Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Israeli Elections for City Rabbis?

ראש החודש העשירי/ז' חנוכה תשע"ד

Life In Israel: Proposed Law: New method of election for city rabbis 
MK Stern
After attack by
African "refugee"
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud - Beyteynu) recently pushed a law proposal through its initial hurdles by which Israel would move to elect only one Chief Rabbi for future terms. MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) is now extending that with a law proposal of his own. Stern's proposal is that cities should also only elect one chief rabbi instead of two.

The ministerial legislative committee approved Stern's law, and now it will move forward for further debate and be prepared for voting.

Stern's law is actually a bit broader than just switching from two city rabbis to one - Stern also proposes in his bill that the term of the city rabbi should be limited to 10 years, upon which he can stand for re-election, rather than the lifetime term currently in place. As well, Stern's bill would also change the election system -  currently each city appoints and electoral board made up of local rabbonim, gabbais and shul representatives, while MK Stern would have the city council elect the city rabbi.

According to the article it seems that the purpose of these proposals is to make it more difficult for Haredi rabbonim, specifically Shas-affiliated rabbis, to be appointed as city rabbi in "mixed" cities. I am not quite sure why this would make it more difficult. The same deals that would be made and the same influence exerted over the previous electors will be adjusted to city council members. I don't see the level of influence to be changed in any significant way. The tactics might have to change a bit, but I don't see how this will be a major stumbling block.

Esser Agaroth (2¢):
We are in the midst of the holiday of Hanukkah, commemorating the Maccabees victorious war against Hellenism, assimilation into it, and its interference in our Jewish way of life in Eretz Yisra'el (ie. Torah).

The State's apparent role in the lives of various rabbis and MK's.

And yet, here we are, with a kippah-wearing MK, proposing a change in the rabbis are chosen to head their respective cities, and that change is in the structure of their Hellenistic, theoretically democratic, not in anyway a shift toward a Torah-based system of selection. Kippah? Torah? False hopes.

I agree that MK Stern's proposal would not make much difference, when it comes to the apparent goal of this law. Gabbaim and "schul representatives," whoever they are, will be replaced by City Council members. I believe that it will still be a "hit or miss" type situation. Cities may luck out and get a rabbi who knows halakhah (Jewish Law), and not just how to give a fancy speech filled with what everyone wants to hear.

What is currently known as democracy is [theoretically] about giving everyone a say in the decision making process. This is not the Torah way. HaShem has already made those decisions, which the State wants to usurp. Furthermore, Am Ha'Artzim (riff-raff) and those who are pasul (disqualified) for eiduth (providing testimony) are not to be involved in the process of interpreting His decisions. That job is for hakhamim (sages), and hakhamim alone, ie. The Sanhedrin.

If passed,I unhappily forecast that this law will eventually make way for "spiritual leaders" who do not even keep misswoth (Torah commandments), let alone have any concern for encouraging the Jews in their communities to do so, except perhaps..."creatively" (Read: anti-Torah, anti-HaShem). Of course, these "spiritual leaders" will invariably be pasul for eiduth, in any number of ways.  No doubt, more than a little push will be required from the Israeli Courts through its quintessential "Legislating from the Bench," in order to make this happen. Nonetheless, this is definitely the direction I expect this law will take the country.

Normally, I would accuse those like MK Stern of having a more nefarious agenda than presented, with an end goal of total destruction of the Torah. However, I simply do not think he is smart enough, nor does he possess the initiative. On the other hand, those members of the Erev Rav, assigned to pull his strings, do.

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