Torah For Today! This week: Princess Latifa

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Torah For Today! This week: Princess Latifa

Rabbi Zvi Solomons takes a topical issue and delves into Jewish texts for a response

Rabbi Zvi Solomons

In recent weeks, videos have emerged of Princess Latifa accusing her father, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, of holding her hostage. So, what does the Torah say about this?

In our deepest tradition, there is a concept that parents are responsible for their children and ultimately have power of life and death over them should they step out of line. 

This is expressed in the law of the stubborn and rebellious child who, if found guilty, is stoned. The rabbis discuss whether this actually happened – the Talmud says it never did, but Rabbi Yehonatan speaks of at least one example.

Women are ascribed autonomy with respect to their personal and matrimonial lives. At the very earliest time in Jewish history, our mother Rachel is asked if she wishes to leave home and be with Isaac, a man she has not even met yet. Her answer is that she will go.

Women are not limited in halacha in their ownership of property, nor in any other rights in law. Although some authorities have said a man may chastise his wife, this is not our general ruling – beating one’s wife is considered gross and grounds for divorce by many authorities. 

When we see the kidnapping of a woman, who is held incommunicado in her home country, we have to say this is an abuse of law. No legal system should be operated to gratify one person’s will, and we are rightly disgusted. 

The princess has inalienable rights to freedom unless she has committed a crime, which is most certainly not the case. 

In halacha, kidnapping is punished as a capital offence, under the Ten Commandments. The behaviour of the Crown Prince is an outrage against justice and an abuse of the ruler’s power to make such drastic decisions. A biblical prophet would doubtless have condemned the sheikh who behaved so vindictively and coercively to his own daughter.

Royals are used to having their own way, yet the Torah principle that there should be one law for every person is something we should all support.

  •  Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves JCoB, the Jewish Community of Berkshire in Reading

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