Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Selective Bitachon


The biggest topic in Israel these days is the debate over drafting the charedim into the IDF. The non-charedi population of Israel has always resented the exemption from army service granted to charedim, and its lack of contribution to the economy. However, with the huge growth of the charedi community, the issue has become much more serious. The Plesner Committee recommended that most charedim be drafted, and economic sanctions leveled against those who refuse to serve - loss of housing grants, child benefit payments, etc. The charedi community has reacted by declaring this to be an act of war, against which they will fight to the very end.

The charedim defend their approach on the grounds that learning Torah protects the nation. This is something which, obviously, non-religious people entirely dispute. Most American charedim seem to understand the perspective of non-religious people, and are sympathetic to their grievance that only their children put their lives on the line, and shoulder the economic burden. Israeli charedim, on the other hand, charge those demanding the draft with baseless hatred and even Christian ancestry and antisemitism!

But the charedim take the idea of Torah-as-protection a huge leap further, and claim that this protection is best, primarily and even only provided by those who learn Torah exclusively and who never serve in the army or do national service at any point in their lives. Furthermore, they are oblivious to the leap that they are taking with this, and equate serving in the army with the abandonment of Torah. They charge the non-charedim with trying to destroy Torah - as though there are no fine frum Jews who serve in the army! They charge the non-charedim with trying to destroy yeshivos - as though there are no dati-leumi yeshivos! They charge the non-charedim with trying to destroy traditional Judaism - despite the fact that there is nothing traditional about having tens of thousands of people in kollel!

However, I would like to focus on what seem to be a very basic and important perspective on all this that, strangely, has apparently been entirely overlooked.

Let's consider the basic concept of "learning Torah and trusting that this will provide Divine protection." That is an aggadic concept found in sources such as the Gemara. But here's the rub - there are much more sources, and of more weighty (i.e. Scriptural) authority, that one should trust in God to provide economic sustenance! Yet one never sees that religious principle playing a role in politics! Instead, the charedim are going berserk about the government cutting the financial benefits to charedim who don't serve in the army!

The charedim want to have it both ways. When it comes to military service, they demand an unlimited number of exemptions, claiming that the more people who learn Torah, the more Divine protection there will be. But when it comes to receiving money, bitachon goes out of the window, and they demand to receive it from the State of Israel. If they trust in their Torah and mitzvos and bitachon to provide physical security, why don't they trust in it to provide financial security?

(Cue all the hair-splitting distinctions, produced by minds honed at intellectual gymnastics. I'm not expecting to convince those who are determined to oppose any criticism of the charedi system.)

And there's more. What is the charedi world's reaction to the planned draft? Conspicuously absent is genuine fear for national security and for our very lives - the kind of fear that we would have if we found out that a computer virus had rendered all the IDF's weapons systems and aircraft useless. Instead we have hysteria over the disruption to their way of life, declarations of war, some calling for cancelling the yeshivah summer vacation (unlike during the Lebanon war!) while others take time off learning for demonstrations. But where is their bitachonLearning Torah protects you from Syria and Hezbollah and Iran, but not from the Israeli government?!

All this further proves a point that I made a while ago. The real reasons why charedim don't serve in the army have nothing to do with the highly questionable notion that having sixty thousand people in kollel provides essential security for the country. It is because they want to maintain a certain way of life. Not that one cannot be sympathetic to that, and to their reasons for it. But when it comes at the expense of others disproportionately shouldering the burden of national security and the economy - why, that's just selfish.

141 comments:

  1. Excellent arguments.

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  2. Finally a breath of fresh air, I've been waiting for somebody to write this.

    For the record during the Lebenon war there were calls to call off bein hazmanim then also. We'll see if the current calls fair any better then the previous ones.

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  3. And, I would add to your conclusion, when arguments to maintain that way of life are based on dubious religious rationalizations supposedly supported by great torah scholars, it further bolsters people's view of the gedolim (and the chareidi public) as nothing more than manipulative political players who use torah to justify anything they want rather than sincere truth seeking men of integrity.

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  4. Umm...Your let me go through some of the choice quotes from the American Hareidim:

    "The Hareidim just want to be left alone"

    "We are all Hareidim. I will fight tooth and nail for them"(OK that was a real stretch....but that is what I understood from him)

    "If the Hareidim are drafted into the army: who will learn Torah?"

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  5. What I want to know, is when there will be a Torah based argument.

    Moshe said to Gad, "will you rest while your brothers go to war?"

    The Torah gives a few exemptions for the draft, but the charedim don't seem to want to listen to them.

    Where does it say that Jews are allowed to avoid the draft of a Jewish army because they are learning Torah?

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  6. Thank God someone with real knowledge wrote this. It seems so obvious to me.

    I'd like to add that when the government cut child subsidies a few years ago, producing a similar wave of overblown and hysterical rheteric from the Israeli-haredi media and political leadership, my rabbi at the time, Rav Avraham Stern, someone I consider a genuine tzaddik, spoke out, and said exactly what you are saying - our bitachon should be such that we should trust God to provide for our needs - we should only worry about what this government will do against the Torah, in other non-economic ways. This man is not a politician, needless to say.

    I should also add that while living in Beitar Illit during the Second Intifada, when the security situation became very difficult, many people, including the political leaders, demanded increased army protection. I don't see what could be more hypocritical - if they really and truly believed their rheteric, they should have set up more betei midrashim.

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  7. David PT
    Well written, you expressed thoughts that are prevalent, but not expressed often enough. I would like to add, that during the last round of fighting "Cast Iorn", many of the Charedi Yeshivot in the area that were effected (Shderot, Ashkelon, and Ashdod) picked themselves up, and moved to Beni Brak. When their Torah learning was really needed, to protect their neighbors from incoming missiles. They evidently didn't have too much trust or belief in it.

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  8. Maybe one of the commenters could help me with this one: I don't know about all yeshivot, but my son's yeshiva gedolah is four years, until the bochurim are 20. I don't see why the Kadimah people are insisting on enlistment at 18 years old--what's the big deal if they're allowed to defer until after yeshiva gedolah?

    It's sort of like asking someone in sophomore year of college to drop out and join the Peace Corps for three years. Let them finish the four years of college, l'havdil, and then do army/community service.

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    Replies
    1. If I'm not mistaken men are allowed to defer somewhat. I have a cousin that went to mechina first and then the army, there is also the hester route that also starts with a learning track and segues into the army.

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  9. Could not agree more with Rabbi Slifkin.
    May Hashem bless you and may we witness the real change for the good.

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  10. When people come to my door, collecting for kollels, I have a great response: I will do something much better than give you money - I will learn in the zechus that you should get parnosoh!

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  11. "I don't know about all yeshivot, but my son's yeshiva gedolah is four years, until the bochurim are 20. I don't see why the Kadimah people are insisting on enlistment at 18 years old--what's the big deal if they're allowed to defer until after yeshiva gedolah?"

    In fact, that's not Kadima's position at all. The Plessner committee recommended that yeshiva students be allowed to defer their service to 22 years old, and that will probably end up in the proposed law. This is one of several concessions being made to the haredi position - something that may be getting lost in the hysterical rheteric coming out of the haredi camp.

    It's true that Lieberman and others are demanding service for all at 18. Personally, I think Lieberman is more interested in demogoguing this issue than in solving it.

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  12. It's a little scary how ureasonable and downright nasty the Charedim are getting over this.

    I recommend listening to the interview with former MK Meir Porush on Galei Tzahal yesterday. It begins at the 8:00-minute mark of the July 9 program.

    http://www.glz.co.il/NewsArticle.aspx?newsid=67778

    Some highlights -
    1 - How can Bibi do this to us when we're in the driver's seat in the government with him?
    2 - None of us (Charedim) have our own opinions. Everything we do is based on what the gedolim tell us to do.
    3 - Why look at us? The Arabs don't serve either.
    4 - Quoting Rav Shach to the effect that if they don't let us learn Torah here, we'll go to Galut and do it there.

    Number 3 is the most despicable and is a pretty good indication as to how they (don't) see themselves as a part of the Am HaYoshev B'Tzion. I mean, to try to weasle out of it by pointing to the Arabs? How low can you sink?

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  13. Thanks to Baruch Gitlin for clarifying that about conscription age for yeshiva bochurim.

    The "hysterical rhetoric" he refers to reminds me of the last time that this was a hot issue--when Ehud Barak got elected for prime minister. I expressed my concern to a friend of mine about what to expect. He responded, "Look at Jewish history. The Jewish people have been through things a lot worse than this."

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  14. Well said, RNS. Personally, for the reasons stated here, I have always had more respect for the Satmar camp the eschews receiving economic benefits from the medinah (to whatever extent it is actualized).

    It is because they want to maintain a certain way of life.

    Agreed. It would be quite a breath of fresh air if some Haredi leader(s) would come out and just honestly say it. I'd like them to say something like "hey, the army is critical for the country and we love the soldiers and all that they do for us, but we can't risk our boys blending in with everyone else in the army, so we're going to respectfully decline your draft notices. You can keep your economic benefits, thank you."

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  15. Just because they aren't consistent doesn't discredit the belief that Torah learning really does protect the nation. This is similar to pointing at a Shomer Shabbos embezzler and discrediting Shmiras Shabbos because this guy is hypocritical.
    If this goes through, Torah learning will take a great hit. 60,000 Yshiva students learning 10 hours a day is 600,000 hours of Torah lost and not easily compensated for. Unless, as one Rav suggested, we require all Israelis to learn an hour of Torah a day...

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  16. "It's true that Lieberman and others are demanding service for all at 18. Personally, I think Lieberman is more interested in demogoguing this issue than in solving it."

    I don't understand why you say that. Non Charedi people get drafted when they are 18. They then have to go to college after the Army. Why should Charedim or yeshiva students only start the army after they go to "yeshiva college"?

    Either everyone should be drafted at 18 or nobody.

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  17. The fundamental problem is that the Chareidi viewpoint is based on contradictions.
    They despire innovations but the concept of Chareidism is an innovation.
    They say that learning for life is the only way for a Jew to be, but that is also an innovation.
    So is it any surprise that they want money from the State they refuse to support?

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  18. "I don't understand why you say that. Non Charedi people get drafted when they are 18. They then have to go to college after the Army. Why should Charedim or yeshiva students only start the army after they go to "yeshiva college"?"

    First, not everyone gets drafted at 18. Some people get deferred for a year or two, for various reasons, including finishing studies, attending mechina (pre-army prep school), and probably other reasons.

    Second, I think its reasonable to cushion this huge change and implement it gradually, both for the sake of the haredi community, which is totally unprepared for this change, and for the army.

    Third, I think deferring the draft age for haredim is a reasonable concession to the difficulty the army will present, given the way they are raised. A few more years of maturity may make it easier for them to withstand these difficulties, and I think it's a reasonable concession to make, not that their leaders' attitude makes me want to see any concessions at all - but I don't think the bochurim should be made to suffer for their leaders' pigheadedness.

    And finally, I think it was irresponsible of Lieberman and his party to walk out of the Plesner committee, however they felt about its conclusions. An issue like this requires pateience and compromise all around, and I think Lieberman's move was grandstanding. If he wanted to object, his representative on the committee could have issued a dissenting opinion. All his actions are doing is making it less likely to pass any law. They will reply with "fine, let there be no law, and no discrimination," but the more responsible politicians, even those with an anti-haredi reputation, seem to feel this would be very hard to implement. The interests of the state and the army should also be taken into consideration, no matter how one may feel about the haredim.

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  19. If the ideal of Toraso Umanaso is the guiding force I have a serious question.

    Where is the Toraso Umanaso of Moshe Gafni, Litzman, et al?

    I believe that any yeshiva bochur who receives an exemption should also be forbidden from serving in politics.

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  20. See my post Yeshivas are moving north out of danger, what about the protection of Torah learning? about Yeshivas moving out of danger 3 years ago when rockets were falling in Ashdod.

    Also see my post Are they really out to destroy the Torah world? Will there really be no Yeshiva world if Yeshiva boys are drafted? about the complete overreaction in the Charedi world, can anyone really believe that this is really aשעת השמד?

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  21. I made a similar point regarding healthcare and the lack of bitachon last year.

    About a year ago R' Elyashiv had to have heart surgery. They flew in the top cardiac/blood vessel surgeon from Cleveland (a religious Catholic) to do the surgery.

    The question I would like to ask is why was that necessary? The prevalent (only?) Charedi hashkafa today is that not even a leaf falls without it being a גזירה מו שמים and that השתדלות has no effect, it is just an illusion. השתדלות is just so that we avoid ניסים גלוים (see מכתב מאליהו, חזון איש אמונה ובטחון and others). If so, shouldn't bringing the top surgeon be too much השתדלות and a lack of בטחון? After all, Hashem is doing the healing not the surgeon and once we have done our השתדלות, going to the doctor and having the surgery, why should it matter whether the surgeon is the best in the world or simply Joe surgeon who is competent? As long as we do our השתדלות to avoid requiring a נס, the rest is a גזירה מן השמים. If the גזירה is that the surgery will be successful, then it will be successful even if done by the average surgeon, and if the גזירה is that it won't be successful then it won't help that you have the best surgeon.

    The hypocrisy is obvious here, when it comes to not serving in the army suddenly they have bitachon and who needs hishtadlus. But when it comes to their own health suddenly hishtadlus is super important.

    See Should we go to the best doctor?

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  22. FACT: the period from the destruction of the Bet Ha-Mikdash until the establishment of the State of Israel is roughly 1,900 years.
    FACT: During those 1,900 years, there was much, much learning of Torah.
    FACT: In that period, Jews suffered repeated persecution, physical annihilation, and suffering.

    I don't think any Hareidi disagrees with these facts. What boggles my mind, is the failure to connect the dots. That is, learning Torah did absolutlely NOTHING to protect us for almost 2,000 years. Why then, assume that it is the learnning, (and not the IDF with God's help) that protects Israel now?
    BTW, I am a Torah-observant Jew who is much in favor of Torah learning.

    But really, can someone explain how you can NOT learn what seems to me the clear lesson of history?

    Ezra

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  23. @Mighty Garnel Ironheart

    I think people are disgusted more than surprised.

    The phrase "cognitive dissonance" has a picture of a Chareidi as it's canonical example.

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  24. Dear Rav Slifkin,

    I agree with your points %100.

    I have some personal questions, however, which I think have ramifications for this discussion: did you serve in the IDF, for how long and in what framework, and do you continue to do miluim?

    I do not know the answers to these questions - so please do not take this as an attack on your integrity. I just think that, for the purpose of this discussion, everything should be on the table.

    Bechavod,

    Proud miluimnik

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  25. "people's view of the gedolim (and the chareidi public) as nothing more than manipulative political players who use torah to justify anything they want rather than sincere truth seeking men of integrity."

    I think the gedolim are manipulated, or simply clueless, than manipulative...

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  26. "If this goes through, Torah learning will take a great hit. 60,000 Yshiva students learning 10 hours a day is 600,000 hours of Torah lost and not easily compensated for. Unless, as one Rav suggested, we require all Israelis to learn an hour of Torah a day.."

    Or they could make bein hazmanim shorter. Bein hazmanim in the charedi yeshivas I've visited is about 70 days a year. The typical job where I live gives about 22 vacation days per year, including legal holidays. How about charedim go to the army and then reduce their vacation period to the same length as mine. The extra 48 days of Torah study each year, over a lifetime, would come out to the equivalent of about 9 years of army service (I just did the calculation).

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  27. Torah learning will take a great hit. 60,000 Yshiva students learning 10 hours a day is 600,000 hours

    (1) We're talking about students in the age range of 22 - 25, not the entire population of yeshiva students at the same time.

    (2) In any case, the numbers game is irrelevant. The Haredi protesters are preaching יהרג ולא יעבור over even one yeshiva student getting drafted.

    (3) The numbers are just another way of saying that every single Haredi kid cops out of the army. If 30k deferrals were sufficient for our divine protection needs 20 years ago, then why do we need 60k deferrals today?

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  28. I agree with Ameteur (9:15). Rabbi Slifkin's argument is sound but will not convince anyone in the Hareidi world.

    I'm not sure anything will, but if any argument has a chance it is one based on the torah and chazal.

    Examples abound, with people like Yehoshua who never left the tent going out to do battle with Amalek.

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  29. To Miluimnik:

    No, I have not served in the IDF, for several reasons, none of which I am proud of. (Remember, I have gone through quite a transformation in the last 15 years!)

    I will, however, be sending my boys to the IDF (even though I am terrified at the prospect) and my girls to sherut leumi.

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  30. pd,
    "...If this goes through, Torah learning will take a great hit. 60,000 Yshiva students learning 10 hours a day is 600,000 hours of Torah lost and not easily compensated for. Unless, as one Rav suggested, we require all Israelis to learn an hour of Torah a day..."

    Honestly, of those 60,000 students how many of them are learning 10 hours a day? I recall in Yeshiva they taught us that 1 hour of learning a day with no bitul is worth more than any number of hours a day (say 10 hours) of learning with an hour or two of bitul sprinkled in.

    The Torah mandates all Jews to be Kova'h Eytim i.e. minimum 1 hour at night and 1 hour in the day. (To enforce people to learn one hour is redundant - sort of like a hate crime in NY against a minority, to which the perp is doubly punished because the victim is a minority. However, the minority is protected from assault under the same statute as everyone else in society. A "Hate Crime" is pandering to a political base - but i digress).

    The Torah requires people to earn an honest living by being a productive participant in society at the expense of learning all day so your argument has no basis. In Israel the only way to be an active participant is by enlisting in the army.

    The Gedolim obviously have an agenda here and that is expand their base and increase their sphere of influence. By endorsing this new measure their influence will be greatly diminished. History is just repeating itself. During the Holocaust the Gedolim of the time were asked what should the people do, should they stay or flee. The majority of the "Gedolim" said they should stay. Draw your own conclusion.

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  31. 1. Why are you not involved in politics? You could be a representative for anglos in Israel.

    2. If I were to start a "Hirshian" (Torah Im Derech Eretz) Haredi School/Yeshiva/College in Israel would you support it?

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  32. Fair enough.

    By the way, I myself did a shortened service, as a (dati-leumi) yeshiva student. I too am not proud of this today. I try to make myself feel better about it by voluteering for reserve duty - even though I have 6 kids and no longer have to serve by law.

    Miluimnik

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  33. > FACT: During those 1,900 years, there was much, much learning of Torah.
    FACT: In that period, Jews suffered repeated persecution, physical annihilation, and suffering.

    Ezra, the fallback position is to either blame the Zionists or to use Satmar logic - when something bad happens to us, it's a test from God because He loves us so the more mistery, the more love!

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  34. "All this further proves a point that I made a while ago. The real reasons why charedim don't serve in the army has nothing to do with.... security for the country. It is because they want to maintain a certain way of life."

    Everyone knows this, RNS. This is not a chiddush. "we provide security" is a slogan, akin to the democrats advertising "republicans are declaring war on women" or things like that. In all such cases the rubes and the gullible true believers in the party [cue the usual commenter here] might actually believe the slogan, but most people understand it's just a spin.

    The Arab exemption is a real problem, tho. I'm in favor of drafting charedim like veryone else, but they have a legit "tainah" if the Arabs dont have to serve. The usual defense, that they cant fight against other Arabs, is hollow and everyone knows it. Mimoh nafshoch - are they citizens of Israel or not? I have seen commentary from Israeli leftists on this issue recetnly, belatedly coming around to the realization that if the Charedim are going to be asked to serve, the Isralei Arabs will have to serve also. There is no meaningful distinction betwen them.

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  35. I'll be bold and make a general declaration.
    Every person who wants to offer an opinion on secular-DatiLeumi-Haredi issues anytime has three jobs first:
    1) Really, truly make an effort to understand the perspective of the secular Jews in the issue, as if you were one of them.
    2) Really, truly make an effort to understand the perspective of the Dati-Leumi Jews in the issue, as if you were one of them.
    3) Really, truly make an effort to understand the perspective of the Haredi Jews in the issue, as if you were one of them.
    Then you can offer you opinions and I'll gladly, truly listen.

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  36. ב"ה

    1) What would Rabbi Akiva say? His students died fighting with Bar Kochva.

    2)What would Rashi and Rambam say about not working for a living? True, Maimonides didn't have to work when his brother was alive, but after that he earned a living as a doctor.

    3) My nephew is in the army and will go back to Yeshiva, IY"H, after that. My nephew-in-law also did Hesder. I don't understand why there can't be Hareidi divisions in the army where they learn part of the day and do essential, non-military duties in the armed forces.

    4) What is the point of learning Tora without practicing what they learn? By being in the army, these Yeshiva-educated boys could be teaching other Israelis Tora. Your average Hiloni Israeli has never been exposed to Tora learning on that level. By insisting on being separate, how can they positively influence others? How do they contribute to Tikkun Olam? Do they really think that with the Sinat Yisrael they spread they are bringing Moshiah? Learning Tora is only important inasmuch as it helps one keep the Tora. Learning without teaching, learning without doing, learning to the exclusion of all else, this is not true Tora.

    Not only do they not serve, but they look down on those who do. They don't want to understand others, IMHO. G-d has always wanted us to meet Him/Her in the middle. We have to do our due diligence for Hashem to help.

    I understand compromises (like going into the army after Yeshiva and having a group of the best and brightest not have to serve), but I don't understand status quo.

    Good article and good comments....

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  37. DF-
    about Arabs serving. No one (or almost no one sane) would want Arabs serving. That is a different problem. They can perhaps be forced to do labor for the state.
    Anyway a good solution can also be that those who do not serve do not have a chance to vote. NO service no voting rights. This would take case both of Haredim and Arabs.

    Sam D.

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  38. Ezra said...
    > But really, can someone explain how you can NOT learn what seems to me the clear lesson of history?

    Sure. They say that without the learning, things would have been much worse than they were. We don’t know about all the plots the goyim had against us that Hashem cuased to fail in the zechus of Talmud torah.

    Beautifully non-falsifiable, no?

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  39. I really enjoyed reading this post. extremely well articulated.

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  40. Mordechai RobertsonJuly 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    This quote is from Rabbi Lazer Brody, who sort of hits the nail on the head in a Breslevish way:

    Why the ruckus? The Mishna tells us straight out who will be drafted and who will not. "Rabbi Nechunya ben Hakanah says: Whoever accepts the yoke of Torah upon himself will be spared the yoke of government and worldly affairs" (Avot 3.5). That's a hard spiritual fact. If the Torah learners as a whole were really learning Torah - as a "yoke" and not as the easy way out - Hashem wouldn't be threatening them with the draft.

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  41. Ezra and Mighty GI -
    A major message of Yirmiyahu is about the devastation that was coming on the Jews and Yerushalayim for one reason, and one reason only. Because the false prophets [re: religious authorities] were heaping praise on the people for returning to the ritual service of G-d (korbanot, prayers, beit hamikdash) and dropping their idol worship. However, they continued to fail to demonstrate care of the poor, the unfortunate - in a nutshell, to see themselves as part of a greater community.

    When a group who hold themselves to be holy, and to be seen as representing G-d and what Hashem wants - and that group behaves terribly against their fellows - it is a surefire way to G-d's wrath.

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  42. Thank you R. Slifkin. You skillfully pulled the rug under one of the chareidim's increasingly hollow arguments.

    I wish you would write a memoir on your "transformation" as you describe it. Unfortunately, some of the best and brightest Centrist Orthodox youth are transforming themselves (in large part courtesy of an increasingly right-wing YU/RIETS)in the opposite direction because of an idealized version of chareidiism that they are being fed.

    I believe that you are eminently qualified to write a work that discusses the differences - hashkafic and practical - between chareidiism and non-chareidi frumkeit.

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  43. Guys, it's like this:
    1) Serving in the army for Jewish self-defense is a vital mitzvah.
    2) Leading a life of punctilious Torah and Mitzvos is the purpose of life for a Jew.

    How do we balance these two values if the army defending Jews is anti-religious and threatens to seriously undermine the religious commitment of the soldiers under its command? (Any ancient parallel you try to draw did not have this problem!)
    To Haredim, who see themselves as the last ember of authentic Judaism after the ravages of the Holocaust and Haskala, issues like this are a fight for the very survival of Judaism in the face of an unrelentingly hostile secular world!
    All the people who reference the importance of army service with "no excuses" are missing the whole point, as far as the Haredi perspective is concerned!
    You don't have to agree, but you've got to appreciate where the Haredim are coming from!
    All serious religious Jews are connected by one common goal - fulfilling the Will of God in this world and getting closer to Him. We often disagree on how to go about this, but we should all be linked with love toward each other and appreciate the common, holy intentions, before we bash each other regarding the quirks of implementation.

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  44. If that was the issue, a workaround could easily be found.

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  45. I think it would be illustrative if you provided one or two (aggadic) examples of Chazal promoting Torah study as an assured means of income, which you allude to in your article.

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  46. I read a vort recently about the first time that B'nei Yisrael face a foe after they leave Eretz Mitzrayim, i.e., Amalek. Do they let Hashem do the fighting? Do they leave it up to bitachon? No. Moshe commands Yehoshua to raise an army and fight Amalek! And Rashi says that those whom he chose were to be BOTH giborim and those that were Yir'e Cheit, fearers of sin, so that their merit will aid them. Based upon the foregoing, the Hareidim should be the first to be online to join the army so that their merit will aid the giborim!

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  47. Which part leads to an easy workaround, Rabbi Slifkin?
    The only approach that could truly work for Haredim would be a massive expansion of Nahal Haredi AND a buildup of trust that the army isn't going to just dismantle it suddenly when convenient and throw all the Haredi boys into the regular "assimilationist" army in a vicious bate-and-switch.
    The decades of mistrust that have been built between the secular and Haredi societies (in BOTH directions - this history goes back a hundred years) preclude such a solution for the foreseeable future, even if we ascribe the best intentions to the secular public (which is not always warranted, sadly. There have been plenty of examples of secular aggression against the Haredim over the years).

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  48. A good friend of mine (secular-traditional) explained to me why she feels strongly that the draft age should be 18 and not 22: by 22, they are married. There is a big difference when someone is married.

    (IIRC Lieberman walked out because of some leniency toward Arabs, not this issue).

    Sorry, gotta go help my son pack. He is starting the army tomorrow morning, as part of Hesder.

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  49. (on the other hand) question to those who state about fulfilling Milhemit Mitzwah and following Halacha.
    Would or do you vocalize as much about not following orderes if and when they contradict Halacha? For example if the army is used by the leftists to fight against Jews in their homes? What would or do you say?
    Sam D.

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  50. Calling the army anti-religious is Motzi Shem Ra.

    They don't even make them shave during the 3 weeks.

    There's no question but that it would be allowed, just as it is allowed for work purposes, but the army is makpid.

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  51. I think what has happened is that the chareidi public has turned into a cult of torah learning.

    by that i mean it used to be that torah learning was a means to an end. to make you a better person better yid and so on.

    However now, torah learning is the end and any means is justified, even if it it means not following what it says in the Torah.

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  52. Online Commenting Guy,

    I don't understand why today's IDF & the Jewish armies of ancient times are not comparable. If anything, from a religious point of view, today's army is much more observant.

    All IDF soldiers may not keep kosher, but no one today worships avodah zarah, which is a much more severe sin.

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  53. Moshe Feiglin's solution is best: Eliminate the draft and make the IDF a voluntary army (like the army in the U.S.).

    (Pd, talmud Torah is great because it leads to maaseh. Serving in the army is the maaseh. The "lost" hours of Torah study will not be lost because they are almost valueless if they are not put to any use [and since yeshivos geenrally study masechtos that have little relevance to anyone, almost all their learning is a waste of time in any event].)

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  54. Ronald Reagan said ` Trust but verify `. Here,we could say` have bitachon,but take up arms`. Wasn`t chanukah all about that ?

    I would quote George Thorogood`s song ` Get a haircut and get a real job ` but nobody here would get it.

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  55. I don't mean to interrupt you intellectuals from releasing your angry vitriol, but have any of you ever heard of lashon harah? Has the author of this blog ever heard of lashon harah?
    Whether those we talk about are individuals or sects of a larger group; whether they are right or dead wrong, does that exempt us from speaking negatively and stoking the embers of sinas chinam?
    Oh, this is a blog! Now I get it! That's why we can say whatever we want... Do the kippot we wear on our head fall off when we go online? Well you tell me you go to Torah sites, right? So you preach certain values but you don't really believe them and that's alright I guess... You rant about how Rabbi KookShachSoloveitchikKanievskyRakkeffet is perverting Judaism; from a rational perspective, the only factor withholding our ultimate dream of seeing the Mashiach in our days ISN'T the misdeeds of Rabbi KookShachSoloveitchikKanievskyRakkeffet but YOUR ranting which brings about sinas chinam for no good reason at all. Let the rabbis be wrong if you honestly want the best for the Jewish people.
    I came across this site by mistake, I hope if I ever come back by mistake, I will be elated to discover that the blogger is no longer posting articles and comments attacking others and spewing words of destruction, rather he'll be posting articles and comments teaching and inspiring us to be better and more learned Jews.

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  56. If I may add on one more word...
    The fact that we may quote half of shas to prove our points does not make our articles and comments holy! The students of Rabbi Akiva also knew half of shas, and those they halachikly argued with were probably always factually wrong, but the students were disrespectful and therefore in the divine light, the students of Rabbi Akiva were truly in the wrong...

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  57. "Based upon the foregoing, the Hareidim should be the first to be online to join the army so that their merit will aid the giborim!"

    Gd has blessed us with not allowing the Charedim to harm the Jewish army based on their demerit. :)


    "Moshe Feiglin's solution is best: Eliminate the draft and make the IDF a voluntary army (like the army in the U.S.)."

    You obviously have very little experience with the US Army. The US army is good despite it's volunteer nature, not because of it. A volunteer Army would be TERRIBLE for Israel.

    Most of the debt that the US has right now, is because of it's volunteer army.

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  58. In response to the comments of a couple of folks - yes, the army does support religion on its bases, on paper. The kitchens are supposed to be kosher, etc. etc. However, everybody knows that the CULTURE on these bases is secular, and not conducive to religious observance. Time for prayer and learning are a negotiation. Shabbat observance is threatened often (and soldiers must know enough to be on guard and remind their officers that the law does not require them to violate Shabbat except in pikuach nefesh situations).
    And of course it is well known that on regular army bases with 18 year old boys and girls running around, shenanigans often occur.
    None of this is a secret.
    So I don't think I'm out of line by asserting that, to Haredim certainly, the army is an anti-religious environment. Sure, it depends on who your commanders are etc. but this is a well founded generalization. And of course, the upper brass calling the shots are all secular (so far).

    And correct me if I'm wrong, but if this is common knowledge how is it Motzei Shem Ra or Lashon Hara to bring it up?

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  59. Rabbi Slifkin

    Perhaps you'd like to explain your lack of service to the medina??? Did you at least do sherut leumi?? Its easy to Preach from your warm armchair in RBS but to practice is another point altogether!

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  60. If I may back up the statements of OnlineCommentingGuy: some of the haredi rhetoric against Nahal Haredi is likening it to עבודת פרך = פה רך in Egypt. In Egypt, first the Jews were asked to work for pay, until it led to slavery.
    Nahal Haredi is seen as a step in getting the haredim to assimilate--the army serving as the "Israeli melting pot".

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  61. "Manchester Jew" - I already addressed this in the comments above. I am currently making aliyah, and if they ask me to do something, I will do it!

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  62. OnlineCommentingGuy, there is a big difference between saying, "it is a challenge to be Shomer Mitzvot" or even, "people who are serious about being Shomer Mitzvot need special conditions", and saying that the army "is anti-religious and threatens to undermine the religious commitment of soldiers". The practical difference being that the army has an entire branch dedicated to providing "special conditions" for all kinds of situations. Not only do they have no interest in undermining religious soldiers, but they are universally admired and respected. My son heard this from a general who came to speak at their yeshiva before they were drafted, and this is the general sentiment of Israelis: yeshiva boys are dedicated soldiers and an inspiration to others.

    The Hesder program is one example, Nachal Chareidi is another, and there are others as well. You are right that if the Chareidi world were to wake up tomorrow and say, take all our 20 yo's, the infrastructure does not exist to take them all in.

    On a practical level, it needs time - to create more programs, to educate people about the army and the various ways they could serve, and to dispel misconceptions.

    But on a theoretical level, why is my son's blood cheaper than theirs? He could be learning in yeshiva and letting the zechus of his Torah protect Israel, yet today he went to the Bakum and put on his uniform (with army-issued tzitzis), and will guard the territorial waters of Israel for 16 months.

    That is the real zechus, to be able to do that.

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  63. On what grounds can you live in the Holy Land and not be proud to be a citizen yet criticise people who are citizens??? Why have you not made Aliyah?? Full disclosure is important so everyone understands the truth!

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  64. Let me get this straight, "Manchester Jew." You are saying that my arguments about hypocrisy cannot be evaluated without knowing where I am coming from - and you accuse me of being a hypocrite. But surely, according to your logic, we cannot evaluate your charge without knowing exactly where YOU are coming from! So please give us full disclosure of your name, ideological position, history etc.

    (Of course, the above is just playing silly games, like you.)

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  65. It does seem to make sense what Manchester jew is saying! How could a non israel dwell in Israel for such an extended period of time without breaking the law of the land? I presume on the basis of a student visa, and for what reason could Rabbi Slifkin Shlita not want to be an Israeli academic unless to hide behind his academic pursuits to avoid Army duty??

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  66. Actually, not for those reasons at all. But it's a moot point, because I am anyway making aliyah now. Also, because it's irrelevant to the merits of the arguments that I make in this post.

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  67. Well it isn't a moot point because, your age and number of children would probably exempt you from army service at this point!!!! It does seem a bit ironic that someone sledging people for trying to avoid the draft seems to know the loopholes to prevent them from being in a position from being drafted!

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  68. I would probably not have been drafted even had I made aliyah earlier, due to certain medical issues. But in any case, as I said, I have undergone quite an evolution in the last 15 years. And I plan on sending my son to the army, even though it terrifies me. Are you sending yours?

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  69. Definitely to sheut leumi like i have done! I was surprised that in the vast number of zaka volunteers and organisations such as hatzolah and MDA at the numbers of chaeidim in their ranks! I suppose sherut leumi is not good enough then?

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  70. @R. Slifkin
    Re: Manchester jew and Chaim H.

    Ignore them. I am sure you are well aware that a common debating tactic of those with no argument is to attack the messenger instead of the message.

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  71. OnlineCommentingGuy, just how many bases have you served. Because you seem to think that the ENTIRE ARMY is like that. Which it isn't.

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  72. I cannot speak for every base personally, but I've spoken with enough people from various walks of life who served in various capacities to know that phenomena such as the ones I site are far from rare.
    Bottom line, whether 90% of bases are as I describe or 30%, the Haredi world doesn't trust the IDF to respect its convictions - rather, they expect the "melting pot" to do its best melt their convictions away at a vulnerable age. And this is not an issue of individuals - the Haredi fear is that whole generations will be swept away by assimilation in the army.
    The Haredi fear is that this is all a ploy to destroy their way of life, and with it the last embers of Yiddishkeit.
    That's a fear which I imagine we can all appreciate, and there is a solid historical basis for not trusting the secular authorities here in Israel when it comes to religion.
    You can argue the Haredim are wrong about their perceptions, you can argue they're wrong about their approach to the problem, but you can't argue that this is some simplistic, selfish tantrum.
    As I commented earlier on this article - try to see it from their point of view - appreciate the good things they at least think they're doing here - then you can start critiquing them (respectfully). Until you do that, you're just a hater.

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  73. Dear Rabbi Slifkin

    I really admire your usual posts which invariably encourage intellectual thought and introspection.

    On this occassion I feel that you have overstepped the mark and your most recent comment of "Ignore them. I am sure you are well aware that a common debating tactic of those with no argument is to attack the messenger instead of the message." perhaps conveys an aura of aloofness which I am not sure was your intention.

    Manchester jew and Chaim H are, I believe, probably quite entitled to attack the messenger in this case I am afraid.

    In Parshat Korach the question is posed: if Korach HAD been correct why would he have been divinely sentenced to an early death? Because, we are told, the sin of formenting machloket is so serious that the punishment would be justifiable.

    This is why I believe that you -as the messenger - are wrong in this cinstance. The posting does not follow it's usual course but is an undisguised session of Charedi bashing which can serve no good. Certainly not leading to an argument on the level of Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai.

    It is demeaning of a Rabbi of your stature and intellect I believe to have to stoop to such depths to agitate further those who have already well entrenched positions along established battle lines.

    Please, I humbly request, desist from this low form of "debate". We are a small threatened nation and need help from all angles physical and spiritual.

    May we all be blessed to contine our personal avodat hashem however that may be expressed and may there be Sholom Al Yisrael

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  74. Dear Rivka,

    If you read carefully, you will see that the comment that you attributed to me was actually written by somebody else.

    I am at a loss to understand why you think that it's legitimate for some commentators here to criticize me, but it's not legitimate for me to criticize others.

    I also don't understand when something is "charedi bashing" and when it is airing a legitimate critique and raising an argument of which others may be unaware.

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  75. Yehuda BroderickJuly 12, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    "I cannot speak for every base personally, but I've spoken with enough people from various walks of life who served in various capacities to know that phenomena such as the ones I site are far from rare."

    'far from rare' is not the same as what you implied, that it's happening in ALL bases at ALL times. I've served in enough capacities to know that this is NOT a common thing.


    "Bottom line, whether 90% of bases are as I describe or 30%, the Haredi world doesn't trust the IDF to respect its convictions - rather, they expect the "melting pot" to do its best melt their convictions away at a vulnerable age. And this is not an issue of individuals - the Haredi fear is that whole generations will be swept away by assimilation in the army."

    What kind of assimilation are we talking about? Is it the kind where you become irreligious? Or is it something else?


    "The Haredi fear is that this is all a ploy to destroy their way of life, and with it the last embers of Yiddishkeit.
    That's a fear which I imagine we can all appreciate, and there is a solid historical basis for not trusting the secular authorities here in Israel when it comes to religion."

    Whose Yiddishkeit are we talking about? The Jewish people as a whole?
    The fear, while understandable, is a little over the top. People just want them to start contributing more to Israeli society.


    "As I commented earlier on this article - try to see it from their point of view - appreciate the good things they at least think they're doing here - then you can start critiquing them (respectfully). Until you do that, you're just a hater."

    Unfortunately, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
    Also, where did you pull from that I was a hater? O_o

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  76. Dear Rabbi Slifkin

    I really hope that I have not upset or insulted you.

    I will try to keep my comments short.

    It is perhaps because you don't have the understanding in as many areas as you think, that you have failed to appreciate the subtle difference between bashing and airing a view. I wish that you had not kicked this hornet's nest into action.

    I wonder whether Korach lehavdil put forward similar reasons for justifying his confrontation ie "just repeating what others said/don't understand the problem/ surely everyone can see that I am correct!

    It is not clever to forment arguments which are not le shem shamayim. PERIOD. It is not our reason for existing.

    Aharon HaKohen Gadol was ohaiv shalom ve rodef shalom. We should be trying to emulate him.

    I am sorry for wasting your time but I am only a simple person who does not like to see machloket.

    The point I was trying to make and please forgive me if it sounds chutzpah is that a learned Rabbi like Rabbi Slifkin should channel his energy on behalf of Klal Yisrael in a friendly mannner and not try to be a popular chat show style Rabbi. We will not be judged in the Olom HaEmet by how many irrate postings we achieved on our blogs.

    May you be blessed and enjoy good health.

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  77. @ Rivka Fagin

    I am the one who wrote what you mistakenly attributed to R. Slifkin.

    I stand by what I wrote. R. Slifkin is simply undermining the Cheredi argument(s), in much the same way that Rabbanim have historically dismantled various arguments made by Heretics and Maskilim. What is good for the goose, etc.

    R. Slifkin may not have served in the IDF, but he appears to be a productive member of society. Keep in mind that army service is only one-half of the issue. The other is getting Charedim to contribute economically.

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  78. Rivka - the problem with Korach was that his argument was WRONG!

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  79. Yehudah Broderik wrote:
    "Also, where did you pull from that I was a hater? O_o"

    Yehudah, my statement about "haters" was in no way directed specifically at you. If you took it that way, I apologize for being insufficiently clear.

    I am trying to make a general statement, which I could restate as follows:

    The difference between legitimate criticism and bashing (of Haredim or anybody else) is this:
    * Bashing is when you emphasize the negative qualities of a person/group and define them by those qualities alone, judging them by those qualities alone, and condemning them severely as such. This is hatred, pure and simple. Throwing in a disclaimer does not change this. (Some of my best friends are Haredim. Haredim aren't all bad, but...etc.)
    * Legitimate criticism is when you appreciate the good and bad in a person/group and voice genuine concern, out of love, for the person's/group's failings and shortcomings out of a desire for their betterment (and the betterment of all Am Yisrael, in our context).

    Due to word choice, or whatever, many of Rabbi Slifkin's posts against the Haredi world often make me worry he's on the "bashing" side of the fence, but I respect him for many of his ideas and I give him the benefit of the doubt (especially on account of certain legitimate personal greviences he has regarding the Haredi world).

    Many of the commenters here, however, definitely sound like they're bashing unabashedly!

    You know what, Haredim should serve in the Army, they should mostly be working jobs; full-time learning is not for everybody and it's wrong to claim that it is and force everybody to do it, it's wrong to look down your nose at your fellow Jews and think you're "all there is" religiously etc. etc. etc. There's plenty of legitimate criticism to direct at Haredi society.
    But you've got to care enough not to cross the line between criticism and bashing.
    You've got to appreciate the positive qualities, and if you do so, your criticism will be duly tempered in its intensity.
    Tochacha is out of love, not hatred.

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  80. Dear Rabbi Slifkin

    Was Korach such a Baal Gayvah?

    The trouble is some people always think that they are ALWAYS correct and then the machloket starts.

    You are obviously a highly intellectual individual and it was that masterful insight aspect of your postings that I always enjoyed. Thought provoking - but that does not have to mean lowering yourself to a "Jerry Springer" style.

    From today's message in particular I fear, Chat Veshalom, that you are morphing into something very different.

    We are not children spoiling for an argument and a fight. We are Am Yisrael - we have a standard to uphold - an Ethical Code.

    What saddens me from your latest reply is that you are not bothered that you are stirring up an argument that is manifestly NOT leshem shamayim. You convince yourself that you are right.

    Pirkei Avot does not apply to you because you are smarter than the writers of the mishnayot? - that is what you are now saying.

    I really hoped that you would see what you are doing. I am sorry if my upset comes over too much like personal criticism but I am trying to help stop the sinat chinam that you appear to be encouraging and relishing.

    Forgive me Rabbi if I have been rude.

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  81. Everyone assumes that they are right at any given moment. At least I have the advantage of a track record for often admitting that I was wrong.

    I don't understand how you are so sure that you can ascertain when something is leshem Shamayim and when it is not.

    Furthermore, a person's inner motivations are between him and Hashem. From the perspective of others, what matters is whether his actions and words are helpful or harmful.

    Since there is (a) currently a major debate going on regarding the draft, and (b) many people here who are deciding, to a lesser or greater degree, to what degree they wish to associate with the charedi world, I believe that presenting original arguments regarding this topic are helpful. It's not fomenting machlokes any more than Charedim presenting their reasons for not serving could be accused of fomenting machlokes.

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  82. Yehuda BroderickJuly 12, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Well said, OnlineCommentingGuy :)

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  83. Dear Rabbi Slifkin

    I am truly shocked.

    You'll be happy to know that this is my final comment.

    "It's not fomenting machlokes any more than Charedim presenting their reasons for not serving could be accused of fomenting machlokes." Yes you are as bad as them - are you happy now.

    Two wrongs don't .......

    Your intellectual credentials are seriously questioned when you adopt the well they did it first approach.

    Even as a child my parents taught me that it is not difficult to find someone doing something wrong,the challenge is not to aspire to equal them.

    You are facilitating the ability of people to malign gedolim by offering them an easy platform.

    But what troubles me most is your cock sure attitude which enables you on semantic grounds to dismiss a fundamental tenant of our religious ethical code as being not applicable to you and thereby justifying your deed.

    I remember reading about Rabbi Louis Jacobs of London England who was a real talmid chacham , an intellectual giant who degenerated by formulating opinions that went against the writings of our leaders and who also repeatedly claimed that his intellect enabled him to rationalize which parts of our precious mesorah he had to keep and which parts were not applicable to him.

    Please reconsider what you are doing,it is a dangerous course of action and invariably does not have a happy ending.

    With true torah regards,

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  84. I don't think that the Charedim are wrong for presenting their arguments for not serving! I think that they are wrong for not serving - but not for presenting their arguments for not serving!

    "on semantic grounds to dismiss a fundamental tenant of our religious ethical code as being not applicable to you"

    What on earth?? I could easily make the same claim against you! Your comments are motzi shem ra, and on semantic grounds you are dismissing a fundamental tenant of our religious ethical code as being not applicable to you!

    "You are facilitating the ability of people to malign gedolim by offering them an easy platform."

    So that's what it's all about? The Gedolim? How is that connected to this post?

    And what on earth is the relevance of citing someone who went against leaders and decided to abandon parts of the mesorah? I find it enormously offensive that you are equating that with being critical of the Charedim for not serving!

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  85. "What on earth?? I could easily make the same claim against you! Your comments are motzi shem ra, and on semantic grounds you are dismissing a fundamental tenant of our religious ethical code as being not applicable to you!"

    2 syntactical wrongs don't make a right. ;)

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  86. @Rabbi Slifkin & @Rivka Fagin -
    I feel that the two of you are arguing past each other. Rivka's underlying thesis seems to be that the Gedolim are Torah and opposing the Gedolim (however they are defined) is tantamount to abandoning the Mesorah - in much the way that Rabbis Jacobs, in the UK, and Leiberman, in the US, did. Rabbi Slifkin's approach is that the Torah defines the Mesorah, and so-called Gedolim who pervert (all right - misunderstand) Torah teachings are the ones who effectively abandoned the Mesorah. I see no way to bridge this perceptual gap.

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  87. I probably am getting myself in hot water by asking this:

    Rabbi Slifkin, if you reflect on the past fifteen years of your life, your Torah learning, your literary output--wouldn't you say that it was time better spent than in the army, where you probably wouldn't have been in a combat unit anyway? How would you have contributed to the security of Am Yisrael, by being a jobnick?

    I admit that "everyone should bear the burden", but, really, in any event, the combat unit guys are really putting their lives on the line, and noone else in the army can compare to that.

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  88. OnlineCommentingGuy regarding what you said above:

    " try to see it from their point of view - appreciate the good things they at least think they're doing here - then you can start critiquing them (respectfully). Until you do that, you're just a hater."

    Sir, I would ask you to apply these criteria to the comments you made about the army.

    I agree with you, the situation is far from simple, and the gov't cannot just make up a solution and ram it down people's throats. I also agree that the concern of very insulated communities regarding sending their children outside their walls is very serious. (I chose to raise my children differently, but I understand and respect their concerns.) That is why the gov't proposals include solutions such as some form of Sherut. They recognize that this is an issue, and are willing to accommodate it.

    But R' Slifkin's beef isn't with this philosophy. It is with couching the current situation as LeChatchila, as if that is what the Torah actually demands of people. That, as someone wrote to me, Dovid HaMelech had as many people dedicated to learning Torah as he had soldiers, 1:1 ratio.

    That is not Emmes.

    It is not hatred to call people out when they use the Torah as a tool to dig with, especially when they do it badly.

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  89. "and my girls to sherut leumi."

    But aren't they needed to defend the country from hostile neighbors? Why won't you send them join the army like the secular? Why aren't you willing to shoulder your share of the dangerous burden?

    Answer that question and perhaps you'll understand the Chareidim a little better.

    Yes it is about preserving a way of life. That way of life is called dikduk bemitzvot and tzniut.

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  90. Can this be a blessing in disguise?

    I see drafting the charedim into the army can be very beneficial for us in two ways.

    1) It will teach them to be more responsible, capable in contributing to the economy, and become more intelligent, etc.

    2) Those who do not go to the army may be forced to leave Israel, which will benefit, and strengthen the Jewish state.

    The Jews have enough to deal with without the charedi problems.

    ""The charedi community has reacted by declaring this to be an act of war, against which they will fight to the very end.""

    This too is a good thing. At least they are being their army training.

    As far as learning Torah, I have no idea what they mean by Torah. Is that the Torah that God gave us, or is that the Torah that they wrote themselves? i.e. the infamous charedi Torah.

    Only learning true Torah protects the nation.

    Do not be fooled and thing that the charedim are truely heiliger Jews then the rest, because they wear black hats a have a beard, and scream "it is forbidden" and "you will burn in hell if you sin" and lets not forget spitting on little girls going to school. etc.

    The charedim are masters of deception.

    Think about it.
    o

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  91. Amatuer,

    Declaring that a voluntary army would be terrible for Israel is a non-sequitur. You present absolutely no arguments to back this assertion, and so I stand by my original comment:

    I think Moshe Feiglin is correct that eliminating the draft in Israel would be very wise.

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  92. Kira,
    Behatslaha to your son in Tsahal! YH"R that he should do his job well and come back home and to his yeshiva safely.

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  93. Kira, I appreciate your words. It is not my intention to "hate" the Army here. I am trying to be a counter-balance to what I perceive to be some extreme anti-Haredi attitudes among the commenters here, and to a lesser degree to Rabbi Slifkin. I'm almost not responding to his original post's content at all.
    People call the Haredim selfish, and say they should be forced to do this or that with "no excuses", etc. I think people would be, and should be, quite a bit more nuanced in their reactions, and would be if they took the time and effort to appreciate the Haredi perspective before laying into their faults.
    As I already indicated, I don't agree with many things in Haredi society myself, but a proper measured reaction can only be had after appreciating the good and bad in Haredi society.
    If this was a Haredi forum which was bashing Dati Leumi and Army service, I'd be making arguments to defend those.

    But again, to mention it one last time, David Hamelech had a religious army - if the IDF was religious to Haredi standards and could be trusted to remain so, I'm sure most Haredim would happy to enlist. It's an absurd argument to compare the two.

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  94. @OnlineCommentingGuy

    Thousands upon thousands of Frum Jews live in the modern world. They work in offices, teach in public schools (in the US, etc.) and some even enlist in their nation's armed forces.

    If Charedim don't wish to live in the same world as the rest of us, they are free to make that choice. If the rest of the world chooses to no longer support them, that should be their right as well. The problem as I see it, is that Charedim wish to make choices without any consequences. Unfortunately for them, the world doesn't work that way, and now it's starting to catch up with them.

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  95. RNS this is yaakov the BT who wrote you a few days ago about the irresponsibility for you to publish a book on rational judaism as according to my rabbis you have misunderstood, or not at all understood certain concepts in Judaism. You asked me to provide you with an example.
    Well the answer is in this post!
    You write learning torah brings protection is an "aggadic concept found in sources such as gemara"
    According to my Rabbi, this idea that torah has the power to bring protection is a HALACHA brought down in SHULCHON ORUCH (Y"D 243).
    So do you see what i mean now, if you are not knowledgble in basic shulchan oruch, how are you planning to compile a book on much deeper concepts in Judaism.
    This is very irresponsible of you and i really pray for the sake of the jewish nation you do not bring out a book which will be a big stumbling block.

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  96. First of all, even if you were correct, being unaware of a halachah in Shulchan Aruch would have nothing to do with misunderstanding a source that I am discussing.

    Second, I already discussed this concept in an earlier post, and quoted an authority (I can't remember the source) that this only applies under certain circumstances. Note that Kiryat Sefer and Betar do not believe that they do not need guards and security patrols!

    Third, and most importantly, this source is an argument AGAINST the charedi position. It says nothing about their Torah protecting others - it davka only protects them!

    Finally, it's clear that your Rabbonim are charedi. So it's no surprise that they believe that I misunderstand basic concepts in Judaism. But I'm ready to publicly debate them about issues such as Chazal and science, etc. Are they up for it?

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  97. R. Slifkin wrote, "It says nothing about their Torah protecting others - it davka only protects them!"


    Rabbi,

    What have you been told about bringing facts into an Internet discussion?!

    :)

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  98. Yehuda BroderickJuly 13, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Yehudah P:" How would you have contributed to the security of Am Yisrael, by being a jobnick?

    I admit that "everyone should bear the burden", but, really, in any event, the combat unit guys are really putting their lives on the line, and noone else in the army can compare to that."

    What about the people who service and repair the fighter jets and helicopters? They're just as important.

    Just 'cause you're a jobnik, doesn't mean you'r not contributing to our security.

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  99. I once read a story about a meeting of Israeli Roshei Yeshiva in the 1950's regarding the exemption for Yeshiva students from the draft. The Rashei Yeshiva said, among other things, that it was important to keep their bachurim out of the IDF because once they were exposed to outside influences, they may very well give up mitzva observance. Rav Zvi Yehudah Kook replied with a question, ths substance of it being "what does that say about our education system that even after years and years of yeshiva education, the first that will happen to a bachur who leaves the yeshiva world is that he will abandon his committment to Torah?"

    Food for thought.

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  100. Just Curious wrote:
    "and my girls to sherut leumi."

    But aren't they needed to defend the country from hostile neighbors? Why won't you send them join the army like the secular? Why aren't you willing to shoulder your share of the dangerous burden?


    My understanding is very few women serve in combat roles, as only those who volunteer do. Many of the army jobs can be filled by national service civilians without putting them in uniforms and barracks.

    While I am not expert on Tzahal, I think we can invite the whole country to follow our lead, and encourage national service for all girlswithout weakening our national defense. (Particularly if we can rely on another 10,000 chareidi men a year.)

    On the other hand, the chareidim want to be an exception. They know they need everyone else to serve because they need their protection. Yet, they refuse to contribute.

    There is a HUGE difference between the DL who can propose a viable model that sustains our defense and our tradition while sharing equally, and the chareidim who only propose that other people serve.

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  101. Avi, there's a huge difference between a neutral environment which is spiritually sub-optimum, and one which professes to be a "melting pot".
    A "melting pot" is openly stating that one of its goals is to change you to conform to their standard. The army is not neutral - some commanders are respectful and some are not, but the organization as a whole is committed to the melting pot.
    We can argue all day to what degree the Army can be expected to accommodate the religious convictions of its soldiers, but as far as the Haredim can see, the Army does not warrant that trust. This is why they are so resistant. It's not that they are against contributing. It's that they don't want to submit to an organization which us going to threaten their way of life.
    As I've said, if the Army expanded Nahal Haredi, promised that all Haredi draftees would go there, and appointed people the Haredim could trust to ensure those promises, I'm sure we'd see a very different reaction from the Haredi sector. (There'd always be hardliners, but you can't help that.)
    Instead, you see secular politicians promising to force the Haredim. You see the slogan of "equal service for all" is hollow because Arabs aren't being forced to do anything by the Plesner committee.
    Look at those facts with a historical background of the hiloni aggression against the religious over the decades and you can understand the Haredi perception that this is an attack.
    Again, you can argue against any one of my points, but my overall point is that the Haredim are reacting to a genuine perception of threat. It's not whiny selfishness.

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  102. Woo hoo! One thing I like about this blog is Rabbi Slifkin's willingness to touch the "third rail" again and again. No holding back! Right on, Rabbi Slifkin!

    I am frum, but I think what the haredim are doing is a big chillul Hashem. They inspire anger and resentment. They make others hate Judaism. They are causing a great deal of harm.

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  103. I checked up the source that Yaakov brings in regards to torah being a protection. You are right, it only protects them and not others, but i still feel that he has a point and what you quoted as an "aggadic source found in gemara" was wrong and misleading, when in fact the source of torah being a protection is brought in Shulchan Oruch.
    We must be honest with ourselves and judge the texts by their own merit, so for once i say pehaps the haredim are correct in the power of torah study

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  104. "But again, to mention it one last time, David Hamelech had a religious army - if the IDF was religious to Haredi standards and could be trusted to remain so, I'm sure most Haredim would happy to enlist. It's an absurd argument to compare the two."

    1. Not according to their arguments. It would still be Bitul Torah, it would still be "destroying their way of life", and they would still be "our Torah is protecting all of you".

    2. The religious status of Dovid HaMelech's army is highly arguable, but let's not go there. What's interesting here is that I wasn't the one to have brought him up, it was a Chareidi post quoting a Chareidi web site, who did so. They claimed that Dovid HaMelech would have a full-time Torah learner for each and every soldier. They seem to learn it out from "yoshvim al hakeilim".

    Of course the peshat of that pasuk is that those staying back to guard, aka "jobnikim", are as important as those who fight. Not that they were learning Torah. (At least not according to any Mefaresh or Midrash or Rambam that I've seen)

    But now that you mention it, the very fact that they're bringing it up is encouraging. It shows that they at least see themselves as being part of the greater enterprise of Milchamot Hashem.

    Meanwhile, my son and his "Beinish" (Bnei Yeshiva) buddies were woken up for Minyan in the morning by this very "anti-religious army". Other guys who were traditional or religious joined them as well(including one fellow who had to borrow Tefillin). They get 40 minutes on a regular day and 50 on Mon/Thu. That's enough time to learn a little Halacha also.

    On a theoretical level, I don't see that the army of Moshiach himself would be "religious to Hareidi standards". I think "religious to Halachic standards for armies" would be more appropriate. The Rambam does have a few words to say on the matter. Hil' Melachim 8:1, for instance.

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  105. גמ' סנהדררין צ"ט: "אפקורס...
    כגון הני דבי בנימין אסיא דאמרי מאי אהני לן רבנן... "

    So the source of protection of the Torah is not aggadaic.

    This is also the opinion pf the Igros Moshe who in a Halachik Teshuvah (vol 8) writes:
    הנה שאף שעניין צבא ההגנה הוא דבר גדול, אבל עניין לימוד התורה ללומדי תורה עוד יותר גדול גם מלהגן על המדינה.

    The question of weather to serve and the limits of Hishtadlus are both halachik. For some reason when it comes to morally/emotionally charged issues the your notion of Halachik canonization dissipates into Rabbi bashing.

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  106. >>>> But again, to mention it one last time, David Hamelech had a religious army

    Oh, please, as some already said, we have no idea what kind of army he had and what their religious practices were. And even if we did, it’s totally and absolutely irrelevant. They lived 3000 years ago and to quote the Gemorreh, “Haw lon, v’haw le-hu.”. Meaning times and places change and thus affect halakhah.

    Furthermore, under the rubric of the mitzvah “u’shmarten et nafshosechem”, every adult in Aretz Yisroel should be required to learned how to fire and handle weapons and have some minimal army training.

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  107. גמ' סנהדררין צ"ט: "אפקורס...
    כגון הני דבי בנימין אסיא דאמרי מאי אהני לן רבנן... "

    So the source of protection of the Torah is not aggadaic.


    LOL. What on earth does that source have to do with Torah study protecting others?

    As for your citation from Igros Moshe - that is a non-halachic statement. You claim that it's halachic - so what are the parameters and halachic operative principles? How many people are entitled to avoid army?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How can you say that the study of Torah acts as protection is an Aggadic concept, it is actually Halacha Le'Maaseh!

      . כל הדברים שצריכין לשמירת העיר לוקחין מכל אנשי העיר ואפילו מן היתומים חוץ מתלמידי חכמים שאין ת"ח צריכין שמירה שהתורה שומרתן Rambam Hilchos Shechainim 6:6

      כל הדברים הצריכים לשמירת העיר לוקחים מכל אנשי העיר ואפילו מהיתומים חוץ מתלמידי חכמים שאין ת"ח צריכים שמירה שתורתן משמרתן
      Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 163:4

      Delete
  108. irresponsibility for you to publish a book on rational judaism as according to my rabbis you have misunderstood, or not at all understood certain concepts in Judaism.

    Bookstores are filled with all sorts of books on Judaism. I would say that many, if not most of them are filled with misunderstandings of one sort or the other. The proper response is to write or read books that better represent the truth, and of course to put the ideals into practice.

    So even if RNS is misunderstanding something, why are they singling him out?

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  109. " My overall point is that the Haredim are reacting to a genuine perception of threat."

    That is 100% true. They are reacting to a genuine perception of threat.

    Which is not the same thing as the perception of a genuine threat.

    And very, very different from saying: "Our Torah protects all of you".

    Whether the threat is genuine or not, most of the solutions being proposed are actually remarkably sensitive to their feelings. For instance, Lieberman just want some kind of Sherut (Zaka, Mada, Yad Sarah), and would exempt 4000 top students. That's more than serve in Hesder at any given time. They are fighting battles of 50 years ago. Lieberman, Kadima, Likud, none of them were around 50 years ago.

    It would be much more effective to deal with the problems of this generation rather than that of 3 generations ago.

    It's all very human, and would be entirely forgivable if they didn't abuse the Torah to do so, causing massive Chilul Hashem.

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  110. " A "melting pot" is openly stating that one of its goals is to change you to conform to their standard. The army is not neutral - some commanders are respectful and some are not, but the organization as a whole is committed to the melting pot."

    This is factually incorrect.

    Perhaps that was true at some point, it is no longer true.

    Yes, there is some melting pot effect when people from different backgrounds work hard to achieve a common goal.

    Another word for that is "unity".

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  111. Yaakov,

    Yes it says in Shulchan Aruch that Talmidei Chachamim are exempt from paying taxes for a city wall because Torah protects them. However, to generalize this further is not warranted. This does not apply in a time of war or grave danger.

    R' Zevin in a famous essay wrote the following:

    When actual lives are at stake, may we rely on miracles? In 1929 at Hebron... didn't young students of the yeshiva, whose holiness shone like stars in the sky, fall before the malicious enemy? Please, did these martyrs need protection or not?... If you understand that the scholars don't need protection in relatively peaceful times and are exempt from building the protective walls, what consequence has this when compared to a life-and-death struggle, a war which is a mitzvah and in which all are obligated? The defense authorities ordered everyone to cover all windows as protection against shattering glass in case of an air raid. Would anyone think that some rabbis will not do so, claiming, "Rabbis do not need protection?" ...Why did rabbis leave areas under enemy fire along with the rest of the general population? Why did they not rely on this maxim?

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  112. Continuing my previous comment, the Charedi Yeshivas in recent years have shown that they don't believe this either. Whenever the situation becomes dangerous they are the first to leave.

    Here is what I posted in January 2009 during the Cast Lead Operation:

    Many of the yeshivas in the South (Ashdod and other places) have temporarily moved to Yerushalayim or Bnei Brak.

    On one hand the move is understandable, with rockets landing in Ashdod they wanted to move to a safer place. However, on the other hand, this raises some serious questions. The Charedi world justifies the draft exemption for yeshiva students based on the following:

    1. Torah learning protects everyone
    2. The boys are engaged in מלחמתה של תורה
    3. Talmidie Chachamim don't need protection

    Based on these it would seem that the Yeshivas should stay where they are. If the boys who are learning are engaged in war just like the soldiers why should they abandon their posts? In addition if Torah learning protects, let them stay where they are and be protected by their Torah. Their move undermines the claim for draft exemptions and looks very bad. The soldiers are entering Gaza to fight while the yeshiva bachurim are fleeing to safer havens.

    The Yeshivos that I am talking about are Charedi Yeshivos. I took the information from last week's Mishpacha magazine. Here are some of the Yeshivas that left Ashdod:
    Grodna, Petersburg,Belz,Ger.

    ReplyDelete
  113. One more point related to the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah that was quoted. Again this is from a post of mine:

    There was a wave of burglaries in a particular Charedi neighborhood so the residents decided to hire a private security company. However, then the question of how to apportion the costs came up. Since the Gemara says that תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה and the majority of the people in the neighborhood sit and learn in kollel (and presumably have the status of Talmidei Chachamim) who should pay? R' Elyashiv answered that the principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה only applies in a normal situation, before there is a rash of burglaries. However, now that there already was a rash of burglaries it would be considered a נס for the talmid chacham not to be harmed. Therefore the principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה does not apply and everyone has to pay equally for the security company

    The relevance to the current situation is quite obvious.

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  114. Menachem Brod, the Chabad spokesman for the Chabad Youth Organisation and the editor of Sichat HaShavua, brought an interesting statistic: in 2007, Nachal Haredi had 287 soldiers. In 2011, it had 1400 soldiers. So we see a positive trend of charedim going to the army. Why try to rock the boat by artificially accelerating the process? Seems like a good argument.

    Kira's point of Lieberman's position on sherut leumi is also encouraging: I understand R. Moshe Feinstein said that a person should give ma'aser of his time, just like of his income. Perhaps sherut leumi could fall in that category of ma'aser.

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  115. Now that some of your readers are bringing "non aggadic" sources that torah protects, from shulchan oruch and igros moshe i thought it would be in place for you to stand down and say you were wrong......after all this is something you always bemoan about the charedim that they ignore the sources that say chazal could have erred in the sciences.
    Are you not guilty doing the same by ignoring that there are halachic sources that torah protects?

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  116. Peter Pan, as has been amply demonstrated, no such source has been brought. The question is, will you acknowledge that?

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  117. "I have always had more respect for the Satmar camp the eschews receiving economic benefits from the medinah"

    Somewhat true, but the non-hypocrisy of Satmar only exists superficially. That there are groups of charedim that can manage without state funding is a credit to their small numbers, not to their ideological purity. As long as they represent a tiny minority, they can be supported by private individuals. Once their numbers swell they will have no choice but to accept state money. Satmar thus depends that other charedim reject their extremism and accept money from the Zionists. If charedim were to be as anti-Zionist as Satmar, then Satmar would have to accept Zionist money too!

    Some years ago, on one of these blogs, someone commented on the unsustainability of the current situation in which a growing charedi population is on the dole and not contributing financially. A response: not to worry, there will always be enough chilonim to support the charedim.

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  118. Of course the charedi arguments against army service are absurd and ridiculous. But the fact that you could assume the israeli govt has good intentions in what they are doing is shocking, Rabbi Slifkin. Very naive indeed.

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  119. I don't care about the intentions of the government. That's between them and God.

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  120. Freddy the HarediJuly 15, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    RNS you write you will be sending your daughters to Sherut Leumi.
    I am sure you are aware how the Gedolim starting with the Chazon Ish and continuing with our present day ziknei Hador have said it is Yehoreg Veal Yaavor.
    So what is your position? Are you being so arrogant that you think you know better than they what is good for the jewish people, or do you feel they have been given wrong information and there really are no girls hanging around those places with mini skirts and therefore there is no bad hashpoah for our daughters.

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  121. How do you define "Gedolim"?

    And why exactly is, say, volunteering in Shaarei Tzedek going to influence people badly?

    Also, this wouldn't be the first time that I'm disputing those that you consider "Gedolim." I also think that they are all wrong in their explanation of Pesachim 94b. (And I have all the Rishonim on my side.)

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  122. No i will not acknowledge that at all. You have Igros Moshe on this topic staring in your face but you cannot get yourself to acknowledge it because that would mean your whole post go down the drain.
    Dont start telling me that Igros Moshe is not a good source as you yourself bring it when it suits you like 18 month ago when you brought it to show how chazal can err on the treifos of animals.

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  123. Nobody is "automatically" correct.

    Rav Moshe does not make a halachic argument.

    See too my latest post.

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  124. Freddy the HarediJuly 15, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    How do i define a godol? Look lets not get into the korach debacle again.... for two milennia no one in our nation has had a problem how to define a godol, except for a handful like korach,and in our present day people like you and ironheart. So perhaps it would be more wise on your part to show a little humility sometimes and accept there are those who know more than you

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  125. Actually, based on the general consensus of two millennia as to how to define a Gadol, there are many people who count as Gedolim that completely dispute the Chazon Ish and other charedim who prohibited sherut leumi. So you are the one disregarding Gedolim - you deny that Gedolim are Gedolim!

    But in any case, the real issue here is not how you define a Gadol - it's whether one has to agree with your particular Gedolim. And for two millenia, it has not been the norm that every Jew in the world has to agree with to a certain group of rabbonim (who are not the Sanhedrim). You're the one going against mesorah!

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  126. "LOL. What on earth does that source have to do with Torah study protecting others? "

    The point is that the 'metaphysical' benefits ofTorah are not confined to the learner.

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  127. "As for your citation from Igros Moshe - that is a non-halachic statement."

    The Igros Moshe infered his statement from a halachik source (Bava Basra 8:) to answer a Halachik question. Thus, it's a Halachik statement.

    "You claim that it's halachic - so what are the parameters and halachic operative principles?"

    To answer this general and wide-ranging question i'd be very serious halachik expert. All I said is that it's halachik. If I say a something's a scientific paper, it doesen't mean i'm saying it's scientifically valid. I'm not an expert to answer this question, all I was saying that it is a Halachik staetment.

    "How many people are entitled to avoid army?"

    Good question, ask the experts. It has nothing to do with my statement.

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  128. 1. Given that wars today are no longer wars of attrition involving millions of soldiers, does Israel really need more soldiers?

    2. Does Israel really want an army including (and perhaps ultimately led by) people who may not even believe the state of Israel is a good thing, and who certainly have a radically different vision of the religion/state relationship than other Israelis? Couldn't that lead to a Taliban-like military or something?

    In short, I just wonder whether, as a utilitarian matter, its really good for Israel to have haredim in the army.

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  129. Uri HaNegbi, I have responded to your comments in the latest post and in the comments to it.

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  130. noone in particularJuly 16, 2012 at 4:53 AM

    also: the source doesn't actually say anything about affording protection. all it says is 'give the torah scholar a financial break, as he has no real income anyway.'

    there is no suggestion inherent in the ruling that the rabbi's learning provides any measure at all of protection. all it says is that he is exempt from paying the 'security tax'. To extrapolate from that his learning in some way provides protection is to read something into the text that isn't there. I'm all for admiting that we do post-modern readings of texts especially when it comes to halacha, but then let's at least admit that that is what the chareidim are doing when proposing this a 'get-out-of-the-army-free' ticket. You see, they are a modern form of judaism!

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  131. "there is no suggestion inherent in the ruling that the rabbi's learning provides any measure at all of protection. all it says is that he is exempt from paying the 'security tax'. "

    It explicitly says that he is exempt from the security tax BECAUSE his learning protects him.

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  132. Woodrow-
    (1) With the rise of radical Islam taking power in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood's promise to "review" or downgrade if not abolish the peace agreement with Israel, there is fear that the border with Egypt, which is quite long, is going to heat up after 3 decades of quiet. Recall the terrorist attack near Eilat and the rockets fired into from the Sinai into Israel in the recent past. If Egypt abrogrates the treaty, Jordan will probably have no choice but to follow and they have a VERY long border with Israel on the east, which has been quiet since 1970, and so this border could also heat up. Given this pessimistic scenario, Israel will simply need more troops to main the borders and if Israel has to build up its armored and infantry forces to face a renewed threat from Egypt, there will be need for more soldiers, I am sorry to say.
    (2) Most Haredim do support the Zionist enterprise and do support the well-being of the state of Israel. Thus, I believe they would be motivated to serve. In fact, I have heard it stated that many, if not most Haredim would welcome the proposal to have them serve in the IDF or national service because this will enable them to break out of the (as they see it) dead-end "kollel lifestyle" that in reality is fit for a minority of super-dedicated minority of Haredim.

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  133. Uri HaNegbi said...
    גמ' סנהדררין צ"ט: "אפקורס...
    כגון הני דבי בנימין אסיא דאמרי מאי אהני לן רבנן... "

    Natan Slifkin said...
    LOL. What on earth does that source have to do with Torah study protecting others?


    a few lines later in this AGGADAH it says that they benefit others. see also the last rashi on the page. --
    --at:
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=22472&st=&pgnum=199&hilite=

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  134. Of course they benefit others! But not metaphysically!

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  135. i must be missing something or was too brief or unclear.

    to those who say מאי אהני לן רבנן the gemara later [which uri did not seem to point to] responds with ונשאתי לכל המקום בעבורם. the context is that Hashem was about to destroy sodom but was willing to cancel his plan if the evil city/ies had 50/40 etc. tzadikim - and רבנן can also help/protect others this way. IIUC by sodom this would have been metaphysical.

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  136. Between them and God? If the govct tries to harm Jews its between them and God? Last I checked, averot bein adam lehavero were not just bewtween the assailant and God.

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  137. "Either everyone should be drafted at 18 or nobody. "

    Amatuer, ever heard the say don't make the perfect the enemy of the good? I made aliya when I was 19, was a chayal boded for 2 1/2 years and I have no problem with a compromise that has most charedim postponing service until after yeshiva gedola at age 22. I'll bet you most other Israeli's see this as a reasonable compromise also.

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  138. >Moshe said to Gad, "will you rest while your brothers go to war?"<

    That is brilliant. All the chilonim should do is keep using that phrase.

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  139. If they do "fight to the death" it will be a very, very short war. Police officers who haven't been ordered to treat one with kid gloves and armed soldiers are a much different proposition than six year old girls or old Palestinian men.

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