"Setting Out on a New Path" Part 1

The Need for Self-Criticism

With the arrival of the new year, we must stop to reflect upon our
deeds in order to pave the way for self-improvement. After the blow we
suffered at the hands of our deceitful brothers, we cannot allow
things to continue in the manner they have until now. This crisis
indicates that there is a serious problem. If we do not draw the
necessary conclusions, we will be forced to face additional, more
difficult crises, until eventually we will be forced to abandon evil
and choose good. However, if we draw the necessary conclusions now, we
can emerge from these difficulties into the light of solace and
salvation.

We may establish our approach upon three fundamental principles:
a) inward strengthening
b) open criticism of all authoritative systems and elitist networks
c) preparation of alternative programs for all government and social
systems in Israel

The underlying foundation for all of this is a consciousness of our
“freedom.”

Learning to Criticize and Reproach

Over the years, we have been negligent about criticizing government
systems. It is true that the underlying motivation for this approach
was a positive one. We preferred to seek out the light and the good,
not to focus on shortcomings and evil. Criticizing inevitably offends
people. A person who criticizes is liable to oversee all of the good
which God has bestowed upon us through the ingathering of the exiles
and the establishment of the state of Israel.

However, this approach was at the same time plagued by weakness and
flattery. It is easier to esteem the rulers, to feel partnership with
those in power and to receive a small piece of the “cake” of their
power. Yet, without taking note of the weaknesses and corruption which
exist in all of the state’s governing establishments, it is impossible
to correct them.

The Failure of Working from Within
For years, we strove to fix things from within, to assimilate into all
of the systems and to improve them gradually. We believed that if we
would adopt an approach of love, we would receive love in return. We
thought that if we would acknowledge the worth of the nationalist and
humanist values espoused by forerunners of Israel’s secular public,
they too would acknowledge the importance of Torah values. The schisms
would be mended, the polarities would dissolve, a process of mutual
fertilization would evolve. This situation, we believed, would lead to
the building of a value-grounded Jewish society that would advance,
stage by stage, until reaching a level of complete faith in God, His
Torah, and all lofty human ideals.

The destruction of the settlements, the cruel expulsion of the
settlers, the suppression of those who demonstrated against the state
and the government – these matters taught us that the working-from-
within approach is destined to fail. The establishment behaved toward
the religious-Zionist community in a manner reflecting what our sages
say regarding the “reshut” (authority): “Be careful with [those in]
authority, for they do not draw a person near except for their own
needs. They appear as friends when it is to their advantage, but they
do not stand up for a person in his hour of distress” (Avot 2:3).

When it was necessary for us to request help from the courts, the
media, the IDF, and the police, everybody closed their ears and hearts
and sided with those bent on destroying us. All of their talk of
democracy, justice, and morality turned out to be worthless. We can
see that their befriending us until now was for their own good, in
order to strengthen their control.

The Elite and the General Public

This accusation is directed toward the establishment, at Israel’s
elitist networks. It appears that, on an individual level, many people
who hold establishment positions embrace Jewish values. Perhaps when
they retire from their posts they will regret what they did. However,
as long as they are part of the establishment, they are ready to
accept crooked and malicious opinions.

However, the wider Israeli public, both traditional and secular, is
actually interested in strengthening the state’s Jewish and Zionist
values. We must therefore show them love and trust, and strive towards
mutual fertilization with them.

The problem is the elite circles. They exploit the general public so
that they are unable to realize their true ambitions. The media
maligns those who are faithful to Zionism and Judaism and causes the
general public to repudiate those who would be capable of giving
expression to these Jewish values. The courts and the academic
establishment, each in its own way, manage to block any Zionist and
Jewish initiative. Thus, the elites distance and disengage themselves
from the values of the Jewish people and pull the wider public along
behind them.

Systematic Criticism

We must make a shift, moving away from the approach which calls for
criticizing particular aspects of the system in order to mend things
from within. It is time to critique the very foundations of the
establishment in order to change things from the bottom up:

We must criticize the media. It acts as a mouthpiece for anti-Jewish
and anti-Zionist propaganda, and to this end distorts reality to the
point where it ought to be called “falsehood” (“tishkoret”) instead of
media (“tikshoret”).

We must uncover the true face of those leaders whose true motivation
is personal good. In order to deceive innocent citizens, they portray
themselves as individuals who spend their days and nights laboring for
the good of the nation and the homeland. Furthermore, we must expose
the lifestyles of the state’s wealthy who are disengaged from values
and from Judaism.

We must voice criticism of the High Court. Even if its members are not
personally corrupt, their arrogance knows no bounds. They ridicule
Jewish values, and, without having been chosen for such, determine the
domestic and foreign policy of the state of Israel. Without thinking,
they make decisions which endanger the existence of the Jewish people
in the land of Israel.

Only constructive criticism which is penetrating and continuous has
the power to possibly bring about a change for the better. It is
likely that, initially, only a handful of those targeted will actually
respond to the criticism. The great majority will resent it and prefer
to stick its head into the sand. They will prefer to believe that
everything is proceeding as usual, but if we are persistent we will
make process.

At the outset, progress will be difficult and slow, and we will have
to fight for every additional percent of support. However, when we
reach the fifteen percent point, the effect of the criticism will
grow. The process of eroding the elite’s public standing will be
accelerated, and in a relatively short amount of time we will be able
to begin changing the establishment for the better.

Only he who is capable of standing courageously and rebuking leaders
is worthy of leadership. In the words of Rabbi Yonatan (Sanhedrin
101b): “Why did Jeroboam merit the crown? Because he rebuked Solomon.”
However, it is important to take note of the continuation of this
source: “And why was he (Jeroboam) punished? Because he rebuked him in
public,” and Rashi comments that he rebuked him in public in order to
embarrass him.

In other words, rebuke must be aimed at improvement alone, not at
insulting and humiliating. Therefore, we must make sure that our
criticism is founded upon truth, and that it is voiced with the sole
intention of bringing about improvement. This, after all, is the
definition of the Torah commandment to admonish, as it is written, “Do
not hate your brother in your heart; you must admonish your neighbor,
and not bear sin because of him,” and in the next verse, “You must
love your neighbor as you love yourself. I am God” (Leviticus
19:17-18).

Voicing criticism will allow us to create alternative programs for all
of the difficult problems which accumulate before us. It will create
an open space which we can fill with new content. We shall start with
the necessary criticism of all governing systems. One might think it
necessary to begin by preparing alternative programs, and then,
naturally, there will be no need for criticism, because everybody will
acknowledge the excellence and desirability of these alternatives.
However, in reality, this is not the case. There is evil in the world,
some stems from direct intention and some from laziness. Without
criticism, there will be no room for change.

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