It was a truly modern-day miracle to see the debate regarding democracy vis-à-vis Torah law picking up steam and reaching the verge of explosion precisely in Hanukkah. So what is really more important for us? Which of these two values will prevail at the last moment? At the end of the day, I don’t think that the Greek invention will be chosen.
I am not a devout follower of Jewish law, and I never followed a rabbi formally; however, in my view any group of Zionist rabbis is preferable to any group of politicians that includes Ehud Barak. Who do I appreciate more? Who do I believe in and believe to? Who do I trust? Which side asks itself less often what can it personally gain from its decisions?
Rabbis also ask themselves this question, of course. I have no doubt that Rabbi Melamed also asked himself, and provided an answer. However, they ask it less often, and their answers are much much better than any answer Barak came up with in the past, and apparently this time as well.
When it comes to all the parameters for selecting proper leadership, I prefer the Zionist rabbis, with all their diverse views and opinions, over the deceptive leaderships of modern-day politicians.
It’s truly been a unique Chanukah experience to see the media storm over the question of hesder yeshivas. The Barak-Melamed conundrum in and of itself is not the most interesting issue here, the fascinating secular panic over these questions is less intriguing than a look into the religious sector, where we are also seeing certain panic.
Religious politicians, hesder yeshiva rabbis, religious writers, and regular folk who get into a conversation with colleagues are quick to allay the tensions: “We’re against insubordination, we condemn insubordination, we reject insubordination,” as well as “Rabbi Melamed is an anomaly, he does not represent us.” However, it’s impossible not to add “we’ll be supporting him” because…well, why? Oh, yeah, “freedom of speech and thought.”
And what a pity that is. What a pity that religious Zionists do not yet have the courage to put on the table, in the clearest way possible, the real discussion. The question of Torah law versus democracy. The issue of “rabbi versus commander.” Too bad that we continue to blur this question. Too bad that we keep on muttering that “in the army obviously the commander rules.” Why obviously? Why should we lie?
I, who as noted am not a Torah law follower, do not view a military commander as an unquestionable figure of authority. I certainly don’t view any politicians that way, and even democracy is not a sanctified value in my view in any shape or form. Democracy is a means. Is this a proper means in my view? At times. If this is my attitude to Torah law, why can’t I view democracy that way?
And if I have to choose, there is no chance in the world I would choose democracy over Torah law, or commanders over rabbis, or Barak over Rabbi Melamed.