Opinion: The new government’s most far-right elements fail to encompass teachings of the Torah’s central tenets, presenting a one-dimensional view of the Israeli citizen’s needs and wants

In a myriad of demands that have emerged during the coalition negotiations, as Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to form a new government, one has been especially jarring. The demand to integrate the Talmud, a record of the rabbinic debates in the 2nd-5th century on the teachings of the Torah, into the curriculum at state schools.

Taken at face value, it could just be instance of a society being mindful of its cultural origins. But, the far-right lawmakers appear to want our children to internalize the depths of Jewish culture to the point where it might not be healthy.

The Talmud stands in contrast with new government's vision
The Talmud stands in contrast with new government’s vision


The Talmud is a document that raises many pivotal and fundamental questions upon which there’s little agreement. Moreover, the Talmud is not a call for direct action. It is about a sacred sense of being that touches of the complexity of life.

And therein lies the question: How does the Talmud’s spirit of deep consciousness sit with the incoming government’s very specific, pointed demands about integrating religion into state schools?

The two loudest far-right elements of the emerging coalition, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, represent a foreign mindset to the very same Talmud they wish to see in every school.

Their demands to dismantle ministries into several smaller entities, their insatiable appetite for power and their dogmatic view of the Israeli society, which they claim to want to serve, all indicate they see liberalism as a thing of the past.

איתמר בן גביר ובצלאל סמוטריץ'
Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich (Photo: AFP)


We can only hope that their voter base remembers the despair some of them felt when, for instance, the Israeli government voted to evacuate the Gaza Strip settlements, known as Gush Katif, discarding the opinion of the very same people that lived there as if they did not matter.

We should also be mindful that these elections proved to be that of protest, directed against the outgoing government’s supposed disownment of Jewish traditions. The lack of governance does not only relate to the fear of criminality and violence, but also to the loss of national dignity.

The sense of Jewish identity is of greater importance to many Israelis than the cost of living. When Labor Party Chairwoman Merav Michaeli talks about liberating Israel from “the siege of the Shabbat,” many who cherish the sense of Jewish identity view this as a value that contradicts their own – and act accordingly on Election Day.

מליאת הכנסת
Labor Party Chairwoman Merav Michaeli (Photo: Rafi Kotz)


While Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid decries the incoming government as apocalyptic, what he should be doing instead is forming a compelling alternative that would garner the support of the majority (or at least plurality) of Israelis.

Questioning the civic conviction of religious voters just because the leaders of some of the parties never served in the IDF is preposterous, since many of the voters themselves served in the military’s most elite units.

Lapid, Benny Gantz and others need to understand the incoming government is unlikely to last, as it represents a one-dimensional view of society that fails to take the needs of the majority into account. If they wish to get back into power, they need to form the kind of alternative that balances liberal needs with religious and cultural ones.

As reported by Ynetnews