On occasion, the Shas rabbis, most memorably the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, express themselves in the most untoward manner on some issues, including but not exclusively regarding our cousins the Arabs. According to Channel 2 News, Rav Yosef’s son, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi, on Saturday night (which is when Shas rabbis prefer to make those unabashed statements) declared that goyim (gentiles) are not allowed to live in Israel according to halakha.
Indeed, that was the Ha’aretz headline the next day: “Sephardic Chief Rabbi: Gentiles forbidden to live in Israel.” The lefwing paper subheadlined the story: “In his weekly sermon Rav Yosef argued that the source of the prohibition is halakhic, and that a more robust Jewish government would have sent them (the gentiles) to Saudi Arabia.”
As is often the case when the left cites religious sources, they don’t have to lie about them to make them appear outrageous — all they have to do is present them to the secular Israeli reader sans context and background. In that, the Israeli left operates in a manner similar to that of the White Power websites that cherry pick the Talmud for outrageous rabbinic statements about gentiles and about the supremacy of the Jews over the rest of the nations. When taken out of context, both intellectually and historically, these statements indeed sound despicable at times. Only when read within the flow of the particular tractate, with the historic period of the statement in mind, would the Talmud reveal the enlightened and often psychologically and sociologically astute approach of our rabbis.
“According to the halakha, a goy is forbidden to live in Eretz Israel,” Rav Yosef said in the recording made last Saturday night. Unless he takes on the seven Noahide laws. Should he not accept these laws, one of which is to not commit suicide … we send him to Saudi Arabia.”
If we left the Rabbi’s verbatim statement as is, it makes him sound as brazen as some of Europe’s new anti-Muslim movements, or even like Donald J. Trump. “Chief Rabbi says gentiles must be transferred to Saudi Arabia.” Unless we look into those Noahide laws the rabbi mentioned.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the seven Noahide laws, as traditionally enumerated are:
Do not deny God
Do not blaspheme against God
Do not murder
Do not engage in incestuous, adulterous or homosexual relationships
Do not steal
Do not eat the flesh of a live animal
Establish a legal system to ensure law obedience
According to the majority of Jewish scholars who have dealt with the issue, most prominently Maimonides, Islam is the world religion that is the closest adherent to these laws, making Muslims eligible to live in Israel, according to the chief rabbi’s statement. In fact, there would be a bigger problem with Christian gentiles in this context, especially Catholics, whose lavish icons and statues have raised a rabbinic eyebrow more than once.
The condition Rav Yosef places before the Muslims, to accept not to commit suicide, is his own innovation, which is essentially his extension of the Noahide law against murder — and self-murder. But this is already part of the Muslim laws, as argued by many Islamic experts who see the suicide bombers as a desecration of their religion. Here’s one such note, by Nashid Abdul-Khaaliq, which offers a Quranic citation that covers most of the Nohaide laws:
“Suicide is strictly forbidden along with the killing of innocents in Islam. God is the author of life and it is only He who could take life or tell human beings under what conditions a life should be taken such as in punishment for murder and spreading destruction and havoc in the land. As human beings we don’t own our lives, God does! As such we don’t have the authority to take it. Suicide is disrespecting God and being ungrateful for the life He has given us. God has made life sacred for human beings and all his creatures. There are many verses that describe the sacredness of life in the Qur’an. One of the verses is as follows:
Say: “Come, I will rehearse what God hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. (Qur’an 6:151)
So, the Arabs stay, the Rabbi didn’t mean that they should be expelled en masse anywhere, it was only a media bubble.