Yair Lapid's Strange Choice

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Prior to the election, newly appointed Education Minister Shai Piron, a rabbi in the settlement of Oranit, sat on the dais and declared to the cameras that he would have voted for Habayit Hayehudi if he were not on Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid's ticket. And so, in honor of the Passover seder – which literally means "order" – we must bring some order to the spin which turned civic-oriented election results into settler-oriented results. One of the signs of the seder is the Pironism embodied in the commandment "lo tehanem" ("Don't let the Gentiles on the ground").

The "Piron-lo-tehanem" affair led to no end of excuses. But a non-truth is not a truth. And contrary to what some claim, Piron's ruling was not a "theoretical" halakhic discussion of religious law, nor an examination of viewpoints. It was a practical religious ruling for a specific person in Haifa, who asked whether he was allowed to sell an apartment to an Arab. Piron's reply was thundering: No. It is forbidden. Absolutely. Lo tehanem.

Even beyond the ethical disaster of this ruling and its historical significance – that a nation persecuted out of racism, and to whom the sale of houses was forbidden, would turn around and do the very same thing – even beyond that, it is illegal and violates the law against incitement to racism.

The fact that the attorney general did not sic the law on rabbis who follow Dov Lior and Shmuel Eliyahu does not change the law. One cannot purify oneself of incitement and a framework for committing crimes of hatred and racism by murmuring about "kiruv levavot" – drawing their hearts closer – without a revolutionary halakhic change. Supporting incitement to racism cannot be an option.

The order "lo tehanem" is central to the rabbis of the generation. There are three interpretations of this commandment: One may not praise the Gentiles; one may not give them a place to live; and one may not pardon them.

They are not empty words. Of all the first-grade Jewish children in Piron's education system, 52.5 percent are sent to religious and ultra-Orthodox schools. And almost all receive this kind of extreme education. Now even in the flagship system, the state religious track, an order has been given to separate boys and girls after third grade. Separation is the basis for prejudice. There is no separate but equal.

Here too everything comes from halakha. According to the Shulhan Arukh, the authoritative codex of Jewish law, the worst of all sins – that which leads to all other sins – is not racist murder but the spilling of seed in vain. All the demons and destructive forces in the world are created by the spilling of Jewish seed. Once again, this is no hypothetical situation. All the popular midnight prayer sessions, tikkun chatzot, came to correct this one sin.

In the same way, Yair Lapid's plan for a draft at the age of 18 was also Judaized with the embrace of his new "brothers." Girls, it seems, are exempt because of the aforementioned halakhic view on spilled seed. Some 2,000 people a year will be funded for their entire lives, creating a community hundreds of thousands strong. A draft age of 21-22, as is common in the country's reigning Mercaz Harav messianic yeshiva, will intensify the pressure for early marriage so couples can secure the "married+1" salary in the "draft."

For the minority who enlist in the army, women will be kept at even further a distance – this, by the way, includes the head of the Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate – because of the chance of spilled seed and demons.

Yes, Lapid and his Yesh Atid party have good intentions. The winds of change they bring are genuine. But intentions are not enough.

Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who similarly rode a wave of desire for civic normalcy with "one nation, one draft," refrained from a civic government, left the Housing Ministry "for the interim" in the hands of the settler Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, thought that he was "repairing" the ultra-Orthodox Shas party by distancing Aryeh Deri, and wanted to prove that he didn't despise the religious.

He too paid the price for his mistake. Anyone who turns his back on his political base and abandons the donkey he rode in on has to return to the tower on foot.

U.S. President Barack Obama's speech proved the strangeness of Lapid's choice. His supporters voted for him, the man who plays the guitar and listens to the Beatles, not for a rabbi, a settler and a racist. Why should someone who could be seen as the Israeli Obama, who favors normalcy and freedom from settlements and racism, why would he want to be the brother-servant of racism and Pironism?

Anyone who seeks to bring change only causes harm with mutterings about "kiruv levavot." The religious community must undergo a revolutionary change in the principles of faith, a revolution that will uproot their racism. Anything less is not enough. The countries in the region have learned: In religion, religious law will always reign supreme.

And the secular community? Their duty is to keep their eyes open. If they continue to let themselves be fooled by honeyed words and an embrace, their dreams will surely disappear.

Education Minister Shay PironCredit: Michal Fattal

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