Recently, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the implementation of religious law in Israel. The Times of Israel tells us of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response:
“Well, that is pure and utter nonsense. It’s pure BS and nothing can attest to that more than the recently appointed justice minister from the Likud,” he added, referring to Amir Ohana, Israel’s first ever openly gay minister."At least he seems to admit that having an openly gay minister in some way violates Jewish law. The problem is that he's happy to commit such a violation.
Not only are the PM's remarks a chillul Hashem, but they are a rebuke of the very notion that the State of Israel is a Jewish state. As Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch told us repeatedly, the Jews are a people only via the Torah.
"It was not the land that Moses had been commanded to proclaim to his people at the outset of his mission as מורשה, as the inheritance they were to preserve (Ex. 6,8). The Law, to be translated into full reality upon that soil, was to be the true מורשה, the one true, everlasting inheritance, the one true center around which the nation and its leaders were to gather as one united community. Herein lay the goal and the destiny, the character and the significance of the people." Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 62
"Israel should be one nation, an entire nation that should have no other foundation for its existence, survival, activity and significance other than this Torah. It is to see the realization and devoted observance of this God-given "fiery Law" as its one contribution in world history for the edifice of human salvation. What the Phoenicians sought to bring about with the keels of their ships, what the ancient Greeks sought to achieve with their chisels and what the ancient Romans sought to attain with their swords, Israel is to accomplish with its Torah. Nay more, Israel is a nation that became a nation only through and for the Torah, a nation that once owned a land and existed as a state only through and for the Torah, and which possessed that land and that statehood only as instruments for translating the Torah into living reality. This is why Israel was a people even before it possessed land and statehood; this, too, is why Israel survived as a people even after its land was destroyed and its statehood lost, and this is why it will survive as a nation as long as it does not lose this only מורשה, this sole foundation for its survival and significance. That is the kind of nation that Israel, that all of us, should be." Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Character of the Jewish Community," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 35
So if the Jewish people is a nation only via the Torah then a political state that not only doesn't abide by the Torah but openly flaunts it is not Jewish. Note the PM's coarse and dirty language in rejecting the Transportation Minister's suggestion. Therefore, one cannot call the State of Israel the Jewish state. Rather, the State of Israel is a chillul Hashem, a desecration of His name.
Piling on to the Chillul Hashem, the PM will likely be indicted after the elections for fraud (so says the attorney general). Netanyahu runs around the world posing as the self-appointed spokesman for the Jewish people so his indictment would reflect on all of us. Equally problematic, police have recommended that one of the political leaders (not a rabbi) of the religious Sephardic Shas party be indicted for "fraud, breach of trust, obstructing court proceedings, money laundering, and tax offenses." Likewise, they have recommended that one of the political leaders (not a rabbi) of United Torah Judaism, "be charged with fraud and breach of trust for using his office to illicitly provide assistance to an alleged serial sex abuser, as well as on a separate bribery charge for helping to prevent the closure of a food business that his own ministry had deemed unsanitary."
All three people deny the charges against them. And I certainly can't tell you who is guilty or innocent. It could be that the charges are politically motivated. It could be they are legitimate. But there's a Chillul Hashem just the same. The heavens weep from the Chillul Hashem caused by the State of Israel.
But that's not all. Also in the news of late - the worldwide news - is the case of a group of Israeli teens who were arrested in Cyprus for allegedly raping a British 19 year old. Three of them admitted to having relations with her. Not only that, they videoed the sordid event and shared it with friends who uploaded it to the Internet. They also tossed her out of the room when they were done with her.
In a strange turn of events, the Cyprus police claim that the girl recanted, saying rape was not involved. But the girl says now the police forced her to recant, writing the statement for her after keeping her in the station house for 8 hours and threatening to arrest her friends. There are more than a few people out there who claim that the authorities in Cyprus were bribed or threatened by Israeli handlers.
Who knows the truth? At the very least, we have again a huge Chillul Hashem. The Israeli teens certainly acted perversely and cruelly even if they didn't actually rape. And much of the world is watching.
It's incredible that the nation of Hashem which is supposed to uphold the highest moral standards is now associated with the question of whether or not some of its youth committed one of the most horrible acts or not. But that they acted immorally is not in question.
Rav Joseph Breuer zt'l, the leader of the Hirschian kehilla in New York City wrote:
"The proclamation of a Jewish state would bring great joy to all the members of our people, if conditions were such that we could feel justified to call it a Kiddush Hashem. It pains us to say, and we have no illusions, that for the time being this is not the case. For every Torah-true Jew the word Kiddush Hashem is his utmost concern, while Chillul Hashem leaves him trembling. Thus the establishment of a Jewish state will fill him with misgivings and alarm." (R’ Joseph Breuer, “The State of Israel,” Mitteilungen, Vol. 9, June 1948, A Unique Perspective: Rav Breuer’s Essays 1914-1973, p 357.)
He wrote this 70 years ago and the situation has not improved. Arguably, it's worse now than ever. Moreover, each Chillul Hashem piles on top of the prior ones and endangers us all.