Progressively Speaking: How can we ensure a ‘kosher’ Brexit?

Progressively Speaking: How can we ensure a ‘kosher’ Brexit?

Rabbi Sandra Kviat takes a topical issue and looks at a progressive take

Rabbi Sandra Kviat
British and European flags
British and European flags

As you read this article, voting will have begun for the European Elections while, at the same time, Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing one final push to get her Brexit deal through parliament.

But is there a Jewish take on this? You bet there is. Indeed what is happening with Brexit crosses into many of the values and aspects of our faith.

You could look at the Jewish view on the ethics of negotiation, whether one can change one’s mind and the laws of divorce

Or you may wish to investigate what the Torah and Talmud say about taking the worries and issues of minority communities into consideration or how we must never level allow fear or anger to run what we do. But, for me, what will ultimately make Brexit ‘kosher’ is if it lives up to the Jewish principle of consensus.

This is best illustrated by the story of Rabban Gamliel who, after the destruction of the Second Temple, tried to impose an authoritarian regime to maintain order and unity in his role as the Nasi (president) of the Sanhedrin (rabbinic assembly) in Yavne.

He did everything he could to enhance his own authority, often with severity, regularly clashing with other rabbis and most notably humiliating Rabbi Yehoshua three times.

Despite coming from a long line of leaders, and being a descendant of King David, Rabban Gamliel was deposed by his peers for
becoming too far removed from the people and abusing his personal power.

There is a happy ending though when, some time later, Rabban Gamliel realises his mistakes and vows to learn from them, sincerely apologies to Rabbi Yehoshua and is reinstated to share the title of Nasi with his successor Rabbi Elazar.

To make a success of Brexit, our leaders will need to show the humility and wisdom of the latter Rabban Gamliel and not the autocratic and oppressive instincts of his earlier self.

If we want a ‘kosher’ exit from the European Union, in line with Jewish values, then our leaders and their counterparts across the water must do their very best to listen to each other and reach a fair and just consensus.

  •   Rabbi Sandra Kviat is rabbi at Crouch End Chavurah
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