CONFRONTATION OF HALAKHAH AND RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE Moshe Zemer
W hen I was a young graduate student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the only orthodox religious disturbance that I encountered were occasional shouts of "Shabbas!" when a vehicle would pass infrequently through a religious neighborhood on Shabbat. This was the extent of religious violence that I experienced in Israel during my student days. As the years went by, these occasional shouts turned into verbal violence, eventually leading to violent demonstrations, with stone throwing and attacks on individuals suspected of having violated the Sabbath or other commandments of the Torah.
Most distressing is the fact that precisely those who claim to be the guardian of the fortress of halakhah are those who desecrate the Torah, both its letter and its spirit, through their violent demonstrations. We should make plain that not only do their actions violate the laws of the state and undermine the foundations of democracy, they also contravene halakhah, in whose name they are ostensibly acting.____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Crime and Punishment in Jewish Law:Essays and Responsa. Contributors: Walter Jacob - Editor, Moshe Zemer - Editor. Publisher: Berghahn Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 74.
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