Answers to Questions and Questionable Answers
Mishpacha provided the American Torah world an enormous service in its special “sharing the burden” issue. A half dozen articles offered background, statistics, depth and context to perhaps the most difficult times that our Israeli brethren have faced in a half-century. Chazal require us to take active steps to feel the pain of other Jews. I would think that taking the time to read the issue should be mandated in partial fulfillment of that requirement.
Still, some of the answers raised other questions. It should be worthwhile to at least ask them, either to fill in the gaps, or because we must recognize that we have an obligation to understand the pain of less observant Jews, who also feel like aggrieved parties. I will ask some of those questions, not because I have settled on an opposing position, but because I am still searching for greater clarity.
Jonathan Rosenblum’s piece was one of the shortest, but the single most valuable one to me, because it offered a compact summary of the problem, one that I will share with others outside our community. (Full disclosure: He’s a good friend, and I usually value his opinions over my own.) It was non-hysterical, balanced, and full of recognition that, in his words, “we must address the human needs that are not being met.” (Aside: I completely disagree with his criticism in a different piece of the RCA for inviting MK Dov Lipman. I may or may not put some of that disagreement in print. Some of the impetus has disappeared, now that the RCA has invited Jonathan to present the other side of the issue at their upcoming convention.)
Rabbi Avraham Edelstein, the talented director of Ner LeElef, consciously brings the perspective of a mekarev to the world of political discourse. He reminds us of what we forget too often: it is not about being right, but about communicating effectively. Arguments that cannot be heard by the other side are simply not valuable. He opines that we cannot convince secular Jews that Torah study protects them, but we can get them to appreciate values of the charedi community that overlap with theirs. This can only happen, however, where there are relationships between people, where people talk to each other and genuinely want to understand the other. I am not sure I grasp how to implement a nationwide dialogue in time to defuse the crisis at hand. Minimally, however, he offers one of the most practical bits of advice in the issue: don’t walk smugly away without genuinely understanding the other side. It is in that vein that I continue this essay.
Rabbi Grylak asks “Am I Paranoid?” in rejecting the draft of yeshiva students. He wants us to conclude that he is not, based on ample evidence that many look to the draft not as a source of military manpower, but of liberating charedim from the shackles of primitivism. He quotes the proper extremists. I am not sure whether this is the best message with which to leave the reader. He is correct, to be sure, about many. (Even among those we might ask whether they resent being reminded of a religion they have abandoned, or whether they really fear the economic consequences of a larger and larger part of the Jewish demographic that does not seem to participate in the fuller life of the nation.) But is this attitude the source of the seventeen seats that Yesh Atid garnered in the last election? Aren’t there other, different concerns, primarily ones of equity and a backlash against what they see as decades of contempt for them by charedim? Aren’t some of the examples of over-the-top language used by charedi critics attributable to hyperbolic expression? Are we the only ones allowed to use hyperbole when some in our midst speak of sonei Torah, ovdei avodah zarah, and compare government figures to Lavan, Korach – and worse? It is understandable for us to use exaggerated invective, but not for others? I think Rabbi Grylak gave readers too facile a way out.
During our frequent Klal Perspectives strategy calls, I frequently disagree with Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky. But I thoroughly enjoy listening to him disagree with me, because his sensitivity and yiras Shomayim swamps that of the rest of us! His contribution to the Mishpacha issue does not disappoint – but I am left with questions. He makes the case quite well that the army poses an inordinate threat to an impressionable young person, particularly when it is designed to be an instrument of social cohesion. But this begs the question of whether Tzahal must be a spiritual sakanah. Could the army design programs of service that do not pose a threat? A later article shows the dramatic failures of the IDF in some cases – but successes in others. It cobbles together horrible statistics about religious failure among religious Zionist recruits – yet all of us know people who more than weathered the storm, and emerged stronger for it, while living lives of tremendous kiddush Hashem while serving in Israel’s military. Could it be that what is needed is enough will – and enough guarantees? Should broken promises in the past prove that no guarantees will ever be adequate – or is that not the way we lead our lives in so many other areas where we structure agreements through legal language, when it is really important enough for us?
Rabbi Lopiansky writes that quite aside from the negative impact of army service, “the robbing of our youths’ formative years as a ben Torah would be a price that we could not pay.” Agreed. But how do we ask other, reluctant Israelis to pay a different price so that we don’t have to pay ours? Who gave us that right? Similarly, he writes that the imposition of the core curriculum, including instruction in “citizenship [which] can mean whatever they want it to mean…is a perfectly reasonable request from their end, but totally unacceptable to us.” But if it is reasonable to them, how do we tell them that they must be the ones to pay for our unreasonable (to them) system of education?
Binyamin Rose does an incredible job marshaling context and statistics in addressing five different economic issues relating to government spending on charedim and their low rate of participation in the work force (relative to the rest of the country). He shows how government spending on charedi schools is already a fraction of what it is for the rest of the population. He shows that the entire basket of social services (child support, income supplements, etc.) for charedim amounts to only 1% of the State’s budget. He and others show how devastating cutbacks will be for the charedi population – all for a very small gain. (Some of his figures are necessarily based on extrapolation and guesswork, where no figures are available. In some cases, they skirt on the unbelievable. Based on data from the spending of college students in the US and Canada, Rose believes that foreign students studying a year in Israel spend $30,000 a piece. If my kids did that, I’d cancel their credit cards.)
Yet, I am not sure whether his reasoning is entirely convincing. It does not own up to the fact that all parts of Israeli society are getting hit by draconian cutbacks, not just charedim. When, after years of reckless spending, some belt tightening takes place, is it not reasonable to pursue any and all ways of saving a few million shekels? I don’t see in his article the projections of what will happen in just a few years, as the charedi community becomes a proportionally greater part of the educational system and of the potential workforce. Isn’t that what Yesh Atid voters really fear? And are his stats inclusive enough? Can you calculate the “cost” to other citizens just by considering the grants, without considering infrastructure, collecting the garbage, providing medical care? Here in California, we are used to proponents and opponents of immigration reform massaging the data to prove that illegal immigrants either provide a wonderful stimulus for the economy – or sap it of its strength. I wish I had the perfect formula, but something tells me that Binyamin Rose has not given us all we need to know.
When all is said and done, I cannot say that I have a much better grasp of the totality of the issue. I still need to understand how the positions of the charedi community in Israel can satisfy the legitimate concerns of other Israelis. I do know that my attitude has changed drastically in the last two weeks. When the coalition agreement was announced, I wrote a response that neither embraced nor demonized it. It could have been worse; it showed much wisdom in ensuring that the gains of the last years would not be erased. The Peri Committee’s decision to criminalize non-compliance wiped out any tolerance I had for the original agreement. It has set the clock back a decade, and strengthened the position of the most extreme rejectionists in Israel, who can triumphaly announce, “We told you so! They are out to stamp out Torah as we know it.” I don’t believe that the Israeli electorate is monolithic. Not even the anti-charedi sentiment all comes from the same place. It may not be too late for sanity to be reintroduced into the equation. Perhaps, through tefilah and through making our voices heard through proper channels (not street demonstrations in Lower Manhattan organized by those who wish to see the destruction of the Jewish State), there may still be room for change.
For decades, Israel’s government has resisted all attempts to impose a solution on the Israel/Palestine problem. Such an intractable problem, we have told the world, can only be solved by negotiations between the parties themselves. I am having a hard time understanding why the kulturkampf between charedim and the rest of the country is any different, and amenable to an imposed settlement. Here, too, it would seem, negotiation should be the way to go – not show of force.
As always, thank you for a balanced and informative article.
I want too raise one question with respect to the closing sentence: “I am having a hard time understanding why the kulturkampf between charedim and the rest of the country is any different, and amenable to an imposed settlement. Here, too, it would seem, negotiation should be the way to go – not show of force.”
In theory, I agree with this sentiment, just as I do with respect to the Israel/Palestinian issue. But I have the same question here as there – more so, in fact – is there anyone with whom to negotiate on the haredi side? Whatever may be said privately, in public, the statements one hears from the leading rabbis and the politicians of the haredi parties would indicate that there is no basis whatsoever to negotiate. Hearing statements of total rejection over and over again has convinced me that the situation must be changed by legistlation that will have at least some form of compulsion – however that should be. In short, by force. Just as non-haredi Jewish citizens are compelled to serve by force when necessary. It is this conclusion, among many other things, that led me to vote for Yesh Atid in this past election. Can you present any evidence that there is, in fact, room for reasonable negotiation over this issue?
[YA – I wish I could. But I wouldn’t be the one to know. And in the moshol, the Palestinians also have gone for quite some time without negotiating.]
Wow! Kol hakavod Rabbi Adlerstien, what a clear and consice summary of a lot of the issues an american chariedi has relating to his bretheren in EY.thankyou
So to extend your final paragraph – which askan/gadol has the power to negotiate and has indicated a willingness to do so?
Great article. I agree with you about. R’ Lopiansky. In my piece on this subject (yesterday) I had nothing but high praise for him… but I too said that his explanations did not address key questions raised by seculars and Datim i.e. those who do subject themselves to the draft and also question their non existent Limudei Chol policies for Charedi men. R’ Lopiansky deserves credit for treating – actually urging – Charedim to consider those questions seriously not only to enable a good response but as a legitimate challenge that Charedim need to answer for themselves.
I don’t know if links to other websites are permitted on Cross-Currents, but I will procede to provide one anyway, to an article by Gila Rose entitled “Army Service: This Time It’s Personal” (from The Times of Israel). Mrs. Rose lives in Modi’in, is an American Olah and presently has only small children. So here is a clearly “personal” perspective — from a frum Jewish mother on-the-ground (so to speak) — which, to my ears, rings a clarion call louder and more persuasive than the arguments of the arm-chair commentators (to the extent that they are such) in Mishpacha magazine.
“My children are still young. Army service seems a far-off thing…But it’s coming. Every day, like the song says, it’s-a gettin’ closer. I look at them and know, improbably as it seems now, that one day they will leave home and proudly serve their country. And then I think about the devastating, unbearable sadness of Yom Hazikaron and then my mind refuses to go any further. So part of my riled-up-ness is that it feels very personal. I am hurt that my fellow Jews are totally OK with sending other people’s children — my children — off to fight and defend them. I am hurt that to them, my Torah study and my life are worth less. Learning Torah makes us “Jewish.” Serving in the army makes us safe and able to continue learning all that Torah. And all types of Jews should proudly engage in both.”
[YA Cross-links are not permitted. But Google will always get you where you want to go]
“Here, too, it would seem, negotiation should be the way to go – not show of force”
Gary Rosenblatt wrote in the Jewish Week,
“The more I discussed this with various experts here, the more I came to see how shortsighted and needlessly confrontational that approach is…
Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute here, also opposes legislation that would jail haredim who do not sign up for national service or the army. “The fundamental mistake” the Knesset is making is not learning the lesson that “you can’t legislate social change,” he asserted during a conversation this week…Rabbi Hartman says successive Israeli governments, starting with David Ben-Gurion, created the problem by instituting the deferments for haredi yeshiva students — he thought their numbers would remain small — and have allowed haredi rabbinic leaders to “infantilize” their constituency, making them dependent on a society that views them with contempt.
“It’s a shame,” he said. Further, “it’s just not the Jewish way, which is to treat fellow Jews more gently. We’re violating the core principles of Zionism. Plus, it’s ineffective.”
One question I have is the role of kannoim. How many Charedim agree with R. Yaakov Horowitz?(“Rav Shteinman Shlita fully supported[ Nachal Charedi] not to be for a few hundred at-risk boys, but rather as a mainstreaming process for the many thousands of young men who are not cut out for a full day of learning. The radical kanoim (extremists) in Eretz Yisroel unleashed a vile campaign of hate against one of our gedolei hador for having the courage to support a solution that would have been a “win-win.”)
Also what about Maarva high school-how much support is there in the Charedi world to duplicate high schools like it which teach secular subjects?
This is such an emotional issue and filled with angst and even hatred. For me, I would make two points in support of the Charedim. One, if the issue is Charedim not working, then legalize their ability to work; when Charedim used to be able to work legally without serving in the IDF, their labor force participation rate was almost as high as the secular population. Second, I think that some in the secular population will be upset after the Charedim begin to serve, and Charedim start influencing the secular world to greater mitzvoth observance. I have read so many times how Yeshiva is abused, that there are so many men who really would rather be working or serving in the Army. I believe that this might be true for about 5%; the other 95% love Torah and Yeshiva, are successful there, and will end up having a tremendous influence on their fellow Israelis, if they are forced to serve.
[YA – Part of the original coalition agreement – before the detestable turnaround of Peri – indeed allowed chareidim to work legally.]
To adress your last point, I was at the “council” with Rabbis Bender & Ginzburg, Eitan Kobre & Eli Palay (from Mishpacha) in Far Rockaway, where this exact question was asked. The answer astounded me (and others there). Rav Shteinman was asked directly by Rabbi Ginzburg why the Charaidim don’t try and work out a compromise with the rest of Israeli society. The response was that the Chazon Ish put this system in place. It was (and is) well known that at some point the state will stop supporting Torah and people will have to go work. However, we do not have the Koach to dismantle a system put into place by the Chazon Ish.
This means that the the “moderate” Charaidim would compromise if they thought they had the ability. It also makes sense now why Rav Shteinman is against protests, as he is well aware that the system will have to change at some point.
The secular Israelis are afraid that Israel will become a Charedi-majority country, and that such a country would be inhospitable to them. This explains the requirement for the draft, core curriculum, encouraging Russians with a tenuous connection to Judaism (paternal grandfather, for example) to immigrate, etc.
Personally, I don’t think the problem is solvable, considering that most Chilonim (= secular Israelis) aren’t nearly as keen on raising the children that would preserve Chiloni culture. Then again, it is easy to give up on Israel from the US.
One allegation about haredi hasbara is the disingenous nature of it — eg using questionable methodologies like codes to ‘suck them in’ , to put on a moderate face [ ” there are haredi nobel prize winners” — well only if you define haredi as dati leumi ,or baal teshuva] etc … if it turns out that the true face of haredi judaism is that of Hungarian Hassidut , as exeplified by last week’s rally in NYC, then anything written by ANY spokesman –even those with a chazaka of reasonability , such as RYA, will be read with large grains of salt….
it is sad to think that at the time of 67 war eg, there were Gerrer chayalim , as well as chabad. the israeli society developed in such an increasingly negative and polarized manner. in retrospect, maybe Begin’s election was the tragic defining catalyst— not only to leftists, who rue RW economics and territory-politics, but to haredi society, who gladly chose to addict themselves to government money, an addiction so hard to remove…
maybe the haredi society should have been more radical , and opted for a neturei karta -like total social and economic withdrawal. at least they could have avoided allegations of ‘paratism’ , and would have become self-sufficient . of course , they desired to be mashpia on their fellow jews , so that wasnt possible…
i dont see a quick solution. while nature woudl have taken its course over 20 yrs , and more people at the margins woudl have been integrated , what have we to look forward to now— riots as bochrim get carted off to jail? increases in starvation deaths?
the one optimistic historical observation is , no israeli ‘anti-religion ‘ party of any size, has had influence more that one election cycle….
“Eli in USA” – Five years in Israel (2001-06) taught me I have way too little background to adequately understand Israeli politics/society. Could you (and others) please help a poor chutznik out:
What is “the system put in place by the Chazon Ish”? That chinuch in Israel lays out full-time learning as the only officially-sanctioned option?
I read a chunk of the English translation of במחיצתם and my take-away was that the Chazon Ish saw a responsibility to rebuild a Torah world that had been all but destroyed, and raise the level of seriousness of the Torah community. Is my understanding correct (or even the only understanding)?
As a follow up, did anyone ask Rav Shteinman what circumstances would warrant changing the system? In other words, suppose tomorrow the Peri committee or whoever finally grew a brain, and instead decided that they will grant all IDF recruits, perhaps plus the approved number of 1800 full-time learners, special tax/social/whatever benefits. Anyone else who wished to remain in learning “lishmah” would be permitted to do so, or to work, but without those tax benefits (translation for those not fluent in French: “It’s a fine, but we can call the rose Romeo if you like”). A) Would Rav Shteinman/The Gedolim then say, “Ok, we would love everyone to remain in full-time learning. Anyone who feels he cannot should consult with his personal Rav and either join Nachal Hareidi or go to work”? B) Would this constitute a קיום or a סתירה to “the system put in place by the Chazon Ish”?
Thanks in advance to any and all potential providers of enlightment.
(Full disclosure: we are making aliyah in exactly one month. We may not be clinically sane. No warranty expressed or implied.)
[YA – Part of the original coalition agreement – before the detestable turnaround of Peri – indeed allowed chareidim to work legally.]
Just to clarify – is your position that the chareidi community as a whole should be exempt from compulsory army service and be allowed to work legally with no quid pro quo to the State?
[YA I don’t have a position. I don’t think I am entitled to one, since בעה”ר I don’t live there. My understanding of the coalition agreement is that there will be changes in the draft provisions, beginning in 3-4 years. In the meantime, chareidim are free to work (I know that finding jobs is another matter.) When the changes come online, there will be disincentives for failing to serve the country through either military or national service – but not jail time. Not sure how the Supreme Court is going to deal with that.]
This is a finely written article.
The problem as I see it, is that although we are able to understand and appreciate what the other side’s interests, and able to read and write articles like this, the other side thinks that not only is granting our wishes unjustified–but that our interests are themselves illegitimate.
That is, they don’t accept that our wanting to remain as fervently religious as we are is a legitimate goal that can be balanced with societal needs; they think we should not want that. They don’t accept that the army places a unique burden on us that it does not place on the rest of society; they simply don’t care about our needs.
And you won’t be able to compromise with someone who illegitimizes your needs.
Can you figure out how this quote from the
Talmud applies to drafting Charedim
into the Israeli Army?
תלמוד בבלי מסכת יומא דף פ/א
תפסת מרובה לא תפסת תפסת מועט תפסת
Glad to consider R. Adlerstein a chaver tov of our Mishpacha.
Clear, concise, honest, factual, questioning and probing….all perfect midos of a renown journalist.
A factor of “sharing/not sharing the burden” that is an essential part of the equation is being overlooked. At the time of the establishment of the State, the term “TORASU UMNASO” was the only allowed exception. Meaning if an individual choose “Torah as his sole occupation 24/7” he was given a pitur from serving. And politicians like SHAS MKs, MK Porush and others enlisted in the IDF after their term of learning expired (age 26, 27, etc.), whenever that was, with the advice and haskoma of their Rebbeim. It is a known fact that Rav Shmulevitz, Rav Schwartman and Rav Shach (to name a few) were in agreement with this process.
EXCEPT a new phenomena arose over the last decade. Many Frum/Torah bochurim did not continue into full-time learners (which was inevitable), or learnt for a few years and then……… started working (off the books, menial jobs), attended vocational training courses, signed on to Yeshiva Rosters without fully attending, or hung out. These “New Bochurim” was a challenge to the charedi world!!???(to say the least) and a proper framework was never designed for them. Since “Torasu Umnaso” was not their label, what were they? where did they belong? and most importantly and most importantly WHY WEREN’T THEY ENLISTING AND JOINING THE IDF?
When the Tal Law expired that was the time to brainstorm, cooperate and figure out a plan.
Also at this same period of time, a huge increase in Yeshivos were established in Israel for Chutzniks, Israelis, half-learners, etc. These yeshivos needed talmidim to fill their edifices and Bochurim there were ‘floating’ or looking for a half-day system that could combine with work, educational courses, etc..
“But this begs the question of whether Tzahal must be a spiritual sakanah. Could the army design programs of service that do not pose a threat? A later article shows the dramatic failures of the IDF in some cases – but successes in others. It cobbles together horrible statistics about religious failure among religious Zionist recruits – yet all of us know people who more than weathered the storm, and emerged stronger for it, while living lives of tremendous kiddush Hashem while serving in Israel’s military. Could it be that what is needed is enough will – and enough guarantees? Should broken promises in the past prove that no guarantees will ever be adequate – or is that not the way we lead our lives in so many other areas where we structure agreements through legal language, when it is really important enough for us?”
I think that one of the articles in this edition of Mishpacha, which was excellent BTW, and others I have seen recently, the point is made that I think will completely undue the drafting of Chareidim into the IDF and that is the issue of woman’s equality. I don’t think it is an understatement that if feminism wins the day in the IDF, then Chareidim and Dattim Leumim who want segregation of the sexes won’t be able to serve. Period. That is a major issue that cannot avoided as the inclusion of women will mean that programs like Shachar and Netzach Yehuda will cease. We see from the recent uproar about the video of scantily clad IDF women soldiers that promiscuity and open sexuality is only becoming more common. In fact, this is where I think the Dati Leumi world has miscalculated: they didn’t think that this supreme clash of contrary worldviews in the IDF would occur and that they would always be protected and valued.
Also, you can see with the dismanlting of Hesder only units that these kinds of arrangements cannot be sustained. So, to answer Joel Rich, the answer is yes and that is because of the changes the IDF itself if ungoing do to the principle of complete gender equality. There is no quid pro quo when joining the IDF means the loss of shmiras haMitzvos or a level that one is accustomed to.
R’ Adlerstein, I respect and value your opinion. But inadvertently, you seem to have written one phrase that neatly sums up the problem:” perhaps the most difficult times that our Israeli brethren have faced in a half-century.” It sums up the problem as follows: (1) considering one segment of Israeli society (I could substitute klal Yisrael) as “our brethren” in distinction to another segment. And (2) the idea that the possibility of being drafted to the army is the worst thing to happen to this community in 50 years is a striking contrast to the “community” –that is, the rest of Israeli society– whose most difficult times included such events as the Yom Kippur war and others. The possibility of being drafted vs. being required to fight and sacrifice again and again and again.
[YA – By “Israeli brethren” I meant haredim, the ones who are now in crisis. I did not mean the term to be exclusive, as if they are our only brethren. For Israeli haredim, these times are indeed the most extreme crisis in many years, because their entire life style seems to them to be under assault and is now wrapped in uncertainty. I agree that it cannot compare to the loss of life and limb that other Israelis faced so many times since the creation of the State.]
There is no quid pro quo when joining the IDF means the loss of shmiras haMitzvos or a level that one is accustomed to.
I think there’s a huge difference between shmiras hamitzvos on one side, and the “level that one is accustomed to” on the other. I’m not questioning the sincerity of the latter concern, but I don’t think that every chumra automatically patturs one from his obligation.
That is an absolutely remarkable statement that takes Daas Torah to another level. Previously, we were told to believe that Daas Torah only included directives from Torah luminaries of the current generation (based on information from Askanim), and are de facto unassailable. Now we hear that the unassailability extends to those who lived three generations ago in a totally different reality, “We do not have the Koach….” sounds like an attempt at self-deprecating humor to me.
<<Rav Shteinman was asked directly by Rabbi Ginzburg why the Charaidim don’t try and work out a compromise with the rest of Israeli society. The response was that the Chazon Ish put this system in place. It was (and is) well known that at some point the state will stop supporting Torah and people will have to go work. However, we do not have the Koach to dismantle a system put into place by the Chazon Ish.
[YA – I hope Eli chimes in himself, but my guess is that R Shteinman did not mean that we do not have the right to undo what the Chazon Ish did. I believe what he meant is that a system created by the CI has strength and endurance, and we lack the tools to decommission the ship as long as it seems minimally seaworthy.]
“I don’t have a position. I don’t think I am entitled to one, since בעה”ר I don’t live there. ”
I feel the same way. There is clearly room for compromise if both sides are willing to, and I think that those of us in the diaspora should be trying to turn the volume down, rather than up, on this matter so that it might be easier to reach a compromise.
“He shows how government spending on charedi schools is already a fraction of what it is for the rest of the population.”
I had independently concluded that after looking at the summary of Israel’s state budget. It is nice to know that someone with access to more detailed figures concluded the same thing, that my much less in-depth analysis was basically correct.
I have a few questions and comments.
Why can’t the Chareidi world set up some Hesder Yeshivos?
What percentage of Hesder boys have gone off the derech? I hear that in the Dati Leumi world in general 20 percent leave orthodoxy (but this includes Dati Lite as well as Chardal) Again how many in hesder and in the Chardal world leave?
One of the points made in articles supporting the Chareidi position say that the Lapid plan would push back the internal Chareidi gains made in the last decade. To me it seems that the gains made in the last decade were very small. The “Tal Law” seemed quite reasonable and many Chareidim would love to have it back, but the attitude of many Chareidim during the 10 years of the Tal Law was quite contemptuous re it. It was set for a five year period and then renewed for another five years, but very few Chareidim took advantage of it.
I would also like to reiterate comments made above that it does not seem that the Chareidi leadership is ready to negotiate at all (maybe there are back channel negotiations but the public, Chareidi and Chiloni, don’t know about them)
i continue to be amazed about what gets the spotlight – the draft. what should get the spotlight is a core curriculum. one need not be much of a talmudic scholar to quote any number of sources. but God knows, the devil can also quote scripture. therefore forget the debate. simplify the issue – the state does not pay to help cripple its viabilaty, something it can decide. you want to act in a way the state believes disables your children, don’t ask the public to pay. i might put you in jail for child abuse, but the state seems more benevolent. i dont care if you argue until your blue in the face that the state is wrong. no need for debate – a state decides its military and economic posture; hopefully they are mostly correct. frankly, it is not worth the energy to debate.
and btw for those who hypothesize new evil impacts of army service, read ki taitzai. there are risks, but we are commmanded ve’hai ba-hem. sorry, life is not ideal.
I’d like to raise an additional point with respect to the proposed criminal sanctions. I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly is being proposed, and I haven’t been able to do so from the news reports. I suspect the reporters themselves are not sure exactly what the issue is.
Personally, I do not believe jail should be used as a sanction against haredim for refusing to serve in the army. Rather, I believe economic sanctions of some kind should be imposed. People should understand that even that would be an accomdation to the haredi community, since non-haredim do go to jail if they refuse to serve in the army without a valid exemption.
However, there is another issue. Some rabbis have called upon their students to boycott the process completely, i.e., to refuse to respond in any way to their draft notices. I believe this constitutes a direct challenge to the very legitimacy and authority of the state, and as such, should not be accommodated in any way. Rather, I think such refusal should be punished by jail. I question whether any other country would allow its authority to be undermined in this way, and I also question whether these rabbis would encourage such defiance in any other country.
If the Peri committee is proposing the former, I think they are dead wrong. I also think the jail component will be dropped, because it goes against the coalition agreement, and I think many people, including many Yesh Atid voters, will not support it.
If the Peri committee is proposing the latter, I think they are right, and what they are proposing is necessary to maintain the authority of the government.
The process of getting this law passed and implemented is still only at the beginning, and has a long and difficult road left to travel. But I believe the road would become much easier for everyone if the political spokesmen of haredi Judaism in Israel, namely the Knesset representatives of UTJ and Shas, would offer something more than rejection of every proposal for change and comparisons of their opponents to Amalek, Pharoh, Korach and other shady characters from our history. In this morning’s news, Moshe Gafni of UTJ’s was quoted as saying, in the context of the proposed budget, was that we survived Pharoh, and we’ll survive this. This kind of rheteric does not really inspire many Israeli taxpayers with an urge to continue funding kollels and exempting kollel students from the army.
Has anyone noticed how unrealistic both sides are in this conflict? There is a reason for it, which I believe will shed some light on the intractable nature of the problem.
Consider: The plan to solve the Charedi problem includes inducting thousands into the army. The army has been open about how impossible this is, as they have nothing to do with them and have no idea how to deal with such a large influx of recruits. They have apparently not even begun to think about how to deal with the cultural, psychological and physical challenges they are sure to face (both within the Charedi population as a whole and in each soldier), never mind the lack of loyalty to the army (or of any basic notion of citizenship) or lack of preparedness (“Shlomie, what do you hold is pshat in digging a bunker? Is it is din in the gavra or the cheftza?).
And on the other side, no one is less realistic than the Charedim – that is the essence of their approach. As stated followers of R’ Shimon bar Yochai, they hold that they should just learn and melachtan nassis al y’dei acherim – their work (livelihood) will somehow be provided by others. As one Israeli Rosh Yeshiva recently said in a shiur, the lesson of naaseh v’nishma is specifically the imprudence of it (“you impetuous people – you should have asked what was in the Torah before you accepted it”). If we even ask how we’re going to support or protect ourselves if we just learn all day, we are failing the naaseh v’nishma test.
And so the debate in Israel is rather shockingly devoid of any practical focus on how to lead society towards a realistic resolution (yes, national American politics is tending in a similar direction but only because of the increasing polarization of the parties. They are each practical and realistic in and of themselves).
Why is this? Are Israeli’s simply immature and irresponsible as compared to Americans? Are they too idealistic? There is probably some truth to these but here’s what I think the answer is: We must remember that both secular/Zionist Israelis and Israeli Charedim come from predecessors who were completely reckless and irresponsible – and who were rewarded with open miracles and historic success that changed the world. The state of Israel was founded by a bunch of ragtag nobodies with zero chance of success. The Charedim were a tiny remnant of an old world Judaism that clearly appeared to be a goses (breathing one’s last breathe), irrelevant in the modern Jewish world. And they both thrived so far beyond the possible that throughout the country, terms such as realistic, practical and responsible have been stripped completely of any meaning, whatsoever. As Golda Meir (I believe – or Ben Gurion?) famously said: Anyone in Israel who does not believe in miracles is simply being unrealistic.
And so both sides run headlong into a future with absolutely no sense of reality as that term is used in chutz la’aretz.
I make this point because of how practical and realistic Rabbi Adlerstein and the rest of us Americans tend to be, and how unlikely it is that any of this stuff makes any difference to Israelis. It’s a good thing we all believe in miracles.
Daniel said [ in regards the ‘other side’ not seeing the haredi point of view] ”And you won’t be able to compromise with someone who illegitimizes your needs”
—– this is precisely a two-way mirror , only worse. the mandates of halacha cannot in anyway conceive or condone concepts such as ‘secular jewish state’ ‘feminism’ etc . if the frum communities complain that the hiloni communities are insensitive due to ignorance of their way of life, the haredi perspective of them is even worse— ‘we know your way of life, it is vapid, vile , will bring down the wrath of the Gd you dont believe in’ etc
the MO/DL communities are often condemned by the RW for being to moderate in their compromise/ acceptance of positions that are evil in Gd’s eyes.
but on some level , the hilonim are not revulsed by them…. i don’t see a good answer to this dilemma , since ‘live and let live’ is not a tora dictate ; ‘hocheach tochiach et ameetecha’ is … of course that presumes one can only influence those who are friends…
1. You are allowed to stake a position, even if [you think] you are not directly impacted by it. To say otherwise would mean, in most matters, only those married with children and property are entitled to vote. For better or for worse, that is not how functioning democracies in the 21st century work.
2. There is no funamental reason charedim cannot work or fight. It is just an anomaly in history, like others that arise from time to time, borne out of the masive upheaval of WWII and the creation of the state. The current angst is simply the angst of conservative people reacting to new realities. It takes time, but it will eventually happen. As Moshe Potempkin wrote, the issues presented by both the army and working generally are mere questions of hiddur and chumrah, which are fine things in their time and place, but not fundamental. This is to be contrasted with things like *giyos banos* [drafting females] or attempts to impose outside curriculums in the classroom, which are fundamental intrusions, and over which Charedim, no different than all Jews throughout history, will NEVER give in.
3. The comment of R. Shteiman re the “system”, such as it were, put into place by the Chazon Ish, is meant to reflect the notion that one beis din cannot change that of an earlier one unless greater in wisdom or number (in practical terms, never.) Much ink has been written over how this Mishna, one out of three in Arachin with contradictory holdings, has taken on a life of its own over the past 1500 years. This latest is just another example.
Whatever your feeling is about Chareidim being drafted they do have an agreement made from the beginning of the days of the state that those who are learning will have their army service deferred.Tremendous infrastructure was built with the understand the agreement was a permanent one.I don’t see the moral justification for reneging on that agreement.(I also don’t think the Chareidim should compromise for the same reason.Having no way of knowing that compromise won’t be revoked why bother?)
Perhaps the mass emigration of the entire Chareidi population from EY to the US is the best solution.
I believe that this might be true for about 5%; the other 95% love Torah and Yeshiva, are successful there, and will end up having a tremendous influence on their fellow Israelis, if they are forced to serve.
If they could really have a tremendous positive influence on their fellow Jews by serving, does not the principle of areivus require them to do so?
Ari Heitner: The system being full time learning and deferment from the army for anyone who requests it. And no, it doesn’t seem like there is any situation in which Rav Shteinman would feel “warrant(s) changing the system”, at least in a manner that he would agree B’Yadayim to it.
“I hope Eli chimes in himself, but my guess is that R Shteinman did not mean that we do not have the right to undo what the Chazon Ish did. I believe what he meant is that a system created by the CI has strength and endurance, and we lack the tools to decommission the ship as long as it seems minimally seaworthy.”
The context was “Gadol B’Chachma U’Biminyan” (of course, this is secondhand. One can ask Rabbi Aryeh Zev Ginzburg, Rav of Chofetz Chaim Torah Center himself what he heard personally from Rav Shteinman). Certainly not what R’ Adlerstein suggests. Rav Shteinman (quoted by Rabbi Ginzburg) seems to have said that he does not have the right to dismantle the system, it can only be dismantled externally. When that happens, it is a sign from Hashem that it is time for the system to be dismantled.
I took what Eli said to mean that what the CI said has the status of a takanas Beis Din, that requires another that is greater in “chachma and minyan” to overrule it. And that people really believe that! (Of course that would be a total misapplication of the legal axiom, but then again, stranger things have happened under the contemporary brand of Daas Torah.)
Then again, maybe I misread what Eli was saying altogether.
“There is no quid pro quo when joining the IDF means the loss of shmiras haMitzvos or a level that one is accustomed to”.
When leaving KOLLEL to join the workforce even Klei Kodesh careers “means the loss of a level that one is accustomed to”. Some might even venture to say that getting married for Bochurim is a “Loss of a level that one is accustomed to”. My query is SO WHAT?????
just to point out that not all sectors of the budget are going to experience belt tightening. For example, the education budget is going to be increased by NIS 9 billion, presumably not due to increased amounts to the charedi schools. That’s about a quarter of the budget deficit that this belt tightening is supposed to reduced.
I just saw this on another web site which printed Jonathan Rosenblum’s critique of Dov Lipman but would not print his response. Is this comment below normative Judaism and ,if so, what religion do I belong to because it ain’t his?
10. Comment from 9bAv
Time June 18, 2013 at 5:10 PM
Please don’t even think of posting Lipman’s response. It might be true, but Daas Torah is against Lipman and Daas Torah is stronger than truth. And to those who think its assur to speak loson hora about Lipman they’re also wrong since we see the Gedolim speaking loson hora and rechilus about him, and if Gedolim can do it it becomes a mitzvah to do it.
“and btw for those who hypothesize new evil impacts of army service, read ki taitzai. there are risks, but we are commmanded ve’hai ba-hem. sorry, life is not ideal.”
What a flippant attitude you have. If I read Ki Tzeitzei, there were no women in the army of Bnei Yisroel and there were tzaddikim! You’re telling me that you can place a frum 18 year old male in the army together with women who have open attitudes to sexuality and all you can say is “sorry, life is not ideal”?
So having bochurim join the army just so they can go off the derech is “life is not ideal”?
“I think there’s a huge difference between shmiras hamitzvos on one side, and the “level that one is accustomed to” on the other. I’m not questioning the sincerity of the latter concern, but I don’t think that every chumra automatically patturs one from his obligation.”
Shmiras Hamitzvos is what I mean. Forget chumros, if you are not going to remain frum as result, where is the shmiras hamitzvos? And if you are going to say that the fact that chareidi bochurim are more “innocent” and “naive” we will have to agree to disagree, since I believe that is ideal. As R’ Lopiansky points out in his piece in this edition of Misphacha, Datiim Leumi, culturally, have no problem with the chiloni culture.
“When leaving KOLLEL to join the workforce even Klei Kodesh careers “means the loss of a level that one is accustomed to”. Some might even venture to say that getting married for Bochurim is a “Loss of a level that one is accustomed to”. My query is SO WHAT?????”
My point, Caren, is that you cannot compare a workplace with an army. An army is built of submission to orders and a strict hierarchy. Also, you live with women in very close quarters. Work – you head home at the end of the day. Yes, there are temptations at work, but that is normal and people should be able to handle their yetzer horah in those circumstance, though you still have to be very careful. The IDF presents the means for the yetzer horah on steroids.
“Rav Shteinman (quoted by Rabbi Ginzburg) seems to have said that he does not have the right to dismantle the system, it can only be dismantled externally. When that happens, it is a sign from Hashem that it is time for the system to be dismantled.”
These are some quotes, including one from R. Ginzberg(in his own name), regarding how change in this area should work:
R. Ginzberg wrote in the 5TJT a few weeks ago , “yes, we do need change, and yes, change will come; however, it will come slowly, without forcing the closing of yeshivos and without removing subsidies from large chareidi families…”
Rabbi Adlerstein wrote in 2007:
True, it took what the Chazon Ish himself conceded was an artificial emphasis on Torah to the exclusion of all else (even gainful employment) to bring about this revolution, and the artificiality was not designed to last forever. But can any of us blame Torah leaders who are unwilling to burst the bubble, to pull the plug? The problems facing the haredi lifestyle are prodigious, but who wants to take responsibility of ending the dream?Accommodating “reality” means killing the golden goose. To be sure, it is a high-maintenance goose. But it is still laying golden eggs. How many of us can remember the last day of summer vacations gone by, when those last hours meant so much, when closing the door on the vacation condo was so difficult, because it meant the inexorable return to a dreary reality we did not want to return to? It is hard to close doors to spiritual reverie as well.(“Wiki-Orthodoxy and the Undervaluing of Torah”) ”
Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in 2004:
“the Chareidi community is by nature an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, one. What changes take place will come in an incremental fashion, primarily generated by pressures from below…An entire body of social science literature documents the disastrous consequences of many efforts at social and ecological engineering, and the frequency with which those efforts generate consequences far more grievous than the problems they are designed to cure(Jewish Action, Summer 2004, “Israel’s New Economic Reality: Will Israel’s Charedi Population Have To Reinvent Itself?”).
Joel Rich, I don’t think someone who wants to study Torah all day should be forced to serve in the IDF at age 18. I don’t believe that drafting charedim and forcing them into “jobnik” positions does anything for the military security of Israel. I believe the goal of drafting charedim is to weaken and ultimately destroy the charedi community, but I don’t believe that would be the outcome if the draft is imposed on the charedim. Certainly if there is going to be a draft of charedim it should be into appropriate frameworks, but I believe that many who favor drafting charedim would be against creating these frameworks, and I have read that IDF leadership itself doesn’t believe that Israel can afford the cost of creating these. I don’t believe that a secular majority should be able to force a “core curriculum” onto the charedi minority. I believe that Israel’s economy has done fine and that general secular education is highly overrated in its relationship to the skills a person needs to hold a job.
Rabbi Oberstien,that comment was no doubt meant to be sarcastic.cmon!
This article is far too long and complex for my simple mind to fully grasp, so I will just make a few very short comments about it. One is, that every able-bodied Jew in Israel should be part of its military, not just its non-Chareidi citizens. The possibility that the chareidi boys would somehow become corrupt by the largely secular nature of the army, is not a good enough excuse to avoid engaging in the same physical defense of their country as anybody else living there. The blood of one Jew is no redder than that of any other Jew.
As for the Israeli government providing various social services to the chareidi community, I think that all such government funding should stop, in favor of letting the private sector decide such matters. The cost of education paradoxically rises the more that it is funded by the government. If all schools were privatized, the quality of education would improve, and at a lower cost. Plus, that would take the politics out of it, which should be motivation enough to at least give such an idea a try.
As for the much larger issue of how to bridge the gap between the chareidim and everybody else, there is simply no way that I can even dream of being qualified to answer such a complicated question. What I can say is that the Jewish way throughout the centuries has not been force, whether that be brute, physical force or governmental force, but rather education. Teaching the wisdom and spiritual beauty to secular Jews cannot guarantee positive results, yet it probably is the best chance that such a thing could even happen.
Rabbi Oberstein, I agree with Yosef Berg. That comment is a work of art. Mark Twain couldn’t have written it in a better way. I suspect that commenter writes for the Onion in his spare time.
YM Goldstein you are living in a dream world. First of all everyone agreed that Yeshiva boys could defer the draft until 21, those 3 years learning in yeshiva. Second of all, the Israeli economy is doing well because of the high tech sector and Israel as a “start up nation”. To do that requires serious engineering skills which require secular education.
r’ ym Goldstein,
If your belief is representative of the chareidi community’s red line, then there would not be a possibility of a negotiated solution if the draft/core curriculum is the rest of society’s red line. The question then is what is the chareidi community’s (and secular) best alternative to a negotiated settlement, given the other side has the power to make keeping the status quo a non-alternative?
Also, you live with women in very close quarters.
No you don’t! And especially not in the frum units where women are not allowed.
Few of those who have chimed in actually live in Israel, with kids serving in the army. As a mother of past present and future dati-leumi soldiers in the IDF (Hesder and regular 3 year service) I’d like to make a few points:
1- This discussion seems to relate to the army as some sort of government-sponsored seminar program that may or may not have an anti-charedi agenda. Folks, this is the army, not some sort of summer camp. IDF soldiers fight real wars, where people get hurt and killed. One of my sons gets called away from home to miluim for up to 4 weeks a year. How do you think he feels? (Actually, I’ll surprise you- he doesn’t mind- but his wife and young children are not amused)
2- Another one of my sons spent a few months guarding Hevron. The Casba is not a friendly place. However he felt privileged to be there, because he believes that Hevron should remain under Israeli sovereignty. He understands the significance of the Maarat Hamachpela. Now take a chiloni soldier, who may feel little if any connection to Hevron. He also has to spend that same month or two protecting the Maarat Hamachpela. And busload after busload of chareidim show up to daven, assuming someone else will ensure their safety. How do you think this chiloni soldier feels?
3- If the IDF would withdraw all soldiers from Hevron, leaving an enlarged contingent of Yeshiva students learning in Kiryat Arba, would you still visit Maarat Hamachpela when you come to Israel? Would you feel personally protected from the Arab mobs by the tora-learning nearby?
Please consider these questions with an open mind, and then maybe you’ll understand that “sharing the burden” is more than a slogan.
Your response is quite true, except if a Torah framework (like Shachar, where all soldiers sleep at home) was designed, originated and proposed by Charedi leadership that would have/will lessen and reduce the raging Yetzar Harah. The multitudes of non-learning Charedi Bochurim is increasing yearly with no framework of IDF services available to them. Their level of spirituality may lessen YET their leadership, responsibility, perseverance, and maturity levels will heighten to embrace a stronger & firmer level of ‘Avodas Hashem’.
Regarding ‘core curriculum’, the son of Rabbi Ravitz (UTJ of Bayit Vegan) was appointed overseer to the Charedi world to implement a workable secular studies program. These classes will be taught by Frum teachers and under a CHaredi Educational Ministry….so the nastiness and harsh rhetoric should pipe down until the next whirlwind of complaints emerge.
But this begs the question of whether Tzahal must be a spiritual sakanah. Could the army design programs of service that do not pose a threat? A later article shows the dramatic failures of the IDF in some cases – but successes in others. It cobbles together horrible statistics about religious failure among religious Zionist recruits – yet all of us know people who more than weathered the storm, and emerged stronger for it, while living lives of tremendous kiddush Hashem while serving in Israel’s military. Could it be that what is needed is enough will – and enough guarantees? Should broken promises in the past prove that no guarantees will ever be adequate – or is that not the way we lead our lives in so many other areas where we structure agreements through legal language, when it is really important enough for us?
R. Adlerstein, I find this comment incredibly naive and historically misdirected. From the very beginning of the State, the IDF has had a dual role: (a) defense of the State and (b) acculturation of its recruits into a secular Zionist reality. That was by design, and it remains so. True, some people resisted the pressures, but many did not. The current push to draft Charedim seems to be inspired primarily to score political points and to use the acculturative side of the IDF to undermine Charedi mores and values.
If the secular side is truly interested in arriving at a fair compromise (and I mean the politicians, not the populace who genuinely have issues of fairness), then perhaps they should first decide what the purpose of the IDF is: defense, acculturation or both. Are they willing to give up on the second part, and structure the IDF solely for defense of the country? And if so, what kind of IDF does the country need for its defense? Does everyone need to be drafted, or can Israel move to a professional army, as the U.S. has?
Until they have such a frank discussion, given past history, the bona fides of those calling for a Charedi draft are very much in doubt.
[YA – It may be naïve, but it is not historically misdirected.
We know what the past was like, and we should not forget it. The past does not always dictate the present and the future. Whatever the case was 60 years ago need not be the case today, especially when the wall-to-wall cries amongst the non-haredi public for change indicate (to put it mildly) some real issues of fairness and financial burden. We dare not forget the past, or let our guard down. But neither can we get away with saying that during WWI they tried starving us to death; therefore, we will never, ever trust them for anything or accept their word under any conditions. No other group on the face of the earth can get away with stonewalling conversation about the grievances of others by taking cover in past history to such an absolute degree.
I don’t think the issue is either defense or acculturation. It is fairness. We don’t really win points with the other side by steadfastly refusing to even meet with them to negotiate.
I’m not telling anyone what to do – particularly gedolei Torah in Israel. I’m only arguing that when we make our case here in the States, or to the world as a whole through the media, we ought to limit ourselves to arguments that have a chance of resonating. None of what I’ve seen in our own internal press has a chance, IMHO, other than Jonathan Rosenblum’s key observation: the way Lapid and company have recently pursued their program will be enormously counterproductive, undoing the gains of the last years and placing the most extreme rejectionists in the communal driver’s seat. My understanding is that it was this point alone that a group of US haredim made to Ambassador Oren at a recent frank meeting in DC. And it was this point alone that a group of us made to the Los Angeles Consul General at a meeting in my home last week.]
It seems agreed that change will not come about from above but on an individual level Avreichim who have said that they are cut out to continue full time in Kolell – different reasons- have been encouraged by Gedolim to go and work and if need be study to become a professional.I recently met an avreich , now learning in the mornings , studying in the afternoons and at 3:00 a:m he delivers newspapers. He asked his Bnei Brak Rosh Yeshivah about leaving full time Kollel – The Rosh yeshivah asked him – whose signiture is on the Ketuvah , yours or your wife’s ?
But on a macro level the chareidi politicians are not interested in chareidi men working. Prior to these elections ‘ Yehadus ha’Torah had an evening for ‘ working chareidim ‘. At the time , ba’gatz had disposed of Chok Tal but the arrangement of national service instead of army would continue till this coming July. lapid went to the Ba’gatz on this and the Government had to respond to Lapid’s challenge. The Government was joined by the Bayit hayehudi , Tenuat Tovv and others but not ‘ Yehadus ha’torah. When asked why ‘ Gimmel = Y.hatorah did not also respond , the chaver knesset claimed that it was a clerical error. When challenged in private that his answer was an insult to intelligence of the audience , he replied that Yehadus ha’torah can’t support Chareidim going to work.!!!!
And so when Litzman complains about the cute in social benefits , I ask what are you doing to help chareidi families get out of the cycle of poverty
Maybe poverty makes people dependent on chareidi politicians and so they vote for them , but POVERRTY has a devastating effect on families and Yiddishkeit
Ultimately individuals have to take responsibility for their lives and their families . It will be more difficult now
The people who suffer are the regular folks whether in learning or working. What a shame
I have a tremendous respect for Rabbi Adlerstein as a Talmud Chacham as well as a scholar. Nevertheless many of his ideas disturb me.
Many years ago, when I was 18 years old, I had issues that disturbed me greatly and kept me up at night. Soviet Jewry was the issue and demonstrating on their behalf seemed to be the way to help them the most. However, there was one “minor” glicth – Rav Moshe, TZ”L said NO!
How could he issue such a ruling – what a mistake – I thought! How can I listen to him?! I literally cried myself to sleep until I made peace with the Mitzva D’Oraisa that staes: one must follow the Gadol HaDor and the Gedolim even if he/they (seemingly) are making a mistake! (Devarim 17;11 see Rashi)
Since then, I still am very frustrated by many of the decrees issued by our Gedolim, but am content to live with the belief that HaShem is running the world and I, as a mere foot soldier, must follow orders.
Now Rabbi Adlerstein, (and me) is getting older. Does that mean that he has the right to consider himself one of the Gedolim (I write this with the greatest respect)? Do we follow Torah or don’t we? We, who grew up in America, especially during the 60’s experienced a very different Torah world than exists today. Most of us, even though we learned full time, went to college and even graduate school. But that is not the case today – especially in Eretz Yisrael. We have the right (and perhaps the obligation) to meet Gedolim and fight for our perspectives and opinions regarding the issues of the day. But when all is said and done, from my understanding, the Gedolim have the final say.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
[YA – I do think you are wrong. I happen to subscribe to the school of thought that sees Gedolim as the einei ha’eidah – although I would be hard pressed to call it a mitzvah d’orayso. (The pasuk you cited does NOT sustain such a mitzvah according to most Rishonim.) I do believe, however, that it is a time-honored hanhagah, and can be supported through mekoros. We are not dealing here with a directive from a consensus of gedolim. They are clearly split on the matter in Israel. You don’t know what gedolim here are saying – other than that they, too , are split. In the case at hand, all that I am doing is presenting arguments, especially arguments that we need to keep in mind if we don’t want to look like fools in speaking to other people. I know of no directive (yet) from gedolim not to use the sechel that Hashem has given us, including to understand people outside of our community. If it boiled down to action, and I was pretty darn sure I was right, and I got a phone call from R Chaim Kanievski telling me to act in an opposing manner, I would swallow hard, and listen to R Chaim Kanievski.]
Joel Rich, your comments bring to my mind two thoughts. One is, should there be any limit on the right of a majority to pass legislation that affects a minority that the minority opposes? It is a very difficult question, and it leads me to my second though, which is something that I thought Rabbi Adlerstein had said, but I cannot find, which is that the approach that the charedi community has taken is to oppose all changes, knowing that change is probably coming and they will do what they will do when that happens. I highly doubt that the Gedolim would argue against the reality of the ability of the majority to impose itself on the minority. My bottom line is that I think imposing the draft on yeshiva bochorim and imposing a core-curriculum on charedi yeshivot is very unwise.
ChanaRachel, if the IDF would stop protecting Hevron, then the charedim would stop coming to daaven there. It would be too dangerous. If you asked most charedim, would they be willing to give up their ability to daaven in Hevron in exchange for not being drafted, I think most would say yes.
Ary Loeb – that passuk and Rashi do not mean what you think it means. According to most Rishonim, it is talking about the Beis Din HaGadol in Yerushalayim, not the greatest Torah scholar (or even group of Torah scholars) in each generation. (Not to mention that the Yerushalmi says the opposite – that you only follow them if they say right is right, not if they say right is left! There is lots of discussion about this in the Rishonim/Acharonim.)
RE the anti Soviet protests. I had the opportunity recently to hear Malcom Hoenline speak re the anti soviet protests. He said a story that one time Rav Moshe had promised to give him a letter to read by a protest. then when it came time R”M F had a lot of pressure against him not to. He called Malcom on Friday and told him that he apologizes buut cant do it. Malcom said he understood etc etc. Motzaei Shabbos he got a phone call that he should come for the letter. Rav Moshe Told him that he couldn’t sleep the whole night because he was thinking about it. And he gave him the letter to read the next day by the protests (RM did ask him to make sure that no one wore tallis or teffilin so that the Russians would not associate those Tashmishei Kedusha with being anti russian.
I think that Because R”M lived under Russian rule and saw how they treated Jews and him personally, in his mind they were worse than the Nazis and would never bend to pressure and thought that protesting would make it worse. However I don’t think that he held that his opinion was Torah Misinai; and he gave hadrocha to Malcom of what to do if he was running to protests anyway. Please contact Malcom Hoenline for details. I may have some details here mixed up, but that is the story the way I remember it.
The point is that what you may remember as being Torah Misinai –R”M himself may not have felt that way(that his opinion was not Torah Misinai – rather practically will it be beneficial or detrimental).
I know I am opening up a whole new discussion here of Daas Torah.(and if you have to listen to a feeling of a Gadol ) but those are the facts the way I remember hearing them”
Ben – my point is that with the feminist push, that may change. Besides, if they got rid of Hesder units, thereby exposing Hesder students to female soldiers, who says that won’t happen at some point for Chareidim?
YM Goldstein says that most Chareidim would be willing to give up their ability to daven in Hevron in exchange for not being drafted. Would they be willing to give up Eretz Israel or Yerushalayim in exchange for not being drafted?
It would be worthwhile to read the dialogue between the refusenik Yosef Mendolvitch and R. Moshe Feinstein when they met after he was freed from Russian. Yosef speaks about the positive ramifications of the Protests and connects his freedom directly with the Massive American Demos against Russia. Interesting read….
Shalom Rav Adlerstien Shlita and all the esteemed readers here.
I live in EY and have been involved in the Haredi, Dati and Chiloni communities and familes here for around a decade. I would like to make a few short points.
About the draft and sharing the burden, I have heard the perspective as follows; My son is in the army risking his life for the nation and your son is in Yeshiva or Kollel, is that not unfair? To that I ask – does your son want to be in the army? If yes then Kol Hakavod! That is great and wonderful! Obviously, that is his choice and that is what he wants to do! If he does not want to be there, so why is he there? What is the difference between my son and yours? He can go to yeshiva and learn? No one is discriminating between us, there is (was) a law that if you are in yeshiva, you are exempt/deferred from army duty. (snicker… but please think about this point and I would be glad to hear a cogent reply.)
I heard a Dati leader say publicly this past year that more than 50% of Dati boys who enlist in the army lose their religious observance. This is tragic. It is not just “a level that they are comfortable with” about Humrot, I am talking about observance. Of course I know some wonderful Dati guys who served and came out great but anecdotes will not change the horrible statistics.
About the government cutting down and support to the Haredi world (especially but not limited to those “in learning” or not learning English and Math etc.) the point is not that the government owes them because this is what they are used to. Rather, the Haredi population is taxed as is everyone else but most of the money that they pay goes to non-Haredi schools etc.
That is all I can say right now. Kol Tuv!
Binyomin Posen wrote:
I heard a Dati leader say publicly this past year that more than 50% of Dati boys who enlist in the army lose their religious observance. This is tragic. It is not just “a level that they are comfortable with” about Humrot, I am talking about observance. Of course I know some wonderful Dati guys who served and came out great but anecdotes will not change the horrible statistics.
Even if this is true (it sounds like a very high number and I don’t know what it includes (how many hesder students? how many mechina students … meaning if your fear is recidivism choose the right plan) the comment highlights a very important and striking distinction in how zionist datiim look at the army and how some Hareidim look at the army. To some Hareidim the army is THEIR army not OURS. A minority may be ok with serving but the institution of the army is fundamentally outside the religious hareidi framework. To zionist datiim the army is OUR army – not the state’s (as a separate institution) or the hilonim but it belongs to the people who live under the state’s protection. It is not bedieved but is lechatchila a part of living in our own country. it is part and parcel of the religious life that Hashem intended us to live in Israel (although of course with the always-present void of lacking the Mashiach and Hashem’s presence obvious to all).
If there is indeed a problem of people losing their faith in the army then it is our task to fix it, not to abandon it. Will Hareidim ever feel that they can leave the confines of the religious enclave and share the responsibility for the state and its institutions that offers them their lifestyle?
As one who lives in the Holy land, there are other reads on this subject.
“My son is in the army risking his life for the nation and your son is in Yeshiva or Kollel, is that not unfair? To that I ask – does your son want to be in the army? If yes then Kol Hakavod!”
Since One Son of mine is in the army and the other in Yeshiva – they are both proud, happy and Kol Hakavod. The question is and has been for a L O N G time, what about the Charedi boy who is not in Yeshiva or in the Army and is within conscription age?
There are young men who falter in religious observances and much has been done to change that through mechina programs, religious overseers in army and a strong dose of Emunah and Limud haTorah before enlistment. 50% is off base and a made-up number.
“the Haredi population is taxed as is everyone else but most of the money that they pay goes to non-Haredi schools” – On this point there are some errors. A large amount of Charedi families do not pay arnona, employment and other taxes that are shouldered by the rest of the residents. Tax monies go for parks, roads, community health services, fire/police, cultural activities, free gamin etc. which Charedim as all other citizens benefit from.
Thank you for replying. Aharon Haber- I assume the number is not exact. You are saying that Dati people look at it as the thing to do – we go to the army without questioning. They do not do a cost-benefit analysis. I understand, but does that mean they should send their still-religious kids there? That it is the practical lechatchila thing to do? That it is G-d’s will for us to serve there? That we should fix it? Can you please explain, if you have kids, how are you planning on fixing the army? I have kids and I thank G-d that they are not yet of age to enlist because I may be powerful and famous 😉 but I can not change the army. I spoke to many soldiers in the army and air force. They are promised many things (for their religious observance) and usually none of the promises are kept. For example, mehadrin food, time to pray, only male instructors etc. It is not Kansas anymore.
Here is a mashal, I hope not too off-base, imagine you live in the FSU like in Moscow, there is no KGB anymore, there is freedom of religion etc. but there is now the FSB (new name for KGB). Everything you do is monitored etc. (without talking about the NSA) as long as the current situation continues, fine, but in a second they can clamp down, they know who and where everyone is. They have 2 video cameras on every building entrance. So far everything is fine, but if one day it is disclosed that anyone filing for non-profit status with the IRS there, (FNC) with tea party in their name … you should be nervous.
I am comparing that with the army, and the same applies with the core curriculum. You can have promises and safeguards but it doesn’t and won’t help anything if the people controlling it share a different worldview than you and do not value or respect what is important to you.
Sima Irkodesh- about the Haredi boy not enlisting but not learning, it seems that there is much more dodging by secular Israelis, in relative and absolute terms, and also the army does not need them. I think what I am saying still makes sense (but I am open to correction), there is no issue of my kid is forced to go and risk his life and your kid is studying in Yeshiva. Rather, everyone can chose, good for them if they do something worthwhile, and if they are slacking, it is not unique to Haredis.
Thank you for your other point about the taxes. I appreciate the bigger picture.
Binyomin thanks for responding.
Let me clarify a bit. The “fixing it” comment by me is directed to the responsibility of our leadership who can potentially influence things to be “safer” for children entering the army. I feel it is disingenuous to suggest that Hareidi leadership is interested in this beyond a very b’dieved effort – if at all. My point is the army is seen as an outside “burden” (if not an outright evil) and not an inside “responsibility” say in the same way they would see “fixing” a Hareidi yeshiva if that Yeshiva had a problem with boys going off the derech.
As far as the individual is concerned – it is every family’s responsibility to make sure their children grow up frum. i am not an expert on child psychology and development but my gut feeling is that whether someone grows up frum has more to do with the family environment than any outside influences including school and the army. I am sure there are thousands of exceptions but again my gut says the family is a better predictor of a child’s character or frumkeit when he is an adult than anything else. That is why when I read statistics like the ones you presented I am immediately skeptical of drawing conclusions. You cannot look at a survey, you must look at your child and where they are “holding” when you have to make decisions about where they belong.
To me, the army is a responsibility. I feel guilty for being here in Israel without having served. I could have decided to do army service before I returned to YU after my two years in Israel post high school as some courageous boys did – but I didnt. I have to live with that. I do have four boys all of which I hope will serve and I will do what I can to see that it happens. I dont feel I have an ethical choice and I think it is important for my children to understand responsibility and obligation. Of course as parents, my wife and I think about their safety all the time, and will be worried as each one serves but that is what we signed up for when we came – and we feel our sons are getting a much more meaningful life here in Israel than they would have in the states. We feel it is worth it – and so far they do as well.
My oldest son just finished his army service as part of Hesder. He served as a tank commander for 18 months and was considering continuing in the army to become an officer but decided to return to yeshiva to finish hesder. He served in a mixed unit. He got proper training in halacha before he went and though I did not discuss what he went halachic questions he encountered every shabbat or meal, I do know that he was learning all the time and when he was home for Shabbat he was also learning almost all the time. His cousin, one year older, went to the same hesder yeshiva and is now going into his sixth year at yeshiva and is studying for the rabbanut. his other cousin courageously decided to become an officer and after returning to yeshiva this year is going back to the army to officer training school. I believe my next son will follow a similar path to hesder (hopefully this will still be an option in two years) and he is also a pretty serious learner.
All this is purely anecdotal and maybe I am lucky to have very strong sons and family. But I have not seen any evidence that this commitment to frumkeit alongside to commitment to ethical responsibility is not replicated each and every year time and again in hesder service. We all make choices in life.
That is exactly my point. It doesn’t matter – even if you argue that R. Moshe, zt”l was wrong. If our obligation is to follow the Gedolim (even R. Adlerstein agreed he would do so if he received a call from R. Chaim Kanievsky!)then it is not up to us to decide whether they are right or wrong. (I am as frustrated as the next guy, but if it’s Halacha then this will separate the men from the boys.)