"We all need laws and traditions to tell us how to live. We can’t just do whatever we want."
Location: Menachem Begin Street, Bnei Brak
Residence: Bnei Brak
The encounter: Eliyahu has a vegetable stallin a quiet street outside the center of Bnei Brak, one of the most religiously observant cities in Israel. Like many shopkeepers in untra-orthodox areas, Eliyahu looks slightly less religious than his customers: he doesn’t wear a hat, a black coat, and a beard, like most men in Bnei Brak. But his outlook on the world is no less devout than his ultra-orthodox customers.
What are you doing here right now?
I’m selling vegetables.
How do you describe your religious or national identity?
I’m religious. It’s good to believe in The Holy One, Blessed be His Name! I am religious and I wish everybody would be religious because it’s good for the world and for humanity. We have a Father in Heaven and we should respect Him and acknowledge that He created us.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I have four children. They are good kids! All of them are married, they take care of themselves, and they believe in the Holy One, Blessed Be His Name. I have five grandchildren. One of my daughters lives with me: she, her husband, and their children. It’s a bit crowded, but they need to save money.
Where is your family from?
I was born in Kfar Saba, but my parents came from Libya in the 1950s. They came to Israel – to the Holy Land – because it’s the most protected place in the world. Everywhere in the world there are problems; whenever people don’t follow the ways of the Lord there is trouble. But in this land, there’s a protective circle from Heaven that safeguards everybody who is righteous!
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
With the help of the Lord, everything will be all right. We have to follow the Lord’s way to make the world a better place: we have to do good deeds, go to synagogue, help others, give to the poor, help the sick and the weak, and observe the mitzvoth... that’s the most important! We must especially help the ones who have no religion, because they are like children who haven’t learned the right way. If we show them, they’ll find religion.
The world will be a better place when everyone is truly religious. We have One Father in Heaven and we all have our way to honor Him: the Arabs, the Christians... We all need laws and traditions to tell us how to live. We can’t just do whatever we want. If we're not sure what to do, we should ask a rabbi.
If both the Muslims and the Jews would observe their true religion – and I don’t mean ISIS; that’s not true religion – but if everyone follows their true religion, we’ll be brought together and... I don’t know if we’ll have peace with them... but everything will be better if we all follow our true faith.
I always vote Shas. The council of Torah sages tells us to votes Shas; so I vote Shas. This way everything will go towards the Torah.