Torat Hamelech/King’s Torah Authors will not be prosecuted - updated 9/6/13

Torat Hamelech/King’s Torah Authors will not be prosecuted

by Sheila Musaji

It was just announced that Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has closed the criminal case against the authors, and supporters of the controversial bookTorat Hamelech or King’s Torah ‘due to lack of sufficient evidence as required in criminal law’

Nearly a year after police launched an investigation into the publication of the King’s Torah, a book that stated that it was permissible to kill non-Jews when their presence in Israel endangers Jews, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to close the criminal case against the authors and its supporters “due to lack of sufficient evidence as required in criminal law.”

The attorney general ruled that it was impossible to determine that the publication of the book was done with the intent of inciting to racism as the law demands.

Weinstein stressed that when the matter involves the publication of a halachic ruling or halachic books, and out of consideration for the principle of religious freedom, criminal proceedings must be avoided when possible.

Yet the attorney general also stated that it was “obvious that the decision to close (the case) was not in any way an expression of acceptance for the serious statements presented in the book. The opposite is true, the statements are, according to the attorney general, deserving of condemnation and denunciation.”

The book stirred controversy for stating that it is permissible to kill a non-Jew if his presence endangers Jewish life. Some rabbis within the religious community supported the statements while others hinted that the statements were dangerous.

Police launched an investigation into the matter and authors Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur were investigated over suspected incitement to violence and racism.

Other rabbis investigated in connection with the affair included Rabbi Dov Lior, Yitzhak Ginsberg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef who expressed their support for the book.

Over the last two months the State Prosecutor’s Office examined whether there was room to indict the book’s authors, something which could create a major furor within the Zionist-religious community.

So, although the book deserves condemnation, the case is closed. 

As Daniel Estrin noted in The Jewish Forward when the book was released

The marble-patterned, hardcover book embossed with gold Hebrew letters looks like any other religious commentary you’d find in an Orthodox Judaica bookstore — but reads like a rabbinic instruction manual outlining acceptable scenarios for killing non-Jewish babies, children and adults.

“The prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’” applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew,” write Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks on them “curb their evil inclination,” while babies and children of Israel’s enemies may be killed since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

“The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), Part One: Laws of Life and Death between Israel and the Nations,” a 230-page compendium of Halacha, or Jewish religious law, published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, garnered a front-page exposé in the Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv, which called it the stuff of “Jewish terror.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued this condemnation

New York, NY, January 26, 2010 … The arrest of five students from a West Bank yeshiva on charges of torching and vandalizing a mosque in a neighboring Palestinian village, “highlights the danger of the teachings of Yeshiva head Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira,” the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in calling on responsible Orthodox Jewish leaders to “speak out against his book as a perversion of Judaism.”

Rabbi Shapira’s book Torat Hamelech or “The King’s Torah” claims to be a guide to Jewish law and includes passages promoting an extremist philosophy that condones killing non-Jews, including infants and children.  It states that only a Jew who kills a Jew violates the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Murder.”

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:       

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira’s book is a perversion of Judaism, rejecting the morals and ethics inherent in the Jewish faith for an extremist ideology that encourages the killings of non-Jews.  His teachings are anathema not only to the tenets of Judaism but to the humanitarian and democratic principles upon which the state of Israel was founded.

It is outrageous that several prominent rabbis have endorsed this book.  The failure of religious leaders to condemn the distorted views of biblical law advocated in Torat Hamelech may have contributed to an atmosphere in which heinous attacks, such as the attack against the Palestinian mosque in Yasuf, are encouraged and condoned as being supported by biblical commandments.

We applaud those rabbinic scholars who have condemned the book and banned it from their schools.  We call on the chief rabbis of Israel and rabbinic leaders in the Orthodox community—in the United States and throughout the world—to speak out against this text as a perversion of Judaism, cloaking itself as an authoritative interpretation of Jewish biblical law.

The book was co-authored by Rabbis Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, where Shapira leads the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva.  Ten settlers were arrested January 18 in a raid on Yitzhar by Israeli security officials.

Max Blumenthal published an article that included these translations from the text of the King’s Torah.  Here are passages from Torat Hamelech, as excerpted by Yuval Dror and translated by Dena Bugel-Shunra:

II. Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder

Maimonides wrote in the Halachas of Murder, Chapter A, Halacha A:

He who kills one soul of Israel violates a prohibition, as it is said “thou shalt not commit murder, and if he committed murder maliciously, in front of witnesses, his death shall be by the sword…

It is therefore made explicit that the “thou shalt not commit murder” prohibition refers only to a Jew who kills a Jew, and not to a Jew who kills a gentile, even if that gentile is one of the righteous among the nations… we have derived that from the verse “thou shalt not commit murder”, one cannot learn that there is a prohibition on killing a gentile.

(Page 17-18)

VIII. Conclusion

I. A gentile must not kill his friend, and if he has killed, he must die.

II. The prohibition “thou shalt not commit murder” refers to a Jew who kills another Jew.

III. A Jew who kills a gentile is not required to die.

IV. The prohibition on a Jew killing a gentile derives from the fact that a gentile is not allowed to kill a gentile.

(Page 27)

I. A gentile is killed for one death, and with one judge

A gentile who violates one of the seven rules [of Noah] must be killed, and he is killed based on the word of one witness and with one judge and with no warning.

II. A witness becomes a judge

For the Sons of Noah [gentiles] the witness can himself be a judge. This mean: if one person saw the other committing a crime – he can judge him and kill him for this, as he is the witness and he is the judge… Moses [moshe rabbenu] saw the Egyptian hitting a man of Israel, and killed him for that. So there Moses is the witness and is the judge, and this does not delay the carrying out of the law upon the Egyptian.

(Pp. 49-50)

What transpires from these matters is that when you judge a gentile for crimes that he has committed – you must also consider the question of whether he has repented, and if he has – he must not be killed… moreover: it is better that the gentile repent than that we kill him. If we come upon a gentile who does not abide by the Seven Laws [of Noah], and the importance of abiding by them can be explain to him, so he will repent – we would prefer to choose that path, and not judge an kill him.

(page 70)

It is explained in Yerushalmi [codex] that when a [child of] Israel [a Jew] is in danger of his life, as people tell him ‘kill this particular gentile or you will be killed’ – is permitted to kill the gentile to save himself… and the [interpreters of the law] Rashi and Maimonides say that the law of requiring to die rather than commit the crime is only valid in case of a Jew against another Jew, not in the case of a Jew against a stranger living among them… It is clear from these statements that when the choice is between losing the life of a stranger living among them and losing the life of a child of Israel [a Jew] – the simple decision is to permit [the killing].

(Pp. 157-158)

When the question is of a life of a gentile weighed against the life of a child of Israel [Jew], the initial proposal returns, which is that a Jew can violate law in order to save himself, as what is at stake is the soul [life] of a Jew – which supersedes the entire Torah [code of law] - in contrast with the life of a stranger living among us, which does not permit any Torah prohibition to be superseded.

(page 162)

To save the life of a gentile, one does not violate the Sabbath rules, and it is clear from this that his life is not like the value of the life of a child of Israel, so it may be used for the purpose of saving the life of a child of Israel.

(page 167)

An enemy soldier in the corps of intelligence, logistics, and so forth aids the army that fights against us. A soldier in the enemy’s medical corps is also considered a “rodef” [villain who is actively chasing a Jew], as without the medical corps the army will be weaker., and the medical corps also encourages and strengthens the fighters, and helps them kill us.

A civilian who supports fighters is also consider Rodef, and may be killed… anyone who helps the army of the evil people in any way, strengthens the murderers and is considered to be Rodef.

(page 184)

III. Support and encouragement

A civilian who encourages the war - gives the king and the soldiers the strength to continue with it. Therefore, every citizen in the kingdom that is against us, who encourages the warriors or expresses satisfaction about their actions, is considered Rodef and his killing is permissible. Also considered Rodef is any person who weakens our kingdom by speech and so forth.

(p. 185)

We are permitted to save ourselves from the Rodef people. It is not important who we start with, as long as we kill the Rodef people, and save ourselves from the danger they pose. And see for yourself: if you say that the fact that there are many of them brings up the question of whom to start with, and that that question is supposed to delay us from saving for ourselves - why it stands to reason: the existence of any one of them postpones the salivation, and this is the reason to treat each and every one as a complete Rodef, and to kill him, so he will not cause this ‘life-threatening’ question…

Whoever is in a situation where it is clear that he will chase and danger us in the future - it is not necessary to give it fine consideration as to whether at this moment, exactly, he is actively helping the chasing [harassment?] of us.

(Pp. 186-187)

X. People who were forced to partner with the enemy

We have dealt, so far, with gentiles whose evil means that there is a reason to kill them. We will now turn to discuss those who are not interested in war and object to it with all force…

We will start with a soldier, who is party to fighting against us, but is doing so only because he has been forced by threats to take part in the war.

If he was threatened with loss of money and such things - he is completely evil. There is no permission to take part in chasing and killing due to fear of loss of money, and if he does so -he is a Rodef in every definition thereof.

And if he was threatened that if he would not participate in the war, he would be killed - according to the MAHARAL [rabbi]… just as he is permitted to kill others - so, too, can others (even gentiles)kill him, so we will not die. And for this reason, according to the MAHARAL, it is simply evident that such a soldier may be killed.

And according to the Parashat Drachim [rabbi? Or possibly book of law?] - he must not participate in the murdering even if he must give his life due to this. And if he does so [participates] - he is evil and may be killed, like any other Rodef.

We will remind, again, that this discusses all types of participation in the war: a fighter, a support soldier, civilian assistance, or various types of encouragement and support.

(P. 196)

XVI. Infants

When discussing the killing of babies and children - why on the one hand, we see them as complete innocents, as they have no knowledge, and therefore are not to be sentenced for having violated the Seven Laws, and they are not to be ascribed evil intent. But on the other side, there is great fear of their actions when they grow up… in any event, we learn that there is an opinion that it is right to hurt infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation the damage will be directed specifically at them.

(Pp. 205-200)

IV. Killing the enemy like killing our own men

If the king is permitted to kill his own men for the purpose of war - that same opinion also holds with regard to people who belong to the evil kingdom. In a war of righteous people against evil people, we assume that the evil will eventually hurt us all, if we let it raise its head, and the people of the evil kingdom will also suffer from it.

We are, in fact, arguing to any person from the evil kingdom: if you belong to the evil king - you are liable to be killed for helping murderers; and if you do not help him - you should help us, and it is permissible to kill you as we kill our own people (as we are all in trouble together, and in such a situation it is permissible to kill the few in order to save the many.)

This theory also permits intentional hurting of babies and of innocent people, if this is necessary for the war against the evil people. For example: If hurting the children of an evil king will put great pressure on him that would prevent him from acting in an evil manner - they can be hurt (even without the theory that it is evident that they will be evil when they grow up.)

(P. 215)

VII. Revenge

One of the needs which exists, in the hurting of [Evil people?] is the revenge. In order to beat [win the war against] the evil people, we must act with them in a manner of revenge, as tit versus tat…

In other words, revenge is a necessary need in order to turn the evil-doing into something that does not pay off, and make righteousness grow stronger; and as great as the evil is - so is the greatness of the action needed against it.

(Pp. 216-217)

Sometimes, one does evil deeds that are meant to create a correct balance of fear, and a situation in which evil actions do not pay off… and in accordance with this calculus, the infants are not killed for their evil, but due to the fact that there is a general need of everyone to take revenge on the evil people, and the infants are the ones whose killing will satisfy this need; and they can also be viewed as the ones who are set aside from among a faction, as reality has chosen them to be the ones whose killing will save all of them [the others from that faction?] and prevent evildoing later on. (And it does indeed turn out that to this consideration, the consideration that we brought forth at the end of the prior chapter also definitely is added - which is, that they are in any event suspected of being evil when they grow up.)

Previously we had noted information about this book and it’s authors and supporters in our article collection Jewish “Ahavah shel achvah” Brotherly Love is Difficult for Some to Attain.  Here are the relevant entries:

Rabbi Itzhak Shapira has been arrested for allegedly firebombing a mosque.  Rabbi Shapira had previously published a book entitled The King’s Torah in which he claimed that it was permissible under Jewish law for a Jew to kill a non-Jewish civilian (including a child).  ** The book, called Torat ha-Melekh (“the Teaching of the King”) or King’s Torah deals with the killing of Goyim. It says that in peacetime, Goyim should generally not be killed – not because of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” which, according to the book, applies to Jews only, but because of God’s command after the Deluge (Genesis 9:6): “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man.” This applies to all Goyim who fulfill some basic commandments. However, the situation is totally different in wartime. And according to the rabbis, Israel has been at war since its foundation, and probably will be for ever more. In war, in every place where the presence of a Goy endangers a Jew, it is permitted to kill him, even though he be a righteous goy who bears no responsibility for the situation. It is permitted – indeed, recommended – to kill not only enemy fighters, but also those who “support” or “encourage” them. It is permitted to kill enemy civilians if this is helpful for the conduct of the war. ** 

Rabbi Shapira also advocated the expulsion or genocide of all male Palestinians above the age of thirteen. **  He also wrote “It is permissible to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation.  If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments - because we care about the commandments - there is nothing wrong with the murder.” **  He encouraged the use of Palestinians as human shields **, and preaches the slaughter of gentile babies. **

Rabbi Dov Lior, Top Yesha rabbi issued a halakhic ruling saying that Jewish law forbids renting houses or apartments to Arabs or employing them.  **.  He also said Jewish couples should’t use non-Jewish sperm because a baby born through such an insemination will have the “negative genetic traits that characterize non-Jews.” **

Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, author of a book ( Baruch the man ) glorifying Hebron mass murderer Baruch Goldstein said that revenge and terrorism are purifying. Jews are encouraged to take revenge against those who harm them to recover their inner power after centuries of humiliation. Revenge, he argues, “is stressing my positive essence, the truth in my being. . . . It is like a law of nature. He who takes revenge joins the ‘ecological currents of reality.’ . . . Revenge is the return of the individual and the nation to believe in themselves, in their power and in the fact that they have a place under the sun and are no longer stepped on by everybody.”  **.  He also said “If you saw two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you save the Jewish life first,” - and “If every simple cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA…If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value.”  **

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef was arrested for investigation into his endorsement of ‘Torat Hamelech,’ which endorses the killing of gentiles – including Arab babies who might grow up to be enemies.  **  Hundreds of people demonstrated in Jerusalem in support of Rabbi Yosef **

It is amazing that not only will there be no legal consequences for publication of such extremist material, but also that those responsible are actually receiving millions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers and the Israeli Government.  Richard Silverstein reports in an article If Shin Bet Calls for Defunding Yitzhar Yeshiva, Why Are U.S. Donations Still Tax-Deductible?

... The Shin Bet security service is urging the Education Ministry to immediately halt funding to the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, saying it has received intelligence information that senior rabbis in the yeshiva are encouraging their students to attack Arabs.

The army’s GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, recently issued restraining orders that forbid several students affiliated with the yeshiva to enter the West Bank. This decision was based on what security sources termed well-founded suspicions that these students had been involved in attacks on Arabs, including “price tag” attacks on Arab property (so-called because they seek to deter the army from razing houses in the settlements ) and the torching of mosques in nearby Palestinian villages.

The head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, was filmed in the past accompanying some of his students to a nearby Arab village; the students then threw stones while the rabbi looked on. Shapira is the author of the controversial work “The King’s Torah,” which, among other things, discusses circumstances under which Jewish law might permit the killing of non-Jews.

The institute gets funding from four different line items in the state budget. In 2009, the Education Ministry gave it NIS 468,000 for the yeshiva high school and NIS 847,000 for the yeshiva gedola. The yeshiva also got money from the Social Affairs Ministry for a project to rehabilitate ultra-Orthodox drop-outs (NIS 707,000 in 2009), plus NIS 156,000 to operate a dormitory. ...

There is a problem with double standards regarding the Israeli government’s position on those who engage in such hateful speech.  As Rabbi Yehial Grenimann notes

... month ago, a Muslim Imam from Nazareth was convicted foroffenses of incitement to violence, murder and terror. The judge determined that considering his status, the scope of his listeners, and the forums he used for preaching – there is no doubt that there was an actual possibility that the Imam’s remarks will encourage violence or terror. Indeed, whoever takes advantage of religion to preach for killing people who are different from them should be, in a proper state, behind bars.  These people not only violate the monotheistic religions and the name of God, but they also break the law and moral basic principles. But in Israel, apparently, the determination to go against a religious leader depends on the religion and the nationality of the inciter.

A few years ago, a significant number of rabbis showed support of the book “Torat Hamelech”, an Halachic book written by Rabbis Isaac Shapira and Yosef Elitzur from Od Ysef Chai Yeshiva located in Yitzhar. The book, which contains a permit to kill the enemy’s children as there is an apprehension that the children might grow up to oppose us. The book did not earn its authors and supporters more than a few light investigations, which the police had to beg for.

Not only that the Imam’s remarks incites people to act, but also the remarks of the circle that is identified with “Torat Hamelech”, and with other incitements of this kind. There is great reference to the assumption that this ideological background, inspired by Torat Hamelech, nourished a number of Jewish terrorists, including murderers. For some reason, they are still roaming freely. There is a prominent asymmetry in the State’s respond to these two cases. In one case it convicts on the grounds of incitement to terrorism, and in the second, it evades enforcement.

There is also an incomplete symmetry to this phenomenon. Incitement by Muslim religious leader, indeed serious in itself no less than the equivalent incitement of Jewish religious leaders, differs from one another by one thing: the extreme rabbis incitement is an addition to the discriminatory governmental policy the discriminate Arabs and allows for racist remarks of public figures, even ministers.

On the Arab side, the inciting Imam “rides” on this discriminatory background and the hatred of the Palestinian minority in Israel and in the territories. Thus, his extreme Islamic doctrine can appeal to more people, as it is being perceived as a response, even if morally wrong, to discrimination. Believe it or not, the extreme doctrine of the Imam is first of all a threat many Arabs. ...

I am not certain what can be learned from this controversy, except that extremist interpretations of religious texts are to be found among all religious groups.  And, far too many adherents of a particular religion are quick to note the extremism of others, and much more reticent about speaking out against their own extremists.  All of us need to step up and be counted, do what we can to marginalize our own extremists, and stop demonizing each other.

In the article Are We the New Jews of Silence?, Remba Gidon points out “Whoever can stop the members of his household from committing a sin, but does not, is held responsible for the sins of his household. If he can stop the people of his city from sinning, but does not, he is held responsible for the sins of the people of his city. If he can stop the whole world from sinning, and does not, he is held responsible for the sins of the whole world.” (Shabbat 54b)

In Islam, standing up for justice must be done even if it is against ourselves, our parents, our kin, the rich or the poor. This is clearly mentioned in the Quran (4:135).



A Grim Teaching, Yehudah Mirsky

Britain denies entry to Israeli rabbi who advocated killing of non-Jews: Rabbi Yosef Elitzur canot enter Britain for the next three years

Does Jewish Law Justify Killing Civilians?, Danios

‘Foreign Policy’ runs piece describing Israel’s ‘carnival of hate’ toward Palestinians, Philip Weiss

Inside Torat Hamelech, the Jewish Extremist Terror Tract Endorsed by State-employed Rabbis, Max Blumenthal

The institutional racism, Rabbi Yehial Grenimann

Israel’s AG closes probe into authors of allegedly racist book

Jew and non-Jews in the Halacha, Rabbi Moshe Yehudai

The King’s Torah and the Killing of Palestinians, Mahmoud Muhareb

The King’s Torah, Rabbinic text or call to terrorism?, Daniel Estrin

King’s Torah splits Israel’s religious and secular Jews, Yolande Knell

King’s Torah - Discussion on religious extremism among the occupier and the occupied, and the damage done to peace prospects. Inside Story discusses with guests Lamis Andoni, a Middle East analyst, Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, from Rabbis for human rights, and Gerald Steinberg, a chair of political studies and director of the conflict resolution program at Bar Ilan University.

Rabbi Dov Lior: ‘Democracy, Idol Worship of Our Time’, Richard Silverstein

Irving Moskowitz, Controversial Backer Of Israeli Settlements, Paul Blumenthal

Rabbi Arrested for Firebombing Mosque; Extremist Jews Threaten to Engage in Terrorism, Danios

Rising Extremism—and Racism—in Israel ignored by American Jewish Organizations, Allan C. Brownfeld

Settler Rabbi Who Endorses Goyicide Receives $300,000 in State Funding, Richard Silverstein

Settlers Ramp Up “Price Tag” Policy: Israeli Rabbi Preaches “Slaughter” of Gentile Babies, Jonathan Cook

Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank

U.S. tax dollars fund rabbi who excused killing gentile babies, Akiva Eldar

West Bank rabbi: Jews can kill Gentiles who threaten Israel

Who is funding the rabbi who endorses killing gentile babies?, Akiva Eldar

Why are U.S. donations tax-deductible to extremist yeshiva ?

There is an English translation available online at  However, I don’t know anything about the site or its translators, so can’t comment on its accuracy.



originally published 5/29/2012