Rabbi Lichtenstein on the Rape Conviction of President Katsav

Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein

Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein

This morning, Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein was buried in Israel. He was one of the true luminaries of the orthodox rabbinate. Here is a snippet of an interview he gave to the Israeli news outlet, Walla, in 2011.

Motti Levi: You recently signed an open letter of protest opposing the rabbis who announced their support for President [Moshe] Katzav [who was convicted in Israel of rape]. What was the basis for your position?

Rabbi Lichtenstein: I approach this issue not out of a sense that I know if he [former President Katzav; ML] is guilty or not. I didn’t read the material and I don’t have the tools to make a determination on the issue itself. But that’s not the point. The point is, and was, the attitude we, as citizens of the State of Israel, have to a civilized system of justice. Here were some rabbis who wrote an open letter that dismissed, with the stroke of a pen, the entire legal system and its many layers, saying in effect that the whole system is either stupid or evil. I know the verses the rabbis cited from the book of Isaiah just as well as they do. But what do they want? To have no legal system whatsoever? To live in total social anarchy?

Translation by Susann Codish. See full translation of interview here.

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3 thoughts on “Rabbi Lichtenstein on the Rape Conviction of President Katsav

  1. He was a genius, a person who fearlessly spoke the truth, without whitewashing anything. He stood for gadlus and lived the ways of God. B”DE.

    • He was part of Takanah forum which investigated him and first forced him to give up his position as the prestigious Yeshiva Hakotel and agree not to work with kids. When he breached that agreement they publicly denounced him as a sex abuser. When they started, they encouraged the victims to go to the police but the victim was not willing. Later when a victim went they supported the victim/survivor and agreed with the verdict and continued to call for not having him allowed any access after his conviction (which did not lead to jail time, unfortunately. He took a lot of heat for it since Elon was one of the most popular charismatic personalities in the religious Zionist world.

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