Jerusalem – In light of the horrific behavior that had transpired recently from certain extremist religious elements and subsequent inflammatory media coverage, Rabbi Ovadiah Yoseph, one of the leading sages of Israel and Torah luminaries in our generation, released the following statement:
To our fellow Jewish brethren in every city, May Hashem be upon you to live,
Regarding that which recently transpired in our land, where, to the consternation of the heart various elements have attempted to sully the reputation of the Torah of Israel with actions that may never be done, causing a public desecration of the Name of Heaven, with no heed paid to the consequences of their actions, they have had the audacity to knock down and embarrass people in public, to abuse, vilify and curse them, and the spirit of the sages are discomfited from them, therefore I have said,
“This is not the time to be silent. I cannot abide to be silent of words.”
Therefore, I hereby reveal my opinion, and to promulgate them in the public forum that this is not the way of the Holy Torah, for “her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.”
Our Rabbis have already warned of the severity of matters that lie between man and his fellow man, to the point where they have said that even Yom Kippur does not atone for sins between man and his fellow man. Our sages have already taught that it is preferable for a person to fling himself into a cauldron of fire rather than embarrass his friend publically.
Go out and see what the Rambam has written (Hilchos Deos 6:3): It is incumbent upon each person to love each and every member of Klal Yisroel like his own flesh, as the verse states, “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
He should honor his fellow the way he desires to be honored, and the wise person should hear and take a lesson.
Our sages have warned (Yevamos 62b), that it is incumbent upon every person to love his wife like himself and to accord her greater honor than himself. He should speak to her gently and with a pleasant countenance (Rambam Hilchos Ishus 15:19). Similarly, it is upon a woman to honor her husband properly, he should be in her eyes like an honorable nobleman (Rambam Ishus 15:20). They should live together with love, brotherhood, peace, and friendship. Through this the Divine Presence will rest among them. Blessing and joy will be in their home. They will merit to raise their sons and daughters to Torah, to the wedding canopy, to Mitzvos and to good deeds.
And in this I come to warn and caution, to all who are called by the name of Israel, not to attempt to test or take advantage of this difficult period, to stir and convince and to multiply disputes within our nation, to sow dissent and to split up brothers, for who who knows where it will lead? Behold, it was in the sin of baseless hatred that the Holy Temple was destroyed, and only with unbound love will it be rebuilt.
My brethren, I ask of you, do not do evil, to disparage and knock down the honor of Torah and Judaism, for it is our life and the length of our days. It is the secret of our existence throughout all the years of our exile. It is upon us to honor each other, and to bring ever closer the hearts of mankind to our Father in heaven, and we must love truth and peace.
May it be [His] will that peace and brotherhood return to dwell within our borders, ith abundant good, and the destructive Satan within and the verse shall be fulfilled within us, “Hashem will give strength to His nation, Hashem shall bless His nation with peace.”