What's at stake for chareidim in Israel's upcoming elections?
The 40 political parties who fielded slates in the November 1 Israeli election should be envious of the high turnout, and loyalty that chareidi voters show to chareidi parties, even as most voters yawn from election fatigue. Turnout in Tuesday’s fifth election since March 2020 will be critical in determining whether Israel can break its paralyzing political impasse, and for the chareidim, the results will go a long way in shaping how its many needs will be met
The Central Bureau of Statistics made a splash with its semi-annual census just before Rosh Hashanah showing that Israel’s Jewish population had surpassed the seven million mark. Simultaneously, the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, Israel’s only think tank with an exclusive focus on chareidi society, reported that chareidim now comprise 1.3 million souls — or 18.5% of the Jewish population.
Some one million chareidim heave reached voting age, yet Israel’s two chareidi parties have never garnered more than 627,290 votes in any previous election — a number that fell precipitously to 564,399 in the last election.
If all one million chareidim voted, and voted for chareidi parties, they could garner close to 30 seats instead of the current 16. What’s preventing chareidi demographic clout from being transformed into greater political power? What considerations — religious, ideological, and financial — are pulling chareidi voters in different directions? Next week’s election — the nation’s fifth in less than three years — could define whether chareidi society flourishes or flounders in the years ahead.
ost Israeli voters hope and pray that the November 1 election will produce a conclusive answer as to whether Binyamin Netanyahu gets one more chance to lead, or if his time has come to get out of the way.
While the election is a matter of political life or death for Bibi, it is equally critical for the Knesset’s two chareidi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ). Both parties have faithfully cast their lot with Bibi and his center-right Likud Party, only to end up as political castaways, marginalized in the opposition for the last 18 months, while a left-wing government took dead aim at everything sacred to them.
Led by Naftali Bennett, and followed up by Yair Lapid, the government has watered down the status quo on Shabbos, kashrus, and conversions. The Ministry of Finance, wrapped up in Avigdor Lieberman’s bear hug, targeted chareidim for budget cuts for everything from day care to public transportation, and imposed higher taxes on goods consumed disproportionately by chareidi families, such as disposable cutlery and soft drinks.
“Getting a seat at the table” has become popular political parlance, and in a parliamentary democracy, the opposition gets no seats at the cabinet table, which is Israel’s center of power. The Likud’s decision to boycott Knesset committees to protest how Bennett and Lapid wrested power harmed chareidi interests as well. Shas and UTJ adhered to the boycott, out of loyalty to Bibi, but when you don’t even have a seat at committee hearings, you have surrendered any influence you might have over legislative debate.
One might argue that the Bennett-Lapid government was so short-lived that it was all worth the sacrifice, but for the chareidim, going outside was taking one step closer to irrelevance. Simply put, chareidim represent a rapidly growing constituency, and one with many unmet needs, mainly financial. Politicians and media hostile to or ignorant of the chareidi way of life view the community as a convenient target for all of society’s ailments.
No Israeli has been immune to global trends, including supply chain shortages due to the Covid pandemic. Inflation is far tamer in Israel than it is in the US and the UK, but rising interest rates are taking a big bite out of household income for a significant percentage of families who hold adjustable-rate mortgages. Any downward blips in the economy will hit chareidi families harder, with its larger average family size and monthly income that averages at least one-third less than most non-chareidi Jewish families.
The cost of the living has become a central component of the chareidi election campaign. Shas’s main campaign message is Re’evim l’shinui, “hungry for change.” UTJ’s message is “Your life is dear to you” (Yekarim lecha), with the word yekarim also meaning expensive.
Campaign slogans are meant to be catchy, but after four consecutive elections in which the Likud has been unable to form a stable coalition, and politicians from all streams have switched allegiances, leaving their campaign trails strewn with broken promises, the Israeli electorate has turned cynical, chareidim included.
“No one believes anything anyone says, because after what happened last year, parties can promise anything and then do what they want,” says Yaakov Izak, manager of strategy and media at the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, which specializes in research, strategic planning, and development to promote the welfare of chareidi society in Israel.
The November 1 election campaign has been downright lethargic. Part of the reason is that both the summer vacation and the chagim interrupted the campaign season. But there is no ignoring election fatigue.
“There’s a sense of ‘enough already’ that brings with it a sense of danger,” Izak said, even though the stakes are high. “We can’t afford to fail this time and have another government like the one that exists now, or have the current paralysis continue and be followed by yet another election. No chareidi wants that, irrespective of whether he is satisfied with his party or not.”
Four elections in two years are also not conducive to stability or long-term planning. Chareidim may have celebrated the current government’s passage of the budget, but for chareidim, it’s nothing they can rest their laurels on.
“Most of the money that the chareidim get is not anchored in the budget, and we need to ask for it each year,” says Meir Hirshman, a senior fellow at the Haredi Institute and a sought-after commentator on chareidi political and social affairs. “This is a tremendous failure, and we need to draft a long-term strategy to change this.”
The two factions that comprise UTJ — Degel HaTorah and Agudas Yisrael — avoided a split that could have cost them the seven Knesset seats they currently hold, but there is no guarantee the careful balance of power they agreed to will garner them enough votes to win a coveted eighth seat, or even retain the ones they hold.
UTJ enters these elections with a new party head, Yitzchak Goldknopf, a Gerrer chassid and political newcomer, thanks to the rotation agreement between the two factions. Former party leader Moshe Gafni will hold down the number two spot, although Goldknopf is expected to lean heavily on Gafni’s guidance, considering his 30-year tenure in the Knesset.
Shas enters next week’s election with a firmer hold on its nine seats, and Aryeh Deri has returned from a brief political exile to head the party’s Knesset slate once again.
We will be much wiser once all the votes are in and counted, but to get a better idea of what’s exactly at stake for chareidim in next week’s elections, we interviewed the Haredi Institute’s Yaakov Izak and Meir Hirshman at length. Both are sought-after political analysts with long track records inside the halls of power. Each of them shared their views, frankly and in-depth.
Defining the Chareidi Collective
Yaakov Izak — manager of strategy and media at the Haredi Institute
Izak served as spokesman to MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman for 13 years and doubled as a media adviser to Nir Barkat during his term as mayor of Jerusalem. A graduate of Yeshivas Karlin, Izak studied communications at the Israel Academic College (Michlala) in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, and he also worked for ten years in leading advertising agencies.
We focused on the pre-election period and the prevailing mood in the chareidi community to help understand what makes them tick or tick them off, and what UTJ hopes to gain by staying together, even if they got banged and bruised a bit in the process.
In the United States, people “vote with their pocketbooks,” based on whether or not they feel they are better off financially on Election Day compared to the previous election. Is there a corresponding concept in the chareidi community, or is the chareidi vote an expression of loyalty to the cause?
“In general, almost across the board, most chareidi voters do not vote for a specific issue or person. They vote based on ideology, or values — ‘arachim’ in chareidi jargon. The media refers to this as the ‘chareidi collective,’ which to us means following the will of gedolei Yisrael and that it’s a mitzvah or even a zechus to vote, but it’s more than that.”
How would you define the “chareidi collective”?
“Those are issues of mutual interest, like the Jewish character of the state, maintaining tradition on Shabbos and the Kosel, and conversion. These are of deep concern to 80 percent, or even more, of the chareidi public. Eighty percent of chareidim will vote for the chareidi parties no matter what.”
Isn’t 80 percent low, considering that the gedolim forbid chareidim from voting for secular parties?
“Eighty percent is high compared to other parties. There is no other party that has a lock on 80 percent of its voters. The role of gedolei Yisrael is very important, but the chareidi public today wants to be spoken to. It’s not enough to tell them it’s a mitzvah and a religious duty.
“The chareidi community today consists of mature, knowledgeable voters who demand more from their public representatives. The party’s mission is to prove to the voters that they don’t take them for granted, because of the rabbanim, or because of the chareidi collective.”
How do these expectations reach the ears of the chareidi MKs, and how responsive are they?
“First of all, the chareidi public today ‘meets itself’ a lot — in yeshivos, in kollelim, and there is a lot of dialogue elsewhere. There are WhatsApp groups in the chareidi community, mainly for younger people. Some are on social media, and this can’t be ignored. All this can be filtered and kosher. I hardly know a chareidi person who has unfiltered media access.
“Based on my experience as an aide to Rabbi Litzman, chareidi politicians are very involved in the field and keep their ears to the ground. They have teams of assistants, which include women. The chareidi MKs are very much part of the tzibbur, compared to other parties, and meet face-to-face with their public, including on matters of personal concern. The chareidi MK is accessible in shul and other public places. People call them, even in the middle of the night, making requests and sometimes shouting at them.”
Despite this, we have heard reports that chareidi voters feel they don’t get payback from the politicians, and some even say they failed. What is your opinion?
“First of all, we need to tell the truth: There is no way to please all the people all of the time. This applies to both the general public and the chareidi public. It’s hard to take a big sector, of more than a million people, with all of the different communities we have, and make them all happy.
“That said, there are very large communities that are unhappy for several other reasons. Some have become more zealous, like the Peleg Yerushalmi, which until a few years ago was part of UTJ. They number tens of thousands of people, and today they don’t vote, for reasons of their own. That’s their right, and the right of every community to decide. There are Bohush chassidim [a branch of Ruzhin] and the Bohusher Rebbe who decided that they are not going to vote. There are other such groups. There is erosion on both ends, but the center has remained loyal to the chareidi parties and the gedolim.”
There is also the segment of chareidim who feel the chareidi parties haven’t been forceful enough on security issues or matters relating to yishuv Eretz Yisrael and who lean toward voting for the Religious Zionists.
“Not only for those reasons, but it also comes from the feeling that some groups don’t feel represented. Sometimes we discern a decline because there’s anger or bitterness, but we can’t control that. I will say that the chareidi public certainly does not maximize its potential. We always get seven seats, with a chance for eight. We could get to ten seats if all the chareidim sitting on the fence voted, and I’m not even including the groups I mentioned above who won’t vote because they follow what their rebbeim tell them.”
UTJ almost unraveled due to controversy over the core curriculum and the dispute over the party leadership. Will these arguments prove to be their undoing?
“In UTJ, the arguments between the two factions are what I would call ‘hereditary,’ in general. Before every election there are arguments, because the party is comprised of two factions, but the day-to-day cooperation between Agudas Yisrael and Degel HaTorah is perfectly fine. I was a parliamentary aide for 11 years during the stormiest times between Agudah and Degel, but Rabbi Gafni and Rabbi Litzman worked together in harmony. But when elections come, the questions always arise as to who takes what slot on the party lists, who gets which job, who is first, and who is second. This time it erupted a bit more, and it almost caused a real rift and split in the chareidi community, but it all worked out in the end.”
The controversy about Belz offering the state-sponsored “liba” core curriculum [English, math, and citizenship] is not going away. Will that threaten party unity down the road?
“It goes like this. The Belz chassidus presented an argument that they wanted equal terms on funding for their yeshivos [on par with what Chinuch Atzmai and Sephardi yeshivos run by the Shas system receive]. One compromise would have been for them to enter the Chinuch Atzmai system, but that did not work out for many reasons. In the end, they reached the understanding that with a commitment by both factions, Agudah and Degel, they will make an effort to achieve parity for the education budget, because there is no reason not to.
“There has been some spin that there’s a signed agreement between the chareidi parties and Netanyahu that if he establishes a government, the chareidi education budget will increase to parity with the general sector. It’s not true, there is no signed agreement, but there are understandings, and that’s what enabled UTJ to stay together. And if it’s true that there will be parity between the chareidi education system and the public school system, it will be a historic accomplishment, and the chareidi MKs will have done something incredible.”
Let’s crunch some numbers on this. According to research at the Haredi Institute, the government provides slightly more than NIS 20,000 a year per student to chareidi schools, compared to almost NIS 34,000 per student in secular public schools. The Arab schools even get NIS 29,000 per year, per student. So how much of that disparity is because the chareidim don’t teach secular subjects?
“We have to understand that chareidi chinuch is dramatically discriminated against compared to the general system. This is very disturbing. We’re not terrorists, and we don’t incite against the state. But in a democratic society, under any legal system, you can’t force a school system to teach something. This issue has been raised recently in New York.
“Here, no one asks the Arabs if they learn the core curriculum, and they got everything they asked for. They learn according to their culture and lifestyle. Learning or not learning core subjects should not be a parameter in budget allocations. If you want to give preference to someone who learns more, fine, but you shouldn’t deduct for someone who doesn’t learn the core curriculum.”
What lessons can the chareidi MKs take from the experience of the Arab Ra’am party in the government?
“The reality of Ra’am in the coalition raised the bar for chareidi MKs today. The Bennett-Lapid government knew, without blinking an eye, that to take power, they had to give billions of shekels to a tiny party of four mandates. They had no problem with that. But the chareidi sector is always being called ‘extortionists’ or ‘parasites’ when we make similar requests.
“And how much is the yeshivah budget in its entirety? Maybe 50 million shekels? Ra’am got 50 billion, and no one called them parasites. No one said you don’t deserve it because you don’t serve in the army, or learn the core curriculum. Their politicians took the money, saying yes, this is how we take care of our voters.
“To me, we can use this example to shut down the incitement against us. The chareidi sector has more than four mandates. We have 16, and if we can win more, we can change the paradigm.”
Crunching the Numbers at a Glance
Over the years, I have taken a couple of deep dives into the state budget and the chareidi community’s share of the funding (“One Pie, No Peace,” Issue 463; and “Working Solutions,” Issue 558).
What I discovered is that in many cases, the chareidi community allows itself to be demonized by statistics that appear to show that it receives an outsized proportion of taxpayer-funded benefits and tax breaks that the general population is not entitled to.
That’s not the case, because all government benefits and tax breaks apply equally to all citizens and are needs-based or based on age, and not on the color of the kippot people wear, or whether they even wear one.
In my piece “One Pie, No Peace,” I noted calls at the time to cut funding to yeshivos that cater to overseas students, and pointed out how shortsighted that was, citing US and Canadian studies that showed the value that foreign exchange students provide to their host’s economy.
Meir Hirshman told me in our interview that the Haredi Institute brought similar information to a series of MKs, which resulted in the restoration of the funding. So if the seats and the shtenders at the Mir and Brisk and other yeshivos are filled, part of the reason is that chareidi activists provided solid and factual information to decision-makers.
On the eve of yet another election, I saw it fitting to review some of the most pertinent numbers to debunk a few myths surrounding the budget and how misinformation fuels misunderstandings. I drew the figures from the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), and an organization called Direct Polls, which has also done some pioneering research into the chareidi community. Here are a few thoughts that jump out at me:
The chareidi community is very young. Some 38%, or almost 500,000 of Israel’s estimated 1.3 million chareidim, are under age 25, which is considered to be the working age for most government statistics. (Israelis serve in the IDF for three years, from age 18 to 21, then often travel abroad for a year and study in university for three years, so it’s rare for an Israeli man to begin work much before age 25.) Another 6% of chareidim have reached retirement age. So when politicians and the media note the low workforce participation in the chareidi community, they forget to take into account that 44% of all chareidi men are below or beyond working age.
Some 79% of chareidi women work, compared to just 51% of chareidi men. The men’s rate is far below the national average, the percentage of which hovers in the mid-80s. However, even government planners don’t expect the chareidi workforce rate to reach that level. Their long-term goal for chareidi men is around 67%.
Let’s say we get to 67%. There are 220,000 chareidi men above age 25. Approximately half work. Excluding those of retirement age, which leaves an additional 100,000 chareidi men potentially available for work. To reach the 67% goal, some 40,000 chareidim would need to join the workforce. Assuming all of them did, what would that mean for tax revenues and the state budget? Not anywhere close to what some people think. Here’s why.
According to state budget projections for the 2021-22 budget, the expected take from income taxes was about NIS 166 billion ($47 billion). Israel has a total workforce of 4.2 million people. Divide the tax revenues by the number of workers, and each worker pays an average of NIS 40,000 per year. So if another 40,000 chareidim worked full-time and paid the average tax, that would add NIS 1.6 billion to state tax coffers. It’s not an insignificant number, but it amounts to just 1% of income tax revenues and a mere fraction of the total state budget of NIS 432 billion. So the idea that the low rate of chareidi workforce participation somehow has a deleterious effect on the nation’s finances is not borne out by these figures.
It’s true that the chareidi demographic is growing, and if they all worked full-time, it would lessen their need for stipends and income supplements. But according to Eitan Regev, the average chareidi household earns about NIS 36,000 per year from stipends, some of which are not based on need, but on family size. If each of Israel’s estimated 250,000 chareidi households earns NIS 36,000 a year from stipends, that amounts to about NIS 10 billion. So when you hear that figure bandied about, you know where it comes from, but again, that amounts to a little more than 2% of the national budget, and some of that comes in the form of child stipends or old-age benefits that are paid equally to all citizens.
Demographically, there is a great equilibrium in the chareidi camp, based on family background and current religious affiliation. Some 32.1% of the chareidi population fall into the “Lithuanian” camp; some 31.7% are chassidic; 32.7% are Sephardic (including 5.3% who learned in Ashkenazi yeshivos). Chabad is about 3.5% of the chareidi population.
At the same time, the Lithuanian camp has the strongest hold on chinuch with 28.89% of students in grades K-12. Chassidim come next at 23.39% and Sephardim at 21.81%. Close to 17% learn in schools that are a combination of the above, while 7.23% study in Chabad institutions and close to 2% in kiruv schools.
Approximately 16% of all chareidim consider themselves to be baalei teshuvah. Some 60% of those say they are Sephardi.
Some 45% of chareidi families own at least one car, compared to 78% of non-chareidim.
Homeownership in the chareidi community (75%) is higher than in the non-chareidi community (66%) but not as high as in the Arab Israeli sector, where 83% of all households own their homes.
More chareidi households hold a mortgage (44%) than do non-chareidi Jews (31%) and Arabs (only 7%). Aside from some political lessons, maybe the Arab sector can teach us their secret of acquiring a home with little or no mortgage.
Politics through the Rear-View Mirror
Meir Hirshman — Senior Fellow for Municipal and Media Affairs, Haredi Institute
A former senior assistant to MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz z”l when he was deputy welfare minister and graduate of Ponevezh Yeshivah, Meir Hirshman also served as deputy CEO of Beitar Illit and publisher of Bakehillah newspaper, and is also chief editor and comptroller of a major Torah literature project at Machon Yerushalayim. Our discussion focused on long-term strategy, chareidi PR, and how chareidim can protect their interests, no matter who wins next week.
You have been an occasional critic of the chareidi MKs for the language they have used during political debates. Based on your media experience, what needs to change?
“I do want to preface that I admire and respect the chareidi MKs, particularly Moshe Gafni, who is the party’s most senior representative. He is a very energetic person, knows what he wants, is on good terms with other MKs, and is familiar with the work of all the Knesset committees.
“But the use of the term Antiochus [to dress down MK Matan Kahane for his bill to introduce competition to kashrus supervision] is not a term that belongs in the political lexicon. I didn’t like when a chareidi MK would say the government doesn’t have ‘siyata d’Shmaya.’ It’s not like everything was fine in every government that chareidim were part of, and that everyone was healthy and lived to 120. But it’s easy for me to critique. I don’t sit in their seats, my nerves don’t get affected by Knesset debates, and I don’t have to please the voters. But I can expect them to be more measured in their speech.”
In a chareidi sense, or a political sense?
“A chareidi sense. What I say now, as a spokesman for the institute, is that chareidi MKs can’t be taking their time to put out small fires all day. They need strategic, long-term planning. A chareidi MK knows when he finally attains a seat, he is likely to hold it for 20 or 30 years, something that can’t be said for politicians from most parties. So each of them can take an issue and build a plan. And for that, they can distribute the work among the 16 chareidi MKs.”
Can you spell out the most important priorities for the chareidi world?
“There are three crucial issues to me, two of them urgent. The first is housing. It’s a Klal Yisrael problem, not only a chareidi problem, but the chareidim have their specific needs. If the government could manage to reduce prices for young couples by even 100,000 to 200,000 shekels, that would make a great impact on affordability and also the ability of young couples to save money throughout their lives. That’s number one, and that’s a material matter.
“Spiritually, when it comes to controversies like the conversion law, we have to be honest. There’s lots of noise surrounding it, but there’s little that the chareidi MKs can do. There are two trends right now underway in the state. Traditional people are becoming more traditional, even religious, while the secular is becoming more secular. When I was a boy, I was told that a person could only buy pork in a secret store in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, today, you can buy it openly in Jerusalem. There was no such thing as stores or restaurants open on Shabbos. Life for a secular person today is much more like he wants it to be. I’m not sure that the Knesset is the place to deal with either of these two trends. It’s much broader than politics.
“The third crucial issue is employment. This is multifaceted, but I think the most important accomplishment would be to get the widespread agreement in the economy to stop requiring an academic degree to get a job when it’s not necessary to succeed.”
Bill Gates didn’t finish Harvard.
“I’m not talking about the anecdotal. Industry heads, especially in high tech, are saying let us make the syllabus. We want to decide what should be studied and not let the university make the curriculum. But the Ministry of Finance has drawn a line in the sand, because for them academics is a principle. It’s not related to employment, it’s their ideology.
“Here, we need to wage two battles. One, in principle, is that the state should declare that an academic background is not always mandatory. But until that happens, we need to persuade the Finance Ministry — and the Haredi Institute has done a good job at this — to make them realize if they want to meet their goals for chareidi employment, they must realize that setting standards that require an academic degree is a disincentive for chareidim to enter the workforce, and this will cost the state much more in the long run.”
Isn’t all this contingent upon getting into the coalition rather than sitting in the opposition where all is lost?
“It is very complex. The opposition is more complicated than the coalition — of that, there is no doubt — but it depends on the size of the coalition. Even if it’s not a slim coalition of 61, sometimes a coalition of 65 also needs the opposition here and there. If we do get into the coalition, we also have to know how to prioritize. So if the question is whether to fight to reduce taxes on disposables, or advance a housing project in Kiryat Gat that will provide thousands of inexpensive apartments for chareidim, then you can’t be working on all fronts or focus on less vital issues.
“My overriding question, though, is: Why be in the opposition? I expressed this to chareidi MKs in personal conversations during the current government, suggesting they at least make it clear that they’re ready to get into the coalition, on their terms. If nothing else, it makes a good headline.”
Sounds as if you’re saying the chareidim made a mistake by sticking with Bibi for so long.
“I’m against the idea of telling the Likud who their leader should be. It could backfire on us.
“Decades ago, Rav Shach ztz”l paved the way for an alliance between the chareidim and the political right as a matter of principle. But we can still go with the right, and not necessarily with Netanyahu.
“I think the chareidim made the mistake of all mistakes by letting Netanyahu wiggle out of his rotation agreement with Benny Gantz. Technically, we would have remained inside the coalition, and by now, under their rotation agreement, Netanyahu would have returned. As a result, we lost some of our credibility. Our political guarantees were no longer worth what they once were. We did ‘promise’ Gantz we would guarantee the deal — and even if it wasn’t exactly a promise, agreements need to be fulfilled.
“I’m not saying Netanyahu’s stance was unjustified, but the chareidim could have come to Gantz and said, ‘These are Netanyahu’s assertions, and we think he is right. If you do a-b-c-d, we won’t allow him to dismantle the government. But if you don’t do this, then you’re in the wrong.’ We didn’t do this because we were not working in an organized manner. I have no other explanation for it.”
Can the chareidim do what was once unthinkable and join a government with Yair Lapid?
“Lapid has realized that without chareidim, he can’t be prime minister for the long term. I say with certainty, the minute Lapid says, ‘I want the chareidim,’ it doesn’t matter. Of course, he doesn’t really mean ‘I want the chareidim,’ but if he does ‘teshuvah,’ even for political reasons, it’s fine. This is politics, not a synagogue where we really need to know what he is thinking. We need to let it happen. Then, the chareidim need to spell out their terms to him.”
You once worked for MK Ravitz. I recall asking him once if chareidim one day might be better off joining one of the bigger political parties and lobbying for their needs rather than retaining its small, sectoral scope. He thought it could happen. What do you think?
“I know that there is a dilemma. MKs don’t like lobbying, because then people start to say, we have less use for elected officials, we’ll hire lobbyists. There’s tension there. But that’s a fallacy, because we need MKs.
“One time, I asked MK Yitzchok Pindrus about this and suggested that maybe advisors or lobbyists could do better for us, and he said on some points, I might be right, but in the long term, the minute there are no longer chareidi MKs, nobody will pay any attention to lobbyists for chareidi causes. There’s a lot of truth to that.
“Chareidi politicians are very important. Whether they run in their own party, or within a secular party, as they do in America, is more of a technical question. We need chareidi politicians, and at the same time, we need to work with all political tools at our disposal. And to busy ourselves less with nonsense like who is Antiochus and who is not. I think every yeshivah bochur can decide that for himself. That’s not why we need our MKs.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 933)
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