Recently two pleasant Jews appeared in our synagogue in full Braslov Hassidic attire, behavior and code. It seemed that they had just returned from Uman and were still swathed in great joy which they wanted to share with others as well.
Even from the raised women’s section it was impossible to miss the fact that they felt very much at home, walking back and forth in the synagogue and praying with exaggerated hand gesticulations. The good sexton of our synagogue graciously extended various honors to our guests: reciting the blessings over the Torah portion, opening the ark.
But guess what? Strangely enough, as soon as the cantor began to recite the prayer for the State of Israel they both disappeared. And they weren’t around for the prayer for the well-being of IDF soldiers, or for the release of our captured soldiers, either. As we began to return the Torah scrolls to the ark they showed up again, put on their prayer shawls, and the two of them returned to their seats.
Good people stopped me from approaching them at the end of the service and asking them to explain their behavior. One, because I was apt to insult them; and the other, in the name of pluralism – it’s their right to pray for the well-being of the State or not to do so. I went home to contemplate the matter.
And really, what complaints can we have with these two nice young men who just recently become religiously observant, and do not feel any need to pray for our State? Do most rabbinic court judges, who hold the highest religious judicial positions in the world, recite the prayer for the well-being of the State?
Do most rabbinic judges-- who decide the fates of Jewish residents and citizens who enter their courtroom under the authority of the State of Israel-- pray in synagogues in which the prayer for the State is recited on Shabbat morning? Allow me to assume that the answer to this question is no.
The rabbinic judges in Israel take an oath to the State of Israel, but unlike the judges, not to its laws - and this is not an oversight.
The citizenship law has come up for discussion now. I have no doubt that rabbinic court judges, were they asked to do so would refuse to declare their loyalty to the State of Israel with the addition of “Jewish and democratic” or “in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.” And perhaps it’s about time that we understood that rabbinic judges of the State of Israel, who sit by virtue of the authority granted to them by the State and whose decisions are official documents of the State of Israel; do not feel any loyalty to the State.
Let’s not embarrass ourselves with the question of how many rabbinic court judges recite Hallel, with or without a blessing, on Israel Independence Day. The answer is clear. And we won’t embarrass ourselves with the question of how many rabbinic court judges are committed to the values of liberty, justice and equality mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The answer is also clear.
Let’s focus on one simple question: how many rabbinic court judges accept the civil court of the State of Israel as a judicial authority whose decisions are not presumed to be “theft”?
Perhaps an affirmative answer to this simple question needs to be a condition for accepting a person as a potential candidate for a position as a rabbinic court judge. And then, we’re likely to find a new kind of question in the 'Responsa' literature: Is it permissible for a candidate for a rabbinic court judge position to lie and tell the Committee for the Appointment of Rabbinic Court Judges that he accepts the authority of the civilian courts in Israel and does not think that their decisions are presumed to be theft – in order to be appointed as rabbinic judge?
Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic court pleader who works at The Center for Women’s Justice , tel. 02-5664390
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook