Jan 20, 2014

One Chief Rabbi bill passes in committee

We are well on our way to have just one Chief Rabbui of Israel.

Yesterday the Committee for Legislation approved the bill proposed by Ministers Tzippi Livni and Naftali Bennet and Deputy Minister Eli Ben Dahan to do just that - have just one Chief Rabbi elected.

The law will also separate the rabbinic courts from the chief rabbinate. If the proposal will pass, the head of the beis din will be selected from acting dayanim, similar to how secular Supreme Court Presidents are chosen.

Basically the position of the second Chief Rabbi will still exist just without the name Chief Rabbi and it will be filled from within the batei din rather than by political election.

This aspect of the law proposal is more than just good. As of right now, neither of the Chief Rabbis need to have ever served as a dayan, yet one of them (generally by rotation) is officially the head of the batei din  - sort of like the President of the Supreme Court never having been a judge. And don't think it is only a theoretical problem - Rabbi Metzger, the former Chief Rabbi, had never served as a dayan, yet served as the President of the Batei Din when he was Chief Rabbi.

This law will also apply to city rabbis - cities will no longer elect two chief rabbis, but one.

The law will go to the Knesset for voting, where it is expected to pass easily. This bill has a lot of support.. though not everyone is happy with it. MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) thinks it is a bad bill. He is upset that if an Ashkenazi rabbi will be selected, it will be 10 years the State of Israel will not have a "Rishon lTzion" - which means the ministers, by this law, are breaking a tradition that pre-existed the State of Israel..

I am not sure why this tradition is so important. It is just a title. Just as it can be conferred on the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, in the future it can be conferred on a chief rabbi who is ashkenazi, if that is who will be selected. At a time where through most of Israeli society the division between sephardim and ashkenazim has become very minimal, there really is no longer a need for such division at the top. And, as I have said before, whoever is elected Chief Rabbi will surely be knowledgeable enough to be able to advise on both Ashkenazic and Sephardic customs and laws. One chief rabbi does not mean one custom, one law.

A question I have though is why stop at the Rabbanut? Why do we need 120 members of Knesset - maybe 60 should be enough (or pick a different number)? The number of government ministers has already been cut down, but why stop at 18 - why not cut it to 9? What else could we cut in this fashion?



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9 comments:

  1. What else could we cut in this fashion?

    Blogs. (Not this one, of course.)

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    1. lol.. though cutting blogs doesnt save the government money,,, though maybe it will make people more productive..

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  2. I am not sure why this tradition is so important. It is just a title. Just as it can be conferred on the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, in the future it can be conferred on a chief rabbi who is ashkenazi, if that is who will be selected.

    Excuse me if this sounds racist, but no, it cannot be conferred on an Ashkenazic chief rabbi. Just like you cannot confer the title of "Gerrer Rebbe" on a Sephardic one. Learn the history and the tradition of the title.

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    Replies
    1. that makes sense, if it is a title that is specifically sephardi, rather than just one that happened to be used by sephardim, where's a good place to learn the meaning and history of the title?

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    2. according to that it doesnt seem to be uniquely sephardic. just practically. it wasnt a title used in sephardic countries, only by the rabbi of the jews of jerusalem. that could be an ashkenazi just as well, but it just happened to always be held by sephardim, probably because thats what most of the local population was at the time. I fail to see the problem with an ashkenazi holding that title.
      If it was a title used exclusively in sephardi countries, and emigrated to israel with th jews of those countries, then I would agree with the importance of the title and its uniqueness to the sephardi rav.. but according to that article, this is not the case.

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  3. BTW, I acually think ther eis more reason to keep the sephardi chief rabbi than the ashkenazi chief rabbi. The ashkenazi chief rabbi is not followed or respected (somewhat) by all that many people or groups. the sephardim respect the sephardi chief rabbi much more. It seems to be much more significant to them. I would have no problem with the chief rabbi always being sephardi, though I doubt that can be turned into a law.. though if thats the way the vote always fell, I would be perfectly fine with it (and maybe even prefer it)

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  4. I think it's a bad idea. A) If the chief rabbi needs to be a dayan, then that should be a prerequisite of the candidate, not like now where it isn't.
    The chief rabbi issue of this law is merely a red herring of the dangerous move to move the all the Beit Din under the Ministry of Mishpatim. The Jewish justice system will lose its independence and then come under the authority of people like Tzipi Livni and who knows what ill follow her who could then overturn or fire dayanim at their will. If there is so much 'broken' about the current system, then make it better, don't dilute it.

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    1. as far as I know, the Jewish justice system already does not have independence and is under the Justice Ministry's authority. Their "independence" and authority, as far as I know, is solely to act as arbitrators in financial cases, plus divorce.

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