A Spiritual Examination of the Israeli Elections

February 18, 2013 12:26 am 2 comments

Yair Lapid in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks ago, while reading the Beshalach weekly Torah (bible) portion , I noticed for the first time that the party responsible for taking the Jewish people out of Egypt changes from verse to verse. Thus we find the Torah portion beginning with the words “And it happened when Pharaoh sent out the people ….” (Exodus, chapter 13, verse 17). In other words, the one apparently responsible for driving out the Jewish people was none other than Pharaoh himself.

However, a few verses later it says “It was told to the king of Egypt (Pharaoh) that the people had fled ….” (chapter 14, verse 5). Thus perhaps this sentence is correct and the Jewish people were not thrown out by Pharaoh as originally thought but rather they took matters into their own hands and simply checked out of Egypt.

Then just six sentences later in verse 11 a third possibility is introduced. As the Jewish people are encamped by the sea and the mighty Egyptian army is approaching for the slaughter, they turn to Moses and say “Were there no graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the wilderness? What is this that you have done to us to take us out of Egypt?” So perhaps it wasn’t Pharaoh that kicked them out nor was it the Jewish people themselves who took the initiative and simply left but rather it was one man by the name of Moses who was the actual one responsible for taking the Jewish people out of Egypt.

Of course each one of these options is merely a subjective interpretation of a current event. In the eyes of the all-powerful Pharaoh, he probably believed that he was the one responsible for sending the Jewish people away. Contrasting this were Pharaoh’s ministers and advisers who believed that the Jewish people had simply fled. Finally the Jewish people themselves were convinced that it was Moses who had taken them out of Egypt.

The truth, however, was that the ultimate one responsible for taking the Jewish people out of Egypt was neither Pharaoh, Moses or the Jewish people themselves but rather God. The language of the Torah (chapter 13, verse 14) clarifies the matter, “And it shall be when your son will ask you at some future time, “What is this?,” you shall say to him, “With a strong hand God removed us from Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

The point I believe the Torah is trying to teach us here is that in the present moment, man, using his subjective interpretation of current events, tends to attribute everything to the actions or policy of some key political or social figure. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to rise above this and to actually see the divine factor at play. Hence it is usually only “at some future time,” with plenty of hindsight, that one can fully understand the role that God plays in shaping history.

If this understanding that was granted to me a few weeks ago is correct, then perhaps we can try to search for a bit of the divine in the recent Israeli elections. In other words, rather than relying on the standard reasons that are being given for the shocking success of Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party, perhaps we can rise above our normal limits and actually discern a possible reason for God elevating this party to such a lofty level. Having said this, it should be clear that what I’m about to say here is mere speculation since no one knows for sure what are the intentions of God. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that I might be 100% wrong, I’d like to suggest the following.

One of the key components of Yair Lapid’s party is that everyone needs to share in the twin burdens of Israeli society – army service and the work world. With this call he is touching upon a frustration of many in Israel with the broadly defined Haredi community. Although this sector is not as black and white as the Israeli press tries to depict it, it is nevertheless a fact that many adult males in the Haredi community do not serve in the army or participate in the tax-paying work force.

For many in Israel there’s a feeling that this issue can no longer be swept under the carpet. Moreover, this feeling exists not only amongst the “anti-religious”, as some try to portray it, but even amongst many observant Jews themselves.

Moreover, unlike his father, the late Tommy Lapid, who was stridently anti-Haredi, and unlike Avigdor Lieberman who tried to advance similar ideas but also with respect to the Arabs (something that is not P.C. in Israel), Yair Lapid has managed to promote the issue in a somewhat non-abrasive manner. This being the case, there’s a real chance that this issue will actually be dealt with in the not too distant future.

If so, then perhaps this is where we can detect the “God factor.” In other words, despite the fact that some people here in Israel undoubtedly want to promote this issue because of hatred, perhaps this is God’s way of introducing into our consciousness a more expanded, more holistic, understanding of Torah and Judaism. While some believe that a Torah lifestyle is limited to the study hall and fulfillment of “practical mitzvoth,” thereby excluding seemingly external endeavors such as making an honest living and serving in the army, perhaps God is coming to teach us that they’re all part of the Torah since by its nature the Torah is broad and inclusive as opposed to being narrow and restrictive. Stated differently, taking the ideas and lessons of the Torah and going out with them into the world in order to develop and build the world is not an action that is outside the realm of Torah but rather it is the very essence of the Torah.

Thus, while some amongst us try to promote exalted ideas such as the declaration of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, perhaps God is coming to tell us that as a people we’re just not there and that it is far more important at the present moment to first acquire a more expanded understanding of Torah and Judaism. Moreover, maybe it is this expanded understanding and changed mindset on the part of the collective Jewish people which is the necessary precursor for eventually internalizing and accepting the concept of expanded Israeli sovereignty and other lofty ideas.

If my theory is correct, then this is something that is much bigger than Lapid or the Haredim. Nevertheless, since God works through humanity to advance His divine plan, perhaps He has chosen, for reasons known only to Him, to bring about this expanded understanding to the Jewish people davka (specifically) now at this particular point in time and davka via a freshman politician by the name of Yair Lapid.

This column was originally published by the Times of Israel.

2 Comments

  • With all due respect to the writer of the above article:Don’t you think its time to stop referring to Israel as the “jewish” people…it wasn’t just the tribe of yehudi that left Egypt…there were also the other 11 tribes and a ‘multitude” of Non-Hebrews’ …This is the first time that Elohim refers to this croud as ‘Israel …wake-up Yahudah!! Your lost bretheren that you are always praying to return are out here! Still in the Diasporah! When will you recognise us!! The n’viim said we ourselves wouldn’t know who we are…but that towards the end of the age…we would wake-up and know who we are…and we are waking up!People by the droves all around the world in “Every” country are turning back to moshe and the N’viim…the Torah of YAH!!Yet Yahudah remains blinded!I pray you awake soon! Shalom…P.S. Its a shame you only just realised what you said you realised so late in your life!

  • Much of the Haredi Judaism is a perversion of Talmud Judaism..it is a an anathema to all who believed in contributing to the lives of others.
    Perhaps is other societies “get ye to a nunnery” would have been a road for other people..Now it is get ye to a yeshiva all day.. anyone can tell you that all day long singular study leads to is brainwashing-epecially if led by hereditary rabbis who have their “cult” following. Study that takes place without the backdrop and human social intercourse needed has no basis in reality.
    In the shetls those sons who were most capable were involved in the families wellbeing,its livlihood,trained to take over famiy leadership..absorbtion into this socio-economic microcosm was limited..many sons ,as in a feudal society, were left out.They became the respected Yeshiva boys..far better than saying that this son was incapable of leading the family affairs.
    The typical image of a Jew plow in one hand,sword in the other and wrapped in the writings of faith is a long past image. Perhaps that is why it is accepted by the State.Inadequate mental heath services in Israel that could not support financially,personnelwise or with community commitment the shift in the 1980s and 1990s from a hospital setting to a community based living environment. It is always better perhaps to say my son the yeshiva bucha -than my son,the institutionalized one,
    This gives shelter and protection to the unassimilable…and renders the completely incapable of independent functioning.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9cff9860-74f3-11e2-8bc7-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2LbL7sqDB
    Ten percent of Israels population now soon it will hit 20+% -who will bear the burden-certainly not the ‘Holier than God’ Haredi rabbis who bask in their adoration.
    No nation can last when 10-20-30 % of its people refuse to contribute -Even were there no nation it is incumbent upon Jews to serve.
    The power of these rabbis must be broken..or Israel is lost-from within.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.