These are the facts. Now for my opinion: If the haredi community would simply say, “Yes, we will send all boys who are not learning day and night to serve,” there would be no battle or tension.
But the haredi political leaders are not doing this. Twenty-five percent of boys leaving yeshiva translates into less money for those yeshivas. The law would also allow more bnei Torah to enter the work force and earn a living, which means fewer young men would require government handouts – the justification for the very existence of these political parties. They don’t want to lose this. Therefore they prefer to mislead the public and do battle. They prefer to fight the most generous offer they will ever see from the secular side and to tell their young men to not serve, thereby forcing the country into a corner and placing over their heads the threat of potential arrest in 2017.
The hallmark of the Jewish people has always been emes. It’s a tragedy that for selfish interests political leaders and activists are not telling the truth – and doing so as if it is in the name of Torah.
I hope this column lifts the veil of sheker that has settled over this sensitive issue. American donors to Israeli yeshivas should demand that those yeshivas send the boys who are not learning day and night to the army. Doing so would not only fulfill the instructions of Torah leaders and spare them the indignity of wasting their time, it will keep you from wasting your well-earned and well-intentioned donation money.
Demand transparency. Insist on truth. Nothing else should be expected of those who claim to represent the epitome of truth – our Torah.
About the Author: Rabbi Dov Lipman is a member of the 19th Knesset with the Yesh Atid party. He has rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and a Masters in education from Johns Hopkins University.
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