'They have the halachic status of a rodef'

  • Rabbi Berland Holland Home
These words, purportedly uttered by Rabbi Yitzchak Chakak last week, have such connotations that JR set out to find out more about the little-known rabbinic concept which is - unfortunately - back in the news. It resurfaced as followers of R. Berland declared a "din rodef" against the Chief Rabbi. It may be only the second time the concept has been invoked in recent times, last making the front pages as partial justification for the assassination of Israeli PM Rabin in '95. But now, R Chakak may have recanted, Shuvu Banim have toned it down & influential conservative Rabbi Shlomo Aviner had much to say.
by ANT KATZ | Jan 31, 2016

According to eTEACHERbiblical.com: Din rodef (Hebrew: דין רודף), literally means "law of the pursuer", (and) is a part of traditional Jewish law. It is a status in halacha of a person pursuing another in order to kill him. The origin of this law can be found in the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin, 73a). However, there are a few restrictions to this law: the allowance to kill the rodef does not apply in a case where lesser means would prevent the innocent's murder.

“Din rodef” is a concept in Jewish law which allows for the killing of an individual who intends to kill or harm others.

ST AvinerWhether one reads the headline in Haaretz: “Fugitive Rabbi Accused of Sex Crimes Issues Death Threat Against South Africa's Chief Rabbi” or Arutz Sheva: “Fugitive rabbi threatens South Africa's chief rabbi” – the Sunday Times: “Fugitive rabbi’s death threat to Jewish chief” or even SA Jewish Report Online: “Cops bungle third try to arrest fugitive R Berland” and “Did mistake lead to unintended death threat?” - the one fact that is common in all of the stories, and the many yet to come given that today is the first day that the news has broken, is the question of a din rodef.

After the botched Shabbos police raid on Rabbi Berland’s followers on Friday January 22, it would seem that the followers of Rav Berland assumed that Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein had been behind it.
In the light of that, the followers posted a recording from the “Gaon” (learned) Rabbi Yitzchak Chakak, one of the leaders of the Sefardi community in Johannesburg in which he said of those who sent the police on Shabbos: “They have the halachic status of a rodef.”

LISTEN TO RABBI CHAKAK who later recanted on his statement in a conversation, says Chief  Rabbi Goldstein.

According to both religious and legal pundits, by Rav Berland’s followers branding Rabbi Warren Goldstein as such, they have opened themselves up to the situation that all the ollowers of Rabbi Berland, in SA, Israel and worldwide, could be held complicit should something happen to Chief Rabbi Goldstein.

ST AvinerThe followers of Rabbi Berland have indeed toned down their rhetoric and altered certain statements on the social media platforms, but this does not satisfy local rabbis or the communal leadership.

Those who quarrel with the Chief Rabbi are 'din rodef'

According to a very relevant article published on JPOST.com in August last year, influential conservative Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, PICTURED LEFT, wrote in response to a question submitted to him that anyone who quarrels or harasses the Chief Rabbinate has the status of din rodef.

The concept has broader applications as well, and has been used to define people who endanger not only individuals but the Jewish community as a whole. Rabbi Aviner has a question and answer column in the popular weekly Shabbat pamphlet Olam Katan.

In an August edition of the pamphlet, Aviner was asked: “How should one relate to a rabbi who harasses the Chief Rabbinate?” The rabbi responded: “Very severely. Rabbi Avraham Shapira said that such a person has ‘din rodef’ against the Jewish people.”

ST GOANShapira was one of the leading lights of the national-religious community and a former chief rabbi from 1983 to 1993.

RIGHT: From Rav Berland's blog linking the statements and recording of Rev Chakak. Rabbi Chakak has now recanted on this statement according to Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein who spoke to Jewish Report Online from New York this evening.

ACJNA.com, reviewing a book by Allan C Brownfeld “Murder in the Name of God: Where Religious Extremism Can Lead”, say that hard-core zealots are roughly divided into two groups: vigilantes and ideologues, those who believe in direct action and those who devote themselves to philosophising.

Jewish blood not same as gentile’s

Among the vigilantes, Amir (who murdered Yitzhak Rabin) holds in high esteem Dr Baruch Goldstein, the physician from the settlement of Kiryat Arba, adjoining Hebron, who gunned down 29 Palestinians at morning prayer in the cave of the Patriarchs on February 25, 1994. Among the ideologues he especially admires is Noam Livnat of the Joseph Still Lives yeshiva (Od Yosef Chai) in Nablus. "Gathered there each day are among the most fanatic religious settlers in the West Bank," the authors write. So rabid are the students in this yeshiva that at the beginning of 1996, Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, himself a religious settler, warned his colleagues: "There’s a potential for murder in the yeshiva . . . Do not accord it your protection." 

The yeshiva’s patron, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, repeatedly expressed a doctrine of racism. He declared that, “Jewish blood and gentile blood are not the same". He defended the act of one of the yeshiva’s students who opened indiscriminate fire on Arab labourers standing alongside a highway near Tel Aviv in 1993, and he subsequently lauded Baruch Goldstein for massacring Arabs in Hebron. He explains that he differentiates between the murder of a gentile and that of a Jew because the Torah places a "light prohibition" on the former and a "grave" one on the latter.


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