This evening I had the opportunity and honor to listen to an hour-long presentation by Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman as he spoke to the Rabbinical Council of America’s annual convention in New York. Clearly Rabbi Lipman has become a transformative figure in Israeli politics and as such what he had to say was inspirational.
This is a man who has been publicly pilloried by many in the Haredi community including from his own former Rosh Yeshiva. Haredi newspapers have printed outright lies about him and have come out in force against him both here in the United States and in Israel. Yet, in his speech tonight he did not utter one word of bitterness or criticism towards his attackers. On the contrary he spoke admiringly and with great deference about the Haredi community.
But what I find most remarkable is not what he says but what he is doing. He has worked hard from within the government to help the Haredi community on multiple levels. He worked to get them funding to get the proper training to enter the workforce. And where governmental funding was not forthcoming he personally fundraised from other sources to ensure the success of an employment agency created by Haredim to help Haredi men get jobs to support their families.
Israel is not known for politicians who are publicly conciliatory towards their political opponents. I distinctly recall as a teenager in Israel going to demonstrations and hearing politician after politician publicly ridicule his or her opponents as the crowed cheered.
The idea of being able to hear oneself be ridiculed and not ridicule back is seen in Judaism as a mark of piety (Maimonides, Talmud Torah 7:13). Judaism inspires us to emulate the righteousness of Joseph of the Bible who repaid the evil that was done to him by his brothers with goodness and kindness.
In the vindictive world of politics, especially Israeli politics, this type of piety and righteousness is not a trait one expects to find. Yet here it is and it’s a burst of fresh air and frankly, it’s inspiring.
People like MK Rabbi Dov Lipman and his party are bringing a new approach to politics and one which is filled with uniquely Jewish values. In the end positivity, righteousness and piety will always win over negativity, hatred and lies. What we are seeing from MK Lipman and his party are the politics of positivity, piety and hope and I have no doubt that this way they will achieve great things for Israel and the Jewish people. Here’s looking forward.