Where the Torah Died in Israel

While the sacred 24 books of the Hebrew Bible known as the Torah had their origin first in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt and much later in Babylonia thousands of years ago, they sadly died in Israel in the 20th century.

Rather than “died” it would be more correct to say “murdered”. And those who murdered our Torah are not the people of Israel but tragically by the orthodox and ultra-orthodox rabbis in Israel.

Is there any other country on the face of the earth where rabbis have been convicted and imprisoned for crimes against the Torah? Not just the crimes of fraud and bribery which afflicts some members of the Knesset but more grievously the sick crimes committed by rabbis against children and women.

Too many dozens of Israel’s rabbis have been accused of pedophile acts, of raping young girls, of sexually molesting young boys in the yeshivot, of demanding sex from women, some married, who came to them seeking advice.

We have looked the other way, perhaps criticizing, but doing almost nothing. We fear the monstrous rabbis who have power of life and death over all aspects of our lives from birth to death. We are afraid to make public accusations for fear of orthodox reprisals.

I recall reading in our Hebrew press several years ago the sad story of a chief rabbi in one of our cities who made a practice of entering the men’s toilets in one of our bus stations to approach young soldiers at the urinals suggesting sex. The chief rabbi was a married man, father of nine children, yet marital sex was insufficient for him.

Can you count the number of orthodox rabbis in our country who have been arrested and remanded because of their sexual approaches and acts with young children? (More than 30).

Can you remember the rabbi who locked a 12 year old girl in his office and had sexual relationships with her several times a week? And when the child complained to her parents she was not believed. But after months of her complaining and crying, she was examined by a physician who verified her vaginal complaint.

Such crimes are and have been common for centuries among Catholic priests. While they can be despised they can also be understood. The Vatican’s law of celibacy can be painful to be adhered for the long years of life of ordained priests.

Judaism, on the other hand, has no such excuse. Rabbis marry and father children. Some of them also molest children.

But why in Israel? It is almost virtually unheard of in Jewish communities elsewhere. One exception is of an orthodox rabbi who was arrested on sexual crimes against women in his congregation near the American capitol. He now davens shacharit, mincha and maariv behind prison bars.

One ultra-orthodox woman, a former head of a yeshiva for girls in Australia, has been charged on seventeen counts of sexual molestation of the young girls, and now sits in an Israeli prison awaiting deportation to Australia where a nice cell awaits her. ( Has she ever tried sex with a kangaroo?)

Our rabbis in Israel, only orthodox and ultra-orthodox recognized as official rabbis, do not accredit Conservative or Reform rabbis no matter how great their knowledge of Torah. They are considered unworthy of bearing the title of rabbi. They are ostracized by the national orthodox rabbinate.

The orthodox rabbinate does not permit women to stand beside men while praying at the Western wall, the Kotel, in Jerusalem.

I smile with delight when I view the photos and pictures taken from 1920-1935 which clearly show men and women, all in orthodox garments, praying together at the Wall.

The first and the greatest of our national Chief Rabbis, HaRav Kook of blessed memory, did not object to men and women praying together. On the contrary, he blessed them for their devotion to Hashem.

When he made visits to the socialist kibbutzim in Palestine, all the young women dressed in shorts and open blouses ran to greet him on his arrival. He did not ever turn his head away from them. He never covered his eyes as our orthodox rabbis do today. He blessed them all as the future builders of a Zionist state. And upon his death, tens of thousands of young Jewish women followed his casket to his grave on the Mount of Olives.

Today’s Israeli rabbis are locked into the self-imposed prisons of Lithuanian Judaism of the 16th century and more tolerant Sephardic rabbis of the 15th century in Spain.

Tragically for well-intentioned people in Israel we currently face the Berland dilemma, the case of an 82 year old ultra-orthodox rabbi, creator of a fanatic sect known as Shuvu Bonim, who has been convicted of multiple crimes against women who came to him seeking spiritual aid.

He took millions of shekalim from sick and dying women who paid him for his prayers and blessings for healing from their deadly illnesses. And he offered them medication in the form of a popular candy knows as Mentos.

People, it seems, will do anything in desperation to be healed and granted more healthy years of life.

It is those sick women who the false healer has betrayed. He has murdered the laws of our Torah.

As one well-known non-religious member of our Knesset remarked this week, “for money our rabbis will do anything”. Sad. Sick. But True.

Israel. Jewish? Yes. Israel. Democratic? Not Quite Yet. Israel. Theocratic? Tragically Absolutely.

Torah has not DIED in Israel. Shamefully it has been MURDERED.

And rabbis can be counted upon to recite a Kaddish prayer for a dead Torah only if money greases their unholy hands.

Yitgadal v’yitkadash Shmai raba….”

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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