The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 8 December 2012 / 23 Kislev 5773

For Whom to Vote

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Parliamentary elections were being held in and no agreement had been reached between the religious community and the irreligious socialist “Bundists” to continue their tradition of presenting a united Jewish slate.

The Bundists, who were extremely bitter about the refusal of the rabbis to accept their terms, held a pre-election meeting. Their leader concluded a fiery campaign speech by declaring: “Cursed be the hand that casts a ballot for the Rabbis’ Party.”

When word of this came to the rabbis, a meeting was held at which some participants suggested that a proclamation be issued that a curse be upon anyone voting for the Bundist list. Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, the founder of the Ponovez Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, was then the rav of the Ponovez community and the youngest member of the rabbinical group. “Let them curse,” he told his colleagues, “and we shall bless.” His suggestion was accepted and the meeting ended with a proclamation that anyone voting for the rabbinical list would be blessed.

After this meeting a woman approached Rabbi Kahaneman and told him she really wanted to vote for his list but her husband insisted that she vote for the Bundist list. Aware of the mentality of his people, Rav Kahaneman told the woman that in accordance with the advice of our Talmudic Sages she should vote as he had instructed her. When she later related to her husband the ruling she received from the rabbi, he excitedly exclaimed, “If that is what the rabbi told you we are going to vote for the Rabbis’ List!”

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