I cannot speak for him or predict the future. But I will go out on a limb here and say that Jonathan Rosenblum will apologize to Rabbi Dov Lipman. He is an honorable man of great integrity and will not let religious politics get in the way of doing the right thing.
In what can only be described as a justified reaction, Rabbi Dov Lipman responded in a Times of Israel article of his own to all of Jonathan’s assumptions and accusations in his Yated ‘hit piece’. I think it was masterful – if a bit harsh. But understandably harsh. He was hurt and insulted. At the end of that article Rabbi Lipman asks for an apology. I believe he will get one.
The only real question to be answered here is why did Jonathan do this? Why the harsh accusatory and derogatory rhetoric? I have to assume that his environment is responsible for that. The angry hateful rhetoric about Yair Lapid and Dov Lipman coming out of the Charedi world is filled with exaggeration and falsehood. It becomes difficult for anyone in that world to separate truth from fiction – fact from fantasy.
I understand the Charedi anger. What is about to happen to them is unprecedented. If all goes forward as planned – it will change the face of the Charedi world in Israel… to look a bit more like the Charedi face in America.
The Charedi rabbinic leaders in Israel who are not accustomed to these American standards are afraid of them. Why are they afraid? One can find the answer to that in Jonathan’s article. The rhetoric they use about Yair Lapid and Dov Lipman is the same kind that their rabbinic predecessors used about Czarist Russia and the Maskilim who collaborated to strip Judaism from the Jews. They see the same thing here
They see the same insidious track - a slippery slope of at first installing harmless subjects into the Charedi curriculum and then later adding not so harmless subjects thus slowly weaning Jews away from Judaism. Yair Lapid equals the Czar. Dov Lipman equals the Maskilim.
Why do they not realize that things are not quite the same here and now as they were there and then? As I’ve said many times, they tend to focus only on their own Charedi world and have reactionary responses and feel the very essence of Judaism is being threatened when forces outside their world become involved. They do not bother to listen to explanation of people from the outside – even Charedim whom they feel have betrayed them.
Jonathan lives in that world, too. He of course knows that things are not quite the same now as they were then. And he is very aware of the problems in the Charedi world. But when one is so immersed in that culture it is almost impossible not to occasionally get caught up in the rhetoric. It has become almost an article of faith to look at any attempt at change that does not come from within as having evil intent. No explanation in the world will be granted any legitimacy. They will not listen to it. The minute one tires to effectuate a change from the outside – it’s Czarist Russia all over again.
Why do I think Jonathan will respond with an apology? Aside from the above mentioned fact about his honor and integrity – he has proven himself by having done it before. And in a way that took a lot of courage.
A few years ago on Erev Yom Kippur Jonathan called Rav Aharon Rakeffet and apologized to him for a similar dressing down in another article. After reading a critical post I had written about it – he realized his error, and did the right thing. He even went to the trouble of letting me know about it. I truly admire a man who can admit his mistakes.
It is my sincere hope that at the upcoming RCA convention where both Jonathan Rosenblum and Dov Lipman were invited to speak – that they will be able to interact at length and learn to respect each other. Both men are high minded, idealistic Bnei Torah with similar goals – if not similar methods.
Update at the end of the article.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid woke up this morning to find that someone had posted a picture of him dressed as Hitler, one day after the Knesset passed on first reading his proposed budget that includes tax hikes and spending cuts.
Written on the fake picture of Lapid, complete with a Hitler-style moustache, were the words, “Israeli economy’s hateful enemy.”
It is not clear who was behind the prank, but he or she managed to arouse a storm of protest.
“This is shocking,” said public relation official Ran Rahav.
It is shocking indeed, but then he took it to the extreme and started digging up the blood libel against the national religious community following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995.
“It is with great sorrow that the whole country has not internalized what happened before 18 years ago, when Yitzchak Rabin was murdered. In those black days before the murder, a picture of Rabin was posted showing him dressed as Hitler.
“I hope the police will immediately arrest whoever carried out this horrible posting against Finance Minister Yair Lapid.”
UPDATE: Numerous bloggers are now saying that they believe that PR official Ran Rahav or an associate of his was involved in creation of the photo, based on the suspicious manner in which Rahav tried to upload and publicize the image.
Years ago, it was exposed that the picture of Yitzchak Rabin in an SS uniform was created and distributed by a Shabak agent.
So, Yair Lapid wants public transportation on Shabbat.
For even a casual observer of the finance minister, this comes as no surprise. After all, it was Lapid who wrote about the destruction of Gush Katif, “The Israelis merely felt that the settlers should be taught a lesson in humility and perhaps in democracy too.”
Note the implicit denial of Israeli identity to “the settlers,” who apparently for Lapid were/are something other than real citizens. And it takes more than chutzpah to talk about democracy vis-a-vis mass expulsion by a regime with a districtless electoral system that criminalizes “insulting a public official.” (Don’t worry, though: advocating the murder of traditional Jews is ok.) As for humility, given Lapid’s arrogant tendencies, this is like a compulsive gambler lecturing an alcoholic on self-restraint.
What does Lapid’s current pursuit of public transportation on Shabbat represent? A profound and forceful examination of the relevant themes can be found in the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch zt”l (1808-1888). Rabbi Hirsch observes in his commentary to Bereshit 14:1:
“Only if they devote themselves to the Torah with all their might will the people of Israel enjoy freedom and independence in this land…Everywhere, and at all times, let this warning be heard: Only on the basis of the Torah will Israel flourish; if it throws off the yoke of the Torah, Israel will go to physical and social ruin.”
Rabbi Hirsch likewise remarks on Pirkei Avot 5:11:
“The Lord conferred statehood upon His people so that they might defend the enforcement of justice and preserve the truth contained in our Law as handed down by transmission. If the Jewish State will carry out this mission, it can be sure of Divine support against all enemy powers, and no other nation will dare attack it. But if the Jewish State should cast off its task and destiny or put it to wrongful use, it will thereby become a nation at the mercy of fate just like all the other states of the world, and God will withdraw His protection from it.”
Specific to Shabbat, Rabbi Hirsch writes in Horeb:
“…even the smallest work done on the Sabbath is a denial of the fact that God is the Creator and Master of the world. It is an arrogant setting-up of man as his own master. It is a denial of the whole task of the Jew as man and as Israelite, which is nothing but the management of the earth according to the will of God.”
Rabbi Hirsch’s commentary to Vayikra 12:3 expands on this point:
“…Israel is the eighth work of creation, joining the seven works of the creation of the world. Moreover, Shabbos is a sign and reminder of the Creator, and Israel is the herald of Shabbos, bearing its message to all of mankind. Israel, as the ‘eighth,’ exists for the ‘seventh.’ The significance of Israel is essentially in its observance of Shabbos on the seventh day.”
Considered in these contexts, Yair Lapid’s objective is a brazen attack on national security, national duty, and national identity. (Yes, public transportation on Shabbat already exists in Haifa and Eilat, and who knows what damage that has caused?) May this malignant agenda share the fate of Lapid’s foray into kickboxing.
I must give credit to Mishpacha Magazine Editor and Chief, Rabbi Moshe Grylak. He was honest in an editorial describing an experience that in my view ought to be had by every Charedi in Israel . While it is unfortunately highly unlikely that this would ever happen to all Charedim – It did happen to Rabbi Grylak and he tried to convey its message to his readers.
He was ‘reminded’ that secular Israelis do not hate Chardim at all. And that some of the finest and most highly motivated secular youth are in uniform. He said that he had always thought this but had to be reminded of it because of the current ‘anti- Charedi’ climate in Israel.
Rabbi Grylak spared no words of praise for the young IDF cadets he hosted in his Har Nof neighborhood last Shabbos. These young men will upon graduation serve as officers in combat units. The questions they asked about Charedi values were sincere and were not meant as challenges. He actually thanks them in the very title of his editorial, ‘Thanks for Restoring My Sense of Proportion’.
It’s nice to see an article that praises these secular youth accompanied by the realization that secular Jews do not really hate Charedim.
I have been saying this for years. But I do not live in Rabbi Grylak’s world. One that sees evil lurking in the hearts of virtually every secular Jew. I live in a world where I know that is not true. Rabbi Grylak’s world is guided by rabbinic leaders and Charedi politicians that rarely if ever see any good in the secular Israeli. The rhetoric one hears from those corners reinforces that negative stereotype.In my view the reason those leaders promote this negative stereotypes is that they rarely if ever have any real connection to the outside world. They know of it only by what their Askanim (community activists) tell them. Or by what the Charedi politicians tell them. Or the way the Charedi newspapers report about them.
Charedi rabbinic leaders discourage – if not outright forbid – reading any secular newspaper that might give them a different perspective. The argument there is that they are all a bunch of anti religious publications with an agenda to hurt the Charedi world. I can’t count the number of times I have heard a Charedi journalist say about almost any secular news source that they are anti-Frum.
Fortunately every once in awhile something like this happens that gives lie to all the negative spin about secular Israelis.
I wish I could say that an article like this signals a change in the way Charedim perceive the motives behind the current move by the Kenesset to equalize the draft and the push to require Yeshivos to have a core curriculum. But alas, that is not the case.
Rabbi Grylak continues to insist that those who are pushing these things in the Knesset are anti Charedi… out to ultimately destroy them. In other words he separates these wonderful ‘cream of the crop’ young IDF cadets from the secular media and the secular politicians. He still ascribes completely nefarious motives and agendas to them.
The strident rhetoric about the government and media being anti Charedi will therefore continue. They characterize Yair Lapid as a hater of Charedim out to destroy them. And their words for the 2 Orthodox rabbis in his Yesh Atid party are hardly any less condemning.
No matter how many times Lapid says he does not want to destroy Charedi Judaism, this is how they see him. They see him as disingenuous with an ulterior motive to destroy the Charedi way of life.
One of the things they point to is the fact the Lapid has recommended that draft dodging Charedim be put in jail. This – they say – is proof of his anti Charedi agenda.
They completely ignore what I consider a seminal moment in Israel when during a speech at Kiryat Ono, Yair Lapid repudiated his father’s atheist views and conceded that Charedim have ‘won’. He said that the founding fathers were wrong to completely secularize Israel and marginalize the Charedi world. He then challenged them to participate in the great Israeli enterprise as full partners with the secular wolrd. His candidacy was based on that… and included those two Charedi rabbis. His platform was about Charedim ‘sharing the burden’. And his party won big – far beyond anyone’s predictions gaining 19 Kenesset seats.
Rabbi Grylak and other Charedim see the term ‘sharing the burden’ differently. They see it as ‘code’ for destroying the Charedi world as we know it – using Laipd’s suggestion that Charedim be jailed as proof of that.
On the very next page in Mishpacha Magazine Jonathan Rosenblum minces no words attacking Lapid in an op-ed describing him in the most unflattering of terms. The title of his op-ed asks whether Lapid is Schizo! And he goes on to accuse him faking concern by telling Charedi youth to ignore their rabbinic leaders and avoid jail by registering for the draft.
Why does he consider a plea to Charedi to avoid the consequences of dodging the draft to be disingenuous and anti Charedi? Because Charedim live by what their Gedolim say. Asking them to ignore them is to undermine their very essence. He goes on to say some other unflattering things about Lapid.
I don’t understand why Jonathan took this turn. He originally had some nice things to say about Lapid because of his Kiryat Ono speech. Now Lapid is all of a sudden a lying Rasha? Maybe it’s the jail thing. Maybe he sees threatening jail time for Charedi draft dodgers as the ultimate anti Charedi move.
I do not see it that way. I am willing to bet that jail time would apply to anyone who dodges the draft. If it happens to be the case that Charedim will have the largest numbers of draft dodgers – it will be because of some of their leadership’s directive to not register. Proposing legislation that draft dodgers be jailed is not anti Charedi. It is anti draft dodger!
If on the other hand this law would apply only to Charedim, I would have to then concede that it is anti Charedi – and I would oppose it with the same vigor as Charedim do now. But I cannot believe that is the case.
Charedi journalists and columnists would do well to step back and see whether their suspicions and accusations about an anti Charedi agenda have any real merit. I don’t think it does. No matter what kind of criticsm one might have against him – I do not see Yesh Atid Kenesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman serving on any party that is anti Charedi. I think this former student of Merkaz HaTorah and Ner Israel Musmach probably knows better than anyone that Lapid is not anti Charedi. At worst Lapid may not understand the fealty Charedim have to their rabbinic leaders. But that does not make him anti Charedi.
Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter’s editorial in Ami Magazine suggests that Charedim should try and better convey the reason why they consider Torah study so valuable. I have no problem with that and think that is a good idea. But that still does not justify a 100% exemption from army service.
Charedi journalists must realize that the war they fight does not exist. It is one sided. Secular politicians like Yair Lapid do not see Charedim as the enemy. They see them as a constituency that under-serves the country; and as being unprepared for good jobs. They do not want to destroy them. They want to help them. Charedim may very well disagree and not want this kind of ‘help’. But it would benefit everyone if Charedim would stop vilifying them. That might just lead to compromises that everyone could live with.
Yair Lapid’s star is beginning to dim, with his Yesh Atid party losing two seats in the Knesset in a Knesset Channel poll released on Monday. The two-seat drop from its current standing in the Knesset is even more serious when taking into consideration that Lapid was sitting on top of the poll three months ago, when Yesh Atid was leading the pack.
The Likud-Beiteinu party lost five seats in the poll, from 31 to 26, while Tzipi Livni’s party bearing her own name lost one third of its popularity, falling to only four seats if elections were held today.
The Haredi religious parties lost three seats between them.
The departures have flocked to the left and right, with the Jewish Home picking up one seat in projected elections results, and Meretz and Labor on the left picking up eight seats between them.
U.S. State Dept. comments on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled return to Israel this year offer faint indications that the Obama administration, may finally be getting ready to tell the Palestinian Authority and Israel, “Go fight it out among yourselves and leave us alone.”
No one is quite certain why Kerry is coming, unless he has some super-duper trick up his sleeve. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has dug his heels deep in the Saudi 2002 Initiative that has been developed into the basis of PA demands that there is nothing to be negotiated.
On the Israel side, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, one of the most senior and nationalist Likud Knesset Members, took it upon himself to say that the government is against a two-state solution.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was so upset that he called on the Sabbath to the Times of Israel website, which had quoted Danon, to voice his distance from Danon’s remarks.
The facts on the ground tell the story. On the one hand, Palestinian Authority Arabs, heavily backed by European Union and international leftist funding, have settled on thousands of acres in Judea and Samaria to stake claims and isolate Jewish communities.
On the other hand, In the first three months of this year, there were 865 housing starts in Judea and Samaria, compared with 313 in the same period in 2012, mirroring the nationalist influence of the Jewish Home party and its “partner through silence,” Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party.
Significantly, the figures do not include areas of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority and where the Netanyahu government has reportedly carried out a de facto building freeze since the beginning of the year.
Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday following Danon’s comments, “I believe that a government that continues to tender settlements and rejects the two-state solution will not go for peace.”
So why does the Obama administration really think anyone is listening?
It does have an audience, limited but elite.
Only someone with the Ivory Tower view of President Shimon Peres, and there are still a few thousand like him, could actually believe that Abbas is sincere in wanting a peace agreement with Israel, even if all of his demands are met, while refusing to declare that Israel is a “Jewish state.” And only the same view could actually believe that peace can be achieved even Israel were to satisfy all of Abbas’ demands.
“It’s clear not only to us Palestinians but also to the American administration and John Kerry that the current Israeli government is not interested in the peace process,” Nimr Hamad, an adviser to Abbas, told the Associated Press. “The Palestinian position is clear. Israel has to be forced to stop the settlement activity.”
Abbas has long passed the point of no return, and Netanyahu, honest or not, can comfortably go through the motions of wanting to negotiate because he knows Abbas will refuse.
Is Kerry finally getting the message?
In Washington, the growing doubts among reporters of what has become a “peace process charade” have started to creep into the State Dept. comments.
In Friday’s daily news briefing, State Dept, spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasized what previously has been stated as a secondary clause:
“Let me just reiterate the larger point here, which is that this is between – this is up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the decision to move back to the negotiating table… But it is ultimately up to both sides, regardless of who else is involved on the outside.”
She could not even answer reporter’s questions concerning what meetings Kerry will conduct.
Kerry and President Barack Obama have said before that in the end, the Palestinian Authority and Israel must decide if they want an agreement.
Kerry does not want to be another failure following a long line off U.S. diplomats who have thought they could change the Middle East.
The smartest thing would be for Kerry to blame both sides and make a quick exit.
Is Kerry smart? Don’t bet on it.
The last Israeli election was bizarre.
In a country facing threats to its existence from across its borders and massive jihadi genocidal terrorism, the largest election issue was the conscription of yeshiva students into the army.
This became the main issue of the election thanks to the success of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party. Both parties did so well that for the first time in many years a government coalition was formed without the haredi parties.
Since the election, much of the new government’s energy has been devoted to finding ways to force haredim to serve in the army or at least do national service like the rest of their fellow citizens.
My own position on this is clear. I favor eliminating the exemption of yeshiva students from military service and, without quibbling about details, I endorse the initiatives designed to end that disgraceful exemption.
I reject the argument that people need exemptions to study Torah. I am all in favor of studying Torah. I study Torah myself. But I see no reason why a person cannot study Torah while also serving his country and working for a living.
In fact, traditional Judaism through the ages has taught that people who attempt to exploit their positions as students or teachers of Torah for personal gain are guilty of the worst forms of sacrilege and abomination. This means not only that seeking exemption from military service on grounds of one’s studies is a chillul Hashem but also that yeshiva students need to work.
If Rashi and the Rambam could study Torah while working for a living, so can yeshiva students in 21st-century Israel.
Ironically, holding such a position puts me (and those like me) in the same political camp (for a rare change) with the secular left in Israel. Leftists have been chortling with delight at the prospects of ending the wholesale exemptions from military service for haredim – and any time the left is happy about something, the rest of us had better be on the lookout.
But there is a greater irony to all this. The secularist left has been peacocking its grand moral stand in favor of military service for yeshiva students, preaching about the high morality of national service and universal conscription for the entire population (though never proposing expanding it to include Arabs). Service is patriotic, it is part of basic citizenship, it is the duty of all Israelis, they insist in their usual herd unison.
There is one tiny problem in all this. The very same secular leftists who are so proud of themselves for demanding universal conscription and military service for the haredim are the same people who have been running the campaign on behalf of Natan Blanc.
Blanc is a 20-year-old conscientious objector who has refused to serve in the Israeli military for political reasons and is now the national poster boy for the left and especially for Haaretz, the Palestinian newspaper printed in Hebrew.
Blanc, first of all, is not religious and has no moral positions based on religious belief. He also is not a pacifist. He explains quite candidly that the reason he refuses to serve in the Israeli military is because he is opposed to “occupation.” In other words, he wants an exemption from military service because he disagrees with national policy on ideological grounds.
Blanc has been arrested ten times and jailed for disobedience and insubordination and refusal to serve, but last week the Israeli government backed down and released him from prison. It thus granted legitimacy to the position of the left, which holds that people who disagree with government policy should be exempt from serving in the military.
So why are very same people who are so deliriously happy about ending the exemption from military service for yeshiva students leading the campaign to grant exemption to Natan Blanc? The answer is obvious: Leftists are fundamentally anti-democratic. They believe people should serve their country only when their country is doing what the left wants, and in this case the left wants Israel to duplicate in the West Bank its retreat from Gaza (which of course led to the creation of a Hamas-run entity on Israel’s borders from which an unending barrage of missiles are launched against Israeli towns and cities); to withdraw from Jerusalem; and to grant the Palestinians a “right of return.”
Leftists not only think that people like Blanc should be exempt from military service, they also feel Israelis in general should be exempt from obeying the law as long as Israel refuses to follow the diktats of the left.
The next logical step for the left would be to demand that Arabs and leftists be exempt from paying taxes as long as Israel refuses to implement the policies advocated by Saudi Arabia and John Kerry. Why stop at military service – why not make all obeying of laws contingent on the government’s adopting policies advocated by Amira Hass and Noam Chomsky?
And why not go even further? If Israelis stubbornly refuse to voluntarily implement the agenda of the left, then international pressure and sanctions should be used to coerce the country into submitting to the will of the two percent of society that identifies itself as part of the radical left.
Blanc, as mentioned above, does not claim to be religiously or politically opposed to all use of arms (which had been the basis for exempting some Quakers and others in the U.S. from military service back when the U.S. had conscription).
I suspect Blanc would applaud any international military effort to defend Syrian civilians from the assaults by the Assad regime. He just opposes the use of arms by Israel as long as Israel refuses to allow the creation of another Hamastan in the West Bank and abandon Jerusalem.
Blanc, it should be noted, did not offer to do non-combatant military service in the IDF, such as serving as a cook or male nurse or janitor. Most Israeli soldiers are non-combat personnel (in fact, I was one) and Blanc would have no problem finding such a position.
Now that Netanyahu and his team have once again chosen the cowardly path, capitulating to protests by leftists supporting Blanc’s exemption from service and release from prison for insubordination, just how are they going to justify their campaign for universal service for yeshiva students?
Two leading Haredi Knesset Members have delivered a revelation, apparently based on their Kabbalic insights, that Israel’s latest security and economic woes are a direct results of God’s vengeance for the universal draft that recognizes Haredi youth as equal to other Jewish citizens required to serve the country.
MK Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party handed down to the common people his prophetic insights.
Everything was just dandy before Yair Lapid came along, according to his understanding. There were no missiles from Gaza threatening Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There was no poverty. The deficit, to a certain extent bloated by funding for yeshiva education, did not exist.
Syria was not a threat, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt really liked Israel.
So what happened that all of a sudden Syrian President Bashar Assad threatens Israel with missiles and Finance Minister Lapid raises taxes and cuts spending?
It’s the draft, stupid, the draft that demands that Haredi young men actually stop studying in yeshivas – except for the ones who don’t – and serve the country like every other Jew in Israel is supposed to.
The argument has been heard hundreds of times that studying Torah protect Israel through its spiritual rewards.
But this time, MK Gafni seems to have stayed on Mount Sinai too long since the Shavuot holiday.
When they [Yesh Atid] didn’t harm the Torah, there was quiet, also on the security front,” he said. “Syria was a country far away. There was quiet. Israel’s credit rating rose. We were in an excellent economic situation. They started harming the Torah; Syria got closer to us….Missiles are now pointed at Tel Aviv. I believe in this with full faith. There are thousands, hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions like me who believe this. They harmed the Torah and so Israel’s credit rating is plummeting.”
Another Haredi MK, Yisrael Eichler, has identified two wars in Israel. “The first, against the Arabs, stems from security reasons, and the second is a cultural one, aimed against the Torah and the Jewish lifestyle,” said, according to the Yisrael HaYom newspaper.
“Anyone who is truly concerned about Israel’s security knows that only soldiers who are fit for battle should be drafted, subject to security officials’ discretion, not the commissars of secular culture.”
After the Knesset passed the universal draft law, Gafni announced that only two countries in the world have jailed Jews for learning Torah: Rome and Israel.
Thousands of Israeli men fight in the army and learn Torah in their spare time. Combat soldiers serving next to my community in the southern Hevron Hills come to our synagogue daily and open up their Talmud after praying.
So far, no has arrested them. Our security seems to be more or less okay, and the community’s budget is tight but balanced.
Could it be that these soldiers guarding the country and guarding the Torah know something that Gafni and Eichler don’t know?