Wednesday, Nov 23, 2022

My Take on the News

A Terror Attack in the Old City

It seems to have become a weekly ritual for me to report on incidents of terror in Israel, but the proliferation of such incidents is also one of the reasons that we have just been through an election. Personal security is being eroded in Israel; there is fear in the streets, and there seems to be no end to the terrorism. Last weekend, several acts of terror were reported in various locations. On Thursday, a young Arab stabbed a policeman on Rechov Hagai in the Old City of Yerushalayim, near the Iron Gate. Other police officers in the vicinity opened fire on the terrorist, who was eliminated. The gunfire resulted in light injuries to another policeman, and a third policeman was also lightly wounded by shrapnel. The terrorist was identified as Amar Halabiya, a twenty-year-old from Beit Chanina who was studying engineering at Bir Zayit University. Halabiya entered the Old City through Shaar Shechem, which leads into the Muslim Quarter, and was identified by advanced security cameras as a suspected terrorist. At that point, he was stopped for inspection by the police and Border Guard, and as soon as they began searching him, he quickly produced a knife and stabbed his first victim in his torso. Two other police officers shot and killed the terrorist on the spot.

On the same day, in the evening, another incident occurred that hasn’t yet been fully explained but that was certainly a result of Palestinian terror. This incident occurred in Kiryat Arba, where a 13-year-old Israeli girl was seriously wounded in her head. Shortly after the incident, the IDF asserted that it wasn’t a nationalistic crime but that they were investigating the episode. The leaders of the Kiryat Arba council felt that it was clear that the girl had been injured by Palestinian gunfire. Her sister, who had been walking with her when she was struck and who accompanied her to the hospital in an ambulance, told the medical staff that they had been walking down the street when the victim suddenly cried out and her head began bleeding. Police believe that she was struck by a bullet fired from somewhere nearby. The young girl, who lost consciousness after the incident, was transported to Hadassah Ein Kerem by ambulance.

These weren’t the only incidents of the past week, but my point is that the Palestinian terrorists are continuing their attempts to murder Israelis. With or without Bibi at the helm of the country, their lust for blood continues to rage. May Hashem protect us all!

Yahrtzeit Observed at Kever Rochel Without Incident

This past week, of course, marked the traditional stream of visitors to Kever Rochel. The observance of Rochel Imeinu’s yahrtzeit was somewhat different this year than in previous years, since the yahrtzeit itself, the 11th of Cheshvan, fell on Shabbos. As a result, legions of people flocked to the kever both on Friday and on Motzoei Shabbos. Emotions were running especially high this year, since there were strict limitations imposed on visitors to the kever over the past two years on account of the coronavirus pandemic. There was no corona this year; however, the police are still traumatized by the Meron disaster, and they have made great efforts to limit the crowding at every religious event since that time.

On occasions such as this one, especially when large crowds are expected at Kever Rochel or at the kever of Shmuel Hanovi (as will be the case in a few days), the police are expected to work in tandem with the Center for the Development of Holy Sites in Israel, which is headed by Rabbi Yosef Schwinger and his second-in-command, Rabbi Yisroel Deri. (Rabbi Deri, however, focuses his work primarily on the northern region of the country.) Both the police force and the Center for Holy Sites deserve to be applauded for the fact that this year’s yahrtzeit was observed with minimal restrictions.

The annual event at Kever Rochel invariably reminds me of my deceased friend, Mendy Klein of Cleveland. Mendy invested an enormous amount of money in developing the site, which was always close to his heart. Whenever I encountered him, he would always admonish me not to write about him and certainly not to praise him in my articles. He was a truly humble person. I have no doubt that his many zechuyos have earned him a place of honor in the Olam Ha’emes.

Meron Committee Makes Recommendations for Next Hillula

On a somewhat related note, the official commission of inquiry into the Meron tragedy has submitted its recommendations for the hillula of Lag Ba’omer in the year 5783, which will take place in about half a year. The committee rushed to release these recommendations in order to allow sufficient time for them to be implemented. The recommendations were submitted to outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid less than a month ago.

As you know, the tragedy that claimed 45 lives took place on Lag Ba’omer of the year 5781. Last year, on Lag Ba’omer of 5782, the police were so terrified of a potential repeat of the disaster that they placed severe restrictions on the annual festivities, to the point that it could no longer be described as a true hillula of Lag Ba’omer. All the efforts to enforce various restrictions collapsed in the middle of the day, and the event was deemed a resounding failure. Since the police had been following the recommendations of the commission of inquiry, the logical conclusion was that its so-called “solutions” did not actually solve anything, and that they merely imposed hardships on the people. The committee therefore gave itself another assignment: In addition to investigating the tragedy of 5781, it would analyze the failure of 5782.

After examining the matter, the committee released the following statement: “We are aware of the difficulties that arose in implementing the format for the hillula of 5782 that was developed based on our interim recommendations. We are also aware of the impact of these changes on the atmosphere at the hillula and on the services provided to the public during the day. Nevertheless, after examining the matter carefully, we have concluded that many of these difficulties were a form of ‘birth pains’ involved in the process of implementing changes, and that most of these issues will be resolved if we learn from experience and if we draw the appropriate conclusions. Regarding certain issues, we have found it appropriate to reemphasize and to clarify the recommendations that were made in the past. At the same time, we have added some new recommendations as well.”

This brings us to the most important point. The statement continues, “We recommend that the management of the flow of visitors at the tziyun be conducted by male and female ushers from the chareidi community who have undergone the appropriate training. This should be done in order to minimize the need for outside interference as much as possible.”

There were many other recommendations as well, but I consider the idea of recruiting chareidi ushers to be one of the most important aspects of their statement. In fact, the same idea was proposed by Rabbi Yosef Matalon, the bereaved father of Shimon Matalon, one of the victims of the Lag Ba’omer tragedy. In an interview with the Yated before this past year’s hillula (on May 13, 2022), the senior Rabbi Matalon said the following: “Every year in the past, they [the religious community’s askanim] managed to organize a massive event without a police presence or assistance from the state. They simply brought a few Romanian workers who obeyed all of their instructions without question. Moshe Holtzman would station the workers at various places on the mountaintop, mainly the problematic areas. They knew the mountain like the palms of their own hands. Rabbi Bentzion Cooperstock, meanwhile, was responsible for building the mehadrin path, which was a very welcome development that prevented overcrowding and mingling of men and women. Rabbi Cooperstock used to sit in a room equipped with numerous screens showing live transmissions from cameras throughout the area, and he would radio instructions to his workers to direct the crowd to various locations. There were no roadblocks and there was no violence, and everything flowed smoothly. I was recently asked for my opinion about Lag Ba’omer this year, and I said that I was worried about the behavior of the police. I said, ‘If you really want to help us and do what is best for us, then give us control of the entire area, from the roads leading to Meron to the tziyun itself. We will send some members of the Rav Ahrele community to direct foot traffic, and everything will work smoothly. We won’t need admission tickets or roadblocks, and there will be no traffic jams. Let us speak our own language, which we all understand. Not only are you not helping us, you are actually interfering with us.’ That is aside from the fact that most chareidi Jews do not feel comfortable when they see a police officer. But aside from that, they simply do not understand us, and they are not familiar with our community’s ways.”

I suppose the investigative committee read this interview as well….

Time to Deliver on Promises

In case you are wondering if the chareidi parties have been able to relax now that the election is over, I will tell you that it would be premature to do so. Of course, the entire community feels as if it has just been let out of a prison of sorts. Israel was ruled for months by an aggressive, malicious government, and we all found ourselves waking up every morning to discover new edicts that the government had decided to pass. And then, all of a sudden, there was a clear and unmistakable reversal. No one actually believed before the election that the right-wing bloc would win 64 mandates. We were all afraid that this election would lead to yet another deadlock, which would have been a very unfortunate scenario, since it would have meant that Lapid and his government would remain in power for several more months until a sixth election could be held.

Now it is time for the debts to be paid—and there are many debts waiting to be collected. Let us put aside Netanyahu and all his promises for just a moment (although it bears mentioning that Netanyahu’s campaign promises included passing a law requiring free education until the age of three, which will cost a significant amount of money, and limiting the power of the judiciary, which will not be easy at all). The chareidi parties themselves also have promises to keep, such as reversing all of the previous government’s anti-religious decrees. This is something that will have to be done quickly and with force, mainly because some of those reforms, including the sweeping changes to the kashrus system, are scheduled to take effect very soon.

Then there is the matter of housing. Both UTJ and Shas signed a document in which they pledged to act immediately to ease the housing shortage that has been strangling the chareidi community. This primarily means that the government will allocate land for the construction of a new chareidi city or even multiple cities. These things do not happen quickly, but they must begin at some point. That is supposedly the reason that Degel HaTorah is vying for control of the Ministry of Housing. But even taking control of the ministry will not be a simple matter, since Rav Gershon Edelstein informed the party members this week that the party’s longstanding policy must remain in place, and that no member of Degel HaTorah may accept a position as a minister. This was a decision made during Rav Shach’s lifetime; the chareidi parties refuse to hold ministerial posts in order to avoid accepting responsibility as ministers for the government’s policies. Every minister in the government is automatically considered a partner with the other ministers, including those whose actions are not to his liking. In previous years, the solution to this problem was for members of UTJ to serve as deputy ministers with the same powers as a minister. This may well be the solution adopted by the party this time as well.

It is also important to note that according to the internal agreement between the two component factions of United Torah Judaism, Degel HaTorah is entitled to choose first among the positions offered to the party, in exchange for allowing Yitzchok Goldknopf of Agudas Yisroel to occupy the first spot on the party’s list. In other words, Moshe Gafni will be able to choose if he prefers to hold a deputy ministerial position or to serve as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee. Agudah will be able to pick a position for itself only after Gafni has made his choice.

Distribution of Portfolios to Be a Challenge for Netanyahu

Putting together the next government is not going to be an easy task for Binyomin Netanyahu. Netanyahu himself isn’t even waiting to be summoned by the president and asked to begin the work of assembling a government. He has already met with the representatives of UTJ, Shas, and Religious Zionism, the three parties that are supposed to join him in the coalition. At this time, Netanyahu has been sitting in a hotel, either the Waldorf Astoria or the Plaza, and inviting the politicians to meet with him. He has already met separately with Gafni, Goldknopf, and Smotrich. These are merely preliminary talks, intended to give him a chance to read the political map and get an idea of everyone’s needs and demands.

It is going to be quite difficult for Netanyahu to hand out the slices of the political pie. Within the Likud itself, there are several contenders for the post of Minister of Justice. This is probably a key position for Netanyahu’s interests, assuming that he plans to advance a process that will eliminate the criminal charges against him. For instance, Netanyahu might seek to eliminate the crime of “breach of trust” altogether. Many experts have been arguing for years that this is an offense that should not be included in the Israeli book of laws at all, and that it certainly should not be the basis of a criminal indictment. If Netanyahu manages to pass a law removing the crime from the books, then the charges against him will be significantly reduced. For that purpose, he might want to hand the ministry to one of his loyalists within the Likud party. However, the Likud isn’t the only party that has set its sights on the justice portfolio; the Religious Zionism party has also expressed interest in the position. They believe that they can wield the justice minister’s power to create significant improvements for the Jews living in Yehuda and the Shomron, who are often targeted for harassment by the criminal justice system.

There are also quite a few contenders for the position of finance minister, which is one of the most powerful positions in the government. Rumor has it that Netanyahu assured Aryeh Deri that he can have the first pick of all the available ministries, including the Finance Ministry. However, it isn’t certain that Deri will be interested in the job. As far as he is concerned, there may be little need for him to hold the position of finance minister himself. After all, no matter who officially holds the post, no one will dare turn down a request from Aryeh Deri.

The religious affairs portfolio, meanwhile, is another subject of contention. It is a fairly minor position, but both Shas and the Religious Zionism party are bound to fight over it, and Degel HaTorah might be interested in it as well. This is an important position for the religious parties because the occupant of this post will be able to influence the selection of dayanim and even the election of the next chief rabbis.

In short, Netanyahu is facing the challenging task of handing out jobs in the government in such a way that everyone will be satisfied with what they receive. It is very possible that there will be some people in the government who will not be satisfied, after all. But there are some things in life that simply cannot be avoided.

Last-Minute Electioneering

There are many calculations still being made even now that the election is over. For instance, Ayelet Shaked received 60,000 votes in this election and did not cross the electoral threshold. Did she actually cost the right-wing bloc a full mandate? What about Itamar Ben-Gvir? Did he manage to transfer a mandate from the center-left to the right? (Ben-Gvir seems to have received many secular votes in response to his promises to “make order” in the country.) And did the chareidim miss any opportunities in their efforts to bring out the vote? We know that United Torah Judaism lost its eighth seat at the last possible moment, and that it would have taken only about 900 more votes for it to capture that final mandate. Was there any way that this loss could have been avoided?

For now, we will put aside these questions and focus on some smaller details. On Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of the election, an observer from Degel HaTorah who was stationed at a relatively quiet polling station in Kiryat Yovel in Yerushalayim informed me of his observations over the course of the morning: “At this point, there have been many votes for Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. They seem to be mainly drawing voters away from the Likud, not from us [Degel HaTorah] or from Shas. Shas has received many votes, mainly from French immigrants, and Lieberman has also received many votes.” He also informed me that he had convinced eleven people to vote for Shas. “Most of them planned to vote for the Likud,” he said. “I learned that it is very easy to convince a Sephardi to vote for Shas, but it is almost impossible to convince anyone to vote for Gimmel.” He declined to explain why he was so certain of how every person had voted, and I decided to wait until that night to find out if his assessments were correct.

That night, after the votes from the polling station had been counted, we spoke again. As it turned out, he had been right about everything except the votes for Lieberman. The votes at his polling station had been divided as follows: Labor—4; Bayit Yehudi—3; UTJ—33; Balad—2; Religious Zionism—55; Yisrael Beiteinu—16; Likud—117; Yesh Atid—28; and Shas—75. My friend was ebullient. “I brought in another six votes this afternoon, in addition to the eleven I mentioned earlier!” he boasted.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“A Mizruchnik [national-religious individual] frightened a few disabled chareidim who came to use the polling station, telling them that the police were going to investigate if they were actually disabled. They became fearful and balked at voting, but I told them to vote and that I would take responsibility for it. One of the staffers at the polling station also decided to vote for Shas after I managed to convince him over the course of the day.”

He also shared another amusing story from that polling station: “At about 11:10 in the morning, a Litvishe yungerman arrived and seemed very tense. After he begged the people ahead of him to allow him to go first, he grew relaxed when he was able to cast his ballot. Before he left, I asked him, ‘What was the matter? Why were you in such a hurry?’ He replied, ‘I wanted to make sure to vote before chatzos!’”

Why I Believed in the Right-Wing Bloc

Let me share my personal take on the election. While I was concerned about the possibility that the chareidim and the right-wing bloc would lose, I truly believed throughout the campaign that a miraculous salvation was in the works. I knew that the Jewish majority in Israel supported the chareidim and the right, and that justice and integrity were on their side as well. I was also aware that the religious parties had performed all the hishtadlus possible, and that everyone was davening for the optimal result. There was also the fact that their election propaganda had been positive in nature, that it was balanced, and that it was a truly outstanding campaign. But above all, I was sure that kavod Shomayim would determine the winners of this election. There simply had to come an end to the oppression of the religious community; the time had come for the enemies of Yiddishkeit to be defeated and shamed. Yes, the religious community was dismayed by the crippling financial burdens placed on kollel families and the skyrocketing cost of living, but in reality, it was the affront to the Shechinah and the kedusha of Eretz Yisroel that was the greatest source of outrage. And that was also the reason that I truly believed that Hashem would put an end to our suffering. That is why I was fairly confident that the turnaround that we witnessed would take place.

Everyone who was involved in the chareidi parties’ campaigns truly deserves to be applauded. Their work was outstanding. Both parties hired professionals who were familiar with all the rules of the media in 2022, and they successfully turned their enemies’ tools against them. They learned the ins and outs of digital media and produced the best possible campaign propaganda using that very medium. Every video and advertisement managed to touch voters deep within their hearts and to have a profound impact on their thoughts and feelings.

Tefillin Spark Outrage in Rishon Letzion

The following story is only partially related to the election, but it bears reporting nonetheless: A student in eleventh grade in a high school in Rishon Letzion was suspended for three days after opening a makeshift tefillin stand in the school corridor during the morning recess. The school claimed that when the principal asked the student to close his stand, which was set up without permission from the administration, he responded with severe verbal violence. This took place last Thursday morning.

A local publication quoted a different version of the story told by the student himself: “I am an eleventh grade student in a local high school. During the ten o’clock recess, I opened a tefillin stand and many other students came to put on tefillin together, simply to give thanks to Hashem. There was a very long line, and my friends and I helped them put on the tefillin. There was even one student who told us that his family does not keep kosher at home but that he was deeply moved by the scene and he wanted to participate as well. There was an atmosphere of great joy and unity.” The young man did not understand what was wrong with his actions. His story continues, “I saw no problem with allowing my friends to put on tefillin during the twenty minutes of our morning recess on municipal property. Would it have been better for them to sit and play with their phones or to smoke? However, fifteen minutes after the stand opened, the grade supervisor came over to me and asked me to close it. I asked for two more minutes to finish helping the students who had already begin putting on their tefillin, but the principal arrived immediately thereafter and screamed at us, ‘Does this look like a shul to you? Do this in your homes in the morning!’ I told her that I would put everything away, and I tried explaining myself to her, but she continued screaming. She even yanked the tefillin off the head of another student. Because of this incident, I was suspended for three days.”

In response, the municipality of Rishon Letzion wrote, “The student in question decided to open a tefillin stand in a school, after taking tables that belonged to the school without permission. He also took his friends out of class to join him, without coordinating with anyone in the school administration. When the principal came to investigate and asked him to put away the stand, he spoke to her with severe verbal violence. After speaking with the student’s parents, the administration decided to suspend him from school because of his conduct toward the principal and the grade supervisor. We respect any initiative taken by the students of our school, and certainly an initiative to wear tefillin, as long as they respect and coordinate with the administration.”

Personally, I find the student’s version of the story more credible. And even if the school’s version is correct, I do not understand why he was punished.

Of course, I see a link between this episode and the incident that occurred on Election Day, when a Meretz activist deliberately disgraced a pair of tefillin at a stand outside a polling station. I can also understand it in the context of the fear that has taken hold in the secular populace in Israel that the secular community is losing its grip on the state. Young people such as this eleventh grader are the best possible form of public relations that the religious community could hope to enlist. These youths are not religious and do not even observe Shabbos; they study in a secular high school, yet they are still in favor of wearing tefillin.

The conflict did not end with the boy’s suspension. On Sunday, during recess, dozens of students in the school sang religious-sounding songs such as “Hakadosh Boruch Hu, anachunu ohavim oscha” (“Hashem, we love You”). Naturally, the school’s administration suffered a serious blow to its image, while some prominent public figures wrote appreciatively about these youths.

America and the Israeli Elections

How is America directly connected to the elections in Israel? Note: I am not referring to the many Israelis who flew back to Israel for a single day in order to obey the instructions of the gedolei Yisroel and vote in the election. These people streamed to Israel not only from the United States, but from Europe as well. This was very moving, but it is not what I have in mind.

I am actually referring to American money. Outgoing MK Samy Abu Shahada, who founded the third Arab party, Balad, which failed to cross the electoral threshold, was interviewed on Motzoei Shabbos and declared with full confidence that he knows that money from American Jews was contributed to the other Arab parties in order to help them pass the electoral threshold.

“Jewish money?” the interviewer asked in surprise.

“Yes,” the former MK replied. “A lot of money!” That is how he accounts for the outcome of the election….

Meanwhile, in an effort to deny responsibility for losing the election, Yair Lapid has publicly announced that he was never warned that if he continued speaking about the need for Yesh Atid to rack up many seats, it might endanger the Labor and Meretz parties to the point that they might fall below the electoral threshold. “No one ever warned me about that,” Lapid insisted. “On the contrary, my pollster told me the opposite—that these parties were not in the danger zone at all.”

That pollster was Mark Mellman, an American expert on elections whom Lapid hired to advise him. When Mellman heard how Lapid had shifted the blame, he was furious. He proceeded to release his own statement averring that Lapid had lied and that he had indeed warned him about the consequences of his tactics. Amazing!

Government to Open on Tuesday

The parties in the Knesset have already received an internal message announcing the opening session of the 25th Knesset, which is to be held this coming Tuesday, 21 Cheshvan/November 15, at 4 p.m. The 25th Knesset will begin its operations regardless of whether the government has already been established. The Likud party is planning to install a new Knesset speaker at the opening session; they have emphasized that this is merely their way of mimicking Yesh Atid’s actions in the previous term. Many people are eagerly awaiting the establishment of a right-wing Jewish-led government, and many of us are imagining a Knesset chaired by MK David Amsalem, who will surely repay a longstanding “debt” by politely but firmly ordering Mickey Levi, the former speaker of the Knesset, to leave the room, while Levi shouts in protest as usual. The only problem with this little daydream is that Amsalem is actually hoping to become the next justice minister.

In my mind’s eye, I can already see the dozens of Knesset members arriving at the building in a state of excitement, feeling that they are experiencing one of the climactic moments of their lives. As they step across the red carpet at the special entrance for MKs, where an usher in a pressed uniform stands ready to affix the traditional blue boutonniere to each Knesset member’s lapel, their heads will spin with excitement. They will be led to their seats in a state of euphoria, feeling as if they are on top of the world. That heady feeling of conceit is the only thing that will remain with them from this experience.

Incidentally, the purpose of that boutonniere isn’t only to enhance the festivity of the occasion; it is also intended to help the ushers distinguish between the actual members of the Knesset and visitors who manage to procure permits to enter the building on that day. The day of the inauguration is still too early for the ushers to identify the forty new members of the Knesset, although every usher is generally equipped with a list of names and pictures of the newcomers. There are about forty new faces in the Knesset at the beginning of every term, which means that the same number of members of the previous Knesset will be returning home and fading back into obscurity. Does anyone remember Yizhar Shai, Mark Ifraimov, Revital Swid, or Rafi Peretz? They were all members of the 22nd Knesset, and they have practically been forgotten. And do you know the common denominator between the names Wunsh, Vaturi, Knafo, Kallner, Kozhinov, and Shevach Stern? That’s right; all of these people were members of the 23rd Knesset, which dissolved in December 2020. Today, the country pays no attention to any of them.

Knesset veterans are familiar with this process. When newcomers arrive in the Knesset, they often lose all sense of proportion. The employees of the Knesset have long grown accustomed to the extraordinary egotism displayed by the legislature’s members. Observing their attitudes, the Knesset workers suppress their amusement and dutifully serve the 120 self-important lawmakers, while remaining distinctly aware that Knesset members come and go—and at an especially dizzying pace in recent years, no less.

Speaking of the Knesset, I should mention that as I am writing this, the Knesset is concluding a special sitting mandated by law in honor of the anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination. I listened to the speeches delivered by Lapid, Netanyahu, Smotrich, and Ahmed Tibi over the Knesset’s internal broadcast system, and I found them genuinely ludicrous.

The Old Man in the Pharmacy

I recently overheard a saddening exchange in a pharmacy in Givat Shaul. An elderly man whose accent marked him as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union was standing at the counter. After the pharmacist swiped the magnetic card from his health fund, he began reading off the customer’s list of regular medications. Upon hearing the name of each item on the list, the man responded the same way: After thinking for a moment, he wrinkled his brow and said, “No, that isn’t critical right now.” He ultimately did not purchase even one of his regular medications. Finally, with a sorrowful expression on his face, he said to the pharmacist, “But I do need Acamol [the Israeli equivalent of Tylenol].”

The pharmacist checked his computer and said, “You have a prescription for Acamol, but I don’t have it in stock. It will be here only in the afternoon. However, I can give you the same drug manufactured by a different company.”

“Will I get the same discount based on the prescription?” the man asked anxiously.

“No,” the pharmacist replied.

“In that case, I won’t take it,” the customer said sadly.

I happen to know that the difference in price between the two drugs was a mere 12 shekels, or less than $3.50. For that meager sum, the old man felt compelled to go without a simple painkiller.

The Steipler’s Words of Consolation

Many years ago, there was an internal conflict within Agudas Yisroel. Rav Shach felt that Agudah should not run together with the Poalei Agudas Yisroel party, but the admorim disagreed with him, and the majority vote of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah opposed Rav Shach’s position. Rav Shach was dismayed by the rejection of his ideological position, and the Steipler Gaon was informed that the rosh yeshiva had become dejected. In response, the Steipler sent a messenger to Rav Shach to convey the following thought: “After Avrohom Avinu davened to Hashem in an effort to save the people of Sedom, the Torah states, ‘And Avrohom returned to his place.’ What is added by these words? The Torah is telling us here that after a person has done what is required of him, regardless of whether he was successful, his responsibility is to continue living his life as he did before. A person should not give in to despair even if he hasn’t succeeded in achieving his goals.”

This message is just as applicable to success as it is to failure, and that is the thought with which I would like to leave you this week. Yes, the religious parties were successful in this election, but that is no reason to interrupt our usual routine. Regardless of the outcome of the election, our community has only one mission now: “And Avrohom returned to his place.” For many people, that means returning to their yeshivos and kollelim and continuing the same sugyos that they were learning prior to the election. But whatever the case may be, life must go on as always.

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