14 February 2017

Feiglin's Failed Ideas

18 Shevat 5777

Although I do not doubt that Moshe Feiglin has good intentions, I do very much doubt his good judgment. After years and years of disregarding calls by supporters to build a new party to rival the Likud for right-wing votes, he finally put together a platform and a team and called it Zehut - Identity.

If HKB"H has not given up on us, we can hope that it will go the way of everything else with Feiglin's stamp on it. 

Quoting a party representative...

"...Zehut is completely against religious coercion. It is not the duty of the state to get involved in its citizens religious observance. That is against Bechirah (free choice) which is a major tenet of our Torah."

One wonders if the person who made this statement has ever read the Torah, much less studied it, because nothing could be further from the truth!

This party claims to promote Jewish identity, but there is no Jewish identity outside the framework of the Torah's coercive "religious" laws.

What do you think? I'll open up comments for discussion.

  1. I am a founding member of Zehut and followed Feiglin and Manhigut for many years before that.

    This is a misunderstanding of who Feiglin is or what Zehut's goals are. He wants to just about dismantle the predatory, and I may add (as you very well know and point out yourself on MANY times), extremely anti-Torah state. You think it's better to remake that same state in some sort of Torah-true image. You are wrong. The first step is to slay the beast. Not try to tame it.

    In any case, you misunderstand his views on Jewish observance, and I think you should contact Zehut directly for a more nuanced response on the subject. I could give over my recollection of a response I heard from Moshe himself years ago on a question directed to him asking why he was against state-mandated closure of a fully privatized El Al (as one example).

    Why don't you come to the convention this 28/2? I'm going to be there, and so will lots of other people.

    By the way, here is a nearly direct quote on Moshe's views on the state (and why he is against coercive legislation that stems from it) from a speech he delivered last November.

    "People don’t understand that concept here in Israel. They think the state are their fathers and mothers. The concept that the state comes instead of the family is a communist…ultra-leftist…concept. In the Stalin regime the child that gave away his parents to the gulags was a hero. This is what we’re talking about. A state that comes instead of the family. We’re talking about taking the power from the state and giving it back to the community, and to the family. And we’re talking about doing that in all spheres. In education. In the economy. In any kind of family circle, giving back authority to the family, and to the man of the house."

    Taking the authority from the state and giving it back to the family. That actually sounds pretty Torah-true to me. Far more than any of the speech of any other politician in Israel. Are you even familiar with his positions besides statements (not positions mind just, mere statements) perhaps even taken out of context? He wants to end the draft! That's a type of coercion, by the way. He says the charedim can teach their (my) kids any way they like. Another type of coercion he wants to get rid of. There are many other things he wants to do that are like that.


    1. I was also there in the very beginning and I gave Moshe Feiglin the benefit of the doubt. I wanted very much to believe that someone would bring us an alternative to the existing structure.

      However, I soon realized that it was not enough to just bring an alternative. Going to the other extreme is just as detrimental in its own way. Only ONE governmental structure is suited to Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and that is the one mandated by the Creator Himself as instructed in our Holy Torah.

      Part of the problem seems to be an assimilation of western thought that the Torah is a "religious" document and that all matters relegated to "religion" must be separated out of the public domain and left to individual conscience. That works for Jews living under gentile domination in chu"l, but it does not conform to Torah instructions for sovereign Jews in Eretz Yisrael.

      There is Torah and there is everything else. You rightly say, "You think it's better to remake that same state in some sort of Torah-true image." Absolutely! We had a Temple and a fundtioning Torah government for over 1000 years. There is no reason we can't have it again today. We only lack the national will.

      Moshe likes the train analogy so I'll employ it here. Why would I get off the Destination A train to get on the Destination B train when my actual destination is C?
  2. I recently helped put this interview of Moshe Feiglin by Vox Day.


    Here's another statement of his that addresses what he sees as the problem. He wants to encourage the development of a culture that fosters interest in Torah and observance, not mandated using the blunt force of the state.

    VD: You're often described as being liberty-minded, even as a libertarian. What does that mean in a historically socialist state such as Israel?

    MF: That's exactly the point! The social concepts that were the basic roadmap of Israel's founders in 1948, in the three first decades of Israel, those concepts are not Jewish concepts. With all due respect to the kibbutz and all the socialists' ideas, these are not Jewish ideas. The basic Jewish ideas are freedom and liberty. There is also the frame of the Jewish values of mercy, and taking care of each other, and responsibility to society, but these should not be state regulations. They should be more of a national culture that has to be developed in the community. We know that in states that are more free and more capitalist, the situation of the poor is much better than in socialist states. So, there is no contradiction between freedom and humanity.


    1. "He wants to encourage the development of a culture that fosters interest in Torah and observance, not mandated using the blunt force of the state."

      In other words, he'd like to see Western culture here. Because, again, this is what we see in modern western culture, where individuals are wooed by other individuals to follow different religions and it is left up to the individual to decide for himself.

      Under these conditions, anti-missionary laws would be illegal. No wonder the messianics are all planning to attend your conference.

      Let me tell you seomthing, Mr. Shimshon. It is a blessing that a communist/socialist model was followed here until the Torah could prevail because it is an obvious evil. Had Israel followed the Western-American model (a la "Libertarian" Zehut) from the beginning, the Jews would feel themselves already in messianic times with no need to be delivered!
  3. I cannot find comments he made years ago about this online. It made sense to me then and resonates with me now. If I remember the gist of what he said it was something like this: Although I certainly want a government that is Torah observant, it will not force Jews to obey any laws, it is incumbent upon them to do so on their own. However, the government will not facilitate anything non halachic. Citizens, using their free will, choose to move towards Hashem or away, but will not be coerced to move towards and will not be helped to move away. In other words, give every opportunity to help and give no opportunity to hurt.

    Until we have Moshiach, this seems to be a big step forwards from what we have now. I may be a dreamer, but I feel that the majority of traditional Jews in Israel would move towards God in this instance.


    1. "...it will not force Jews to obey any laws, it is incumbent upon them to do so on their own."

      So, don't want to follow the speed limit, don't see any reason to pay taxes, don't feel like getting my car inspected, that's ok, because Moshe Feiglin's government doesn't intend to enforce the laws?

      Oh, wait! Do you mean only "religious" laws? Like Shabbat and Yom Tov closure laws? And minimum standard of kashrut laws? And like the aforementioned anti-missionary laws? Etc.

      It seems to me that you are saying this proposed system is even somehow superior to the Torah being the law of the land.

      You can't improve on the Torah. It is God-given. The Creator knows His creations better than we know ourselves. There is always going to be coercion and enforcement of laws. Society requires it because people cannot always be depended upon to do the right thing by choice. The only question is whose laws will prevail?

      This does not depend on Mashiach. It worked for 1000 years without Mashiach. It can work now, unless people's heads are being turned with such things as Zehut!
    2. "Oh, wait! Do you mean only "religious" laws? Like Shabbat and Yom Tov closure laws? And minimum standard of kashrut laws? And like the aforementioned anti-missionary laws? Etc."

      No, you are getting the wrong concept. Yes for Shabbat and Yom Tov laws, Kashrut, anti-missionary! No for beating down someone's door to make sure that that are keeping Shabbat. There is a big difference.
    3. The Torah never mandated such a thing. In fact, it states clearly that things done publicly are the responsibility of the public and things done privately are for God. Therefore, no Torah government would be sending inspectors to private homes to determine what goes on behind closed doors.
    4. Then we are in agreement. You are just stating it in much more harsh terms that the general public will have a big problem accepting. But we are saying the same thing.
  4. Anonymous14/2/17 3:38 PM
    The governement definitely should stay out of the individual's free will to do what they want. However, the jewish courts (some day the sanhedrin) are obligated to enforce jewish law in the country. So, the fact that feiglin wants to keep the governement out of ruling on halachic matters is wonderful. Just as long as he makes sure to have the our Torah leaders take control of all religious matters.

    The original me


    1. "...free will to do what they want."

      Can you tell me where is this idea is found in the Torah? This idea of free will to do what you want is enshrined int he US Declaration of Independence, but it's unheard of in Torah-true Judaism.

      The Torah tells us we have the choice to obey or disobey. Obedience to the laws of the Torah brings life and blessing, whereas disobedience brings with it the very grave consequences of death and curse.

      You see, ever since our original choice to accept the Torah at Har Sinai (with a mountain hanging over our heads), the only "free-will choice" that remains to us is this - we can reach our destination by the short, easy path or the long, hard road. That's it.
    2. ""...free will to do what they want.""

      "Can you tell me where is this idea is found in the Torah?"

      You answer your own question right here..

      "The Torah tells us we have the choice to obey or disobey..."
      "You see, ever since our original choice to accept the Torah at Har Sinai..."

      Everyone has a choice to do what they want. And accept the consequences of course. But the governemtn should not be allowed to tell us we don't have the right to choose for ourselves. What the government should do instead, is obligate the Torah leaders of the generation to establish Jewish courts to enforce Torah laws (and punishments if someone made a bad choice). The government must be run according to Torah but does not have the authority to enforce Torah laws. Only our Rabbis can do that.

      the original me
    3. The Torah knows no concept of separation of synagogue and state.
  5. I completely agree with the above comments. I think it is very presumptuous - and dangerous - to believe that we, in our current pre-messianic state - and without Moshiach to guide us - and enforce religious observance from the political plane.

    To my mind, the highest function of enlightened politics at this stage would be to support individual and communal initiatives to foster Torah values, Torah learning and Torah institutions on the ground, to support Jewish settlement of every inch of the Land of Israel in every possible way, and to represent ourselves/interact with the world, diplomatically, militarily, etc. in accordance with the Torah's very clear positions on these things.

    Speaking just of Feiglin and Zehut - as grateful as I am for Moshe's clarity and integrity, I do have a problem with them - and that is, that they acting solely (or primarily) within the political sphere. Waiting, in fact, for a large enough groundswell of support to be able to take political leadership.

    It seems crystal clear to me (although I don't think they agree) that Moshe's insights and talents would be most powerfully used HERE and NOW in a daily online broadcast in Hebrew and English, of his take on problems and solutions in the ongoingly unfolding context of political events within and outside of Israel. It would be easy from that platform for him to be a credible and regular guest on all kinds of Israeli and foreign media as well.

    Moshe's biggest strength, as far as I can see, is his ability to see the fatal flaws in current leadership and direction, to the point where he is almost prophetic in understanding how things will unfold.

    His biggest weakness is that he is more or less hanging back behind the scenes waiting for some kind of magic awakening with him at it's head, rather than serve as a consistent and powerful beacon of light that will attract that following bit by bit, on the ground, starting here and now.
  6. That's a lot baseless of assumptions, Mrs. Devorah. It's wrong to assume he wants to allow missionary activity. On what basis do you claim he does? The only things I've read on the subject has been deeply critical of it. You need to do much more research. He is not a libertarian of the large L variety, and his political views are not in variance with Torah. There is no contradiction between broad political stances and specific policy decisions.
  7. Free will. In other words "choose life." Hashem wants us to do exactly that. It's the subtext of everything in the Torah.
  8. Anonymous14/2/17 5:03 PM
    Ahh, comments again... Ja.
    Yeah yeah, identity; what is an identity when you flood nations with other nations and massive 3rd world immigration and dilute the people? Shame to even talk and Let them discuss that but until then, they should be quiet.
  9. Anonymous14/2/17 5:37 PM
    How's that religious police working out in the ultra Orthodox community? If you think mashiach is going to come and then a group is going to go around the country forcing people with sticks and threats you're mistaken. You are rooted in gevurah and maybe that's how you would like to see it but I doubt that religious laws are going to enforced by a Jewish Taliban.


    1. Mashiach will rule the same way his father David did.
  10. Whoops. I was writing on my phone, and I see now I misstated. I meant to say that I think his political stances are NOT AT ODDS with the Torah. Please post this clarification.

    By the way, I have spoken personally with Moshe about returning to the silver shekel as legal money. I believe this is something he is interested in pursuing. We'll find out soon enough, as Zehut will be publishing a 100 page platform outlining its goals in detail (even in English!). False (dishonest) money is one of the (if not THE) foundations for all the sheker in the world today. You might even call the silver shekel...Torah money.

    And, technically, if such were to be done via legal tender laws, that would indeed be...coercion. Towards a more Torah-infused government. "Coercion" is not a standard. It's a word with a certain meaning to Israelis. It's not what you think it means.

    There is too much to like to keep posting negativity based on assumptions and cursory reading. Please reconsider.


    1. It means the same thing in every language - being forced by law to do something (or abstain from something) you do or don't want to do that you think should be left to individual choice and conscience.

      In Israel, the biggest issue is with marriage. Of all things, whom one chooses to marry should be a private matter unencumbered by legal restrictions of any kind or so say the democrats and the libertarians. But, that's not Judaism.

      In a Jewish country, we all have a say in the matter because 1) we are all guarantors one for another and we all signed onto the deal called The Torah which puts restrictions on certain relationships with the force of law, and 2) we have an obligation to safeguard the future by ensuring that Jewish children are protected from being born into these forbidden relationships.