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ב"ה

Your Best Vote

Friday, 25 January, 2013 - 1:00 pm

Israel went to the polls this week and, as is often the case in Israel, the outcome was anything but assured. Indeed, there was a plentiful supply of surprises and we will probably not know the makeup of the new government for at least another week or two.

In all, 12 parties were elected to the 120-member Knesset. That is twelve out of 35 parties participating.

Israel’s electoral system is quite different than ours in America. The necessity of a governing coalition gives considerable power to small parties, and encourages niche parties to participate. As if we Jews needed an excuse to form another opinion!

This cycle, over 20 parties such as Ale Yarok (Green Leaf), whose platform is legalizing marijuana, did not meet the electoral threshold (2%) to earn a Knesset seat. In all, 7% of Israeli votes went to waste (up from 3% in 2009). At debate in Israel, is whether these parties hurt themselves and the public by siphoning votes from would-be Knesset members. In other words, those votes, had they gone to a larger party (perhaps their second-choice) may have resulted in a larger right-wing or left-wing (or other) bloc. Now, they are meaningless.

So, is it worth voting for a party that has little to no chance of entering the Knesset?  It’s clear that some parties had no chance. But others came very close. Is it worth the risk?

***

In this week’s Parsha Beshalach we learn about the great miracle of the Splitting of the Sea. The Jews, the Midrash relates – caught between Pharaoh’s  army and the sea – break into four factions. One group says let’s go back to Egypt as slaves. Another opines to battle the Egyptian army. A third crowd promotes jumping in the sea (suicide; at least not dying at the hands of the Egyptians). The fourth bloc argues in favor of prayer – only G-d can help.

Amazingly, they were all wrong.

G-d’s command to Moshe was simply to march forward. With the marvelous miracle that followed, it became evident why they were all mistaken. (A fascinating insight into the message behind these four groups can be found here.)

But I’d like to focus simply on the fact that they were all wrong. Sometimes, it is indeed possible that we all err in our judgment, as noble as it may seem. We have the right arguments. We are experienced. We act with sincere convictions.

Nonetheless, we simply miss the point.

***

It’s difficult for us to recognize when we are in such situations that might call for “another option altogether.” And I am certainly not expert enough to advise on whether one’s vote will further the best interests of one’s self or our brothers and sisters in Israel.

But, it is evident from the Torah, that if we maintain our allegiance to G-d’s direction – we cannot fail. (Especially, when such decisions affect the very survival of Jewish people.)

Perhaps that is the best litmus test for our decisions and convictions. Can I clearly state that my decision falls in line with G-d’s wishes?

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