Hypocrisy & hysteria? Maybe one but not the other

In a long opinion piece by David Weinberg in today’s YISRAEL HAYOM, he lays down the formula for a Jewish Nation-State bill whose passage on Monday he is praying for on this Shabbat.

He refers to those members of Knesset who oppose the bill as hypocrites who are causing a national hysteria. I cannot agree with his definition of hypocrisy but I will admit that the long debates over a nation-state bill has caused concern and hysteria among a large segment of our Jewish population, not to exclude the genuine concern of our Muslim, Christian and Druze citizens.

An Orthodox Jew wearing a large shtreimel with tzitzit hanging down to his knees while walking on a street does not have to explain to a passer –by that he is an Orthodox Jew., It is obvious and requires no explanation.

Likewise, our State of Israel is the State of the Jewish people. It is so embodied in our Basic Laws, recognizing the aid and inspiration of the Tzur Yisrael… The Rock of Israel… He who is our God. The symbols and emblems of our Jewish State, the seven-branched menorah and the magen David, the shield (not the star) of David, are displayed everywhere in our parliament, in our law courts and in every one of our government offices.

That we are already, and have been since our Independence in 1948, a Jewish State, is our history.
We must not become a nation based upon halachic laws. That will define us as an apartheid state applying Jewish laws upon our non-Jewish citizens. It will be parallel to Muslim countries whose laws are based upon Sharia.

If we are to consider a change, we will need to make a decision…are we a Jewish State or a democratic state? Can we be both at the same time? In modern democracies, thanks to the French Revolution, there is a separation of powers between religion and state.

Unfortunately, our marriages, divorces, conversion, adoptions, burials, are not in the hands of a democratic government. Rather, they are in the total control of a theocratic rabbinate which does not recognize democracy over halacha.

That theocracy frequently threatens the collapse of the government by their promises to quit the government, leaving a coalition in need of replacement or new elections.

Ben-Gurion gave too much power to the rabbinate. And they have usurped every iota of that misguided power.

Why a non-observant Jew like our Prime Minister has to support Avi Dichter’s original proposal is beyond me. He should follow an old adage “if something is good and not broken, don’t try to fix it”. There is nothing wrong with the Jewishness of our State other than placing too much autocracy on the rabbinate. There is nothing that requires a drastic change.

On this Shabbat, David Weinberg will assuredly be praying for the passage of the nation-state bill. This writer, on the contrary, will be praying for the failure to pass this un-needed bill.

Both he and I will be praying in Hebrew to the same God.

Whose prayer will God answer?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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