The Annual Chametz Law Brouhaha
This article was published in Hebrew on Channel 2's mako website.
This year, like every year, the Chametz law will provide rhetoric for politicians and media personalities from both ends of the political divide. One side will make its point in the name of freedom of choice, while the other side will argue for Jewish identity. This over-chewed squabble will make the headlines on the news talk shows until the holiday ends, when it will be put back into the mothballs. Until next year, when we will start all over again.
This disagreement does not add even one crumb of freedom to our society’s discourse. Whoever wants to eat chametz on Passover can relax in a plethora of Tel Aviv cafés and chew on as many rolls as he likes. It doesn’t bring with it a crumb of Jewish identity, either. Not only does the existing law not prevent chametz consumption – but it turns eating chametz on Passover into a banner, electrifying it with some sort of liberty-lovers added value.
The Chametz Law – like almost all State interference in religious issues – should be nullified. It should be nullified not only because of the principle of liberty and freedom of choice (in Israel, there is a bit of religious coercion, and no less – secular coercion). It should be nullified because, like most of the religious laws, this law is detrimental to the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.
Our Nation has returned to its ancient Homeland after 2000 years of exile in order to finally create a national expression. This is the principle of self-definition. Israel does not exist because of Auschwitz. Zionism was born before it. We did not establish the State in order to survive. Holocaust museum Yad Vashem is not our Holy Temple and the IDF cannot serve as the great societal equalizer forever. We need something positive that makes it all worthwhile – a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, a message, a destiny. Those who do not understand that, emigrate and assimilate – and rightfully so. After all, the sheer number of threats leveled at Israel is mad.
How will we build this whole that is greater than the sum of its parts? How will we assemble this scattered nation, which has returned from the four corners of the earth, from all the languages and cultures, from faith and blasphemy and different economic approaches? How will we assemble this puzzle of a Jewish State that heralds our message?
Some think that all the parts of the puzzle are in his pocket – in religion and how his sector keeps it. There is no greater mistake. Religion safeguarded individual, family and communal identity in the exile. But religion alone does not build a sovereign nation, culture and a modern state. In a certain way, these were built by the rebellion against religion.
Every side – not just the religious - has parts of the puzzle in its pocket. And just like how children assemble a puzzle, we must put all the pieces on the table and create a fruitful dialogue – what piece do you have, what piece do I have. This is the only way that the Jewish state will be built.
What is preventing this from happening is the pistol that has been placed in the middle of the table – the state and its ability to enforce by means of law. Those who think that they are the only ones who know how the picture is supposed to come out are in a rush. Instead of conducting a positive dialogue, they hurry to get their hands on the pistol and point it at the rest of the people assembling the puzzle – attempting to force them to build the puzzle as they see fit. But no puzzle has ever been assembled in this way and no Jewish identity will emerge from this approach.
Do you want a Jewish liberty state? Remove the state from our lives. Remove it from religion, as well.