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Problems with the secular State of Israel & its court system

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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tammuz 12, 5781
Question
When Israel was being created as a secular state, it was known that the state would have courts that wouldn’t be religious and would issue rulings, especially monetary rulings, that would go against the Torah. One of the main functions of a state is its courts, and it’s obvious that whenever you create a state, courts will also be created. How was founding a secular state not transgressing the prohibition of causing others to sin ("lifney eevair"), when clearly you would be causing these secular courts to be created?
Answer
Firstly, don't forget the alternative hell of not (!) having a Jewish State, which we had just experienced 3 years beforehand in the Holocaust. True, your approach was taken by the miniscule and extremist Neturei Karta, but almost all religious Jews followed Rav Kook and the Chazon Ish, who realized the pragmatic necessity of the suggested Jewish State, which was the best option "on the table", with the intention of improving it. Secondly, historically, the court system and much of the religious status-quo was unfortunately already decided by the British during the Mandate period, mainly based upon the British system which was seen as more modern, without consulting the religious leaders. These were not founded by the State, but simply continued to function after the State was founded. Thirdly, regarding this and similar issues regarding the status-quo, all older Israelis know that the population in Israel is growing more and more religious (e.g. compare the number of kosher restaurants and religious army officers with the situation just 25 years ago!). Statistically, already most (!) children are enrolled today in religious kindergartens, and within several decades most of the Jews in Israel will be observant. That's precisely why the secularists in the irrelevant Labor and Meretz parties (which used to rule Israel for the first 30 years of the State, today combined (!) comprise just 11% of the Knesset), together with the slightly larger "centrist" Yesh Atid & Kachol v'Lavan parties (together, 21%), saw that their last hope of ever being in a coalition, is by greatly compromising most of their agendas. Accordingly, their final "swan-song" is to accept mainly inferior ministries, to admit for the first time an Arab party, and to absurdly lure the right-wing Naftali Bennet, Gidon Sa'ar and Avigdor Lieberman to head (!) their coalition, in order to try moving the status-quo in their direction (and away from the 54% of the national/traditional and religious parties) before it's "too late"- from their perspective. You don't need to be a statistician to know that the religious have much more children, and are the ones making aliya from western countries, while those leaving Israel are secularists. The olim from the former Soviet Union and their children are gradually becoming more and more Israeli (= traditional) for everyone needs a culture, and the hundreds of thousands of Ba'alei Teshuva here also impact the numbers. Even those going in the opposite direction, from religious homes to being less so, usually "return" to a certain extent, when they get married and have children. In short, just as the Knesset, so too the culture, media, social make-up and even the judicial system of the State of Israel are becoming more religious (e.g. the conservative judges appointed by Ayelet Shaked, which panicked the leftists). Nevertheless, all transitions in life, especially public changes, take time (and especially when most of the western world is becoming more secular and permissive, we are clearly an outstanding light which, hopefully will influence other nations to change direction). Thirdly, the State of Israel is not perfect, and in fact I hate to break it to you, but almost nothing in this world, as it is today, is ideal! The goal of life, according to the Rambam is to meet the challenges with our Godly free-will, or in the words of Rav Soloveitchik, to "destine the fate" in the best possible way. Rather than disappointingly complaining and demanding immediate gratification and perfection, idealistic young people like yourself should actively but patiently, hasten this process of redemption by "adding light" to chase-away the remaining darkness, to make sure it will develop that much more quickly within our lifetime. B'Ahavat Yisrael, Rav Ari Shvat
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