Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Kiddush Shem Shomayim

by Chaim Walder

Fame sure is fleeting. A year and a half after his election by a impressive majority, Ehud Barak has vanished from the political map. 800 thousand people who voted for him in '99 shifted their support this time to Sharon. What does all this mean?

Chareidi Jewry has opposed in the past and still opposes the current electoral method, which idolizes one person. Shomayim arranges things so that these idols are quickly cut down, just like idols of wood and stone in which some people believe until they are stolen or burnt. So it was with the two former leaders, Netanyahu and Barak, whom the masses believed achieved their fame as a result of their own efforts. However, it quickly became apparent that they, like those who voted for them, are merely flesh and blood. Today they on top of the world: tomorrow at the bottom. Today they are the leaders of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, tomorrow, objects of pity of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

800 thousand people drastically changed their minds and went from idolization of Barak -- whose image is that of someone fighting for peace -- to Sharon, whose image over the years has been of one who makes peace with war. This indicates the extent to which we can rely on the veneration of the masses, and in general, on the folly of the thought, ". . .my might and the strength of my hand have done all this." The recent elections were eternal proof that, "not with might nor with force, but with My spirit Hashem has said . . . "

These elections have proved once again that anyone who sets out to battle Hashem and His Torah will be crushed: such as Dov Tabori (one-time anti-religious mayor of Petach Tikvah, remember?), Shulamit Aloni, Refael Eitan, and now, Ehud Barak. We must state this again and again: One who fights against Hashem and His Torah as well as against Shabbos observance and Torah study, will be routed quickly. It is a pity that the secular don't see this self-evident truth. Perhaps all of these case studies could be compiled in a pamphlet and be presented as food for thought to every elected official, so that they won't even think of acting against the Creator of the world.

Over the years, the media has been espousing the erroneous assumption that the chareidi sector can be categorized as part of the extreme Right, and opposes the return of territories and peace.

This erroneous assumption is rooted in a combination of the viciousness of the media and a misinterpretation of the chareidi tendency to vote for the Right. Although we have constantly explained that voting for the Right stems from religious, not nationalist, motives, they refuse to believe us.

As I wrote last week, in the recent elections, the secular journalists assumed at the outset that the chareidim would vote for Sharon, supposedly because they think so highly of him. There were some who went so far as to claim that the chareidi sector would vote even if the gedolei haTorah did not instruct them to do so.

In order to prove their claims, the Leftists always pointed to certain chareidim on the periphery: those who participated in Right-wing demonstrations or groveled before Sharon (and Netanyahu). This was supposedly proof of chareidi esteem for Sharon.

Chareidi representatives always claim that the chareidi sector isn't afflicted with any sort of fondness for secular figures, and that the entire chareidi sector listens only to the guidelines of gedolei hador.

The elections have proved this unequivocally.

In past elections, avreichim and bnei yeshiva began to work for the party at dawn on election day, because the gedolei hador instructed us to do our utmost for the success of UTJ. In the latest elections, however, there was no call to get excited over any particular candidate thanks to his good deeds nor to work on his behalf. Instead, there was a call to get rid of a leader who threatened our existence and to replace him with one who, it is hoped, will not behave in the same way.

Note what the chareidi public did: precisely as the gedolei hador instructed them. It voted, and its voting patterns proved clearly showed that its vote was because of the rabbonim's summons and not because of its support of either the Right or Ariel Sharon.

From the early hours of the morning, the media reported minimal percentages of voter turnout among chareidim. At 2:00 P.M., the voting rate among chareidim was only 10% (as opposed to an overall rate of 45%). In Jerusalem the voting rate was even lower: not exactly the behavior of a sector which was said to admire Sharon. The media said, "The Arabs and the chareidim aren't voting," and one commentator even added that the chareidim were not, after all, heeding the call of the rabbonim. Suddenly they were neither Rightists nor nationalists nor even fans of Sharon. What happened?

At the end of the day, large percentages of chareidim turned out to vote: in percentages much higher than the national average. But they voted in order to fulfill the direct guidelines of the gedolei Yisroel -- not as enthusiastic fans of a particular candidate. They came out to vote en masse, and this fact was a double and even triple kiddush Hashem. The chareidi sector proved that it isn't Rightist, and surely not extreme. Only one thing concerns it: religious matters. It went out to vote as one only because the gedolei Yisroel had instructed it to do so.

The fact that the chareidi sector, "as one man and one heart" followed the rabbonim's directives gives it much more power than having lots of seats in the Knesset. If a sector is subject to outside influence, it stops being a tzibbur and becomes a mob of individuals who can be influenced by either the media or through other means. One cannot ignore an entire sector. This message should be internalized by those who permit themselves "independent thought." Independent thought only lessens one's power, changing him into a simple, non-influential citizen. It is only our obedience to the gedolei haTorah that makes us into a tzibbur and raises our strength tenfold.

Let us close with a story that I heard a few days ago in the home of HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, which testifies to the extent to which obedience to the gedolei hador is the only incentive that guides the chareidi sector.

On election day, an outstanding bochur came to the home of HaRav Steinman and asked whether he should vote. He claimed that he was working on shemiras ho'einayim and tried to avoid places where there were stumbling blocks. The Rosh Hayeshiva told him to go to vote. After a few moments, the student returned and asked for a special brocho from HaRav Steinman: that he not stumble with shemiras ho'einayim. HaRav Steinman and those in his home at the time were stirred by this, regarding the young man's behavior as a kiddush Hashem and a limud zechus for the Jewish Nation and the yeshiva world that has borne such fruits.

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