Rabbis and Politics Are A Toxic Mix

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Today, the family of Rav Ovadia Yosef went to his grave to ask forgiveness. They should have asked forgiveness from God and all Israeli Citizens. Yesterday, Rav Shlomo Aviner, publicly (again) attacked both Rav Haim Druckman and Naftali Bennet for breaking the “status quo” that he says contributes both to the Jewish Character of the State and peace(!) among its different citizens. At least Aviner’s language was somewhat more respectful than the “Rabbis” in Shas.

In the name of God’s honor, it is time to say enough! In the name of the people of Israel who are trying to broaden cooperation to solve our real problems, it is time to tell these Rabbis, “enough is enough.”

The Netzi’v of volozhin writes very cogently that the Second Temple was destroyed because the learned people of the time did not tolerate the “different” approaches of other Jews. He further says, the while there were very learned people who prayed piously, they were not honest in their dealings. We can add to that historical narrative by saying that the spiritual class of that time, the priests, assumed political roles that led to tremendous corruption. Does all of this ring a bell?

This political sparring by all of these “Rabbis” plays out on the airwaves, the newspapers and the gossip columns. Frankly, I find it both superfluous and disgusting. These Rabbis have done more damage to God’s name in the last few years than at any time since the end of the Second Temple period. It is time for every God-fearing individual, Israeli who has Jewish sensibility and all of us that want to solve real problems, to tell all of these Rabbis to go back to teaching. Enough fire and brimstone, enough divisiveness and enough politics that leads to corruption. We are tired of it.

I just came back from a Bar Mitzva in New Jersey and realised something by contrasting the Rabbis there to the ones here. Rabbis in America are community Rabbis so they spend their time tending to their communities, teaching and helping their members through life cycle events. In contrast, every Rabbi in Israel is on a national stage because of the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbis’ mingling and meddling in politics. So they both crave and attract more press attention. This must stop. It is time that Israel’s rabbis follow their American colleagues and focus on their schools, Yeshivot and communities. We need to ask them to go back to teaching students and get out of political life. Rabbis and politics are a toxic mix just like Kohanim/priests and politics was a toxic mix during the Second Temple period. The spiritual-political mix brought nothing but divisiveness and destruction.

It was said about Rabbi Joseph Solveitchik that all he wanted to be known as was a melamed, a simple teacher. He was not Maran. He was not a Rabbi head of political party nor part of a rabbinic committee that was the patron of one. He did not demand, as Aviner does, that he be consulted by the politicians. He did not hurl verbal barbs and impugn others in the Name of God by calling them Amalek or evil. We need the Rabbis in Israel to be melamdim, teachers. If we want to create a society and nation that has respect and breeds respect for a religious outlook and God, we need to ask all of the Rabbis to exit politics.

Rabbis should be community leaders. They should tend to their students and communities pastorally with compassion. They should be models of morals and ethics and clean language. They should spread the sweet and calm moderation of the Torah and our sages. “Its (the Torah’s) ways are gentle and its paths peaceful.“ In the name of our people and in the honor of God, I beg and beseech all of the rabbis who are trying to play on a national stage to go back to their communities. Please leave the public sphere to the politicians and save God’s name from desecration.


This is the Link to original post on Michael’s personal blog

About the Author
Michael Eisenberg has been a key figure in Internet and software investing in Israel since 1995, playing a central role in the development of many of Israel's leading companies and startups. In 2013, Michael launched Aleph, a $140MM early stage venture fund together with Equal Partner Eden Shochat. Aleph focuses on building big companies out of Israel and servicing the hell out of entrepreneurs.
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