One of the latest rounds of negotiations to establish a functioning Israeli government has been dealing with the following issues:
- Should the government impose or not impose sanctions on the haredi yeshiva students who do not perform military service?
- Should the government provide full financing of the ultra-Orthodox schools without any requirements?
- Should the government allow the non-strictly-orthodox conversion?
- Should the government increase the child allotments as the first priority without any other budget considerations?
- Should the government change the existing legal relationships between religion and state?
The Israeli politicians have not been able to find the answers to those questions that may be satisfactory to the political majority. Let us try to find those answers based on the basics of Judaism.
One of the fundamental realms of Judaism is the Torah-based guidance on building a better world for everybody. The most important guidance in this realm was proposed by Rabbi Hillel two millenniums ago.
This guidance is called “the Golden Rule” and consists of one sentence: “What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man: this is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary”.
Let’s apply this Golden Rule to the unresolved political issues in the above, assuming the “thee” is a common Orthodox Jew and the “fellow man” is a common non-Orthodox Jew.
The “thee” honestly believes that the survival of Jewish nation and the State of Israel depends sorely on preserving the strictly Orthodox Torah interpretation. Concerning the political negotiations on the issues in the above, this Torah interpretation can be described in the following way.
- Everything what is possible should be done to increase the number of the “thee” Jews who devote all the time to studying the Torah that precludes performing any military service.
- Somebody has to provide the full financing for studying the Torah since the “thee” does not have any time to earn money necessary to support himself and the family.
- Only the existence of the “thee” Jews guaranties the survival of the entire Jewish Nation; therefore, they have to be the authority in the strictly Orthodox religious conversion to make sure all the Jews are of the “thee” quality.
- Since the strictly Orthodox conversion makes practically impossible the growth of the Jewish Nation by accepting the others into the tribe, the “thee” community has to have as many children as possible; however since there is no own financial means to support the children, somebody have to provide the child allotments with no budget restrictions.
- Since all in the above already exist in Israel, the government of Israel should not try to make any changes in the existing state-religion legal relationships.
Nothing wrong with those beliefs of the strictly Orthodox “thee” community – the non-Orthodox “fellow man” community have to respect them. The problem is that the strictly Orthodox “thee” community wants to force the non-Orthodox “fellow man” community to do what the “thee” community itself does want to do – to be forced to change its own beliefs. The strictly Orthodox “thee” community wants the Israeli government to force the non-Orthodox “fellow man” community to take upon themselves much greater sacrifices in defending the country from external enemies, and much greater sacrifices in taking care of their own families and spiritual interests. That is a complete violation of the Hillel’s Golden Rule – the strictly Orthodox “thee” community is doing to the non-Orthodox “fellow man” community what the “thee” community does not want for itself.
The following may be suggested for the strictly Orthodox “thee” community to comply with the Hillel’s Golden Rule. This community should initiate discussions with the non-Orthodox “fellow man” community aimed at finding a Golden-Rule-based approach on the issues currently preventing the formation of stable Israeli government:
- To agree that the security of Israel depends not only on preserving the economic and military strength – the security of Israel depends on preserving the spiritual strength as well.
- To demonstrate that preserving the spiritual strength requires 100% commitment from its guardians the Torah study students – in the same way as preserving the military strength requires 100% commitment from its guardians the military.
- To update the curriculum for Torah studies to make them relevant to the real life of non-Orthodox communities: family, work place, Diaspora Jews, collaboration with Christians, coexisting with Arabs, being the Chosen, and many more.
- To create Mitzvah-based support instead of taxpayer support – as the Jews have done in our historic past.
- To find an alternative Torah-guided provisions for non-strictly-Orthodox conversions and weddings – as our Rabbis did two millenniums ago concerning the father-mother Jewish lineage.
If it is done, the always-growing destructive rift between the strictly Orthodox and non-Orthodox communities may begin contracting, and the number of relatively observant Jews may begin increasing. Moreover what is most important, the Israeli government may become more stable and predictable – not only for the Israelis but for the Diaspora Jews and the entire world as well.