A Secular-Haredi Debate on Israel’s Cultural War

By Heshy Grossman and Dan Perry

[Editor’s Note: The dialogue that follows is refreshing, given that too many folks these days are given to talking past each other, rather than to each other. The two disputants have drawn personally closer to each other in the exchange, rather than further apart – this despite neither of them yielding any ground on the issues. It is reminiscent of the famous exchange between Rabbis Yaakov Yosef Reinman and Ammiel Hirsch two decades ago. Like theirs, this one will likely generate much discussion.]

Is an understanding possible between the Haredi and secular parts of Israel? Will the Haredim inevitably prevail by virtue of their phenomenal birthrate – or do the secular have the advantage via accounting for the vast majority of the country’s GDP? Will there be war – or geographical partition? Are there invisible processes at work?

These are the questions that will determine the future of Israel a few decades from now. What follows is a synopsis of an ongoing discussion between the two of us – journalist and secular humanist Dan Perry and Rabbi Heshy Grossman, a long-time Yeshiva educator and a proud and articulate Haredi. It is a rather unusual dialectic in that both men like and respect each other on a personal level and have grown to be friends – yet are on opposite sides of what is shaping up as a genuine cultural war in Israel.

Heshy: Dan, you write: “If religion were understood to be about what one does in their own home, and there was no effort to impose, then fine.” But we don’t view religion that way, and certainly not the Jewish People. Without getting into the underlying existential theology, we see the Jewish People as one unified entity that embodies a Divine mission. We understand our nation as a unit, traveling at sea in one ship, and one who drills a hole underneath his own cabin cannot pretend to be harming only himself.

We do agree that it is important for Haredim to contribute to the general welfare of the community, but we see material prosperity and security as a means for a fulfilling life, not as the ultimate goal. The decision to keep young men in Yeshiva rather than the military is one example of where the priorities of the two communities come into conflict. We certainly value and respect the military, but we believe that its purpose is to protect the Jewish People so we can freely lead Jewish lives, and our Jewish life is predicated upon the Torah and Yeshivos, which, we firmly believe, also protects our people.

Since our worldviews are so divergent, we are talking past each other, with each side trying to overcome the other. A decisive determination as to whose values are correct is not forthcoming, so the best solution would be an accommodation, and this is why we prefer the status quo arrangement that allows our two communities to co-exist.

Dan: The Haredi community now constitutes a fifth of the Jews in Israel and has seven children per family, which is reckless and without equal in the modern world. The community seems happy to be mendicant, depending on child allowances and a network of tax breaks and shadow subsidies. It widely refuses to teach high schoolers math, science and English, and insists that vast numbers of male adults spend their lives in religious study receiving salaries from the taxpayer.

This is nothing short of a catastrophe for any notion of Israel as a modern state. If the Haredim become a majority and continue this behavior the economy will collapse. But even if they mildly alter their behavior, a Haredi-majority Israel, with religion dominating public life, will quickly lead to a flight of the others, yielding a backward failed state run into the ground by religious fanatics. The current government, which depends on Haredi parties, is doubling down on all this. It is national suicide. Down this path lies a Jewish version of Iran.

Moreover, the Haredim are now one of several main forces behind the attack on the rule of law in Israel. The current government is attempting to undermine the independence of the courts and to install elected authoritarianism, and one of the main reasons for this is to enable the continued special dispensations for the Haredim, including and especially rampant sector-wide exemptions from the military and even national service. The courts might well strike much of this down as violating the principle of equality – hence the war on the courts, which are indeed indifferent to the world of God. Down this path lies a Jewish version of Turkey – or, God forbid, Russia.

Heshy: Nearly all the objections that you raise are worries about what the future will bring. Though it is nice for people to plan national strategy, it would be more prudent to admit that not too many predictions for the Jewish future have come to fruition recently (your parents’ generation was sure that Orthodoxy was dead) and a little more circumspection would be appropriate. Haredim – who are equally concerned for the future – don’t share the same doomsday vision.

The disdain for G-d and religious values is why it is so difficult for Haredim to cooperate and integrate into secular Israeli society. Not only do you delegitimize religious Jews who differ with your secular views with mocking derision – ‘fanatics’ – but you distort the facts. Can a $400 monthly stipend for a Yeshiva scholar with a family be called a ‘salary’?! Really, Dan, would you work for $400 a month?

You say Haredim have too many children. Sorry, but there is no room in a civilized and free society for that type of intrusion into our family life. And then you wonder why Haredim distrust attempts by the secular leadership to act ‘for our benefit’!?

Dan: I am simply outlining the facts. It’s not too difficult to see the trends and foolish to not warn against what’s coming. And indeed, I do not like the landscape. Haredi men in the Diaspora for the most part have occupations and don’t rely on government stipends and handouts. Wouldn’t it be better for Israeli Haredi community to do the same?

Heshy: By and large, Haredi men in Europe and the USA ultimately pursue occupations. The situation in Israel is very different. Haredim in Israel still live in a siege mentality, and believe that many secular leaders want to weaken religious Judaism (and your attitude reveals why). Still, I know many Haredi families who would like to provide good training and advanced education for their children.

Dan: Yet it rarely happens. You do understand that working Israelis subsidizing a non-sustainable Haredi lifestyle breeds resentment and even hatred among fellow Jews and is financially not sustainable with the exploding Haredi population growth, yes?

Heshy: We are aware of the resentment, and also of the public relations campaign engineered to stoke those flames. We believe that the budget issue is not being presented accurately to the public. I think that an open assessment would reveal that the Haredim actually do not receive an undue portion of the budget. Let’s have an honest look at how much money is spent per student at secular schools, and compare as well the amounts spent for Haredi students with other expenditures – at universities, and for the general population – that have no clear economic benefit. Does the funding for the museums, libraries, Chinese art history, philosophy, Greek and English literature, sports activities, music, theater, opera, festivals, Israeli public TV and so on receive as much scrutiny as funds granted for the education of our children? The double standard leads us to believe that the secular concern is not budgetary excess, but rather, a desire to hit Haredim in our pockets, and to squeeze our school system.

Dan: It’s a red herring. The 2022 Finance Ministry study showed the Haredim as contributing least to the economy – as a measure of taxes versus production – of any group including the Israeli Arabs. And the vast majority of support to universities contributes to Israel’s spectacular tech sector that accounts for almost a fifth of the economy, half the exports and most of the growth, and as such underpins the engine that enables secular Israel to support the Haredim for the moment. For you to question it on account of some imaginary large subsidy to Greek studies is not only absurd but rather self-defeating. And it is clear, because of the reckless birthrate, that none of this is sustainable. You are intelligent, so I am sure you understand that one needs a core curriculum including math. Theater actors do not threaten to overwhelm the rest of the population numerically and impose thespianism everywhere in the public domain. In short, how does Haredi leadership justify the increasing cost as the Haredi population grows?

Heshy: Well, let’s just look and see what has happened in communities where the Haredi population has grown enormously in recent years, and let’s see how the increasing costs have been met. In the Yeshiva orbit, the best example is Lakewood, NJ, where I attended as a student in 1979-81. At the time, there were 450 students, including Kollel, and that was the biggest and best Yeshiva in the United States. Today there are over 17,000 and Lakewood is now one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Each year, there is something like an additional 20 classes that are needed in the burgeoning Yeshiva school system. How has this expansion been covered? Simple – Lakewood has become one of the wealthiest communities among the Jewish people, with numerous individuals earning over 10 million dollars yearly.

A well-known Orthodox philanthropist, a billionaire supporter of Yeshivos throughout the world, recently spoke at the dedication of a new Yeshiva building in Lakewood. He was cited thus: “There has never been a time in recent history where there has been so much Torah study in the world…. There has also never been a time where there has been so much Orthodox Jewish money in the world.” I think his message is clear – if we do our best to further Torah study and observance, the necessary funds will be found.

I think the solution in Israel will evolve naturally. For varied reasons, not everyone is suited for a long-term Yeshiva life. The percentages and numbers of Haredim who are working is bound to increase dramatically, just as it has increased in communities throughout the world. The solution will come when the secular leadership recognizes that Haredi society views the Yeshivos as the beating heart of the Jewish People, so just leave them alone.

Dan: I would be very happy to leave the Yeshivos alone in the sense of not funding them. I could see the state funding some small elite of religious scholars – as was the original idea under Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister – but the unchecked expansion cannot work and cannot continue. It cannot be acceptable that a large and growing proportion of Israeli children are denied a core curriculum of math, science and English. The process that you predict as some magical solution to prevent the clearly impending disaster is literally being blocked by this very thing, because the community’s young people are not employable in a modern economy. Where circumspection is certainly needed is among the Haredi leadership that resists change and is driving everyone – the entire Jewish ship you described earlier – off a cliff. And doing it with pathetic excuses about a “siege mentality,” taking no responsibility.

Heshy: If you’re implying that you do not respect the Haredim’s beliefs or lifestyle and determine it unworthy of community support to the same extent as your own secular culture, that does not align with the rights in a democracy for the freedom of each group to live as they choose. I see the recent secular protests as a struggle to maintain power at all costs. In the current dispute, rather than chanting ‘democracy,’ the Supreme Court and the justice system should wonder how it is that they have lost the cooperation and respect of half the country, and a reckoning is needed to understand why this happened. Were they perceived as honest protectors of human rights, and not the patronizing monitors and purveyors of leftist values (like abolishing gender segregation at public events for Haredim), they would have the respect of all. Who decides which “rights” are right, and which are unjustified? Essentially, you want to shed our uniqueness as Jews in order to become one of the family of nations.

Dan: Every poll shows two-thirds of Israelis – leaving the Haredim and the far right basically – oppose the “reforms” to destroy judicial review. And no one wants to shed our uniqueness. We just don’t want our uniqueness to attach wholly and exclusively to religious fanaticism. And your triumphalism about the numbers – again, in essence the birthrate – is wrong and will backfire.

Moreover, some things are just unacceptable, like misogyny. Having women sit apart or at the back of the bus? Having there be clear gender roles where women cannot be members of parliament for religious parties? How can you expect modern Israel – any modern persons – to accept this?

Heshy: You’re looking at it the wrong way. We put women on a higher pedestal, removed from the vulgarity of politics. And we value the family structure and all it brings. Many of our women work, and many are well-known scholars and speakers, and by and large our people are very happy with the role assignation that you call “misogynist.”

Dan: I don’t buy it. Next, we’ll hear that the Taliban put women above the vulgarity of education. Ask the women on a polygraph test if they’re delighted about the roles you have assigned them. Do you understand how much anger it causes among other Israelis when it turns out than in some areas of the country stores are erasing the images of women on products, because it is considered somehow unchaste in a barbarian way?

Heshy: It is a false narrative, as I have tried to explain.

Dan: What is false? Haredim don’t want to cover up the faces of women on supermarket shelves?

Heshy: The false narrative is this: You take extreme examples and highlight them as definitive characteristics of the entire group of two million people. Then, you paint the likely scenario that will result if the group expressing those characteristics will become dominant. This prediction for the future now becomes fact, and voila, your protagonist is now a threat to society.

Watch, I can do the same thing, with the same righteous indignation challenging you to find a falsehood: “The secular community has a very high percentage of infidelity and promiscuity. This results in broken families with a very high cost to societal well-being. The secular system has a very high frequency of school violence, physical intimidation of teachers and staff, a high dropout rate, and extensive drug use. All these are harmful for society.’

You take facts that apply to a few people, use that to define an entire sector of the population, and then extrapolate the results upon an uncertain future with a grim prognosis.

Dan: There is widespread support for this erasure of women from the public domain which is why it’s happening all over. Sadly, it is very far from an outlier, and the insistence on such backwardness is making it very difficult to live together. I am surprised you do not admit your own discomfort with this lunacy.

Heshy: This is actually much ado about nothing. If it is the portrayal of woman in the public sphere that concerns you, I think the secular trend to display women’s images in compromising positions in order to sell cottage cheese and automobiles is much more demeaning.

If it is the future that concerns you, I ask you this: What will be the nature of the coming generations of religion-less secularists? In the long term, this issue far transcends the matter of judicial reform. If you neglect even minimal Torah norms you will, in a generation or two, be in the dustbin of history, while the ones you so dislike will be in charge. Yes, the Haredim and other religious groups are far from perfect, but the question is which group – the religious or the secular – has a better chance of saving the People of Israel from extinction.

Dan: My good man: Currently it is those who serve in the military – overwhelmingly secular and non-religious “traditional” – who perform that task.

Heshy: Physically, we must have armed forces, and we have great respect for those young men who give up much in order to serve. But they will have fought in vain if in two generations there is no Jewish people to speak of, and a State of Israel that is merely a Hebrew-speaking facsimile of Spain or Greece. For us to continue as a viable Jewish People and Jewish state, we must have other young men who give up much to maintain the spiritual quality of the Jews.

Dan: You understand that prominent Haredi and religious figures in Israel have kicked up a furor in equating death in combat to the sacrifices of a religious life – and a subsidized one at that. Yes?

Heshy: Yes, and I think that it is wrong and misguided to make that equation. But the long- term contribution to the future of Am Yisroel is also in a subtle way in the hands of the serious Torah scholar. My heart aches when I think of the thousands of youngsters who in the prime of life gave their all for this land. But they fought for the continuation and perpetuation of our people and of the State of Israel – and that depends even more on the spiritual qualities we invest in them, qualities which for Jews are found in the Torah and its branches. Unless secularist Jews introduce some authentic Jewish spirituality into their lives, they will fall like lemmings over the cliff, which would be a tragedy for all of us.

Dan: My daughters are Jews. They were raised with a significant degree of Jewish tradition. We find joy and some perhaps irrational pride in that. But whereas pride is in my view justified in celebrating the contributions of the Jews to wider society, this attaches not only to the Torah directly but to the wider value of learning. Perhaps, by the way, the Talmud. This is why we have Einstein, and Seinfeld, and Simon and Garfunkel, and the spectacular overrepresentation among scientists and Nobel prizewinners.

Yet my people, Heshy, are not just the Jews. My people are the good people from all nations. I understand universalism is abhorrent to you – but parochialism is pitiable to me. We are all human beings, at the end of the day. Is it not a Jewish saying: In the place where there is not human – be a human? It does not say “be a Jew.” I shudder to think that in a future Israel, where the demographics are – God forbid – on your side, there will be a Jewish theocracy. It would be the most vulgar and dispiriting outcome for the magnificent Jewish story.

Heshy: You say that the Haredim want to impose a theocracy. This is a false claim with no basis. The fact is that we very much do NOT want to impose a theocracy, have always asserted such, and have good reason why that is our approach.

Dan: You may assess that there is no desire for imposition. But I think we can agree that a country that is 90% Haredi will be a theocracy. In any case religion would stifle secular life. Concern about that outcome is not crazy.

But it is also not the end of the story. Let me be very clear: if the Haredim seem set to be a majority, and they do not change their ways, the outcome will not be simple secular acquiescence. There could be a civil war to partition the country. It is not wild to imagine the mostly secular coastline breaking off and advising the others to do as they like, but without our taxes and without our cannon fodder.

And, yes, there could also be a secular flight which will leave the Haredim in charge – at which point they may very well be made mincemeat of by the Palestinians. Be careful what you wish for.

Given these disaster scenarios, tell me something, Heshy: Might Haredi youth rebel? That could fix the problem, honestly.

Heshy: I know this theory that Haredi youth will rebel en masse as soon as they go to the beach and see an undressed girl, read popular Israeli literature and surf the internet. Those who promulgate it cannot imagine that there is anything of value to which Yeshiva boys cling, and they all must be suffering. Having never spent any time studying Judaism, these secular pundits cannot imagine the level of dedication and inspiration permeating the study halls of our prime Yeshivos, where thousands of young men study with enthusiasm for hours uninterruptedly and hang on their teacher’s every word.

My daughter in Jerusalem has five children under the age of 10. Thank G-d, even without an abundance of material goods, they are all content, satisfied with life, intelligent and growing. When there are happy and fulfilled families, the doomsday vision hoped for by some secular people is nowhere in sight.

The stumbling block here are those secular extremists who will do anything in their power, including violence, in order to prevent Israel from becoming a religious environment. They are not interested in having Haredim integrated in society, because they abhor the religious influence that will accompany that.

Dan: I would counter that the stumbling bloc is your disdain for Jews who aren’t obsessed with religion, as if we are somehow lesser or ignorant in some critical and fundamental way, like a person who never heard of oxygen. It is, frankly, absurd, especially considering the degree of quite critical ignorance you impose on your youth because of your rejection of basic studies. But I don’t deny your point. I indeed cannot tolerate the country becoming dominated by religion, and that view is representative of the secular people of Israel. You’re also right that integrating Haredim into the workforce more widely – which I certainly desire as part of the national salvation – carries with it the complex question of what to do with all the likely demands that their religiousness be respected in ways that offend the secular.

Which brings us to the Shabbat situation. I cannot have my weekend ruined by an obsession with shutting down commerce and public transport on Saturday, essentially. From the secular perspective, this is a casus belli. And it belies your claim of not trying to impose theocracy. On the issue of Shabbat, there is a massive imposition happening, and people are about ready to explode.

Heshy: Our two sectors have a dispute regarding what takes place in the public sphere. The secular community offers an unbalanced compromise: “You are free to observe your religion privately, we are free to behave as we wish privately, and the public square is all ours”. Though we understand that an accommodation is necessary, we cannot accept that equation.

Regarding the Sabbath, it cannot be that a Jewish state would trample upon this basic element of our nation. Currently, official bodies of the state are legally obliged to observe the Sabbath, while individuals can privately do as they wish. Allowing unlimited commercial activity would destroy this fragile arrangement. Pressures upon business owners from non-religious competitors would force them to remain open on the Sabbath, and that would lead to decreased employment opportunities for religious people who would be unemployable if they refuse to work on the Sabbath.

Dan: That would be their choice. If I decide to never work on Tuesdays, or indeed weekends, that would be my choice. And I would bear the consequences.

We will have to agree to disagree, Heshy. I am of course discomfited by advising anyone to have fewer children. But a limitless number of children is madness. You could perhaps have 20 – and more by serial wives – and is that good? Israel is quite literally the only place in the world where a particular sect that is at odds with the rest of society and is in effect – please forgive me – fanatically religious is threatening to overwhelm the others with a fecundity of this level.

Heshy: The two communities have a divergent set of priorities. Like everyone, Haredi people and families make choices in life based upon their values and preferences, and decide to do what is best for themselves. This goes back to the differing views of life that I mention above. We view family life as the purpose of marriage and the foundation of civilization, hence the promulgation of family life that has taken hold in religious Jewish communities. Birth control is not absolutely prohibited, but its use depends upon the individual circumstances. Nothing more and nothing less (and certainly you know that Jewish law today prohibits men from taking more than one wife).

DAN: Whereas you may claim that this is somehow a rational choice, it is not unreasonable for me to posit that secular society should cease enabling its own undoing. There are clear things that should be done: an end to child subsidies, a tight rein on yeshiva salaries to a few genuine sages, a culling of the bloated religious bureaucracy which provides pretend-jobs at mostly secular expense, and an end to the special dispensations, and on and on. Haredim who think they can get these things elsewhere would be welcome to try – but I can see no reason for why they should continue in Israel, especially when the result is a national catastrophe.

Look, Heshy, there is no way to make this pretty. As you say, we are in a cultural war. And whereas I love you as a friend and a Jew and a person, the lifestyle you are trying to make dominant is not one that I can live with and has no equivalent in the developed world.

What I can tell you – and I hope you listen carefully – is that to keep pushing that part of Israel that is responsible for 90% will lead to big trouble and a massive backlash. If I were in your shoes, trying to both preserve the world of Torah as well as the secular state that funds it, I would take warnings like mine very seriously.

My hope is that although right now you are pushing pretty hard, you will stop in time, because we are brothers and we should thrive and prosper together. We should focus on addressing each other’s concerns.

Heshy: I agree, as long as you agree that preserving the uniqueness of the people of Israel is important.

Dan: I agree on that, my friend. I agree.

Dan Perry is a former Cairo-based Middle East Editor and London-based Europe/Africa Editor of the Associated Press. He served as the chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem and is managing partner of the New York-based communications firm Thunder11. Follow him at https://danperry.substack.com.

Rabbi Heshy Grossman is a long-time Yeshiva educator who has taught in both Israel and the USA. He was the founder and Menahel of Yeshivas Ohr Yosef in New Milford, New Jersey, and currently serves as an administrator at a prominent Yeshiva Gedola in Jerusalem.

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85 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Mashiach needs to resolve this.

  2. Avi Levin says:

    Rabbi Pfeffer did a good job covering a lot of the same ground about the problems discussed
    It’s lacking the emotional charge of the conversation here, which makes it not as good a read of the national mood but an easier read regarding the facts

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Anything written by R Pfeffer is worth reading on these and related issues. R Pffefer understands the dynanics of the Charedi world but is also very sensitive and aware of the critique thereto eminating from the secular Israeli establishment

  3. DK says:

    Nice back and forth. Interesting read.

    The very large tyrannosaurus in the room that is not addressed is that Israel was supposedly founded as a Jewish State that is a safe haven and home for the Jewish people.
    A quick glance at history shows that the only common denominator of the Jewish people from Har Sinai until just a hundred or so years ago was the Torah and Mitzvos. It was the Maskilim and the Secular Zionists who decided to abandon the faith and replace it with the land of Israel.
    This is extremely interesting because the same source that says that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews also states the obligation to keep the 613 Mitzvos and also says that if we don’t keep them then Hashem kicks us out of the land.

    • mycroft says:

      Read Tanach-Our Nevi’im are constantly bemoaning the lack of observance of Torah. 1st Beis Hamikdash and period of Shoftim,
      During 2nd Beis Hamikdash until Hasmonaem time very little evidence of practice of essentially what we do.In the period just before Churban Bayis Sheni see essentially modern practice-look at mikvaot from archaeological digs-they appear identical in terms of size, steps to modern mikvaot.
      What per cent kept what our mesorah has is an open question-was it a higher percentage than today?. Chazal certainly followed essentially what we do today-but during that time period what percent followed halacha.
      Someone 2000 years from now reading about Rav Moshe Rav Aaron Kotler, RYBS, R Hutner might say look how frum American Jewry was then-look at the gedolim. It is a question about how much Jews practiced. Question is not one of mesorah but numbers who followed the mesorah.

      • Reb Yid says:

        If you read Nach there is also a very clear thread of prophets castigating the people and its leadership of Chok bli musar.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        R Yavakov Emden wrote in the hakdamah to his oommentary on the Siddur that the survival of the Jewish People despite all of the internal and external threats to our existence is a major miracle in its own right,. Uf you study Tanach, there were were periods of spiritual ups and downs but the only Navi whose actions led to a massive reaffirmation of the acceptance of the Torah was Esther. The survival of Klal Yisrael is not to be analyzed ala an accountant’s balance sheet

  4. YC says:

    Perry’s citation from the Finance Ministry report is very misleading.
    I suggest reading the following article from June 6 of this year. Note it was not written by a Chareidi ‘apologist’.


  5. Boris says:

    Heshy and Dan are discussing a miracle. A people numbering 16 million has endured as a people for 30 centuries. How? Why? I certainly don’t know. Today’s problems aren’t new. Divisions have occurred many times in our history. My own ancestors in Berditchev where revolutionaries for the rabanim in Vilnius. Somehow that did not break us. Neither will this.

  6. william l gewirtz says:

    If Hareidim represented traditional Halakhic values, the debate would be more interesting. Kollel forever and for all is a modern phenomenon, unheard of in all of Jewish history. Both Rambam and Ramban were doctors; the Beit HaLevi’s parents originally thought he might have to apprentice to a watchmaker. Now every Yankel, Shemilu, and Yossi is an Avraich. We have sacrificed 1000’s without much in the way of a return.

    If RAL ztl can serve in the IDF, it is sheer chutzpah for anyone to demand an exemption.

    Given women working to support families, we might have to edit the Ketubah.

    And this so-called religious life should be supported?? Thank God this insanity will soon end. As the Rabbis taught: Tofastah merubah, lo tofastah.

    The Hareidim and land-uber-alles radicals have given the Jewish people in the Jewish state a rude awakening that will B’H bring the necessary correction.

    • DK says:

      Halevai that 100% of the population were Chareidi and then only 8-12% would be in full time learning like in the time of the Tanach. But when 60% is not religious and another 20% are just holding in there Klal Yisroel needs all the Avreichim they can get to save everyone else.

      It’s just important to remember the Nefesh HaChaim who says that those attack those who learn not for the sake of heaven are in the category of Apikores and they lose their Chelek in O”H.

      • william l gewirtz says:

        Neither Volozhin, nor any yeshivah in prewar Europe had full-time learning forever for all. We need people to work and be koveiah itim le’Torah.. And I hope that my “Chelek in O”H” is distinct from yours.

        In any event, in your screed, you did not address any of my points.

        BTW, tell us how and from what sources you derive percentages in the Biblical period.

      • DK says:

        In the times of the Tanach, every Shevet had their own job. Shevet Levi’s job was to be involved in full time learning and teaching and Klal Yisroel sent them Matanos to allow them to do that. The Rambam writes that anyone can be part of Shevet Levi if they choose. I assume this is about 8-12% of K”Y.

        The Gemara tells us that it is the Talmeidi Chachamim who protect the city while the police cause people to lose trust in Hashem. Avraham Aveinu was punished for conscripting Talmeidei Chachamim to his army.

        We have Gedolei Yisroel who lead us and tell us what Hashem want from us and how we should do it. Most Chareidi Litvish, Chasidish, and Sefardei Gedolim are against conscription of Bachurim and pro learning in Kollel after marriage as long as possible. I don’t think its the $200 stipend from the government that is keeping people in Kollel. In fact, i believe the millions of dollars per month that are brought into the country by the kollellim are actually propping up the economy while the chilonim who go on expensive vacations out of the country are actually hurting it.

        Another thing; maybe if the Israeli government should stop trying to Shmad up army recruits and then the Gedolim would be less against it. R’ Shteinman Zt”l gave Nachal Chareidi a chance but the army/government blew it. Maybe allow bachurim to go to work without fear of conscription would actually aid them in doing like you suggest, working while being koveya eitim at the same time.

      • William Gewirtz says:

        You have taken reading midrashim literally to a new extreme – deriving percentages from Midrash.
        To say that Torah learning not a military protects a nation makes a mockery of pesukim in the Torah.
        As to your views about what bolsters the Israeli economy, I would nominate you to be finance minister in Iran.
        As to the IDF and shmad, do you have any statistics on the impact of the IDF on Hesder students or nahal hareidi? The only off-the-derech behavior I hear about is their mistreatment in various härend neighborhoods even when they come to daven!!

      • DK says:

        Is the Rambam (Rabbi and Doctor) not good enough for you?
        Perek 13 Shmitta V’Yovel
        Why didn’t Shevet Levi get a portion in E”Y?
        מפני שהובדל לעבוד את י”י לשרתו ולהורות דרכיו הישרים ומשפטיו הצדיקים לרבים…
        …לפיכך הובדלו מדרכי העולם לא עורכין מלחמה כשאר ישראל ולא נוחלין ולא זוכין לעצמן בכח גופן אלא הם חיל השם
        ולא שבט לוי בלבד אלא כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להבדל לעמוד לפני יי לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה את יי והלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלהים ופרק מעל צוארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר בקשו בני האדם הרי זה נתקדש קדש קדשים ויהיה י”י חלקו ונחלתו לעולם ולעולמי עולמים ויזכה לו בעה”ז דבר המספיק לו כמו שזכה לכהנים ללוים הרי דוד ע”ה אומר י”י מנת חלקי וכוסי אתה תומיך גורלי:

        To say that Talmeidi Chachamim don’t protect Klal Yisroel is an even bigger mockery of Yiddishkeit.

        Anyone with any knowledge of economics knows that free money coming in from outside the country is worth x2 or x3 of its value.

        Regarding Nachal Chareidi, i have friends who went there who are unfortunately off the derech. There’s a reason R’ Shteinman removed his support from it. As many other commentators on this post have said already, the army wants to use the army to make Chareidim no longer Chareidim. Stop doing that and you’ll see many more Chareidi recruits…

      • william l gewirtz says:

        DK, your quote from Shemitah ve’Yovel is irrelevant. I never said Torah study does not protect, but to rely on it in place of army service is not sanctioned halakhically.

      • lacosta says:

        saving everyone else is either a pipe dream or a useful delusion. dati leumi don’t intend to be converted , hiloni kal v’chomer. if all the government money was removed , and it would be even moreso lechem b’melach tochal , those remaining would be the true klai kodesh,,,,

    • Meir says:

      Never before in history have we yidden been in a situation where Jewish boys aren’t allowed to have jobs unless we follow a treif indoctrination system, either.

      And spare me any nonsense about the army solely being about the defense of the country. Why do religious soldiers need to hear female singers as a regular part of army events?

      If the Chilonim didn’t insist on shooting Chareidim in the chest economically speaking, they wouldn’t have this problem. They have only themselves to blame.

      • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

        Hareidi boys are underrepresented in the workforce primarily because of their lack of skills that a proper secular education provides. Unfortunately, many do not recognize the need for secular education for many modern-day jobs. Wealthy high-tech secular Israelies, BTW for whom I have consulted, have offered over 100 million dollars to train Hareidim in mathematics and other technical disciplines only to be turned down.

        Any injuries Hareidim have suffered were self-inflcted.

    • Yossi says:


      Not addressing any points in your argument-but if I was a betting man, my odds would be with the Charedim on this one. Betting against them is never smart.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Socilological changes of traditional communities cannot be imposed in a drastic manner from without-such communities evolve and change on their own-It is wrong IMO to peddle stereotypes about faith communities without respecting and acknowledging the fact that change is happening on the ground as more and more Charedim seek a path whereby they can be gainfully employed without sacrificing their way of life and settling for what CI called spiitual mediocrity

    • Steven Brizel says:

      IHistory teaches us that don’t fight a Blitzkrieg with either horse cavalry or the Maginot Line or ignore the possibility of ship born aviation sinking powerful battleships of terrorists destroying huge office buildings- -What worked in the times of the Rambam and Ramban, may or may not worrk today in producing both Gdiolim and Bnei Torah and Baalei Batim who are Kovea Itim LaTorah. . Even RAL ZL worried about whether serving in the IDF would have stifled the development of a talmid who has the potential to become a great Gadol BaTorah. Simplistic anti Charedi bashing is IMO the wrong way to approach this issue

  7. YS says:

    What was sorely lacking here were counter-arguments to Rabbi Grossman’s arguments from the perspective of Religious Zionism and even traditional Israeli Jewry, which, while far from perfect, resolve many of the issues Rabbi Grossman finds so problematic in Israeli society. The Secularism of Mr. Perry serves as a pretty easy straw man for Rabbi Grossman to knock down.

    In addition, Charedi society in Israel is what it is today not because some wise men sat down and invented, at some point in the 2nd half of the 20th century, an entirely new model of existence for observant Jews. The Yeshiva-world had been mostly against the establishment of the State and once it was created, had absolutely no idea how to participate in it, other than to (over time) learn how to milk it for all they could. No military service led to very little employment for men and like many things in the Charedi world, what developed for all kinds of non-religious reasons – became Halacha. Justifications for all of this were found later.

    And it is because all of these justifications were created after the fact, to essentially justify what has become a monstrously immoral existence (as a society, not as individuals) that the justifications sound so pathetic, including, deep down, to many Chareidim. Their spokespeople, of course, have to keep doing their jobs….

  8. YC says:

    I would appreciate seeing the exact reference in the Nefesh haChaim.

    • DK says:

      Here you go. Perakim 3
      ומי שימלאו לבו לבזות ולהשפיל ח”ו את העוסק בתורה ןמצות אף שלא לשמה, לא ינקה רע, ועתיד ליתן את הדין ח”ו: ולא עוד אלא שנמנה בדברי רז”ל בין אותם שאין להם חלק לעולם הבה לגמרי ח”ו…

  9. mk says:

    My Chareidi credentials are solid. However, R Grossman is at his best when arguing that Israel can only survive as a Jewish state with a connection to Torah.
    He is weak when trying to defend the “system”. Being American, he knows that “Kollel for All” is not our mesorah and was opposed by most of our Gedolim, especially those rooted in Slabodka, like Rav Yaakov, Rav Ruderman and Rav Hutner. This is apparent to anyone that knew them.
    He is also aware that the American Torah world disproves the notion that we can’t produce Gedolim if they are exposed to ANY secular studies / knowledge.
    We make a mistake when we focus on college. He knows, and we all know, that EVERY member of the American Moetzes attended high school.
    He knows that Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, the Zekan Rosh Yeshiva in EY, went to American high school. As did Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. As did Rav Feivel Cohen and yobodel l’chaim, Rav Dovid Cohen, both of whom mastered “Kol Hatorah Khulah”.

  10. Gavriel M says:

    It’s sad to see how secular zionists are hobbled by their adherence to leftism. Dan’s completely unassailable point is that Charedim don’t pay their way and that they have too many children and the secular Ashkenazi upper middle class that pays for all this can’t be expected just to put up with it indefinitely. But he feels queasy about interfering in people’s ‘right’ to have babies on other people’s dime so he meanders around with nonsense about women’s rights, cringe quotations from Pirkei Avos, the pressing need for more consumerism on shabbos and *checks notes* Simon and Garfunkel.

    Hesh, for his part, is just in typical Anglo denial about what Israeli Charedi society is. The sorry fact is that the Litvishe establishment in EY is fully committed to an ideology that is mad as a box of frogs and it is their most fervent hope that the natural evolution Hesh wants will never happen. I will relate one story that has been printed of a certain gadol who, לשם כבוד התורה I will not name (though I will say he was a legit gadol b’Torah, which actually makes the story worse) was asked by a person studying medicine whether it was better to become a surgeon or a family doctor. He told him that it was better to become a family doctor because, though a surgeon saves lives, a family doctor can prescribe Ritalin for bochurim who aren’t cut out for gemara learning, which is a greater form of pikuah nefesh.*

    *Just in case someone tries to teitch this into something reasonable, yes there are good reasons for becoming a family doctor, but this is the one he chose.

    • DbMY says:

      It is indeed interesting to see people trying to square liberalism with anti-charedi hatred (or, for that matter, charedim trying to square support for themselves with contempt for liberalism.) It puts both camps in intellectually untenable positions, except by the use of meaningless distinctions that fool no one. However, as the world all saw recently in stark relief, when the “my body, my choice” proponents were often simultaneously in favor of forcing vaccinations on everyone, intellectual honesty is never a deterrent for political positions. Do they contradict themselves? Very well then, they contradict themselves.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      It is equally sad to see posters here who because of a combination of LW RZ views, working for BIg Tech and serving as an “expert” to the Israeli equivalent of the Deep State engage in Charedi bashing regularly and are silent as to the attemtt by the Israeli secular left to overturn the election results of a democracy- in a manner all too similar to the Democrats and the varied elements of the so called “Resistance” in the US. When you see and read of Palestiian flags at demonstrations encouraged and subsidized by the left, that should be a signal that someting is definitely rotten in Denmark. It all is too reminescent of the appeasement minded discussions in pre WW2 France and the UK that all asked “why die for Danzig?”

  11. Dovid Kornreich says:

    Kudos to Reb Herschel for mentioning that secularist governments and the public fully support plenty of non-economic causes by way of Humanities dept. culture and sports.
    I would have added that the drain on the economy is not considered a negative because the society that supports it has an appreciation of the cultural benefits of these pursuits. And Chareidi tax money goes to support these projects despite the fact that they do not value them.
    I would also bring up the fact that the Israeli government propped up the kibbutz movement with subsidies and all kinds of exemptions in order to keep it afloat. It was supported purely for ideological reasons and was not financially self-sustaining. The only reason they don’t do this anymore is because very few young secularists are ideological to the point of sacrificing a high standard of living and the kibbutz movement just fadded away.

    • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

      IMHO, innumeracy is worse than illiteracy. Compare government support for “Humanities dept. culture and sports” to government support for those in yeshivot.

      • Dovid Kornreich says:

        You sound like you have an authoritative source that provides the actual numbers and amounts the State invests in humanities, culture and sports, etc.
        If you have such reliable figures to prove my alleged, “innumeracy”, please supply them.
        If not, your guess is as good as mine.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Who subsidizes israeli universities and especially some of their more intellectually dubiious departments and chairs and how much is spent on the same\ is an intriguing issue,.See herehttps://che.org.il/en/%d7%a9%d7%99%d7%aa%d7%95%d7%a3-%d7%94%d7%a4%d7%a2%d7%95%d7%9c%d7%94-%d7%94%d7%9e%d7%97%d7%a7%d7%a8%d7%99-%d7%9e%d7%93%d7%a2%d7%99-%d7%a2%d7%9d-%d7%94%d7%90%d7%99%d7%97%d7%95%d7%93-%d7%94%d7%90%d7%99/ Then , compare this with who is supporting yeshivos charedi and RZ/Hesder and seminaries-whether gvirim, parents and alumni . Then we can have a discussion about funding prioriities

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Most Charedi institutions are supported by askanim, a few gvirim who give unbelieveable amounts of bTzedaka , and alumni .There is no shortage of dinners and parlor meetings advertised in the American Charedi nedua . Israeli secularhigher education is financed largely by https://che.org.il/en/ and some Anglo donor-that is where any study of the cost effiency of yeshivos and universites begins but does not end. Israeli universities were where postZionism was created and have shown at best a grudging willingness to accomodate the religious needs of Charedim-which they would run to accomodate if Charedim were any other ethnic group

      • william l gewirtz says:

        facts are our friends; biases are not. compare support by askanim, etc. to Israeli .
        Israeli government support. Universities contribute directly to the Israeli high-tech economy; something Yeshivot and Kollelim are hard-pressed to demonstrate.

        In fact, ask a non-religious Israeli which Yeshivot attempt to reach out to him? That is where he wants his money to go. Don’t expect him to pay for what you believe to be the real source of protection.

        Israeli universities cannot help Hareidim who are severely ill-equipped to take courses before significant and often unsuccessful basic education.

  12. Sara K says:

    So interesting to present both perspectives and both sides have some good points.
    On some issues both views were correct – it is demeaning to exclude women from ads and also demeaning to show them in their underwear in ads.

    Some thoughts:
    Saying it’s a bad idea to have too many children to people whose parents and grandparents had actual memories of Nazis’ aktions in the ghettos where they rounded up and killed Jewish children is never going to go over well….logic would tell you it’s better to have one child and not spend money raising two. But even secular Israelis want more than one child. …

    The secularists created the antiWork mentality among the Haredim. They made a rule that if you don’t go to the army, then you can’t go to work. Since they were afraid to go to the army and be exposed to a secular culture, the Haredim didn’t go to the army and then were not allowed to work. This was an unintended move on the part of secularists, but they cut off their noses to spire their faces. It was bad enough the Haredim didn’t serve in the army, but they were willing to work until the secularists forbade working…and then not working became a cultural value.

    Interesting that the Haredi boys schools that DO offer math and English get virtually NO support from secular Israelis who claim that’s what they want to see. Why don’t they donate to those schools which have to cover a double budget to provide secular and yeshiva curriculums? Why don’t they demand that those schools get priority in getting school buildings in various cities?

    It is silly to paint all Haredim as fanatics. Many of us — especially the immigrant Americans –have black hats and also have advanced degrees. Again, secular Israelis who want to change the Haredi culture would do well to support those type of immigrants but they do virtually nothing to help them. Actions speak louder than words…

    Haredim do need to be more tolerant of secular views. And should be louder – we all should see them appreciating and thanking those who do serve in the army and sacrifice to protect all Israelis.

  13. Mark says:

    Another point which went unmentioned but bears much attention is the fact that, thanks to the proliferation of Yeshivos and Kollelim in Israel, it enjoys an incredible amount of support from the American/British/French/Canadian Charedi community which provides the largest influx of tourism funds annually.
    Contrast this with diminishing support from the secular Anglo-Jewish public which has significantly reduced its support in recent and shows no signs of slowing down in that regard.
    With Anglo Charedi money, Israel’s economy is in FAR worse shape.

    • DK says:

      +1 regarding the diminishing support.
      In fact, its going in the opposite direction. Secular and reform Jews both in Israel and outside are more and more supporting anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish organizations. Unfortunately this results in a real security danger and real Jewish lives being lost because of twisted minds thinking that by giving the Palestinians and terrorists money they are making peace while they are, in fact, continuing the war.

  14. mycroft says:


    t enjoys an incredible amount of support from the American/British/French/Canadian Charedi community which provides the largest influx of tourism funds annually.

    Really-American tourism is a minority of total tourism. Most of other leading countries have few Jews in them. Most American tourists are Christian. I travel to Israel on different times of the year-around Yom Tov time before and after will have significant minority of Chareidim on plane to Israel-other times few people ordering kosher meals o planes-and few Chareidim. Chareidim do go to Israel, but not significant tourist dollar source.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Charedim in the US invest in real estate and certainly support their families in Israel with visits and financial assistance. The issues discussed herein should be looked at more as individual choices based on where any oerson can make the most contributions to the Jewish People as opposed to a statement of hashkafa and group identity -f0or some, that means serving in the IDF , hesder, university and/or high tech whilefor others that means learning Torah 24/7. One thing is for sure-an IDF that has no idea of why it is required to defend the Jewish People in the Land of Israel and has not won a decisve military campaign since 1967 and is afraid to do anything that might alienate the Arabists in Washington is akin to the now very woke US armed services which are at their lowest levekl of combat readiness since before Pearl Harbor

      • william l gewirtz says:

        Asserting that IDF has “not won a decisve military campaign since 1967” is incredulous. In 1973 they reversed a tragedy and ended up marching across the Suez into Egypt. They blew up nuclear reactors in 2 countries. The iron dome, etc. Akin to US readiness; another unsubstantiated statement motivated perhaps by your opposition to women in combat roles. Do you really believe that the IDF does not know how to defend the State of Israel? Do you think they want or need your fact-free advice?

        People should strive to make maximal contribution to society! Do you think Kollel forever for all is remotely connected to that goal?

        your beliefs are impacting your ability to observe the facts on the ground.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      WADR, this is -minimizing the contribitions of the American Charedi community which raises money for its institutions, spends a lot of money in Israel and and whose families own or rent real estate in Israel. That is certainly increasing in that community as even Nefesh BNefesh markets also to the Charedi world . I have never been on a flight to or from Israel which did not have a strong Charedi percentage of passengers. Sometomes , we have to see facts on the ground as opposed to reporting narratives

      • mycroft says:

        It depends on when the flight leaves-thus a flight I took leaving a couple of days before Rosh Chodesh Iyyar was packed with young chareidim, speaking English with little children-very likely returning for zman. OTOH flights that I’ve taken in times not associated with any Jewish holidays-not many Chareidim-but far more chareidim on planes than MO.
        Re women in combat roles-very few-IDF will not force a woman who is drafted to be in combat. They if chose can wear a dress instead of pants-if interested soldiers option of where to put the hemline as long as not below the ankles or above the knee. Frankly, many of the functions that women who are drafted are essentially in general office type jobs. Many commute to what is essentially a 9-6 job 5 days a week. In vernacular a Yomi Difference between large part of dati leumi community and chareid is that vast majority of DL for better or worse accepts the state as a positive, chareidim accept Eretz Israel not Medinat Israel.
        Israel still exists 57 years after 1967 with constant threats to its existence. Who is defending Israel NYPD?

    • Mark says:


      I travel to Israel regularly – on Delta, United, and El Al – and it’s preposterous to think that US Charedim are not extremely well represented on every single flight, although proportionate to the other groups, they’re a tiny minority of the population.
      There are more US Charedi male and female students in Israel than any other foreign student population and they tend to stay longer than the others. They also settle in Israel post-marriage at surprisingly high rates.
      The amount of income they generate is staggering and growing with each year.
      The average Christian visits Israel once in his life for ten days. He never invests in a business there, never sends his 1.2 children to study there, and never buys an apartment or comes for Lag BaOmer.
      The average Charedi sends most of his 7-10 children to study there for 1-3 years, visits them with his wife at least once annually, supports half of them for 1-3 years post-marriage as they live in EY, attends every bris and kiddush, and much much more.
      Charedim are awful Israel Day Parade marchers, but they sure as heck spend an outsized amount of time and money in Israel. One would be very foolish to dismiss their impact on the economy.

  15. Dan Perry says:

    It is so gratifying to see my little discussion with Heshy generate so much back and forth, and it gives me renewed faith in the Jewish ability to maintain a good-faith dialectic that quite a few respondents in this obviously religious forum have taken on board some of my arguments.

    A few items:

    _ While I am clearly secular, and I do not have religious faith, I am respectful of the Jewish tradition and far from ignorant of it, despite some criticism of the pirkei avot I may have mentioned. I say this not to curry favor but to underscore that my perspective — which may seem strident to some — actually comes from something of a friend.
    _ That said, I understand why one of the respondents felt a mesorati or non-haredi religious perspective was missing. With that in mind let me assure all readers that their perspective would not differ materially from mine: the combination of wild expansion of the haredi sector with the current policies is unsustainable and simply must come grinding to a halt. You don’t need advanced math to understand it simply cannot be.
    _ The fecundity of course is the most tendentious issue, and I am obviously not comfortable telling people to have fewer children. But good lord! Clearly the country is overpopulated and cannot continue to carry an even larger haredi sector unless fundamental things change. It’s also simply self-evident that with limited hours in the day and shekels in the bank and even attention in the heart one cannot provide for 7 children the same degree of everything they need as to 2 or 3. To refuse this rather obvious truth is — appropriately perhaps — rather infantile.

    Thanks again to the readers and Shabbat Shalom to one and all.

    • Mark says:

      Dear Dan,

      I apologize in advance if I come across as infantile, but as a middle child in a family of ten children, I beg to differ in regards to how one can provide for children.

      My parents were both educators, dirt poor, and always hosted many guests in addition to their own brood, and we not only grew up okay, we actually thrived. Every single one of the ten is married with a sizable family of their own, all are working (with one exception but he’s financially well-off from other sources), and their children are all well-adjusted, well-educated citizens.

      It’s not the number of children that determines how children will grow up, but the example set for them, and the stability of the home in which they’re raised. I’ve worked with many a product of 1-2 children homes to know that they are no better off than I or my siblings were, or than my children are (all 8 of them!).

      I’m far from wealthy and have had many a difficult month, but I’m on stable financial ground at this point. The vast majority of my peers are leading similar lives and I feel sorry for Jews who bought the untruths of Western civilization so wholeheartedly and have denied themselves the incredible satisfaction and happiness that comes with large, wholesome families. Simply put, no amount of wealth, fancy cars, restaurants, or Broadway shows, will substitute for the hearty feeling of satisfaction that large Charedi families exhibit.

      It’s one of the primary reasons that secular Jews abandon their lives and pursue Torah-observant lives. They get a taste of the family experience and reason that it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for the rules and obligations of an Orthodox lifestyle.

      Don’t worry about overpopulation. The world is a large place and there’ll always be room for a few more Jews especially as secular Jews continue to abort their fetuses at astounding rates and diminish in population. That’s one of the reasons that secularism is literally unsustainable. A few more generations and there’ll be enough for a museum, maybe.

      • Gavriel M says:

        Extensive research shows that families with 4+ children are more functional and successful than those with 3 or fewer. However, that does not change the overpopulation problem. The world is a large place, but Israel is not a large place. If you like fields and trees, at some point you will have to deal with this problem. However, the problem with Charedi and, to use a euphemism, Likud voter, population growth is more acute that that. The fact is that someone has to pay for all this, and it isn’t Charedim or Likud voters. I don’t think much at all of secular Israeli ‘culture’, the artistic, cultural and culinary achievements of which are uniformly third rate, but the bottom line is it’s these guys with their nanotech startups and binary options scams that are keeping this country afloat and clean water coming out of the taps. There has to be something in it for them.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “It’s not the number of children that determines how children will grow up, but the example set for them, and the stability of the home in which they’re raised.”

        Rabbi Shimon Russell, LCSW was interviewed last year in a podcast with Raizel Schusterman, a Chabad Shlucha and life coach. He spoke passionately about fundamental flaws in our parenting styles and community establishments. He also mentioned the negative effects of having “more kids than we can handle”(Minute 36).

        What I found impressive, was that R. Russell came back on the podcast(Minute 1:00:00), due to the sensitivity of the issue, and clarified that he was not criticizing the ideal of large families, but instead encouraging couples to discuss with their rav their circumstances.

        R. Russell’s point was that today’s generation of “chutzpah yasgi,” that the nature of children has changed worldwide, and forming healthy attachment and resilience is more difficult. Therefore, in R. Russell’s opinion, the bar for asking sheilos regarding family planning has shifted.

        Raizel Schusterman, the interviewer, likewise mentioned that she grew up in a family of ten and was raised with the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s encouragement of the beracha which comes with large families. Yet, each couple needs to look at their individual circumstances with their rav and not wait until they have a crisis to ask a sheilah.


        On another note, R. Jeremy Wieder, in a recent “Kosher Money” podcast episode that received more than 30,000 views in a month, spoke about the financial viability of the frum community. He mentioned the saying that one of the most effective forms of birth control in the Modern Orthodox community is yeshiva tuition. R. Wieder called this a tragedy(Minute 54). There was a follow-up gathering last month held in Bergen County, NJ, where R. Wieder offered a plan to secure the day school community’s financial future.


      • Mark says:

        Rabbi Russel and Raizel Shusterman are both making points, but nothing more. According to Rabbi Russel, large families should be built with caution. Perhaps and perhaps not. There are more than enough experts who would not necessarily agree with him and while that doesn’t negate his points, it should place them in context.
        I live in an area surrounded by large families and while a few have shown signs of fallout, the vast majority are thriving and producing wonderfully well-adjusted and healthy children. Proof of that is these children go on to produce equally large families and don’t seem at all turned off by their own inadequate upbringing.
        Rabbi Wieder is discussing the MO world where annual tuition per child can easily reach 30k. Of course they’re maxed out by 3-4 kids. Who wouldn’t be? In most Charedi schools, max tuition per child in elementary school is 5k with discounts for additional children. Kids are expensive, but tuition has never been mentioned as a reason for birth control in those communities.
        Is Israel where tuition is most covered by the government, it’s not a factor at all.

      • Mark says:


        Eretz Yisroel is referred to as ארץ הצבי because it expands according to our needs. It is the very last place on earth that I worry about in terms of population overload.
        Hi tech is very wonderful for the economy, but so are people, and we’ll never have enough Torah observant Jews. Moshiach will not come עד שיכלו כל הנשמות שבגוף so trying to restrict our population is only holding back Moshiach.
        The simplest solution is to find ways to allow Charedim to work legally instead of punishing them for not wanting to serve in the IDF. That would solve a whole lotta problems. US and UK Charedim have amply demonstrated that they’re perfectly willing to work hard and support their families. They’re of the hardest working and most productive people anywhere – they have no choice – they have large families to support. If secular Israelis expended a fraction of the energy they expend on railing against the Charedim instead on solving this existential issue, the problem would have been solved long long ago.

      • nt says:

        History has shown that fears of overpopulation are always overblown. From Malthus to Ehrlich, people always find ways to overcome the supposed issues, making overpopulation alarmists look foolish. As a religious person, I see this as Divine providence, but even a secular person must acknowledge that empirically speaking, overpopulation is never an issue. Something always changes. Sometimes it is technological advancements like those of Borlaug. Sometimes it is a declining birth rate. In the case of chareidi society, people have been predicting its collapse for decades based on what sound like reasonable arguments, and yet chareidim have continued to thrive and increase in number. Anyone who considers himself to be an empiricist must acknowledge that inductive reasoning says that chareidim will somehow be fine.

  16. Shades of Gray says:

    “I think the solution in Israel will evolve naturally. For varied reasons, not everyone is suited for a long-term Yeshiva life.”

    Jonathan Rosenblum likewise argued from social science that although the Charedi community needs to change, it must be done in an evolutionary fashion. Written in the Summer of 2004 in the context of the Shinui Party’s influence on the Sharon government, the Jewish Action presented it as one of two views about the adaptation of the Charedi community(“Israel’s New Economic Reality: Will Israel’s Chareidi Population Have to Reinvent Itself?”):

    “No one educational model can possibly satisfy the needs of all the children in a large community, and the attempt to force one model upon all can only result in many being lost altogether to the religious world… The challenge the Chareidi community confronts today is how to preserve the ideal of Torah learning as its paramount value while adjusting to changing circumstances, both internally and externally. That will not be a simple task.

    …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.

    …In their insistence on incremental change, the gedolei Torah are on solid ground. 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. Psychologist Dietrich Dorner shows in his book, The Logic of Failure why that is so. Using computer simulations of real-life problems, he found that even the most highly trained and intelligent subjects tended to focus too narrowly on the specific problem at hand and failed to anticipate the system-wide effects of their cures. The result was a series of “virtual” disasters.

    In Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, James Scott recommends two rules to ensure that social engineering does not wreak havoc: keep the initiative small and experimental. Small initiatives allow for testing for unseen consequences. And when planners view their efforts as experiments, they will have an easier time reversing course if disaster looms.”

    R. Yehoshua Pfeffer wrote similarly in the current Tzarich Iyun about the organic nature of change:

    “We believe that the [movement to expand employment circles] should grow from within the community and that forcing change from the outside will harm it. Regarding the demand for introducing core curriculum studies in boys’ schools, integrating English and mathematics studies will be considered positively, in consultation with Torah leadership and in a phased manner. Parents should be given the freedom to choose their preferred curriculum track.”

  17. Steven Brizel says:

    Dr Bill wrote in relevant part:

    “Asserting that IDF has “not won a decisve military campaign since 1967” is incredulous. In 1973 they reversed a tragedy and ended up marching across the Suez into Egypt. They blew up nuclear reactors in 2 countries. The iron dome, etc. Akin to US readiness; another unsubstantiated statement motivated perhaps by your opposition to women in combat roles. Do you really believe that the IDF does not know how to defend the State of Israel? Do you think they want or need your fact-free advice?

    A counterattack against an Arab attack in 1973 that the IDF brass failed to see which was an incomplete victory by any normal military standard and the destruction of nucear plants and mowing the lawn in response to terror, are tactical victories but are in no way inspired strategic victories in the same category as the miraculous events of 1967. The IDF acts like it is a World Series caliber team that has not won the World Series in some time. As documented here, the IDF brass clearly are more worried about adverse reactions from Biden’;s Arabist advisors https://www.israeltoday.co.il/read/israels-choice-independence-or-appeasement/ than acting in a preemptive manner against Iran and agrressively against Iran based terror, gave up natural resoirces off the Israeli coast and one should not be shocked that a former PM who is bankrolling the riots against judicial reform https://www.jns.org/jns/benjamin-netanyahu/23/6/2/292333/ was a major player in discussiions and that destroyed the Israeli cyebersecurity industry solely to placate Biden’s Arabist advisours. This is an IDF whose former brass have injected themselves into politics ala military leaders in third world countries and whose brass clearly lack the willpower to act decisively independent of and without regard to pressure from Washington. We need an IDF that is willing to do whateber is necessary to protect the citizens of Israel-not placate Washington and give up tactical independence while the US has reduced Israel’s quaklitative military edge by spending millions on a highly dubiou war with very dangerous possibilities in the Ukraine

    • william l gewirtz says:

      In a democracy, the government and intelligence agencies, are the primary focus of blame for lack of military response. To expect military events like the 6-day war is naive; what the IDF has accomplished is proof of their ability.

      Please spare us your military advice. I happen to have consulted for the former “head of projects” in the IDF airforce and had the opportunity to see first-hand non-secret IDF capability. Even with that experience, I would never dare to offer advice as you seem capable of doing.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I stand by my sources and assessment of the IDF and its overall record since 1967 and the involvement of its retired brass in stirring up the Israeli left . Read any assessment of the YK War in which the initial Egyptian and Syrian advances was a complete surprise and almost a disaster but for American reinforcement of Israeli war materiel and a great counterattack test still warranted a complete investigation as to why Israel was caught by surprise The IDF in 1967 scared the wits of the Arabs Yhe IDF today consults with lawyers before and how it mowed the lawn in response to terror . The Mossad is far more proactive in fighting terror and yes when you cut down the requirements in the US armed services for physical fitness to accomplish gender based physical differences the result is a poor fighting force

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Military preparedness is based on what the military thinks it need to and its assessment of what enemies are capable of.. Billy Mitchell was discharged for showing that air power could sink war ships the Armed services were asleep before Pearl Harbor the British though Singapore was impregnable from a land assault the French never thought of the Blitzkrieg rendering the Maginot Line useless and US intelligence has had an abysmal record prior to and after 9-11 In going anything except interfering in domestic politics As Clemenceau stated war is too important to left solely to the generals

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Military history is replete with the names of overconfident military brass and their experts who fought the wars of their times with yesterday’s tactics and strategy. An IDF which protects a secular sector of the populace that is more passionate about what it calls “democracy” (and some of whose member have refused to report for duty) than either Zionism or Judaism and has been educated on the poisonous fruit of post Zionism should be of concern to any supporter of Israel.

  18. Heshy Grossman says:

    I thank Rabbi Adlerstein for hosting this discussion.
    Perhaps I should clarify – I was not making an argument for the superiority of the Haredi way of life, nor justifying why our approach is theologically sound. I enjoy defending Haredim before those who attack us for our immoral, impractical and (supposedly) insular and ignorant stance, and Dan is a gracious and sincere secularist, committed to the Jewish people, with a willing ear. I first contacted him after reading consistently that Haredim are primitive, oblivious, and living in folly, and I believe that I have demonstrated to him that – while we may indeed be too religious for his liking – and he still considers Haredim to be a threat to the country’s wellbeing – Haredim do have a carefully considered worldview, and our approach to education and the State of Israel is consistent and sensible, and we are formidable ideological foes.
    I do find it a bit disconcerting that while secular pundits – even those who are strongly antagonistic to our political, educational or social stance – often have enough respect not to challenge our religious views, certain commenters on this and other sites seem to see red every time the word “Haredi’ is mentioned, and feel the need to explain to the entire world why Haredim are wrong and misguided; the Rambam was a doctor, the tribe of Gad went to war, Maimonides has co-ed education, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein felt differently, Rav Kook was a tzaddik, etc…etc…
    So, if Mr. Gewirtz or anyone else would like to challenge the Haredi worldview from their own perspective, I would be amenable to a similar type of discussion, and can be contacted at: [email protected] (but you may regret engaging someone who talks too much, and always imagines that he is correct about everything).
    Good Shabbos!

    • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

      I don’t just imagine, but I am correct about everything. 🙂 I will contact you.

  19. Steven Brizel says:

    I am no supporter of his ideology or hashkafa but there is no doubt that this Israeli is challenging many sacred cows subscribed to by the secular left https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/rise-itamar-ben-gvir-armin-rosen

  20. Steven Brizel says:

    If you want to see why American war fighting readiness is at its lowest level since pre Pearl Harbor read this https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/report-the-national-independent-panel-military-service-and-readinessand https://www.frontpagemag.com/how-obama-sabotaged-american-military-daniel-greenfield/ for a start.

  21. Mark says:

    Don’t be disconcerted by the likes of “Reb Yid” and Mr. Gewirtz et al. The internet is not reflective of the reality in the streets and the shrill voices you encounter on the internet are not representative of the masses. It’s the same few individuals who have about four points to make and never tire of repeating them, often many times on the same thread.
    There are many thoughtful readers who are more nuanced and appreciate a good discussion and reading multiple points of view and who benefit greatly from these conversations.

    • william l gewirtz says:

      Dr. Gewirtz to you. I never had any desire to be ” representative of the masses.” If you have a response to any of my “four points” I await hearing them.

      • Mark says:

        No disrespect intended to Dr. Gewirtz, but I have no interest in debating you or anyone on your oft-cited views. At this point, I can predict with uncanny accuracy where you, mycroft, Reb Yid, and a few others will fall on every single issue. You’re welcome to your views, but they’re not the reason I come. I’m here to hear those who are far less predictable and whose views are less freighted with anti-Haredi bias. It is from them that I learn the most.

      • William Gewirtz says:

        certain things are meant to be predictable: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. most of my positions relative to Haredim are just as obvious to me. Examining my comments above, i seriously doubt you could have predicted much of what I said, despite your claim to the contrary.

        I think it might be best that you simply avoid reading my comments.

  22. Steven Brizel says:

    Just as the American armed services lack any brass with the imagination and daring strategy of a Patton or US Grant or Sheridan or Sherman so too the the current IDF brass does not invite favorable comparisons with Dayan or Sharon

  23. Steven Brizel says:

    As those propounded lockdowns vaccinations on even the healthy of untried vaccines and school closings by now realize merely having an advanced degree does not insulate such a person from being questioned as to the bona fides of their opinions especially when as we know now from the Twitter files they fail to be transparent in the bases of their opinions

  24. Steven Brizel says:

    For an assesssment of the strategy underlying the IDF moves in Jenin https://www.jns.org/jns/idf/23/7/3/299664/, Ms. Glick’s views on IDF strategy are always worth reading and illustrate why the high brass of the IDF has a myopic view of terror and i the paymasters of terrorists

  25. Steven Brizel says:

    Anyone interested in the declaine of US military readiness should read this https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/report-the-national-independent-panel-military-service-and-readiness and this https://www.dailywire.com/news/social-media-erupts-as-bidens-dept-of-defense-says-trans-soldier-inspires-us-all this is not a military that is war ready and battle ready by any reasonable definition

  26. Steven Brizel says:

    Dr Gewirtz wrote in relevant part:
    “Akin to US readiness; another unsubstantiated statement motivated perhaps by your opposition to women in combat role

    See herehttps://ww.heritage.org/defense/report/report-the-national-independent-panel-military-service-and-readiness and in particular:

    “The Army lowered its minimal physical fitness standards and simultaneously discarded its gender-neutral fitness test over a concern that women were not scoring highly enough.72
    Spoehr, “America’s Army: ‘Equitable’ but Not Combat-Ready.”

    When the Army lowered the minimum standard for the two-mile run to a dawdling 21 minutes, Captain Kristen Griest, the first female to pass the Army’s grueling Ranger School, commented in an article that “the presence of just a handful of individuals who cannot run two miles faster than twenty-one minutes has the potential to derail a training exercise, not to mention an actual combat patrol.

    According to the Heritage poll, 70 percent of active-duty personnel and 42 percent of a nationally representative sample stated that reduction of physical fitness standards to “even the playing field” had decreased their trust in the military. (See Appendix B.”

    If a woman can’t lead a patrol in the same way as a man, she has no business leading a patrol at all.

    • William Gewirtz says:

      just as I thought; you are reflecting your position on women in combat roles. By recent counts, 🙂 women are about half the population. Granting the fact that women are weaker than men on the average, doubling the talent pool from which to choose should not be so readily dismissed. I trust the IDF leadership is not reaching out for your advice in fulfilling staffing roles. Neither you nor I are competent to provide guidance.

      • Gavriel M says:

        William Gewirtz: you don’t appear to understand how statistical distributions work, in particular the bell curve. The *average* man is stronger than 97.5% of women. A man in the 90th percentile is stronger than more than 99.99% of women. Allowing women to sign up for combat roles does not ‘double the talent pool’, it barely increases it at all.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Women who can’t pass a fitness test that me are required to pass endanger all of their co workers in such occupations as first responders firemen police offices and the armed services The notion that women can perform all functions in life equally as men and that giving birth is s mere essentialist difference snd social construct is a fraud with zero scientific basis

      • Steven Brizel says:

        It is a fundamental principle of science that species that do not replicate eventually die .The notion that a woman should forego marriage and raising a family as her first priority and instead view herself as economically and sociologically the equivalent of a male is a particularly pernicious idea that is at the heart of feminist and LGBT ideology

      • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

        Gavriel, I assure you I understand statistics and probability rather well, with a Ph.D. on the logical foundations of those disciplines. Combat roles do not in the main require physical strength; sharpshooters, for example, or tank commanders or pilots require other skills.

  27. Steven Brizel says:

    This discussion has its roots in the famous meeting between CI and Ben Gurion Those with Netflix can see accurate depictions of Chesed society in Shistel and Fauda the latter being a depiction of an IDF anti terror unit that is like Daniel Silva on steroids created by two IDF vets

  28. mycroft says:

    William Lawrence Gewirtz July 4, 2023 at 9:31 am
    Gavriel, I assure you I understand statistics and probability rather well, with a Ph.D. on the logical foundations of those disciplines. Combat roles do not in the main require physical strength; sharpshooters, for example, or tank commanders or pilots require other skills.

    FWIW there are very few women in combat in combat roles in the IDF.I have relatively close female relative doing her duty in the IDF. You and I certainly disagree on some issues but a random blogger telling you dont understand a bell curve , reminded me in the exchange between Drs Hayym Soloveitchik and Robert Brody on Babylonian-Dr Soloveitchik accused Dr Brody of misuse of math. Not getting into their substance of debate both Drs Brody and Soloveitchik are fine Jewish scholars-before entering Jewish studies Dr Brody received a Phd in Math from Harvard and has Brody Curves named after him.
    Agree with you that most Combat roles strength is not important, today’s warfare won’t get close enough to opponent for that. Of course, for many jobs and fields there are requirements not necessary for current generation jobs-a current fighter pilot would never have to understand physic-he has to know his equipment and have exceptional stamina, excellent reaction time. By the time even a physics prof could use physics necessary he’d be shot down

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Mycrorft wrote in relevant part:
      “Combat roles do not in the main require physical strength; sharpshooters, for example, or tank commanders or pilots require other skills.”

      What we saw this week in Jenin and previoiusly in Gaza as well as counter terror work clearly requires roles that only men in their best condition can render -You can be sure that if the enemy captured a female soldier they would not engage in a seminar with her on the comparagtive roles of womem in Arab, secular Israeli or Charedi culture.

      • mycroft says:

        If anything Magav-Border Polic- which is really involved in protection against terror has females and needs them to deal with female suspects.
        Jenin this week heavily attacks from the air and in armored vehicles.
        Driving a tank, firing artillery shells, flying an airplane are not jobs where primary skill required is strength. If strength is required there are many women who are physically very strong.
        Re enemy capturing soldiers always has been disastrous for Israel., Shalit classic case-.
        Opposition to females is based on religion NOT an analysis of each females capacity.

    • Gavriel M says:

      What he said was

      “Granting the fact that women are weaker than men on the average, doubling the talent pool from which to choose should not be so readily dismissed.”

      What I took this to imply – and what most average ‘educated’ people believe – is that while men are stronger on average, there are still significant numbers of women in the higher percentiles. But this is not so because of how tails work. (A similar mistake is behind the popular belief that different groups are over or under represented in High IQ professions). Allowing women into the army does not meaningfully expand the pool of protentional combat troops unless you significantly relax requirements for entry, which, in fact, is what the US military did. You can argue that you don’t really need to be strong in a modern army, but this does not seem to be the view of the U.S. military itself which did not relax the strength requirements for men.

  29. Lara Gedzelman says:

    What was lacking in the discussion here is the key to moving forward – the many, many areas in which most Israelis find some agreement. Each side set up their turf and defended it – yet for most Israelis there is more in common than one would think from this exchange.

    Most people believe in a need for physical histadlus to pritect the country and most feel that there is an element of Divine Protection that is required.

    Most Israelis are happy for Shabbat to have a different feeling than the other seven days – whether they observe halacha or not.

    Most Israelis prefer that Jewish traditions have a role in the public square – whether that means days off for holidays, kaddish said at funerals, chuppas and blessings at a wedding, and a consciousness of Jewish customs being appropriate and central to the public sphere.

    Most Israelis are open to some form of Jewish education for their children – albeit with many different versions of that ideal.

    Most Israelis feel a connection to peoplehood as central to their identities.

    What is unfortunate, is that no one wants to be coerced, and the side that possesses the most passion for conveying Yiddishkeit has often written off the non-observant instead of understanding that we are as connected to each other as Siamese twins – our Source is the same and our End is as one.

    If we would cultivate this feeling, and put our energies into building those policies which would accentuate the common ground, i believe we would have a much more collaborative body politic.

    One of the reasons that Litzman was considered the most popular chevrei knesset (for a time) was that I believe the secular population felt affirmed that someone like him was worrying about healthcare for the general population. His actual achievements were not as significant as the impact of a Chareidi person working on behalf of the klal. (Let’s leave out how that story ended.)

    I find that most secular Israelis are more than happy to be related to as brothers. It’s not that hard.

    We who claim and wish to be the bearers of Jewish values must lead wih this approach – i think we will find much more respect for our red lines for our communities and even for the state as a whole when people feel included in our projects and agenda.

    At the very least – we must each do what we can. I remember a story written by a soldier who was standing on an inter-city bus and a woman sitting with her two small children in two seats, got up for him.

    He protested, and she said, “You look so tired and I appreciate your service” so she stood up and he sat next to her children.

    He was so appreciative of being “seen” he published a piece about it.

    Not so hard.

  30. Bob Miller says:

    The continuing presence and power of a distinctly anti-Torah culture among Jews in Eretz Yisrael should concern us—a lot!—regardless of whom we hold responsible. Why do we take atheistic national leaders as a given?

  31. Steven Brizel says:

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/protests-ramp-up-with-roads-blocked-dozens-detained-airport-disruptions-expected/?utm_campaign=daily-edition-2023-07-11&utm_medium=email&utm_source=The+Daily+Edition This is what “demonstrations” for ‘democracy” which in reality are riiots that are intended to disrupt law and order and peaceful entry into Israel and emergency vehicles from moving-all markedly similar to the so called “mostly peaceful demonstrations and’resistance” aka riots in the US after the death of George Floyd

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