A Torah of Reality

Menachem Ben-Mordechai,

Judaism Menachem Ben Mordechai
Menachem Ben Mordechai

 Judaism is about truth, and truth means dealing with reality.

 At the end of Tehillim (Psalms) 105, David HaMelech writes:

For He remembered His holy promise, to Avraham, His servant,

And He led out His nation with joy, His chosen ones with joyous song.

And He gave them the lands of nations, and they inherited the toil of regimes.

So that they might safeguard His statutes and observe His teachings.  Hallelujah.

This is a mission of moral uniqueness.  Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch states on this theme in his commentary on Tehillim:

"Israel...is the herald bringing the message of redemption to mankind.  Israel is, at the same time, the actual historical proof that there will indeed be a release from depravity, a redemption from all bodily, spiritual, moral, and social ills, and a resurrection from every kind of physical and spiritual decay."

In contemporary life, this means at minimum not defending forces and policies that trample upon the Torah.  It means not whitewashing certain realities that exist in Israel today. 

As a general context, Rabbi David Bar-Hayim observes regarding the Israeli state: 

"The system, generally speaking, doesn't like Torah Jews.  It's not a fact that the dati leumi world wishes to recognize always.  It's actually been brought up to imagine that it's not so, but it is so.  And there's a definitely a will on the part of the establishment, in many ways, to try and make it more and more difficult and more and more attractive not to be a Torah Jew."

How does this official hostility against Torah Jews manifest?  Here are a few examples:

These events intensify the horrible momentum of the 1993 Oslo Accords, whereby Yitzhak Rabin and the Knesset empowered the terrorist PLO and surrendered parts of the Jewish People's Divine inheritance.  As the Knesset's website plainly states about the accords,  "Its main concern was on Israeli withdrawal from the territories of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, in order to allow the establishment of a Palestinian Authority..." (http://www.knesset.gov.il/lexicon/eng/oslo_eng.htm)

The atrocities against Jews after Oslo were highly foreseeable, just as the murderous aggression by Hamas after the 2005 "disengagement" from Gaza was highly foreseeable.  Yet consider this statement last year by a dati leumi commentator: "... whoever is in power, I always maintain, we had to give them our support."

This is a perversion of Jewish values, comparable to a “rabbi” who said last year on an American television show about abortion, “My position on abortion is it’s the right of every person to choose, just as our Torah teaches us.” 

The Tanach is very clear on normative conduct toward evil: ardent opposition.  (See, for example, Amos 5:15, Tehillim 97:10 and 139:21-22, Mishlei 8:13 and 28:4).  If jeopardizing Jewish life on a massive scale and dismembering Eretz Yisrael isn’t evil, what is?  Let one cry instead over the victims of Oslo and the Jewish patriots murdered under Rabin's command at the Altalena. 

Furthermore, in the Shaarei Teshuva, Rabbeinu Yonah writes at length about the severe offenses of smoothing over wickedness and flattering evildoers. He observes in relation to Shemot 23:2, "We have hereby been exhorted not to strengthen transgressors by verbal encouragement, and not to join those who sanction injustice."  Likewise, Rabbeinu Yonah explains how praising evildoers for positive qualities without an overall moral context has terrible consequences:

"...though one praise the evildoer only for the good which he does, indeed, possess, and speak well of him to others to do justice to his good qualities, this, too, is a grievous ill; for his mentioning the good and not the evil, and concealing his offenses, will cause the hearers to regard him as a righteous man and to accord him honor, thus strengthening his hand."

As for supporting whoever is in power: no, Torah Jews do not support regimes that expel Jews, persecute rabbis, and perpetrate further discriminatory violence against the religious.  Speaking of his June arrest, Rabbi Lior described the police ambushing him "like the Bolsheviks, like the KGB."  Are we to ignore this evil because the Knesset cafeteria is kosher and buses don't operate on Shabbat?  Is our conscience so easily deluded?

"Our worst enemies are Jews and not non-Jews," Rabbi Bar-Hayim has noted, and it's high time that certain Jews wake up to this reality.  Dati leumi individuals sometimes ridicule Jews in Chutz La'aretz for living in a kind of false consciousness.  How much more disturbing is it to live inside Israel and be essentially blind to flagrant, ongoing injustices by one's own government.

As Rav Hirsch noted, Israel has a cosmic calling through its mission of redemption for the world.  This mission cannot be fulfilled when a latter day erev rav wields power.  I will close with the words of the Vilna Gaon in Kol HaTor:

"The erev rav is our greatest enemy.  It is what separates between the two Messiahs.  Its impurity operates only via indirect deception. Hence, the war against the erev rav is the hardest and most bitter, and we must gird ourselves with our last strength toward this end.  Whoever does not actively take part in the war against the erev rav automatically becomes a partner to its impurity, and whoever he is, he is better off not having been born."