Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Adar I 5763 - February 27, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Always Cutting Themselves off from the Tzibbur

by A. Yitzchaki

In the past election, one of the parties that did not get the minimum number of votes was the Cheirut Party. Its 35,000 votes were not enough to put it over the threshold and into the Knesset. The head of the list was Michael Kleiner who broke off (to the Right) from the Likud. Second on the list was Baruch Marzel, a former leader of the outlawed Kach party. Marzel himself is considered a shomer mitzvos and he sports a long beard. The party made a direct appeal for votes in chareidi neighborhoods including pictures of Marzel to emphasize their connection to religion. Critics claimed that Kleiner advocates the draft of yeshiva students.

Baruch Marzel's numerous voters--who indirectly got Vasel Taha (Balad) and Eli Ben Menachem (Labor) into the Knesset-- were scattered all across the country. In most locations where Cheirut received votes, their supporters were not organized but rather a collection of individuals who decided to throw their votes away or, to put it more accurately, to help the left win another two mandates.

Only one coherent group voted for Kleiner-Marzel. And even this single organized voting block would not have been apparent to outside observers were it not for the fact that members of this group set up a small town in Central Israel years ago, and therefore those who live there all cast their ballots at the same polling station, making their voting pattern clearly identifiable.

The group, of course, is Chabad and the town is Kfar Chabad, which cast an overwhelming majority of its votes for the Cheirut Party. Always faithful to their last rov's voting directive which was to support "the most chareidi" party running, they consistently vote for the most reactionary party, even if it is a secular party with a minority of constituents who at best cherish the Jewish tradition in a small corner of their hearts. In their view this is properly called the "most chareidi party," much more than the movements that represent the majority of yerei'im.

On one occasion their rov broke with tradition and told them explicitly to support Agudas Yisroel--for reasons the public well remembers--but otherwise, most Kfar Chabad residents generally vote for compromising parties or secular-right parties, casting hardly a single vote for United Torah Jewry.

There is no need to reiterate or expand on how Chabad deviated from the path of Torah-faithful Judaism, transforming itself into the most extreme and militant right- wing camp in the today's Israeli political spectrum. Reading their weekly leaflets is enough to realize Kleiner's worldview is moderate by Chabad standards, and had there been a party further to the right, he would not have won their support. Their publications are full of strident declarations of "kochi ve'otzem yodi," the might of the Israeli army and the need to wage war and deliver blows to the Arab enemy.

This sect's messianic way is guided by "yodov shel Eisov," and it comes as no surprise that UTJ, guided by gedolei Yisroel who put their trust in "kol Yaakov," is not worthy of their confidence.

To justify their wayward path in voting, spokesmen for the sect point to unflattering publicity about their leader published in the Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman. The publicity they found offensive consisted of recycled material from previously published articles containing accurately quoted remarks and written statements by Chabad followers. These articles were never refuted and no claims of misquoting were ever lodged. If some members of this sect consider this publicity damaging to their leadership or ways, this is only because the remarks appeared in print; the remarks that were made are themselves what does the damage, not their exposure to the public in Yated Ne'eman.

Even this absurd argument--calling support for Azmi Beshara's party unflattering publicity--does not reflect the reality, for in one election after another-- with one exception--this group has given its votes to any right-wing secular or compromising party save Agudath Israel, UTJ or even Shas. It has consistently set itself apart from the Torah-faithful public, paving a new road that led members of the sect to corrupt their hashkofoh to the point of proclaiming a man who had already passed away was the Moshiach.

At a major gathering in Bnei Brak on the eve of the elections of 5749, Maran HaRav Shach said, " . . . and now a man possessed by a dybbuk of control, of messianism, has risen up! He is the true baal machlokes, for he has never gone in step with the klal in his struggles and in his ideas. He has not joined us in any of the holy endeavors we have pursued. Not Chinuch Atzmai, not chinuch habonim, not our struggle for our daughters' purity--[the campaign for] the drafting of girls. He always went by himself, alone. How is he unique? From where did he draw his uniqueness? From Paris? This is a dybbuk of a messianism gone mad, drawing innocent people after him."

And another quote taken from a different source: "While Chabad followers shroud themselves with total silence, Agudath Israel truly leads the battles over `who is a Jew' and other critical issues, including missionary activity, autopsies, drafting girls, permitting work on Shabbos, arrangements for yeshiva students, universal education that led to the setup of the fourth stream and then Chinuch Atzmai. It should be noted here that when Chinuch Atzmai was set up, who was the first to try to sabotage and break it? The very same groups . . . that when Agudath Israel was struggling hard for the existence of Chinuch Atzmai, which received only 60 percent of their budget from the government - - they already received 100 percent! Yet after all this they have the audacity and daring to attack Agudath Israel which just stands silent? Agudath Israel refused to join the united religious front with Mafdal because of the latter's compromising, and remember well with what fervor and vengeance this group acted . . . against Agudath Israel for this refusal. They are the ones who tried to compel Agudath Israel, in opposition to the gedolei Yisroel who head it, to join the united religious front, and when Agudath Israel refused to do so, they held it was permitted to beat up girls from Beis Yaakov who worked on the election [campaign]; it was permitted to tear Agudath Israel posters off of houses . . . " The writer: late Agudath Israel leader Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Levine, writing in Hamodiah on 13 Sivan, 5731 (1971).

Yet there is nothing new under the sun. On 14 Tishrei, 5743 former Agudath Israel Chairman R' Yehuda Meir Abramovich wrote, "The Agudath Israel movement has many claims against Chabad, which has never supported Agudath Israel in its tough battles, whether for Chinuch Atzmai at the time when all gedolei haTorah vehayiroh founded it, or during its tough battles in Knesset election campaigns."

Thus the recent vote by most members of this movement for a secular party, in contradiction to the opinion of gedolei Yisroel from every stream, does not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with this movement's historical efforts to remain separate from the klal of yirei'im ledevar Hashem.

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