Hundreds of rabbis have come out in support for for the Religious-Zionist Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, the head of a distinguished IDF preparatory yeshiva found himself at the center of conrtoversy following comments labelling LGBT people ‘perverts.’
The Rabbis penned a letter which was published on Wednesday night stating: “There is no place for legitimizing these phenomena or this behavior which celebrates a lifestyle contrary to human morality and the path of the Torah.”
“The love toward every human being from Israel and the obligation to show respect to every person cannot be used as a reason to twist the religious truth or to cut corners regarding forbidden acts,” the rabbis wrote. “It is the duty of a rabbi in Israel to deal with all religious or moral matters in a clear fashion as teachers in Israel. In this vein, we reject the attempt to shut the mouths of rabbis in Israel,” the letter continued.
One of the people who initiated the petition said that he wanted to express his opposition for comments made by Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett who this week criticized Rabbi Levinstein and claimed that his remarks against the gay community did not represent religious Zionism.
“We find it difficult to understand how a politician - however talented - can take it on himself to exclude rabbis who have shaped religious Zionism for many years, who have educated thousands of students who have become role models.”
Three hundred rabbis across the country signed the declaration along with respected educators and heads of Yeshivas, Hebrew learning centers and IDF preparatory yeshivas.
“In light of the recent public discussions regarding the remarks of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein and other rabbis,” read the letter, “we wish to express our support to every rabbi who expresses his rabinical opinion which stems from faith in the Torah, impartially and without apologies.”
The rabbis concluded their letter pledging that they will continue to express their religious opinion on every matter which demands it, without fear, in fulfillment of their public responsibilities, “on behalf of the silent majority - religious and nonreligious.”
Despite the talk, Yedioth Ahronoth was informed that Rabbi Levinstein was invited on Thursday morning to speak with the chief of staff of the defense ministry, Maj. Gen. Udi Adam to clarify matters. The meeting is expected to take place in the Kiryah in Tel Aviv where Maj. Gen. Adam is likely to demand that Levinstein retract his comments.
The defense ministry, together with the education ministry, finances the IDF preparatory Yeshiva. However, officials have claimed that even if Levinstein does not apologize, there are no legal grounds on which finances can be withheld.