Election Fairness and Rabbi Hillel - On One Foot

[F]or four days, since the previous <i>motzei Shabbat</i>, I had been trying to place a flyer on a bulletin board located to the right of the main entrance to the <i>shul</i>. The poster was publicizing a <i>chug bayit</I> (parlor meeting) on behalf the Herut party to take place on that very Wednesday night. Baruch Marzel's name was featured prominently on the flyer, and both Michael Kleiner and P

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צילום: ערוץ 7
I had a very interesting confrontation on a recent Wednesday evening next door to my apartment building, just outside of my shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh "Aleph."

You see, for four days, since the previous motzei Shabbat, I had been trying to place a flyer on a bulletin board located to the right of the main entrance to the shul. The poster was publicizing a chug bayit (parlor meeting) on behalf the Herut party to take place on that very Wednesday night. Baruch Marzel's name was featured prominently on the flyer, and both Michael Kleiner and Professor Paul Eidelberg were to make a Herut party presentation to the Ramat Beit Shemesh community.

Each time after pinning the poster onto the bulletin board, I would pass by a little while later to find that the poster was removed. It appears that someone couldn't stand seeing a competing party's poster, a poster containing Baruch Marzel's name, and couldn't contain himself for a mere four days.

Well, on Wednesday evening, the night of the chug bayit, I entered the shul to daven an early Ma'ariv prayer and noticed that kids were preparing to hang United Torah Judaism party campaign mats outside of the shul and all over the back driveway. I asked the kids assembled there to kindly take their signs away from the shul and driveway areas. They acceded to my request.

I went up to some of people in the kollel, supporters of UTJ, who were meeting in the synagogue and told them that there is no way that there was going to be any politicization directly outside of the shul. Since my small signs merely publicizing a chug bayit were repeatedly ripped off and torn, I asked them if they would like it if I had removed any campaign posters or mats hung on behalf of UTJ, in the name of fairness. Had my sign been permitted to remain intact on the bulletin board for just that brief four day period, I'd have had no problem with UTJ campaign mats being hung in the area - it would have been fair and right.

After the first poster was torn down, members of the kollel told me to place the poster higher on the bulletin board, out of the reach of children. Placing it higher didn't seem to help, because the little kids apparently sprouted stilts. I asked the kollel guys rhetorically if the way of UTJ was to tear down other party's signs. I refreshed their memory regarding Likud/Labor fisticuffs, violence, blood and casualties over turf, campaign posters and literature during previous election campaigns. I have to believe that we of the religious community can be and are more civilized than that. We must be an example in morality and fairness to the secular Jewish community.

I spoke to them about fairness and related to them the axiom of Rabbi Hillel's teaching to treat others as you, yourself, would want to be treated. One of the members of the kollel concurred with me and responded, ?You?re right.?

The postscript to all of this was that the chug bayit took place on Wednesday night, was well attended by many Ramat Beit Shemesh residents - datiim and Chareidim, Ashkenazim and Sepharadim, Hasidim and Misnagdim - all of whom seemed enthusiastically supportive of the Herut party, despite attempts to derail publicity for the chug, just two weeks before Yom HaBechirot (Election Day). It was great to see and I left feeling greatly encouraged by Herut's chances to receive more than a couple of Knesset mandates.

Come Election Day, a lot of people are going to be quite surprised by the showing in favor of the Herut party.
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Moshe Burt, an Oleh Chadash for three and 3/4 years, writes news and current events commentary. He is also the Founder of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network.