Photo: Miri Shimonovich
On Saturday I met a guy from a Chabad family on the street in Jerusalem who really moved me. He told me, as the Messiah according to Tomo, that while usually in every election he makes sure to vote as early as possible, to fulfill his civic and Jewish duty, this time he goes to the polls in the evening. And more precisely: after the stars came out.
what is the deal? I asked. And here came the exciting part. The Chabadnik said with shining eyes: “The election falls on Y. in Nisan, but after the stars come out, a new day begins, Y. in Nissan. It is the birthday of the Rebbe of Lubavitch, I want to connect my vote to the Rebbe and this special day.”
That Chabadnik was not a rabbi, or a shliach, or a bless. He was also not exactly the classic Chassid. But that is how it is with the Chabadniks, no matter who they are and what they are, they always have a deep and inspiring connection and envy to their rabbi. It always excites me anew.
Just before we parted, I asked him who he was voting for. Then he said to me with a smile, “I vote exactly for who you vote for.”
Hoppa, it’s getting intriguing. How does he know what I’m voting for? “Listen, I read you regularly,” he replied. “The columns, the statuses, and I tell you – you and I put the same note.”
Well, tell me already what we are voting for, I said to Chabadnik in suspense.
Wow. It was a pretty amazing moment. And I do not know what more amazed me. Is it that he waits until the stars come out to link his vote for a non-religious party to the late Rebbe of Lubavitch, or that he suspects me – sorry, he is confident in me – that I am voting in a non-religious party election.
2. The Rebbe of Lubavitch’s attitude to Israeli politics and leadership throughout history is a long and fascinating subject, much has been written about it (I recommend the fascinating book by Yossi Alitov, Aryeh Erlich and Shalom Yerushalmi – “In the Moment of Truth”). But we do not have time now, we have to go to the polls soon, and I think the principle that the Lubavitcher Rebbe instilled in his followers regarding voting is also a direction for those who are not Chabadniks and are debating which ballot to put in the ballot box. More than the Rebbe of Lubavitch? So why not consult him?
In short: Chabad has almost never been involved in politics. As a movement that wants to influence all the people of Israel, it has tried to escape political identification. With all its heart, no matter what party it is from. But still, there are elections, and there is a right to vote. Vote, so who do you vote for? What note to put on the ballot box?
Well, the way the Lubavitcher Rebbe directed his followers was to vote for a party that would preserve the “three perfections.” What are they? The integrity of the Torah, the integrity of the people, and the integrity of the land.
Let’s go over each of the three perfections for a moment, with a look at the 2021 elections:
Integrity of the Torah: To take care of the Torah in the State of Israel. For Torah students in yeshivas, and also for those who did not grow up there. To develop a Jewish education for the younger generation, for every boy and girl. Take care to keep the Sabbath in the public space (of course no one, certainly not a Chabadnik, will try to force something on someone, but yes, the public space in a Jewish state has meaning), take care to keep kosher, strengthen the status of the family.
Integrity of the people: To ensure the continued existence of the Jewish people. To convert according to Halacha and not to recognize conversions that are not such. The Lubavitcher Rebbe literally fought for this cause. And he was not a man of struggles. But here he really went out of his way. And in accordance with our struggle these days: to fight the High Court that tries to change the definition of who is a Jew, and in general tries all years to undermine the Jewish identity of the people of Israel in any liberal and progressive way, trying to transfer the Jewish state from “integrity of the people” to “integrity of all its citizens” .
Integrity of the country: Well, there is no need to explain here. To take care of the Land of Israel. Do not hand over territories, do not destroy settlements. Build, develop.
When I look at the list of parties running for the 24th Knesset, there are 3 parties, only 3 parties, that represent all three perfections: Torah Judaism, Shas and Religious Zionism.
Of course, each of them has its own emphases, its own style, its own making. But yes, each of the three will try to take care of the integrity of the Torah, the integrity of the people and the integrity of the land. Other parties may take care of the Land of Israel, but not the other two important perfections, and will also go with parties that bother to emphasize how much they will fight for these three perfections.
And what about Netanyahu’s Likud? First of all, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would surely like to see Netanyahu as prime minister. How do I know? Both because he spoke to him personally with great appreciation, much more than to other politicians who met with him, and also because it is clear that among the blocs, only a right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu will lead the people of Israel and the State of Israel to the right place. But, and this is a big but – when there is an opportunity to vote for a religious party whose whole purpose is to take care of the three perfections, is it possible to give it up, and vote for a secular party like the Likud? True, the Likud is not anti-religious, God forbid. True, the Likud has quite a few observant representatives, but is the Likud’s agenda to take care of Sabbath observance and Jewish education for the children of Israel? Is the Likud’s agenda to ensure conversion properly? And even: Is it really possible to trust Netanyahu in matters of the integrity of the country, when he does not have a strong religious party on the right?
The same Chabadnik I met on Saturday is right. I really, really, really appreciate Netanyahu. I think everything should be done to strengthen him as Israel’s next prime minister. We should only vote for a party that we are sure will support him for prime minister. But we must not be confused. How to do it: Vote for a religious party, not only with some religious representatives, but with a religious agenda: Torah Judaism, Shas, or religious Zionism.
True, many want to vote for Netanyahu’s party. Strengthen him in front of the left, support him in front of Udi Segal and Rina Matzliach, in front of Mandelblit. He deserves it. And of course there is the gratitude for the vaccines. But voting for one of the religious parties is a huge support for Netanyahu, as he himself has said in recent days (by the way, in my opinion, Netanyahu did not put a ballot paper in this election, but T). And it also supports things that are important to us, even more than Netanyahu. Torah Yisrael, Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael.
(Oh, and if you are a Chabadnik who chooses not to vote for one of the parties that care about the three perfections, that is your right. We live in a democratic state. Just do yourself a favor, in that case, try to vote before 6:16 p.m., time of the stars).