Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5766 - March 22, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Why Should the Israeli Elections Interest Every Jew?

Many of the readers of the English edition of Yated Ne'eman live outside of Eretz Yisroel. Even among those who live in Eretz Yisroel, many of our readers may not have the right to vote in the Israeli elections for one reason or another. So why should these elections interest them?

We could give a practical and a political answer: these elections have a critical influence on the lives of what is by far the largest concentration of Jews in the entire world today (America has less than half the number of hard core Jews than Israel does), and what happens in Eretz Yisroel has an important influence in Jewish communities around the world — for better or for worse Rachmono litzlan. Also, even those who cannot vote can work to influence those who can vote. We could also detail the political issues that affect religious life and whose outcome will be strongly influenced by the number of seats that UTJ receives in the coming elections.

However, this time we wish to focus on the purely religious aspect of the elections themselves and our attitude to them.

We do not address ourselves to skeptics or even those who merely watch from "afar" as it were, without feeling any commitment or identification with our community.

We address ourselves to those who see themselves as part and parcel of the Torah community, and who recognize and accept the leadership of Maranan Verabbonon. We address ourselves to those who have themselves imbibed enough of the wine of Torah themselves, and have had the opportunity to be close enough to people with a stronger and deeper relationship to Torah, so that they can project somewhat and are able to realize the rarefied purity and clarity of the vision of the true gedolim of our times.

We address ourselves to those who know that when such people entitle their call Mi LaHashem Eileinu, they mean it deliberately as an echo of that long-ago cry of Moshe Rabbenu — an echo that reverberates through myriad levels of spiritual meaning of that original cry. When gedolei Yisroel cry out to the klal hayerei'im vehachareidim lidvar Hashem-the entire class of those who are in awe of and deeply concerned about the word of Hashem — we address those who number themselves in that group.

This is not a group that is defined by political persuasion or financial interests. This is a group that gedolei Yisroel define as being motivated by the most basic concern that can move a Jew, whoever he is and wherever he may be: the word of G-d.

These are people who view themselves as part of a body that is known as Klal Yisroel, and who know that the gedolim are the eyes and the heart of this body. If the eyes see a matter of importance, and the heart is weighed down with concern over the outcome, as the gedolim are, then this group will share those feelings — or else research the issues until they feel as the gedolim do.

We are not positive that the Krias Kodesh has the status of a sichas kodesh and not a sichas chulin — but in either case it must be studied with care.

The words of gedolei Yisroel are meant in all seriousness, and they are not like the slogans of advertisers. Let us review what maranan verabonon said in the past.

Speaking before the elections of 5715, Maran HaRav Aharon Kotler, zt'l, said, "These elections are also a survey. Everyone is asked if he accepts upon himself Ma'amad Har Sinai as well as kedushoh and taharoh, or the opposite. . . . Whoever votes for the Torah list is mekadesh sheim Shomayim in public . . . one who does not participate allies himself with the rosho and bears responsibility."

The Steipler Gaon zt'l wrote: "Voting for the chareidi list is a declaration before the whole world that we are faithful to Hashem yisborach and His holy Torah. That is our main demand and our main purpose, and in doing so we are mekadesh Sheim Shomayim in public. Those who hate the holy Torah count all those who fail to vote as among those who passively and tacitly accept the hefkeirus that they promulgate, and not among those who protest the hefkeirus, R'l. Thus, one who fails to vote minimizes, chas vesholom, kevod Sheim Shomayim, yisborach Shemo" (in Karaina De'igarta, 207).

It is to those who find that these words speak to them, that we address ourselves.

Please answer.

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