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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘draft’

National-Religious Rabbis to Participate in Haredi Anti-Draft Rally

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Some big name rabbis in the National-Religious (Dati-Leumi) community plan to participate in the Haredi anti-draft rally on Sunday, to show their solidarity with the Haredim.

Among these rabbis are Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Rav Shlomo Aviner and Rav Yaakov Shapira.

The Haredim are protesting the Shaked Committee Bill, which will require that Haredim begin serving in the IDF and criminalizes draft dodging. MK Ayelet Shaked is member of the National Religious Jewish Home Party.

The position these Dati-Leumi rabbis are taking is that they will “not let the government divide the Dati-Leumi and Haredi communities… and harm Torah learning.”

Other Dati-Leumi rabbis are against the three rabbis’ participation in the rally.

Haredi MK Moshe Gafni (Yahadut HaTorah) told Makor Rishon that, to avenge the Shaked law, as soon as he is back in power, he will destroy the Hesder Yeshivas — where students both study Torah and serve in elite combat units.

MK Gafni also threatened to end all funding to the settlements, and to dry them out, as soon as he is back in a government role. For the record, his one government role so far has been, during the 12th Knesset (this one is the 19th): Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs.

In the past, in retaliation for budget cuts that hurt Haredi families, MK Gafni, who Chairs the Knesset Science and Technology Committee, also threatened to intentionally create problems the Finance Ministry would have to spend a lot of state money to fix.

The End of the Charedi World as We Know it?

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The draft is one big step closer to reality today. Most issues have been settled. The only thing that seems to be remaining before it is voted into law is the number of exemptions. When that is settled it appears that Charedim in Israel will be drafted into serving their country. Either in the military or in some other form of national service (…although there will be a grace period of a few years so that the infrastructure can be set up to accommodate them along the lines of Nachal Charedi).

One would think that finally, at long last, a long standing inequity will be eliminated. Now every able bodied member of Israel will ‘share the burden’. But will it?

Not if Rav Shmuel Auerbach has his way. He is promising to fight to the death this ‘evil decree’. There will be no compromise… no surrender!  “We will fight until the death for our rights.” 

This sets the stage for protests unlike anything Israel has ever seen. One can imagine what will happen if the police start entering Yeshivos during a morning Seder and start rounding up students and Avreichim that resisted the draft. It conjures up images of Nazis rounding up Jews in occupied Europe during the Holocaust. Another image is that of police and Charedim doing physical battle with each other in the streets. It is now virtually certain that this kind of confrontation will take place since the penalty for resisting the draft will be prison. Not the lesser financial penalty suggested by some. There are not enough jails in Israel to contain the vast numbers of threatened resistors.

Added into the mix is Hesder. Religious Zionist students can sign up for a 5 year program of joint 3 and ½  years of Yeshiva and 16 months of military service. The committee has decided to increase by one month the amount of time that Hesder boys spend on the military side of there program. This has upset the Religious Zionists who rightfully claim that the Hesder boys are among the most valiant soldiers – often volunteering in groups to take on the most dangerous military assignments. Implied in their anger of this is the question, ‘Is this the thanks they get for the kind of high quality service they perform?’

Everybody’s got an angle. No one wants their ox to be gored. They only want the other guy’s ox gored if they consider that ox to be worthy of said goring. When they are crossed they tend to go over to the other side and unite in opposition to the goring ox.

The focus of the anger in this case is Yair Lapid, the Finance Minister whose signature campaign issue of was drafting Charedim into the army.  The campaign was so successful that his new party became the second largest one in Israel – which says something about the will of the Israeli people (His popularity has since plunged because of his heavy handed approach to slashing the budget. But that is beside the point. The will of the people on this issue is clear.) Lapid is drawing fire from everyone.

Religious Zionists like blogger ‘JoeSettler’ (who actually thinks Charedim should serve their country in some capacity) are now saying that all the Charedi accusations about Lapid are correct. That he is at war against the Torah! Indeed one might think so based on some of the things he said on his on Facebook page about Charedim.

I am not in a position to judge anyone’s true motives. But I have yet to see any hard proof that Lapid is the ‘Jewish anti Semite’ he is increasingly being accused of by the religious segments of society.

Reports: Yeshiva Student Draft Dodgers to Face Criminal Charges

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Haredi Orthodox yeshiva students will face criminal charges for dodging the draft under a proposed law, after the intervention of the prime minister, Israeli media has reported.

Under the proposed military draft law, the Haredi men would be criminally charged for evading the draft, but the penalties would not go into effect until 2017, according to reports. In addition, draft orders for Haredim up to age 26 will not go into effect until up to a year after the law goes into effect.

The Shaked Committee that is preparing the draft law was set to meet Wednesday to vote on the final proposal of the bill, which will likely be brought before the full Knesset in March.

Lawmakers from the Sephardi Shas and Haredi United Torah Judaism parties have threatened to drop out of the committee.

The Tal Law, which allowed Haredi men to defer army service indefinitely, was invalidated by the Supreme Court in February 2012 and expired in August that year. Haredi yeshiva students since then have had their drafts deferred.

30% of Religious-Zionist Girls Join IDF, and the IDF Needs More

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Approximately 30% of young women who graduate from Religious-Zionist High Schools go on to join the IDF, according to a report in Makor Rishon. From the remainder, the majority do a year or two of National Service.

Among the general population, 42% of women don’t join the IDF.

For the IDF Manpower Division, 30% of the Religious-Zionist women simply just isn’t enough, and they are looking for ways to significantly increase that number.

The primary fears among Religious-Zionist women is that IDF service is incompatible with a religious life-style, alongside the longstanding stereotype that one of the primary missions of women in the IDF is to make coffee for the officers.

The IDF plans to take steps to make IDF service more attractive to incoming Religious-Zionist girls, including opening new IDF career paths, making sure their religious rights are guaranteed, ensuring prayer times, the option to wear skirts instead of pants, and trying to group Religious-Zionist recruits together, so they’ll feel more comfortable.

In addition, according to the plan, Religious-Zionist girls may be given the option to appear before a special religious committee to change units, and potentially, to even opt out of the army, if they find their current unit, or the IDF as a whole, to disparate and incompatible with their religious lifestyle.

The IDF wants to ensure that there will be Halachic oversight for Religious-Zionist women, and be able to handle any questions or problems that may arise for them.

The IDF is even making a point of letting Religious-Zionist girls know they’d be getting important jobs, and won’t end up making coffee for someone.

In 2011, 1,500 Religious-Zionist young women went to the IDF, in 2012 that number rose to 1,800.

A survey done by “Aluma” of Religious-Zionist women serving in the IDF found that 85% of them felt that the IDF service did not negatively affect their religiosity, and some even found their Judaism strengthened by their IDF service.

The IDF can do that for that you.

Photo by: Matan Hakimi /IDF Spokesperson / Flash 90

Photo by: Matan Hakimi /IDF Spokesperson / Flash 90

Haredi MK Stars in ‘Haredi Draft’ Show in Knesset

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

The Knesset outdid itself Monday as a stage for comic-tragedy, with Haredi Knesset Members Porush sealing the show and chaining himself to the podium microphone before the legislature passed on first reading the “equal military burden” bill.

His handcuff shtick illustrated what he said will happen if Haredi youth are arrested for refusing to serve the country in the military or national service. “Even if they put handcuffs on them, they will continue to learn Torah,” he proclaimed.

MK Porush also sounded like a Reform Jew on Monday, ruling against nearly 2,000 years of Jewish tradition. Monday was Tu B’Av, the 15th of the month of Av that shares with Yom Kippur the distinction of being the two most joyous days in the year, according to the Talmud.

But what is the Talmud when your own interests are being hurt? MK Porush declared from the Knesset podium, “The 15th day of Av…has become a day of mourning.”

Other Haredi MKs were not to be outdone in announcing how God works.

Some people are so stupid that they think that the unrest in the Golan Heights is because of the Syrian civil war and not due to Divine Retribution for the draft bill, but Haredi MK Moshe Gafni knows better.

With deep insight into the mysterious workings of God, the distinguished Knesset Member also declared that all of Israel’s economic problems are because of the draft bill.

Torah sages wrote centuries ago that it was the People of Israel’s own sins that brought down the First and Second Temples.

But even God did not reverse the order. The Temples were not destroyed before Israel’s own rebellion against God and fellow Jews. They were destroyed afterwards.

MK Gafni may have been studying Torah – when he is not delivering his own accounts of God’s behavior – the past few years, but the spillover into the Golan from the chaos in Syria started long before the “equal military burden” bill was presented to the Knesset.

The economy has been in trouble for a couple of years, but why let that facts get in a way of the opinion of a Haredi MK whose golden ox is being gored.

MK Gafni, in a display of unbrotherly love, called the draft bill’s leading sponsor Finance Minister Yair Lapid “a cynical man who does not care about the People of Israel.”

Haredi MK Yaakov Litzman summed up the illogical reasoning of his colleagues by asking, “Are all of the solutions to the problems in the country dependent on hatred of Haredim?”

How does he know Lapid hates Haredim? It is simple. Lapid wants them to serve in the army. If that isn’t proof, what is?

Before the grand show in the Knesset, the Haredi Knesset members and supporters did a warm-up  and gathered in the corridors to say Selichot prayers of repentance and blow the shofar, as is the custom on the days of asking forgiveness for sins.

Monday was probably the first time in modern Israel that Jews mourned in public on one of two most joyous days of the year. Their theatrics put the Women of the Wall to shame, and it is not coincidental that both grows use twisted reasoning to further their own political agenda in the name of all of Israel.

Stick around. The show will get better – or worse, depending on your mood. Monday’s production was after the first reading of the bill.

The Haredi MKs are going to have to work hard to come up with another show at the next readings and final passage, but trust them. They will come up with another good show, even if it means having to learn a little less Torah.

New Draft Law a Gift of Hope to Impoverished Haredim and to Israel

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The latest incarnation of the Haredi Draft Law, aka “The Perry Law,” is an excellent piece of legislation.

The Haredi community suffers from serious problems, which are affecting the rest of the country as well.

Haredi towns and neighborhoods are among the poorest in Israel.

The cycle of poverty in which Haredim are stuck is due in part to the way governments have dealt with the draft issue in the past (no army service—no work permit), but, just as significantly, due of the way the political leaders (“askanim”) of the Haredi community have created a social structure that locks people into the cycle of poverty, thus also guaranteeing their reliance on those same leaders for education, social acceptance, and money.

Israel’s society also suffers from Haredi poverty, because when such a large segment of the population relies on welfare payments, the effect on the economy is devastating.

The new Haredi draft law has just passed its first reading, and will now undergo review in a special committee chaired by Jewish Home’s MK Ayelet Shaked, before it is sent back for a second and third round in the Knesset.

This law is not so much about getting Haredim into the army in the near future, as it is about immediately permitting Haredim into the legal workforce, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.

The new law divides Haredi society into three age groups:

If passed, the law will immediate allow Haredim ages 22 and up to enter the workforce if they wish, and never have to worry about being drafted again. They will receive a permanent exemption. They can also sit and learn forever, if they so choose.

Next, the law will allow Haredim ages 18-22 to defer their draft until they reach age 24, and then, at age 24, they may decide if they want to serve in the army, do national service, go to work, or stay in kollel and learn forever. In other words, to this age group the law guarantees temporary exemptions until they may receive a permanent exemption. But, once again, they would be able to legally join the workforce in 4 to 6 years.

The third age group are Haredim who will turn 18 in the year 2017.

Out of this group, 1,800 will receive exemptions to sit and learn Torah, for the first time effectively sanctioning Torah study in the Jewish State as the full equivalent of military service.

The fate of rest of those who turn 18 in 2017 will depend in some way on what today’s 18-22 age group does over the next 4 years.

The government intends to set a draft quota of 5,200 Haredim out of the approximately 8,000 who will reach 18 in 2017. Out of that quota, 3,000 will enlist in the IDF, 2,200 will do National Service—most likely in their own communities. The remaining 2,800 will receive permanent exemptions.

But, if the full 5,200 quota isn’t met, then the envisioned 2,800 exemptions will be automatically reduced to 1,800.

Give and take.

Incidentally, last year some 2,200 Haredim were drafted. Out of that group, 1,300 enlisted in the IDF and 900 did national service.

This year, the total number of enlisting Haredim is expected to reach 3,300. Not so far from the envisioned quota ( which could change following the committee review and the Knesset debate).

Indeed, Haredi youths are already at close to two-thirds of the draft quota of 4 years from now, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

This isn’t a one-way street as the IDF will gain as well. We think merely adding a large group of soldiers who are mature, disciplined, who don’t curse, and who keep the Mitzvot would go a long way to improving our army—but the much more important result of the law should be felt immediately, with Haredim who did not serve in the army legally taking on jobs to feed their families, with honor.

We happen to believe that, just as Haredi young men will surely make for a better, more civilized and more Jewish army, so will mass entry into the workforce have a similar positive influence on Israeli society.

Another Defender of the Haredi Status Quo Clucks His Tongue

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Eytan Kobre has got be one of the most annoying defenders of the Haredi status quo in Israel on the face of the planet! He rarely fails to upset my sensibilities. His holier-than-thou attitude goes well beyond polite discourse in disagreement about public policy. It borders on the hateful! And he did it again in his weekly Mishpacha Magazinecolumn. Note in particular the three bullet points where he manages to disparage Jewish Action Magazine, an Orthodox blogger, Rabbi Dov Lipman and the “talmidei hachmim” and “ehrilche yidden” (his words) who hosted Rabbi Lipman on his recent visit to America.

What makes Mr. Kobre particularly annoying is the way he presents himself. He is an attorney. His talented writing skills indicate a fine secular education… attributes that would describe many moderate Haredim. And as most people know, I am a big fan of moderate Haredim – even though I am not Haredi myself.

The problem with Mr. Kobre is that he is anything but moderate. Despite his education and skills he writes like an extremist zealot.

The funny thing is that he does not really say anything about the Haredi belief system that is all that outrageous. But he uses those beliefs to disparage those who dare to challenge Haredi polices that in the view of many need some very serious tweaking at the least. He not only says that such challenges are evil, he implies that those that give a platform to people who advocate them are at best a bunch of morons. Of course, he doesn’t use the word moron. But he may as well have.

The subject of his most recent column is the draft of Haredim in Israel. His point is that if one were to truly understand the protective value of those who learn Torah they would know that all the miracles evident in every war were a direct result of the zechus (merit) of those who were learning Torah. He asks in the most hyperbolic of tones:

Now, as this fragile little country, whose 65-year history has been a string of wondrous miracles, faces the apocalypse being feverishly readied by the lunatic of Tehran, now is the opportune time to drag talmidei hachamim from their shtenders with brute physical or fiscal force, in a grand social reengineering scheme?
… is this the moment to allow the squelching of the amal haTorah that stands between us and a violent vomiting out of the inhabitants of this most spiritually sensitive of lands?

Brute physical force? Really, Mr. Kobre? What have you been drinking? No one in the government has suggested using brute physical force on Haredi Jews.

The fact is that no religious Jew would deny the merit that Torah study contributes towards the country’s security. But it is the height of folly to believe that hishtadlus via a strong military is therefore unnecessary. I’m sure that even Mr. Kobre understands that. But nowhere in the article does he make mention of it. The truth is that there has to be both. The only question is – what should the numbers look like.

What percentage of able bodied men who are dedicated to Torah study should be exempt from military service? In my view that has yet to be determined. I’m personally not sure what the percentage should be. But one thing I am fairly certain of is that they ought to not look like they do now. There is no way that every single Haredi Jew should be exempt from military service by simply registering in a yeshiva.

Mr Kobre might accuse me of hutzpah right about now. How, he might ask, do I know what the numbers should be? Am I a gadol (great Torah leader)? Only gedolim should decide these things, he might say. And right now they have determined that no Haredi Yeshiva student should serve, no matter what his age or status in Torah study.

True, I am not a gadol. But I have to ask, how many yeshiva students were there in 1948? So many miracles occurred in Israel’s war of independence that one would have to be the biggest cynic in the world to not see the hand of God in that victory.

I am absolutely convinced that Torah study in the yeshivos at that time protected Israel and contributed to the miracles. But the numbers of lomdei Torah then were substantially lower than they are now. In fact they were minuscule compared to what they are now. And yet Mr. Kobre would have us believe it is all about the numbers!

One might argue that you never know where we are holding as a nation with respect to deserving miracles. So the more people that are studying Torah the better chance we have for survival. I find this attitude to be a terrible way to look at God’s beneficence towards us. I would posit that considering the miracles that took place in 1948 – God is not interested in sheer numbers.

Yes, he wants us all to fulfill the mitzvah of Torah study. But he also wants histhadlus – to do what we can physically to achieve success. Hazal tell us – ein somchin al hanes – do not rely on miracles. The way to best succeed in winning a war is to have the best physical army we can field – in addition to the spiritual army that studies Torah full time.

The bottom line for me is that there ought to be divinity student exemptions. But they ought to be applied to the best and brightest among us – and only the highly motivated of those! The rest ought to be willing to serve in some capacity. This does not mean able bodied Haredim must give up Torah study entirely. One can continue to study Torah by being koveiah itim – establishing a fixed time for it… even while serving one’s country. Furthermore all conscripts can go back to the beis hamedrash once their military service is completed after two or three years.

There are those who argue that once you are out of the beis medrash – you will never return to it. Well… so be it. All that means is that they were only there in the first place for sociological reasons. Real masmidim will want to return… and they are probably the ones who get draft exemptions anyway.

But perhaps we should take Mr. Kobre at face value. He believes that we should maximize Torah study at such a dangerous time for Israel. If that is really the way he feels, then he ought to give up his law practice here in the United States, move to Israel, and “pitch in.” I’m sure if he went to the Mir and asked if he could join the full time lomdei Torah there, he would be accepted. He is after all a pretty bright fellow and his learning would no doubt contribute to his goal of relying on Nissim (miracles). How in good conscience can he continue stay here and work for a living?

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

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