Friday, January 14, 2005

Column: Looks Bad

When United Torah Judaism (UTJ) decided to join Sharon's government I asked myself one question. With all due respect, how can this not be a desecration of G-ds name (a chilul Hashem)?

Whatever their reason for doing it I could see no way that they could get around this most severe prohibition while propping up a government that is hell bent on tearing 8,000 Jews from their homes and endangering the whole country by creating a terrorist haven and launching pad in Gaza. For Torah scholars to even give the impression, for whatever reason, that they are supporting this has got to be a chilul Hashem.

MK Gafni of UTJ spoke with Arutz-7's Emanuel Shilo after the decision to join the government. Shilo asked him this question:

Q. "Do you feel comfortable that the public perception is that UTJ has decided to facilitate the uprooting of Gush Katif?"

A. "This is not the case. Our decision is not relevant to the disengagement.

Gafni goes into a long winded analysis of the makeup of the coalition and the motivation of UTJ and a passing of the buck. The bottom line is that he never answers the question. The question was about the perception of the public. Perception is important. It is central to the issue of chilul Hashem. If I go outside now and strike a rock with a stick then surely nobody in the whole world will know or care, but when Moses struck the rock in the eyes of all of Israel and in violation of G-d's precise command to him, it was a desecration of G-ds name and Moses, in return, would never enter the promised land.

Has anyone yet addressed this issue? Not to my knowledge, and not for the lack of opportunity.
Following the decision by UTJ, rabbis from both the hareidi and national-religious sectors gathered in Tel Aviv and condemned UTJ for joining the coalition government. "This act was against the majority of the Torah leaders in Israel," the rabbis resolved, "and leads directly to an endangerment of the entire populace of Israel."

Arutz7 reported on the meeting:
"Among the dozens of rabbis in attendance were the Admor of Sadigura, a member of the Council of Torah Sages headed by Rabbi Elyashiv; Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior; Kiryat Motzkin Rabbi David Druckman; and Rabbi Meir Mazuz of Yeshivat Kissed Rachamim in Bnei Brak. Another Council of Torah Sages member, the Bostoner Rebbe, sent a sharp letter of support for their position to be read aloud.

Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook, Chief Rabbi of Rehovot said that he visited Rabbi Elyashiv on Friday, after his decision to allow the UTJ party to join the coalition. Rabbi Kook said that "wheeler-dealers" misled Rabbi Elyashiv by telling him that Sharon has a majority even without UTJ, which wasn't true. Rabbi Kook added that most of the leading Torah authorities were against the decision.

Among the rabbis' resolutions were:

* We sadly determine that the Prime Minister is causing a terrible civil war, the end of which cannot be foretold.

* We call upon all the leaders of world Jewry, led by the Rabbis of Israel, to express their clear protest, echoing from one end of the world to the other, in light of the evil behavior of the Israeli government and its head.

* We will not refrain from expressing our protest and great astonishment at the strengthening of this wicked government by G-d-fearing Jews against the opinion of the clear majority of the leading rabbis of Israel.

* We call upon our brothers and all of the Torah giants to help bodily, monetarily and spiritually the residents of Yesha who face the decree of evacuation."

Unfortunately, the government is still standing and so are its plans for Gaza and the Northern Shomron -- for a start -- and so these resolutions have little practical effect. Also left standing is the perception that UTJ is facilitating the uprooting of Jews from their homes and endangering the whole nation.

The fact that the scholars did not address the question of chilul Hashem is of interest. Can they be unaware of the perception created by the decision of UTJ? Do they think that they can avoid the issue by making proclamations of unity and ideology that have no political leverage at a time when one of their own, having voluntarily entered the political arena, has violated the very principles of their proclamations? Perhaps they think the excuse that Rabbi Kook made for UTJ should satisfy the consternation of a nation that is being humiliated and endangered. Do they think that they can so easily whitewash what has happened? What is the practical effect of their proclamations on UTJ, the government coalition, the Jews of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron and the security of the nation?

Call it a chilul Hashem, if that's indeed what it was, and take practical steps to undue it and bring down the government, and all these questions vanish. Avoid the perception and the issue and then, with all due respect, the perception stands and the questions multiply as the consequences unfold.


Post a Comment

<< Home