The Religious Zionist camp can come up with many reasons why not to join the social protest that suddenly erupted around here. Some of the protest organizers are associated with the radical Left, which seeks to prompt a regime change under social pretexts; some of the protestors charge that the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria is responsible for the difficult state of affairs here; some protests involve desecration of the Shabbat, and so on.
However, it appears that the root of the reservations lies elsewhere, deeper. Members of the Religious Zionist camp and the haredim are used to protesting in favor of fulfilling values such as the Shabbat or the settlements, and less so in favor of “tangible” issues.” In fact, there is almost a sense of shame in taking part in a struggle that conveys a type of misery, especially when the economic situation is relatively good compared to the rest of the world.
Yet that’s not the issue. If we ignore the politicians who are trying to get on the bandwagon, we are dealing with a genuine, honest struggle meant to enable good people who wish to live off their work to do so. This is a battle that seeks, maybe for the first time in years, to determine that the standard of living we were accustomed to in recent years, as result of the norms of the top echelon that we all saw, is corrupt and mostly corruptive.
This is a struggle that more than issuing a political hue and cry against one government or another is crying out for a basic change in the rules of the game of our economic and social life. This is also why it is so unfocused, and this is where both its advantages and drawbacks may lies.
The religious public, as part of the Israeli existence, suffered in its own way. Every parent who sends his children to a high school yeshiva or girls’ seminary is familiar with the huge costs this involves. Those who have to pay for the rent of their children, who just completed their military service and got married at a young age as is customary in religious society, also know that often they the ones who have to support their entire family.
Wouldn’t it be appropriate for this community to take part in the struggle and for its voice to be heard? Doesn’t the “Isaiah Vision” haphtarah we will read this Shabbat urge us to speak up for the weak strata of society that fail in coping with the harshness of life in Israel?
Anyone who wishes to be part of the vision of justice here must be a party to a protest that seeks just life and a more moral division of the burden of life in our country.
The writer heads the Tzohar rabbinical organization and serves as rabbi of Shoham
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