Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerCourtesy

Do we believe in miracles? Do we really believe or just wait for seas to split and for food to drop from the sky?

Israel is the Land of Miracles. It seems G-d was copacetic with Israel temporarily leaving Gaza — it seems — but look what happened to each and every effort to relinquich Judea-Samaria:

1. Shimon Peres lost a huge electoral lead to Bibi in the face of non-stop Arab bus bombings. No relinquishment.

2. Bibi signed Wye, so he was out — because.Ehud Barak came in. No relinquishment.

3. Barak undertook to give up Judea and Samaria and even parts of United Jerusalem, so an intifada started, and he was out. No relinquishment.

4. Ariel Sharon came next. Tried to give up Judea and Samaria but was felled by a stroke. Tried again, so was felled by a gevaldik fatal stroke. Next . . .

5. Ehud Olmert came in and tried, so Hezbollah kidnaped three soldiers, a war erupted, and Olmert proved incompetent at war time, so was out.

6. Back to Bibi, who learned his lesson.

7. Barack Obama, who despised Israel, came in. So Abbas, who could have collected, misplayed every step.

8. And then came Trump, who recognized United Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the embassy, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, and recognized Israeli sovereignty in every Jewish community in Judea and Samaria that the Israeli Supreme Court has not declared illegal.

Miracles. Which brings us to G-d’s miracle re Matan Kahana.

Many were fooled when Naftali Bennett parlayed his handful of religious-nationalist seats to become Prime Minister of a Ra’am-Meretz-Labor government. Many likewise were fooled by his new “religious” services minister, Matan Kahana, who had been an IAF squadron commander.

Kahana came in as an observant guy intent on three agenda items either aimed at or de facto severely damaging, the Chief Rabbinate: (i) opening kashrut supervision beyond the Chief Rabbinate, (ii) opening the Kotel to Reform prayer services, and (iii) changing 2,000 years of conversion law, effectively dividing world Jewry with two conflicting definitions of conversion.

Kahana got his kashrut-supervision reforms through. A minor achievement damaging to the Chief Rabbinate which was in charge of the issue until then..

As to the Kotel, he rapidly came to see he was biting off more than he could chew. He would have started an internal war. So he delayed on the Kotel, lying to the Reform and Conservative groups on that.

And then came conversion.

All over the world, authoritative rabbinic leaders pleaded with him to drop it. Chief rabbis from everywhere asked him to drop it. But he could not be reached; no one could get through to him. He was a bulldog. The Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Moscow, the European Council of Rabbis, Agudath Israel of America, Rabbinical Alliance of America, even the Rabbinical Council of America — everyone tried to stop him, but he remained determined. Only a miracle would stop him. So G-d, Who first waits for people to make their effort, entered directly on the eve of the critical Knesset vote. For reasons not disclosed to the public, Mansour Abbas announced that his Ra’am would not vote. That left the Bennett coalition short.

Next, Bennett got oh-so-clever and “briefly” removed Kahana from the ministry so that the Bennett sycophant could vote in the Knesset. The plan was for Kahana to return to the ministry. Then, on the eve of the Knesset voting its approval for Kahana to return as minister, Idit Silman pulled out of the Yamina-Ra’am-Meretz-Labor coalition, leaving them unable to garner the votes to restore Kahana to the ministry. He had vowed that, even if the Knesset would not give him the votes, and even if rabbinates around the world opposed his proposed changes, he would wield executive authority by fiat as a minister to implement his conversion plan, aimed at further diminishing the Chief Rabbinate. But he could not get back in. He was out and powerless.

It was a miracle — the timing, the inexplicable interplay of Divine forces and human players, Divine and human, to stop Kahana from dividing the Jewish people and cutting down Israel's Chief Rabbinate.

The government fell, and given a plethora of religious parties to which he next could affiliate — Religious Zionism with Smotrich, Ozma Yehudit with Ben Gvir, Agudah, Shas, the religious-secular Zionist Spirit with Ayelet Shaked where he was offered a place — he chose to abandon the religious parties and run with an utterly secular party led by former generals, National Unity, revealing where his religious instincts lie. It is doubtful, though not impossible, that he ever will be Religious Services minister again.

Jewish unity preserved.

The crazy thing is that a poll of non-Jews in Israel revealed that, even if Kahana’s proposed changes were adopted, 80 percent of Israeli non-Jews would not care to convert anyway, and only 5 percent felt deterred by the Chief Rabbinate’s normative standards.

A miracle.