, the very clear rejection of the legitimacy of Knesset legislation and of the Israeli civil judiciary, which is preached by the former Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Shlomo Amar who now serves as Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.
The Chief Rabbinate is, in essence, a saboteur attempting to undermine the civil judiciary and Israeli civil law, admonishing the Israeli rabbis to warn the public that it should not turn to civil courts, but only to rabbinic courts. There is little doubt that if the likes of Rabbi Yosef and Rabbi Amar and their political cronies were to gain further control over the State of Israel, per their vision of a Torah state, we would be far closer to the model of Iran and Saudi Arabia than to being among the family of Western democracies.
Political cynicism and horse trading fund the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's operations, while it and its political supporters undermine the very cornerstones of Israel's democracy, preaching with no compunction that Israelis should circumvent the civil courts and Knesset law. They aim to turn Israeli into a dark theocracy where women and secular citizens are not permitted to bear testimony in court. All matters would be dictated by the corrupt Chief Rabbinate, rather than according to the principles of democracy accepted throughout the civilized world.
It is not Judaism that is in conflict with democracy and modernity. Rather, it is this specific, archaic, rigid interpretation, advanced by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate itself, which characterizes the religious powers that have gained control over religious life in Israel, which exemplifies Israel’s clash of religion & state.