The strength to take a risk, and the humility to admit when a risk fails
In one of his discussions of this week’s Torah reading of “Vayikra,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l (“The Sins of a Leader,” Covenant and Conversation, 5781) pointed out that in referring to sins committed by functionaries – the priests or the judges – or by the people, for which they must bring sacrifices, the word used is “if” (im) – if they should sin. But when referring to sins of the nasi, the political ruler, the word used is “when” (asher). This is the basis for an important talmudic insight. “When a leader of Israel sins and unintentionally commits one of all the commandments of the Lord, which may not be committed, incurring guilt…” (Leviticus 4, 2).
Rabbi Sacks writes: Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai summed it up with a brilliant double entendre on the word “asher”, meaning “when” in the phrase “when a leader sins.” He relates it to the word “ashrei”, which means “happy,” and says: Happy is the generation whose leader is willing to bring a sin offering for their mistakes (Tosefta, Bava Kamma, 7:5).
Rabbi Sacks comments that the unique challenge of political leadership is that it must deal with conflicting interestsContinue reading →
“With Israeli democracy under assault in the name of Judaism, we – rabbis from across the denominational spectrum – are compelled to speak out.” Read Rabbi Michael Marmur’s new in the Times of Israel can be found HERE
by Avi Dabush (Translated from the original Hebrew)
The use of Judaism and Zionism to slander, trample and harm entire communities: LGBTQ people, secular, Arabs, leftists and anyone who does not align, is a blasphemy. This is a true call for mobilization: those for whom human dignity, human rights, humanity and Judaism are important must get off the fence and join the struggle.
The idea of blasphemy is about how people harm [religion in general] good name of Judaism through what they do. I always think about this, of course when I see defendants who, on a daily basis, do not wear a kippah put one on as they are being arraigned or remanded in court. It should be the opposite. Continue reading →
This essay is the latest in RHR’s series of ‘Kolot: Voices of Hope’ profiles of Israelis and Palestinians furthering the cause of peace and equality and is also presented as part of their END THE EXPULSIONS matching grant campaign from June 1 to June 30. With only one day left in RHR’s campaign, please help them to reach our goal and double the impact of your gift by giving now.
On the 21st of January 2022, Palestinian and Israeli activists gathered together at the West Bank Palestinian village of Burin to plant olive trees. Roughly corresponding with the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, olive tree planting in Palestinian villages as well as participation in the Palestinian olive harvest are longtime Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) traditions. While the activists were working, settlers from the Givat Ronen settlement descended down the hill, threw rocks at them, attacked them with clubs, and torched a car. This attack was carried out in the name of Judaism—or, should we say, in the name of a distorted version of Judaism that, among other things, subscribes to the belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and the Jews alone.
Education – RHR’s Education program brings Israeli gap year students to Jerusalem to learn about human rights & Judaism on the ground. Credit: RHR
Rabbis for Human Rights Executive Director, Avi Dabush, in a special hearing before the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee (Chaired by MK Rabbi Gilad Kariv), held following attack on our activists this past Friday in the West Bank village of Burin: “This hearing was held following one of the most brutal attacks that we have seen in our many years of activism. Masked men, with no fear of God, attacked with clubs and stones, our volunteers, some of them over 80 years old, thinking that they can impose their vision of Jewish supremacy over the land, from which Palestinian farmers must sustain themselves while living under impossible circumstances.
“I expect that out of this committee, from the Government and from law enforcement to act swiftly to declare these Jewish militias as terror groups and the people harmed by their violence as victims of terror. We demand the mapping and evacuating these illegal outposts. Continue reading →
This column was written before the demonstrations by Bedouin and their supporters in the Negev began, and before right-wing Knesset members turned from their parliamentary work in order to, in an unprecedented fashion, “devote themselves” to agricultural work with the aim of setting the Negev on fire. The article was written about our work in the OPT, but the words in it are doubly relevant after seeing how JNF tree planting has become a symbol of violence and hatred in the Negev.
Jewish supremacy and Jewish terrorism are disgusting and shocking, especially when one remembers that Judaism is rooted in standing up to power. The culture of violence found in Jewish rioting gangs is dangerous and requires us to correct it.Continue reading →
Bible records how the Israelites developed from tribal families to become Am Yisrael, a people in their own land. We see how they developed societal structures to spread power away from a tiny leadership and we can also read about the problems that happened when those structures were eroded. The model preventing concentration of power became the tripartite leadership of King, Priest and Prophet.
RHR have organised a cross party lobby group in the Knesset to ensure that public housing is built to higher standards and allocated fairly. RHR want to ensure that affordable housing is included in the plans for each neighbourhood. It is vital that legislation includes planning for housing units of various sizes, e.g., for single people, multi-generational families, as well as ensuring that provision is made in each neighbourhood for long term rentals and affordable housing so that low income families and other vulnerable people are not excluded from certain neighbourhoods. Lack of affordable housing was one of the main reasons underlying massive social protests in Israel in the last two years. As RHR point out, the people, who are excluded from living in a neighbourhood because housing is too expensive, are also deprived of the opportunity to take up local jobs, send their children to good local schools or benefit from transport services.