Elections Approach – Should We Vote? Whom For?

Yehuda Segal
כ"ז תשרי ה'תשע"ח 17/10/17
The Torah's effects on our world are life and peace: Good government governs less".

Let's open with a question: Aren't mayoral election campaigns "Advance auctions on stolen goods"?! We are prohibited from going to secular courts, right? (See Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 26) So who permitted voting for the state's organs?

The known words of the Chazon Ish on the matter (Sanhedrin 15:4, end) say: "If the city residents approve of this, their approval is invalid. If they employ coercion, their verdict is but robbery, etc." See, too, Chazon Ish Bava Basra (4:15, 4:16) regarding the limits on the power of the chosen "Seven City Elders". Who permits getting into this mess, anyway?

The answer is simple: We have no choice. Unlike – perhaps – Caesarea, the local authorities are nothing but the face of the central power holders of the state, and we are powerless to resist them. They tell the mayor how to behave on nearly every question, and he acts. With the little authority still left us, we have a "Mitzvah to save" what little we can, so it matches the holy Torah. The Chazon Ish Sanhedrin (15:4, sub voce Veyesh) says so, too.

OK. So how does one run a city according to Torah law?

Firstly, although regarding Tzedaka with one's private funds, one's relatives come before other indigents, (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 251:3) when handling public funds, matters are different. As the Shulchan Aruch states (ibid. 257:10): "A Tzedaka [trustee] must take care to avoid distributing more to his relatives than he does to others."

See also Rashi in Shabbos Daf 118b: "Those who distribute [Tzedaka] must examine the needs of each person they give to". Otherwise, the Tzedaka collector is unfit, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 37:9.

This means equal use of city funds for each individual based on true need, not personal relationships. Perhaps there is no escape from taxation, due to our sins, but we must soften the blow. This means extensive cutting of municipal expenses, paying off any debts, true justice (for example, in distributing building zones), lowering Arnonah, and as many exemptions as possible.

Secondly, Chazal tell us "A partnered dish won't get hot or cold" (public ownership ruins the owned resource). Or as we call it today: The Tragedy of the Commons. Privatization and true competition improve services and lower prices by enabling the profit motive. "The Torah has mercy upon Jewish money".

So whom to vote for?

Search for a faithful trustee. Whoever lowers Arnonah, mediates in disputes, fights demolition orders, keeps the Givat Ram regime's thugs away, de-municipalizes, lowers prices, and much more. The Torah's effects on our world are life and peace: Good government governs less". In short: Which candidate will allow all Jews here to build, to dream, to enjoy the fruits of their labor in integrity, without patronage?

Well, who fits the bill?

I don't know. We'll see when the candidates start campaigning…

By the way, here's the place to discuss the city separation plan. It appears those who promote idea are traditional and secular, while those who oppose it are all Torah-observant. It need not be this way. I don't know if it's even feasible, but let's first understand the core logical argument.

Splitting the municipality in two does not entail creating rift and discord among the residents! One thing has nothing to do with the other. Quite the contrary, a split would shrink the representative government, and lessen the number of opportunities for hurting individuals (see Chazon Ish Bava Basra above), thereby increasing peace.

Needless to say, Mehadrinews has no intention of deciding Halachic questions.

This article first appeared in Hebrew.

With Heaven's help, Yehuda Segal

YSMehadrinews@Gmail.com