Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman
Photo: Haim Zach
Speaking in Beit Shemesh ahead of the Shavuot holiday, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, one of the leaders of the Lithuanian branch of haredi Judaism discussed the importance of the torah and said that the world was created for the righteous that learn and follow its teachings.
Yet he also issues some more controversial statements. The rabbi's speech which was published in full in the haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman, included statements on non-Jews:
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"There are eight billion people in the world. And what are they? Murderers, thieves, brainless people… But who is the essence of this world? Has God created the world for these murderers? For these evil-doers? "
The rabbi, who has replaced Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv as the Lithuanian branch of Judaism's spiritual leader, reiterated his statements and went on to say: "Non-Jews have no connection to torah. The nations have nothing, no confidence (=faith) and no good principles."
The majority of Rabbi Shteinman's statements focused on the importance of torah and its influence on the day to day life and on the education of the next generation. The rabbi stressed that "those who don't study torah, are not fulfilling the mitzvoth. If he doesn't study torah it leads to devastation, his devastation, and the world's devastation…
"This is what we need to aspire to, to see all the children, all our generations, make sure the sons study torah…anyone and everyone who wants to see "nachas" (joy) from their children needs to make sure they study torah.
"If not torah they will be illiterates and no joy will come of them. Even if he has money, is that the goal (in life)? Can you take money to the grave with you? There is no such thing. What do you have in the grave (afterlife)? Torah."
The Chairman of Hiddush (for Religious Freedom and Equality), Rabbi Uri Regev said in response to Rabbi Shteinman's statements: "It is incredible and outrageous to hear these hate filled statements against almost the entire human race.
"Rabbi Shteinman once again exposes the fact that his fable of moderateness was at best groundless and at worst an act of deceit."