Nov 11, 2008

Why I do not feel obligated to vote UTJ

In the comments of a recent post, I was asked the following question:

Now I can understand the people out there who take absolutely no heed of the Rabbanim or Gedolim on any issues, why should they start now by the elections? But I know both of you guys to be G-d fearing jews. Doesn't HaRav Steinman even move you by 1%??? So many Rabbanim and Gedolim have instructed to vote for Abutbul. And you yourself aren't that against it either. You just prefer Lerner. Why wouldn't you want to make a Kiddush Hashem and be mekayem a mitzva of listening to the Gedolim to boot?
(Don't answer that RCM supports them all cos we all know his approach is closer to abstaining than to endorsing everyone!)
I am not writing to try to recruit votes for Abutbul. I am just genuinely baffled.

The following is my answer:

I am not a talmid of Rav Steinman, and to me he is just as much a gadol as the Gerrer Rebbe who says to vote Lerner.
I am following Rav Malinowitz's opinion, that if I was a talmid of Rav Steinman I would be obligated to listen to him. Since I am not, as a matter of fact he has never said two words to me nor I to him, I am not obligated to listen. Rav Malinowitz's "psak" was for his kehilla that we are intelligent enough to make our own decision.

Being that I can make my own decision, you ask why I do not conduct myself like Rav Steinman says to? I say why choose him? Why not choose the Gerrer Rebbe?

I did not make my decision based on the Gerrer Rebbe's opinion, but I see no reason to choose Rav Steinman's opinion over his.

So I ask you, and I do not know who you are and maybe you are a talmid of Rav Steinman, but assuming you are not, why do you choose to follow him?

Another point I would make is that UTJ MK Moshe Gafni has said numerous times that his goal is to protect and fight for the yeshivas. Once a person leaves yeshiva, there are others he can turn to (he said it at least once in response to a question why he did not support a bill that would have helped haredi baalei batim with lower taxes - though I do not remember the details of the bill, and I heard him say it in regards to other things as well - another example had to do with post-yeshiva Haredim in the army) for that help. Degel's job is to help the yeshivas, that's it. Once you leave yeshiva, you are lower priority for Degel.

That is perfectly legitimate in my opinion. They want to prioritize their work for one specific sector.

No problem. But don't expect me to automatically vote for you. I am not in yeshiva anymore. Unfortunately perhaps, but that is the reality. I find supporting yeshivas to be a very great endeavor. But I am not in yeshiva. I work for a living and have a [large] family, and I have personal concerns, and communal concerns that for me take priority over yeshivas.

So if Gafni says he does not need to work for me, then I have no need to follow him, and vote according to his wishes..

Oh yeah, one more thing - did you know that Greenberg is Gafni's parliamentary assistant? Did you know that Montag is his nephew? Do you really think the gedolim choose (as if they were actually involved in the process) the best reps for the haredi public or perhaps they just choose those that are the best connected?
Not that they are bad reps. Perhaps they have become great reps.

another thing, look at Beitar as an example.
the degel branch there recently had internal voting to decide who would be higher up on the list and get the Deputy Mayor position. The two candidates were a guy named Yossi Shitreet, and a guy named Yitzchak Ravitz. Yes, Ravitz is the son of the Degel MK.

Turns out Ravitz surprisingly lost to Shitreet, and MK Ravitz is fighting to get Shitreet thrown otu because Degel is an Ashkenazy party and a sfardi shold not be there. He should be in Shas.

So as long as he was just a voter, and a shlepper, it was ok for him to be in Degel. As soon as he beat out the "son of" for the paying job in city hall, then all of the sudden there is no room for him.

I dont know if Ravitz won, or will win, his fight or not, but even if he loses it, he will just move his son to another city where he can put him at the head of Degel there.

Degel HaTorah is a family business. I am not family, so I do not feel beholden to them.

I have no problem with Degel being a family business. I just feel no obligation to vote for them. If I do vote for them, it is because they earned it. And because it is a family business, I do not consider it a mitzva of any sort to vote for them or for their recommendation for mayor.

If I feel like voting for them because I like certain things they do, I will vote for them. If not, not. If I wish to follow their recommendation for mayor, I will. If not, not. I am open to them just as I am open to every other party, as per my needs and concerns.

If I need to buy something, and there are two stores that sell it. For whatever reason I ask my rav which store I should go to. He tells me one of them. I find out that his wife or son-in-law own that store. So is it a mitzva to shop there now. I think because the store is owned by his relative, it is no longer a mitzva, and the psak is tainted with conflict of interest. I might still choose to buy the item there, because perhaps they give better service, or maybe they sell it with a bigger smile, or they'll give me a discount or whatever other reason there might be. But it will not be a mitzva. This is how I look at the relationship between Degel and the rabbonim.

Another thing - Do you know how many stories I have heard of Haredi baalei Batim who can't get their kids into schools? Do Gimmel people help? no. often, and I am aware of cases, where it is the gimmel askanim who were the cause for them being rejected, claiming they are not frum enough.

Now those same askanim have the chutzpah to call these people and demand that they vote gimmel.

So again - if I want to vote Gimmel because I admire their work and think they do important stuff, more so than other parties, I will vote for them. If not, not. I will not vote for them just because of social obligations, or because I am bullied into it. if I vote for them it is because I want to.
And the same goes for mayor. i will choose for whom I want to vote. I feel beholden to nobody, and I have no need to listen to anybody else's opinion on who I should vote for. Nobody has a right to demand my vote. Tell me your guy's qualities and platform, and maybe I will be convinced. But nobody has a right to demand my vote.


  1. "Feeling the pain of my friend on TOV"November 11, 2008 7:05 AM

    Thank you for finally writing in clear English that which "everyone thinks but is afraid to say".
    I am a supporter of TOV.
    I know all the people involved with TOV.
    And I know their intentions and their goals.

    They are dedicated people who come from our neighborhood and who care passionately about everyone in our neighborhood.
    All they want to do is HELP PEOPLE and give the PEOPLE A VOICE.
    I know them well, and they all have Rabbonim that they talk to daily. Some of their Rabbonim might even be labeled as being from the Gimmel camp. But that doesn't matter to them. They are machshiv the rabbonim and their opinions.

    The personal and cutting ads from Gimmel have hurt them and their families. Think about what a child thinks when he sees a letter from Rabbonim against his father, when he knows all his father is trying to do is help people. Was that child considered before ads were printed?

    Each member of TOV has been told by multiple Rabbonim to stop the campaign and to go away. With almost no reason given except, "that you have to support Gimmel".

    Gimmel, by its own accord, is the party of the Rabbonim and they are the representatives of the Rabbonim. That is a fine and holy task. They worry about the mosdot and many of the "ruchnius" issues that come up in politics. And with those issues they do a pretty good job.
    But they do not, by their own admission, represent the people. And that's their right.
    They are, in a way, are asking us to DONATE our votes to them.
    Some tzedakos ask for money, GIMMEL is asking for your vote.
    If you are willing to donate your say for the next five years to them,
    then vote Gimmel. (But make sure to ask for a receipt)

    But, if you support the work of Gimmel, but you want to have your voice heard about some things that go on in this city
    or you feel there are other issues that Gimmel does not deal with at all, that need to be dealt with,
    then you have a right to vote TOV.

  2. Outstanding Post.

    Ari Enkin

  3. Kol hakavod to Rav Malinowitz in his battle against the daas toyrah terrorists!

    Lerner for mayor!

  4. Rav Malinowitz clearly understands that a lot of the gimmel people are engaging in daas torah terrorism.

    Baruch Hashem Rav Malinowitz is showing us a derech of frum normalcy.

  5. Folks, did anyone bother to read the flyer describing what Rav Shteinman said? There is not a word in there implying that you cannot vote for any party other than Gimmel. The only thing he said is that it's a chillul Hashem to vote for a party that's not shomer torah umitzvos. So, folks, you can rest easy knowing that your vote, whether it be for Gimmel, Tov, Beyachad, Chen or Shas, is not going to land you in the fires of Gehinnom.

    To their credit, at least Gimmel didn't directly put words in the Rav's mouth - but from their pamphlets, they extrapolate wildly; they would have you believe that the Rav said that voting for anyone other than Gimmel is itself a Chillul Hashem. Sheker vahevel! They heard only what they wanted to hear, and they are now twisting the Rav's words to suit their political agenda and support their general smear campaign.


    R. Shteinman said,
    Chillul Hashem which is worse than "Avoida zoro"(sic) to vote for a party without direct rabbinical guidance (=control) (implied: Tov)?

    Who is making the chillul Hashem here?

    What happened to the days when the rabbonim were also democratically elected?

  7. Rafi,
    Greatly appreciate your post. It helped me to clarify the positions involved.
    Although I tend to agree with you, it would seem to me that Rav Malinowitz (whom I respect deeply) here is taking issue with the basic tenet of Israeli Haredi ideology: that there are the "Gedolim" whom we must all listen to. I myself haven't found too much support for this (it would seem that the Sefer HaHinuch says this is not the case these days), but this is the reality.
    To divorce oneself from this view is truly to say you are not an "Israeli Haredi" (or, in the words of Gimmel, a "Haredi" at all). So, it would make sense that they don't want to accept you into their schools, etc, since you have been Kofer BeIkar as far as they are concerned (or, perpetrated a Chillul HaShem)
    So, just please be aware that by relying on the words and the Psak of Rav Malinowitz, you are effectively being Poresh from the "Haredi" Tzibur, at least as they understand it
    P.S.: People should not try to be MeDayek on Rav Steinman's words: it is clearer than can be that he came to Beit Shemesh to prevent people from voting for Tov, especially since he mentioned the "Daas Torah" in his words

  8. Anon 11:48:

    "People should not try to be MeDayek on Rav Steinman's words: it is clearer than can be that he came to Beit Shemesh to prevent people from voting for Tov, especially since he mentioned the "Daas Torah" in his words"

    What nonsense is that - we shouldn't be m'dayek in his words?! Are you saying we should simply trust the Good Fellows of Gimmel to explain to us what the Rav really meant? How do you know that the Rav was told anything about the existence of Tov bichlal? Maybe he was asked about people voting for Likud, Labor or other non-religious parties? That's exactly what askanim like Gimmel specialize in: they form a protective ring around the "Gedolim", filtering information coming in, and interpreting and editorializing information coming out, so that the average man in the street is fed exactly what the askanim - not the gedolim - want them to be fed.

  9. Shaul:
    1. Rav Steinman's personal Gabbaim came to the Aseifa at Kehilas Yaakov earlier this week and spoke with Rav Goldstein, et al about the situation (Yes, I saw them)
    2. Rav Kornfeld claims he has personally spoken to Rav Steinman a number of times about the elections, so you would be accusing also him of misleading Rav Steinman
    Is it really that hard for you to fathom that Rav Steinman is opposed to Tov? (Almost) all of the other Haredi Rabbonim in RBS have said it is a Hillul Hashem to vote for them.

  10. HaRav Malinowitz does not stand alone in his opposition to daas torah terrorism. Other haredi rabbis share his views but don't feel like creating machloket so they are silent.

    The Piacezna Rebbe, for example has remained silent and is not tkaing an official position-but clearly he is against the daas torah insanity.

  11. I can't understand how certain otherwise normal Bais Tefillah types would go with anybody but Lerner-isn't it clear that Rav Malinowitz just isn't looking for machloket but he leans towards Lerner?

    Baruch Hashem that Rav Malinowitz opposes daas torah terrorism.

  12. The only Chiullul Hashem going on here is how the "Torah-true" Party is invlolved in sinas chinam and motzei shem ra agaionst erlich Yidden, and justify it because of daas torah. They deserve to lose your vote just for their nasty middos. Where there is machlokes and sinas chinam, there is no Emes, and hopefully people will see through that and not be intimidated.

  13. Rafi, Excellent post but you are too gracious.

    Let me more direct.

    The G stands for Goat Raisins.

    Unfortunsately the entire Israeli Haredi world justifies much of the attacks that are found in such places as failed messiah and UOJ.

    It is very sad for me personally since I do consider myself a 'Torah true Jew' and care very much about the Kovod of the TOrah and when then people who are percieved as it's representatives come across as such mindles, and yes G-dless morons there is no greater Hilul Hashem than that.

    Kiddush Hashem is when Shem SHomayim is Misahev al Yodcha - when the rest of the world can see the "Shem Hashem Nikra Alecha"

    Today there is nothign but Goat Raisins on the forehead of many Haredim. No thought.

    Just blind following the people who have hijacked the TOrah and replaced with GOat Raisins.

  14. Faigie Fastag-GrunbergNovember 11, 2008 8:44 PM

    Rafi -
    Great post! I wish you would have been able to post this all over BS/RBS.
    Now I am eager to read the rest of your blog posts, but must return to work. Just wanted to give you a pat on the back for putting some very valid points and thought down on paper.



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