Rabbi apologizes to colleague for kashrut kerfuffle, avoiding libel suit

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The chief rabbi of the northern town of Nesher, Rabbi Yithak Levi, has issued a formal public apology to Rabbi David Stav, the head of the progressive Orthodox Tzohar movement, for claiming he’d abandoned Orthodox Judaism and could no longer be trusted on matters of kashrut.

Levi made his remarks last year in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox Kikar Hashabbat news site over Stav’s support for then-religious services minister Matan Kahana’s kashrut reforms. Stav, in response, sued Levi for libel, seeking hundreds of thousands of shekels in damages.

The presiding judge in the case encouraged the two sides to reach a compromise instead of going to trial as the case opened today. Levi agrees to apologize, saying that it was a “slip of the tongue” and did not reflect what he truly believed.

“I never meant to claim that Rabbi Stav wasn’t Orthodox. Not then, and not now. I want to ask forgiveness from Rabbi Stav — may he live a long, good life, amen — for the great suffering that was caused to him by the viciousness of my comments,” Levi says.

Stav accepts the apology. “I hope that in the future, discussion between learned people — even when they disagree — will be respectful and respecting as is the way of the Torah,” he says.

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