EXCLUSIVE: 800 Rabbis of Rabbinical Alliance of America Issue Ruling Against BDS, Cite Talmud, Maimonides
The Rabbinical Alliance of America, Igud Harabanim, in a ruling citing sections of the Talmud, ruled that the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel “contravenes Biblical scripture and undermines the very foundations that assure a just and moral society for all people.”
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, on behalf of Presidium of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, wrote that the ruling was made at a Rabbinic Convocation on Friday, May 30, the first day of the Jewish month of Sivan.
At the meeting, the rabbis “discussed with alarm the rising tide of anti-Semitism world-wide and the anti-Jewish rhetoric that is associated with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against the people and the State of Israel,” he said.
On behalf of the 800 Orthodox rabbis and the congregations they lead, Rabbi Hecht said the “BDS movement contravenes Biblical scripture and undermines the very foundations that assure a just and moral society for all people.”
The rabbis found “the BDS movement to be guilty of gross misrepresentation and dishonesty while attempting to gather the sympathies and support of the misinformed.”
“The Rabbinical Alliance views this movement as being malevolent in calling Israel an apartheid state as it utilizes inflammatory language to delegitimize the basic human rights of the Jewish people for self-determination and to live amongst its neighbors in security and safety.”
He called on “members of the Jewish faith and all people of good will” to reject the BDS movement “as it’s goal is to harm the safety and security of the Jewish people in Israel as well as impact its hard working Jewish citizens and Arab residents from earning their livelihood and being able to export their products to other regions of the globe.”
Rabbi Hecht said: “Any action in support of the above mentioned BDS movement is tantamount to transgressing numerous Biblical prohibitions of theft, denial of gainful employment, the utilization of unjust weights and measurements and is considered to be a contributing factor to the very serious transgression of the shedding of blood (murder) of a fellow human being.”
In an exegesis from the Talmud seen by The Algemeiner, the rabbis based the ruling on ciatations from the Torah, Talmudic Commentary and Maimonides.
They said: “If one person is able to save another and does not save him, he transgresses the commandment neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:16.)
The rabbis cited Maimonides, in Torts, “Murder and Preservation of Life” 1:14, 16:
“Similarly, if one person sees another drowning in the sea, or being attacked by bandits, or being attacked by wild animals, and, although able to rescue him either alone or by hiring others, does not rescue him; or if one hears heathens or informers plotting evil against another or laying a trap for him and does not call it to the other’s attention and let him know; or if one knows that a heathen or a violent person is going to attack another and although able to appease him on behalf of the other and make him change his mind, he does not do so; or if one acts in any similar way – he transgresses in each case the injunction, neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.”
The rabbis said the Jewish law about the obligation to come to the assistance of one in peril, lo ta’amod ‘al dam re’eka, is discussed in the Talmud (B. Sanhedrin 73a.)
The original phrase is:
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor favor the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor: I am the L-rd.” (Leviticus 19:15-16.)
The rabbis described the interpretation as “the unique contribution of rabbinic teaching to the exegesis of the Leviticus passage” by showing how there are “two sets of values ‘weights and measurements’ that are being applied to Israel in relation to other countries with similar issues and conflicts.”
The Torah verses about justice also included how that applies to fairness, using monetary matters as its example:
“Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, throughout your tribes; and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert judgment; you shall not respect persons, nor take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous. Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Deut. 16:18-20.)
“You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller. You shall not have in your house alternate measures, a larger and a smaller. You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that the Lord your G-d is giving you. For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent to the Lord your G-d.” (Leviticus 19:35-36.)
The rabbis concluded: “The statement of the RAA is based upon Halacha (Jewish Law) and encompassing in its entirety the complex nuances of Halacha as they apply to the issue of BDS as it is being applied to Israel and the Jewish residents of Judea & Samaria etc.”
“We have analyzed the incipient results of such a policy targeting Israel and the clear and present danger to life and well being it poses to Israelis as noted In the RAA statement and the clear Torah prohibition for any person or entity supporting BDS.”
In addition to Rabbi Hecht, of Norwalk, Connecticut, the ruling was signed by Rabbi Hanania Elbaz and Rabbi Yaakov Klass, both of Brooklyn, New York, and Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, of Spring Valley, New York.