‘No’ to a Hatred of Religion

The governing principles of what appears to be the new incoming Israeli government include declarations of intentions — dictated by some of the coalition partners — that clearly intend to harm the Torah world and undermine the fundamentals of halachah that have been passed down through mesorah from generation to generation. There is no other way to define them other than governing principles based on a hatred of religion. A government that will operate according to such guidelines will therefore have no other definition than a government that hates the Jewish religion.

It is extremely painful and disconcerting that the new government set to be sworn in this week is supposed to be established on the basis of such principles, forced upon a country through a pact most unlikely forged between two factions at the polar ends of the political spectrum.

Jewish Home is a party firmly in the right of Israeli politics. It opposes the creation of a Palestinian state and is a staunch supporter of the communities in Yehudah and Shomron.

Yesh Atid, is a center-left party that supports negotiations with the Palestinians towards a “two-state” solution.

It would seem that perhaps the only common denominator between them is a determination that the next Israeli government excludes chareidim, and that those who lean Torah should be forced to close their Gemaras.

For American Jewry this obsession seems particularly perplexing. For even during the heyday of the Vietnam draft, religious students were exempted from the U.S. draft.

Furthermore, in any self-respecting Western country the notion of boycotting a segment of society solely out of disdain for their religious principles would have been considered scandalous. Human rights groups would have been quick to release statements and ringing condemnations would have echoed from any corner.

However it has become increasingly clear that basic standards of fairness, let alone concepts of political correctness, don’t apply when it comes to chareidim. For it wasn’t that Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home tried and failed to reach an understanding with the chareidi parties — they refused to even allow chareidim to come to the negotiations table.

Those who seek to uproot the foundations of the true Jewish home, whose very inception must be carried out in accordance with daas Moshe v’Yisrael; those who want to open cracks in religious identity through which non-Jews will enter and, chalilah, be considered Jews; those who want to uproot Shabbos from the public conscience; those who want to harm the chinuch of Jewish children and change the way they have been taught for generations, for which their ancestors and rebbeim were moser nefesh; those who want to force Torah scholars out of the beis medrash — are those who are joining together for a platform of religious hatred in Israel. There are no other definitions or explanations, and we must recognize the reality.

Every Jew, wherever he is, wants — irrespective of coalition or opposition — Am Yisrael in its country to be able to live in peace. They desire that government decisions that will affect every Jew and citizen living in Israel, and whose consequences also affect Jews living in the Diaspora, should come from a successful government, one that does the right things, which will act with wisdom and insight. However, one thing is clear to us: to merit acting properly, the government musn’t hate religion. It must not harm everything that is holy and dear to us, and it must not make declarations, chalilah, that indicate a rebellion against Malchus Shamayim.

The grim reality is that for the first time in decades, it is likely the chareidi world won’t be represented in the Israeli government. This will affect Torah life in a multitude of ways, including how marriages and conversion are performed to the funding of the mosdos and the feeding of the poor.

This isn’t the first time that the chareidim will sit in the opposition. From 1953, when it left the government — during the battle over giyus banos — until 1977, Agudas Yisrael was in the opposition, and its MKs fought for the needs of the Torah world from outside the governing coalition. With the stakes — which include the draft of yeshivah students — so high, the idea that chareidi Jewry will have no voice in the government is a particularly painful reality. It will be challenging, it will be difficult but Torah Jewry will survive even if its MKs are in the opposition.

Our hearts are filled with worry, and common sense dictates that we have no other choice but to grasp the craft of our fathers: “Ein kochah ela b’peh — Yaakov’s power lies in its mouth.” Together, united as one, we will daven and plead to Hashem to have mercy on His nation, and to ensure that nothing bad should result from the evil intentions. We will offer a tefillah to Hashem that, in His great mercy, He should protect and save all those who seek His protection, so that those errant ones should open their eyes and see that they have made a mistake and gone too far in their desire for authority and revenge. May they not be able to raise a hand to the holy Torah, nor those who guard it and learn it.