Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why Did Katzav Cancel The Plea Bargain?

Many people wondered why former president Katzav backed out at the last moment from the lenient plea bargain his lawyers had arranged. Katzav was offered the deal of a lifetime - he would not have been convicted of rape, and would have served any prison time. However Katzav famously backed out of the plea bargain, and declared that he would fight to prove his innocence - and we all know how that ended.

Arutz 10  (see also embed video below) has a new theory on the process that led Katzav to decide to decline the plea bargain. Supposedly Katzav was badly advised by two very famous Rabbanim - Harav Mordechai Eliyahu Z"l, and Harav Tau. Harav Eliyahu Z"l supposedly told Katzav that he should "cancel the deal and succeed." (יבטל ויצליח) .Harav Tau, told Katzav that as the president of Israel, he may not agree to a plea bargain - for he represents the honor of all Israel. "זה כבודם של ישראל, זה לא עניין פרטי שלך. חייב לבטל את עסקת הטיעון",

It is hard to say that it was inappropriate for Katzav to ask rabbanim their opinion. We all know that it is becoming more and more common to ask Rabbis advice on topics with which they have no expertise - the best example would be medical questions (should I have the operation?). The legitimacy of the question and answer depend somewhat on the expectations. If the person asking is expecting the rabbi to be a minor seer - his question is illegitimate. Judging by the answer attributed to Harav Eliyahu, this would seem to be the case here. However, if you are looking for a religious perspective - these questions are legitimate. Judging by Harav Tau's answer, it would seem that is the crux of his answer. The important thing is to realize that rabbanim do not often have a direct line to god. Their answer is influenced by their religious life and perspective - but it is not a window into God's plans - as evidenced so clearly in this case. 

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