Robin Diamond
Robin Diamond

Understanding the success of the Israeli left: Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Introduction:

The rabbi reviews events in Israel, the imminent validation of a coalition of “leftist” parties led by Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Yamina’s Naphtali Bennett. This remarkable victory requires examination from the perspective of the Divine Agenda, particularly because it seems a development anathema to orthodox Judaism and a significant threat to the Torah world and to that which orthodox influence has striven for years to provide.

Plight of Authentic Jewish Education

Why is it that the orthodox parties have been relegated to the opposition in the knesset which is, ostensibly, a “graveyard”?  The rabbi offers his speculative, but strong, conviction that it has to do with their having been negligent, particularly regarding Jewish education.

This is not the first time the rabbi has opined on the travesty of public-school education in Israel. The 1.5 million kids in the public schools are being “destroyed,” via the Hartman Institute curriculum currently in use.  It teaches that all “streams” of Judaic practice are equally valuable and that such diversity is preferable.  A few years ago, “Hamodia” ran a story, the headline blaring: “Scandalous: Teachers of Judaism in 450 public schools are under Hartman Institute tutelage….Who supports Hartman Institute? The New Israel Fund. Welcome to the pluralist education supported by the Ministry of Education.”

The article goes on to say:

“Out of 2.35 million children who began the new school year in Israel 2019-2020, some 1.5 million of them are studying in the public non-religious system. They will be forced to get to know the discipline called ‘Judaism’ as a collection of concepts in the spirit of Reform Judaism….if a principal of a public school wishes to provide his pupils with traditional Jewish content and activities, he may not do so.”

The Hamodia article explains that Israel’s teachers are expected to be trained in this new discipline of  ‘Jewish Peoplehood’ by none other than the “Jewish Agency (Sochnut) — a body with very, very close ties with the Reform and Conservative movements. This program is referred to, by the Education Ministry, as ‘Jewish culture’.”

Since the orthodox parties in the government have obviously failed to object, failed to exert their power to stop this degradation of Jewish education, G-d is “mad” if you can use such a phrase. Education’s critical importance is borne out in the Torah portion in which G-d is talking to Avraham about S’dom and it’s brought out that Avraham’s great value is that his progeny will be taught to continue the tradition of keeping G-d’s laws and values. The Gemara says that the reason the world exists is because of the “hevel–the air, the Torah of little kids. So, if millions of kids are not learning Torah, the world has no justification for existing.

The consequence we are seeing is mida-k’neged-mida — measure-for-measure, as if G-d is reprimanding orthodoxy in power for complacently accepting this terrible deprivation, and so removing them from power. They have been “evicted,” along with Netanyahu. This punishment removes or mitigates, to some extent, the kitrugim — indictments against them in the Heavenly Court.

How important is Torah for the messianic process to occur? Most people don’t realize that the way the geula will happen, the way G-d “gathers the Jews,” is through a radical change in consciousness. Therefore, impediments to learning Torah impede the messianic process.

The Mashiach ben Yosef is a lofty individual whose holiness is intolerable to the average individual. G-d requires that “His children” be “raised in Torah” because G-d cannot expose the mashiach to “ignoramuses.” In the book of Yeshayahu, it says, “Behold, my servant will grow wise” with three expressions of growth that tell us something of the messiah’s lofty holiness. The first implies that he will be greater than Abraham. The second, that his greatness will exceed that of Moses. The third indicates that he will surpass even the angels. Such a person walking among a nation devoid of Torah knowledge is ludicrous.

Moses was a candidate to be Mashiach ben Yosef, to bestow the Torah of the messianic Light to the nation. Though the Torah had yet to be given, their consciousness had to be prepared. The ten plagues appeared to the Israelites as revelations of the ten sefirot–Divine emanations, instruments of spiritual illumination. This was followed by the splitting of the Reed Sea, yet another instrument of revelation. We’re told that even a “lowly maid-servant” had prophetic power. The collective 49 days of preparation continued to enhance and augment their power of insight, Divine inspiration. Before the Redemption, they had to have an introduction of the messianic Light.

King Hezekiah too was to have been Mashiach ben Yosef. In the war he waged, 183,000 enemy combatants were supernaturally killed overnight, and yet he failed to sing shira — song of praise and thanksgiving to G-d. So, his messianic role was revoked. The Gemara says that, prior to that war, they searched from Jerusalem to Dun and discovered that every young child was amazingly knowledgeable about the laws of purity and defilement. So, we see that in conjunction with the messianic phenomenon, there must be some measure of fluency in Torah knowledge.

It is bad enough that the majority of diaspora youth are not being given Torah education but, in Israel, where the Knesset has been comprised of orthodox MKs and ministers who have wielded the power to ensure that Israeli youth have such education, but have not, that is a terrible wrong surpassing the deprivation elsewhere. This negligence has produced the indictment that got them thrown out.

The other result is that Naphtali Bennett, despite his modest six-seat habitation in the knesset, has joined with parties hostile to a Jewish environment. They are the Eirev Rav (Jews in positions of power or influence who are “anti-Torah” and wish to relegate Judaism to being merely a culture rather than a covenant). That Bennett seems to be a Torah-observant, kippa-wearing Jew who has decided to join them, is surprising. How could he join those who would threaten: kashrut, Sabbath, marriage and divorce, conversion, draft policy which is really a form of  “social engineering to transform Jews into Israelis.”

Even Ben-Gurion understood that a large segment of the population were observant and so decided not to disturb or disrupt them. He said, “I’m not going to be the one to destroy Yavne.”  When Rome was destroying Jerusalem, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai requested, and was granted, a favor by Vespasian who agreed not to kill the chachamim — scholars and to allow them to escape to Yavne so that Torah would survive. Ben-Gurion’s reference to Yavne reflects his decision to uphold the status quo and not interfere with the religiosity of those populations and their established practices and institutions.

How can Bennett allow this and join the Eirev Rav?  How will he react when those opposed to the status quo attempt to eliminate that which he believes in? It stamps him as a rasha — evildoer which could ultimately destroy him. Will this be seen as having been worth it, even though it did end Netanyahu’s tenure and gratifies Bennett having been treated badly by Netanyahu? Is it revenge at the expense of Torah?

Why is G-d allowing him to do this? There have been miracles that seem to be enabling the Eirev Rav to prosper and they should be seen as stages of a process of the Eirev Rav’s removal:

  • Shlita–dominion that they’ve enjoyed for over 50 years. Fortunately, they stuck to the status-quo for the most part.
  • Eirev Rav “Light” which is Bibi and his removal. He is Eirev Rav, having done nothing to further Torah and mitzvos. He just supported the Hareidim in exchange for political support.
  • G-d’s gradual dismantling of the Eirev Rav evident in the repeated failures to form a coalition over the past two years.
  • G-d’s engineering an Eirev Rav presence but presided over by an observant Jew.
  • No more Eirev Rav and entry of Mashiach ben Yosef

This is the first time in history when a kippa-wearing, observant Jew sits as a prime minister yet is in the position to enable the Eirev Rav to do worse than ever even while he’s in a position of political supremacy. What G-d seems to want to do is to take advantage of Bennett’s free choice in choosing to lead the Eirev Rav. Israel has to be dominated by an observant person to enable that preparation of consciousness required to tolerate, and benefit, from the geulah — Redemption. But the Israeli public would not have voted for an observant Jew. Therefore, this configuration’s purpose is to acclimate the citizenry to an observant leader, to “slip in” religious observance into the government. There seem to be miracles enabling this:

The first miracle is that, in one of the previous elections, Bennett was expected to garner approximately ten to twelve seats when, in fact, he didn’t even clear the threshold. This failure is followed by another election in which he miraculously earns seven seats! He became “the man was resurrected.” The third miracle is that, with his seven seats, he is able to become both a “king-maker” with the power to make or break a coalition, and then, ultimately the prime minister. With only seven seats! Yet another miracle is that those on the left accede to his ministerial authority–for two years anyway–despite that he is ideologically in opposition to them.

This is a shochad l’Satan — bribe to the Satan. There are various kitrugim–indictments based on the unworthiness of the Jews, and the world in general, to be redeemed. But G-d wants to end this ever-degenerating, corrupt world. The struggle borne of these contradictory truths, and the nature of an angel, the Satan, who was created to be imbued with self-interest, results in the compulsion to bribe him. It is not a novel condition either. This is not the first time the Jews have descended to the 49th level of tumah — defilement (below which redemption is inexecutable). G-d says to the Satan “Let’s makes a deal.” The trade-off is that a religious Jew ascends to the rank of prime minister but presides over a government empowered to go against what his constituents would want.

The rabbi doesn’t believe that, ultimately, those hostile to religiosity will get their way. Bennett will exert his authority to defend the status quo and dominate the Eirev Rav and to resist their attempts to harm Judaism. The mindset of the Israeli public will be altered and that is most significant.

Q & A

Participant:  Maybe Bennett will be good even though you said Sa’ar would be the person who would win.

Rabbi: Sa’ar is to be Justice Minister and he will confront the Supreme Court which has long been a threat to religious law. One member of his party is to be the Minster of Education and so Sa’ar will be “over that.” I know that Sa’ar doesn’t want tradition to be harmed and is very favorable to authentic Jewish education being invested in the school system.

I don’t know Bennett very well but I find it totally irrational for a man who believes in Torah to allow the very belief system he values to be destroyed. He has desires to change Israel, cognizant as he is of the dysfunction.  Recognize too that he is a businessman, not a lawyer. Businessmen are better at governing than lawyers because they are always conscious of the bottom line. Trump is a good example. Bennett may turn out to be a good prime minister in general but as for defending authentic Judaism, we will have to see.

Participant: We were in the rehabilitation stage. Is this a part of it? Are we going to be moving onto the next stage?

Rabbi: Yes. This is stage number four which is “bribing the Satan” because G-d can’t quite dismiss them yet. They still have merits. But G-d can begin, through Bennett, to begin to impede them, diminish them and protect Judaism. The Hareidim don’t think so, but we don’t know. So, despite the fact that we could say that what Bennett has done is terrible, enabling them, the backdrop of the process is rehabilitation — a religious Jew to dominate the government.

Participant: How long are they giving him to be prime minister?

Rabbi: Two years. Then comes Lapid and all bets are off. But do we know that Lapid will be alive in two years? G=d is not concerned with longevity. Two years is a long time and much can be accomplished. Look what Trump did in two years. The central question is: how long will the gzera — decree stand that enables the Eirev Rav to survive? They have to use up all their merits and then they can be removed.

Participant: What about the Arabs who are in the coalition?

Rabbi: They’ve made some concessions that will benefit the Arabs, a concession to the Satan, actually. He’s mostly a rubber stamp. It’s bad because they will comprise the coalition and can say, in the event of war with Hamas, “Stop or I’m leaving the government!” They can influence the direction of Israel which is insane, but it is all part of the decree.

Participant: When people begin to accustom themselves to a religious prime minister, that will help Torah insights to come about?

Rabbi: Yes. I believe so. I’m hoping that Sa’ar who is in charge of education will begin to introduce some type of Torah-based curriculum to the public schools. Something has to be done. I don’t believe G-d will allow them to destroy Judaism, but there are kitrugim against the Hareidim for their neglect of the education of so many kids.

Participant: But it takes time, doesn’t it?

Rabbi: It just takes a willing coalition and knesset vote to increase Torah. Hard to see how it will happen but I don’t believe G-d wants to destroy Judaism in Israel. What you’re seeing in Israel is similar to what is happening in America. What Trump was doing was messianic, particularly in terms of what he was doing for the Jewish people. All of a sudden, he was overthrown by a senile crook. If you look at Biden’s schedule, he has only one or two appointments a day. Makes you wonder what he does all day — walk around the White House in his pajamas? We are watching the simultaneous destruction, or potential destruction, of two countries by their own governments. It is a backlash against the Redemption because we know that the Jews don’t deserve Redemption, So, G-d has to close the window by allowing evil to dominate to some extent, though He mitigates it. There are states recounting the votes. If they find that there was cheating, America will be hit with a crisis they’ve never known and all those electoral votes will be revoked and Biden will be removed from the presidency. Trump will resume being president. G-d may do that. But for now, G-d has put Redemption on hold; at least that is how it looks. But it continues although concealed. Underneath, it moves forward.

Participant: So technically mashiach cannot reveal himself because there is so much to deal with.

Rabbi: We don’t know how long. Can be one, two, three months; we don’t know. As soon as the decree is over, he can reveal himself or be free from his own suffering to begin the process of Redemption, the pekida. However long that is, and when justice has been satisfied, he will bring the Jews back.

Participant: Biden, in Hebrew, is “b’yadan” and Harris is “haras” which means “in their hands, destruction.”

Rabbi: Yes, and it is to appease the Satan. We know that, in the end, the Satan will lose, justice will be satisfied, and the Redemption will happen. But we don’t know the time period. The bad news is that we don’t know when, but the good news is that what’s happening is necessary. When Moses went to Pharoah and things got worse for the Jews, it was necessary in order for Moses to be mashiach because they had to expiate their sins first. We’re not looking at a process that stops; it simply changes path, given the circumstances. Even the suffering when they had to gather straw is part of the process. Don’t think things are going haywire. It’s like when you are driving a car and you see a car going into a tunnel and then we don’t see it but we know it is going through a tunnel. It’s simply unobservable but it is still traveling forward. The Jews have to be brought up to speed and justice has to be satisfied, just like at the time of Moses. The amazing thing is that it is happening in Israel and America at the same time.

Participant: It’s a dangerous time.

Rabbi: We just have to keep doing what we have to do: refrain from speaking loshon ha’ra, committing ourselves to the study of Torah, raising kids and enabling your husbands to learn Torah, do mitzvot. G-d will do what He does.

About the Author
Robin is a retired Language Arts high school teacher who taught in the Los Angeles Unified District for 25 years. After retiring in 2010, she hurriedly made aliyah in 2011.
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