Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Elections in Bet Shemesh!

The explosive news of the day is the court decision that due to massive fraud in the recent elections in Bet Shemesh, there will be new elections. See the extensive Jerusalem Post article here.

It should be noted that the great anger about the Bet Shemesh elections is not only due to the numerous cases of electoral fraud. It's also about the way that the mayor's election campaign was run. Mayor Abutbol recently filed a complaint about incitement against him, complaining that "words can kill," which is ironic in light of the fact that his campaigners were demonizing Eli Cohen as a quasi-Nazi who wants to send charedi children to concentration camps. Furthermore, local charedi rabbis were using rabbinic muscle to intimidate and even order people not to vote for Eli Cohen. (This includes some rabbis of moderate charedi shuls, which led to many of their members feeling disenfranchised and leaving the shuls.)

There are many other examples of improprieties during the election campaign by Abutbol, his campaigners, and local rabbis. Many people observed that all this was undermining the foundational principles of democracy. Unfortunately, that's probably not something that will change in the new elections.

It's not yet clear when the new elections will be held. Meanwhile, here is a list of the posts that I wrote about the Bet Shemesh elections:

Who Is Responsible For Extremism?
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/who-is-reponsible-for-extremism.html

Will Charedim Vote In Their Own Best Interests?
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/09/will-charedim-vote-in-their-own-best.html

Letter From A Charedi Jew Regarding The Bet Shemesh Elections
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/letter-from-charedi-jew-regarding-bet.html

What Else Do These Doctors Have In Common?
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/what-else-do-these-doctors-have-in.html

He Will Send Your Children To CONCENTRATION CAMPS!
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/he-will-send-your-children-to.html

Tribalism, Plus A Siege Mentality
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/tribalism-plus-siege-mentality.html

The Differences Between Charedi and Dati-Leumi Rabbanim
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/the-differences-between-charedi-and.html

Are You Allowed To Make Up Your Own Mind?
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/are-you-allowed-to-make-up-your-own-mind.html

The Daas Torah Voting Tefillah
http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/10/the-daas-torah-voting-tefillah.html

31 comments:

  1. Not sure anything will change in the next round. It can hardly get dirtier. As for the democratic principles, as an American, to me freedom of speech is only limited by clear and present danger. I am disgusted by the election laws in Israel that limit religious statements such as blessings and cursing etc. Trash talking and lying is part of the game, and it always has been. If they affect some people's vote, then thats their right to be a fool and vote like a fool. Democracy defends the right to be a fool.

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  2. The next round will be closely watched and policed and woe betide anyone who steps out of line.

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  3. "Furthermore, local charedi rabbis were using rabbinic muscle to intimidate and even order people not to vote for Eli Cohen."

    No Rabbi can order (italics, yours) anyone to do anything. Even a Judge needs a big man with a gun behind him for his orders to mean anything, and Rabbis, even with the quasi-governmental veneer rabbanut rabbis enjoy in Israel, do not have that power. This is just typical Slifkin hyperbole and grandiosity, a detraction from your (usually) good work.

    Man on the Street

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  4. "Order" means issue an order, not enforce an order.

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  5. The next round will be closely watched and policed and woe betide anyone who steps out of line.

    Kudos to Moshe Laymore - it's about time someone quoted Captain Queeg on this situation! Quite appropriate, actually.

    I do have to agree with Kollel Nick and Anonymous about at least one thing - people do have the right to be fools if they wish. A rabbi can stand up in his shul and order people to vote a certain way, but nobody has to listen, and nobody has to continue going to that shul. If a person thinks that their rabbi is exceeding his authority, confusing right and wrong, confusing a tzadik with a rasha, or whatever - well, there are many shuls and many rabbis to choose from. Or no shul and no rabbi.

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  6. “This is just typical Slifkin hyperbole and grandiosity, a detraction from your (usually) good work.”

    Sir, please make up your mind! Rabbi Slifkin is typically hyperbole etc. and also usually good?

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  7. Baruch,
    I respectfully disagree with you. Obviously a Rabbi CAN stand up in his shul and order people to vote a certain way, but that would violate American law, assuming the shul is incorporated as a not-for-profit, which I believe all shuls are. (I don't know how it works in Israel.)

    More to the point, you are assuming shul-goers and Rabbis have equal bargaining power, and frequently they don't. You write "nobody has to listen", and that a person can just choose a different Rabbi they think the Rabbi is exceeding their authority - and doubtless you (and likely I) would do this. But many people do not know enough to know when a Rabbi (or doctor or lawyer) is 'exceeding' their authority in the first place.

    I think R' Slifkin has been suggesting that certain Rabbis are taking advantage of these people, who do not have the underlying education to know better. They believe, as they were taught, that listening to 'the gedolim' is basically the sum total of Judaism. They believe, as they were taught, it's a sin not to vote as the gedolim command. I agree this is a perversion of Judaism, but I just think it's a bit flippant to call them all fools and be done with it.

    KT,
    Hillel

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  8. I hate to say it, but I find myself thinking it more and more. Separation of Church/Synagogue and State is required for a democracy to function well. Examples abound, but election law gives us one more.

    In the United States is a synagogue endorses a particular candidate for political office they can lose their privileges such as various tax exemptions that they enjoy. (While they get away with it in some chareidi communities at least they have to be more guarded in what they say.)

    If Israel had such a law, it might keep some sense of normalcy in the shuls, and rabbis would not be getting up and openly instructing their congregation as to who to vote for.

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  9. ahg- Yet the Torah says the EXACT OPPOSITE. And our greatest leaders such as Hezekiah had "Religious coercion". Imagine if he was alive today, what would your responses be towards this "extremist" ? Seriously? Or what about King David?


    Whether you like, hate or are indifferent to Haredim ,people KNOW that this is only an issue ONLY because the winners were Haredi, that is why. Imagine a secular or someone who they wanted to win would have won the elections. This would NEVER happen and you would have been up in arms about "democracy". At least be honest why the real opposition.

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  10. In the U.S., campaigning in black churches is an established practice, and the illegality of this is hardly ever mentioned, let alone taken up in any serious way. The Democratic Party takes full advantage of this as this.

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  11. The next round will be closely watched and policed and woe betide anyone who steps out of line.

    I hope so, but I suspect this is wishful thinking.

    "Furthermore, local charedi rabbis were using rabbinic muscle to intimidate and even order people not to vote for Eli Cohen."

    No Rabbi can order (italics, yours) anyone to do anything.


    But you can "Pasken" something which is not really halacha. For example, you can tell the person that his is Poreish Min Hatzibbur if you vote a particular way. There are also the methods of New Square (not claiming that is happening here).

    I respectfully disagree with you. Obviously a Rabbi CAN stand up in his shul and order people to vote a certain way, but that would violate American law, assuming the shul is incorporated as a not-for-profit, which I believe all shuls are. (I don't know how it works in Israel.)

    A Rabbi in the US would be completely free to take out an newspaper ad or declare in a public forum his support for or against a candidate using whatever reasoning he desires. He is only restricted from using the funds of a tax-exempt non-profit for political activity. I don't know what restrictions exist in Israel, but most of the world doesn't have the same level of strong free speech protections that we have.

    Whether you like, hate or are indifferent to Haredim ,people KNOW that this is only an issue ONLY because the winners were Haredi, that is why. Imagine a secular or someone who they wanted to win would have won the elections. This would NEVER happen and you would have been up in arms about "democracy". At least be honest why the real opposition.

    I'll prove you wrong :). I decry the use of religious coercion on both sides of the election in Yerushalayim. One of the candidates was not Charedi.

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  12. Warren: This has nothing to do with chareidim per se, it's all about preventing corruption. If the chareidim are the ones that keep getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar, that's not my problem.

    As an aside, you can highlight the few righteous kings, but nach is replete with examples of power leading to corruption. It ought be sufficient for anyone to realize that a monarchy isn't in our best interest until times of Moshiach.

    Samuel: The fact that the law isn't sufficiently enforced, doesn't make it a bad law. And, while I recognize that it is ignored in places, I do believe it tempers the rhetoric heard in churches and synagogues.

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  13. ahg- but it does. Its only a re-election because the winner was Haredi. Let's face the facts. Of-course everyone is against corruption AND not only are their people who call themselves Haredi that are corrupt. Many many of the secularists are and especially in many places their is Arab corruption. I can bet almost no one will call for re-election if an Arab won, or a hiloni. BUT a Haredi is to be a despised punching bag for your entertainment.

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  14. Warren: Let's suppose that what you say is true. What do you think is the reason for it?

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  15. Because of racism (maybe that isn't the accurate word but you get the point).
    Its the constant media bashing and in ways dehumanizing of Haredim and Religious in general. Media, courts and government especially really have it out against Haredim and Datim. They are perhaps subconsciously terrified of the loose of their power that is to come because of demographics. Also deep down jealousy perhaps just like the nations constantly bash Israel even though it is a small country that doesn't even do much (or at all) wrong towards the Mooslim aggressors.
    Also their is this from Chazal (someone else posted it here and I'm recopying it, it is perfect and correct).

    Pessahim 49B
    The hatred which ignoramuses have for a Torah scholar is greater than the hatred that the nations of the world have
    for the Jewish people. And the wives of the ignoramuses hate Torah
    scholars more than the ignoramuses themselves. It was taught in the
    Tosefta that one who studied Torah and left his studies hates Torah
    scholars more than all of them.

    גְּדוֹלָה שִׂנְאָה שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאִין עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ
    לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם, יוֹתֵר מִשִּׂנְאָה שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאִין
    אוּמוֹת הָעוֹלָם אֶת יִשְָׂראֵל, וּנְשׁוֹתֵיהֶן יוֹתֵר
    מֵהֶן. תָּנָא: שָׁנָה וּפֵיֵרשׁ – יוֹתֵר מִכּוּלָּן

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  16. Also see on and around that page as well about "natural inclined" hatred that exists. Its basic, and even though this is "rationalistJudaism" you have to admit that not everything is always soo "rational". Their are deep down hatred's that already exist and then people try to "rationalize" that which already exists within them. The nations to Am Yisrael is a great example but sometimes even within Am Yisrael as well especially against those perceived as being closer to G-D (on a subconscious level at the very least) especially those who do not study much Torah vs. those who do (as Chazal say).

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  17. You should know betterDecember 28, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Oh puleeez.....I live here too, and your comments on "rabbinic muscle" are ridiculous. Everyone knows what happened here, get real and stop with the grandiose hyperbole. No one forced anyone, endorsements were made, and that's it. ONE person left a shul, and all who know this person knows they have issues. Please stop with the blanket negative statements, get the facts. A person with an axe to grind and a chip on their shoulder has tendencies, but really, this is beyond. At least make an effort to seem reasonable!

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  18. Dati-Leumi rabbanim gave endorsements. Charedi rabbonim gave orders. Didn't you see the Kol Korei?

    I know of several people who left a certain shul due to the actions of its Rav, as well as one person resigning from the shul board.

    Sorry that the facts are painful.

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  19. Warren - so you don't see the charedi community as bearing any responsibility for this at all?

    And if it's all about an inbuilt hatred for Torah scholars, then why aren't Dati-Leumi Torah scholars hated?

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  20. NS- I got news for you- they are. You have to be joking. Why are Rabbis like Rav Dov Lior getting arrested? Or Rav Ido Alba (2 years in jail for writing a Halahic response) Why are people like Rav Shmuel Eliyahu and others as well constantly based by the government and media? These are Dati-Leumi Rabbanim as well, they are more to the "right" though. Then their are others that are supposedly "liked" but that is because they behave almost like dogs (sorry for the harsh statement) but it comes from Chazal. Dogs in the sense that they do and say what their masters tell them. That is the difference. Also see Chazal where they say that a Rav who is liked by all is usually not a good Rav because he doesn't rebuke people enough.

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  21. @Warren

    Really? You think it's OK for a Rabbi to encourage mass-murder? Or for another to lead a cell with aims to the same? This is the reason why no one can take Charedim seriously, except in the same way we take rabid and diseased animals seriously -- for the threat they pose to society.

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  22. FYI I myself most likely wouldn't have voted for a Haredi candidate (most likely) but I'm exposing the BS of the soo-called "Democratic" process especially by those who espouse it. They espouse it but then don't even recognize it when THEY loose.

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  23. Avi- it is the job of a Rabbi (and in fact all Jews) to stand for and teach Torah UNCENSORED. If that is what YOU believe that its about "mass murder" then soo be it. Of-course what you said was lies that the media told you to believe, but either way we don't and can't censor any Torah teachings for the sake of appeasement. And this is EXACTLY what I have been talking about- they basically want a puppet type figure that will say and do what they are told. Similar to Tzrist Russia. We need to go in the path of the Hachamim like Rabbi Akiva who taught and followed Torah uncensored.
    Also FYI even if their is room to disagree about what they said or wrote the way to do it is NOT to arrest people. Its to have a healthy debate ESPECIALLY if you claim to be "democratic". And we also see OTHERS even calling for the deaths of Religious Jews in general (Datim or Haredim) but no arrests. Mooslims calling for the deaths of Jews- no arrests. In fact now even murderers being released, yet a Rabbi literally saying "Arabs are enemies of Jews" and he get's 2 YEARS! WOOW. You see they are really desperate because they know their rule is waning and will be coming to an end. Its like King Shaul going after King David.

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  24. Avi- it is the job of a Rabbi (and in fact all Jews) to stand for and teach Torah UNCENSORED.

    Of course this is completely untrue. Where did you ever hear of such a principle? Of course the political impact of public statements and actions are important. Have you ever heard of the halachic principle of "Eivah"?

    If that is what YOU believe that its about "mass murder" then soo be it.

    Setting aside whether the Torah really mandates these views, let's grant your thesis that these Rabbis were just honestly going about interpreting the Torah.

    Your original point is still falsified. The government has a legitimate interest in conducting both a unified foreign policy as well as keeping a functioning democracy going where 20% or so of the population is not Jewish. So no matter who makes incendiary statement that are going to cause internal or external problems, they are going to do what they can with the tools available to stop them. This is not anti-religious bigotry.

    I'm not arguing for or supporting anti-incitement laws that target speech only, as I have my American biases against such laws. But to the degree that they played a role, that doesn't prove anti-religious bias.

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  25. David- Soo basically for you as a Jew when its an issue of Halacha- Jewish law vs. any other laws (man made laws at that) when its a contradiction you as a Jew go by that other law?
    Soo for example during Nazi Germany you would have to follow the German laws over Jewish law, because after all its the law of the land and the law of government!

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  26. Forgot to mention- my original statement was that their is reelection because the winner is Haredi. Wouldn't happen to any other group (besides maybe the "right" of Dati-Leumi). Basically anyone who believes that Torah law trumps their man made laws. Be they Dati-Leumi or Haredim. It all comes down to that. Are you a Jew or a nochri.
    Its like they want to (metaphorically speaking) have a Rabbi take a pig and declare it Kosher when they soo desire.

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  27. Warren you keep rambling on about this only happening because the perpetrators and ones who benefit are charaidim. Do you know of any other instance where there was this much evidence for cheating, and it being this close, and the winners not being charadaim, and the authorities not ordering another election? Unless you do, you don't have a case.

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  28. David- Soo basically for you as a Jew when its an issue of Halacha- Jewish law vs. any other laws (man made laws at that) when its a contradiction you as a Jew go by that other law?

    You are arguing a straw man. The laws and customs of the country are a factor in Halacha. Have you not heard of Dina D'Malchusa Dina (in addition to Eivah). That doesn't mean that you would always follow them in case of contradiction.

    Here was your statement: "Avi- it is the job of a Rabbi (and in fact all Jews) to stand for and teach Torah UNCENSORED. If that is what YOU believe that its about 'mass murder' then soo be it. Of-course what you said was lies that the media told you to believe, but either way we don't and can't censor any Torah teachings for the sake of appeasement."

    Is this still your belief?

    Soo for example during Nazi Germany you would have to follow the German laws over Jewish law, because after all its the law of the land and the law of government!

    Straw man and Godwin in one fell swoop :). But if you that is how have been "taught" to view the Israeli government, then I understand your position a little better.

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  29. David- No. Our approach to the government (of Israel) should be that of the Prophets- for example the relationship of Eliyahu Hanavi to the King. When the government does something positive that promotes Jews and Judaism (Torah) we are and should be for it and for the actions, BUT when the actions are to the antithesis of our interests then it should be opposed.
    This is the BEST it can have and NO MORE. Not even one's father can or should be listened to when he says anything contrary to the position of our Torah.

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  30. Warren said...
    David- No. Our approach to the government (of Israel) should be that of the Prophets- for example the relationship of Eliyahu Hanavi to the King. When the government does something positive that promotes Jews and Judaism (Torah) we are and should be for it and for the actions, BUT when the actions are to the antithesis of our interests then it should be opposed.
    This is the BEST it can have and NO MORE. Not even one's father can or should be listened to when he says anything contrary to the position of our Torah.


    OK, I include Torah Sh'Baal Peh in my calculus, so I think that Dina D'Malchusa and Eivah are relevant. It seems that you do not.

    And I also agree with the reported position of the Rav that foreign policy matters are matters of Sakanah best left to experts.

    But one who is convinced of thoroughly of their religious position will always feel justified and see others with other views as insufficiently zealous.

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  31. David ( I had a good response but I deleted it by accident)
    Basically Dina DeMalcut... has limitations. Doesn't apply to anything against the Torah. Its mainly for things like taxes and following society rules that are not against the Torah. In Israel its even more complicated, but at the very least it only applies to taxes, traffic rules and such. NOT to anything against the Torah or against even 1 Halacha.
    Learn the Halacha if you don't believe me.

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