The Rebbe’s Opinion on Political Elections



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    The Rebbe’s Opinion on Political Elections

    I am a teacher in a Chabad Mesivta and I noticed something that really bothered me: We all know that recently, in Eretz Yisroel and the USA, there were political elections. I saw that it consumed the time and passion of my students. I started wondering if that would be different if the talmidim — and Chassidim in general — were told by Rabbanim and Mashpiim told not to vote at all in the elections. What is the Rebbe’s approach to voting elections? Rabbi Gershon Avtzon answers in this week’s Chinuch and Moshiach column • Full Article

    Question: I am a teacher in a Chabad Mesivta and I noticed something that really bothered me: We all know that recently, in Eretz Yisroel and the USA, there were political elections. I saw that it consumed the time and passion of my students. I started wondering if that would be different if the talmidim — and Chassidim in general — were told by Rabbanim and Mashpiim told not to vote at all in the elections. What is the Rebbe’s approach to voting elections?

    Answer: Thank you for writing and bringing up this important topic. While certainly anything that involves Bittul Torah needs to be addressed, and especially something so divisive as elections (see the letter that the Rebbe wrote to Mr. Menachem Begin in Igros Kodesh Vol. 20 page 306; #7724), the Rebbe’s approach to elections is very clear: everyone who can must vote.

    “Obligated to Participate”

    The following are a few letters of the Rebbe on this important topic:

    (1) “In response to the questions of many: please publicize my opinion, suggestion, and request [that the Chassidim] participate en masse in the municipal elections [in Eretz Yisrael] and vote for the most observant list of candidates in a manner that will ensure the largest number of observant Jews in the municipal government. With thanks and with blessing.” (Igros, Vol. 3 p. 58; #813)

    (2) “I have already turned to the leaders of the Chassidic brotherhood in our Holy Land, [asking that] they publicize my opinion in response to questions asked by many: that every one, man and woman, is obligated to participate in the elections, to vote for the most G‑d-fearing party, and to influence others to do so as well. Certainly, they have already publicized this in an appropriate manner.” (Ibid, p. 392; #1110)

    “Whoever Doesnt Is Causing Great Damage”

    (3) In 5715 (1955), Rabbi Volf Greenglass (Mashpia in Montreal), received a letter from the famous mekubal from Yerushlayim, Rabbi Reuven Margolis with a few questions on the Rebbe’s approach to various things. Amongst the questions was why Chabad participates and votes in the elections in Eretz Yisrael. The letter was forwarded to the Rebbe and the Rebbe responded thus:

    “Regarding what you write about the elections: We follow the words and directives of our Rabbeim. In the first elections for the Knesset, the Rebbe [Rayatz] instructed his Chassidim to vote. From this it is understood that not only is it permissible for a Chassid to vote, it is an obligation to vote.”

    The Rebbe continues: “Those that benefit from the State of Israel and the only way they express their strong disagreement to the State is by not voting, are causing great damage to the public. This has been proven in the past, that the vote of one member of the Knesset can be the deciding factor in matters pertaining to Halacha — mid’Oraisa and mid’Rabbanan.” (Igros, Vol. 11 p. 167-168; #3559).

    (4) “Regarding what you write that I should forgive you for not participating in the elections: It is self-understood and obvious that this is not a personal thing and I am not personally upset. I made it very clear that anyone that has the ability to vote, has the obligation to do so. One less vote for the religious parties strengthens the value of the parties that are against Hashem and his Torah…” (Ibid, p. 385; #3767)

    (5) In 5731 (1971), the Rebbe wrote a long letter to Mr. Schneur Zalman Shazar (Rubashov) (President of the State of Israel). In this heartfelt letter, the Rebbe addressed the fact that he had stopped speaking out against the government’s policies of “land for peace.” The Rebbe wrote at length that with the current government, he did not see it being practical to change anything. 

    The Rebbe then added the following: “Certainly soon, [If ch”v Moshiach has not yet come], there will be elections. We will all remember which politicians were in such haste to give away parts of Eretz Yisrael that were given to us in the Six-Day War.” (Igros, Vol. 26 p. 282; #9887)

    If You Don’t Vote, You’re To Blame

    (6) “In response to your question in regards to the elections: You should all vote for the parties which show fear of Hashem. In-line with the ruling of our Torah: Anyone that votes for a party that registered non-Jews as Jews ,or parties associated with such parties, the terrible calamity associated with such behavior is “tied to your neck” [i.e., your responsibility]. (Igros, Vol. 33 p. 210; #11,522).

    The Moshiach Connection:

    We all know that Melech Hamoshiach is a king from the tribe of Yehuda. While it is true that Moshiach will not be elected by the people, his kingship and revelation is dependent on the acceptance of the people. That is why participating in the campaigns of “Kabbalas HaMalchus” is so important.

    In a famous exchange during the Sunday Dollars, the Rebbe told an Israeli journalist who asked the Rebbe’s opinion on a political matter in Eretz Yisrael, the Rebbe responded, “My hope is that very soon the prime minister should be Moshiach Tzdikeinu. But until then the reality of a narrow right-wing government [which will protect the integrity of the land] is preferable].”

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