Looking for Win-Win

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15 Responses

  1. Dr. E says:

    Reb Jonathan

    Chareidi young men and women probably do well on their exams in a purely academic environment. A few questions though:

    (1) Are they starting these programs early enough in life?
    (2) Are the young men given the impression that what they are doing what is l’chatchila?
    (3) Given that the religious and gender segregation is the context of learning here, are the students trained on the social and people skills that they will need to succeed after their training? After all, the better job prospects exist in environments where not everyone thinks and dresses the same way, and some level of professional interaction is needed.
    (4) Are the outcomes of the training being tracked in order to assess their eventual efficacy?

    Also, according to the Medrish, one could also apply those same Tribal proportions to the Chareidi camp in Israel, there would be a third in the Army, a third doing National Service, and a third in the Shuls and Batei Medrish. Wow!

  2. dovid landesman says:

    Interesting post, but you avoid the essential question. Why is this supposed revolution being led from the ground up rather than being openly supported and led by gedolai yisroel? I think that I know the answer, but I would appreciate your take.
    For the record, nachal chareidi – or more properly netzach yehudah – has a small number of what you would consider true chareidim. Until very recently [when their recruitment was specifically discouraged], many of the recruits came from what is termed the world of the beinishim [short for bnei yeshivot – i.e., talmidim from yeshivot tichoniot and children of settlers who prefer not to serve in hesder units on religious grounds]. An additional percentage came from the ranks of young men who had problems in the “black” yeshivot, who had family issues or who were sent from the USA for a sort of rehab. The only gadol who stands behind netzach is Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman and even his support is indirect. As far as shachar [the programs in the air force, intelligence and the navy], the bulk of the recruits are taken from the chassidic and sefardic worlds where gainful employment is not considered to be a tragedy.
    Had you attended a recent asifa in Ramat Beit Shemesh – arranged because a majority of students in one of the local chadarim have been enrolled in yeshivat tichoniot rather than yeshivot ketanot – and lsitened to the “divrei hisorrerus” and the utter derision for the olam that works for a living, I think you would be somewhat less confident. This mindset is only reinforced by asifot in the US where a major spokesman can [ab]use his podium to decide that anyone who does not accept the word of the rabbinical participants of that asifa has lost his share in the world to come.

  3. James says:

    Attributing divine providence to yeshiva exemptions is empirically false. At the founding of the State, there were 400 students exempted (and many of those actually fought during the 1948 war). By 1968, after the miraculous Six Day War, the number was still below 1000 students. As the numbers of exemptions grew, Israel has suffered, Lebanon I and II as well as Gaza.

  4. Baruch Gitlin says:

    I agree with most of this article. But I would like to make two points:

    1. It is misleading to use Nachal Haredi enlistment as the benchmark for haredi participation in the army, because many soldiers in Nachal Haredi are dati leumi, who are also attracted by the extra accomodation to religious observance and the chance to serve with other relgious soldiers. I don’t have any statistics on this, but my impression from talking to a few soldiers is that the percentage of dati leumi soldiers in Nachal Haredi may be close to 50%.

    2. All this talk about Torah study protecting Am Yisrael – I agree with the principal that our divine service is vitally important to the physical well being of Am Yisrael, but is Torah study the only form of divine service that matters? The way I read Tanach, it is much more than Torah study that God is looking for from us. It is justice, charity, honesty, and all the other matters emphasized throughout Tanach – in which case, it is not only the yeshivot that we depend on for our protection, but the efforts of every one of us to act properly, from Torah study to honesty in business, and everything in between.

  5. Tzei U'lmad says:

    “a mixture of changes based on new directives or laws from above and trends from below based on the accumulated decisions of hundreds of thousands of individual decision-makers”

    So let me get this right, somebody like Bernie Landers comes along and he’s one of the “individual decision makers” and for decades Daas Torah opposes boys attending Touro College, and then sometime in the mid-80s there is the dawning of a “trend from below” and at an Agudath conference RSK declares, “well afterall, we have Touro”. Isn’t that a case of the horse pushing the cart from behind? (ie constructive initiatives by manhigim in our societies are stridently opposed and then when our need for those intiatives become too great we co-opt them as if they were ours in the first place). What would have happened if Landers had capitulated in the 70s to the “directives from above”?

  6. Dovid says:

    I pretty much agree with everything in this article, but I have one blunt question for Rabbi Rosenblum:

    Do you or do you not subscribe to the “daas Torah” doctrine as it is conventionally understood in the charedi world? You speak approvingly about the rising numbers of charedim going to the army and finding employment, yet it is clear that the charedi gedolim are not encouraging it at all, and in fact have issued statements against army and work. If you think these trends are good, then does this mean you think the gedolim are wrong?

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך

  7. MiriamS says:

    “…a certain mythology – shared to a degree by chareidim themselves – about chareidi society…”

    “…the chairman of the non-profit organization behind Nahal Haredi. He is himself a decorated Vietnam veteran…”

    Possibly the worst part of that mythology is that anything a charedi person does outside of learning Torah is a second-class identity.

  8. dr. bill says:

    The gedolim of old looked to community leaders to set policy in these areas. The halakha would refine policy, not set it. Those close to them, who they trust, need to advise them. Instead, a radical fringe has preempted legitimate leadership. To expect gedolim to understand milai de’alma on their own is asking way too much. Gedolim who think they can are not.

  9. Joe says:


    Israel has not been subject to existential threat since 1973. If increased Torah study prevents existential wars rather than protects during those wars, that’s a knock on it?

    You are so confident in the IDF regarding Iran?


    Torah study in particular provides security and success.

    This is not a “Charedi” idea. Harav AY Kook writes in Igrot Haraayah 85 (a letter which all those from the RZ camp who oppose exemptions should read):

    המדינה תלויה במלחמתה על ידי מה שנמצאים בה תלמידי־חכמים העוסקים בתורה. שבזכותם המלחמה נוצחת, והם מועילים למדינה יותר מאנשי־
    החיל הלוחמים.

  10. James says:


    I meant no slight toward Limmud Hatorah. I take exception to the notion that the inexplicable element was the result of haredi yeshiva exemptions.

    I am not confident in the IDF. I am confident in the power of a united Klal Yisrael and I attribute that inexplicable element to the sense of unity that pervaded Israel in 1948 and 1967. I think the haredim should serve in the army because it would be good for them, for Israel, and for Klal Yisrael.

  11. L. Oberstein says:

    My son is set to have the ceremony at Amunition Hill after Shavuot. I would have loved to be there to show him how proud we are that he has made aliyah and joined Netzach Yehuda. He has been undergoing very rigourous training including two weeks out in the field sleeping in a hole in the ground for short periods at a time and attacking up a hill with live ammunition. This isn’t the Boy Scouts. He is happier than ever in his life and feels so good about himself. He must be very strong because they have to carry a heavy pack and do all kinds of hard work to become real soldiers. That all of this is done with consideration for religious observance, davening 3 times a day,etc. shows that observantg Jews can and should become part and parcel of the infrastructure of the State of Israel. As the numbers grow , they can’t remain apart from society. I am distressed that more and more of the men collecting tzedaka in shul each morning are young and healthy looking. What is there about Israeli religious society that tells a 21 year old healthy man that his parnossa comes from collecting charity in the Diaspora. I assume he is honest as he has a letter from the Agudah but why doesn’t he have any skill or ability to earn a living besides circulating in shuls and knocking on doors? Maybe if these fellows joined Netzach yehudah they would gain the self confidence to do more with their lives.

  12. Baruch Gitlin says:

    Joe: I did not mean to imply that limud Torah is not important – only to point out that it is not the only element of avodat HaShem that is important. Further, I certainly never thought that the importance of limud Torah is only a haredi idea – far from it. I do think, however, that it is overemphasized in the haredi world to the exclusion of other important values. Specifically with regard to army service, I think the hesder yeshiva programs provide an excellent model for how religious Jews can engage in high level Torah study without leaving the burden and dangers of army service entirely on the shoulders of others. One other point – I have heard some people, including recently a knesset member from Yahadut HaTorah, make arguments that imply, or even state openly, that those not engaged in full time Torah study are not carrying their burden on behalf of Am Yisrael. I think this line of argument can be dangerous in that it can lead those not engaged in full time learning to believe that they have nothing to contribute in terms of our people’s spiritual well-being. I think a far better approach would be to emphasize that even if one is not engaged in full-time learning, a person can still contribute to the spiritual wellfare of Am Yisrael by living according to the Torah and serving God in the best way possible according to each person’s circumstances and abilities.

  13. Phil says:

    Reb Jonathan,

    With all due respect, let’s not point fingers at the secular or the government. Your examples of the tiny percentages of charedim who are in academic degree programs or in Nahal Haredi do not make your case. As you are aware, the charedi gedolim don’t support their choices and the charedi community looks down upon them and even shuns them. Change may indeed be coming but only because the sad economic realities are now undeniable, not because of the vision, support or actions of the charedi leadership.

  14. lacosta says:

    if haredim in israel truly believe that their tora protects the country/soldiers, why during lebanon II did the vast majority continue on their vacations [ though the ‘troubles’ ruined their plans to go to the North] while their brothers bore the brunt?

    —the answer must be they DO believe their tora is valuable…they just don’t truly believe their rhetoric about that’s their share in the burden of the State,
    or they just could care less the fate of the Other….

    [in fairness, many haredi gdolim said to davka stay in the bais hamedrash…]

  15. dovid2 says:

    L. Oberstein, Your son seems to put his mind and heart into his service which is a good thing. He is not burning time. May your son return home at the end of his service shalem in body and mind. And remember to vote Obama out of his office and also tell your son to vote against Obama. He gave Israel enough tzures.

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