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I Want To Live In A Torah City
(I'm now on Twitter at @NatanSlifkin. Blog posts will automatically be tweeted there.)
This past Motzai Shabbos, Rav Aharon Feldman of Ner Israel flew to Israel specially to address the Anglo community of Ramat Beit Shemesh. He said that the municipal elections taking place tomorrow present a unique opportunity. We can make Beit Shemesh into a Torah City. And we must do so.
I want to live in a Torah city. The first of the Aseres HaDibros is about loyalty to God. I want a mayor who fears God, not man. I want a mayor who is not intimidated by violent people who terrorize other residents of the town, who will take a firm stand against them, and who will not campaign in a way that encourages verbal and physical violence. I want a mayor who is honest, not one who states blatant lies to the frum press.
I want to live in a Torah city. The prerequisite for Torah is acting properly with regard to other human beings - derech eretz kadmah leTorah. I want a mayor whose campaigners act with derech eretz towards others, not one whose campaigners refer to their opponents with Amalek and Nazi terminology and imagery. I want a mayor who displays honor and respect for the state that protects him and provides him with an office, not one who proudly and disrespectfully declares that he is not a Zionist.
I want to live in a Torah city. And Chazal say, Im ein kemach, ain Torah. Torah cannot survive without material support. Shuls and yeshivos and schools and chesed organizations need buildings and municipal aid. I want a mayor who is trained and qualified in professional management, who will attract residents that pay taxes and contribute economically, who has a good reputation with the rest of Israel that will attract national support, who gives the city a good name internationally that will attract investment from abroad. I don't want an incompetent mayor that just stuffs people into the city without proper infrastructure, or who is associated with people that make a chillul Hashem.
I want to live in a Torah city. Torah is embodied in Torah scholars. I want a mayor who is associated with rabbonim that honor the Torah that they embody - rabbonim that act with love and respect and care towards everyone in the city, not rabbonim who describe their opponents as animals and lacking sechel and who physically assault rabbis who disagree with them and who relentlessly slander their opponents.
I want to live in a Torah City. The Rishonim and the Shulchan Aruch state that a person should work for a living (Orach Chaim 156; Yoreh De'ah 246:22), because Torah without work leads to laziness, sin and theft. While I will tolerate those who disregard this ruling based upon a poisonous extrapolation of a hora'as sha'ah beyond the circumstances in which it was enacted, I do not want this perversion of halachah to take over and define the city.
I want to live in a Torah city. Chazal say that a father is obligated to teach his son a trade. I want a mayor and a city that encourages schools that fulfill Chazal's dictates, not a mayor associated with those who disregard Chazal and who strongly oppose schools that teach children the knowledge, skills and inclination to work for a living.
I want to live in Torah city. I want to live in a city that lives Torah, not that just learns it. I want to live in a city that brings glory to Torah, not disgrace.
I want to live in a Torah City. And that's why I'm voting for Eli Cohen.