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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777
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An Open Letter to Religious Zionist Rabbis

Would HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook have endorsed this party?

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Dear Rabbi:

With elections approaching in Israel, I am searching for a religious political party for which to vote. When I think about voting for Shas, I remember their support for Oslo, the surrender of parts of Eretz Yisrael, giving rifles to our enemies, and the terrible sea of Jewish blood that was spilled after the Oslo Accords were signed. That is not the Torah I am searching to find.

When I think about voting for Degal HaTorah and Agudah, except for a few lone voices, I remember their silence leading up to, and during, the Disengagement from Gush Katif, when fellow Jews were thrown out of their homes and pieces of Eretz Yisrael were handed over to our enemies. That is not the Torah I am searching for.

When I think about voting for the Bayit HaYehudi-National Union merger, I see that their leading candidate in the polls has chosen a very pretty young woman as a running mate. Please understand that I have nothing against women, and I am sure this candidate is a very talented and idealistic person, but I wonder if in a public situation like politics, it is appropriate to include a young attractive woman in the leadership of the party, especially for a party that promises to defend Torah ideals.

Modesty has always been a pillar of Judaism. In this week’s Torah portion of “Lech Lecha,” we learn that Avraham Avinu never gazed at his wife until they were on their way to Egypt and its illicit culture, when he realized that the Egyptians would lust after her beauty. I remember that HaRav Shlomo Aviner has written that it is forbidden to attend a lecture given by a woman, since one will have to gaze at her at length and thus transgress the commandment not to stray after one’s heart and eyes. In fact, I once I asked HaRav Aviner if I could write a screenplay, based on a popular novel, about a Haredi youth who was attracted to a non-religious girl, and Rav Aviner answered, yes, if the girl was 90 years old and not attractive. HaRav Mordechai Eliahu, of blessed memory, stated that in attending a wedding where men and women ate together without a mechitza, there was a problem with “Lo tachmod eshet rayecha,” the prohibition of lusting after your neighbor’s wife, one of the Ten Commandments. So, it is difficult for me to think about voting for the Bayit HaYehudi. Some people may say that all this is an exaggeration, that they can look at an attractive woman and not think any improper thought, but I recall that even King David himself got into trouble over a pretty married woman. So I wonder: is this the Torah party that I am searching for?

Could this occur in Shas? In Agudat Yisrael? Will this bring these parties closer to identifying with the goals of the Dati Leumi? Would HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook have endorsed this party? Yes, the unity of the ranks is a praiseworthy project, and yes, it is important to unite all Am Yisrael, religious and non-religious alike, but why with a pretty, young secular woman? Is this a sign of Torah leadership? Couldn’t non-religious voters be attracted to the Bayit HaYehudi by including on their list a young, idealistic , non-religious soldier from some top commando unit? Why does it have to be a young women who looks like a model? While many people long to see a new idealism and a new Torah-spirit in Israeli politics, which fosters a love for the Land of Israel and for all Am Yisrael, religious and non-religious alike – what possible good could come from this lack of concern for the modesty of our national life in the Holy Land?

Tzvi Fishman

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" The DVD of the movie is available online.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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Imported and Older Comments:

  1. Leon Pettyjohn says:

    Worry Not of the Things of the World bur rather Worry about getting to the Kingdome of Heaven! For it Is Not man that Places Men On the Thrones of the Earth but it is God that places Men on their Thrones and the LORD is in Control of all that is in Heaven and in the Earth!

  2. Hannah Katsman says:

    Shame on you. Candidates should be judged on their qualifications for the job, not their looks.

  3. Sharon Marks Altshul says:

    Well this should generate lots ob buzz!

  4. Mike Miller says:

    He, of course, is honest enough to admit he's a dog (though I'm sure he'd suggest that all men are). That's commendable.

    However, it is glaringly obvious that rather than be motivated purely by noble ideals of personal improvement, he's using this so-called weakness (which, of course, is not his fault at all, so he need not feel bad over his failing) to justify his misogyny. That's disturbing.

    The fact that he's always been nothing but a hack, trolling his readers under the guise of classical national religious hashkafa, is disturbing inasmuch as it undermines the indisputable if relatively unknown fact that many of our contemporary morals are _not_ those of RAYHK.

  5. Ahuva Segal says:

    For god sake. Who is this guy? If the issue is that he cannot trust himself or control his impulses, he should stay at home locked up and the let the women get on with the job.

  6. Hannah Katsman says:

    Mike Miller The idea is to disqualify candidates who don't think like him, by any means possible. As the other commenter said (not visible) it's rather creative of him.

  7. Rahel Jaskow says:

    Great excuse for locking women out of leadership roles. "Who cares about her intelligence and abilities? She's young and attractive — to the kitchen with her! And without her shoes, too!"

  8. Liad Bar-el says:

    Hmmmmmmmm. It's writen that one should not even listen to the voice of a woman because it is sexy. Hmmmmmmmm…………………… I got it!

    All women should wear a Burqa, not talk in public but type all converstations on a computer…………….while wearing gloves of course. A law should be passed that nobody can drive a car while wearing a Burqa; so, this will eliminate women from driving and cut down a lot of stress on the roads trying to figure out what they want to do and where they intend to go while driving. 🙂

    Oh, almost forgot. Any response to this, you can send to Tzvi's email box. 🙂

  9. Is this a spoof? I really hope so. Miriam and Dvorah would not have had a chance with attitudes like these.

  10. Barry Leff says:

    Sadly, it's not a spoof. Google the author. He's a real piece of work.

  11. Jennifer Read says:

    He has probably studied Talmud, but he has never studied logic or psychology.

  12. Shoshanna Goldstein Sanders says:

    Clearly being young and pretty is against Torah values. If she had any sense of modesty she would hide herself until she is middle-aged and wrinkled.

  13. Poe's Law: In the absence of an explicit indication such as a winking emoticon or the like, it's impossible to tell the difference between a real right-wing screed and a parody of same.

  14. Judith Zvaig says:

    In other words: no public positions for beautiful women, what a pathetic piece of opinion. Saudi Arabia should make a good start for T. F. And who says that rabbis who poskim that a nice lady should not lecture in public did that under ruach hakodesh? May be Hashem is disgusted by their stance? Just may be. May be a more moral stance would be to recommend similar volatile minded men to wear pitch black glasses during those lectures, instead of banning women from realizing their potencial. How comes so many withinthe dati leumi camp became so "plastically tzidkomim" and so disgustingly "talibanic" at the same time just blows my mind…

  15. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Yes! And she should stay home, have children (no less than 10), clean the house, make meals for her master when he gets home, take off his shoes, bow down to his every command and say that you are sorry for not cleaning the chair that he is sitting on after the baby made cocki on it.

  16. Rahel Jaskow says:

    No, she shouldn't stay home. She should get a job and support her husband. When the children arrive, she should keep on working as much as she can — after all, she is the main source of income — and also care for the house, and keep on having as many children as her body can physically carry and bring to birth (her emotional state? the financial state of the family? God will help). Yeah, the guys in this community know a good deal when they see one….

  17. Lori Shapiro says:

    Judaism spoken here,We worry about this life,and celebrate life,not death.No Christian proselytizing.

  18. Almaz Kohanziadeh Ben-Adonai says:

    Too me that is the biggest Pimp game in town I totally agree with you on this I thought in the Torah a man is supposed to earn and learn not have his wife work like a Hebrew slave meanwhile his hands are a soft as a babies REALLY a grown man with children is supposed to work and support his family

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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