Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Back to Opinion

When the Talmud Tells You Who To Vote For

After voting many Israelis will have a picnic or go to the beach — no matter whom they vote for / Getty Images

(JTA) — “Whom to vote for and whom not to vote for?”

Thus begins page 17 of the Talmud’s Tractate Voters. It continues: “One should not vote for Likud or Zionist Union or Shas or Yachad or Kulanu or Meretz or the Arabs or Israel Is Our Home or Yahadut HaTorah or The Jewish Home or Yesh Atid, but, rather, solely for the empty ballot itself.”

This page of Talmudic commentary (scroll down to see it) was penned not by a second century rabbinic sage but by Doron Chitiz, a Judaic-studies teacher in the Israeli city of Raanana who, in the spirit of the recent Purim holiday, injected some cynicism into the otherwise heavy political campaign preceding Tuesday’s elections.

The South Africa-born Chitiz, 29, studied in yeshiva during college and ably employed the Talmudic style in his spoof, including abundant biblical citations and rabbinical-logical conclusions.

While writing previous Talmudic-themed Purim spiels — those tackled alcohol and soft-drink choices — Chitiz created a template for the body of the text along with faux analysis in the two margins by 11th-century scholar Rashi and the medieval commentators known as Tosafot, blending Hebrew and Aramaic and employing Rashi’s particular typography.

This year’s edition is so sharp that readers might imagine those rabbinic legends duly impressed, nodding in affirmation while stifling guffaws.

Chitiz, who will vote for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, is an equal-opportunity skewer.

Not Likud, his Talmud writes in Tractate Voters (page 17 for the March election date; Chapter 20 for the new Knesset edition), because of the Yom Kippur plea, “Forgive us, pardon us, atone for us.” M’chal, Hebrew for pardon, happens to be Likud’s ballot symbol.

On Likud’s need for pardoning, Tosafot helpfully explicate: “Apparently, for her summoning an electrician on Yom Kippur night,” the “her” being Netanyahu’s wife Sara, who was accused of that very transgression in a recent state comptroller’s report.

Not Zionist Union, as per Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall whiten as snow.” Whiten, Chitiz’s Talmud infers, refers to the party’s co-head, Tzipi Livni (her surname’s root is “white”), and also the blank ballot.

Not Kulanu, because Exodus 18:25 states: “Moses chose,” not that Moses was chosen, a reference to party leader Moshe Kahlon.

Not Meretz, derived from the injunction to run to perform mitzvot, whereas Meretz (whose root means run), an avidly secular party, employs no such haste.

And on and on, one sacred cow after another falling to Chitiz’s dagger.

When he passed around photocopies to fellow Purim dinner attendees, those possessing a sense of humor laughed, Chitiz said. Those without critiqued stylistic incongruities with the actual Talmud.

Chitiz will review the text with his students as a civics lesson. Later on, they’ll have to write a report in Talmudic form.

As to his plans Tuesday, when the country traditionally shuts down and Israelis fill every grassy spot for barbecues, Chitiz will follow his own Talmud’s order: “On the 26th of Adar, Election Day, it’s a mitzvah to grill.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.