Dear Friends of Israel,
Building the new government in Israel took longer than expected. Several things turned out differently for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than he imagined they might. The bond between the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) Party, led by Yair Lapid, and the Beit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) Party, led by Naftali Bennett, turned out to be unbreakable, which left Netanyahu no choice but to include both parties (31 seats) in the coalition government.
How could anyone explain the strong bond between those two parties, which at first glance appear to have quite different goals? Bennet’s Party has been a national-religious party since the founding of Israel, while Lapid’s party is brand new and apparently anti-religious. Yair Lapid has learned from his father’s mistakes, who formerly raised a flag in a radical fight against the religious establishment. That led to his downfall, because those ideas were not well received by the population-at-large.
Therefore, Yair Lapid is not fighting against ultra-orthodox Jews, but rather against their system. In fact, there are two rabbis in his party who are now members of Israel’s parliament, or Knesset. One of them, Dov Lipman, who is ultra-orthodox himself, explained his position in his acceptance speech to the newly elected parliament and explained why he is proud to belong to Yair Lapid’s new party.
Dov Lipman entitled his speech, “There Are Not Two Sides, We’re All Brothers.” He began with his personal family history, detailing how he immigrated to Israel from America eight years ago and came to realize that there was no unity in Israel’s culture, only division. The various groups seemed to only be concerned with their own well-being, with little concern for the well-being of others. When he spoke up for the rights and security of all the citizens in his new hometown of Beth Shemesh, he was cursed, spat upon and had stones thrown at him. He even received death threats. That was all very painful, but what hurt most was that it all came from Jews. He also realized that merging all of them, from secular to ultra-orthodox, was the best way to move forward against those constraints. At joint protests, he called for removal of the barriers that Israelis had built between themselves and instead work together toward common interests. He believed that was the way to improve the collective future of the culture, the state and the people. He was proud to be a member of this new, bold party that recognized it was time to overcome the divisions that characterized Israeli politics and culture.
It was also time to bring back some of the old Jewish values. One of those values is that studying the Torah must be linked to work, as it was for the great students of Judaism. Along with their studies of the Torah, they worked to support themselves and their families, in order not to be dependent on others for their support. Even the Mischna (a part of the Talmud) teaches that any study of the Torah that isn’t linked to an occupation leads to laziness and sin.
By the way, that attitude was one of the principles of the Apostle Paul (see I Thesallonians 2:9). One can hope that those goals will be successfully implemented and thus bring about a real changefor the better in the Israeli culture.
Lipman closed his speech with the hope that the Zionist spirit might return to all Israeli citizens, so that together they could make the State of Israel an example for all the nations in all areas and thus glorify the Name of God.
May these high ideals speak to us as well and cause us to do all we can to heal divisions in order to honor God.
In Him, who gives us the will and the way,