The Jerusalem Post
New gov’t intent on curbing religion
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, one of the most senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis in the country, has lamented the new government’s plans over changes to religious life, alleging that it seeks to stop people being religious.
Speaking from his home in Bnei Brak Tuesday night, the 98-year-old rabbi said that the ultra-Orthodox community must increase its diligence in Torah study, good deeds and observance of the religious commandments which would forestall the designs of the new government.
“Now it is known that there is a new government, that they have the intention, and they say it openly, that they want [to issue] decrees to stop people being religious… [decrees] against the laws of the Torah, not in accordance with the laws of the Torah,” said Edelstein.
“This is the plan so what do you do? What is the advice? It depends on merits! When there are merits there are no disturbances, when there are merits, the person who comes to purify themselves gets assistance,” continued the rabbi.
Edelstein went on to say that ultra-Orthodox community needs to earn merit by assiduously observing the religious commandments and thereby earn divine grace to avert the decrees planned by the government.
The rabbi’s comments come following severe denunciations of the new government by the ultra-Orthodox political leadership and from figures such as the head of the Shas Council of Torah sages Rabbi Shalom Cohen who forbade Shas officials from cooperating in any way with the new government, even for the financial interests of their institutions.
And the MKs of the ultra-Orthodox political parties Shas and United Torah Judaism all signed a declaration promising not work with any ultra-Orthodox advisers who work with the new government.
Government ministers often employ ultra-Orthodox advisers to provide guidance regarding projects in the sector and how to best cooperate and work with the haredi community.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has insisted that he wants his government to assist the ultra-Orthodox sector, for example by planning and building a new haredi city to help resolve the housing crisis for the community.
The pledge of the MKs not to work with advisers who help the government is part of an effort by Shas and UTJ to protect their status as the only political parties the ultra-Orthodox community can rely on to protect their interests.