Nov 18, 2013

Law for one Chief Rabbi passes legislative committee hurdle

The idea of a single Chief Rabbi is closer to becoming a reality...

this morning the Legislative Committee of the Knesset approved the draft of the bill to change the Chief Rabbinate to a system of a single Chief Rabbi.

The bill, submitted by MKs Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beyteynu), Aliza Lavi (Yesh Atid) and Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) was passed in committee and now must be prepared for Knesset voting.

The backers of the bill praised the committee for passing it, saying that this is a message of unity and an exodus from the divisive exile... hopefully the decision will influence the next generation of rabbis to be significant to everyone.

MK Feiglin added that this is what he went to the Knesset for - to disconnect from the exile. Just like there is one president and one prime minister, the time has arrived for one chief rabbi.

MK Lipman added that the polarization starts at the top and trickles down to the entire nation. This law is an important step in coming to full unity of the people...

I asked MK Lipman about some of the reasons people oppose this reform. His answer was basically that today the rabbonim (my comment: at least the high level rabbonim) all know both minhag ashkenaz and minhag sefard and the differences in psak and therefore how to apply psak and decisions to each relevant questioner and situation. Having two chief rabbis simply creates a level of polarization that trickles down to everybody.

The next level should be, I think, something similar to what Rav Dovid Bar Chaim of Machon Shilo advocates - one minhag, and one psak, for all based on minhag Eretz Yisrael. The differences between our psak, between Sefard and Ashkenaz, and between the sub-societies of both sefardim and ashkenazim, also come from the long exile and the influences of the different societies we lived in. Living together back in Eretz Yisrael, perhaps it is time, or nearing the time, for us to move to Minhag Eretz Yisrael instead of Minhag Polin, Minhag Hungary, Minhag Belz, Minhag Gur, Minhag Morocco, Minhag Yemen, Minhag Iraq, Minhag Satmar, Minhag Chabad, etc.

Then again, considering the arrest today of Rabbi Metzger, former Chief Rabbi, perhaps it is time to entirely do away with the Chief Rabbinate. Recently the Chief Rabbis, both the individuals and the campaigns for the positions have brought little, if any, respect to the Jewish people...


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28 comments:

  1. A few observations:

    Dov Lipman did not answer your question (or you did not report it). He gave you a reason why we don't need two Chief Rabbis, i.e., a response to someone who opposes his bill. But he couldn't articulate the other side of the issue (or he could, and you didn't include it).

    What makes you think there was ever a single set of minhagim? As I understand it, there were originally 12 different minhagim, one each for the different shvatim. Minhag EY is (AFAIK) strongly based on Sfardi minhagim, which also developed in galus. So it's just picking one part of the galus over another.

    The arrest of Rav Metzger is no more an argument for doing away with the Chief Rabbinate than the arrest and conviction of Moshe Katzav is for getting rid of the presidency. It is an argument in favor of better screening and more checks and balances.

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    1. maybe I was misunderstood. I didnt ask Lipman why some people oppose it. I asked him how he would respond to some of the opposition (with reasons for opposition that I mentioned to him). He did not answer specifically each point of opposition that I mentioned, but he left it at the polarization being solved by one chief rabbi

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  2. I fully agree that the next stage should be that we act halachically as Jews living in Eretz Yisrael as
    Rabbi David Bar-Hayim proffers and not split halachic decision-making based on divisions created by our long, bitter Exile.

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  3. i agree that there should be one minhag here (mine).

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    1. That seems to be Rav Bar-Hayim's position as well.

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    2. really? he thinks that everyone should follow my minhag? wow, i never knew.

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  4. Yama, Minhag EY is based on the Geonim who lived in Israel, and the Talmud Yerushalmi. It's not based on Sephardic Minhag from the Galuth.

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  5. Even within Minhag EY there is not just "one minhag". There was the Minhag of the Galil, the minhag of Jerusalem, the Minhag of Ashkelon etc.

    But Minhagim have to be based on the location in which you live, and not the location that one of your grandfathers came from.

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  6. Does anyone REALLY believe that just because we became Ashkenazim and Sefaradim after our expulsion from Eretz Yisrael by the Romans that we must forever more remain in these galuth-induced categories? And if not, then now seems to be as good a time as any to start moving in the direction of Eretz Yisraeli Torah. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim is right on target!

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  7. mk margi (shas) said that having one chief rabbi will only increase ethnic tension, not bring people together. if a sefardi wins the seat, the askenazim will all be angry and feel discriminated against. tov, not the sharpest pencil in the box, i agree. maybe in his world, a world in which degel hatorah feels that shas "stole" the education division in jerusalem, maybe that makes sense.

    having said that, what is this rush to have a single minhag? why not let things develop over time? does anyone expect the askenazim to start eating rice on pesach because "sole chief rabbi abulafiya (or whoever) says they should?

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  8. you are all going off topic.
    does having 2 chief rabbis (with offices salaries assistance etc.) have anything to do with minhagim that people keep or not?
    even so, usually 1 chief rabbi acts as the head of the rabbinic court (for both sefardim and ashkenazim - and teimanin ethiopians)
    and the 2nd chief rabbi is in charge of the rabbanut hechsher and other jobs (which also does not make any difference what the minhag of the presiding rabbi is)
    does anybody rely on the chief rabbinate to decide for them whether to daven nusach ashkenaz or eidut hamizrach?

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  9. While it is true that there has been a strong effort in the past and present to completely destroy any integrity that the Chief Rabbi of Israel has, is that really the way we want things to be?

    If someone is actually, a bonafide gadol hador, then he should be the Chief Rabbi of Israel, and not someone locked up behind his askanim.

    The fact that they keep purposefully voting for thier own favorite patzi, doesn't mean we should allow it to continue. By having a single chief rabbi, they won't be able to do that anymore. They won't be able to trade votes.

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    1. Are you crazy? I have no doubt that this law will backfire in the faces of Lavi and Lipman as well as Feiglin, and especially the Bayit Hayehudi that is once again being led by a leash. Next elections, one Haredi rabbi will be voted in. I assure you this. In the past elections, the 'Haredi' rabbis still had the majority of votes. Keeping two rabbis makes perfect sense and represents the two main minhagim worldwide. While I do want mashiach now to unite the traditions, there is no rush to force it through artificially, and most rabbis still do not absolve 'minhag avoteinu' when someone comes with an issue, and do not advise people to pick and choose.

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    3. Josh, if your analysis was correct, the Haredi rabbis would not be screaming that this is going to cause division rather than unity.

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    4. it will cause fighting about who will get the job, the yahadut hatorah boy or the shas boy, something which the two parties want to avoid as they already fight enough (see jerusalem coaliton talks). the party that looses will probably be pissed off.

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    5. In the last vote, 60 voted for the haredi rabbi, and 40 for the dati-leumi rabbi. When there is only 1 chief rabbi, 30 will vote for the ashkenazi haredi, 30 will vote for the sefardi haredi, (because they will not have made deals to vote for eachother's rabbi) and 40 will vote for the dati-leumi rabbi. Although in actuality, both the sephardi and haredi voters will make deals with the dati-leumi voters to pick a rabbi they agree on.

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    6. actually given that the law doesn't go into effect until 2023, ten years from now, the chances of it actually happening are (IMO) quite slim. between now and then will be at least 3 governments. the chareidim could easily demand to restore both offices and the likud or labor will give in on this one in a heart beat.

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  10. nobody (that I know of) is talking about creating one minhag, except for Rav Bar Chaim. It was my suggestion in the post, but I said that should maybe be the next level.
    the issue of the chief rabbi has nothing to do with creating minhagim. Th eissue of minhagim is just one that follows the same logic of those proposing the one chief rabbi law - for the same reason we should have one chief rabbi we should also have one set of minhagim. Though I d not think minhagim can really be legislated.

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    1. True that Rav Bar-Hayim is the visionary who initiates and is vocal about these ideas but there are other rabbis who sympathize and support from the sidelines. It should be noted that Rav Bar-Hayim's colleague Rav Yehoshua Buch is a big scholar as is Rav Bar-Hayim and also follows the same line.

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    2. i really, but really, don't get the desire for one minhag. forget whether or not it will happen, who wants everyone to be the same? people argue about minhagim? so teach people toleration, respect, humility.

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  11. Having two chief rabbis is great! It certainly takes pressure off the position that otherwise one chief would have to take by himself, and certainly if he is forced to be younger than 70. The money saved is peanuts. Just think about now if we had only one of the current rabbis. Would we be better off? Would Rav Stav have been voted in? Certainly not on both counts. Having two rabbis reduces tensions and does spread the work around. While I do not want the current rabbis to become facebook stars, I think they definitely need to work on PR, not for personal reasons, but for the position and the work that is entailed. They both work really hard but most of the public, especially the religious, are not aware of the real work they do, and instead we merely think they travel around ceremonially and do nothing like the president.
    There could be a significant win if the Religions ministry would take part in increasing the prestige of the rabanut, but we can only remember Rav Dahan's public disappointment with the elections and public support of the unification of titles.

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  12. Here is a video by Rav Bar-Hayim which condemns the in-fighting and factionalism in the Torah world in the context of the elections which took place recently for the Chief Rabbinate:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOpKIbf60k0

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  13. Shalom. I believe to know rav Bar Chayyim quite well and I believe that by supporting one chief rabbi he is not in the slightest suggesting that there should be one minhag. Rather, his believe is that the Jewish world is neither politically nor halachically to be divided into two. If you wish you can devide it in in 6 or 7 but not necessarily two!
    One of the results of an exaggeretad fixation on (only) the Shulchan Aruch when establishing halacha (MECHABER or RAMA) and pretend that the Shulchan Aruch is the last word, creates that the Jewish world is really just seen as split into two which makes no sence. There are many "eda" regions (Italy, Yemen, Some communities in India and Western Europe (that are not even well represented in the shulchan aruch. One chief Rabbi (which according to the Rav is still a compromise, because the RABBANUT HARASHIT is far from being a sanhedrin, and (I say this with care but still do: the rabbanut be better abolished) Jews cannot be simplified into two groups, And Finally for JOSH: Heavy weight on 1 chief Rabbi? So why not have two Obama's and two Netanyahu's? Look in Parshat Yitro to answer my rhetorical question
    Shavua tov

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