It’s Not Your Mother’s Knesset

What would have surprised Israel’s founding fathers more: the growth of an observant community many believed was destined to disappear in short order, or its intrusion into the very non-hallowed halls of government? The new Knesset has thirty-nine members who consider themselves Torah observant. The previous cabinet already had a majority of members who called themselves shomrei Shabbos. What is an old-time Tel Aviv secularist to think?

The surprises cut both ways. Just when we thought we had thoroughly digested Yair Lapid’s challenge to the Torah community, another member of Yesh Atid offers stirring inaugural address to Knesset. Dr. Ruth Calderon will make us rethink the role Torah study plays in bringing people closer to Yiddishkeit.

Cross-Currents readers did a good job picking apart Yair Lapid’s speech at Kiryat Ono. They flagged his historical inaccuracies and simplifications; they questioned whether he was sincere or pandering. Other readers, however, made a strong case for a very different reaction. However he meant his words, they claimed, they landed on a vulnerable place. Has not the charedi community become strong and secure enough that it cannot enjoy the luxury of giving only on its own terms? Should not it have to take its place as partners with the rest of Israel’s population in addressing all the problems faced by the Jewish state?

Ruth Calderon presents a narrower challenge. What do we think about secular Jews turning with enthusiasm to the study of Torah – but entirely on their own terms? Calderon used the opportunity of her first address to Knesset to speak of her love for Torah study. After describing her family background and her bona fides as a secular Zionist, she lets us in on a change in her life:

I was not acquainted with the Mishna, the Talmud, Kabbala or Hasidism. By the time I was a teenager, I already sensed that something was missing…. I missed depth; I lacked words for my vocabulary; a past, epics, heroes, places, drama, stories – were missing. The new Hebrew, created by educators from the country’s founding generation, realized their dream and became a courageous, practical, and suntanned soldier. But for me, this contained – I contained – a void. I did not know how to fill that void, but when I first encountered the Talmud and became completely enamored with it, its language, its humor, its profound thinking, its modes of discussion, and the practicality, humanity, and maturity that emerge from its lines, I sensed that I had found the love of my life, what I had been lacking.
Since then I have studied academically in batei midrash [Jewish study halls] and in the university, where I earned a doctorate in Talmudic Literature at the Hebrew University, and I have studied lishma, for the sake of the study itself. For many years I have studied daf yomi, the daily page of Talmud, and with a chavruta [study partner]; it has shaped who I am.

She goes on to present her vision for the rest of the country:

It is impossible to stride toward the future without knowing where we came from and who we are, without knowing, intimately and in every particular, the sublime as well as the outrageous and the ridiculous. The Torah is not the property of one movement or another. It is a gift that every one of us received, and we have all been granted the opportunity to meditate upon it a we create the realities of our lives. Nobody took the Talmud and rabbinic literature from us. We gave it away, with our own hands, when it seemed that another task was more important and urgent: building a state, raising an army, developing agriculture and industry, etc. The time has come to reappropriate what is ours, to delight in the cultural riches that wait for us, for our eyes, our imaginations, our creativity.

What do we think of this? Danger lurks in this statement, but so does enormous opportunity and promise. Chazal (Yerushalmi Chagiga 1:7) describe Hashem voicing a preference for Klal Yisrael guarding/observing/studying Torah, even if it abandons Him. The study of Torah will eventually bring Jews back to Him.

We can ask, however, whether some forms of study are so foreign to the nature of Torah that they cease to have any positive effect? If Torah is treated merely as part of the literary patrimony of the Jewish people, will it still touch the soul? Will it reach the soul of people who do not believe in the soul? Can Torah become so mangled when studied not just shelo lishmah, but based on antinomian assumptions about its nature, that it becomes destructive? On the other hand, do we prefer some of today’s Jewishly clueless young Israelis, or the earlier generations of those who spoke Yiddish, studied Tanach regularly – but saw themselves as anti-religious, not just neutral? When R. Yisroel Salanter militated for the translation of the gemara into the vernacular so that it would be studied in local universities, did he not fear that in the hands of heretics Torah would do more harm than good?

We must keep in mind that Calderon is not what we picture some of the old-timers. She not only believes in HKBH, she ended her speech with a tefilah to Him. (Our understanding of the old-timers may also be inaccurate. Readers who have never seen the newsreel should watch Ben-Gurion at the moment of the announcement of statehood pull a yarmulke out of his pocket, place it on his head, and recite a beracha of Shehechiyanu.)

I don’t claim to have the answers, although my leanings are to see the gains as outweighing the risks. I have seen so many people studying Torah in institutions with treif understandings of Torah nonetheless fall in love with learning and move on to more traditional approaches and full observance. I have seen the benefit in relating to non-observant Jewish brothers and sisters through at least having a common vocabulary of Torah words and ideas. That common platform allows the relationship to go on to other places in the course of time.

Reacting to Yair Lapid’s oratory, my good friend Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in the current Mishpacha, “Those who sent me Lapid’s clip wanted to know whether anyone had taken up the challenge of articulating a vision of a state in which Torah Jews constitute a substantial part of the population…I had to confess that I did not personally know anyone who had responded or who would even have the authority to respond….In short, Lapid is totally irrelevant. For our own mission of becoming a majority, we require a Torah vision of the future of a state now home to half of the worlds’s Jews.”

As we try to think of what that vision ought to look at, we will also have to factor in an Israeli population that is clamoring for reconnection with Torah – albeit on its own terms. We must not make the mistake of believing that what was, is, and that yesterday’s battles are the ones we should be fighting today. If we do not or cannot do the hard work to put together a Torah-based vision for the future, we will have failed to do what HKBH asks – demands – of us: that we demonstrate to all people and in all situations that our Torah is a Toras Chaim.

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45 comments to It’s Not Your Mother’s Knesset

  • Miriam

    And this is where the Charedi vision of today is not yet ready for beyond its borders. Is it realistic to expect all Jews of the world to observe Judaism in exactly the Charedi way? There is enough struggle with the Sefardi boys who come to Charedi yeshivos, being pressured to take on the Ashkenazi minhagim and piskei halacha in place of their own practices – under the chuppa for example.

    An us-vs-them philosophy to keep card-carrying Charedim in the fold is an internal decision. Refusing a country to expand a city hospital because it isn’t ideal according to the posek of one of the Charedi MKs who is not the posek of the hospital – can the Charedi vision be viable for the entire country?

    Perhaps this is why more non-black kippot are coming into the knesset within the mainstream parties – klal Yisrael thrives on (appropriate) diversity. If in the times of the Anshei Knesset Hagadola it was an extreme rarity to stone someone for Sabbath violation – was that because everyone was 100% observant, or people had ways of accommodating the others not doing everything 100%?

  • Reuven Tradburks

    Yossi Klein Halevi addressed the conference of President’s of Major Jewish Organizations on Thursday evening here in Yerushalayim and issued a challenge to Jewish leadership. Pick your friends carefully. To non orthodox leadership, he challenged them to pick Ruth Calderone and her non affiliated Jewish renewal as their friends, and not the sectarian Women of the Wall – the Wall is a battle that will not be won.

    And to the orthodox, he challenged them (or us) to not be constricted by our narrow orthodoxy to withhold support for this non affiliated Jewish engagement.

    I would add – not only should we pick our friends carefully, but we need to pick our battles better. The alienation, the profound alienation that Ruth Calderone is addressing, is a result of battles poorly picked. Or, it is a result of battles, period. We need to engage in Israeli society – post battles – the new age needs to be the age of post-battle religion in Israel. Put down the arms and instead of fighting, build together.

    And that is the key to a vision of Israel that is animated by Torah and includes frum people as active players. Israeli society tends to be adversarial, fighting for rights and positions, drawing lines, public posturing. The frum tend to be viewed in a very sectarian way – only concerned about drawing the lines of halacha.

    It is this sectarianism that both Lapid and Bennett have attacked. Lapid has tried to break down the “tribalism” by having men and women, religious and non, sephardim and ashkenazim, Ethiopians, academics. And Bennett too – even though his is a dati party, it is not your old style religion. The number 2 in the party is a non dati woman. That shatters all understandings of what a religious party is – unless you stretch the understanding of religion to be more encompassing.

    That is the challenge of Ruth Calderone. Sure you can criticize non halachic learning. But is that the battle to pick? We need to learn better when not to fight and to encourage. If we can do that, the bad feelings against religion will have less fuel and the natural desire of a Jew for meaning will be able to more easily reach for the Talmud.

    Reuven Tradburks

  • Baruch Gitlin

    The Orthodox community will undoubtedly pay attention to Ms. Calderon, and to the point of view she represents, and will undoubtedly respond, probably with a large variety of responses. I think it is important to realize that regardless of how the Orthodox communities respond, the phenominon that I think Ms. Calderon represents will continue, and will continue “on its own terms.” In the marketplace of ideas, there is clearly a market for the ideas she is expressing. I hope that Orthodox Jews, in considering this, will understand that if they disagree with Ms. Calderon, they should do so by way of better expressing their own ideas, rather than attacking Ms. Calderon. I hope that Orthodox Jews will also look inward more, and listen to what people like Ruth Calderon are saying – listen in order to listen and maybe learn something, not listen in order to formulate rebuttals. Nobody can grow and improve without acknolwedging some deficiency, and if I think it would be a healthy thing for Orthodox Jews in Israel to consider whether their relalationship with the world around them really is as it should be, and why there are articulate people like Ruth Calderon searching for Jewish content outside of the framework of Orthodox Judaism.

  • L. Oberstein

    This is an exchange of emails between me and MK Dov Lipman. Is this really the way the Chareidi members of Knesset act? How can they win over the majority by such behavior?
    My question:
    Is there any truth to what someone just told me, that “they” refused to count you in a minyan at the Knesset?

    Hias answer:
    Yes, there is truth to it. The haredi political leaders are losing their minds over this and non of it is l’sheim shamayim – it is all because there will be no need for them once our plan works.
    They don’t understand how we are saving the torah world?
    Sad. Very sad.

    ——————————————————————————–

  • dr. bill

    Excellent article. As I listened to her address and read your article two odd things came to mind.

    First, contrast her point about the Greek versus Hebrew words for womb with the gematriah noted by Shas MK Vaknin. While many a traditional yeshivah student might gravitate to the makhloket rishonim about the halakhic implications of the sugyah, her (academic) reading of the text was insightful and more likely to appeal to a broader audience than gematriah (or even mysticism.)

    Second, you quoted Jonathan Rosenblum saying: “…I had to confess that I did not personally know anyone who had responded or who would even have the authority to respond…” Authority? Response to the (religious) issues Lapid raised traditionally came from the broader community. Its halakhic leaders would provide guidance when and if halakhic boundaries were approached. The expectation that rabbinic authorities will decide how to respond, may reflect the problem more than the solution.

    All of this is very positive. In contrast to kiruv efforts, hopefully broader groups of non-observant Jews may naturally rub shoulders with the many traditionally observant individuals they will meet in their studies. As well, the achdus represented by Lapid’s list of MK’s and his embrace of Bennet makes me hopeful.

  • Reb Yid

    The YouTube video of Dr. Calderon’s speech is required viewing. Google it.

    It is a very beautiful, moving shiur (even punctuated with a tiny bit of back and forth with a Shas MK), both for the content and for how it is delivered.

    The reaction of the various MKs (ranging from secular to haredi, female to male, Shas, Bayit HaYehudi to Avodah) as the speech unfolded was uniform. Dr. Calderon held everyone’s attention and respect.

    I would quibble with YA’s characterization of this as solely “secular”. Indeed, Calderon acknowledges a tremendous debt to Rabbi Dr. David Hartman, z”l, and his Shalom Hartman Institute, which while pluralistic is surely not secular.

  • Menachem Lipkin

    As usual, Rabbi Adlerstein, you are thoughtful and thought provoking. This as opposed to the folks over at the Chareidi website “Kikar Shabbos” who see Ms. Calderon, Dov Lipman and Rabbi Piron as the dangerous vanguard of a “new Haskalah”.

    Implicit in, what is generally considered, an innocuous phrase in your quote of JR is a sure sign that the Chareidi world is not up to this “challenge”. Many, if not most, Chareidim have come to refer to their brand of Judaism as “Torah Judaism” and themselves as “Torah Jews”. Implicit in this phrase is “ownership” of the Torah. Even among the most moderate of Chareidim there is sense that anything outside of their orbit is, at best, second rate or a poor facsimile of, what they consider, the “real” Torah. Many of these “Torah Jews” would paint Rosh Yeshiva Shai Piron, Ner Israel Musmach Dov Lipman and Ruth Calderon with the same brush: a brush of exclusion. How on earth are people who can’t accept the Gadlus of Torah giants like Rav Amital z”l or Rav Lichtenstein supposed to see the sincerity of people like Ruth Calderon? Much of Chareidi ideology, like its dress, forces its adherents to think in black and white terms. However, the reality in Israel is that there is an incredible continuum of Jewish belief and observance. Though the term “secular Jew” is tossed about with abandon, the reality is that in Israel there are relatively few people who are staunchly “secular” in the way it’s derogatorily intended.

    Ruth Calderon represents an amazing example of how impossible it is to pigeonhole Israel’s Judaism. Not until Israel’s Chareidim stop thinking of themselves as the only “Torah Jews” with an exclusive lock on its interpretation will they be up the challenge their demographic ascendancy demands of them.

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    They don’t understand how we are saving the torah world?
    Sad. Very sad.

    The patronizing attitude drips from every syllable. Yes, the Torah world must be saved from the likes of Rav Shteinman and the Belzer Rebbe, with MK Dov Lipman playing the role of the long-yearned for Messiah.

    Should the Lapid/Bennett axis bring about draconian legislation to “save” the Torah world, the end will be that the Charedim will refuse to count all knitted-kippah wearers for a minyan. They will tear the country asunder. I know, some relish that outcome.

  • Ben Waxman

    A few years ago Rav Ovadia was asked to address some conference of business leaders. He told them that if they give more tzedaka, they will succeed in business. Nothing about what the Torah thinks in regards to worker-employer relations, union rights, government role in business, fair taxation; in short no grand vision. It was almost heart rendering that someone so highly regarded used that opportunity in such a way.

  • David F.

    How about we view this in perspective before reacting. Dr. Calderon gave a speech; one out of hundreds that are made in the Knesset each year. President Obama also makes many speeches. Very few speeches made by politicians bear real fruit. Perhaps this one will be different and suddenly we’ll witness a sea change in Israel where secular Israelis will take up the study of traditional Jewish texts and appreciate them on at least some level. When that happens, we can discuss whether it’s good or bad for the Jews. Until such time, however, I’m not certain we have to pay it that much attention.
    My hunch is that, unfortunately, there will still be plenty of empty seats in the Beit Medrash in the coming years. Her speech will have been just that – another speech.

  • cvmay

    I grab any opportunity to listen to well-articulated and enuciated IVRIT and Ruth was stunning in her presentation.

    Reuven, MK Porush’s address to the American conference was publicized particularly his words of Yeshiva bochurim enlisting in the IDF after culminating years of learning. That has always been the shitah of Gedolim from the Chazon Ish through Rav Shach, yet implementation has always been scarse, light and quite non-existant. My question; Has he given the identical speech to his Charedi kehilla as he has to the American delegates**?
    The Charedi hold on Religion in Israel has been suffocating to many sectors and through this last election it seems as if the hold will be lightened.

    **(sort of like Abbas speaks to the UN/EU & turns around and in Arabic repeats an entirely different speech to his people)

  • lacosta

    what can we expect really when the charedi zeigeist is that the wrong color shirt , the wrong fabric of head covering , joining an army of a philosophy objected to 100 yr ago ,etc etc is enough to put one beyond the Pale. how could we ask such a cowering ,beaten-down in its own mind community to think of any larger dream [other than mashiach—a useful excuse to say ‘lo alecha hamelacha lehatchil, ella letzapot lebiyato’]. why should charedim have to see anti-semites and Porutzim [to whom they gladly will dance Mah Yofis , if it will get them the check to cash] behind every face , gentile or non-haredi Jew?

    I am afraid that when hashem judges us , and returns the test papers, we will be shocked at the answers we were so sure were right will be marked wrong [and visa versa]…

    could one imagine [ using these names as prototypes] a Knesset delegation /and a widespread charedi face filled with Adlersteins/Rosenblums/Lipmans/Kolbrenners etc
    what a different society Israel could have been….or maybe the moment is now, maybe the old Yishuv-hiloni blood feuds are ausgespielt and played out, out with the tired rock-in-your-face brand of judaism—that clearly didnt work for anybody… let’s hope this chevre , beyond the rhetoric , will be able to start a viable society , where haredi children will neither need to sleep in bathtubs , nor wear sack-and-ashcloths on the Independence day of the entity where ther parents have chosen to stay….

  • lacosta

    >>>Should the Lapid/Bennett axis bring about draconian legislation to “save” the Torah world, the end will be that the Charedim will refuse to count all knitted-kippah wearers for a minyan.

    —but at least , they will be dealing honestly with DL… one assumes that is how they feel about them— their money is kosher, but other than that, more dangerous than hilonim…. a little knowledge is a dangerous thing– as RYA worries about Frau Calderon….

  • lacosta

    >>>Yes, the Torah world must be saved from the likes of Rav Shteinman

    let us not forget that r shteinman , the Gadol Hador , had to fear for his life, due to temporary support of a solution to the shivyon hanetel problem—since the askonim and street thugs know better what is good for the Gdolim to advocate….

  • Yehoshua Friedman

    I think that what we are seeing here is the beginning of a new consensus in Israel spearheaded to some extent by American aliya acquiring the confidence to speak its mind in Israel. Lipman, an oleh from the US, and Bennett, son of American olim, are thinking out of the box and joining together with Israelis who do the same. Nobody wants to destroy anything. They all want to build. The problem is the lack of experience — 47 new members out of 120. They are all going to have to learn the territory from the inside in a way they have not known it before. I wish them success.

  • Chardal

    >The patronizing attitude drips from every syllable. Yes, the Torah world must be saved from the likes of Rav Shteinman and the Belzer Rebbe, with MK Dov Lipman playing the role of the long-yearned for Messiah.

    The fact that it is axiomatic for you that R Steinman and the Belzer Rebbe are right and that disagreeing with them and their policies is patronizing is part of the problem. Arguments from authority (Daas torirah) hold no sway outside of Chareidi circles and until Chareidi society is able to see the validity of the arguments made against its policies, it will not be able to show respect to those who disagree with its axioms. And like it or not, in the modern pluralistic world, the only way to get respect is to show respect.

    >Should the Lapid/Bennett axis bring about draconian legislation to “save” the Torah world, the end will be that the Charedim will refuse to count all knitted-kippah wearers for a minyan. They will tear the country asunder. I know, some relish that outcome.

    You need to understand that the religious Zionist world of today has very little need for the Chareidi world. We have our own Yeshivath, rabbis, sofrim, mashgichim, mechanchim, etc. it is people in black that constantly come to OUR door asking for financial support for institutions which show open disdain for our ideology, not knitted kippot, knocking on the doors of bnei brak (where we would transgress by dint of lo’eg laRash). If the Chareidi world decides to completely break with us it will be at their own peril, (and possibly to the benefit of our community for whose rabbis, the question of “what will the chareidim say” will become moot allowing them to pasken in manner free of political considerations. Everyone got a taste of this with R Goren Zt”l who could have cared less what his critics on the right would say – now imagine that one hundred fold). Remember, as soon as you pasel people, you succeed in sociologically protecting yourself, but at the same time, close the door to having any future influence upon them.

    This will not “tear the country asunder”. You overstate Chareidi power. The biggest danger here is not to the country but to the Chareidi community, which does not seem to understand that nobody wants to continue supporting their lifestyle. When the financial realities of the withdrawn support of both the state and of the knitted kippot hits home, there maybe nobody left to talk to.

  • Abe

    Agree with R’ Adlerstien that the gains outweigh the risks. Moreover, in the long term I do not see how anything negative can come from more Jews learning Torah and bringing it into their lives- this is a step in the right direction. This is the road towards observance, or at least strengthening of Jewish identity.

    More Torah study by more members of the Jewish People should assist in building achdus, strengthinening Jewish identity thereby reducing intermarriage etc, I saw the Kikar Shabbat statement lambasting Torah for the masses and I just don’t understand that. Hashem gave the Torah to Am Yisroel-no segment can claim it is exclusively their own.

    Moreover anyone who is secure and confident in their observance, hashkafa, and that Torah is emes, should have no fear of Jews embracing it.

  • Charlie Hall

    “a state in which Torah Jews constitute a substantial part of the population…I had to confess that I did not personally know anyone who had responded”

    One of the major reasons I personally identify as a supporter of religious Zionism rather than as a Charedi is that many of the leading religious Zionist rabbis do address issues like this. One can criticize some of their responses, but it is unfair to criticize without providing alternatives.

    “Sad. Very sad.”

    Worse than sad. FAR worse.

    “Rabbi Piron”

    Is Rabbi Shai Piron related to Rabbi Mordechai Piron, the former Chief Rabbi of the IDF?

    “I know, some relish that outcome.”

    Look what has happened. A secular political party — whose leader had a father who was one of the most notorious anti-religious rabble rousers in the history of the Medinah — has included two Orthodox rabbis in its Knesset list, and they got elected. Another member of the same list, a non-observant woman, uses her maiden Knesset speech to give a dvar Torah. Every Torah Jew on the planet should be dancing in the streets! And instead one of the rabbis doesn’t get counted for a minyan? And you blame the rabbi??? Can’t you see that this is nuts?????

  • Dovid Eliezrie

    Israelis whose identity in the past was rooted almost solely in secular nationalism are beginning to realize the need for more spiritual depth. Instead of ignoring thousands of years of tradition and scholarship they are beginning to engage in it.

    This is not a threat, but an opportunity to build a common identity with Torah as its core value. Is there a chance that some will distort classical Jewish ideals, no question. But as my friend Rabbi Adlerstien asserts the gain is much greater than the risk.

    We need to build bridges based on learning with these who are engaged in this quest. To nurture them with dignity and respect. Let’s ask ourselves what is more dangerous for a Jewish future, secular Israelis who more values in soccer or those attempting to find meaning through Torah.

  • cvmay

    The term “Secular Jew” used for a resident of Israel who is not Mitzah Observant is an anomaly. This breed can not be duplicated anywhere else in the world. A secular Jew understands Ivrit, has knowledge of Chagim, Minhagim and Jewish Talmudic verses. He may be proficient in Nach and highly knowledgable of Jewish History. His pride in his Jewishness & desire to transmit this admiration and respect of Jewish culture to his children is paramount. This lifestyle can be duplicated only in Israel while it disappears & disintergrates when living outside of the land.
    How to relate to this anomaly(non existent being in prior Jewish life & certainly not as numerous as today)is a great challenge? This is a difficulty that will not came easily nevertheless that doesn’t give commentators reason to have to badmouth, blackball and ignore the good, righteousness and striving for growth of the Charedi kehilla.

  • Ahron

    >>“Should the Lapid/Bennett axis bring about draconian legislation to “save” the Torah world, the end will be that the Charedim will refuse to count all knitted-kippah wearers for a minyan. They will tear the country asunder. I know, some relish that outcome.”

    If charedim choose to further isolate themselves from Am Yisroel, how many people outside of charediism will bemoan that choice?

    And will such isolation also mark the end of charedi demands for cash handouts from the people and system they despise?

    Re: MK Calderon, I expect the charedi sector to face real difficulty handling the phenomenon she embodies: a growing segment of Am Yisroel searching for their own relationship with Torah, in an organic manner outside the control of any ideological bloc.

    Jonathan Rosenblum wrote: “….we require a Torah vision of the future of a state now home to half of the worlds’s Jews.” Does that Torah vision need to be a charedi one?

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    The fact that it is axiomatic for you that R Steinman and the Belzer Rebbe are right and that disagreeing with them and their policies is patronizing is part of the problem.

    etcetera

    This is not about disagreement. The only difference between MK Dov Lipman claiming the mantle of “savior” of the Torah world and implementing laws to bring about his vision of how to “save” it, and MK Shulamit Aloni or MK Achmed Tibi doing the exact same thing, is a difference of degree, certainly not of substance. Precisely 0 (zero) people have placed any of them in charge of the Charedi Torah world nor expressed any sort of confidence in their ability to “save” it. Hundreds of thousands have expressed confidence in the leadership of RAYLS and the Belzer Rebbe to that end.

    Regarding how much the knitted kippot need the Charedim, I know you think of a split only in terms of how it threatens or enhances your four ells as opposed to whether it is tragic, because you are one of those people who relishes the prospect as you write so eloquently in your comments.

    The problem is that, as a micro example, the knitted kippot are just now awakening to the beautiful idea of having Yeshivot Ketanot Leumiyot, an idea which will die on the vine should Lapid/Bennett come to pass. More urgently, R’ Avraham Brun, former chairman of the Union of the Hesder Yeshivot, recently opined that the Yeshivot Hesder owe not only their existence, but their *prospect of continued existence*, to the Charedi Torah world. Should the Hesder Yeshivot fall apart, which R’ Brun feels will happen if…, then the 20% dropout rate among knitted kippot who join the army will only rise.

    Don’t kid yourself. The knitted kippah Torah world as any sort of force is only just beginning to grow into itself, as evidenced by the great majority of Dati Leumi youth looking up to Yair Lapid as a role model more than to Rav Steinman, or MK Ayelet Shaked as a more worthy role model than Rebbetzin Kanyevski ob”m. (This is not conjecture, this is based on articles written by DL educators.) They have a long, long way to go.

    But, there’s always hope. MKs like R’ Yair Lapid (journalist), R’ Dov Lipman (community activist and writer of Points to Ponder for OU’s weekly Torah Tidbits), and R’ Ofer Shelach (sportswriter), all Shlit”a, might yet save them, should they feel they have better ideas than Rav Aviner and Rav Melamed on how to go about doing so, and legislate to that effect.

  • L. Oberstein

    The following story on the Jerusalem Post Web Site is very instructive.
    .

    The move is likely a ploy by the ultra-Orthodox party to pressure the Bayit Yehudi party and its leader Naftali Bennett into scaling back its rhetoric on the issue of haredi enlistment.
    A UTJ official told the Post that the party was considering supporting a raft of measures such as a settlement freeze, the evacuation of unauthorized settlement outposts and the reopening of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

    Such a move, he said, would allow the prime minister to form a coalition with left leaning parties including The Tzipi Livni Party and even Meretz, and leave Bayit Yehudi outside of the government.

    The UTJ official said that the preservation of military service exemptions for haredi yeshiva students was the single most important issue on the party’s agenda and that UTJ would be willing to compromise on other issues in order to maintain the status quo on haredi enlistment.

    “The haredi public thinks that Bennett has gone to war against them,” the UTJ official said. “We want to remind him that Netanyahu can build a coalition without Bayit Yehudi and remind the national religious community that Bennett ran a campaign on strengthening the national bloc and the settlements, not on forming agreements with Yesh Atid.”

  • Dovid

    The quote you brought from Jonathan Rosenblum was quite fascinating.

    “For our own mission of becoming a majority, we require a Torah vision of the future of a state now home to half the world’s Jews.”

    Perhaps what Rabbi Rosenblum meant to say when calling for a “Torah vision” was that he was calling for the articulation of such a vision from the haredi camp.

    Left unsaid by Rosenblum is that this is precisely what most differentiates Religious Zionist rabbinnic scholarship and that of the haredi world. (That is, the proactive search for how to apply Torah values and halacha to every aspect of social modernity and modern life.)

  • Raymond

    It is not at all my intention to approach this subject in any kind of disrespectful or heretical manner, so I hope that what I am about to say is not taken the wrong way. The way I look at it, is to draw an analogy with watching a movie or reading a novel. The more one fully engrosses oneself in either pursuit, the more they will gain from the experience. Suspension of disbelief is absolutely essential for such experiences.

    That is how I look at Torah study as well. Fortunate are those who already deeply believe in G-d’s Torah with ever fiber of their being, having no doubts whatsoever about its truths. However, I suspect that for many Jews, especially those not brought up strictly religious, that a healthy dose of skepticism is more likely to be the norm. But like watching those movies or reading those novels, the more one fully immerses oneself in Torah study, the more one is likely to gain from the experience. While engaging in Torah study, one needs to suspend their disbelief, at least temporarily accepting the Torah on the terms dictated by those who are its standard-bearers, namely Orthodox Jewish Rabbis. Indispensable to this process is to study the Torah with the most classic of the Torah commentators, such as Rashi, the Rambam, the Ramban, and so forth. This is as reasonable of an expectation as expecting an actor to fully immerse himself in whatever role he is playing, or learning the practice of yoga from a true yoga master.

    The consequence of this may often be exactly what any good behaviorist might have anticipated, namely that proper Torah study done not with perfect faith, may ultimately lead to the person embracing Torah Judaism to the best of his abilities and circumstances. And I have to say, that no matter how secular any given Jew both is and wishes to remain, that there is simply no excuse for ignorance. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs and doubts, it is incumbent on every Jew to engage in Torah study.

  • Shades of Gray

    “When R. Yisroel Salanter militated for the translation of the gemara into the vernacular so that it would be studied in local universities, did he not fear that in the hands of heretics Torah would do more harm than good?”

    R. Yisroel Salanter is also quoted as having wanted to actually try to build Batei Midrashim in Reform Temples(R. Berel Wein, “And Further Reconsiderations”): “From a purely tactical sense, we must admit that even the justified nineteenth-century bans issued against Reform have in no way seriously damaged the movement and the issuance of those bans probably further radicalized Reform. Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin of Salant said:

    “I would have not banned Reform. Rather, I would have attempted to build a study hall for Torah study in every Reform temple.”

    In any event, Reform’s failure in preserving itself – there are unfortunately very few descendants of nineteenth-century Reform Jews who are affiliated with any type of Judaism today – is mainly a product of its own doings and policies and is in no way related to the bans issued against it.”

    However, there is no R. Yisroel Salanter, and I understand Kikar Hashabbat editorial’s concern quoted in the Jerusalem Post regarding the political situation that “… Ruth Calderon are using our weapon – the Talmud, gemara and arbiters of Jewish law – against us and at the same time acting as a fig leaf”

    I also remember visting with an OU group a secular high school in Israel where the students acted out the Gemara of “Tanur shel Achani ” in the dining room of a public high school ; IIRC, this public school had some type of Talmud program, and they they were now learning with frum people, but the course it seemed to me, was less directed than other kiruv situations and on their own terms. I assume no one has any problems with this situation which is non-political.

  • Dovid

    As an addendum to what I wrote above, an example of a Godol from the Religious Zioinst camp who does think about what a Torah vision for modern-day Israel should look like is Rav Yakov Ariel, whose most recent work is haHalacha b’zmaneinu, written for popular audiences and which came out in a revised edition a few weeks ago. (Don’t bother looking for it in the US.)

    His teshuva seforim as well contain visionary essays on societal issues.

    As has been noted by others, it was a tragedy for Klal Yisroel that his nomination for Chief Rabbi was blocked by haredi power brokers who feared the prestige he would have brought to the Rabbanut.

  • Gershon Seif

    I’ve been reading the latest Klal Perspectives about the Teshuva movement in recent years. Many articles stated that due to the decline of the Conservative movement, many American Jews no longer have a personal Jewish identity. As a result of that, the amount of people becoming frum has dramatically declined.

    Think about that for a minute. Those people who were exposed to Gemara, Tanach and halacha in a manner that might make the Olam HaTorah cringe, were being primed to come close to those very cringers, because of that very learning! And yet now, with hindsight, we understand the value it had.

    Let Dr. Calderon continue to learn and all her neighbors and the whole Israel! Halevai! I have no doubt the outcome will be many more curious Jews who will grow in observance as well. Cringe if it makes you feel frummer. The leadership may feel obligated to voice strong words too, didn’t they do the same about the Conservative movement for the past 50 years? But perhaps we all know that this will bring more Jews back to shmiras Hamitzvos.

  • chardal

    >Precisely 0 (zero) people have placed any of them in charge of the Charedi Torah world nor expressed any sort of confidence in their ability to “save” it. Hundreds of thousands have expressed confidence in the leadership of RAYLS and the Belzer Rebbe to that end.

    He is not pretending to be an emissary of the chareidi torah world. He is trying to do what he feels is the right thing. He happens to also think that the right and ethical path of demanding that chareidim act as responsible citizens will save the Torah world from the inherent decadence that comes with being a community addicted to taking without giving.

    >Regarding how much the knitted kippot need the Charedim, I know you think of a split only in terms of how it threatens or enhances your four ells as opposed to whether it is tragic, because you are one of those people who relishes the prospect as you write so eloquently in your comments.

    It is tragic – for the chareidim. For the rest of the Jewish world, it is a new beginning.

    >The problem is that, as a micro example, the knitted kippot are just now awakening to the beautiful idea of having Yeshivot Ketanot Leumiyot, an idea which will die on the vine should Lapid/Bennett come to pass. More urgently, R’ Avraham Brun, former chairman of the Union of the Hesder Yeshivot, recently opined that the Yeshivot Hesder owe not only their existence, but their *prospect of continued existence*, to the Charedi Torah world. Should the Hesder Yeshivot fall apart, which R’ Brun feels will happen if…, then the 20% dropout rate among knitted kippot who join the army will only rise.

    Bringing some quotes from the more traditional wing of the RZ world will not prove a thing. The reason the RZ world got 12 seats instead of the 4 or 5 it has been getting for the past 25 years, is precisely BECAUSE it has stopped listening to those elements. It is the same as me pointing out to you that for the first time in Israel, the chareidi world is opening up yeshiva high schools (in order to stave off what the principal of one such school claims is the 30% dropout rate in the chareidi system). It is irrelevant. Hesder will continue with or without the chareidim. Without chareidi participation, it will probably have less lomdus-oriented learning and more academic-Torah style learning, but that is no curse. Most hesder yeshivot are not from the sub-camp you quote above and could care less if chareidim count them for a minian. Further, the vast majority of the RZ world does not go to the Hesder program. They go to highschool->mechina->army->university->work. We are as proud of such members as we are of the Hesder students and, unlike the chareidim, do not expect our kids to all end up learners. To make a kiddush haShem as a professional is equally wonderful. To not build up unnecessary walls between us and our secular brothers and sisters is also wonderful. Most of our community does not begin its thought process with the question of how to distinguish itself from the rest of the society but rather with how to make our shared society a better one. In this sense, it is much closer to pre-modern Jewish society than the chareidim are.

    >Dati Leumi youth looking up to Yair Lapid as a role model more than to Rav Steinman or MK Ayelet Shaked as a more worthy role model than Rebbetzin Kanyevski ob”m

    This I have not seen. But I am sure it can be said about some other non-religious person so I will answer it as if it is true. You need to understand that the lifestyle and the type of learning of the chareidi gedolim is not only foreign to the average RZ youth (and their parents – I am speaking for myself here) but often causes a visceral negative reaction. When I read about R’ Steinman crying because people expect the chareidim to also contribute to national defense, I because angry – this is not someone I want my kids to look up to. When I read about hafrashas challah parties and amen parties influenced by Rebbetzin Kanyevski, I am greatly troubled by what I consider to be a type of magical thinking that I am trying hard to teach my kids to avoid. When I read about R’ Kanyevski insist that Jews have a different number of teeth then gentiles, I turn red with embarrassment. I don’t want a part in such Torah nor do I want my kids to learn it. I could go on and on. For a more thorough critique of the chareidi approach to Torah and why it simply does not work for the RZ world, see R’ Shagar’s zt”l BeTorato YeHegeh. It advocated that the Hesder yeshivot abandon the traditional Lithuanian approaches for one that embraces academic methodologies.

    Further, I see nothing wrong with my kids looking up to non-religious Jews, as long as the achievements that they are inspired by are ones that I consider to be within the values I want to convey to them. If they appreciate Bialik for helping revive the Hebrew language, then I am happy. If they appreciate Begin for fighting for our land, then I am happy. I don’t want them turning anyone into an idol, Gadol or secular. I do want them to appreciate achievements and follow certain values – such as loyalty to their people, civil responsibility, appreciation of hard work – values that are often at odds with the chareidi world.

    What you seem to advocate is to continue forcing the vast majority of the country to support a chareidi lifestyle that does not benefit them in any way. That is wrong. What you seem to advocate is that everyone else should continue shouldering extra burdens while the chareidim continue to live safely under their physical and financial protection. That is wrong. What you are seeing is the direct result of the policies that the chareidim have been pursuing for them past 60 years. The time is up. If the current knesset does not do it, the next one will, until then, start coming up with a plan to make the chareidi community adapt, otherwise, the only tragedy to befall anyone will be internal to the chareidi world.

  • Shmuel F.

    B”H

    I’d need to hear opinions of gedolim like the Brisker Rav, ztl., or the Satmar Rebbe – Rabeinu Yoel, ztl, to provide an opinion of my own. Actually, they’ve already given theirs. But I am in no position to restate these. I would note that in Brisk they would not push a Yid to be mayor because it was held not to be what the Torah required in that situation. That situation would seem to apply to the State of Israel, as well.

  • newman

    seen online——-

    new Beit Medrash in the Knesset

    What do you think of this?

    MK Rabbi Shai Peron (Yesh Atid) and MK Dr. Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid), along with MKs Yoni Chetboun (HaBayit HaYehudi) and MK Elazar Stern (HaTnua), are planning on establishing a Beit Medrash program in the Knesset.

    The purpose of the program will be for MKs and Knesset employees to learn some Torah once a week, on Tuesdays, and to have discussions about Judaism.

    Every week a different MK will take a turn leading the discussion, teaching a talmudic topic.

    According to Kipa, the haredi parties have not yet decided whether to participate or not.

  • L. Oberstein

    The new Knesset,despite the new members and the one third who are observant may not be so different after all. I fear that Netanyahu is doing everything he can to preserve the status quo and not change the old politics. Lapid and Bennet have been holding out for real change and the political classs is content to divide up portfolios. No matter what they say in the campaign Netanyahu and Livni don’t really want to tackle “sharing the burden”. They will team up to exclude Lapid and keep things as they are. Yesh Atid reminds me of the Tea Party.They do’t want to play the political game of promising one thing and then forgetting it after the election. Netanyahu wants to show Lapid that he is getting too self assured and that he won’t help him become the next Prime Minister. My prediction is that the opposite can happen. If 80% of the voters want ‘shivyon banetel’ chagning the status quo of chareidi absence from sharing the burden of the state and the old politicians just give more of the same, Lapid can come back even stronger next time. I feel sorry for those very old rabbis who say they won’t contenence any change whatsoever. I remember similar statements by politicians in Alabama when I was growing up. Both sides need to realize that it must change.

  • confused

    Can someone please translate what Shmuel F.(February 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm) wrote? He seems to be talking in code.

  • Dovid

    To Confused:

    You asked what Shmuel F. was saying.

    I believe this is what he means:

    Jonathan Rosenblum said: “For our own mission of becoming a majority, we require a Torah vision of the future of a state now home to half the world’s Jews.”

    Shmuel F. was saying the opposite, that we do not require a vision.

    He is also saying that, given that the Brisker Rav and the Satmar Rav are no more, our perspective and agenda are to remain frozen in time, irrespective of there being new realities.

    This is because we do not know whether they would have changed their minds about anything and we do not have the authority to go against them ourselves.

    So, we must remain frozen in time, even as the world around us is changing.

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    MK Lipman is welcome to try to do what he thinks is right. To paraphrase, doesn’t he realize that when he is not counted for a minyan, they are trying to save him from himself? Sad, very sad, how he fails to realize it.

    You are also welcome to your prognostications on how things will work out. To paraphrase, don’t you realize that the Charedi Torah world is saving you from your path to historical-positivism, neo-Reform, non-observance and heresy? Sad, very sad, how you fail to realize it.

    Rubs you the wrong way, the above, doesn’t it? If not, more power to you. If yes, that was my first point. You can try to explain that it isn’t supremely arrogant and patronizing, but don’t pretend you’ve addressed it with a critique of Charedi society, an always reliable, if non-sequitur, feature of your comments.

    My second point was that Lapid/Bennett draconian legislation might yield Charedim not counting knitted kipot for a minyan, and my final point was that some people relish that possibility. You’ve agreed and have proven my point more convincingly than I ever could. Enjoy your new beginning.

    The rest is prognostication. Perhaps you are right, and things will work out best. But, too often, בנין נערים סתירה – the building of the youth is nothing but demolition. Having people like Rav Brim Shlit”a, Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Shiloh, along with an influential group of leaders from what you call “the conservative wing” of RZ, rue the day that they supported a Lapid-embracing party, does not seem to bode well.

  • no longer confused - now upset

    So the Brisker Rav and the Satmar Rav were the only ones worthy of guiding us about matters of the state of Israel? How did he figure that out? Did they tell him so? And now there is nobody to talk to? How did he figure that out? Did they come to him in a dream?

    The main point is that we are against the State, but how to be against it, well that’s just academic?

    If that is what he meant, he doesn’t really want to be part of this conversation. He just popped in to inform us that there are no living gedolim who can deal with this situation. I guess we all need to run away and hide, because we are doomed without hope or guidance. Scary world you must live in Shmuel F.

    Equally upsetting is that Shmuel F. is saying bnei Torah have no right to try to formulate any thoughts of significance about an important development that affects their lives without being told what to think.

  • Netanel Livni

    >MK Lipman is welcome to try to do what he thinks is right. To paraphrase, doesn’t he realize that when he is not counted for a minyan, they are trying to save him from himself?

    I am sure they think they are right. But they don’t live in the same world as I do if they think that this kind of sinas chinam will convince anyone of the correctness of their path. That kind of fanatacism is what has turned 90% of Am Yisrael to the Torah.

    >don’t you realize that the Charedi Torah world is saving you from your path to historical-positivism, neo-Reform, non-observance and heresy? Sad, very sad, how you fail to realize it.

    They are not “saving” me from historical-positivism. I already accept it, as does every student of history who loves truth. For you it is a bad word, because of your system is threatened by it. Mine is not.

    They are not saving me from neo-Reform. Everyone in the RZ world accepts the halachic system. They might not accept a system that is as occified as the the chareidi one (what R’ Eliezer Berkovitch, zt”l called the karraism of the Oral Torah), but we do submit ourselves to its rules in a manner which is more mimetic, less textual, and probably more traditional then the chareidi system.

    They are not saving me from non-observance. I am observant and so are all members of the RZ world. And as for areas that all agree could use chizuk, I doubt being excluded from a minian will convince anyone to grow.

    They are not saving me from heresy. At least not from what I consider heresy. The parameters of Emunah SHOULD be arrived at throught the study of the classic books of machshava. Emunot veDeot, Moreh Nevuchim, Ralbag’s Milchemot Hashem, Kuzari, and all the other great works of machshava that have been written since. All areas of Torah that the chareidi world is terribly weak and/or outright revisionist about. What most of the Israel chareidi world usualy means when they pull the kfira card is that a person is saying/doing things that don’t conform to chareidi society. Rarely can these positions be supported from the classic books of machshava. Of course, much of what is written in such classic books would be considered heresy by many in the chareidi world.

    >Rubs you the wrong way, the above, doesn’t it?

    It invokes in me more pity than consternation. To see someone so arrogant that they think that they have all the truth, everything to give and nothing to receive from “the other” is always sad. The chareidi world is not capable of getting mussar from the outside, part of their sociological DNA is that they have the oracles to truth and everyone to the left of them is arrogant, neferious, or just plain stupid.

    >My second point was that Lapid/Bennett draconian legislation might yield Charedim not counting knitted kipot for a minyan, and my final point was that some people relish that possibility.

    I would rather the chareidi world do teshuva, but that is indeed a far off possibility.

    >But, too often, בנין נערים סתירה – the building of the youth is nothing but demolition.

    And sometimes some סתירה is necessary in order to build something new. The current structure does not work for anyone who is not chareidi. And it is time for a change.

  • Shmuel F.

    B”H

    It was a terrible tragedy for mankind when Chava relied upon the representation
    of the Nachash. Korach was also a ben Torah – at least until kovod got the best of him.

  • was upset - now disgusted

    Shmuel F., If I catch your drift you are saying that any Torah leader who is not in tandem with the anti-Israel position of the Brisker Rav and the Satmar Rav, is the equivalent of the Nachash and Korach.

    Your comment doesn’t deserve a response, even though you are so frum as to put B”H at the top of each of your posts.

  • Ahron

    The deployment of the word “draconian” seems non-sequitur and incendiary in this discussion. Many modern countries have compulsory universal conscription. The IDF draft isn’t “draconian” vis-a-vis the tens of thousands of Israelis it touches every year. Would it be different for charedi Israelis? Why?

    IMO there’s dubious value in rapidly imposing a draft obligation upon a subculture that’s never faced it and claims to not want it. And it has nothing to do with old Draco, but rather the issue of social comity and respect.

    Instead of trying to control what others (eg. charedim) do, the Knesset also has the option of controlling only what it does: continuing or ceasing the special provision of cash to charedi institutions. Charedim then have their own freedom to choose how to address their socioeconomic realities; just like every other citizen of the realm.

    People champing to ‘press’ charedim into immediate ‘service’ may be disappointed — respecting others’ freedom of choice doesn’t comport well with moral crusades. But it seems like a gentler path to allowing a heretofore coddled subculture to organically determine its own future(s), perhaps through the same trial and error available to everyone else.

  • L. Oberstein

    This is another example of intelligent discussion.Despite the occasional digs and denigration of the other side’s arguments,most people express valid arguments. Few of the people who believe that Daas Torah is somehow normative in Jewish History, when it is a recent invention, even listen to the other side. Numeous people have told me in all sincerity that having this discussion is wrong.We turn to the Gedolim, follow their ruling ,end of story. No matter what arguments we may bring, their mind is not open to another way of thinking. Such certainty gives one security.
    One of my sons pointed out that many of those who mouth this Daas Torah hashkofoh don’t really follow it in real life,they say it and even dress that way but in reality live lives that are not scripted by the Gedolim. We all need the advise and guidance of wise people, but to ascribe infallibility to them is taking it too far, and,in reality, we don’t in real life. Part of the problem is that Daas Torah has been concentrated into too few people. Someone like Rav Dovid Cohen is ignored because someone in Israel went to Rav Elyashiv zatzal.Rav Heinemann has been overuled on Shabbos ovens,etc. and was forbidden to present his side to Rav Elyashiv. He told me this himself. No longer is the local great person an authority, now it all is concentrated into a few hands and these very,very old people supposedly can and should decide everything. I feel sorry for the Gedolim who bear so much reponsibility. Maybe if the rabbonim in each community had some autonomy, we could have many points of view.

  • Shmuel F.

    B”H

    If anyone’s ever learned Mesechta Mikvaos, or a related Gemara in Makkos, we learn that if a certain amount of drawn water (mayim sheuvin), ie. gimmel lugin, falls into a mikvah which contains less than the DeRabbonim amount required for valid tevilah, ie. 40 se’ah, then the mikvah is posul (invalid) and has to be emptied out until less than gimmel lugin remains. The gedolim of the previous dor, whom were following the Torah from the gedolim of the generation before theirs, whom were likewise following the Torah from the earlier generation’s gedolim, held that the “State of Israel” was issur – period. They had no choice but to try to be mechazek the Yidden throughout the State’s creation and continued existence because they had no choice – because the irreligious were manipulating the masses, included amoung them certain religious or fringe-religious groups, into believing that all would be well with a new Jewish State. It was issur from the beginning, and all that’s happened since then was adding to something that was already issur -similar to allowing 100,000 se’ah of rainwater to settle in a mikvah that was already ruled to be posul because of gimmel lugin before it contained 40 se’ah of valid mikvah water. So now they want to try to deceive public opinion further by virtue of an increase in the percentage of religious politicians to try to kasher the forbidden. Really, my objection in an earlier comment was due to someone having declared with certainty what I had implied and then having someone else assume that first individual was correct. I’m not knowledgable in suggesting a cure to the problem; but I don’t see there is focus on what the problem is and that’s where I have jumped in. If a person doesn’t find out where s/he went wrong, then they will not be able to correct themselves. How much more so a nation of which it is said, “those whom bless you will be blessed…. .”

  • Yudit

    “She not only believes in HKBH, she ended her speech with a tefilah to Him.”
    I really wonder. This is what’s called a very low level of belief and quite possibly one that Rambam would call apikorsos/minus, where she says yes, God exists but NO, He can’t tell me what to do and i’m not scared of the consequences…
    I wonder – who’s bigger in her eyes, God or her? Does she even care? All i’m getting is that she likes learning, it makes her feel good, but nothing about it making her act good, which is what Torah is all about. She may believe that God exists, but she’s not serving Him – she’s serving herself.
    I really hope Torah will bring her closer to Hashem, but on His terms, not on hers.

  • Otniel

    I wonder if anyone ever made a calculation about VAT and state benefits. What i’m getting at, of course, is whether chareidim do actually take more from the gvt than they pay in taxes. After all, many of the services gvt offers (university, public schooling, culture stuff etc.) is not directed toward them at all. What i do know is that the little the gvt gives is not enough to live off. Majority of chareidi women work and most men work, too, by late 20s or early 30s. Low standard of living relative to rest of society. Surely readers know this already. So why are we takers? Do you not get child benefit? Is it the 1000odd shekels per month given to families where the father learns really the game changer?
    Our schools who don’t learn the core curriculum are either partially or not at all gvt funded, so that what we pay/month on chinuch expenses can be up to around 40% income. It’s still not enough to run schools on so the shortfall is made up by overseas fundraising.
    But usually the facts don’t make any difference to people who want to see us as parasites. Isn’t it weird that a sector so demonized as self-serving and greedy is living in such poverty? I guess people just think chareidim are really dumb…

  • Keren

    Today i took a walk in Gan Havradim, wondering if soon the day will come when the secular will point a finger and say, “What chutzpah! WE built that garden and here this hareidi comes and takes a walk here? Raus!”
    The irony is that my family was here generations before the Tzionim got here. The Old Yishuv significantly predates the New, but suddenly we found ourselves cast as strangers in our own land. Something like what the Arabs say, and it’s no coincidence that we tried to make something of a common cause in order to continue living here in peace without anti-religious coercion.
    But, we didn’t stoop to the levels the Zionists took, and De Haan was assassinated. We weren’t about to kill our fellow Jews even to preserve our way of life, and so they took over and began their efforts to destroy us, which continue to this day.
    Suddenly, there are new rulers in the land, and it’s not enough that they stole our freedom to live as we once did, now they also want to coopt us into their army to preserve the state they imposed on us. The Arabs won’t do it, and we don’t want to, either.
    We didn’t ask for this state and we don’t want it. If you really mean to say that if we don’t like it, we should just leave, then really, truly – is that what you think? Just because you were superior militarily, the Old Yishuv is no longer entitled to live here the way they always did?
    And if you mean to say that we shouldn’t benefit from the state, then okay, we will disconnect, which of course means that no more paying VAT to the state – and how are we supposed to do that? Of course disconnect is impossible, but why are we to be villified because of it?
    There really is no easy way out of this. Hatred is certainly not going to make things easier.