The folly of blind faith in what rabbinic leaders say is that it can lead you deny clear facts and your own sense of logic. The response in opposition to current events by most Charedim is therefore irrational. As long as they see it through the rabbinic Charedi eyes… all is fair. You are fighting for Torah!
Israeli MK, Rabbi Dov Lipman has thus been vilified. How, they ask, can a Frum Jew join a party that is anti-Religious and out to destroy the Torah world as we know it? How can he join a party that – for example -supports gay marriage which is expressly forbidden by the Torah? It must be because of self aggrandizement. He has sold out to the devil just so he could be in the Knesset.
What about his Charedi credentials like his attendance at Ner Israel, his Semicha from Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, his publications on Torah subjects published by Charedi publisher Feldheim, his attendance post high year in Israel, at Merkaz HaTorah - a Charedi Yeshiva, his years spent in Kollel, and the simple fact that he self identifies as Charedi?
None of this matters. He sold out. What he was in the past is no different than what Elisha Ben Avyuah was in the past. He is now a Rasha out to destroy Torah via his joining the ‘anti Charedi’ political party Yesh Atid. A party that supports drafting students into the army, supports reducing government stipends to large families, and insisting that Charedi elementary and high schools have a core curriculum in order to receive government funding. So they take statements he has made out of context or in exaggeration to make a point – just to prove how anti Charedi he is.
One may ask, how can it be that every single Charedi Rav characterizes Rabbi Lipman this way? Do they really believe he is that evil? Can they all be so naive? The answer to that question is somewhat complex. But let me try.
I think there are two things going on here. One is that the rabbinic leadership sees any change at all as impermissible since it is a Shas HaShmad. So even if they might otherwise make some concessions along these lines (and I’m not saying they necessarily would) they see even the slightest change in that context. The Halacha is well known. There are 3 Mitzvos that one is required to sacrifice his life for: idol worship, murder, and biblical level adultery. But when a government is trying to eradicate Judaism (Shas HaShmad), one is not allowed to violate even the simplest Mitzvah and must give up his life. They have repeatedly been saying this is a Shas Shmad. So they will not allow even one Yeshiva Bachur to serve in the army!
Secondly, the fact that they believe it so strongly prevents them from listening to any argument against it. When anyone tries, they will quickly retort, that it’s all an excuse. All the government wants to do is to destroy Torah Judaism. I am thoroughly convinced that they are mistaken. Historically that may have been true in places like Czarist Russia. When the Czar tried to introduce secular studies into Russian Yeshivos so as to better educate its Jewish citizens – it was widely understood that there was an ulterior motive was to completely assimilate Russian Jewry out of their Judaism.
Charedi rabbinic leaders see the same thing now in Israel. And they point to phrases like ‘integrating Charedim into society’ as proof that these Reshaim want Charedim to assimilate out of Judaism – when the truth is that all they want is to assimilate Charedim into society without disabusing them of their Charedi values. All explanations by the government are seen as lies. I am virtually certain that this is their mindset. But the facts dispute them. This applies to virtually everything they are fighting now – even though they refuse to see it.
Rabbi Dov Lipman has published an article in the Jewish Press that blows up the myth about one of their issues, the draft (emphasis mine):
The law says nothing about haredim going to jail. It says the army has specific goals for how many haredim will serve. As long as those goals are met, there is no mandatory draft of anyone who is in yeshiva. The law actually begins by doing the opposite of drafting yeshiva boys; it says that anyone who is over 22 when the law is passed will be completely exempt from any service. This frees them to enter the work force or continue learning.
The law then sets out its goals. Among those 24 and under, the goal is for 3,200 haredim to begin service between now and July 2014. Two thousand would serve in the army and 1,200 in national service. Army service can be done in Nachal Chareidi, an exclusively haredi unit with minyanim and time for learning, or in Shachar Kachol, which teaches its participants trades like computer and electric engineering which they can then use for a livelihood after their service.
The national service includes a variety of options – some are security-oriented (police, etc.) and some involve civil service in medical and other areas of need. Service is for two years. If we analyze the tens of thousands who are currently in yeshiva learning, there are most certainly 3,200 who are not learning day and night, and all the roshei yeshiva have said that anyone not learning day and night should serve in the army.
Between July 2014 and July 2015 another 3,800 would begin service – 2,300 in the army and 1,500 in national service. The final goal is to have 5,200 begin service by 2017 – 3,000 in the army and 2,200 in national service.
Considering the fact that every year around 7,500 haredim reach the age of 18 and that many roshei yeshiva have said that 50 to 60 percent of the boys in yeshiva should not be there long term, these goals are very reasonable and preserve the value of Torah study for those who are truly cut out to do so day and night. According to this plan, 35,500 would continue learning day and night while 17,000 would the country for two years in a framework geared to haredi young men – 10,000 in the army and approximately 7,000 in national service.
I have to ask, ‘Why does the rabbinic leadership say this is Shas HaShmad?’ No one is being forced to violate a single Halacha… or even a Chumra for that matter.
And why do they continue to vilify Rabbi Lipman? In fact they shoudn’t even be vilifying Yesh Atid. Their insistence that Yesh Atid is anti Charedi has yet to be proven. And yet it is an article of faith with them.
What bothers me the most is that none of this matters to Israeli rabbinic leaders and their followers. The Rabbonim have spoken. Rabbi Lipman is a Rasha. Don’t believe a word he says. End of conversation! Whatever happened to rational thought and seeing the facts for what they are instead of seeing them through the colored eyes of other people?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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