Aug 24, 2010
Rav Avraham Yosef upsets the country with his statement against judges
A Jew is not allowed to take a case to secular court. There are situations where it is allowed, but that has to be determined by a beis din who will give you permission if such a situation exists. Beyond those situations, God defined a set of laws about how we have to live our lives, and going to secular court that uses man-made laws as its guide is considered rejecting God's laws and accepting man's law instead. In halacha it is considered raising your hand against the Torah.
In today's day and age there is a problem because beis din has very little actual authority to decide cases, and to enforce the decision they arrive at, along with the fact that people can get much larger settlements in court than in beis din (as beis din would only ever award what is halachically determined to be owed) and this causes people to go to secular court instead when they should really be going to beis din, at least to get permission to go to secular court.
A result of this is that the secular court seems to be growing in attraction as the place for even religious Jews to settle their disputes. Daily one can read about more and more court cases between religious Jews that are being heard in secular court rather than in beis din.
Rav Avraham Yosef seems to have decided to fight this unfortunate phenomenon. In recent shiurim on the radio Rav Avraham Yosef, the son of Rav Ovadia and the Chief Rabbi of Holon, has paskened that one cannot count in a minyan, nor can one allow to daven for the amud as a chazzan, people who work in the Prosecutors office, the police investigative unit, and the secular court system. He also said this applies to anybody who sends his children to non-religious schools, though I dont know why. while it might not be ideal, I don't know why that would passul him from being counted in a minyan.
It is ironic, as we want the secular court to have religious Jews and other minorities represented in the court, because having such representation will cause the court to take into account religious, or other minority, considerations in its court decisions. On the other hand, any person participating in the court, as a judge or in any other position, is, by his mere participation, supporting the secular law in place of God's law and thereby raising his hand against the Torah.
The affect of Rav Yosef's statement is making waves. This affects not just one or two people, but there are many religious people involved in the judicial system in many different aspects of the system, whether it be as Justice Minister (Yaakov Neeman is a religious Jew), the committee for choosing judges has a number of religious Jew son it, and many others in the system.
In response to this psak, some have responded harshly, criticizing Rav Yosef. MK David Rotem responded by saying that the courts of Israel are not considered "courts of the goyim" (typically any court, even one run by Jews, that judges based on secular law is considered "courts of the goyim"), and the system of batei din also frequently does not judge in accordance with Torah law. Rotem then said that Rav Yosef should not publicize his piskei halacha that are not supported by most of the public.
I disagree with that last statement. Most of the public does not keep shabbos, so should rabbonim not publicize that shabbos should be kept? Halacha is halacha, and even if someone chooses to not adhere to it, that should not stop the rabbonim from discussing the halacha.
Others also had criticism, pointing to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who had a number of judges and prosecutors davening in his minyan over the years, and in Ponevezsh yeshiva a Judge Kister received great honor with aliyos every year during the High Holidays. Other criticism mentioned was that rabbonim can frequently be seen davening, or befriending in general, people who donate lots of money to them and their causes, even though they are secular, and then go ahead and reject others who do not donate to them. Others are calling to censure Rav Yosef and force some sort of disciplinary action.
It seems freedom of speech is reserved only for the left and for professors, but not for rabbonim.