Why, then, do we complain when the secular feel, and say so with an increasing volume, that we are parasites, living off of their efforts?
7. We chose (for educational considerations?) not to educate our children to show gratitude to the soldiers who risked their lives and were killed or injured for our sake, too. So we do not mention them in any way by any special day or prayer or special Mishna learning that’s dedicated to their memory. Moreover, not a single Mashgiach or Rosh Yeshiva ever talks about it in a Mussar Schmooze, and you’ll find no mention of it in the Haredi press.
Why, then, are we surprised that the secular feel that we are ungrateful and despicable, and that the reason for our not enlisting is simply because we are parasites, living off the sacrifices of others in society?
8. When extremist, delusional groups behave in ways that besmirch the name of God—e.g. the spitting in Beit Shemesh, dancing during the memorial siren, burning the national flag—our rabbis chose not to condemn them, clearly and consistently ( except for a few faint statements here and there). Why, then, are we explaining away the fact that the secular believe we all support those terrible acts? Why do we insist that their hostility stems from their hatred of the scholars?
9. We’ve opted to allow our public officials and pundits to curse out all the secular all the time. Why, then, when the secular media treat us the same way, are we offended and cry out that they’re persecuting us?
10. The Haredi press will never offer any praise of or express support for secular Israelis who perform good deeds. Why, then, do we jump up and down when we are rewarded equally? And, in fact, while Haredi spokespersons rarely point anything positive about secular society, the secular media often gives positive coverage to Haredi organizations like Yad Sara, Hatzala, Zaka, etc.
11. We would not agree, under any condition, that secular Israelis turn up in our schools to teach our children heresy, and we would have kept them from putting up stands with books of heresy in our areas. Why, then, do we not understand when the secular do not agree that we seduce her children into denying their parents’ heresy?
12. We do not agree—in my view, rightfully so—that secular people move into Haredi neighborhoods. So where do we get the arrogance and audacity to call anti-Semites those secular who don’t agree that Haredim move near their homes, in secular neighborhoods?
In my view, this is the strongest and most introspective comment on Haredi interaction with the state I’ve read. The pundit Menachem Rahat, who mentioned Rabbi Bloch’s writing in this Shabbat’s Matzav Haruach magazine, also cites a rarely discussed ruling of Maimonides, Hayad Hachazakah, Hilchot Talomud Tora, 3:10:
Anyone who decides to be engaged in Torah study and not work, and instead to be supported by charity – this person desecrates God’s name (Chillel et Hashem), degrades the Torah, extinguishes the light of our faith, brings evil upon himself and forfeits life in the world to come; since it is forbidden to derive benefit from the words of Torah in this world. The Rabbis said (Avot 4:5): Anyone who derives benefit from the words of Torah in this world, forfeits his life in the world to come. They further commanded and said: (Avot 4:5) Do not make the words of Torah a crown to increase your own importance, or an axe with which to chop. They further commanded, saying: (Avot 1:10) Love work and despise positions of power (Rabbanut). And: (Avot 2:2) Any Torah which is not accompanied by work will eventually be nullified and will lead to sin. Ultimately, such a person will end up stealing from others.
Are Haredi politicians, public figures and spiritual leaders familiar with this Rambam? Well, people often quote the Chazon Ish who, reportedly, said that after the Holocaust, there should be two generations in which Haredi society devote itself entirely to a resurrection both in demographic and institutional terms. Well, if we count a generation as 30 years, we are well into the third generation of free Jews in the land of Israel, with stunning growth on both desired counts. Is it time for Haredi society to come out for air?
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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