Daily Israel Report

Judaism: Thoughts on the Beit Shemesh Elections

A scion of the Soloveitchik rabbinic family can not and does not remain silent in the face of unacceptable pre-election behavior.
Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 6:55 PM


I am not expressing my thoughts in order to let people know for whom I intend to vote. I believe that for whom one votes is a personal decision. I signed a letter in support of a specific candidate merely in order to convey that one may feel free to vote for the candidate whom one sees as being the better one. This is not my personal thought, chiddush, but the Mesorah (traiditon) that I received from my father, Harav Aharon Soloveichik, a Gadol (Torah Sage) who had the respect of the Gedolim from the previous generation.

I am dismayed by the behavior of the perceived Torah community. Let me be clear. this election campaign did not become a religious conflict as a result of the actions of non-observant Jews. A war has indeed been waged by the same people who tout the values of Torah and Shabbos (Sabbath). The current campaign started with signs about להקהל ולעמד על נפשם (a quote from the Book of Esther about defending one's life), implying that the elections in Bet Shemesh are similar to the war against Haman and his cohorts from the days of Mordechai.

We also heard slander about a plan to have buses run in Bet Shemesh on Shabbos. Besides the fact such an intention never existed, it was and is completely absurd to imagine that a company would send buses even to the older parts of Bet Shemesh on Shabbos. As an aside, on Nachal HaYarkon street all the residents suffered on Shabbos over the years, hearing construction in R.B.S. Gimmel. All complaints to city officials did not succeed in stopping the construction until someone was able to speak to the Chief Rabbi about the Shabbos construction which brought merely a temporary reprieve.

This happened during the previous administration. I am mentioning this for the purpose of pointing out that those who speak arrogantly and imperiously in the name of Torah need to be more introspective and speak with greater modesty when deeming to decide for all of our fine community which candidate so clearly better serves the cause of religion, frumkeit.

I also have heard that there are plans for music to be played in R.B.S. on Shabbos That’s right, I guess it must be reasonable to suppose that unless one particular candidate wins, then a band will be hired to play at every park in the Ramah for two hours on a Friday night, just as a payback against religious Jews. What kind of a person could believe such an accusation, and even worse, what type of person could invent such an accusation.

Why am I writing today? Because, when I was out, I saw the latest election poster: “I love G-d and therefore I won’t vote for people who hate G-d.” What can I say? If a group of Torah Jews acts in such a fashion  then I can only say: תורה תורה חגרי שק (Torah, Torah, don sackcloth).

I think that some people in our community are for some reason so afraid of the outcome of the elections that they have accepted the notion that “the ends justify the means”. This means that one may do anything one wants: lie, cheat ,denigrate as long as the Torah community will get what it needs.

I was raised differently. My mother, Rebbetzin Ella Soloveichik, obm, who came from forty nine generations of Rabbis, taught me that you cannot build Torah by destroying it first . My father, zt’l in very strong terms always taught that we must learn and practice Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof (justice, justice shall you seek). As the Targum Yonasan explains: one should pursue justice with justice. We should never resort to unjust ways in order to pursue justice because the idea of the ends justifying the means is repugnant to Torah.

I hope that with Purim approaching all the Jews of Bet Shemesh will allow the Torah to influence all of their actions, not just how they learn or keep Shabbos. May all of our other actions be sanctified as well with the spirit of the Torah and may we merit,be zocheh, to bring a true Kiddush Hashem, sanctification of G-d's Name, in our community.