Chief Rabbis Election Creates Israeli Tower of Babel
let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.—Genesis 11:7
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A fake society can't create anything but a fake sense of unity; after its incomplete foundation, the State of Israel created the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which is defined by law as the Halakhic (Jewish law, parallel to Muslim Sharia) authority for the Jewish people in Israel. The institution is in charge of personal status issues, like marriages, divorces, burials, conversion to Judaism and other more esoteric issues like kosher certification. The institution is divided into Ashkenazi and Sephardic sections. This division was imposed by the secular authorities of the State of Israel and is the source of the urban legends abounding on the topic. It is impossible to divide Judaism only in these two categories. Mountain Jews, Yemenite Jews, Iraqi Jews belong to their own liturgical groups. In the Netherlands, there is a large concentration of Sephardic Jews (the Haredi professor described in The Cross of Bethlehem was born to such parents); most persons with the surname "Ashkenazi" are of Moroccan ancestry. There is a clear division between European and Russian congregations. Yet, the State divided the complex situation according to the two leading liturgical traditions. By mixing different traditions, it unwillingly reenacted the Tower of Babel: "let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech"—Genesis 11:7. Congregations were later on assigned to one of the two rabbinate's sections according to a geographical reasoning. To their astonishment, Yemenites and Mountain Jews found themselves classified as Sephardic ("Spaniards" in Hebrew) while they are utterly disinterested to know even where Spain is. Cyprus is not too shabby for their vacations. In all synagogues, services are conducted in Hebrew, but intonations and chanting vary. Yet, humanists invariably claim to possess the ultimate truth; please don't argue with them because they are violent. The State of Israel divides in two because it wants to, it is easier for them to run the country; that's it.
The State's actions were the basis for the current situation. Recently, a rabbi accused of bribery was appointed Head of Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, a rabbi laid down the religious basis for an attack on Syria, and for a while, Israel's Sports Ministry acquired authority for nominating rabbis. That is not all, I described other atrocities in Monster Rabbi and other articles. In fact, Israel's religious authorities are subjugated to a secular organization, the Ministry of Religious Services. As a consequence, rabbis are tempted to ignore moral behavior; after all, humanists judge events according to other rules based on financial considerations; in their eyes, "good" and "evil" are nonsense. Until now, the division forced by the State was accepted, leading more or less to rotational occupation of the posts by leading Haredi rabbis; their political parties were invariably part of the government. In 2013, things changed.
This is an unprecedented event. The election of Chief Rabbis is not a public event; it takes place within the secretive corridors of the Ministry and the Rabbinate. Yet, in the first days of February 2013, a public campaign is promoting Rabbi Stav, one of the founders of Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikva, to be nominated as Chief Rabbi. "Yeshivat Hesder" is a generic name for religious colleges that combine Talmudic studies with military service in the army; they belong to the Nationalistic Religious framework. Most religious Jews are exempted from military service; this was one of the main topics leading to the recent elections. Thus, they want to recruit the secular voice (the majority) to support a "militaristic-rabbi" to the post of Chief Rabbi. Until now, both posts (Ashkenazi and Sephardic) were occupied exclusively by ultra-Orthodox Haredi rabbis. Accordingly, an organization called "Secular Headquarters for the Election of Rabbi Stav" was created and is led by Eran Rols. The scene is surrealistic. On February 2, he said to Channel 7, "You must understand, the Haredim lead seculars away from the rabbinical world. I am sorry to say that Zionist rabbis live within their own ghettos, and do not understand that the secular public must be encouraged to take part in the election of Chief Rabbis." Rabbi Stav claims not to be involved in this initiative.
There can be neither compromise nor solution to this conflict. Simply, no state can impose religion upon its citizens, this is a private issue between each one of them and God. Israel is trying to impose not only this, but also the specific worshipping ways allowed to every person. It tries to impose the way one will be received into this world (including forcing mutilations), the way one will marry and with whom, and the way one should be buried. These are not roles of the State. After more than sixty years, the Nationalistic Religious segment of the Israeli society finally understood this and is reacting. The Tower of Babel is set to fall.
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