Colors: Green Color

By the time you read this, we may well know the result of the Special Election for the City Council. But if you think there will be a respite from politics, guess again. The big election this year will be the Primary on June 22. The winner has already started running for re-election and potential opponents are already gearing up. They will start collecting signatures to get on the ballot in less than three weeks.

A p’sak halachah was just given by Rav Yaakov Ariel that is – quite literally – a revolution.  Rav Ariel is one of Israel’s leading poskim and the head of Machon Torah Ve’Ha’artez (The Institute for Torah and the Land of Israel).  Rav Ariel, former chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, is the author of over 20 Halachic sefarim and the foremost Halachic authority on “Mitzvot teluyot ba’aretz” (Mitzvot connected to the Land).  To really appreciate his incredible p’sak, I need to give some background.

Many of us would not consider ourselves political individuals and do not put going to the polls on our list of priorities. Nonetheless, casting your ballot gives you a voice on issues ranging from housing and education to employment and healthcare. Being involved in the voting process allows you make a real difference in the makeup and decisions within your community. Casting a vote has dire consequences for the quality of life that both you and your family experience today and in the years ahead. From riding the bus or train to raising minimum wage to getting better textbooks in school, your vote decides how these issues will play out. Casting your ballot affords you the opportunity to delegate how your hard-earned tax dollars are divvied out for necessities like medical expenses and social services that many take for granted.

I have been thinking about this a lot and just arrived at a very strange conclusion. As you know, the last 18 months have been extremely challenging, yet, baruch Hashem, things seem to be returning to normal. School is finishing, camps are about to begin, weddings have returned, shuls are open, and masks are off. There’s so much to do to “catch up,” but before anything else here’s the first thing on the “to-do list”: We need to ask Pharaoh for forgiveness. Yes, Pharaoh – the bad, evil king in Egypt who enslaved our people for over 200 years and killed Jewish babies – that guy.

The Three Weeks are now becoming The Nine Days, and life has just gotten far more difficult. No laundering, no pleasure showers, no swimming, and no pastrami sandwiches. It seems like the big expression around here is simply, “Just Say No!” Therefore, please allow me to change things a bit. I have always trained myself to think differently, so here is a list that you won’t read anywhere else. It is a list of things that you can actually say “YES” to during these Nine Days. I call it my “Nine Ideas for the Nine Days.”

Israel’s new Prime Minister is Naftali Bennett, and I sincerely wish him well. I will daven for his success and hope that Hashem will help him do good things for Israel and world Jewry. Yes, I would have preferred that the elections turned out differently, but they didn’t – and I’m okay with that. When you enter a game, you try everything possible to win, but you must also be prepared to lose. If you’re not ready to lose, don’t play the game.