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Another Moderate Haredi Speaks Out

“I have daughters to marry off and the husbands they want to marry will not accept daughters of someone who is working!”
Rabbi Berel Wein

Rabbi Berel Wein

A middle-aged person recently came to see me before embarking on a trip to the United States to raise money to pay for his crushing debts accumulated over the years that he has not worked. The irony is that he graduated university and is a qualified engineer and is easily employable. So when I asked him why he doesn’t go to work instead of undergoing the humiliation of canvassing door to door in the American winter for a month to receive charity, much of it given begrudgingly, I sighed deeply at his answer: “I have daughters to marry off and the husbands they want to marry will not accept daughters of someone who is working!”

This little anecdote by Rabbi Berel Wein says it all, doesn’t it? As does his entire article. In fact I could have written it exactly the way he did. His understanding of the reality in the world of the right is exactly the same as mine. And he identifies himself as a Charedi Jew of a Lithuanian origin!

His point being that of the comic strip character Pogo whose most famous line is, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us!’ Here is What Rabbi Wein says along these lines:

Somehow we have forgotten that idleness, poverty and a persecution complex all are, in the long run, self-destructive conditions. These were the conditions that secularized much of Ashkenazic Jewry over the past three centuries. Eventually a system built on declining governmental welfare allotments and unending charity from others – a system decried by Maimonides and other great rabbinic sages and religious leaders throughout the ages – is a Ponzi scheme that inexorably will collapse of its own weight.

And we are ill served by religious political leaders and the handlers of old and revered great Torah scholars who, for purposes I have never really understood, oppose any change of the current miserable status quo. And, there is never any plan advanced to help rescue their adherents from the deepening abyss of poverty and personal despair.

Oh how true this is. This is precisely what a courageous hero like MK Rabbi Dov Lipman is trying to change. And for his efforts he has been disparaged by just about anyone who sees the rabbinic leadership in Israel as unassailable in their approach to these problems. Even the two feuding Charedi sides on how to handle these issues in Israel agree that any change should be fought. The only difference between them is what the approach should be.

That the right wing American rabbinic leadership has only spoken up to endorse that position when many of them have educational values similar to those of Rabbi Lipman shows just how fearful they are of speaking their mind. They would rather endorse the values they themselves do not necessarily have and walk in lockstep with Israel’s rabbinic leadership.The explanation for this is that what’s good for American Charedim is not necessarily what’s good for Israeli Charedim

I’m sorry but with all due respect to those who say this… that is the biggest cop-out I can imagine when seen in the face of the crushing poverty Israeli Charedim face.

Rabbinic leaders in Israel refuse to acknowledge that there is a valid remedy to their poverty problem: A clear statement that Kollel is not for everyone and that there needs to be preparation for the workplace starting in elementary school and continuing all the way through high school and beyond. At the very least, that means having a core curriculum. One that is similar to what most American rabbinic leaders support in America. The refusal to acknowledge this is the kind of thing that perpetuates the problem.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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13 Responses to “Another Moderate Haredi Speaks Out”

  1. Rabbi Wein is not "haredi".

  2. Rabbi Wein is not “haredi”.

  3. Alan Ash says:

    Where is the daas Torah on this that the robonim can pasken that their people be ignorant and not
    Contribute to society and even a burden to society , shame on them .

  4. Ben II says:

    It’s time for them to come out of the 19th century. People are allowed to work.

  5. Myriam Obadia says:

    So how can Haredi men actually practice the Mitzvah of Keeping the Shabbat holy, if they don't work the rest of the week? Jews are supposed to rest from work on Shabbat (not just abstain from handling money and flipping electric switches). If there is no work done the 6 other days, then the Shabbat is devalued and not set aside. When studying Torah and praying are the only activities performed all 7 days, there is no longer a difference between the days.

  6. Myriam Obadia says:

    Moshe, how do you know whether Rabbi Wein fears Hashem or not? Isn't that supposed to be the true meaning of Haredi? Or has the meaning changed to Jew dressed in the 17th century Lithuanian fashion?

  7. @Myriam Obadia: "Or has the meaning changed to Jew dressed in the 17th century Lithuanian fashion?"

    Yes, it has.

  8. Why don't you think he's haredi? How would you define haredi? Not hasidic, but haredi. I would say he is.

  9. @Laura: His views are in clear and direct contradiction to those of the hareidi political parties (UTJ and Shas) — as his article cited here clearly demonstrates.

  10. he may not be politically haredi – or aligned with the haredi political parties in Israel – but he is certainly religiously haredi.

  11. THE LIBERAL RABBIS ARE TRYING EVERYTHING TO SILENCE ME. PLEASE MAKE CERTAIN THIS IS SEEN EVERYWHERE. I WAS KICKED OFF THE CONSERVATIVE RABBIS LIST SERV. FOR ATTACKING OBAMA AND RABBIS FOR OBAMA WHO HELPED PUT HIM IN OFFFICE. THIS MUST GO VIRAL. RABBI ROSENBERG

    —–

    On Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:28 PM, <chaimdov@aol.com> wrote:

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg SAYS President Obama You Have Some Nerve. ISRAEL Will Not LISTEN To You : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig8c795KymA#t=63

    Trying to speak to Roosevelt behind closed doors didn't help the Jews of Europe, 6,000,000 Jews were slaughtered, murdered, burned, vanished!

    Speak Up!

    לנסות לדבר עם רוזוולט בדלתיים סגורים לא עזר ליהודי אירופה, 6,000,000 יהודים נטבחו, נרצחו, נשרפו, נעלמו!

    דברו בקול רם!

  12. Ch Hoffman says:

    the problem with "work" is like the problem with "America" in the 1890-1920 and "Palestine" in 1918-1939. If there is any competing influence on the young man (with or without family) life, the leaders of the Haredi camp are afraid that their own control will be compromised.

    It's called dictatorial exclusivity; and it works until those who are its victims recognize that their lives are the ones that are being ruined.

  13. Anonymous says:

    End of the day; some should be learning full time and some should be working- it depends on the desire of the student. We need a certain say 10% full time learners to develop the future rabbis and poskim who will guide us. It takes 15-20 years of full time learning to develop the giants that can lead us only a few of many will achieve it. that is we need many to enter into the system to get there. Each one must make his personal decision for him and his family. Right now the number of learners is growing and way less than 10% so its not off balance. We would not have any problem if people gave their 10% to the learners in Israel.
    Each learner influences many others to return to Torah. This is all good. Of course we don't like that they are poor- we need to support them. Why do we justify the $500,000 in taxes thats needed to produce every surgeon and we don't justify the need to finance learners. In short we need these learners.

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