Rabbi Elior Chen tortured tiny children, ordering his aides and followers to burn them with hot stones, beat then and drown them in order to 'exorcise' the 'demons' he believed to have invaded them. One child was left with with permanent severe brain damage, others were maimed. In February 2011 Chen was convicted on massive evidence – including eyewitness testimony. Now haredi leader Rabbi Yitzchak Tuvia Weiss, the head rabbi of the Mea-Shearim-based haredi umbrella organization Eidah Haredit, and other prominent Eidah Haredit rabbis have launched a "pidyon shvuyim" fund to help Chen appeal his "draconian" 24-year prison sentence.
The fundraising campaign is not being conducted simply to give Chen the chance to file a strong appeal; it is being done because these rabbis believe that Chen is actually innocent.
Why is Chen innocent in the eyes of these rabbis?
In large part because most of the primary witnesses against him are a woman and children, and their tesimony does not count in Jewish law.
And what about the other witnesses?
They are evil or coerced.
In other words, the rabbis chose to believe and support a horrific child abuser because he is a rabbi, and disregard the testimony of all the witnesses against him because they are not rabbis.
Headline: Pidyon Shvuyim (redemption of captives)
Subhead: Lo ta'amud al dam rayecha (Do not stand by the blood of your neighbor)
According to some of his former followers, Chen planned to blow up the Temple Mount.
Haredi leaders previously signed a letter declaring Chen is a talmud chacham, a man learned in Jewish law and Talmud, and declaring his innocence. Despite denials, that letter really was signed by rabbis from the non-hasidic haredi leadership, including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the haredi leader, haredi number two Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, and Rabbi Elyashiv's son-in-law and haredi number three Rabbi Chaim Kanievesky.
[From Kikar Shabbat.]