In honor of Israeli Independence Day, an author, teacher, and decisor of Jewish law will be in Highland Park to discuss three “hot button” issues affecting Israel and its relationship with Jews in the Diaspora.
Rabbi Chaim Jachter will appear Friday-Saturday, April 16-17, as scholar-in-residence at Congregation Ohav Emeth. The author of “Grey Matters,” a three-volume series of books dealing with modern issues based on Jewish law, Jachter is a teacher at the Torah Academy of Bergen County and a rabbinical judge with the Beit Din of Elizabeth. He serves as co-rabbi of Shaarei Orah-the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck.
“Jewish law is not something related to ancient times,” said Jachter in a phone interview with NJJN from his Teaneck home. “People tend to associate Jewish law with how to keep kosher or observe Passover, but it goes far beyond the rituals and extends to every aspect of life. It can be applied to every technological and political issue that has emerged.”
The rabbi’s books, based on his “Kol Torah” columns produced by Torah Academy students for the general public each week, have dealt with everything from cosmetic surgery to infertility treatments.
In honor of Yom Ha’azmaut, which falls on April 19, on Shabbat morning at about 10:30 a.m., Jachter will discuss if it is ever permissible for an Israeli soldier to disobey orders.
“This is a very difficult topic because the religious Zionist community is saying they will refuse any orders to evacuate a Jewish community” in the settlements, said Jachter.
In fact, about 60 soldiers in Gaza were jailed and given dishonorable discharges for disobeying such orders.
Jachter said he would never want a Jewish soldier to behave immorally “on the excuse they were obeying orders.” Yet in some cases, refusing to obey orders could place an entire unit at risk.
Another subject Jachter will discuss is whether Israeli soldiers can ever engage in torture. “Israel is unique in that it is not allowed to torture even to save lives of Israeli citizens,” said Jachter.
He will also explore whether Jewish law obligates those in the Diaspora to move to Israel, which he called “an important issue.” “There have been many American Jews who have moved to Israel and made contributions, Golda Meir being a shining example,” he said. “Certainly we are living well here and I consider myself a loyal American whose father served in combat during World War II. On the other hand, the Humash says Jews should be living in their own land.”
For information, call the synagogue at 732-247-3038.