In 1984, Israel’s then-President Chaim Herzog refused to meet with the newly seated parliamentarian Rabbi Meir Kahane, the leader of the now-outlawed Kakh party, despite meeting with the heads of every other party in the Knesset. The refusal no doubt owed to Kahane’s anti-Arab bigotry and sympathy for vigilante violence. Discovered in Herzog’s archives was what appeared to be a letter from the revered American rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik upbraiding him for his frostiness toward Kahane and stating that the latter was “despite his many, many errors, a God-fearing Jew who fights for the honor of Heaven and of the Jewish people.”
Mosheh Lichtenstein cites extensive textual evidence to argue that the letter is a forgery. Not only does it use numerous uncharacteristic turns of phrase, but the signature does not match Soloveitchik’s—either in the handwriting script or in the spelling of his own name. Lichtenstein adds:
I am not judging the letter based upon any presumed attitude of Rabbi Soloveitchik regarding Rabbi Kahane. However, the content of the letter is extremely problematic for . . . other reasons. [The] letter concludes with a clear admonition and rebuke to President Herzog in no uncertain terms regarding his own [lack of religious] observance. Not only does the writer allow himself to criticize Herzog’s standards of public observance, an obviously sensitive topic for someone raised as an observant Jew, he also doesn’t shy away from introducing the extremely sensitive and intensely personal issue of Herzog’s relationships with his parents and [his own] children.
The Soloveitchik that I knew . . . would never enter into such personal matters and grant unsolicited advice or pass judgment upon his correspondent’s personal life and relationships. For that matter, I cannot imagine that any rational individual who is requesting a favor from a person of stature would conclude his message by rebuking the person and making it clear that he is a disappointment to his parents. . . . Soloveitchik would not, and could not, have written such a text.
More about: Israeli politics, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Meir Kahane