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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

IDF rabbinate removes controversial 'Laws of Mezuzah' booklet from website

The IDF rabbinate has removed a controversial online pamphlet in the wake of complaints from members of Knesset following a Haaretz report on its publication. Haaretz recently reported that the booklet, “Laws of the Mezuzah,” included a section stating that non-Jews are not equal to Jews in Israel, and that any decision stating otherwise would be invalid, as it contradicts Jewish law.

In addition, Kol Hayehudi, a religious news website, reported that the Chief Rabbinate is considering giving the instruction that the "problematic" book be removed from all army synagogues and invalidated.

The booklet was published a year ago, uploaded onto the IDF rabbinate's website and placed in the religious libraries in army synagogues. It was endorsed by the IDF’s chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz. Following the report in Haaretz, several members of Knesset, including Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich and Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, called for the guidelines in the booklet to be nullified.

The IDF rabbinate's position on the matter – as provided by the IDF spokesperson prior to publication of the article in Haaretz – is that the book is halakhic. The army did not make another announcement following publication, but it seems that it decided to act behind the scenes, and the book has been removed from the IDF rabbinate's website.

One ruling on Jewish law in the book, “Laws of the Mezuzah,” states: “The idea that views non-Jews as having equal rights in the state goes against the opinion of the Torah, and no representative of the state is authorized to act against the will of the Torah.”

The book also deals with questions about mezuzahs, which are fixed to doorposts by Jews as a sign of faith, on army bases.

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