I became disillusioned by both charedi parties, yet the other religious parties didn't really do it for me either.
Eli Yishai's short-lived Yachad party (with the backing of Rav Mazuz) brought renewed hope...and renewed disappointment when it didn't cross the threshold (and seemed manipulated not to cross the threshold).
And the more I read about Eretz Yisrael's real behind-the-scenes modern history, the more I realize how important it is to listen to the real talmidei chachamim about voting and other issues.
Their vision is incredibly far-reaching, and history has shown that despite how things look at the present and despite problems within the frum community, the real talmidei chachamim truly are able to differentiate between the lesser of the two evils.
So as far as major rabbis go regarding today's Israeli elections, the breakdown is like this:
- All Ashkenazi charedi rabbinical leaders have called to vote for Gimmel (Agudas Yisrael). (And maybe there are other Sephardi rabbanim who also vote Gimmel of whom I'm not aware.)
- The vast majority of Sephardi charedi rabbinical leaders have called to vote for Shas.
- Interestingly, Lubavitcher rabbinical leaders historically divide themselves between voting for Gimmel and voting for something like Otzma Yehudit — yet this election sees them taking a new and uncompromising stand:
"The stalemate between the Right bloc and the Left bloc and Lieberman does not allow anyone to take a gamble on the fate of Eretz Yisrael, Torat Yisrael, and Am Yisrael."
The Rabbinical Beis Din of Chabad proclaimed: "One should not vote for a candidate over which there is a doubt as to whether it will pass the threshold...Don't lose any vote, don't vote for Otzma Yehudit or Noam." (Noam suddenly dropped out anyway.)
Apparently, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe's concern was not to throw away votes by voting for chancy candidates and to vote for the most charedi party. (Source)
- Then there is the Eideh Hacharedis which consists of talmidei chachamim calling on people NOT to vote at all, and not to participate in this anti-Torah government at all. (Source)
(This all shines light on the long-standing split among charedi groups, who agree that the government is corrupt, but then diverge on how to deal with it.)
So where does that leave me?
And the Winner is...
That is my emotional response at this stage of my life.
However, we follow the mainstream charedi rabbis, especially the Sephardi ones (because my husband is wholly Sephardi).
To make a good example to my children who attend Sephardi yeshivot and benefit from programs funded by Shas, I have reluctantly voted Shas.
But the big push by rabbis I respect for Gimmel has been niggling at me. Rabbis I really respect are pushing very hard for Gimmel.
Particularly the venerable Rav Kanievsky has come out with some very strong statements, such as telling people with voting rights who are planning to visit Eretz Yisrael anyway, and could come for either Sukkot or the elections...to come to vote in the elections.
People asked whether they should attend a brit milah first or vote first...and Rav Kanievsky said to vote first — as early as possible on election day.
Furthermore, Rav Kanievsky has made some very desirable and powerful promises of blessing for those who vote Gimmel today.
To be fair, Rav Abuchatzeirah also made some nice promises for sweetened din for those who vote Shas.
But so much of what I've been coming across really makes a big push for Gimmel — even though I DON'T put my faith in politicians.
Then last night, my husband was reading a charedi newspaper and came across Rav Kanievsky's promises of blessed middah k'neged middah (measure for measure) for whoever votes Gimmel.
"What do you say about voting Gimmel?" he asked me suddenly.
I turned to him and poured out my heart about that I really feel that daat Torah is overwhelmingly saying to vote Gimmel.
It's different this time around. There's a stronger push this year — and it's coming from the top rabbanim.
So based on Rav Kanievsky's promise of bracha, my husband decided we should vote Gimmel.
I was so relieved!
My husband and I have actually voted for different parties before, but in order to vote differently than the kids (who see not voting Shas as a lack of hakarat hatov and not listening to their Gadolei Hador), I needed my husband's support.
(My kids don't decide my life for me, but voting can also be an issue of chinuch and setting an example, which could be misinterpreted by them, depending.)
So we voted Gimmel this morning.
May we VERY SOON merit Mashiach as our leader — and may he come in a sweet way.