It’s not so hard to judge someone’s soul to the side of ‘good’.
A little while before Rosh Hashana, Rachel from New York challenged me over in the comments section to ‘walk the walk’, and judge Avigdor Lieberman favorably.
In case you happen to live on planet Mars, Avigdor Lieberman is the Russian-born head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, who is trying to force all chareidim to leave their shtenders, and to serve in the IDF.
Lieberman is so adamant about this, he brought down the last government – and is continuing to sow chaos in Israel politically, by refusing to sit with Bibi Netanyahu in any new government, and also by refusing to sit with the ‘religious’ parties that make up the Knesset’s natural right-wing ‘bloc’.
Because of Lieberman, we’ve already had 2 elections in five months – and no government. And you read it here first, we will be going to third elections, very soon.
So, how to judge Avigdor Lieberman to the side of ‘good’?
It’s a tough challenge, but after doing a fair bit of praying on it, here’s where I’m up to.
The starting point with Rebbe Nachman’s lesson of Azamra is that while we have to clearly state when ACTIONS are bad and evil and anti-Torah and anti-God, that’s very different from saying the ESSENCE of a person is evil. Rav Ofer Erez explains this magnificently, in this video with full English subtitles:
A Jew’s essence, their soul, is only good.
But what happens? All these klipot, all these external forces of evil come along to confuse and trip us up, and then before long you have people who are committing the worst sins in the world, but who are still telling themselves that they are doing ‘the right thing’, and that this is just how it has to be.
Let’s take a look at Lieberman, to see how that’s playing out.
Lieberman lacks emuna, and he doesn’t believe that God is running the world and controlling everything and everyone.
If he had more emuna, he would know that the best defense for the land of Israel is for all of the Jews who live here to wholeheartedly return to God, and to start doing what God wants, i.e. living a Torah-observant lifestyle.
But poor guy, he doesn’t know that.
He never went to cheder, he never went to yeshiva, he grew up in the Soviet Union where religion and God were anathema, and then he moved to Israel and started moving in political circles where religion and God are still anathema.
A guy like Lieberman, he wakes up every morning, and what does he see?
He sees Hamas with rockets in Gaza. And Hezbollah with rockets in Lebanon. And Syria trying to build a nuclear reactor on the Northern border. And Iran trying to complete their nuclear reactors, so they can nuke Israel, God forbid, over in the Gulf – and he’s totally petrified by the idea that some mad mullah can flip a switch, and boom!!! No more Israel.
Because Lieberman doesn’t have God in the picture, what does he think can help to solve this awful problem, this terrible danger to the Jewish state?
In his mind, Israel can only be defended against all these threats by a strong army.
In Lieberman’s mind, if the country fills up with pacifist frummers who only want to learn Torah and don’t want to serve in the army – then Israel will be finished.
Before we continue, I challenge you, dear reader, to take a long, hard look in the mirror and to ask yourself if you also believe that the IDF is what is really protecting Israel.
Because if the answer is ‘yes’, that means you and Lieberman are essentially on the same page.
Now, people with emuna know that God is protecting Israel, and that this country gets open miracles morning, noon and night.
People with emuna know that people like Rabbi Berland, and the late Baba Elazar, z’tl, and all the other big rabbis, tzaddikim and kabbalists, are working around the clock to keep ‘sweetening’ the spiritual judgments that manifest as terrorists, rockets and nukes, God forbid.
People with emuna are aware that it’s the Jewish people’s own sins that is causing us our terrible security problems with our neighbors, and that if we would return to God and His Torah, the whole Iranian nuke issue will fizzle like a sparkler in a shower.
Lieberman doesn’t have emuna.
So, according to his incorrect paradigm of what’s going on here, unless he can find a way to ‘force’ all the peacenik yeshiva bochurs into the army, sooner or later, he believes the army will collapse and the State of Israel will be destroyed or overrun by our enemies, God forbid.
Because of that belief, he has now apparently declared an all-out war against religion, or what he calls a ‘halachic state’, where Torah law would be pre-eminent.
Is this ‘good’ or ‘right’? No, it’s totally evil.
Why is he doing it?
Because he has very little emuna, doesn’t believe in God, and believes that superior force, and targeted killings, and all the other super-evil stuff that’s being done in the name of ‘security’ here and elsewhere, is the only way to protect the Jewish state.
(Lieberman’s Wikipedia entry makes very interesting reading. In many ways, you could argue he’s consistently acted as one of Israel’s more principled politicians, including severing ties with the corrupt Mossad, back in 2011. I also found this, which certainly muddies the waters on his views of ‘organized religion’ in Israel, too:
While his party is sometimes described by the news media as doctrinally secular and aiming to reduce the role of the rabbinical system in government, it actually supports the continuation of the role of Orthodox rabbinical courts, but wants more nationally minded religious people, rather than the ultra-orthodox, in charge. It does not advocate introducing civil marriage within Israeli law, but rather to find a solution to some of those who cannot marry under such laws. It does not advocate a separation of religion and state in Israeli society.
So now, we circle back to the message of the ‘whoever finds fault‘ post, because Lieberman isn’t the only one who think that ‘chareidim’ are bad, and wrecking the economy, and need to be forced to serve in the army.
There are a whole bunch of ostensibly ‘religious’ Jews both here and abroad who also totally lack emuna, and believe the same thing, too.
Just they are less vitriolic (and probably, also less honest….) about expressing it. They think it’s fine for a few yeshiva bochurs to carry on learning, but they clearly would prefer most Moshes to put down their gemara and pick up their uzis, and to become truly productive citizens of Israel.
Honestly? It’s much, much harder for me to judge them favorably, because you’d think that surely they should know better than some Russian guy who never went to cheder and who grew up under atheist, communist rule….
But I digress.
So, let’s sum up where we’ve got to:
Lieberman’s ACTIONS of going after the Torah world, and trying to ‘secularise’ Israel are clearly wrong, bad and evil.
Lieberman’s MOTIVATIONS are confused and mixed-up, but at least conceivably could stem from a genuine concern that if Torah observant Jews don’t serve in the IDF and ‘contribute economically’ to Israel, the Jewish State will either be destroyed, conquered or collapsed.
So that’s how we can judge the ESSENCE of Lieberman to the side of merit, even though his actions are clearly evil and atrocious.
Ahead of Yom Kippur, it’s a really good idea to practice this Azamra thing as much as possible, because however we judge others, that is how God will judge us.
We’re all doing things wrong ALL THE TIME.
We hurt people, we step on them, we selfishly put ourselves first, we look down our noses at other Jews, and act holier-than-thou. We act like pigs, so very much of the time.
BUT OUR ESSENCE IS GOOD.
And the more we make an effort to see that in others, the more we’ll uncover that true goodness in ourselves, too, and rescue our souls (and everyone else’s….) from the klipot.
You might also like this article: