Hanukah: Torah Vs. Democracy

With the struggle between the Jews and Hellenists in full-swing, no holiday could be more relevant than the holiday of Chanukah. But there is a difference this time around. During the time of the Macabees, it was the Greeks who set down evil decrees against Torah, while the Hellenists served as mere collaborators.

Today it is an entirely different story. First of all, it is Jewish Supreme Court that has arisen and begun to enact legislation against Torah in a frantic effort to forcefully transform the Jewish People to Hebrew-speaking gentiles. They attempt to accomplish this by laying down the following ground rules: The choseness of the Jewish People and all other Halacha that discriminates between Jew and gentile is “racism”, for it opposes the basic democratic principle of equality for all men, regardless of race, creed, color, or religion. (Even the abolition of the Law of Return is in their sights.) In addition, any religious legislation can be rejected because it negates the basic democratic principle of the “individual’s right to freedom”. But most importantly, the Hellenists of today are demanding that democracy take precedence over everything, including the Halacha. By use of these seemingly harmless axioms, the State of Israel is eradicating from itself all Jewish content. In these “progressive” times, there are not even”Jews”, only “Israelis”.

The implicatins are quite serious. No longer can we say: “Well, they are “tinokot shenishbu” (like children who are totally unaware or ignorant of their Jewish heritage). In the meantime, we’ll sit and learn Torah and gather in strength and numbers until the day comes when we can change the situation and make Torah the law of the land.” Those days are over, because the Hellenists are not waiting. They are very actively exerting all their influence to establish democracy as the law of the land and ultimate value of society, banning anyone who does not succumb to them 100%. Already they forcibly prohibit us from learning “forbidden” sections of Torah. Fact: a rabbi sits in jail today on the charge of racism for a Halachic essay he wrote. Rabbis are being investigated daily and soon will be jailed under suspicion that they had the “audacity” to tell their students not to follow orders which negate Torah law (and let us not even mention what will be the fate of those who actually carry out the rabbis words). Yes, we are at the climax of a cultural war. It is “us” or “them”.

This is the first time in history that the Jews themselves have laid down decrees against Halacha! And it is not relevant if it is against the entire Torah, ten Halachot, or even one Halacha!

What are the rabbis doing? The buzz word these days is “unity”. Fortunately for us, the Hellenists aren’t interested. They fully understand that before there is any reconciliation, there must be a framework of common ground from which to work. And if that basis is not the unequivocal committment to democracy – (i.e. that it supercedes the Halacha) then there will be no reconciliation. And so they continue to lead the rabbis into tiny investigation rooms, hoping to squeeze out of them some quote from the Talmud by Rav Ashi, in order to strong-arm them: Unity? Solidarity? No problem! As long as we dictate the rules. Take the pig and say it: Democracy over Halacha!

Obviously, no rabbi will accept this. We must realize that the game is over. We can no longer evade the contadiction of Jewishness and Democracy that the State of Israel was schizophrenically based upon. There is an unbridgable gap, for it is a conflict whereby the entire premise of each philosophy totally contradict one another. The rabbis have a mighty mission ahead. It is incumbent upon each and every one of them to get up and declare: In the same way that Jews rebuffed the harsh edicts of the Greeks and Romans, and Rabbi Akiva was even skinned alive for this principle, so too must we stand in defiance when Israeli democracy decides that certain parts of Torah cannot be learned.

These are days of religious persecution (“shaat shmad”), and we must cling to the path of Rabbi Akiva – to openly learn and teach all the forbidden laws and to proclaim unequicoally that we will disobey any law that forces us to transgress the Torah. Because Torah supersedes Democracy.

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