Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
MK Bezalel Smotrich donning a face mask, May 11, 2020.

Chairman of the National Union and the junior co-leader of Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich on Wednesday posted on Facebook, paraphrasing the Yom Kippur prayer, that “out of a great sense of mission, in reverence, in majesty and splendor, in fear and in trembling, this year the synagogues should be closed down and prayers conducted in the open air.” He added: “This is my call – lead the people of Israel with faith and responsibility and pray outdoors.”

“It’s hard and painful,” Smotrich conceded, “A stranger will not understand how much. But this is exactly the test of a true follower of God. Danger to life supersedes almost the entire Torah, and the observance of the commandment of ‘and live through them (Lev. 18:5)’ requires the closing of synagogues. This is what the King of the Universe wants from us and this is the way to worship Him now. It requires hard work on our qualities but that’s exactly the meaning of worshiping God. We don’t worship ourselves – our emotions, habits, spiritual experiences, and holy desires – we worship God, and the way to approach Him is first of all to do what He commands, even if it means missing a tremendous spiritual experience of God’s closeness in Yom Kippur prayers in synagogues.”

A Jewish man praying outdoors, April 12, 2020. / Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Smotrich continued: “In recent days, many people have told me that we must fight for the Jewish values ​​of the state and that it shouldn’t be that only the religious ‘pay the price.’ I agree. We must fight for the Jewish values ​​of the state and therefore we must fight for the sanctity of life. It’s a great and sublime Jewish value. We will raise it to the top of our mast and pray to God in the open air, probably also briefly because of fasting in the heat, with maximum adherence to the instructions of the Ministry of Health.”

He said: “We will take advantage of the complex reality we have encountered and try to make the most of it. We will take the prayer minyanim out to every street corner, together we will call on tens of thousands of Israeli citizens who are not used to attending prayers to join this initiative. It’s nearby and easy. Just outside your building. No one should feel like a guest or a stranger. We will make sure that every woman and man will feel good in these emerging minyanim, we will join forces of customs and ethnicities and concentrate on the unity of all the people of Israel. This alone will increase our merits and make us more deserving of a blessing and a good signature.”

Smotrich related the famous 1909 ruling of Rabbi Israel Salanter, father of the Musar movement in Orthodox Judaism, who, during a cholera pandemic outlawed fasting on Yom Kippur and to reinforce his ruling took to the podium on Yom Kippur morning with wine and cake and made kiddush.

“Thank God, we will not need to eat this Yom Kippur, God forbid, but we will certainly be able to embrace a bit of the virtue of Rabbi Israel Salanter,” Smotrich said.

And unlike certain Interior Ministers who shall remain nameless, MK Smotrich did not condition behaving like rational human beings on leftist demonstrations.


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