It was well over twenty years ago when I first was able to vote in an Israeli election. I took that responsibility very seriously and asked several people whom I respected for guidance. There was one bit of advice I have never forgotten. My husband’s study partner told me that he could not imagine after coming to live in the Land of Israel that he could vote for any party that did not have a G-d fearing platform. Since then I have always voted for a religious party. I always knew, though, that the head of my religious party would not be the prime minister. I just prayed that the elected prime minister would choose my party as part of his coalition.
My memories of the details from past elections are hazy but some of the emotions are as clear as if they had happened yesterday. Prior to the 1996 election, following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, there was a hateful atmosphere in the country. The Left blamed the Right for the assassination and the Right blamed the Left for the dozens of bus bombing that left scores of Israelis murdered and hundreds wounded.
I was convinced that if Shimon Peres won the election he would continue on the Oslo Accords path straight to national suicide. When Binyamin Netanyahu emerged the victor by a narrow margin I was thankful HaShem had heard our fervent prayers. Under his leadership the terror slowed down and Israelis could once again board a bus without fearing it would blow up. However, Netanyahu did relinquish control over parts of Hevron. This also led to loss of lives.
That was when I began to understand that Israeli politics were far more complicated than I had thought. I remember the sinking feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when Ehud Barak became prime minister in 1999. I have not forgotten how disappointed I was in the incompetent way he handled the beginning of the Second Intifada.
There were more disillusions. When Ariel Sharon was elected in 2001 I was enthusiastic. He formed a government with religious, right-wing, and immigrant parties. I am religious, right-wing, and an immigrant. Surely this was a Knesset that would meet my needs. And then four years later Sharon orchestrated one of the biggest tragedies in Israel. Thousands of Jews were expelled from their homes by Jews because they were Jews. Communities were destroyed and today the country is still suffering from the Expulsion.
Some who share my disillusionment no longer vote in the elections. My sense of responsibility prevents me from following them. Still, I cannot put my faith in the outcome of the votes. Instead I know that it is G-d who is in charge.
There is a beautiful prayer that is said every Shabbat as the Sefer Torah is taken out of the Holy Ark. For some reason it is said in Aramaic but my prayer book has the Hebrew translation.
Blessed is His name, the Master of the world. Blessed is Your crown and Your place. May it be Your will, Your people of Israel forever, to extend Your right hand to lead Your people into Your Holy Temple. And to influence us with Your great goodness and to accept our prayers with mercy. May it be Your will to lengthen our lives with kindness and that I be counted among the righteous, to be compassionate on me and to protect me and all that is mine and that of your people Israel. You nourish all, sustain all, it is You who rules over all. It is You who controls kings and governments, they are yours. I am the servant of the Holy One, blessed be He and I bow down before Him and before His glorious Torah at every moment. Not in man do I trust and not on angels do I depend, rather on G-d in the heavens, He is the true G-d, and His Torah is true, and His prophets are true, and His great kindness is true. In Him I trust and to His holy, honored name I praise. May it be Your will that You will open my heart to Torah and You will fulfill my heart’s desires and the hearts of all Your people Israel for goodness, life, and peace.
There has been much slander leading up to the current elections. It saddens me but I strive to ignore it. I am not interested in the political discussions. I believe that HaShem prefers our prayers, learning Torah, and acts of kindness over the politics. With the same effort I try to do those commandments I will go to the voting poll. I will take the responsibility to cast my vote and hope that I am doing my part to hasten the Final Redemption. I understand no matter what the outcome of the elections, G-d is in charge. Just as He controls the kings He controls the prime ministers. I pray He will fulfill my heart’s desires and the hearts of His people Israel for goodness, life, and peace.