Shas put up a fervent fight in the recent coalition negotiations, and United Torah Judaism was also closer than ever to a Livni-led government. So what is the Halachic (Jewish law) stance on women in public office?
Yaakov Ariel, chief rabbi of the city of Ramat Gan, was asked about this issue prior to the November 11 municipal elections, and said that if the female candidate supports Torah-related issues more than a male candidate, she must be elected.
Rabbi Ariel, one of the senior rabbis in the Religious-Zionist sector, is also known for his dealings with the religious determination of issues pertaining to state and religion.
In the questions and answers (Rabbinical discussion) portion of the Yeshiva website’s “Ask the Rabbi,” one of the surfers asked, “Is it acceptable to support a secular woman with a religious deputy if she is interested and willing to assist the religious despite the fact that there is a religious (male) candidate for mayor who has no chances and no one trusts that he will do what is needed?”
The inquirer explained that “what can happen if we don’t support her and her party is that someone who hates religious people will win and if she is chosen for mayor and another party is chosen and not her party, she will be mayor without the religious. Therefore, she will invest less time in the religious sector. Is it acceptable to choose a woman?”
In his answer, Rabbi Ariel wrote that it is hard to answer without knowing the conditions, but added that in principle, “if choosing a woman will advance Torah-related issues more so than if a man is chosen, a woman is preferable.”
He explained that “the rabbis preferred Queen Shlomzion over her husband Yannai (King of Judea from 103 BCE to 76 BCE).”