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May 23, 2012

Rabbinic Fighting On Twitter

In today's day and age, everybody has a voice. Like it or not, freedom of speech is a reality, even in countries where there is officially no freedom of speech. Twitter and Facebook have even been used to overthrow governments in countries where such sites were blocked and officially inaccessible. That's just the way it is.

A month ago, Rabbi Avi Zarki, a rav in north Tel Aviv and a popular mohel, made the news when he used his Twitter account to comment on the unusually small size of a baby's genitalia along with a recommendation of changing the procedure of circumcision.

Rabbi Zarki is in the news once again, and again it is for his use of Twitter.

Rabbi Zarki seems to be in a fight with Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. I don't know how it began, but according to the Maariv article on the matter, Rabbi Zarki turned to twitter after Rabbi Amar asked him to stop acting as the rabbi of north tel Aviv. He also threatened Zarki that unless he were to sign such a commitment, Rabbi Amar would work to get him removed from the list of rabbis approved to perform wedding services. Rabbi Zarki adds as well that Rabbi Amar has pressured Radio Kol B'Ramah to cancel his radio program.

I obviously don't know all the details of this, but it seems the fight is because of his tweet last month about there no longer being a need for "preeya" (he claims to have developed a method of mila that renders preey to be redundant. he claims to have rabbinic approval, including from Rabbi Amar himself). Rabbi Amar called a committee to investigate and decide whether Rabbi Zarki is making changes to the traditional circumcision procedures. According to Rabbi Zarki's twitter updates, the committee was loaded with Rabbi Amar's men, people appointed by protexiaץ Despite that he claims he had a knockout punch for the committee when he pulled out rabbinic letters, including one from Rabbi Amar himself, saying that they had investigated his method and found it to be halachically acceptable.

In response, Rabbi Zarki has turned to Twitter to vent his frustration. He posted numerous "tweets" on his twitter account in which he accuses Rabbi Amar of intimidation, being a liar, deceit and calls him all sorts of names. I guess it is understandable, considering the attack he has been under, for unclear reasons, but I must say it is very unbecoming.

Not only has Twitter empowered the world with an unprecedented level of freedom and ability of speech,m giving a voice to people who had none, Twitter is also becoming the platform of rabbinic fighting.

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