web analytics
September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘army service’

Lapid’s Marie Antoinette-Style Budget

Monday, May 13th, 2013

There isn’t much  good I can say about our new finance minister’s budget, except that Yair Lapid has a lot of guts.  There’s hardly anyone, especially among those who voted for him, who likes and agrees with Lapid’s first budget.  I agree with the detractors here.  This budget makes no sense to me.

In terms of the cuts in the military, it’s outrageous, ridiculous and dangerous.   On one hand Lapid and the Israeli government still say that they want to draft pretty  much all the Haredi men, claiming the army needs them, but if the military budget is reduced, there won’t be money for that.  And that’s one of the simpler points to ponder.

With a vote in the full cabinet expected Monday on Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s budget proposal for 2013- 2014, the security cabinet met throughout the day Sunday and into the night to parse out NIS 4 billion in proposed cuts to defense spending.

I agree with Professor Ron Breiman that reducing army service will only endanger us:

Only once before in Israeli history has a similar measure been taken, and only two draft classes were able to enjoy it. I’m talking about those who were drafted in August and November of 1964 and served only two years and two months. Not long after, the quiet along Israel’s borders, since 1956, was broken and the winds of war began to blow from Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The result was the Six-Day War in 1967.
In the years following the Six-Day War — the years of the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, the First Lebanon War — it was clear to everyone that there was no choice but to maintain the three-year mandatory service policy. Only in the 1990s , when the bells of “peace” rang in “the new Middle East” did country’s leaders think again about shortening military service. This time, however, the easing of the security burden was directed at the reserve army, not towards changing the three-year mandatory service policy. The reserve service cut-off was lowered to 40 years of age, the need to receive a permit for travelling abroad was cancelled, and more.

It will make a much less professional and competent IDF.

I call it a Marie Antionette budget, because it harms the poor more than the rich.  In a rare instance, I agree with Labor’s  Shelly Yacimovich.

According to her figures, after factoring in tax changes, price increases, National Insurance Institute child allotments and so forth, the bottom 10 percent of Israelis would lose a whopping 25.1% of their income while the richest decile would only lose 2.2%. The majority of the changes stemmed from proposed reductions in child allotments. “A picture arises of a heavy burden from difficult, regressive, non-egalitarian cuts that clearly hurt the poor and middle classes, primarily, and hardly touch the rich,” Yacimovich said.

I work in one of those minimum wage jobs, and none of us have any “fat” to trim from our budgets.  So, big deal if the wealthier will take fewer trips abroad or keep their cars a year or two longer.  For many of us those sorts of luxuries are just dreams.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Changing the Paradigm of the Haredi Jew

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I have just read Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz’s article defending the Haredi way of life as the quintessential way for a Jew to live …and criticizing those who believe that Judaism is not a “one size fits all’ religion. He is entitled to his opinion. And I am entitled to believe he is wrong. I don’t know how many times I have written about why I think so. Probably too many to count. So I am not going to do it here.
What I will say is that it isn’t just that he disagrees. It is the condescending way in which he does it. It is beyond his understanding that a Rabbi Dov Lipman who self identifies as Haredi can say the things he did, things which contradict the Haredi narrative.

Rabbi Lipschutz does a nice job explaining what he believes Haredism is about. It is about

“basking in the glow of Abaye and Rava, Rashi and Tosafos, the Rambam, the Ramban and the Rashba, the Ketzos and the Nesivos, Rav Chaim and Rav Aharon, as well as the giants of our day.”

OK. I understand that. Limud HaTorah in his world is exactly that: the joy of studying the minutia of the Talmud and all of its commentaries. It is about trying to understand its subtleties and absorbing its entire corpus and discussion of biblical and rabbinic law – which is the source of Jewish law as we practice it today. To use a phrase the Yeshiva world uses – it is about the geshmak of learning Torah.

In the course of extolling the virtues of the Haredi way of life that he cherishes – he attacks those who veer even slightly form that narrative. Only this time it is not the secular or Dati Leumi crowd. It is Rabbi Dov Lipman who has himself imbibed in the “Geshmak of Torah.” He has “basked in the glow” of all those great historic religious figures. As a self-defined Haredi he has never really left it.

I’m sure he still agrees that if one is capable, has the love and commitment to it, he should do exactly that: continue basking in it. Those who have this kind of dedication and discipline are the rabbinic leaders of the future. No matter what hashkafa one has, there is no question that Torah knowledge is paramount to rabbinic leadership.

Unfortunately Rabbi Lipschutz does not understand that. He sees Rabbi Lipman as some sort of sellout. Why? Well for one thing because he dares to praise as heroes those who are kovieh itim (set times) and learn Torah whenever they can – but spend most of their time supporting their families.

Rabbi Lipschutz obviously sees them as second-class citizens. They no longer bask in the glow of a R. Akiva Eiger for example. They must suffice with learning daf yomi (a page daily) on a train on their way to work. It’s not that Rabbi Lipschutz criticizes them. Its that he criticizes Rabbi Lipman for praising them as the true heroes.

They are true heroes. They are moser nefesh for limud HaTorah and do so even though they spend a full day working to support their families. Either by waking up early and learning in a shiur or with a havrusa before shachrit, learning late at night, or on their way to work on a train. Are these people any less valuable than an Avreich who spends the entire day learning – leaving support for his family to others (e.g. his wife, parents, in-laws, or the Israeli taxpayer)?

R. Lipschutz is critical of the philosophy that values equity in army service, claiming that for the first time, the status quo agreement reached with Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion exempting Yeshiva students will be broken. He is critical of Rabbi Lipman for joining in the political party that advocates that. And he is even critical of Orthodox Jews who have welcomed him into their synagogues to hear his views.

None are as blind as those who will not see. Rabbi Lipshitz is guilty of willful blindness. The kind that refuses to see or understand that no one in Israel wants to destroy the Haredi way of life (except for some on the fringes of the left). Least of all Rabbi Lipman. He actually wants to save it by creating a way for Haredim to be more self sufficient and do their fair share.

Army service is about sharing the burden. It is also about mainstreaming Haredim into the workplace so that they can earn a livable wage and support their families. It is not about destroying a way of life… unless we are talking a way of life that is rapidly descending into a poverty in ways that they will not be able to overcome.

When Politicians Take Emotional Positions

Monday, March 4th, 2013

I don’t see how any coalition that forms at this point could possibly survive.

During the election campaign, Likud and Shas acted horribly towards HaBayit HaYehudi and Naftali Bennett, and things didn’t improve afterwards either. And besides the Bennett and Lapid pact, no one trusts one another at all.

And if you listen to the politicians, you can really feel that palpable hatred and mistrust, especially coming from certain Haredi politicians.

There are Haredi politicians who are going so far as openly threatening to help destroy settlements just to get even (which in their anger and hatred, they forget includes ten of thousands of Haredim also living in settlements).

What’s even more absurd is that much of the Haredi street no longer agrees with their political leaders.

Yes, there is that hard-core that would definitely sit in jail for years, rather than go to the army, get a job, and support their families, but much of the Haredi world is opening up to the idea that there is no shame in working for a living while still learning Torah.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with a Haredi soldier currently in the Shachar (Air Force) program.

He told me the program wasn’t exactly like they described in brochure (so to speak). There were and are a lot of problems that needed fixing in order for the environment be more kosher for Haredim and he’s not happy with the job he got stuck with. But on the other hand, in another year or so he’s free to do what he wants, whether it will be to get a job, or sit in yeshiva and learn forever.

What was interesting, is that nearly all the other Hareidim in the room had also done army service to one degree or another, and all were working, and all had Havrusahs. In fact, there was a siyum masechet going on at the time for one them, and this week, another will be doing his siyum.

So despite serving in the army, and despite working for a living, these Haredim were still voluntarily learning and living a completely Haredi lifestyle.

Are there problems with the army programs for Haredim? You bet there are. But the biggest problem is that there aren’t enough Haredim in the army to make a difference and fix it.

How can you really expect a non-religious soldier to create a totally kosher environment when he hasn’t the faintest clue what that even means? If there were more Haredim in the army, they would be able to ensure that the environment met their needs, because they actually understand what those needs are.

You can’t force a society to change overnight. You can’t throw an entire sector in jail (they tried that during the Disengagement, and it doesn’t work).

But the reality is that most Haredim want to join Israeli society and share in the national burden, but Israeli society must also be prepared for the changes that will be demanded of it too for that to happen, and for that to work. And I don’t think Israeli society is ready for that either.

But those changes will be good for everyone. But they need to be introduced at the right pace.

But going back to the politicians, if we take them all at their word, I don’t see how this coalition will not evolve into everyone doing their best to hurt one another until the collapse, and that eventually includes even Lapid and Bennett.

Israeli society may be healing and working to repair the rifts, but the politicians? At this point I’m having trouble seeing that happen.

Israel might need to roll the proverbial dice again and go for new elections, because this atmosphere is simply too poisoned.

Visit The Muqata.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/when-politicians-take-emotional-positions/2013/03/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: