As to be expected, all of the leftists in Israel who get spooked by rabbinical conferences rushed to the podium demanding his head. Certainly, no leftist wanted to be left out as the scramble for votes within the ever shrinking leftist camp is at stake. And it seems that my "Centrist" buddy, Rabbi Harry Maryles is right there with them (kind of makes me think of "When Rabbi Harry Met Rabbi Sally"). And the shark feeding frenzy is on.
Now, I don't actually know what Sar Neeman really said because he spoke in Hebrew and the news media that I follow speak English. But it seems to me a foregone conclusion that he is being taken way out of context. You see, the setting was a conference for Rabbis and rabbinical judges (dayanim) on Jewish monetary laws. And whatever he really said was in relation to Jewish monetary laws and it was being said to Rabbanim and dayanim. It was not a public policy statement even if he is a public official. It was not said to the public.
But, of course, as long as it is not taken as a public policy statement, it is not newsworthy and the anti-religionists (and Centrists) would be lacking crucial misinformation with which to smear the religious in their papers and blogs. And so, they treat it as if it was a public policy statement and, to boot, color it with the most extremist, far-right, fundamentalist hue on the palette. Thus, all the Talkbackers on the JPost edition are petrified that we are going to start stoning adulterous women.
At least one talkbacker had the sense to calm everybody down and ensure the readership that there will be absolutely no stoning for adultery - the penalty for adultery is strangling, not stoning.
Of course, I think it's a good idea to abstain from committing adultery no matter what kind of government we have but I guess old habits are hard to break.
Now, Rabbi Maryles is a bit more learned so he doesn't seem to be concerned about stoning for adultery, but he is concerned about being stoned for Chillul Shabbos. And rightly so, for stoning is the proper punishment for this infraction. He is also obviously concerned about things like mehadrin buses, chas v'shalom, or geirim being required to keep "basic Halacha", chas v'shalom, and he is convinced that in a halachic society, the religious Zionists and the chareidim will not be able to find common ground.
What a pessimist!
I don't want to be too harsh. What Rabbi Maryles seems to be saying is that he himself would like a halachic society - on his terms, of course - but that it is not something that we can implement by force.
This much I can readily accept especially insomuch as (1) it's no chiddush. This is what we are praying for moshiach for and (2) this is not what Sar Neeman meant in any case.
The part that got me about his post was this:
So as much as I believe that the nation of Israel should be guided by Halacha, I also believe that Mr. Neeman’s statement is a foolish pipe dream that will - not only not happen - but will have the effect of alienating the vast majority of its citizens to the point that it could actually threaten the very existence of the state - via a mass exodus of its secular citizens.
First of all, if it will not happen, how can it have any effect? But, moreover, he projects that if it would happen "it could actually threaten the very existence of the state - via a mass exodus of its secular citizens."
Do you hear this? Don't chas v'shalom implement a halachic society because even though we will have observant Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, we might not, chas v'shalom, have a "State"!
Obviously, to Rabbi Maryles, the "State" is more important than Halacha and Judaism.
I don't understand. If the State should remain secular, what do we need a state for? Isn't the State supposed to be "reishit tzmichat geulatenu"? Wasn't the whole Mizrachi rationale for the creation of the state that it will become a halachic state - by their standards at the very least - and we rebuild the Bet HaMikdash, etc., etc., etc.?
Or is "Mizrachi" no different than Herzelian Zionism of "lets be like all the nations"? Let us neglect and abandon our Judaism for the sake of a "State"!
By the way, I have news for him - there has been a mass exodus of its secular citizens for over 60 years. It hasn't done them any good and it hasn't done us any harm. From what's going on now I am convinced that the only thing that will save the state is a mass exodus of its secular citizens, starting with Tzippi and Ehud.
Now let's look at what the Torah says.
My Torah says: Im b'chukosai telchu - If you observe Halacha (I call this One Above), THEN v'yishavtem lavetach b'artzechem - you will dwell peacefully in your land.
If we all keep the mitzvos, we get to stay in peace. State or no State.
BUT - Im b'chukosai timasu - if you will loathe my Halacha (I call this Seven Below), THEN v'eschem ezareh b'amim v'harikosi achareichem cherev - I will scatter you among the nations and empty out behing you the sword.
If we don't keep the mitzvos, we'll have to go at the point of the sword. State or no State. And, if I am reading the winds (and the newspapers) right, Ahmadinijhad, Mashaal and the UN (compliments of Richard Goldstone) are fixing to do just that.
Harry is worried that if there is an Halachic society, the Seven Below who refuse to comply with Halacha and bring upon us keri and galut will make a mass exodus - AND THAT WILL THREATEN THE STATE!!!
The fact that the One Above who keep the mitzvos will be able to stick around and live in peace doesn't seem to impress him.
In my book, getting the Jews to keep the mitzvos, by hook or by crook, is sound advice. This is what G-d says.
But that's not what Rabbi Harry says. He tells us not to even seek to implement an Halachic society so the State will remain intact and all of us can (chas v'shalom) go to galus chased by swords!!
Harry is waiting to welcome us with open arms in West Rogers Park.
My Torah says that an Halachic state is a good idea. And so does Yaacov Neeman's.
But evidently not Rabbi Harry Maryles's.
G-d help us all!