Although the authors of the edict forbidding the sale or rental of homes to non-Jews managed to collect the signatures of 39 rabbis around the country, they failed to enlist Maran Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Orchos Torah and chair of the Degel Hatorah Council of Rabbonim.
Rav Shteinman refused an audience with Tzefas Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu this week, when the latter arrived to convince the Bnei Brak gadol to sign the letter instructing Jews not to rent or sell property to Arabs or any other non-Jews.
A source that was present at the scene said, “As soon as Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu introduced himself, Rav Shteinman, who knew why he was being approached, said ‘I won’t sign,’ and immediately left the room.” Rav Steinman, who is 96 years old, then discussed the initiative with members of his inner circle.
One of Rav Shteinman’s confidants related the gadol’s words: “They are making a fierce nationalistic statement. We will not irritate others; that is not the charedi way. There are things that should not be done; what if there would be a similar call in Berlin against renting properties to Jews? Where is the public conscience? What will this do to Jews around the world? We must act responsibly.”
Some Zionist rabbis also refused to sign the edict. Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel said, “The former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, already adjudicated that, despite the Biblical prohibition ‘Thou shalt not give them respite,’ in a democratic state you cannot discriminate between citizens. What’s more, it will cause discrimination against Jews in other countries.”
Maale Gilboa Yeshiva head Rabbi Yehuda Gilad said in response to the rabbis’ letter on Tuesday, “This ruling is a serious distortion of the Torah, and contradicts basic human morality.”
Gilad continued, “We can only imagine what would be [Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu’s] reaction if he would hear of a case outside of Israel where the authorities forbade the rental of homes to Jews.”