Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do We Really Need a Chief Rabbinate?

By Moshe Feiglin

The only good thing that has come out of these elections is the announcement of Ministers Bennett and Livni that they will work to advance the One Chief Rabbi law. When I initiated the legislative proposal for one Chief Rabbi, everyone told me that it didn't have a chance. Now, there is wall-to-wall commitment to pass this law. The law is being processed - presently it is at the Minister's Committee. I hope that we will pass it in the next Knesset session.

The truth is, that the entire Chief Rabbi episode has made me ponder why we need a Chief Rabbinate at all. In the recent past, no great sanctification of G-d's Name has emerged from this institution. That is because of the intrinsic anomaly between Zionism and religion. "Zionism has nothing to do with religion," declared the Zionist Conference in Herzl's time. The Congress was right. The Rabbinate is not spiritual, cultural leadership, but rather, religious representation on the backdrop of Zionism. Zionism, for its part, doesn't mesh with the Rabbinate, but has no identity without religion. This is how the distortion was created. It will remain until we have our Holy Temple and Sanhedrin.

In the meantime, we must delegate authority to community rabbis. I trust the kosher certification of the local rabbi in his community, who is well-known by all, much more than the national bodies. The same is true for all the other issues with which the Rabbinate deals.

An excellent example of the disconnect between religion and re-awakening Judaism: This morning, the Liberal Lobby that I head held a caucus on the dangers of the Biometric Law. Judaism is really about personal liberty under the Kingdom of One G-d, Whom we serve exclusively. The Biometric Law refutes our autonomy as free people in a most essential way. Has anyone heard, or does anyone expect to hear the opinion of the Chief Rabbinate on this matter? Of course not. The reason is that it is a cultural, not religious issue. This is how the Rabbinate has become less and less relevant to our lives.

And one more remark: If we are going to have a Chief Rabbinate, the Knesset, the elected representatives of the people - should be the voting body.

My sincere wishes to us all that today the most worthy rabbis will be elected: servants of G-d and of the public. The entire public.

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