If I believed it was my religious duty to vote for Moshe Abutbol - and not for Eli Cohen - because the latter isn't a ritually-observant Jew, I'd do the following thought-exercise...
...I'm elected as the mayor of the city. I
visit a school under my jurisdiction, and I meet a classroom full of
bright-eyed little boys and/or girls. One of them comes up to me and
asks the following question:
"Do you think I could be mayor someday?"
Suddenly I'm taken aback. Because here's the thing - these kids are not religious. The question is, what would I respond?
One thing's for sure - I could not, and would not, look that little
girl or boy in the face and tell them what I really believed: "No, you
can never be mayor, nor should you ever be mayor. Not unless you
become religious." Or: "No, not unless you move to a non-religious
city." Why? Because it's cruel. Because I know in my heart that it's
wrong to say such a thing. And because I know with every moral fiber of
my being that the right response would be:
"Of course you can become mayor - if you're talented and put your mind to it, you certainly can!"
Now carry the thought-experiment into real life. As a voter, I'd find myself in a rather profound philosophical dilemma.
"Morally" I wouldn't want someone to be mayor if they - and the whole
system supporting them - believed that half the city's residents are
disqualified from ever leading the city they live in - not because of
any lack of talent or integrity or honesty, but because of their
My conscience wouldn't allow me to
support someone who "in principle" would have to look little kids in the
eye and tell them that they should never be the mayor of their own
On the other hand, if I believed that "halachically"
speaking it's forbidden to vote for a non-ritually-observant Jew no
matter how talented or capable or decent they are, then effectively my
hands are tied.
So then what would I do? What could I do? I imagine I'd take the following principled stand:
Yes, if I were living in a city where EVERY single one of the residents
were religious, where there wasn't a single person whom my belief
system would render inherently "forbidden" from being mayor, not one
bright-eyed child whose dreams of leadership I'd be taking part in
denying, then I could vote in good conscience.
But if I were
living in most places, like say, Beit Shemesh - then I'd do my best to
maintain both my religious integrity and my moral integrity, and I
Just a pre-election thought.
Wishing all of us good luck tomorrow - and even better luck in the days to come!