Saturday, February 9, 2013

Is Bennett A Symbol of the Waning Power of Rabbis in RZ?

Yair Etinger, has written an excellent and erudite article about the frantic pressure being applied by Haredi leadership on religious zionist rabbis, to get them to pressure the Jewish Home party not to go hand in hand with Yesh Atid's plan for enlisting Haredim a.k.a "sharing the burden of army service".

There is one comment I would like to focus on. In the article Etinger claims that Bennett's leadership of the Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) is a sign of the waning power of rabbis in Religious Zionism (RZ). In NRG Roee Sharon seems to think so too, though he interprets Bennett's rise as the new found domination of liberal Religious Zionism.

 I can only guess that those who see Bennett as a newfound independance from rabbinic leadership are basing their views on Bennett himself  not  being "very" frum. However, in all honesty we know very little of Bennett's religious beliefs. Not being very frummy is no indication that Bennett will not listen to pushy rabbis. I know plenty of people who may not be the most observant of Jews, but who still consider a particular rabbi to be the final word in any discussion.

I have often argued that the claims of far-right rabbinic leadership in the RZ community are overstated. To put it mildly in the few instances where its been put to the test, it has failed miserably. As a case in point,  there were next to no instances of religious soldiers refusing to follow orders during the disengagement  despite months where rabbis were calling on their yeshiva students to do so.

It will be interesting to see how the coming few weeks play out. Will the Jewish Home abandon their evolving relationship with Lapid's Yesh Atid? Will there be a showdown between the Jewish Home and prominent RZ rabbis? Will there be an emerging schism between liberal RZ rabbis and  more hard-line rabbis? Will the Jewish Home itself split between its two parties (Mafdal and Tekuma)?

Interestingly some of the municipal level politicians of the Jewish Home have already written to the RZ rabbis who have been meeting with their Haredi counterparts, and politely asked them to butt out. Mk Uri Ariel, who is an MK from the Tekuma (Hardalnik party) part of the Jewish Home has also recently stated that the rabbis do not decide things in the Jewish Home, but his party member MK Rabbi Ben-Dahan recently said the opposite. Harav Yuval Cherlow has also written an interesting answer to this question.


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