Photo Credit:
Anti-Judicial Reform protesters meet Bnei Brak residents. March 23, 2023.

If we wish to avoid repeating the destruction of the Second Temple and the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students, we must continue meeting with those who oppose the judicial reform. These meetings are very important, as it has become clear when meeting with opposers that their problem is not the judicial reform itself. That also explains why the demonstrations against the reforms continue even with the reform now frozen. Demonstrations against the right-wing government began even before the judicial reform was announced and were intended to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu to resign – even though he was legally elected.

The protesters against judicial reform know that in a democracy the majority rules, and yet they are protesting against the majority. Their fear of right-wing and religious rule is so great, they are prepared to sterilize democracy of its meaning. They have invented a “liberal democracy”, where citizens vote, and the enlightened minority decides for the masses what is liberal and legal and what is not.


The majority that will not disappear
You might ask: why are they so afraid? The answer is they really think the religious and right-wing will force all women to wear red and become handmaids! It sounds completely absurd to all of you, but they truly fear the right will set up a dictatorship and cancel elections. They are sure we all blindly obey Benjamin Netanyahu and do everything he says without thinking independently.

Their fear is so great, some of them actually need medication to handle the anxiety. Some are seriously thinking about leaving the country. Others allow themselves to break the law and block major roads. Some talk about insubordination despite knowing that such talk threatens the strength and cohesion of the IDF and endangers the State of Israel.

Crimes for heaven’s sake
Out of fear, the prosecutor’s office filed a series of indictments against the Prime Minister. The lawsuit which is currently being heard in the Jerusalem District Court is turning out to be completely baseless. The chief investigator, Deputy Superintendent Yoav Telem, answered during his testimony in court: “I don’t remember”, “I don’t know”, “It’s not my responsibility” 973 times!

You can see him and his friends as criminals, or you can see they are scared to death. That is why they are ready to fabricate preposterous indictments against the Prime Minister – it is in order to save the country, as they see it. They are confident they are doing a good deed by lying in court and destroying the country.

How do you dismantle the landmine?
You can go against them with all your might. But when we realize those facing us really think we are in favor of a dictatorship in which women become slaves, we also understand they will respond with even greater force, and we will reach annihilation.

Since surrendering to aggression is not the way, we must combine two forces: on the one hand, we must get out and demonstrate until the reform is implemented and the justice system is fixed, and on the other hand, we must meet with our neighbors and our social network acquaintances. Talk to them, listen to them. It’s not about being right, that doesn’t work. You have to listen to their pain, real pain, even based on false information as it is – remember, for them it is real. Listen with an open and loving heart.

In these meetings they will learn that we are not raising our girls to be handmaids, that we do not want a dictatorship, that we are not submissive slaves of a tyrant who wants to escape judgment. They will see that all the images we have been painted with are false.

Humanity will defeat the propaganda machine
Remember, these are people who love the country and have contributed a lot to it. Some of them are productive people who are confident they are performing the most Zionist act there is. This is why they lose days from work and go to demonstrate with Israeli flags in their hands.

We have many reasons to think they are privileged and taking advantage of their power, but thinking that way won’t really help us. We have to disarm the mental landmine built on false fears. We need to dismantle the senseless hatred like that which brought upon the destruction of Jerusalem. These consciousness landmines can be dismantled in meetings with real love.

It is true that we are facing a sophisticated marketing machine that has not reached such intensity since the establishment of the state. Huge, unprecedented budgets were invested in this marketing campaign. Despite all this, the truth is stronger than any lie and any propaganda machine. And if we all rally, we will defeat this machine.

For our brothers
There are those who say that we will eventually win anyway: our majority will grow, and in the end we will defeat them at the ballot box. But acting in this way is forbidden. The protesters are our brothers, and we don’t want to beat them and have them leave the country, we don’t want their protests to go to extremes. We don’t want the army to weaken, we don’t want brothers to hate each other. We must put aside the anger, step out of being in the right, listen to our brothers with welcoming faces and true love and dismantle this landmine which threatens Israeli society.

It is within our power. It is within our ability. Let’s pray, all of us, that the Shechinah inspires our actions and that He who makes peace in the heavens will make peace among us and all Israel, Amen.


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Rav Shmuel Eliyahu is the Chief Rabbi of Safed and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.