By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

If only he had seen the Ohr HaTzafun – the very first piece.

It isn’t so unlikely. Bibi Netanyahu’s grandfather, Rabbi Nathan Mileikowsky (1879 – 1935), was a talmid of the illustrious Volozhin Yeshiva and certainly knew of the Alter. Bibi should have paid attention to it as well.

As of this printing, it is still difficult to predict Netanyahu’s political future. Yair Lapid, of course, was given the mandate to form a government after four previous elections and attempts by Netanyahu had failed. He also claims that he has formed a coalition.

The ultimate results will turn out to be either 1] a near-miss, 2] the Teflon Prime Minister’s downfall as Israel’s longest lasting Prime Minister and the creation of a bizarre and eclectic coalition of right wingers, left wingers, and the support of Arab Israeli parties – or 3] a forerunner of yet a fifth national election.

And it is unfortunate, because most people believe that he was great for Israel’s security and safety.

Regardless, Netanyahu’s errors and the looming possibility of a fifth election in Israel, can be attributed to the Prime Minister’s lack of knowing or understanding of the first piece in a work entitled the Ohr HaTzafun – which showcases the Torah thought of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l, better known as the Alter of Slabodka (1849- 1927).

Because, like Julius Caesar of Rome, the engineering of Netanyahu’s downfall was not orchestrated by Netanyahu’s enemies, but rather, by his former friend’s and associates.

Let’s take a look at the first piece in the Ohr HaTzafun.


It was stated on the sixth day of creation and is one of the fundamental psukim in the Torah (Bereishis 1:26). “Naaseh Adam b’Tzalmeinu – let us make man in Our Image.” Rashi explains that Hashem is teaching us derech eretz – proper conduct. Hashem, on a much higher station than the malachim to who He spoke to, is taking leave of those below Him. Rashi points out that this is a lessen for all mankind – defer to those below your station, consult with them, treat them like a mentsch.

But wait. Mankind had only one Mitzvah at the time. Vayitzav hashem Elokim al haAdam. The Alter cites the Gemorah in Sanhedrin as explaining that Adam HaRishon had only one Mitzvah and that was to know Hashem. Why then is there this second notion – this idea of treating others properly?

The Alter of Slabodka explained that one idea is actually subsumed in the other – as knowing Hashem by definition means emulating Him and thus reflecting His Divine qualities. He points out that people think that these ideas are separate and apart. That knowing Hashem has nothing to do with behaving like a mentsch and that behaving like a mentsch has nothing to do with belief in Hashem. “The truth is,” states the Alter, “this is what Torah is about – both of these concepts are one and the same, and that is why there is one Mitzvah here – knowing Hashem and displaying proper derech eretz and midos toward others. They are one and the same.

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This idea is also reflected in the Gemorah in Shabbos where Hillel explains to the gentile who wishes that Hillel convert him while standing upon one foot. Hillel explained that what is hateful unto yourself do not do to others and that the rest is commentary. Rabbi Akiva also said that v’ahavta larayacha kamocha is a klal gadol baTorah – a great principle in the Torah. This can be explained along these lines too.

Now let’s take a look at who were the people behind the coalition to bring down Netanyahu’s premiership in alphabetical order.

    Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked once actually ran Netanyahu’s office. They had both fallen out with Netanyahu and Bennet decided both before and now after the more recent war to partner with the very left leaning Yair Lapid.
    Ze’ev Elkin was a former Likud minister and the coalition chairman. He left and joined Gideon Saar’s New Hope Party.
    Avigdor Lieberman was once the director-general of Netanhayu’s prime ministership. He left his side and became Netanyahu’s political enemy.
    Gideon Saar, was formerly a member of the Likud. Indeed, he was formerly the cabinet secretary. He resigned and formed the New Hope Party.

In an analysis by Ovad Yehezkel, a former cabinet secretary himself, Mr. Yehezkel explains exactly how Netanyahu mistreated them all. He stated that of the five, Liberman was first to make the move. Mr. Yehezkel explains that it was clearly on account of Netanyahu’s mistreatment of Lieberman.

Gideon Saar, was next when he tried to remove the prime minister from the leadership of Likud. Netanyahu didn’t try to make shalom – he showered his former associate with contempt.

The third was Elkan, a yarmulke-clad ally who facilitated many of Netanyahu’s coalitions and political moves. He left the Likud after others were promoted into the more coveted ministerial positions before he was.

The last to defect were Bennett and Shaked. Who until the last minute said they preferred a right-wing government but ultimately went with a broad coalition from across the spectrum.

All five are well aware of how Mr. Netanyahu interacts with others politically. All five of them took part in helping the Prime Minister form strategies and plans. And, according to Mr. Yehezkel, all five of them were often:

    excluded from meetings
    barred from participating in election campaigns
    sent forth to television studios to mouth statements prepared for them by others
    and treated quite miserably

According to Nobel Laureate Dr. Aumann, one of the leading thinkers of Game Theory today, the repercussions of the defection are devastating for the internal security of Israel, the general population, and Israel’s future.

The lesson we must all from this is that mentchlechkeit matters. We have to realize that every person was created b’tzelem Elokim and they manner in which we treat others is crucially important. In a work entitled Kisvei HaSabba MiSlabodka (that is being reprinted shortly by the author), the Alter is shown to ne of the position that even after Adam HaRishon’s fall, mankind can still be on a very lofty, Divine level (pps. 636, 656, 573, 713). Indeed, he held that it was still possible for man to reach the lofty level of Adam haRishon – before his fall (275, 900). Man’s greatness is still retained, and man will be punished for not having realized this greatness (428, 796).

Knowledge of Hashem, the Ultimate Giver, helps us in so many ways. Often we alienate people from us because of what we say or how we act. This can have some pretty devastating repercussions. If we can collectively learn this lesson, Klal Yisroel, Eretz Yisroel, and our own communities will be much better off.

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As reported by Vos Iz Neias