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IDF Radio journalist asks: “Since when does a room have sanctity?”

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 17:04 “Since when does a room have sanctity? Is this something inherently Jewish or was it imported from somewhere else?” asked Avri Gilad, a journalist with Galei Tzhal (IDF Radio), in response to the demand to remove the exercise equipment from the beit midrash of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, which was taken over by IDF and border police forces in April of 2014. On Wednesday, October 22 on the Galei Tzhal (IDF Radio) program “HaMila HaAcharona” (lit. “The Last Word”) Gilad mentioned the exercise equipment which had be placed by border policemen in the beit midrash of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar. Gilad chose to belittle the demand to remove the exercise equipment and dubbed the decision by the IDF to agree to the demand as “capitulation”. “Honenu filed a complaint that [they] were desecrating a holy place, that [the IDF] allowed soldiers to exercise in the beit midrash room. The IDF submitted, capitulated and removed the exercise equipment from what was the beit midrash room,” said Gilad. “Now I ask, since when does a room have sanctity? Is this something inherently Jewish or was it imported from somewhere else?” Jackie Levy, who co-hosted the program with Gilad, tried to explain the situation and said that, “We support the way of thinking that one should ‘increase holiness rather than decrease it.’*” Levy quoted from the Talmud to explain that a room used for studying Torah, a holy purpose, should not be used for other purposes. However Gilad replied that, “I think that this is a case of misusing the word “holy” in order to antagonize.” Honenu, who filed the complaint on behalf of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, is astounded by the program and wonders what the source of Avri Gilad’s callous contempt is. Honenu is certain that Gilad would not have been so quick to say similar things about a mosque or a church. “Is it so hard for Mr. Gilad to respect and understand the feelings of traditional Jews, who are hurt by turning a beit midrash into an exercise room? We suggest that he examine Siman 151 in the ‘Shulchan Arukh’ for the laws concerning a beit midrash, in hopes that he will accept that the most comprehensive book of Jewish law, the ‘Shulchan Arukh’, is an authority on Judaism.” * Levy quoted from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menachot 39a.

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