(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ever since Election Day, public attention has focused on whether the new government will finally end the anomaly whereby most haredi men neither work nor do army service. But the spotlight on the haredim has obscured the equally significant crossroads now facing another community: Will religious Zionism finally emerge from the haredi world’s shadow? Religious Zionism has long suffered from an inferiority complex toward the haredim. On numerous religious issues that affect the functioning of the state, from conversion to shmita (the rules governing agriculture during the sabbatical year), religious Zionist rabbis have been afraid to confront their haredi counterparts head-on and boldly push their own halachic interpretations. Instead, the community has repeatedly sat back and let the secular High Court of Justice decide such issues. This was a declaration of religious bankruptcy: We can’t compete on the religious field, it said; we can prevail only in a nonreligious arena.