web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


NGOs to Promote Social Change in Israel through ‘Forgotten Mitzvahs’

"Our joint goal is to have the Torah guide our agenda in all areas of life."

Conference organizer Michael Puah (L.) with Manhigut Yehudit leader MK Moshe Feiglin.

Conference organizer Michael Puah (L.) with Manhigut Yehudit leader MK Moshe Feiglin.
Photo Credit: Datili

Last Thursday, at the modest offices of the Likud’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction, representatives of several organizations got together to develop common strategies for applying Jewish laws and principles in Israel, including, possibly, future Knesset legislation.

Manhigut Yehudit, established more than 12 years ago by now MK Moshe Feiglin, is pushing a policy of taking Orthodox Jewish political power away from the sectarian, religious parties, to the general, preferably larger Israeli parties.

According to Michael Puah, formerly the director of Feiglin’s movement, and until recently special advisor to Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon, the fact that religious Jews are so influential in Israel and in the new Knesset, presents new challenges in promoting change in Israel through core Torah values.

The informal assembly drew a couple dozen representatives of existing NGOs who are already engaged in active promotion of a variety of issues. Anthropologically speaking, the room was about half knitted yarmulkes and a couple settler-sheitels (headscarves), and half Haredim in the black and white uniform. But if you closed your eyes and just listened to what they were saying, it was difficult, often, to tell them apart. In language and in their complete embrace of the idea of the Jewish state, they all shared a deep, well thought out view of the modern miracle of Jewish rule in Eretz Israel.

“Our joint goal is to have the Torah guide our agenda in all areas of life,” said Puah. “The ideal of ‘Tikun olam b’Malkhut Shadai’ (setting up the world in light of God’s kingdom) requires us to create and innovate from within the Torah, which is the task that each organization participating in this conference has taken on, in each particular field of involvement.”

Rabbi Yehuda Amichai, head of the Torah and Eretz Institute, gave a comprehensive overview of the efforts being made to promote proper Shmita year observance in Israel, during which the land will truly lay fallow.

Rabbi Amichai noted that the Knesset Shmita Committee was supposed to begin its preparations for the year 5775 (2015), the next sabbatical year in which Jewish farmers may not work their land. Except that the current political reality does not allow for assembling it and for allocating a budget for its activities—seeing as the freshly elected 19th Knesset is still in the process of getting its act together, and coalition talks are yet to reach their results.

Amichai complained that these conditions cause uncertainty and a lack of preparedness on the part of farmers about the concrete aspects of observing the Shmita, most crucially creating a fund to support them through the sabbatical year.

“It is urgent that we start applying political pressure to set up the Shmita committee and to allocate the needed resources for its operation,” said Amichai.

Rabbi Amichai also stressed a more common problem—since it applies once a week, every week—Shabbat observance in Israel. “The economic and business reality force people to work on Shabbat, which is a form of slavery. These people are just slaves, they have no choice. We express first and foremost a social message: we can change it.”

“Regarding Shmita legislation for the year 5775, our top agenta issue is supporting a bill proposed by MK Uri Ariel, which aims to regulate through legislation the tax deductible savings by farmers in the six years between Shmitot. These savings will allow farmers to survive through the seventh year without government support.”

A group called Jewish Banking, represented by Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveitchik and writer Ehud Tokatly, introduced the project of creating the legislative conditions that would permit the foundation of a kosher bank, which would provide most banking services without transgressing the severe prohibitions against usury, and without resorting to the so-called Heter Iska, which was created in the diaspora, in times of duress.

Tokatly told the conference that in the West there are several credit union and Islamic banks which have survived the economic crisis while many commercial banks crashed a few years ago.

“They learned from us how to live without charging interest, and now we have to learn back from them what we originally taught them,” lamented Tokatly.

The Jewish Banking group has also built banking models that facilitate kosher financial liquidity in a global economy.

Rabbi Soloveitchik considers this project an opportunity to bolster Torah Education. He suggests that a successful religious banking system would forge a practical, interesting and challenging horizon for students with appropriate skills for both economics and a Shulchan Aruch based economy.

The Jewish Banking group is attempting to create political pressure in favor of adopting the Zaken Committee report recommending the establishment of credit unions, which would become the legal foundation for kosher banks.

Rabbi Shai Siminovsky and Rabbi Kobi Yakir from the Chomesh Institute for Jewish Strategy insisted that the Torah is not just a set of principles for the individual, commanding them to observe Shabbat and Shmita, borrow without interest and eat kosher, but, first and foremost, it provides directions on managing a society and leading a nation.

The scholars at Chomesh work to clarify the public laws, and to create meetings between professionals from various areas and Torah scholars, in an annual conference held in the city of Ramla.

At the Ramla Conference, a mutual discourse takes place among Torah scholars, professionals and practitioners. A previous conference dealt with non-Jews living Israel. This year the conference will explore Israel’s legal system.

Rabbi Kobi Yakir proposed the establishment of a Jewish Academy, to deal with real-time questions and provide a Halachic answer which would be conceived by scholars and professionals working together.

Rabbi Itai Elitzur reviewed the efforts being made to reestablish the Temple and its service, and to bring the nation of Israel closer to a time in which God will reside in His holy place.

Rabbi Yitzhak Brand spoke about the need to anchor civil regulatory legislation in Halacha, based on the commandment to do that which is right and good in the eyes of God (Deut. 6:18). To that end, he called for the establishment of a general court to issue these regulations.

“In every generation, our sages issued regulations to match the Torah’s guidance with a changing reality. Only in our generation are we stuck with our anxiety and our fear of innovation,” Brand stated, adding: “We are not looking for ways to circumvent the Torah, but rather for finding in the Torah solutions to repair the ills of modern life.”

The conference ended with a decision to establish a general umbrella federation of all the organizations who wish to promote leadership by the Torah, creating cross-fertilization and mutual support.

The new federation will issue publications and policy papers, and will be in touch with members of Knesset to promote legislative proposals.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “NGOs to Promote Social Change in Israel through ‘Forgotten Mitzvahs’”

  1. How about also applying Torah teachings to reducing pollution and waste, averting a climate catastrophe, reducing poverty, and seeking and pursuing peace.

    Why is it that fences are properly built around some mitzvot, but others, such as bal tashchit, tzedeck, tzedeck tirdof, and "be kind to the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt," are often ignored.

  2. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I concur with what Mr. Richard Schwartz says.

  3. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I concur with what Mr. Richard Schwartz says.

  4. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I concur with what Mr. Richard Schwartz says.

  5. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I concur with what Mr. Richard Schwartz says.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Sen.Barbara Mikulski
Maryland’s Sen. Mikulski Gives Obama Magic Number for Iran Deal
Latest News Stories
New Hareidi Cabinet Minister Yaakov Litzman.

“I, Yaakov Litzman, pledge…to be faithful to the government of Israel and to its laws.”

President Rivlin and Pope Francis in separate visits to the Western Wall.

Pope Francis invited the President of Israel for his first official visit to the Vatican.

Sen.Barbara Mikulski

The Maryland Democrat caved in even though she is retiring at the end of her current term.

Palestinian Authority child terrorist. "Don't shoot. I am a child."

Another rash of life-threatening firebombing and rock-throwing attacks has prompted Israel to think twice about abandoning soldiers and civilians as sitting ducks.

Pressure from Gush Etzion leaders has convinced Ya’alon to authorize a site in memory of last year’s three kidnap-murder victims.

As reported earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s grandfather’s grave on the Mount of Olives was desecrated overnight by Arab vandals who destroyed and burned numerous graves. The Mount of Olives is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world.

British liberal and leftists largely support the deal, though there are some center-left figures who oppose the agreement,

(JERUSALEM) – Beekeepers from across Israel delivered their honey products to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin this week in light of a festive event held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem for the upcoming Jewish New Year. A delegation of the Israeli Honey Council, which also included a three-generation family of children, parents, and grandparents in […]

Vice President Joe Biden is embarking on Florida to push the Iran nuclear deal while also checking out his chances as a possible presidential candidate in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

COGAT says, Hamas forcibly took control of warehouses of building materials and confiscated the contents to serve the needs of the organization.

It’s apparently a little boring sitting in the opposition.

Police report that 16-year-old Hagit Prezberg of Petach Tikva has been found safe.

Arab vandals smashed and burned tombstones, bushes and trees in the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery Tuesday night.

A nasty anti-Semitic image turns up on a VISA debit card issued by the largest bank in Norway.

Fragile pages of possibly the world’s oldest Qur’an could pre-date the birth of Islam’s founder, prophet Mohammed.

Three Reps and two Senators announced their support for the Nuclear Iran Deal.

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ngos-to-promote-social-change-in-israel-through-forgotten-mitzvahs/2013/02/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: