When Π Equals 3: The Battle for a Zionist Chief Rabbi
I can’t imagine the Indian government attempting to change the value of a mathematical constant by law. They are too civilized for that. This type of legislation is restricted to colonizers. Indiana legislated in 1897 what is known as the Indiana Pi Bill, which sets the value of Π as 3.2. A very confused physician claimed to have discovered a new way of squaring the circle and introduced “A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897.” Hopefully, he was banned from practicing medicine.
The ridicule of this bill provides the perfect introduction to illegitimate laws.* Legislators can pass any law they want, but not all of them are legal, for example if they violate human rights. Moreover, some of the laws may be legal but not legitimate. In other words, governments cannot set the value of nature’s constants by law. In the same way they cannot outlaw people with less than three hands. Π does not equal 3.
Constant Pi, Violated by Indiana Mathematical Constants
Netanyahu’s Spoiled Cake
As the elections to Israel’s Chief Rabbi approach, Netanyahu’s new government is attempting to square the circle while using a corrupted Π.
Netanyhau’s coalition is problematic. Four parties, namely Netanyahu’s Likud (31 seats), Lapid’s Yesh Atid (19), Bennett’s Jewish Home (12) and Livni’s Hatnua (6) have agreed on a government that on paper is stable with a majority of 68 out of the Knesset’s 120 seats. A preceding Lapid-Bennett agreement imposed impossible conditions on Netanyahu. Compared to the last government, Likud lost key ministries, settlers won key positions, and Lapid is about to change the elections rules so that he may become the leader of the largest party in the next Knesset.
Sephardic Haredi party Shas (11 seats) and the Ashkenazi Haredi-Hasidic party United Torah Judaism (7 seats) were forced out of the coalition by anti-religious Lapid. These two Ultra-Orthodox parties are the main losers because Lapid and Bennet imposed a Haredi Draft clause on Netanyahu. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis recently declared that such a law must not be obeyed. As Israel teaches regarding the Nazi Regime, illegitimate laws must be disobeyed.*
Shocked, Netanyahu Announces New Coalition March 14, 2013 Twisted Cakes: Deliciously Evil Designs for Every Occasion
Netanyahu’s Coalition. Livni, Bennett, and Lapid sitting on his head.
Divorcing from Religious Marriages
Weakened, Netanyahu is between a rock and a hard place. He cannot make a coalition with his historical partners, the Ultra-Orthodox parties. If he follows the lead of Bennett and Lapid he will be soon portrayed as a clownish yes-man; Ultra-Orthodox already consider him a Hyrax-Eater for what they consider his betrayal. Bennett belongs to the Religious Zionism Movement (The Rise of the Jewish Home) and is eager to justify his achievement in the recent elections. He is promoting the Haredi-Draft Law, in the second week of May announced a marriages reform in Israel and on May 19, 2013, announced that he wants a Zionist Chief Rabbi.
At first sight, this looks as a revolution. However, it doesn’t amount to anything more than a Politruk‘s reshuffling reality for his own benefit. Traditionally, Chief Rabbis are Ultra-Orthodox Jews. They are not Zionists, though recently former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef awkwardly defined himself as one**. Bennett wants rabbis affiliated to his party to conquer the prestigious job.
The marriages situation is even more problematic. Civil marriages do not exist in Israel. One must get married in a religious ceremony as per one’s religion, as determined by secret lists of the Ministry of Interior. In other words, one cannot choose his religion or how to marry. Those seeking a civilian ceremony get married in Cyprus. There are travel agencies specializing in this type of tourism; couples travel, get married in Larnaka and return to Tel Aviv in the same morning. Until now, the most recent development was Netanyahu’s decision to prolong the law banning mixed marriages. Ahead of the rabbinical elctions, Bennett wants to change the game.
Bennett, who serves as Minister of Religious Affairs, announced what he called a “revolution.” Citizens would be able to choose how to marry. Or that is the way he presented that. From now, one would not be restricted to marriage through the Religious Council active in the area when one leaves, but will be able to marry in any Religious Council offices in Israel. One won’t be able to choose the type of ceremony. Mixed marriages would be banned. In other words, the Minister is attempting to show positive changes in order to justify the election of his candidate as Chief Rabbi.
The election of Chief Rabbis is not a public event; it takes place within the secretive corridors of the Ministry and the Rabbinate. Yet, since February 2013, an unprecedented public campaign is promoting Rabbi Stav, one of the founders of Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikva, to be nominated as Chief Rabbi.
“Yeshivat Hesder” is a generic name for religious colleges that combine Talmudic studies with military service in the army; they belong to the Nationalistic Religious framework. Most religious Jews are exempted from military service; this was one of the main topics leading to the recent elections. Thus, they want to recruit the secular voice (the majority) to support a “militaristic-rabbi” to the post of Chief Rabbi.
Until now, both posts (Ashkenazi and Sephardic) were occupied exclusively by ultra-Orthodox Haredi rabbis. Accordingly, an organization called “Secular Headquarters for the Election of Rabbi Stav” was created and is led by Eran Rols. The scene is surrealistic. On February 2, he said to Channel 7, “You must understand, the Haredim lead seculars away from the rabbinical world. I am sorry to say that Zionist rabbis live within their own ghettos, and do not understand that the secular public must be encouraged to take part in the election of Chief Rabbis.” Rabbi Stav claims not to be involved in this initiative.
Meanwhile, Ultra-Orthodox Jews are being blocked by the Government. Shas favorite candidate, Shlomo Amar, requires a change of legislation since he already holds the title. Netanyahu’s coalition opposes the change. As of now, it is difficult to say which group will prevail.
So why the rabbinical Π equals 3?
“What’s wrong with Bennett’s decision? Is a step away from the current Jewish Theocracy,” would most Zionists reading this article say at this stage. My choice to begin the article with the story of the irrational doctor Edwin J. Goodwin was not random. A confused physician who understood neither mathematics nor laws attempted to force the entire creation of God to follow the Very Honorable Laws of the State of Indiana. More than a century later it is clear that the planets trajectories did not accommodate to Indiana’s wishes. It is unlikely to happen. The same goes for Bennetts attempt to change religion.
Member of the Knesset Rabbi Uri Maklev from United Torah Judaism , reacted on May 19, saying: “This is not a reform on the religious services. This is a reform of the Halakha,” the religious Jewish Law.***
One may not like the religious position of Ultra-Orthodox Jews; however, the State cannot decide that religious interpretations belong to it. At least no more than deciding that Π equals 3. Following more than a century of continuous decline into obliviousness, the State of Indiana may decide to return to the headlines by declaring itself the worldwide authority on Jewish Halakha. It would be legal. So what? Nobody will recognize that.
The solution is not conducting religious marriages by the State. No state can impose religion upon its citizens, this is a private issue between each person and God. Israel is trying to impose not only this, but also the specific worshipping ways allowed to every person. It tries to impose the way one will be received into this world (including forcing mutilations), the way one will marry and with whom, and the way one should be buried. These are as much roles of the State as setting nature’s constants. Make the math, Netanyahu!
* Most Israelis do not understand the concept of illegitimate laws. A law may pass through all the tedious processes of legislation. It may be approved by the Knesset Legislation Committee, and afterwards by the Knesset’s General Assembly. It may be published by “Reshumot” (Israel’s official publication announcing new laws) and afterwards be brutally enforced by civil servants. Everything may look “kosher” on paper, and still the law can be illegitimate, demanding automatic disobedience by the public. No government can pass a law violating Human Rights, which are International Law since 1994. No government operating under the Criminal Law system can legislate laws claiming to prevent a future crime.
Oppressive laws designed to benefit the few while violating the many cannot be accepted as legitimate. They are legal in the same way that the Nazi laws were legal, but they are not legitimate. Israel crossed the threshold from legal laws to illegitimate laws many years ago. They remember Hitler only when it is profitable. As Israel teaches regarding the Nazi Regime, illegitimate laws must be disobeyed.
A special law, Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Punishment Law (Hok Le’Asiat Din BaNatzim) from August 1, 1950, enables the execution of Nazis, had been applied. Between 1950 and 1961, this law was used to prosecute 29 Jewish Holocaust survivors alleged to have been Nazi collaborators. The first and only time it was used to execute a person, was in the Adolf Eichmann case. He was illegally kidnapped by Mossad from Argentina in 1960 and two years later was hanged. What makes this a special event from a legal point of view is that this law is a retroactive and extraterritorial law, since the State of Israel didn’t exist during WWII. Moreover, the alleged crimes were neither committed in Israel nor against Israeli citizens.
An ex post facto law (Latin for “after the fact”), or retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed prior to the enactment of the law. Ex post facto laws are expressly forbidden by the United States Constitution, though some countries accept them. These laws cannot be accepted as fair practice, regardless of the justifications used for their approval. Simply, how can one protect himself against a law that has not been legislated? Imagine the USA legislating in 2012 a new law declaring all bubble-gum chewing performed before 2012 a crime. Then the government would declare all citizens guilty unless proven otherwise, and fine them $1.00 automatically. States applying this horror assume that people have the power of precognition (Israel did that again recently, see Minority Report: IDF arrests Palestinian prisoner released in Shalit swap). Thus, the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Punishment Law cannot be accepted as a legitimate law, especially due to its geopolitical consequences. If we accept this, we will be forced also to accept a Laotian law sentencing Americans chewing bubble-gum in Honduras to death (no offense intended to any of the abovementioned nations).
A closely related fact is that governments often rely on the ignorance of their citizens; this ignorance is easily supported by an irrelevant educational system controlled by the same governments. How can they expect the People to obey laws that are not taught? Are we still living in the days of the Roman Empire and its obsolete legal principles? I refer to ignorantia iuris non excusat (a.k.a. ignorantia legis non excusat and ignorantia legis neminem excusat) a legal principle whereby ignorance of a law does not allow one to escape liability. It sounds like the ultimate state-entrapment technique (“I legislated that two minutes ago! You are guilty!” The government said to the citizen who stepped on a cockroach).
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…” (from the Preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence).
** Yosef holds a Halakhically ambivalent view towards Zionism, considering it “Atchalta D’Geula” (“Redemption’s Beginning” in Aramaic). In 2010, Rabbi Yosef and Shas’ “Moetzet Chachamei HaTorah” (Council of Torah-Sages) approved the party’s membership in the World Zionist Organization, transforming it into the first Zionist-Haredi party in Israel. Yet, that’s only due to political interests. In an interview, Yosef said, “What is a Zionist? By our understanding, a Zionist is a person who loves Zion and practices the commandment of settling the land. Whenever I am overseas, I encourage Aliyah [immigration to Israel]. In what way are they more Zionist than us?”
** Halakha is the Jewish religious law, a body of legislation parallel to Muslim Shar’ia. Its most comprehensive text is the “Shulchan Aruch ” published by Yosef Karo in 1563. The name means “Set Table” and is the most extensive Code of Jewish Law. It generally follows Sephardi traditions. Shortly afterwards, Rabbi Moses Isserles published his notes to the “set table,” usually known as “mappah” (tablecloth). The combination is an acceptable way of solving liturgical discrepancies among the bulk of Jews, namely Sephardic and Ashkenazi. Ultra-Orthodox parties oppose bringing civil actions to Israeli courts because they decide outcomes by applying Israeli law rather than Jewish-Halakha. Rejecting the legal system equals rejecting the foundations of the State of Israel, and thus discloses these parties intention of founding a future Halakhic state, based on the Talmud.
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.
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