I saw a recent article on Arutz Sheva, entitled "Op-Ed: Israel's Political Left: Between Judaism and Democracy" (available at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/12758#.UQFAs_J7u3M) in which the author describes a growing rift, in Israel, between those he terms the leftists who favour Western values, articulated under the catch-all phrase of democracy, and the more traditional population who favour, as the author terms it, Judaism. The fact is that this conflict was actually fully existent at the very inception of the State and is clearly articulated in the, what we must term, contradictory language of Israel's Declaration of Independence. The further problem is, though, that while this tension and rift does clearly exist -- now and then -- this articulation of the problem as a conflict between Democracy and Judaism only adds to the difficulty. On the surface, this would seem to be the challenging stira that can only be solved by choosing one over the other. What must be recognized, though, is that the ultimate answer will only be found in actually not choosing but answering this stira, this contradiction.
This is actually the very theme of a new series of shiurim that, as they are presented, will be available on Koshertube. The latest shiur (second in the series) is now available at http://koshertube.com/videos/index.php?option=com_seyret&Itemid=4&task=videodirectlink&id=14152. Behind the idea of the shiurim is that, given how we, the Jewish People have benefited from these Western Values (Rav Moshe does refer to the U.S. as a medina shel chesed) and there is a concept within Torah of values derived from sechel, thought, which would seem to mirror the concept of natural morality, it is not so simple to just dismiss these values. This is not to say that they triumph over clear Torah values chas v'shalom but they are clearly to be present in our minds as we look at the Torah. Maybe the conflict we perceive is only because we are not fully understanding of the Torah directive? Maybe we have to learn more? Maybe the Torah is informing us of a weakness in this reasoned concept that our minds, left alone, would have missed?
I am not challenging that there is a conflict right now and .have to act pursuant to Torah as we understand it now. The answer may be, though, to work on this understanding.
Rabbi Ben Hecht
The first in my present series of shiurim is available at http://koshertube.com/videos/index.php?option=com_seyret&Itemid=4&task=videodirectlink&id=14099
On this same theme, I would also recommend another recent shiur of mine on differing value systems within Torah at http://koshertube.com/videos/index.php?option=com_seyret&Itemid=4&task=videodirectlink&id=14054