Monday, March 16, 2015

Israel's Fateful Elections: Charedim Rising by RaP

Guest post by RaP

This Tuesday, March 17th, Israel's citizen's go to the polls to vote for the parties that will then form the new government. For the Charedi Jews of Israel nothing could be worse politically and economically than the fate that befell them after the last Israeli elections two years ago. They lost all access to political power and influence. Two years spent in the political wilderness as Lapid and Bennett and Netanyahu united to undercut the growing political and economic power of religious Jew. Yes, Bennett and his "Jewish Home" party were the continuation of the old Religious Zionist Mizrachi party, but really were washouts and regarded as sell-outs by the rest of religious Jewry not just in Israel but all over the world.

Fast forward two years and Netanyahu fires Yair Lapid ending a facade of "unity" that was really a front to oppose the growing power of religious Jewry in Israel. It is no secret that with the phenomenal birth rate of the Jewish religious population, from all spectrums, in Israel they are destined to become the dominant political power in the land as well as its electoral majority sooner rather than later. Everyone knows this. The leftist secular powers-that-be are in a panic, they know their days are numbered. They are basically on life-support with no new original ideas since they have dumped classical Zionism as outmoded and now receive huge funding and politically savvy advisors from all sorts of outside supporters to stay relevant. This too is no secret. The old-time Israeli right is in disarray and is struggling to find its voice as it does not want to be appear to be "religious" (that is why they got rid of Moshe Feiglin) while it cannot act as the leftists "right-wing" double either, so they are adrift and counting on old-time loyalty from supporters who just cannot bare the thought of voting for the Socialist-Bolshevik block that now calls itself "United Zionists" while it fools no one in particular.

The really fascinating developments are among the religious and Charedi Jews of Israel who having been forced out of government the last two years have had to reach deep within themselves to do house-cleaning and to come up with winning strategies to regain political influence and power in the next government coalition.

Among the Sefardim the most glaring change has come in the open split within the old-time SHAS party following so closely upon the passing of its mentor Rav Ovadia Yosef ZT"L. SHAS has split in two with Eli Yishai running under his own steam as the "Yachad Ha'am Itanu" party that is predicted to gain more than just the minimal four seats required for Knesset entry perhaps even outshining its old political home of SHAS. A new rabbinical name has suddenly appeared on the horizon as Eli Yishai party's mentor, Rav Meir Mazuz a very interesting Rov and Rosh Yeshiva from Bnai Brak of Djerba, North African, origins with more open-minded views coming to the fore and creating a broader coalition that SHAS was able to do in the past but is now not capable of doing. In SHAS the veteran politician Aryeh Deri has returned to take the reins with the support of the SHAS Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah. There was bad blood that spilled into the open as not-so-old videos of Rav Yosef discussing Aryeh Deri negatively were released, while Eli Yishai was publicly attacked by SHAS followers, with all parties claiming they are speaking for the true voice of MARAN Ovadia Yosef. Expect to see surprises from both these parties on Tuesday and they will probably bury the hatchet and cooperate closely to get into the next coalition. One thing is for sure, the face of Sefardic political unity is now gone forever.

Among Ashkenazi Charedim United Torah Judaism is the united parties of the Israeli Agudas Yisroel and the Degel HaTorah that are working solidly together with everyone giving great attention to the guidance they are getting from their united spiritual mentor Rav Shteinman in Bnai Brak.

One of the most fascinating and encouraging developments of the UTJ lists is that they have for the first time nominated a professional seasoned full time Israeli KIRUV leader, the head of the Lev LeAchim organization, Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin, as the potential "eighth man" representing UTJ in the next Knesset. This will be a most welcome change because until now none of the Charedi politicians elected to the Knesset were adept at the art of winning over the hearts and minds of fellow-secular Israelis. The picture one saw was often bifurcated and surreal that while in the Knesset religious MKs join in the melees of hurling insults at fellow Jews in the Knesset, at the same time on the outside the same Charedi PR organs that support UTJ wax lyrical about the need to MEKAREV the "Nefashos" of secular Israeli Jews.

So someone needed to make up their mind if they were going to use attack tactics or Kiruv tactics to get their way, and now, finally and long overdue, evidently Rav Shteinman has strongly supported the selection of Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin to lead the way. This is also a move to reach into secular circles for Charedi votes and altogether radical break with past tactics. If this move is successful as it will probably be, count on having more "user friendly" Charedi MKs join him in the not too distant future. As the old saying goes, you can "catch the bees" with "honey" a lot easier than with "vinegar"!

Rav Shteinman, as the RASHKEBEHAG, has been very clear and it has been reliably reported that he holds that Israeli Charedim have ONLY two choices, either to vote which he says is a Kiddush HaShem, or not to vote which he bluntly has stated is a Chillul HaShem! A very clear and stark choice that reflects the sense of urgency and the critical nature of the upcoming election.

It would seem that Yair Lapid has lost steam and popularity so that a big chunk of his past vote has now swung behind the Herzog-Livni block who are gloating and seem to be counting their chickens before they have hatched. Some Charedi politicians have said they will go with Herzog but it is VERY hard to see how Charedim will be welcomed by the same folks in the Herzog-Livni camp who have all the same issues with Charedim as Lapid and Yesh Atid people.

The Israeli left of today is not like the old-time Israeli Socialists of yester-decade. Those old timers were Bolsheviks but they spoke Yiddish and had a certain connection with Eastern Europe from where they came. Their parents and grandparents were usually frum. But today's Israeli left has LOST that connection entirely. They are more in tune with trends in Sweden, Germany and the USA with all the trimmings and bells and whistles of Modernity, such as gay rights, civil marriages, acceptance of Reform Judaism and all the sacred cows of ultra-liberals and ultra-leftists and left-wing agitators. So it is basically impossible to see how any Charedi politicians or rabbis will find a home with such types.

The natural allies of the Charedi and religious parties have always been the right-wing parties. This started in a big way when Rav Shach allowed the Charedi factions to bring Menachem Begin into power and continued with the Lubavitch and Chasidic support that helped Netanyahu come to power. A strong possible scenario is if as it seems the Charedi parties will win an increased number of seats in the next Knesset, then they will put Netanyahu back into power and demand that he adhere to their religious and social agendas. If for some reason the leftists win, CH"V, then expect the Charedi parties to spend even more time in the Israeli political wilderness. That in turn has resulted in a huge strengthening of bonds between Israeli and American Charedim who have marshaled their own limited financial forces to support Israeli Kollelim, Yeshivos and Kiruv schools and programs, not to mention directly supporting their sons and daughters who come to learn and live in Israel and the many family members who continue to move to and settle in Eretz Yisroel.

So in some ways, the frum world will have a "win-win" result: If the right wins, then the Charedi parties will presumably return to positions of influence, and if the Charedim are yet again locked out of the next government, they will not stop and they will continue to strengthen ALL the Torah bastions and Kehillos in Israel with increased FINANCIAL support from American Charedi sources more determined than ever to build for that inevitable time in the not so distant future when BY SHEER DINT OF NUMBERS Charedim and all types of Religious Jews will come to dominate Israel without any hindrance from secular harassment.

May HKB"H protect and bless the Jewish people everywhere! Amen!


  1. The time is ripe for a Labor led coalition led by a Prime Minister Isaac Herzog. Polling data increasingly indicates this as a real possibility this week. And regardless of who leads the coalition, they will need the Chareidi parties to keep them in power. This would not be the first time the Chareidim participate in a left-wing government. Netanyahu stabbed the Chareidim in the back after the last election, and the time has come to return his favor.

  2. Did you make a bracha achrona on your Bnei Brak kool-aid? Rav Shteinman, the rashkebehag? Do you know what that is an acronym for? It is Rabban shel kol benei hagolah. Does "kol benei hagolah" mean only chareidim; sorry, Ashkenazi chareidim; sorry, Ashkenazi misnagdic chareidim; sorry, Ashkenazi misnagdic charieidim of non-German and non-Hungarian descent; sorry, Ashkenazi misnagdic charieidim on non-German and non-Hungarian descent who are not followers of Rav Shmuel Aurbach?

  3. I do like the analysis. A win-win situation for Torah. I refer
    readers to my Torah thought on ויקהל-פקודי

    I say there: “When we received the Torah on Mount
    Sinai, God made gifts to us. I feel God
    is making gifts to us today such as the iron dome and other advances in
    technology, to enable us to stand up to our brazen and cruel enemies. If
    necessary, as Netanyahu said to US Congress, we could stand alone, with God’s

  4. Sorry you do not like Rav Shteinman. After the Petirih of Rav Elyashiv ZT"L (of Yerushalayim) who was the acknowledged RASHKEBEHAG the mantle went to Rav Shteinman. Before Rav Elyashiv it was Rav Shach who was from Bnai Brak too. Do you have a better suggestion for who is the true RASHKEBEHAG? Right now that includes everyone in the UTJ camps, both Chasidim of Agudas Yisroel and Misnagdim of Degel HaTorah, that pretty much covers the MAJORITY of the Torah world of Chasidisha Rebbes and Litvisha Roshei Yeshiva. Sure there is always a MINORITY that does not agree and does not accept this. That is the beauty of a DEMOCRACY! have your druthers Yehoshua, no problem.

  5. Thank you Gerald. No doubt God will do His share because He always does! But for the last two years it has been the Israeli Charedim that have literally stood alone because Netanyahu abandoned them to the wolves that he brought into his governing coalition! And, right now Netanyahu is in the dock as this election is something of a referendum about his rule of the last two years which has been very erratic, unfriendly and hostile as far as Charedim are concerned. Ironically, it may the same Charedim that he stabbed in the back that bale him out with a more sensible coalition that reflects the Jewish people that includes Charedi Jews. Wednesday should be a fascinating day as we study the election's results.

  6. This has nothing to do with whether I "like" Rav Shteinman or not (it happens to be that I do). It is about the campaign of intimidation and worse being carried out by his supporters who have in their head that he is some sort of infallible pope whose every pronouncement must be heeded as the word of God. Rav Shmuel Auebach is one of the gedolei hador in his own right, and is certainly entitled to his opinion, even if it runs counter to that of Rav Shteinman.

  7. I don't think that the loss of political power is actually bad news for Haredi society in the long-run. On the contrary...

    And I think that both Likud and Labor will jump into bed pretty quickly with the Haredi parties in the rush to form a coalition. Both will stand out of the way as the Haredi parties push their societies back into a lifestyle of dependency, isolationism and worse, extended poverty.

    And there is one Haredi leader who is providing a way out of poverty for Haredi families. His name is Rabbi Dov Lipman. He is doing wonders to heal the rifts between Haredim and secular Israelis. May Hashem bless him forever for that. A true kiddush Hashem.

    You can all vote for Yesh Atid and then perhaps we will be one step closer to actually being am echad belev echad as Haredim integrate more into Israeli society with the help of Dov Lipman.

  8. News Flash: Rav Shmuel Auerbach Favors Chillul Hashem!

    According to RAP, Rav Shteinman says that there are only two choices: To Vote (Kiddush Hashem) or not vote (Chillul Hashem).

    Now that Rav Shmuel Auerbach has instructed his followers to boycott the election, that must mean that he advocates Chillul Hashem!

    (BTW, I presume that Rav Shteinman actually meant to include in his Chillul Hashem pronouncement not only NOT voting, but voting for any party other than Gimmel. If that's the case, then a MAJORITY of Israel's religious voters advocate Chillul HASHEM!)

  9. Is Chareidi power really good for Chareidim? Perhaps we would be better off if we were forced to get a decent education, go to the army (after yeshiva and marriage) and be able to make a decent parnossa. If we are unable to make rational decisions on our own, then some government prodding would be welcome. Same for child molesters, forced gittin, metzitza b'peh, etc.

  10. "Charedim and all types of Religious Jews will come to dominate Israel without any hindrance from secular harassment."

    Is this bloc like the others that only look out for themselves or does it have a basic grasp of what Israelis need on all levels, and of how to achieve it?

  11. "According to RAP, Rav Shteinman says that there are only two choices: To Vote (Kiddush Hashem) or not vote (Chillul Hashem)."

    Umm Shlomo2 I read the American Yated from from cover to cover and that is what they reported that Rav Shteinman said. Check it out and don't act (deaf &) dumb please.I would never make up such things. So yes, Rav Shteinman actually said that, sorry that you don't like, but he was very clear and that was his main message. Ignore it at your own peril.

    The rest of the stuff you say is just very silly and not worth commenting on.

  12. Humble Jew what you say does NOT reflect any shade of Charedi opinion really, so why waste words when you are talking about a different set of conditions and expectations that are not identified or identifiable with usual Charedi thinking from any sector.

  13. Dov Lipman will almost certainly in all probability NOT be part of the next Knesset given that the rabidly secularist ANTI-Charedi Yesh Atid party he joined is slated to lose seats and he is very low down on their Knesset totem pole. So he is history/toast and it's time to forget what he got himself into, mostly Chillul Hashem!

  14. To respond to just a couple of your points:
    1:It is not hotheaded teenagers at the forefront of the intimidation. R' Chaim Kanievsky said that the Chadera yeshiva should be closed because they would not fire rabbei'im who support R' S. Auerbach. There are ma'aim bechol yom here in Irael where cheder Rabbeim have been dismissed, avreichim have been thrown out of their kollels, etc., for not toeing the party line. This is not the work of hotheaded teenagers.
    2: You seem to be under the impression that there is something like a heavyweight championship belt worn by "the Gadol Hador," that gets passed on to the next "champion" upon the death of the previous one. I have no idea what the basis for this idea is Judaism. Please clarify.
    3: Again, the fact that no current Chassidish rebbe can claim to be the leader of all of Torah jewry is irrelevant, and in fact is my entire point. Belzer chassidim will tell you that the Belzer Rebbe is the highest Torah authority in their eyes, talmidim of R' Dovid Soloveitchik will say the same, as will Erloi chassidim (at least until the Rebbe's recent health issues) and so on and so forth.

  15. Stop running around on every blog and blabbering about Lipman! Do you honestly think you are convincing anyone? Do you have a job?

  16. And if someone is not creative, as most of us are not, should they be confined to a life of poverty? I don't think that most people in the frum community in the US are making a great parnossa from what I see.

  17. As I don't read Yated cover to cover, I was relying upon you and therefore related it in your name.

    OK, now that we've established that you're reporting faithfully what he said, please explain why, according to that statement, Rav Shmuel Auerbach and religious people who vote anyhitng other than gimmel are NOT advocating or causing a Chillul HASHEM.

    Isn't that what he said?

    I know that we don't have a lot to work with, as he spoke for only 50 seconds, but why shouldn't we accept him at his word?

  18. I think its really important that Yesh Atid gets in.
    I do have a job working with israels working poor. Yesh atid is the only party working to help them.
    Thats why I am putting in the time encouraging people to consider voting for them.
    Watch this video to see how they are helping. ..

  19. I think you will be surprised tonight.

  20. And there is a distinction to be made between being anti-charedi and being anti-the-charedi -parties-destructive-policies.

  21. I don't know if my comment is in moderation or not, so I'll try again. I do have a job. I work with Israel's working poor. Yesh Atid is the only party who is actually helping them and who will help them more. So I think it's vitally important that Yesh Atid is in the next government. That is why I am telling people about Lipman and Yesh Atid. Because the poor of Israel need them there.

    Don't believe me? Ask the experts:

  22. I do have a job.

    Right now it includes going from blog to blog calling Mr. Lipman a 'hareid "leader"'.

  23. Rav Shteinman is a great leader and Gadol haDor. Rav Auerbach is also a great Torah scholar and Gadol haDor. I may not agree with either of them in so far as "politics" is concerned, but I often find wisdom/chochma in many things they say.

    As i am getting older i am realising that there is chochma even behind the ideas and statements that one doesn't necessarily agree with.

    more to the point, it is interesting that elections are so significant , since democracy is not always a god thing in some religious circles, unless you have the power to squeeze something out of it. Indeed, it certainly goes agasint certain Daas torah notions to have democracy in absolut decision making.

  24. The Chareidi parties, with their 13 seats, will indeed be in this forthcoming government. This is good, and a big relief.

    However, I cannot stop but wonder:

    Imagine Deri and Shass would have compromised with Yishai, accepted his proposal to merge and represent two parties under one flag - similar to Gimel representing Degel and Agudah (and what the Arabs did).

    Imagine UTJ would have compromised with Hapeles/Bnei Torah, and represented Gimel(3) parties.

    The Chareidim would then have 18-20 seats.

    Netanyahu would then be able to form a coalition without Bennett. The Chareidim would then be able to scale back all the damage Lapid has done.

    While Yishai and Deri may have some big ideological disagreements, it is not that big.

    While Degel and Hapeles may have some big ideological disagreements, is it really that big?

  25. nice. i present a dissenting opinion and it gets deleted.

  26. @Ben - I didn't delete anything - checked spam and delete folders - not there

    try again


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