A member of the Takana forum says he has received death threats following the revelation of sexual harassment accusations made against Rabbi Mordechai Elon. Talking to his students at the Har Etzion Yeshiva on Wednesday, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein said, "I got a letter filled with threats from an associate of Rabbi Elon, who said he would hurt me in any way he could."
The rabbi, 75, also mentioned malicious calls made in the late hours of the night on the backdrop of the affair, which was revealed in the past few days.
In an emotional conversation, during which Lichtenstein broke into tears several times, he protested the hostile attitude on the part of Elon's students. "Is this our payment for hours of lessons?"
Rabbi Lichtenstein, one of the leaders of Religious Zionism, is perceived as the senior rabbinical figure (together with Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, in the panel discussing Alon's case.
"We are not talking about one case only. I wish it was just one case," he said, referring to the affair which stirred up Religious Zionism. Addressing claims that Rabbi Elon was suffering injustice, he said, "They are talking about blackmail. Blackmail? What blackmail? Who enjoys this? The distress is serious and deep."
Rabbi Lichtenstein went on to address the circumstances which led to the affair's exposure, saying that "there was an accumulation of incidents, but the commotion did not begin because of that. We would not go out to the media over that. The problem was to the case in question and there were people who were hurt. There were people whose family life was badly hurt, people who suffered mentally.
"We tried to convince the person to deal with it and overcome it and take it back," he said. "I begged him. I told him, 'You are ruining yourself and ruining your life. With such a glorious future on the way. For what? On the one hand, we thought it was insane. In a few minutes of dubious pleasure a person risks everything."
Eventually, the rabbi said, he decided to come out with the affair about a week ago, when one of the forum members was sent to give Rabbi Elon a last warning. Shortly afterwards another incident, which he referred to as very serious, was discovered by Takana.
"It was all done heavy-heartedly," he said. "Believe me, I am aware of the damage caused to the man and his family. His wife is broken and worn out. We had to do it."