With Purim rapidly approaching and on its heels the national elections, it behooves us to learn some of the lessons of the holiday which were applicable throughout Jewish history and continues in our time here in the Jewish homeland. In the famous story of Purim as related in The Scroll of Esther, Haman comes to King Achashverosh to press for the destruction of the Jewish people after having his honor besmirched by Mordechai. His primary justification for this nefarious plan is that the people were divided, and their disunity made it impossible for them to serve the king rendering them useless. In commemoration of the wonderful story of how Haman’s plot was turned upside down and the Jewish people were saved, we celebrate the holiday with symbols of unity such as distribution of charity, sending food parcels to friends and neighbors, and communal meals and synagogue services.
Here in the modern state of Israel we are not subject to the whims of a fickle king, but yet our lack of unity is a glaring deficiency on both a spiritual and physical level. Countless politicians from across the religious and political spectrums have maintained that most of the problems we face are not from our many enemies from without, but from the dissension within. Cleary every party has its pet causes and ideals, pros and cons, but the Yachad party- true to its name- brings a new dimension of unity to at least one segment of the population- the religious sector. The revolutionary idea of respected and experienced Haredi and religious Zionist politicians joining forces, as well as the fact that the candidates and their supporters come from both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic worlds are something that we, as olim, are very familiar with in our countries of origin.
As a resident of Bet Shemesh, I am witness to the recent local election in which the overwhelming majority of religious people voted for their particular group (party) such as Tov and Kol Shachar which each stressed unity and open-mindedness, but did not succeed in garnering enough votes to cross the electoral threshold. This phenomenon has also been the case on the national level where among the Orthodox population it is fairly easy to predict the vote of a person based on his kippa or her type of head covering. This is due to the fact that political parties are in effect special interest groups with their own agendas, and as a result of the nature of the parliamentary democracy system, it is only natural that adherents of a particular worldview will vote for the party that represents their interests.
Unity along with its many benefits is unfortunately left out of the equation to the great detriment of Israeli society. Both modern Orthodox and Haredim are loath to repeat the scenario we witnessed after the last election where they were at odds with each other and as a result the “brothers” Bennett and Lapid joined forces to set this coming election in motion after only two years together. What unites observant Jews greatly outweighs what divides us, and that needs a way of being expressed on a political level.I firmly believe that this experiment in achdut, if successful,will be a much- needed boon to all sectors of the population- native Israelis and olim, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, traditional and even secular in addition to the uniting Jewish immigrants from such diverse countries as France,Russia,Australia and Brazil. Interestingly enough,the party is even polling strongly in the Druze community. Having the Yachad party enter the Knesset will not solve all our problems, but it will pave the way to deal with the issues in a novel way.
Henry Kissinger is quoted as saying, “each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.” He also said ” the task of the leader there is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” This hitherto elusive internal peace,which the rabbis of the Mishnah referred to as the vessel that contains blessing and stability, would be much closer to being reality if we choose Yachad on election day.