Monday, January 26, 2009

The good Knesset members are the ones who are steadfast in their loyalties and commitments, but still know how to find common ground with others. MK Harav Avraham Ravitz, who passed away yesterday, was one of the good guys.

On matters of religion and state, he knew what was important and what was not. One example, of which I have personal knowledge, involved discussions between Ravitz and a certain MK from Shinui, who would go at each other quite viciously in committee meetings on constitutional issues involving religion. When the chips were down, though, the two of them reached important compromises that protected the key interests of their respective constituencies.

Ravitz struggled to get Haredi education funded on the basis of clear and measurable principles, rather than intrigues behind closed doors. Unfortunately, his struggle was not against the chilonim, but rather against Haredi makhers, who -- as he well understood -- preferred that matters be settled in the smoke-filled rooms so that the yeshivot would be dependent on their wheeling-dealing. In general, he was brutally honest about Haredi politics. He once commented to me with some embarrassment that a certain reasonable compromise had been killed by the Haredi side because "some kanoi fed narishkeit" to a certain rov.

With MK Harav Ravitz's passing, the Haredi world lost an effective spokesman. But more broadly, the Knesset lost an effective and thoughtful parliamentarian and the Jewish People lost a devoted servant and mentsch.

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