By ISRAEL TODAY—
We have already reported several times on Benjamin Netanyahu’s revival of the Prime Minister’s Bible Study group in Israel. Now the Knesset is getting in on the trend with the establishment of its own weekly sessions of scriptural enlightenment.
The initiative came from one of the new Knesset parties, the centrist Yesh Atid, which fields both secular and religious lawmakers.
Despite running an election campaign that emphasized an end to army exemptions for and exaggerated welfare payouts to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector, and subsequently being labeled anti-religious by ultra-Orthodox leaders, Yesh Atid has since the election been the most outspoken party about getting more Israelis to study the Bible.
Tuesday’s Knesset Bible study was led by Yesh Atid lawmakers Rabbi Shai Piron, Rabbi Dov Lipman and Torah scholar Dr. Ruth Calderon. More than 30 Knesset members attended the inaugural session.
“Seeing MKs and staff members from ultra-Orthodox through secular studying Torah together showed the beauty of the environment we are creating in this new Knesset,” Lipman told the Times of Israel.
There is a growing sense in Israel that the Bible needs to form the basis of the state’s culture and policies, but that the ultra-Orthodox must not have a monopoly on the biblical interpretation of what it means to be Jewish.
I don’t know if this is the same Bible Study group (with a generational change of personnel) like the group that met in Ben Gurion’s study, but they viewed the Bible from many perspectives, and not only from rabbinical perspectives. How would this current Bible Study group review the problem of lack of evidence that the Exodus took place in the archaeology of Sinai? How would it relate to the documentary theory and its later incarnations. Many of the experts that participated in the original Bible Study group came from academia and not the rabbinate.