The Jerusalem Post
What to do when you’re new
Regarding “Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party announces ministerial nominations” (June 13), the parties who decried the bloated ministry appointments of the previous government have now passed an all-encompassing Norwegian Law allowing seemingly unlimited appointments (and drains on the budget) at a time when austerity makes the most sense. Many of the appointments are “learn on the job” positions, as their holders have no relevant experience.
Rather than take away unemployment benefits, perhaps Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman should take away inappropriate appointment benefits.
It appears that this government, which has no cohesive ideology other than “dethrone Netanyahu,” is showing its true colors: say anything to get elected, but do what’s best for me.
To the two leaders of the incoming government, I, as a haredi, would like to offer some words of advice.
Both of you profess a deep love for Israel and Jewry as a whole. Now that you are assuming responsibility to govern, you must ensure that what you do is for the whole of Israel and not just a part. It is your duty to understand and respect each segment of the community, their hopes, desires and beliefs. Any other course leads to a disastrous rupture of the fabric of our society.
This must shape what and how you introduce change, particularly regarding the religious sector, which sees the traditional form of Judaism as an unchanging guide to their way of life. Their Judaism is a central core of life, with an importance for which their ancestors have sacrificed their lives.
This was recognized at the foundation of Israel by David Ben-Gurion, who was not a haredi, but whose knowledge of history taught him to accommodate the beliefs of the Haredi element, which was then not as large as today. We have in the past had the unfortunate experience of dividing Jewry into two separate branches – both during the Temple period and later – and only traditional Judaism survived. Ben-Gurion realized that the state needed to respect the forms of that religion if it was not to be split into “them” and “us,” and Jewry was to remain a single nation in Israel. That was the basis of the famous “status quo,” a major block to changes that apparently are now envisaged.
You have been told that there are many faces of Judaism and religious beliefs, as preached by the American Reform Movement, which has little support from the majority of the Jewish population and disregards traditional beliefs, such as Shabbat and kashrut. Their concept of changing laws to conform with the times is anathema to traditional belief, a repudiation of divine revelation and thus an abandonment of the sanctity of the Bible. To proceed on that understanding is to adopt the approach of the Reform at a time when that movement is diminishing as a relevant factor for what remains of American Jewry.
Before you introduce legislation, contemplate what its consequences will be. Legislation cannot change Halacha. To require a rabbi to officiate at a wedding between a Jew and one whose conversion is valid only according to civil law will render most rabbis liable for refusing. I trust you have no desire to convince a large part of Israeli Jewry that they are in exile in what should be their own country. To some extent that has already occurred; there are those who wonder whether they are about to suffer the same intolerance that observant Jews have suffered at the hands of nonJews for so long. It is your obligation as leaders to disabuse them; any other course could lead to a major conflict between the state and religion, which could lead to undesirable consequences.
No one in Israel is forced to be religious, No one is asking either of you to become haredi. We pray that your term of office will exemplify that we haredim are citizens too and are entitled to our beliefs.
M. RABIN Jerusalem
I can go along with much of the opinion expressed in the editorial “End religious incitement” (June 10). The MKs of the religious parties expressed themselves in ways I think Torah-observent Jews refrain from.
But I understand where they are coming from – and I am sad to say one line in the editorial shows you do not. “Showing flexibility on civil marriage (is) not a threat to Judaism”
True, for the individual, who has free choice to observe or not observe, this would probably not make much of a difference. However, for the entire Jewish people, for Klal Yisrael, especially in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, these issues are of tremendous impact and importance. They are a threat to Eretz Yisrael.
Our land is not like all other lands. Our land is holy; it’s the place where the Temples stood in Jerusalem, where the Tabernacle stood in Shiloh, in Samaria for 400+ years prior to the Temple, where our forefathers walked, raised sheep, dug wells, preached monotheism. This is the country where Jews can live as Jews more fully, keeping commandments that don’t apply to the Diaspora, such as tithes and shmita (coming up soon).
We who made aliya, who left nice Jewish communities in the world because we wanted to live in a Jewish land where Shabbat is the official day of rest and no one is forced to work on Shabbat (unless their profession is vital, like medical or security personnel). My sons served in a Jewish army with the highest moral code of all, and which serves officially kosher food. The Knesset has 120 members like the Anshei Knesset HaGdola, the Great Assembly of Sages that codified much of our laws. What is in the public sphere is of a Jewish nature. Our laws reflect much of Mishpat Ivri, and should not take in every trend or “politically correct” idea that is out there.
My aforementioned sons have gotten asked why they are here and not in the States, as they have dual citizenship. They explain the essence of living in a land different from all others, with an atmosphere that is one of holiness, of being
Diluting Jewish public life, reducing it to being like all other nations, threatens that fabric of holiness.