Torah For Today! This week: Kidnapping

Torah For Today! This week: Kidnapping

Rabbi Ariel Abel takes a topical issue and offers an Orthodox response

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

Chloe Ayling
Chloe Ayling

British model Chloe Ayling was recently drugged and kidnapped by a gang, who planned to sell her as a sex slave. They only released her when they discovered she is a mother. So, what does the Torah say about this?

Chloe’s kidnap in Milan started with her being sent a false invite to a photoshoot, and drugging, shackling and bundling her into a suitcase, before a ransom was issued and she was held hostage for six days.

In Israelite law, kidnapping and selling off a victim is the worst form of theft, on a par with murder and punishable by death.

In the early 1980s, the son of the lay head of the Syrian Jews in Buenos Aires, Don Shaul Sutton – whom I was privileged to meet and serve for a short time as rabbi – was held hostage at an undisclosed location.

Don Shaul travelled to Israel, where the revered Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeirah “Baba Sali” asked him to pray at his ancestor’s gravesite in Egypt.

On his return, Baba Sali drew a map of the locality in Buenos Aires, pinpointing the site where his son was held.

The gift of such clairvoyance was lifesaving, and a means to avoid entering the murky territory of acceding to heinous demands for money.

Maimonides rules against paying ransoms for Jewish kidnap victims to discourage gangsters turning their activity into a lucrative business opportunity.

For Chloe, it was a gang rule on not kidnapping mothers that brought about her release; paying ransom may have opened the way to further crimes.

Greater security measures must be introduced to protect models in an effort to stop kidnapping becoming a financially attractive proposition to criminals.

  • Rabbi Ariel Abel is padre to HM Forces and rabbi of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation
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