web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘draft’

A Brighter Future for Haredim in Israel

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Maybe I am a hopeless optimist. But I see a lot of changes happening in the Jewish world. And they seem to all be for the better.

One of those things is something that Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn wrote about today on his blog, Daas Torah. Rabbi Eidensohn is a Charedi Rav whose credentials are quite impressive. His Magnum Opus are the widely respected indices (in both Hebrew and English) to two of the greatest Halachic works of the 20th century: the Mishnah Berurah, by the Hafetz Haim and the Igros Moshe by R’ Moshe Feinstein. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and has also written books dealing with the issue of sex abuse. He is also very close to Rav Moshe Sternbuch.

In the most recent contribution Rabbi Eidensohn has made what I believe to be an astounding admission. Especially in light of the very name of his blog. He said that with the passing of R’ Elyashiv, there is really no more Daas Torah!

That is pretty shocking coming from someone who is as close to Rav Sternbuch as R’ Eidensohn is. It is also shocking in light of the fact that there is a conflict going on between two Charedi factions – each loyal to their own “candidate” as to who should succeed R’ Elayshiv for the ‘post’ of Gadol HaDor – the ultimate expositor of Daas Torah: R’ Aharon Leib Steinman or R’ Shmuel Auerbach.

I have often said that the rabbinic leaders of today are not the Gedolim of yesteryear. The right wing has always countered with the following expression from the Gemarah: Yiftach B’Doro, K’Shmuel B’Doro. What the Gemarah is telling us is that even though a later generation’s Gadol (Yiftach) is is not as great as a previous generation Gadol (Shmuel HaNavi)… they are the best we have and we must listen to them. And that what they tell us is still Daas Torah. And yet a man of R’ Eidensohn’s credentials says we have no longer have it!

I would disagree with him. I think we do have Daas Torah – individuals who can speak to us using the wisdom of the Torah they have achieved. I just don’t think it is necessarily or exclusively in the hands of Haredi Rabbanim. Especially when there is such infighting among them about who should be representing it to us.

Which brings me back to my original point. I am optimistic about recent developments in Israel with respect to the Haredi situation in Israel. It seems like the Haredi world of the past is doomed. I do not mean has v’shalom that it will disappear. Quite the contrary. I think it will be strengthened.

The new government in Israel (assuming it has any longevity to it at all – which is a real question) is determined to change the Haredi paradigm of full time Torah study for every male for as long as possible without any preparation for the workplace and exemption from any military service. This is something I have been advocating for decades.

The fear of this change is on the minds of virtually every rabbinic leader in Israel. So afraid of change are they that they see it as a shas hashmad – something which a Jew is supposed to give up his life for even if he is asked to violate the most minute mitzvah.

They fear that conscription of Haredim will destroy Yeshivos and that all serious Torah study will come to an end. Once a Haredi is drafted, and does his army stint, he will never return to serious Torah study. He will instead seek a job. This is existential for them. Life or death! To a man… it seems that every single Haredi rabbinic leader of all stripes – and even some of the more right wing Religious Zionist rabbis (Hardalim) – have all called for resistance to the draft in various forms. Like going to jail; or leaving the country to study Torah elsewhere.

But their fear is misplaced. The new government is not interested in destroying Torah Study – despite its even religious members being accused of it and being vilified by some of those rabbinic leaders. Neither Naftali Bennett nor even Yair Lapid can be compared to the Czarist Russia of old. They are interested in mainstreaming Haredim into society to be more productive – outside the beis hamedrash as well as inside.

Adding to their fear is the loss of power that Haredi parties have until now enjoyed. Even as their population numbers increase along with their representation in the Knesset, they are no longer part of the governing coalition. That means they will not have any cabinet posts or the power that goes with them to allocate funds to their cause.

This is kind of ironic considering all the predictions that say Haredim are growing at such a rapid rate that they will eventually become the majority. That may still be true at some point in the future. But if things go the way they are now, it will not be the same Haredi world that exists now. It may very well be a Haredi world that looks more like the American version. There seems to be some realization about that too. From Daniel Eidensohn:

My niece who attends a chareidi seminary for American girls here in Jerusalem – was recently told in all seriousness by a teacher that the New Chareidim constitute a serious threat to the Chareidi way of life and authority. My niece wasn’t sure what New Chareidim are and why they are so dangerous – as she leads a very sheltered chareidi life – typical of many American chareidim. She couldn’t understand why Israeli chareidim are so afraid of a way of life which is typical in America.

Indeed. This is what all the screaming by Israeli rabbinic leaders is all about. But as R’ Eidensohn says, Daas Torah no longer exists. And as I said these fears are misplaced. Instead of looking at this as a Shas HaShmad – they should be looking at this as an opportunity to get their community out of poverty and into the mainstream so that their members can better support their families.

I undernstand their fear. It is the fear of the unknown. Change means facing an unknown future. And they fear the worst. But the worst won’t happen. The IDF is not prepared to put every single young Charedi into the army. They don’t really have the room or the need. Although I still strongly feel that there should be no general exemption given to any single demographic group from being put in harm’s way, the reality is that most Israeli service personnel are not put in harm’s way – if I understand correctly. Most of the military jobs are not in the battlefield. Many soldiers have ancillary or supporting jobs. And exemptions exist outside of the Yeshiva world too.

My guess is that there will be a compromise that will require some sort of military commitment by most Charedim… but that it will be along the lines of the old Tal Law – that allowed Yeshiva students to stay in the Beis HaMedrash full time until age 23 or so… and then they will be required to do some sort of military service – perhaps combined with their continued Torah study. They will not have to completely leave the Beis Hamedrash. After fulfilling their military requirements, they can continue to learn in the Yeshivos they are in – and go back to full time study if they choose.

Some, on the other hand, may actually leave to find a job – and the skills they picked up via their army training will aid them in getting better jobs. Additionally full exemptions will probably be given to the top students in any case so their Torah study will continue full time without interruption. The percentage of those exemptions can be worked out amicably in my view. Where there is a will, there is a way.

The future that I see does not change the commitment to Torah study. It just allows for options that heretofore were not available.

I am not saying that the version of the future I just outlined will happen exactly in the way I suggested. It may take some sort of alternate form. But whatever form it takes it will be for the better. Because it can’t get much worse. There is no reason in the world why Haredim should continue to be the single biggest – and fastest growing – welfare demographic in all of Israel. The result will be the ‘new Haredi’ the teacher in that seminary so feared. And hopefully will stop fearing when she realizes the better world it has created for them.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

What Disturbs Me Most about the New Coalition

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I don’t know if anyone’s happy with the new government, at least not in the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu parties.  There weren’t too many ministerial pickings left over after Bibi handed out the goodies to Livni, Lapid and Bennett.

There’s something that really bothers me about this coalition.  I felt it in my kishkes, and I had trouble saying what it really is…

There’s something inherently undemocratic in a government coalition which aims to change the lives of a large and growing sector of the country/society while refusing them the rights to join the coalition and help draft the laws to make the changes just and possible.

Yes, I’m referring to the forcing of Haredim to be drafted into the IDF.

Now please get me right.  I am not in favor of their (Haredi) universal policy idealizing a life a just learning Torah.  I don’t see it as Jewish.  It’s not.  It’s more like the Christian monasteries and nunneries with the crucial difference that the Haredim marry and are encourage to have lots of children.  It’s also a Christian, not Jewish, belief that “men of the cloth” shouldn’t bear arms, serve in armies etc.

But I don’t think its just nor moral for some sectors of society to try to legislate major changes in the lives of others.  It unfortunately smacks of the early days of the State of Israel when religious immigrant children were sent to secular Aliyat Hanoar schools and worse.

The making of changes must be done gradually and with the cooperation of the affected sector of society.  That means the the only fair, just and democratic way to increase the draft of Haredim must be done with their cooperation.  In recent years more Hareidim have joined the army, and more Hareidim are studying key secular subjects and professions and working.  This will take time.

Blocking Hareidim from the government coalition means that the government will seem like (or actually be) a dictatorship, rather than a democracy.

Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett and Livni are making a big immoral and undemocratic mistake.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Is Learning Torah ‘Sharing the Burden’?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

I have to respectfully disagree with the esteemed Mashgiach of Lakewood, Rav Matisyahu Salomon. An article in YWN quoted him as saying that the statement being made about Haredim in Israel not ‘sharing the burden’ is apikursus – heresy.

I suppose that the way he explains it, it might be heresy to say such a thing. To make the claim that learning Torah is not “sharing the burden” is indeed a slight to learning Torah. Learning Torah does help protect Israel from harm by its enemies just as a physical army does. Those are two necessary components.

But it is a gross misunderstanding to characterize “sharing the burden” in the way Rav Salomon does. The burden that is not shared – is the one that involves putting oneself in harm’s way. I can’t repeat this enough times. Rav Salomon cannot possibly think that yeshiva bachurim (lomdei Torah – those who study Torah) risk their lives in the same way as a solider in combat does. They are nowhere near harm’s way while they are in a Beis HaMedrash being protected by soldiers who do share the burden of risking life and limb.

Once again we see a great rabbinic figure who apparently does not understand what it is that really upsets the non-Haredi public – which includes many observant Jews. To say that our views are apikursus is both false and insulting – even if unintentionally so. Nor does Rav Salomon even attempt to give credit to those who do risk life and limb protecting those lomdei Torah – as did a Gadol of the previous generation, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz.

How sad it is that a leader of such great stature in the Haredi world feels he has to insult so many observant Jews in order to make his point about the importance of learning Torah. Would it not serve Klal Yisroel better if he were to first acknowledge the contributions of those who do serve in the IDF?

And wouldn’t it also serve Klal Yisroel better if he were to understand that “sharing the burden” means participating in the risk to life and limb equally… and not meant to denigrate the contributions of lomdei Torah to our survival as a nation?

Statements such as those made by Rav Salomon are very upsetting. Is there any wonder why there is such a lack of Achdus in Klal Yisroel? But all is not lost. I do in fact agree with his final paragraph:

HaRav Solomon said if there are מקטרגים (opponents; detractors) on the Torah, the Gra teaches us that this is a sign of the תביעות (claims) against us in Shomayim [Heaven] and while today we do not have prophets, one can know this is bases on מידה כנגד מידה (measure for measure) and we must look and see from where the פורענות (troubles) come from and this is the area where the teshuvah [repentance] and מעשים טובים (good deeds) must be focused.

Indeed. Perhaps God is sending a message about an area that needs improvement. And perhaps the first place his community should be looking at is in how they have reacted to this very issue. Perhaps if they would treat those of us who have made this statement (about sharing the burden) with a measure of understanding and respect instead of calling us apikursim, we would return that respect and understanding measure for measure.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Get Serious

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

We have reached the red line for Jonathan Pollard. If President Obama doesn’t bring our brother, Jonathan, who has been captive in his country for 28 years, with him to Israel, he is liable to die in prison, God forbid. With this heavy ethical weight on our necks, this horrible betrayal of an agent that we sent to risk his life for us, we may all be thrown into a reality that begins with a “small” destruction at Ma’aleh Rehavam – with seemingly no end in sight.

There is a connection between the two. When you are not loyal to your brother, when you do not practice basic solidarity, when there is no moral glue that ties you to your brother rotting in jail – everything falls apart. If we have disengaged from Pollard, then get ready for the next Disengagement – in the name of security, of course. And get ready for a solution regarding the Iranian problem – brought to you by Uncle Sam.

In the end, we will find ourselves without Pollard, without Judea and Samaria, without the Americans, and with a nuclear Iran. Just like in the Lodz ghetto, where they gave up a few poor children to save all the rest. Nothing has changed since then. The Jews are the same Jews, and the mindset is also the same.

Last week I called upon my fellow Knesset members to boycott Obama’s Knesset speech if he does not bring our brother, Jonathan, with him. Meanwhile, in the face of the approaching political tsunami, we are all busy bickering over the proverbial tempests in the teapot.

When it comes to the haredi draft issue, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. After all, the last thing that Yair Lapid wants is for the IDF to suddenly grow a long beard and put on a black suit. And the IDF does not want or need the extra manpower, as it already drafts many more recruits than it really needs. On the other side of the coin, there are many young haredi men who want to serve in the Army and work – namely, lead normal lives. Here’s the problem: the IDF does not offer them enough frameworks that are appropriate to their levels of observance. Nobody actually expects them to exercise with women instructors. So what is the debate really all about? It’s about political capital.

The second tempest in the teapot is jumpstarting the “peace process.” What are they talking about? In all of history, there has never been a collection of people for whom the entire world, including those who should surrender their sovereignty, has rallied full force to recognize a state – and the state has not even been born. A Palestinian state will never be born because Golda Meir was right. There is no Palestinian nation and this non-nation harbors a primal fear of a state. Just look at how Arab MK Ahmad Tibi and company reacted when then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman made his generous offer to move the border west of their towns, effectively removing them from Israel proper.

The goal of Palestinian self-definition is not sovereignty in the land of Israel, but rather the negation of Jewish sovereignty in the land. That is why a Palestinian state has never been established in Judea and Samaria and why there was never such a demand when Jordan or any other Muslim entity ruled here. Their focus has always been on the very last centimeter of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. As then-British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin defined the issue at the League of Nations when the British returned their mandate over the land of Israel to the world body: “The goal of the Jews in the land of Israel is to establish a state for the Jews in the land. The goal of the Arabs in the land of Israel is to ensure that the Jews do not establish a state in the land of Israel.”

The tsunami is approaching, and the Jews in the land of Israel are fighting over total non-issues. If it weren’t so sad, it would be comical.

It’s time to get serious.

This column was translated from the Hebrew version, which appeared in Makor Rishon.

Jew Against Jew, I Don’t Like This

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Chazal, our sages say that the Holy Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, Jew against Jew.  All the recent political infighting, especially  since the recent Israeli Knesset Elections, just make me fear God’s wrath.  What punishment does God have in store for us, God forbid?

Even Jews who claim to be Torah observers, following God’s commandments are dividing rather than uniting us.

Shas: It’s Over, We’re Headed for Opposition: Sephardic hareidi party vows to fight from the Opposition, keep funds from going to “hilltop youth.” And the NRP, a.k.a., Bayit Yehudi’s new leader, Naftali Bennett, has not learned the most important skill needed to be an effective politician, getting along and reaching agreements.  His pact with Leftist leader, who’s also a rookie MK, Yair Lapid, is not good for the country.  People voted for Bennett’s NRP so that he would influence from within the government, and he’s just pushing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu further Left.

One of Lapid’s demands is that he won’t sit in the government with Haredim, so when you add all this together, you have a big problem.

And in the meantime, the modern Amaleks in Iran are making progress on their nuclear weapons.  And is the “free world” (sic) ready for this?  No way.  The United States President Barack Hussein Obama is fiddling on his roof talking the negotiations talk, and Israel is still threatening. But after years of these threats, nobody takes them seriously, especially not the Iranians.

The more Israelis fight among themselves the more we’re inviting Amalek to attack.

Bad news, and I don’t see a good solution to theis.

I also recommend reading Arlene Kushner’s  “Deplorable,” which expresses my feelings, too.

Now I’m referring not to the state of the world, but to the state of Israeli politics. I am so often proud of who we are. But now? I would gladly grab hold of certain political shoulders and shake until the heads that sit on those respective shoulders rattled. Where? I want to ask. Where is your devotion to the state and the greater good during these difficult times?
Visit Shiloh Musings.

Shas and UTJ to Join Coalition by Week’s End

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Both Shas and UTJ are claiming they will be in the government by the end of the week and perhaps as early as tomorrow, according to a report in Kikar Shabbat.

Other sources report that the parties have reached a compromise on the universal draft issue that the Gedolim (Torah sages) can live with, as well as the Likud.

JewishPress.com sources say that Shas may again receive the Interior Ministry. The Srugim website confirms that, and adds that Shas was also offered the Minsitry of Religion, an additional ministry to be named later, and Deputy Minister of Education.

The question still stands if Bennett and Lapid will be in the government, or perhaps, if Labor will go in, in their place.

On Israeli TV tonight, Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said there is no alliance with Lapid, just understandings on specific issues, implying that they could join the government even if Lapid doesn’t. Jewish Home has no problem sitting with the Hareidi parties, while Lapid does.

For the Jewish Home, one of the important issues that they want agreed upon for them to enter the coalition is that the Edmond Levy report be adopted by the government.

Once Netanyahu approaches the needed 61 seats, he can then ask for a 2 week extension to close the last party that pushes him over the top.

But will that last party be Jewish Home, Yesh Atid, or Labor?

Netanyahu Not Discounting New Elections, Likud Says

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not discounted the possibility of holding new elections, senior sources in the Likud-Beitenu faction say, according to the Israeli publication, Ma’ariv.

Netanyahu has had a hard time forming a government because of the feud between the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties on the one hand, who desire a universal draft policy, and Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, who want to maintain the status quo in which the vast majority of Haredim do not serve, pursuant to an exemption for yeshiva students.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Jewish Home chairman Naftalli Bennett have reportedly agreed to enter or stay out of the government as a bloc. The two parties comprise 31 Knesset Members between them, and Netanyahu will not practically be able to form a coalition with out them.

Forming a coalition with them will not be easy either, as Shas and UTJ would not join due Yesh Atid and Jewish Home’s insistence on a universal draft plan. In that case, Netanyahu would likely have to include Tzipi Livni, and possibly also Kadima to form a stable coalition of seventy seats.

The possibility of new elections is only the latest in public posturing by the various parties engaged in coalition negotiations.

By law Netanyahu has 28 days to form a government which has the backing of the Knesset and can ask for an extension of 14 days. If Netanyahu cannot form a coalition by then, the President would then ask another Member of Knesset to form a government, who would then have fourteen days to form a government. If a government could not still not be formed, new elections would have to be held.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-elections-still-an-option-for-netanyahu/2013/02/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: