After living in Israel for a while you begin to take for granted some of the incredible uniqueness living in a Jewish homeland provides a proud observant Jew.
One such example is if a politician were to extoll the virtues of observing Shabbat. I surely no longer flinch when a politician goes as far as to say the Shabbat is “an organic entity reflecting centuries of thought and experience. It is not an arbitrary contrivance…I constantly seek the wisdom of Shabbat practices, and I’m rarely disappointed by what I find.”
I certainly would not bat an eyelash when that same politician praises the Jewish day of rest because “entering Shabbat is like stepping into a different world defined not by geographical boundaries but by faith, tradition and spirituality.”
And there is no doubt that I would not think twice about that politician quoting the great Israeli writer Ahad Ha’am
, who famously said “more than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”
However, in this case of the Shabbat-loving politician, one should perhaps indeed flinch, bat the eyelid and be ready to think and think again!
The quotes, part of a “love song to Shabbat”, came NOT from an Israeli politician but, in fact, from former United States senator and vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman
in his book “The Gift of Rest”
But this only made it far more disheartening when I saw things far more insidious with regard to Shabbat and Israeli politics.
Leading up to today’s election very little has been taboo as the seemingly endless list of parties vie for seats in the 19th Knesset. The right has attacked the left, the left has attacked the right, and even the left has gone after the left while the right has hammered the right! One would think nothing would seem out of bounds.
But it appears that when it comes to the left-wing of Israeli political society, sanctity and respect is but a mirage.
It is no coincidence that these events occurred on Friday night. The Shabbat attacks had Gimpel up in arms. “Gimpel said he was particularly upset that the report that maligned him was broadcast on Friday night when he could not immediately react due to Shabbat….There was also Shabbat attacks on Bennet. He said that every Friday night during the election season different parties have taken shots at HaBayit HaYehudi…‘Its dirty politics and people are sick and tired of it,’ Gimpel said.
So if you are an Israeli on your way to the polling station today please ask yourself if you would like to give more power to parties that show less reverence for the sanctity of Shabbat than a US Senator?!
Do you want parties in power who employ tactics that more closely resemble the Arab attack on Yom Kippur in ''73 than anything resembling Jewish values in the slightest?!
Perhaps a final lesson from Senator Joe is in order. Lieberman explains in his introduction that “the Exodus led to the revelation at Sinai in which the commandment to remember and guard the Sabbath is given. And with the law came the responsibility each of us has to become G-d’s partners in shaping, improving, and ultimately perfecting human history.”
Votes for people like Yoel Hasson and Tzipi Livini will do nothing in the way of honoring that responsibility. So if you were considering casting your ballot for Hatenuah or its ilk today perhaps you should take a page out of Lieberman’s book instead and embrace a day of rest instead.