Let’s talk about the Haredi coalition members from Shas, Yahadut Hatora. Where are they on the issue of 240 Israeli hostages, women, children, elderly being held for over a month in Gaza?
The Haredi parties are fighting year round to allow Haredi men to be supported financially by the government to sit and study Gmarah.
So let me tell you what the Gmarah, the Talmud teaches us on the supreme value of Pidyon Shvuyim, the redemption of captives.
Our tradition places such emphasis on this mitzvah, equating the saving of a life with the saving of an entire world. Why? Because each soul is a universe unto itself, a repository of potential, love, and divine spark.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן חֲנַנְיָה שֶׁהָלַךְ לִכְרַךְ גָּדוֹל שֶׁבְּרוֹמִי, אָמְרוּ לוֹ: תִּינוֹק אֶחָד יֵשׁ בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים, יְפֵה עֵינַיִם וְטוֹב רוֹאִי וּקְווּצּוֹתָיו סְדוּרוֹת לוֹ תַּלְתַּלִּים. הָלַךְ וְעָמַד עַל פֶּתַח בֵּית הָאֲסוּרִים, אָמַר: ״מִי נָתַן לִמְשִׁיסָּה יַעֲקֹב וְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְבוֹזְזִים״? עָנָה אוֹתוֹ תִּינוֹק וְאָמַר: ״הֲלֹא ה׳ זוּ חָטָאנוּ לוֹ וְלֹא אָבוּ בִדְרָכָיו הָלוֹךְ וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ בְּתוֹרָתוֹ״.
אָמַר: מוּבְטְחַנִי בּוֹ שֶׁמּוֹרֶה הוֹרָאָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, הָעֲבוֹדָה! שֶׁאֵינִי זָז מִכָּאן עַד שֶׁאֶפְדֶּנּוּ בְּכל מָמוֹן שֶׁפּוֹסְקִין עָלָיו. אָמְרוּ: לֹא זָז מִשָּׁם עַד שֶׁפְּדָאוֹ בְּמָמוֹן הַרְבֵּה, וְלֹא הָיוּ יָמִים מוּעָטִין עַד שֶׁהוֹרָה הוֹרָאָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. וּמַנּוּ? רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן אֱלִישָׁע.
גיטין נח א
In the Masechet Gittin, we learn about Rabbi Meir, who teaches us the lengths to which we must go to redeem our fellow Jews from bondage, and that we should to pay any cost to bring them back.
Unfortunately, it is like Hamas read Gittin 58a which I will refrain from the describing, but there is a relevant story there which Haredi scholars and MK’s should turn to but I have not heard them on the issue.
We learn about Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya visit to the great city of Rome, where “they said to him: There is a child in prison with beautiful eyes and an attractive appearance, and his curly hair is arranged in locks. Rabbi Yehoshua went and stood by the entrance to the prison and spoke to the child.
Rabbi Yehoshua said: “I am certain that, if given the opportunity, this child will issue religious rulings in Israel, as he is already exceedingly wise”.
He said: “I take an oath that I will not move from here until I ransom him for whatever sum of money they set for him.”
“They said that he did not move from there until he ransomed him for a great sum of money, and not even a few days had passed when this child then issued a religious rulings in Israel. And who was this child? This was Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha.” (thank you to Sefaria for the translation).
Amazingly relevant story.
There is another story on Gitin 45 where we learn that we should refrain from helping a hostage escape so that the kidnappers will not avenge a captive’s escape by treating the others with cruelty and cause them harm.
Also, very relevant.
These stories and discussions underscore the value placed on human life and dignity in Jewish tradition, and the lengths to which communities should go to protect and redeem those who have been taken against their will.
But you won’t hear about it from the Orthodox leadership, Ashkenzai and Saphardic, and of course not from the Hardalim like Smotrich and his Rabbis Dov Lior, Zvi Tau and others, as for them everything and everyone are mere instruments.
But where are the chief Rabbis? Where are the Haredi reps in the coalition?
We shouldn’t expect them to stand by basic Jewish principals and basic moral values?
We should not accept the Israeli government apathy to the fate of the hostages, due to pressure of right wing Orthodox Messianic groups (which have nothing to do with Judaism)!
There was a deal to release the women, children and elderly weeks ago. It didn’t happen because of lack of commitment by the Israeli side.
More important than removing Hamas, it is our moral obligation to bring the living back home right now!