הפיסקה הזאת במסגרת במקום כותרת

Dear Readers,

It was not a simple decision to print a letter that I wrote to my Kehillah, concerning the upcoming elections, in this space, usually reserved for Torah thoughts. However, at the end of the day, I felt an acharayus to share my thoughts with you—especially you, who read the Torah thoughts I present to you week after week.

Morai Verabbosai and Ladies of Beis Tefillah Yonah Avrohom:

Two riddles:

  1. Which city in Eretz Yisrael is horribly mismanaged, is filthy, bankrupt, has its infrastructure falling apart, has its inhabitants at each other’s throats, is riddled with political sectarianism, favoritism and corruption, discriminates against many segments of its population, and is ruled over by wild-eyed fanatics and mobs that make life there unlivable for anyone unlike them?
  2. Another riddle: Which city in Eretz Yisrael has extremely high real-estate values which continue to rise year after year, has people clamoring for more housing in order to live there, has a magnetic attraction for new olim (I personally receive an average of one call a week from someone in Anytown, USA, to discuss moving there), has developed tremendously in the last few years, is constantly offering new housing opportunities (e. g. Ganei Ha’ela, Mishkafayim), enjoys a high standard of pleasant living as attested to by its inhabitants (people simply enjoy living there, plenty of people are moving in or trying to), has a broad range of choices for schools of all kinds and stripes, and shuls and shtiebels as well, has great shopping opportunities, many recreational areas, hiking and biking trails, more eateries opening every month, learned Rabbis available to their congregants, wonderful tzedakah organizations and all sorts of chessed organizations that serve everybody, a solid medical care, and a kol Torah reverberating throughout the city, day and night?

Answer to both riddles: Ramat Beit Shemesh!

  1. How can that be?
  2. The first riddle’s answer is the RBS depicted by people attempting to gain political power and unseat the present Mayor and incumbent Chareidi City Council members… and the second riddle’s answer is the reality of the RBS that we live in and know.

Does RBS have its imperfections and problems? Of course!

Are the people who are running it perfect? Of course not!

But you surely must admit that it is hardly a city falling apart, hardly a city ruled by crazies, fanatics and extremists —although Naftali Bennett (who basically installed Eli Cohen as Mayor Abutbul’s main opponent and is now supplying him with money and know-how in his bid for the Mayor’s office) announced to the entire State of Israel that this election is indeed about “taking back the city from the crazies, the extremists, and the anti-Zionists.”

Rabbosai, Ladies: Do you enjoy living in RBS? Do you encourage your friends in Chutz la’Aretz to move here, or do you discourage them from doing so? Are your children’s schools able to expand and meet your children’s needs? Can you shop here, learn here, daven here, relax here —and have a huge range of choices in doing so?

Let me quote an advertisement for a new housing development, ”Beit Shemesh is a booming city with several new malls built and being built. You will find a huge selection of shops, dining, and entertainment. We will be able to create an independent community, while at the same time remaining conveniently located near the schools, shopping centers, doctors, and other services located in RBS.

Did anyone warn Rabbi David Gottlieb, leader of this soon to be built community, about the crazies and extremists and anti-Zionists? Why is he forging ahead?

Oh, look, here is this past week’s English Mishpacha magazine! Look! There is an article about a new trend of retirees coming to live in Eretz Yisrael, how lovely… let me see… “Nefesh B’Nefesh… I’ve always wanted to make aliyah… bought an apartment in Ramat Beit Shemesh… [now someone else] her husband has been part of a Kollel for retired men in Beit Shemesh… [now another person] Leventhal is involved in the Ma’or Seniors… a group in Ramat Beit Shemesh… [yet another person] Lea chose to live in Ramat Beit Shemesh… Ramat Beit Shemesh has become a veritable hub for Anglo Senior Citizens… and here’s a statement from Shoshana Lichtman, director and nurse at Melabev Senior Center in Beit Shemesh…”

So what is all this nonsense being bandied about, with no connection to reality?

There are a few answers.

  • An incumbent has a record to attack, and everyone makes mistakes—so he is attacked for his mistakes. The candidate who wants to unseat him, on the other hand, has made no mistakes, never having governed anything —so he has no record to attack! But why in the world does anyone think that he will be better than the incumbent, and that he will make no mistakes (even if we could assume that he will be even borderline competent, which of course we also have no way of knowing!)?
  • There is a sector of the population of RBS that says that it feels disenfranchised and that it wants to reverse that trend. Well, to them I say, “My friends, you have created your own virtual reality!” There is a concept of population demographics, and if Chareidim and Anglo-Chareidim started moving into RBS en masse, and many, many Dati-Leumi people took the now much higher prices that their houses commanded and ran, smiling all the way to the bank—well, that is a perfectly normal phenomenon which occurs countless times in countless cities and neighborhoods —without some sort of secret nefarious plot hatched by the Elders of Zio… I mean, of RBS.

And let us assume for argument’s sake that they are indeed disenfranchised. That is wrong, if it is indeed so, and should be corrected. And I stand ready to help rectify the situation. But are you, the recipient of this letter, ready to vote for a safeik competent, someone who has no reason to sympathize with your needs (and I say this if for no other reason than because he will have been put into power by people who admit freely that they see this election as a power struggle between US and THEM), because you want ‘fair treatment for all?’ Really? You’re ready to do that?

  • Sadly, and I say sadly because I know who these people are and I feel terrible that they are ready to vote against their own best interests and that of their friends’ for this reason, there is a feeling, an atmosphere amongst certain groups that it is Western, liberal, and ‘cool’ to vote against the Chareidi incumbents and vote for their untried, untested, inexperienced (in government) opponents.

Nu nu—I am glad that I am uncool.

AND NOW, what I consider the MAIN reason to vote for the incumbents: Morai VeRabbosai, Ladies, there is a much larger issue at stake here than the mayoralty of Beit Shemesh and the makeup of the City Council.

The Torah world—of all stripes—is under attack in Eretz Yisrael. There was a gal sin’ah (a wave of hatred) against Chareidim a few short years ago (thank you, Dov L., Channel 2, and the high-powered P.R. people that you hired, whoever they are), and on top of that wave comes the wave against the entire Torah world (and so, hopefully those of you who thought that the wave was only against the bad Chareidim, but you are ‘good Chareidim’, are now realizing your error). Funding to all Yeshivas was cut drastically. Funding for foreign students was totally stopped—for Yeshivas only (all Yeshivas), but not for any other foreign student program. And although Chareidim are entering the workforce and the army and higher education in increasing numbers every year, political careers were built up by attacking that very same Chareidi community, and counterproductive laws were passed, changing the nature of the understanding that had existed in the State from its inception until now. Hesder soldiers who wouldn’t listen to kol ishah were jailed. Contrary to prior understandings, the Hesder student must deal with constant female presence.

Naftali Bennett, a partner to all of the above, declared upon anointing Eli Cohen, “We must take Beit Shemesh away from the crazies, the extremists, and the anti-Zionists.” The political advertising talks about “returning Beit Shemesh to its inhabitants.” (Whom exactly do they mean to exclude?) The virtual primaries (nipped in their bud, again by Bennett) conducted to select an opponent to Mayor Abutbul refused to hear or count any opinion from anyone calling themselves “Chareidi”—thus ensuring that the election be branded as US vs. THEM.

There is not the slightest doubt that the current elections for the Beit Shemesh mayoralty and City Council are seen as a battle in the larger Kulturkampf. Make no mistake—the perception creates the reality. The forces that want to force avreichim into the army and workforce (besides cutting all subsidies to the bare bone) will be very much strengthened by ousting the Chareidi incumbents in Beit Shemesh. The eyes of Israel can be said to be looking at what happens here in the city. As such, every lover of Torah, every defender of the values that we hold dear and have fought so hard to have and maintain, has a responsibility —despite any other misgivings that they may have, even if he or she feels like an ‘US’ and that Mayor Abutbul is a ‘THEM’— to vote the Mayor (and other incumbents) back into office. Do not be the “useful idiots” [a political term used to describe well-meaning people who help and support not-such-well-meaning-people] of the Lapid- Bennett alliance.

To sum up—the reality is that your friends back in the “old country” envy you when you say you live in Beit Shemesh. The reality is that you have no real knowledge about the competency of the Mayor’s opponent. The reality is that it is in your and your children’s best interests to return the Mayor and the incumbents into office. Where is your hakaras hatov? And, please excuse me, but where is your seichel?

AND—most importantly, the “larger issue,” which will affect Torah life throughout the entire Eretz Yisrael!

Shalom U’verachah… and remember-at the end of the day, it is Ratzon Hashem that rules, and Lev melachim ve’sarim beyad Hashem.

Rav Chaim Zev Malinowitz