Saturday, July 6, 2013

Face Up!

Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshivah of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, recently gave two addresses about the political situation vis-a-vis the charedi community in Israel. Over at Cross-Currents, in a post entitled Wake Up!, Rabbi Yaakov Menken has posted excerpts from these addresses. Unfortunately, the post is closed to comments. I would therefore like to post some responses here, from both myself and Menachem Lipkin.

It was pleasing to see that Rav Feldman did not make any claims about charedim believing that their Torah provides essential protection for the country. I have written on many occasions about how they don't believe any such thing, and it appears that this excuse is no longer being offered. Instead, Rav Feldman is honest, and gives the real reason why charedim do not want to go to the army: because it is an environment which is very harmful to the charedi lifestyle.

Now, I think that people should be able to understand that, and be sympathetic to it. Yet, contrary to what Rav Feldman thinks, it doesn't settle the matter. To quote Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein: "the robbing of our youths’ formative years as a ben Torah would be a price that we could not pay... But how do we ask other, reluctant Israelis to pay a different price so that we don’t have to pay ours? Who gave us that right?"

Everyone, charedim included, agrees that Israel needs a strong army. If charedim feel that they cannot do their share in providing manpower, then this means that they have a debt to the rest of the country. But Rav Feldman, and virtually every other leader and spokesperson for the charedi community, never make any mention of such a debt.

Rav Feldman claims that the charedi community should have the status of conscientious objectors. But they are not objecting to the goals of the army, or to its methods of war. They agree that the State of Israel needs defending from the Arab nations. They are simply objecting to they themselves having to contribute to these efforts, which is not what "conscientious objectors" normally refers to!

Rav Feldman then claims that charedim are doing their public service to the nation by learning Torah. But here he utilizes a tactic that is commonly used by charedi spokesmen. It is to use the word "Torah" without qualification, and thereby to blur the differences between studying Torah, teaching Torah, the relationship between the Torah and the entire nation, and the system of mass long-term uninterrupted yeshivah/kollel. This is a mistake/ distortion that happens all the time, and I would like to elaborate by examining Rav Feldman's statements in turn.
"Learning Torah ensures the survival of the Jewish people."
Yes, that is absolutely true. However, this does not mean that the system of mass long-term uninterrupted yeshivah/kollel ensures the survival of the Jewish people. In fact, the Jewish people survived for thousands of years without mass long-term uninterrupted yeshivah/kollel. And the Religious Zionist community still manages to survive, and thrive, without mass long-term uninterrupted yeshivah/kollel.
"Learning Torah should not be considered on a par with changing bedpans in a hospital?! How outrageous that this should be suggested in a Jewish state!"
It's not outrageous at all. Teaching Torah should certainly be considered at least on a par with changing bedpans in a hospital. But a person who is only learning Torah is not contributing to the rest of society (unless you subscribe to recent mystical ideas developed by R. Chaim of Volozhin). He is building up his own Torah scholarship, but that is not what "national service" is about.
"Without Torah, there would be no Jewish state, no claim to the land of Israel. How can learning Torah not be considered a valid public service?"
This is a perfect example of blurring the differences between studying Torah, teaching Torah, the relationship between the Torah and the entire nation, and the system of mass long-term uninterrupted yeshivah/kollel. It is indeed true that without the relationship between the Torah and the entire nation, there would be no Jewish state, no claim to the land of Israel. But this does not mean that without the system of mass long-term uninterrupted yeshivah/kollel, there would be no Jewish state, no claim to the land of Israel!

Learning Torah, knowing enough to live life as a religious Jew, is an essential task. But it is not fulfilling a service to the nation! Learning to read and write and do math is likewise an essential task, but it would not be considered fulfilling a service to the nation! National service means doing something for other people. Serving in the army is an immense service to everyone else. Learning Torah is not a service to anyone else.

Or, to put matters another way: You can learn Torah and serve in the army. Many, many national-religious Jews do exactly that. There are even some charedim who do that. To have all charedim learning not only for most of their lives, but also non-stop between the ages of 21 and 24, is not an essential national service!

Turning to the topic of education, Rav Feldman claims that the government has no right to impose an educational curriculum upon the charedi community, and that "nowhere in the world would they act so paternalistically towards a minority." How on earth can he say such a thing? Every Western country has compulsory education! Again, to quote Rabbi Adlerstein: "They uphold the need of a democratic society to assure that children are given both a chance at vocational success as well as share some information... that is meant to bring about some social cohesion." (Not to mention the fact that Chazal themselves held that a parent has an obligation to teach his child a trade!)

Rav Feldman complains that the natural leaders of the Charedim should be consulted before making such changes. Why? It's something that is a need for the rest of the country (who are financially supporting the charedim), as well as for many charedim. Adina Bar Shalom, Rav Ovadiah Yosef's daughter, appeared before the Knesset task force to help charedim enter the work force, and begged them to implement math and English because 50% of the boys in her chareidi college drop out due to their lack of math and English. If the leaders of the charedi community were open to discussing how this should be solved, then I'm sure that Lapid and co. would be open to consulting them as to how to go about doing this; but all the charedi leaders say is no, no, no.

Strangely, Rav Feldman then claims that the "primary purpose of education should be... to educate young people to be human beings." Well, yes, but that's not what's under discussion here. Rav Feldman then goes on about how secular Zionist society is morally bankrupt and leaders are bought off by bribery, whereas charedi children are educated not to lie, cheat or steal, and to love Jews and respect authority. Aside from the fact that this is completely and utterly irrelevant to the issue of teaching math, it's also completely and utterly false. Do I really have to go into details about how so many charedi leaders were bought off by the bribery of Leib Tropper? Or about all the lying, cheating and stealing that is done by charedi Jews, sometimes under the auspices of kollels and other such institutions? And this is directly attributable to the fact that charedim do not have the education, qualifications and inclination to be financially self-sufficient. As Chazal state, Whoever does not teach his son a trade, has taught him to steal.

Rav Feldman claims that "Gemara prepares a person for modern technology more than even math and science. When our students enter job training, they score higher than their secular counterparts, because their minds have been developed." But his students in Baltimore learn secular studies in addition to Gemara! In Israel, on the other hand, where they learn virtually no secular subjects, the students are ill prepared for any meaningful education. Again, recall Adina Bar-Shalom's testimony that 50% of her male students drop out due to lacking basic math and English!

And now we come to the tired old canard that the real reason why many non-charedim want charedim to get the most basic secular education has nothing to do with alarm at a growing sector of the population which is under-employed, does not build up the economy or workforce, and has its Knesset representatives insist on a "right" to be supported by the rest of the country. No, the real reason, says Rav Feldman, is the desire to secularize the charedim!

Surely he can't be serious. Eleven hours a week of math, English and Hebrew is going to “secularize” them? He must not have much faith in the Torah that they learn the rest of the time! The charedi-leumi community in Israel and the charedi community in America have even more hours of general studies. Wanting charedim in Israel to be more like charedim in the US is not wanting to "secularize" them!

Rav Feldman then repeats Rabbi Meiselman's slander about Naftali Bennett stating that the Charedim are a greater threat to Israel than Iranian nuclear weapons. As I wrote to Yated, this is a serious distortion of what Bennett said. It's strange that just a few weeks after Rav Feldman publicly apologizes for falsely reporting R. Dov Lipman's positions, he does the same with Naftali Bennett. Is it really so difficult to find out what a person actually said before condemning them in public? (UPDATE: After I sent a complaint to Rav Feldman and Rabbi Menken, this has now been changed to "Bennett said something similar." I'm not sure if Rav Feldman's speeches have likewise been retroactively corrected. And, of course, I would not agree that Bennett said something similar at all.)

Many years ago, in calmer times, Rav Feldman criticized the Israeli Yated for adopting a "siege mentality." He himself does exactly the same in his addresses, talking about "demonization of religious Jews." And it's ironic, considering that the charedi community equals, and probably vastly exceeds, its opponents in its demonization of them. Whether it's Rav Feldman calling Dov Lipman a rasha, Eytan Kobre saying that the Zionist enterprise is a bigger threat than Iran, or the Yated and Agudah rabbis comparing Yesh Atid to Hitler, Bilaam, and Amalek, I think that the charedi community wins hands-down on the demonization front.

Rav Feldman then repeats a claim that he made several weeks ago, that charedim pay taxes just like everyone else. I don't understand how he can say something that is so obviously false. A person learning in kollel does not pay anything like the amount of taxes that someone in a regular job pays. Sure, he pays property tax and VAT. Whoop-de-do! But his company isn't paying company tax, he doesn't pay income tax, and he only pays 10% of municipal taxes.

This in turn shows the flaw in Rav Feldman's complaint that charedi tax money goes to pay for things that they neither want nor use, such as television, sports stadiums, and so on. The amounts that are spent on such things are a miniscule fraction of that which goes to things that charedim do benefit from - infrastructure and defense. But more significantly, the amount of taxes coming from the charedi community, and their contribution to the workforce and economy, is so low that they are certainly not net providers!

Rav Feldman concludes by returning to the army issue, and asking the Israeli government not to "wreck our lives as Jews." I really don't see how the charedi-leumi community, which serves in the army, have had their lives as Jews wrecked. Still, if that is how Rav Feldman feels, to the extent that he talks about pulling his family out of Israel, so be it. In the US, he will find a government that also dictates basic secular education. And also one that, in times of war for national survival, would not grant an exemption to 20% of the population.

Being a citizen of the state carries responsibilities to the state. These may be spiritually threatening. They may even be physically threatening. I'm terrified about sending my sons to the army! But that is part of the responsibility and privilege of being a citizen of this tiny, precarious, amazing country.

115 comments:

  1. iThank you. I was fuming when I read the CC article, and I was hoping a competent response would be written.

    I respect the charedim's concern about getting "ruined" in the army, even if I feel these concerns might be a bit exaggerated and maybe even near paranoiac. But it's their responsibility to come up with an alternative way to do their share. Full-time learning, which most of the country (unfortunately) does not consider valuable, is not a solution.

    I'm also profoundly disturbed by overly simplistic calculus here. Torah is the most important thing, and therefore anything that reduces the amount of Torah being learned is by definition an attack against Torah. Is Torah life really so simple? Isn't it about balancing a wide range of values and obligations? I think it's a terrible distortion to frame the issue in such simplistic terms.

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  2. "But a person who is learning Torah is not contributing to the rest of society (unless you subscribe to recent mystical ideas developed by R. Chaim of Volozhin)"
    What is the criticism here? That he subscribes to these ideas. What wrong with that יש על מי לסמוך.

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  3. What a home run. Thank you for standing up for common sense once again.

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  4. Rabbi Feldman's belief, quoted above, that 'torah prepares a person for modern technology more than math or science' echoes a widespread myth that I always used to hear throughout my six years in yeshiva/kollel - learning Gemora etc will make any professional career seem a doddle by comparison. Maybe, possibly, if a YeShiva incorporated regular farhers baal peh and encouraged covering serious.ground, it might help a little. But generally speaking it isn't really much preparation at all. I'm almost at the end of my accountancy exams and my time in Yeshiva has not helped me a drop. On the contrary, my mind is trained to think completely differently to the nonJewish university-trained counterparts on my course. Not to mention they are all about 6 years younger than me.

    Anyway, is Rabbi Feldman suggesting Torah is a 'kardom lachpor boh?'

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  5. It seems to me that a large part of the objection of the Charedi leadership to their community serving in Zahal and gaining secular learning has at its core a fear of their loss of status and power in their community.

    I think there is a general fear - not completely unfounded - that Charedim who serve in Zahal will have the values of selflessness, courage, hard physical work, and patriotism toward the state of Israel inculcated and strengthened, while the arguments that they hear from their leadership for life-long Kollel study will appear more fallacious and empty. Haredim who serve in Zahal will also not feel alienated from the state or from their fellow Jews who are not Charedim.

    It would be natural for the Charedi leadership, as it would for any other human beings, to want to hold onto their power, influence, and status as much as possible.

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  6. Dear Rabbi Feldman,

    If I understand correctly from your words, the real reasons yeshiva students should not be asked to go into the army are:

    1. They cannot interrupt their learning even part-time, especially during this formative period of their lives.
    2. They cannot be put into an environment which would compromise their frumkyte.
    3. The Torah learning they are doing already comprises a national service.

    If that is sincerely your position, then presumably you would have no objection to the following PROPOSAL for a yeshiva-based national service:

    During a three-year period (e.g. ages 18-20), students of every army-deferred yeshiva will rotate doing their "Torah-learning service" on yeshivas located on army bases, with proper food, rabbinic supervision – all the trimmings of a kedusha-imbued environment. During this special period of full-time learning, the yeshiva students will ALSO teach and/or have chavrusas with the soldiers, who will spend an hour or two a day in the yeshiva. The yeshiva students would not have to fight or do any labor. They would not have to come into contact with women or any other distractions from learning. They would simply learn Torah full-time and in so doing provide chizuk, achdut and a positive Torah hashpa'a to their brethren.

    So my challenge to you, Rabbi Feldman, is this - given that such a proposal would:
    1. Completely fulfill the criteria you laid out regarding the needs of yeshiva students, including honoring the service they are performing with their Torah learning,
    2. Unquestionably contribute to the shalom and sense of goodwill within Am Yisrael,
    3. Undoubtedly be a wonderful thing both for the yeshiva students and the soldiers...

    Would you be willing to accept such an idea – and would you in fact ACTIVELY PROMOTE it? Or will you and others give new reasons as to why even this scenario is unacceptable?

    The latter response (and I apologize for being blunt) would make it clear that the real modus operandi here is LAZINESS, as indicated in Mesilas Yesharim, which brings the quote from Mishlei: "The lazy man says, 'There is a lion on the road, a lion between the ways.' "

    Meaning, if you offer up reasons as to why yeshiva students shouldn't serve, and those reasons are accommodated, and yet you find even more reasons, new "lions" on the road, then we will have revealed that these are not "reasons" at all, but in fact excuses. We will have officially called your bluff. The true reason for not serving is the absolute unwillingness of the Charedi community to be inconvenienced or participate, even to the slightest degree.

    If however you are prepared to stand by your words, and to work vigorously to effect the above proposal (or something similar), including garnering the support of your colleagues at the Agudah, then I applaud you, and I think we will have gone a long way in creating a much-needed kiddush Hashem!

    Rabbi Feldman, I await your response with great interest.

    Yours truly,
    AJ

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  7. Rabbi Slifkin, you accuse Rabbi Feldman of not checking the accuracy of certain statements. However it was you who claimed that Rabbi Weisbord of Ner Israel met with Rav Elyashiv (where he allegedly said your books were mutar for kiruv). this was blatantly false as you later admitted you only heard the information from someone at Ner Israel.

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  8. > Rav Feldman claims that "Gemara prepares a person for modern technology more than even math and science. When our students enter job training, they score higher than their secular counterparts, because their minds have been developed." But his students in Baltimore learn secular studies in addition to Gemara!

    Not just that. A place like Ner Yisrael, which is a mainstream yeshiva, is selective about its students. Those who are less intelligent or less able to sit and study for long hours have already been weeded out, which means that his Beis Medrash bochurim are a population that is more academic than the general public. It’s unfair and misleading to compare his student’s scores to those of the general public.

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  9. Yehuda said...

    "But a person who is learning Torah is not contributing to the rest of society (unless you subscribe to recent mystical ideas developed by R. Chaim of Volozhin)"
    What is the criticism here? That he subscribes to these ideas. What wrong with that יש על מי לסמוך.


    But the rest of don't subscribe to that idea!

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  10. Rabbi Slifkin, you accuse Rabbi Feldman of not checking the accuracy of certain statements. However it was you who claimed that Rabbi Weisbord of Ner Israel met with Rav Elyashiv (where he allegedly said your books were mutar for kiruv). this was blatantly false as you later admitted you only heard the information from someone at Ner Israel.

    Right, my source was mistaken. But if I would have been a major leader, using that information to condemn someone, and it would have been very easy to find out if it was accurate, and I had just recently had to apologize for relying on mistaken information in condemning someone, then I would have been a LOT more careful!

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  11. Rabbi Feldman seems to be saying that not only is chareidi blood redder, but that he gets to refuse to pay taxes if they fund stuff he, or his rav, disapproves of.

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  12. "Everyone, charedim included, agrees that Israel needs a strong army."

    I think the real problem is that deep down, in places they may not even know themselves, charedim are uncomfortable with the very idea of a State of Israel, and thus want to avoid as much as possible any connection to it. I think *that* is the root issue that no one addresses, or admits.

    "50% of the boys in her chareidi college"

    You can't call them "boys" when people the same age are commanding troops in combat.

    "leaders are bought off by bribery"

    I suppose this is why the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, who was the charedi candidate, is under house arrest, not to mention many, many other charedi leaders either in jail or on their way to it.

    Regarding Bennett: I don't think you see the slyness here. He transfers the statement to someone else (it's still a lie, but now it has a bit more time) and says Bennett said something "similar." That allows him to back off the previous lie without admitting that it was a lie.

    He says, by the way, that charedi wives make money and thus pay taxes. First, many Israelis don't pay taxes, especially charedi wives. Secondly, in many if not most non-charedi couples, both halves work- so charedim still only pay half as much. Second, you have to love the supposed keepers of the mesorah arguing that the *women* work.

    Your references to the National Religious are correct, of course, but you miss the problem: Do charedim, National Religious are simply not religious. If you argue that the latter do it, the former will simply say (or think), "Nu? They're krum at best anyway."

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  13. Regarding Bennett: I don't think you see the slyness here. He transfers the statement to someone else (it's still a lie, but now it has a bit more time) and says Bennett said something "similar." That allows him to back off the previous lie without admitting that it was a lie.

    He's changed it from what he wrote originally, after I sent them both an angry email (and which he rebuffed).

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  14. I just inserted the following update:

    After I sent a complaint to Rav Feldman and Rabbi Menken, this has now been changed to "Bennett said something similar." I'm not sure if Rav Feldman's speeches have likewise been retroactively corrected. And, of course, I would not agree that Bennett said something similar at all.

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  15. It seems that Rabbi Feldman's main point is that the army is likely to weaken the religious commitment of a significant number of charedim like it has for the National Religious. I don't see you addressing that point.

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  16. Sure I addressed it!

    Yes, joining the army is a big sacrifice and can come at great personal spiritual and physical cost. Everyone else makes that sacrifice. If you don't want to make it, then you have a debt to the country - find some other way to make it up.

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  17. First, a correction: I meant to say "many Israelis don't pay *income* taxes". Also, my last point is obviously not my second. :-)

    As to the "correction":

    First, no one said anything of the kind. At most, they may say that *problems* associated with the charedi lifestyle are a greater longterm threat than Iran. No one ever says that *charedim* are a threat at all. And as I pointed out on Hirhurim, even though the Churban was clearly caused by foreign powers, Chazal had no problem ascribing it to internal issues. So much for "mesorah."

    Second, to correct something that purports to be a transcript of a speech without noting it is just plain dishonesty. Even if it's *not* a transcript, simple ethics demands a note ("This article was corrected...") Kal V'Chomer a speech, which has already been given (at least twice) and so can't be taken back- the most you can do is add a note making the correction, not edit. But gedolim never make mistakes (even if their speeches need "improving"), even if lies have to be told to maintain that illusion. Lovely.

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  18. Why should they be allowed to "find some other way" (which, by definition, means less risk of physical harm) when NO ONE ELSE (Jewish) in the country is allowed to do so? Just because of their ideology, who they were born or what type of head covering they wear? That is simply unjust.

    The only possible explanation that would make even a modicum of sense (not that I would agree with it either) is that charedim are, in fact, *weaker* spiritually- either because of their isolation or because of something inherent to their philosophy- than others and so can't risk it. But good luck getting charedi spokesmen to admit that. (They may talk about the isolation, but they will *never* follow it through to the logical conclusion and say that they are on a lower level than Dati Leumi, for whatever reason.)

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  19. Great blog post. Thanks for such a lucid critique of this Chareid propaganda.

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  20. Rav Feldman's speech is lacking in one vital element. Torah. He has not dealt with the basic halachic problem here. In a מלחמת מצוה, there are no exemptions- הכל יוצאים.

    He talks about Torah study and ignores other מצות. Since when does Torah study allow one to ignore another מצוה, which by definition does not allow for exemptions?

    To quote the Kotzker:
    וכמו שאמרו, אם רואה אדם שיסורים באים עליו יפשפש במעשיו. פשפש ולא מצא יתלה בביטול תורה (ברכות ה). והדקדוש מפורסם באם יש בו ביטול תורה איך קאמר פשפש ולא מצא? אלא, יתלה בביטול תורה, הכוונה, שלא רצה לעסוק במצות ה׳, ובצרכי הציבור מפני שהתירא מביטול תורה, וזה עוון פלילי, כי כל התורה לא באה אלא ללמד לבני אדם להועיל ולהיטב לאחרים ולא להתיראות ולחוש לעצמו בלבד


    He cites the Chazon Ish and then complains that Hesder is not separate enough. Actually, the Chazon Ish insisted that the datim and chilonim be integrated in the army. Part of the reason why the army may have problems is because the charedim only send their sons there if they are already halfway off the derech. They send their worst to the army, and promote their worst to the chief rabbinate.

    The historic distortions don't end there. He implies that the universal charedi exemption was established in 1948. Not true.

    " Our students are educated not to lie, cheat or steal"
    כל שאינו מלמד את בנו אומנות - מלמדו ליסטות

    "Stanley Fischer, a secular Jew who is Governor of the Bank of Israel, said that unless the situation changes, Charedim will constitute the majority in another several decades — and something must be done."
    Mispacha just ran an article which claims that Gafni is a big supported of Fischer.

    "In the newspapers, you can see caricatures of religious Jews no different than those in the most anti-Semitic journals."
    Yes, those newspapers were reporting posters caricaturing charedim in the army- now slurred as 'chardakim'. Shame on them for reporting the truth!





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  21. I never point out individual people on my comments, but will do so now to say that Feldman really has become quite tiresome. If you compare the Moetzes of 30 years ago to now you could faint on the spot. Can you imagine R. Yaakov Kaminetsky or Rav Ruderman talking like this, with such condescending self-serving simplifications?

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  22. Regardubg the claim that Haredim should be considered "concientious objectors", it should be remembered that both the US and Britain had either compulsory conscription or at least selective service but the Haredim never used this claim. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe concientious objectors do not claim it is against their religioun to have to mix with people different than themselves, as the Haredim claim, but they object to shedding blood, and as a result they do some form of national service, including serving in medical units at the front.

    I once read in Ha'aretz someone suggest that the Haredim be given a permament exemption from military service on grounds of concience, similar to the Arab community, and in return, the Haredim will agree to give up any special financial grants to their community and in addition agree to separation of religion and state. What would the Haredi leadership think of that deal?

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  23. Benzion said:

    "It seems that Rabbi Feldman's main point is that the army is likely to weaken the religious commitment of a significant number of charedim like it has for the National Religious. I don't see you addressing that point."

    The way it's being set up, it's actually very unlikely. No charedim will be forced to serve in regular "mixed" units. Whatever number the army decides is needed will have a choice among Nachal Chareidi, Shachar, Atuda, and new programs being developed that will be like Chareidi Hesdar but instead of combat they'll work in tech. (Of course they will be free to choose regular combat units if they desire.) Between that, the 1800 each year that will remain in Yeshiva, and the remainder who can do community service for frum organizations in their own communities, they will not face anywhere near the "threat" that DL young men do when they enter the army.

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  24. "The IDF is an environment which is very harmful to the charedi lifestyle." [sic]

    In addition to all the excellent points you make here, I believe that it's also very important to show - as I tried to do in my post about religious soldiers and the IDF - that the above statement is simply NOT true.

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  25. Y. Ben-David:

    First, charedim glorify military service, as long as it isn't Israeli. Artscroll once published a biography of a man who fought for the US in World War II. When did they last publish a biography of an IDF soldier?

    Second, yes, conscientious objectors usually need to serve somehow in the US.

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  26. You wrote: But a person who is only learning Torah is not contributing to the rest of society (unless you subscribe to recent mystical ideas developed by R. Chaim of Volozhin). He is building up his own Torah scholarship, but that is not what "national service" is about.
    However the Gemara says differently:
    תלמוד בבלי מסכת סנהדרין דף צט עמוד ב

    אפיקורוס כגון מאן? - אמר רב יוסף: כגון הני דאמרי מאי אהנו לן רבנן? לדידהו קרו, לדידהו תנו. אמר ליה אביי: האי מגלה פנים בתורה נמי הוא, דכתיב אם לא בריתי יומם ולילה חקות שמים וארץ לא שמתי. אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק: מהכא נמי שמע מינה, שנאמר ונשאתי לכל המקום בעבורם

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  27. You are making the exact same mistake as everyone else. The Gemara is talking about RABBIS who TEACH Torah, not students who learn Torah.

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  28. There is no indication that the Gemara Sanhedrin is only talking about Rabbis who teach Torah. A posuk is quoted that says without the covenant of Torah there would be no world. That would seem to incluse studying Torah as well.

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  29. Again, you are taking modern charedi concepts and retrofitting them to the sources. How do you know what the passuk is talking about? How do you know that it is talking about mystical effects of learning Torah? (Certainly Rambam would not have learned it that way!) Maybe it is saying that creation is only worthwhile for the sake of a moral society in which people follow Torah teachings?

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  30. Also, the Gemara specifically mentions rabbis who teach.

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  31. "I'm terrified about sending my sons to the army!"

    and that's exactly the point. Going to the army isn't great for any israeli kid. but we do it because we have to.

    and so, yeah, i'm sorry (a bit) if it ain't great for the haredi kids either - but you know what? they just had a 65 year freebie. Time to start paying that off.

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  32. What I find especially disturbing about a presentation like that of Rav Feldman is the almost complete lack of any accurate factual details being presented about the legislative initiative that is being criticized.

    Lack of the relevant accurate factual basis discredits both the speakers and their arguments.

    In my opinion, such an approach fans hatred and leads to an counter-productive siege mentality.

    The anger that Rav Feldman displayed at the end of his talk, which underlines the lack of achdus that he apparently feels for the non-chareidi Israeli Jews, was a chillul Hashem that I find repulsive and extremely disappointing.

    Moderate Chareidi.

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  33. Now, I think that people should be able to understand that, and be sympathetic to it. Yet, contrary to what Rav Feldman thinks, it doesn't settle the matter. To quote Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein: "the robbing of our youths’ formative years as a ben Torah would be a price that we could not pay... But how do we ask other, reluctant Israelis to pay a different price so that we don’t have to pay ours? Who gave us that right?"

    I think you are minimizing the strength of the argument which I find very persuasive. The Chareidim, and those who identify with that group, oppose the existence of the State of Israel. They oppose the Zionist ethos. They do not want their children socializing (let alone living) with those from other "streams". From the beginning of the state, they have been reluctant Israelis. The other "reluctant" Israelis may be nervous about sending their children to the army. Rightfully so. But they chose to create the State, live in it, and embrace its existence. They identify as Israelis. The burden rests on them because they created the problem.

    It is true that Ben Gurion never envisioned the rise of the chareidim when he made the deal to exempt them from the army. But the ideological divisions between him and the Chazon Ish which led to that agreement remain.

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  34. Moshe: as R' Slifkin has said, you are projecting modern haredi ideology onto the Torah and rabbinic literature; this creates the illusion that Haredi Judaism IS classical Judaism, as represented by the modern forces of Daas Torah, Gedolim, and the kollel movement. Look at it like chassidus: does the word Tzaddik in Hasidic thought have the same meaning as in Tanach?

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  35. The burden rests on them because they created the problem.

    The Chareidim seem to have no problem taking the various benefits of the state of Israel. Asserting that they still have no accompanying obligation is both illogical and immoral.

    - Moishe Potemkin

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  36. For a realistic accounting of what the average charedi gets from the government and what the average chiloni pays see my post here http://jewishworker.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/its-all-about-money.html

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  37. For a comparison of the US and Israeli education mandates see my post here http://jewishworker.blogspot.co.il/2013/07/comparison-of-haredi-education-in.html

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  38. The funny thing is this has (basically) happened before.

    The Jews were facing war in Israel. Some Jews did not want to join in the war effort. They did not attach much significance to The State of Israel - they were quite happy not to even live with their brethren there. They went to their Rov (a Chareidi Godol) who told them to help their brethren out and not be so selfish. Credit to them, they listened to him.

    Clue:

    We just Leined it.

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  39. "The burden rests on them because they created the problem."

    What "problem"? Saving thousands of charedi lives in 1948 and 1967? Liberating areas where masses of charedim live and pray to this day? Protecting charedim every single minute of every single day of the year? Those "problems"?

    I hope you don't live in Israel, because that would make you a perfect ingrate.

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  40. So much for not educating to steal, see this ad from Egged asking the Charedi population to pay for their rides and not steal from Egged.

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  41. It's astounding to me how someone could have sit in Shul yesterday and heard the Baal Koreh read the pasuk of Moshe Rabeynu's rebuke to bnei Gad u'vnei Reuven - "ha'acheychem yavou lamilchama v'atem teyshva po" - and not see it as a complete indictment of the Charedei approach!

    When I pointed this out to a Charedei friend of mine this morning, he replied "and you think Rav Kanievsky doesn't know that pasuk!"

    I guess when your answer to any question is that the Gedolim know better, nothing can ever challenge the Charedei worldview.

    How sad.

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  42. Moishe and Nochum -

    The history is quite clear. The chareidim opposed the Zionist movement. They opposed the creation of the State of Israel. They thought it unwise and unsafe to create a secular Jewish state in the Middle East. They think this unwise and antithetical to Torah.

    You both seem to think they are crazy. Maybe. But their position has not changed and they are stuck living in their Holy Land under a "foreign" ruler. Taking advantage of the social safety net and protections afforded by that ruler does not threaten their way of life.

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  43. James: you don't go far enough. It doesn't just not threaten their way of life...it is the very basis of it! Without all that government support, the Haredi world in Israel would collapse.

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  44. "But a person who is only learning Torah is not contributing to the rest of society (unless you subscribe to recent mystical ideas developed by R. Chaim of Volozhin)."

    I really don't know why you make this claim, as it's completely irrelevant to your central thesis - that Charedim should serve in the army - which even the Charedim secretly agree to.

    Pirkei Avos 3:17 "If there is no Torah, there is no flour" is an obvious counter example. Unless you subscribe to recent rationalist ideas developed by Rabbi Slifkin.

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  45. You both seem to think they are crazy.

    It's not crazy to want to avoid military service. It's ignorant, cowardly and selfish to enjoy the State's protection and support without assuming any of the responsibilities, and the justifications are an appalling example of ziyuf hatorah, but it's not crazy.

    - Moishe Potemkin

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  46. James wrote:

    "The Chareidim, and those who identify with that group, oppose the existence of the State of Israel. They oppose the Zionist ethos. They do not want their children socializing (let alone living) with those from other "streams". From the beginning of the state, they have been reluctant Israelis."

    Very well. But it is beyond chutzpah for these "reluctant Israelis" to demand that the state of Israel support their school which don't teach basic civics and pay for individuals to avoid army service and study in open-ended kollel.

    Do the Charedim and their supporters have no shame?

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  47. Furthermore, by living in a state you tacitly accept the social contract of the state and its laws. If you don't like the laws of the state -- then leave.

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  48. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 99b) is clearly talking about scholars who study for themsleves. Who could possibly make the claim that לדידהו קרו לדידהו תנו if they were teaching Torah to others? (By the way, the word תנו means to learn; the word מתנו means to teach. See Megillah 29a.)This interpretation is not retrofitting Chareidi ideology to the sources. Your alternative interpretation is retrofitting anti-Chereidi ideology to the sources.

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  49. At Cross Currents, when someone says something indefensible, the comments get closed.

    Rabbi Feldman's remarks were absurd, for all the reasons you and others wrote. What I thought equally bad though, was the statement of Agudah about Rabbi Sacks, printed right next to that of Rabbi Feldman. So classless was this statement that I found it hard to believe R. Avi Shafran, whose byline appears over it, actually wrote it himself. It says Rabbi Sack's were "misguided" - as though the Chrief Rabbi of the British Empire needed guidance from anyone. It calls the Chief Rabbi's comments were "uncouth, which, coming from an American, is equal parts riddiculous and hilarious. The notion that "many charedi initiatives touch the non-Jewish world" is risible. [What initiatives? Diamonds?] It refers to Rabbi Sack as "arrogating to judge" charedim, a laughable choice of words to anyone who knows Rabbi Sacks, but feels no shame in labeling Rabbi Sack's thoughts as "Un-Jewish."

    In general, for the Agudah to attack one of the most respected rabbis of the age earns them no goodwill whatever, and to the contrary, makes them shrink more and more into the background. Which is a shame, because I like the conservatism of the Agudah, just not its Godol-worship and recent turn to Charedism [neither of which innnovations represent conservatism at all.] Like I said, hard to believe an old pro like Shafran could write such stupidity.

    My advice to Cross Currents: If you're too embarassed by how the public will respond (and this is already a pretty frum public, mind you, reading CC) then dont put it up in the first place.

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  50. MO wrote:

    "But it is beyond chutzpah for these "reluctant Israelis" to demand that the state of Israel support their school which don't teach basic civics and pay for individuals to avoid army service and study in open-ended kollel."

    The ban on secular studies predated the State of Israel by fifty years. They are living under a foreign government that cares not about Torah. Why not get as much as you can?

    In their minds, they have been living in the Holy Land since before the existence of a Zionist movement. They are entitled to try and get as much as they can from the foreign occupiers.

    Just out of curiosity, will the yeshiva students at institutions who refuse government funding still be exempt from the draft?

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  51. James,

    Have you heard of the words "ehrlich" and "eidel"?

    Your sentence, "They are entitled to try and get as much as they can from the foreign occupiers" made me cringe.

    Who talks like that? Which eidel personality "tries to get as much as he can get"? It's so terribly uncouth. Please remember the Litvish saying (back when Litvaks were Litvaks): "A galach is frum, a yid is ehrlich."

    Ehrlichkeit does not permit one to live with pride off the labors of others (who, addition, explicitly tell you to your face that they really prefer not to fund a lifestyle they disagree with anymore).

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  52. Mordechai GordonJuly 8, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Excellent rebuttal! I was also seething with Rabbi Feldman's address. Thanks for speaking my mind so cogently.
    I also think that the way the word Torah is used is very disingenuous. As if no one else engages in it. The type of Torah he refers to is an inward and backward looking one which shuns the world and reality in favour of its own view and tries to bend reality to its own yardstick. Thats why it doesn't have the intended effect. As Rabbi Sacks seems to have said (I only read the Aguda letter so far). The type of Torah which embraces reality in all its gory detail and helps us understand it is the type of Torah which will bring us forward. There's so little of that around!

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  53. "Have you heard of the words "ehrlich" and "eidel"?"

    Thank you, thank you, Yehudah. Without such פנמיות, everything so quickly reduces to the level of "Step on a crack, break yer mother's back!"

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  54. @ScienceArt:

    Pirkei Avos 3:17 "If there is no Torah, there is no flour" is an obvious counter example. Unless you subscribe to recent rationalist ideas developed by Rabbi Slifkin.

    I hate statements like this with a passion. Why do people like you so quickly reduce statements like that to absolutes? Do you really believe that you can live off of flour alone? Do you really believe that one must be acquiring (or producing) flour 100% of the time in order to survive? Do you really believe that flour is the end-all-be-all of life? Do you believe that the one comment in Pirkei Avos negates the dozens or hundreds of other statements of ChaZaL that contradict your interpretation?

    Your method of debate is disgustingly dishonest.

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  55. James-
    Frankly, your reference to the gov't of Israel being "foreign occupiers" is quite offensive
    There are several million Jews living here and to say that is to completelly cuts one's self off from them, like saying they are not Jews, only we are. I say that as someone who is very critical of the old secular, anti-religious MAPAI-MAPAM system that controlled the country up to the 1990's
    It is certainly true that the Haredi community predates the state but that does NOT mean that they own Eretz Israel...it belongs to the entire Jewish people.

    I have always wondered why anti-Zionist Haredim never put their money where there mouth was and went to live in Hevron or the Old City of Jerusalem before 1967 when Jordan controlled them (of course, as Jordanian citizens they may have faced conscription!). Or even today, why not go to Abbas and offer to set up an anti-Zionist Haredi community in Ramallah or in the Arab-controlled part of Hevron, if they really believe that any other regime is preferabe to that of Israel

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  56. The charedim are a greater threat to Israel than Iran. They are destroying yiddishkite.

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  57. The yeshiva environment makes it very difficult to function in the corporate world. The argumentativeness and confused thinking make one quite unpopular.

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  58. I agree mass kollel practised today by less than 1% of the jewish nation is not following normative judaism practised by orthodox jews over the centuries.
    But neither is naming and shaming Gedolim on a world-wide forum (as sometimes found on this blog) something that orthodox jews have practised over the centuries.
    So at the end of the day its you and your commenters together with charedim that are deviating from the norms of orthodox jewry - this blog by sometimes being mevaze talmidei chachamim and charedim by learning Torah.
    I will allow the individual reader decide which of the 2 deviators he would prefer to associate with.

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  59. The fact that in the charedi girls' schools they teach English, Hebrew and math indicates that the "real" concern in learning these subjects in yeshivot is not that they're trying to secularize the bochurim.

    It's more the quote by Meir Porush of the Viznitzer Rebbe in the linked article: even if the authorities tell them to learn a different massechet than what they're presently learning, the charedim should oppose it.

    Their concern is that once the gov't dictates to them what to teach in one area, it'll lead to further concessions later (sort of like the concessions in the Oslo Accords).

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  60. I agree mass kollel practised today by less than 1% of the jewish nation is not following normative judaism practised by orthodox jews over the centuries.
    But neither is naming and shaming Gedolim on a world-wide forum (as sometimes found on this blog) something that orthodox jews have practised over the centuries.


    What are you talking about? Rabbis have been disagreeing with other rabbis for thousands of years!

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  61. I tried to post the following comment to Eytan Kobre's similar article on CC. (So far no comments on that article have been posted):

    "You argue that due to the centrality of Torah, those who earn ought to support 800,000 people who choose not to earn but choose Torah learning instead. This argument might be compelling if it was rooted in classical or historical sources. Why is it not written anywhere that this would be the ideal? Why did nobody ever try to implement this until 65 years ago?

    Your assertion that Klal Yisrael always financially supported lifetime learning on a massive scale is ahistorical. To convince me otherwise you’ll have to bring more than some unnamed (or even named) Chazal about Shevet Levi in Mitzrayim and anecdotes of individuals who did individual acts of tzedaka for Bnei Yeshiva.

    But all that is beside the point. And MK Lipman is also beside the point. The fact is that the Israeli electorate has spoken. They are still happy to support Torah learning, but not to the extent that they have until now. To force them to support mass lifetime learning after they have voted against it would be undemocratic."

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  62. I am reminded of a story I heard in the name of R' Aharon Kotler, z"l. A "junger Mann", in kollel asked R' Aharon to help him with a shalom bayis problem. The wife was complaining that her husband refused to take out the garbage. The husband agreed, claiming that as a Talmid Chacham, it was beneath his dignity to take out the trash. R' Aharon agreed that if indeed the husband was on such a madrega, he should not be made to take out the garbage. The next night, after dinner, someone knocked on the kollel couple's door. It was R' Aharon, come to take out the trash for the wife.
    The husband got the message real fast.

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  63. An article was posted today on Kikar Shabbat complaining that the government inspectors were coming at the end of the zman to check if the boys were really there and learning. The Yeshiva heads called this "rishus" .

    I really have to say that I don't understand what they are complaining about. The zman is not over and therefore the boys should be there. Imagine if in the army a week before release a soldier didn't show up for duty, he would be declared AWOL. If the torah learning protects the country just as much as the army then the learners should be treated just like soldiers.

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  64. Y. Ben David, Chana, and Yehuda,

    Please dont pile on me or assume that I support haredi positions.

    My point is only that the agreement between Ben Gurion and the Haredim was based on ideological opposition to the State of Israel. That opposition remains exactly the same as it did back then. IN THEIR MINDS, Israel is a foreign occupier. It may be marginally better than its neighbors but it remains a foreign occupier.

    Your arguments apply to the haredim of 1948 as much as they do to today's haredim. My point is only that today's haredi argument is as powerful as it was in 1948.

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  65. James:

    Ben-Gurion and the Haredim made an agreement in 1948. Now conditions have changed (there are many many more yeshiva students) and Israel as a sovereign country has the right to pass laws that change that agreement.

    As long as the Haredim live in Israel they must obey the laws of the country they live in.

    If they don't like the laws, they can leave.

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  66. "Rav Feldman claims that the charedi community should have the status of conscientious objectors. But they are not objecting to the goals of the army, or to its methods of war. They agree that the State of Israel needs defending from the Arab nations. They are simply objecting to they themselves having to contribute to these efforts, which is not what "conscientious objectors" normally refers to!"

    That's a load a bs, and you know that Natan.

    The Amish in America are not objecting to the goals of the army, or to its methods of war in defending itself from Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. The Amish agree that the the United States needs defending from the Axis Powers.

    Yet the Amish object on religious grounds to serving in the U.S. Military. And the U.S. Selective Service exempts them on religious grounds, as every civilized Western democracy does.

    Except you don't wish to afford that democratic accommodation to Religious Jews.

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  67. Moshe Dick writes:

    Many of the people writing on this blog are of chareidi background- and are appalled at what is going on in israel, because most of us live in the real world and see what can happen if the present trend continues- an economic and social disaster.The spokesmen of the chareidi world are worried and it shows because NONE of their spokesmen wil allow any rebutttal or criticism of their positions- in fear that it be sensible! I too have tried to respond to various chareidi columns in cross-currents but they will not allow anyone to rebut them.In any of the chareidi periodicals you will never, never see a different opinion. It is uniform non-chareidi bashing. They fear that the opposite stance would be too sensible.

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  68. The Amish in America are not objecting to the goals of the army, or to its methods of war in defending itself from Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.

    That's actually very unclear - there's one school of Amish thought that interprets the admonition to "turn the other cheek" as absolute.

    - Moishe Potemkin

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  69. Only a fool tries to compare the Amish to Charedim.

    The Amish are less than half of one % of America. The Charedim are between 10 and 15% of Israel's.

    The Amish are honest about doing their best to stay out of government. For this reason they do not vote and do not run for office. The Charedim, by contrast, play politics to squeeze every dollar they can out of other people.

    The Amish do not send beggars to other people's doors, nor do they interupt other Christian's prayers to beg for alms. The Charedim have no such scruples.

    The Amish are self-sufficient. The Charedim are not.

    No, not all the Amish are tzaddikim, and not all the Charedim are oisvorfs. But there is no comparison between them. And by the way, what does it say that the Charedim try to compare themselves to the Amish, but the Amish never try to compare themelves to Charedim?

    Z. Levitin.

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  70. From the Wikipedia article on conscientious objectors:

    "The reasons for refusing to perform military service are varied. Many conscientious objectors cite religious reasons. Unitarian Universalists object to war in their sixth principle "The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all". Members of the Historic Peace Churches such as Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, Old Order Mennonite, Conservative Mennonites and Church of the Brethren object to war from the conviction that Christian life is incompatible with military action, because Jesus enjoins his followers to love their enemies and to refuse violence. Since the American Civil War, Seventh-day Adventists were known as non-combatants, and had done work in hospitals or to give medical care rather than combat roles, and the church has upheld the non-combative position. Jehovah's Witnesses and Christadelphians, while not pacifist in the strict sense, refuse to participate in the armed services on the grounds that they believe they should be neutral in worldly conflicts and often cite the latter portion of Isaiah 2:4 which states, "…neither shall they learn war anymore." Other objections can stem from a deep sense of responsibility toward humanity as a whole, or from simple denial that any government possesses the moral authority to command warlike behavior from its citizens."

    None of this applies to the Chareidi objection, which, per Rav Feldman, is based solely on their objecton to what they believe would be negative influences resulting from interactions with non-chareidim in the context of the IDF.

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  71. Joseph: The Amish are actually less than 0.1% of the US population! And yes, they all work and are self-sufficient economically. They don't just sit on their asses all day learning New Testament and Church texts, demanding welfare from secular and other religious Americans to support their lifestyle. They are much more honest than the Haredim in that respect!

    Also they might not be placed in combat units in a time of draft due to pacifist beliefs, not because of "bad army influences" that will make them go off the derech. Furthermore such types of objectors would still work in hospitals and contribute in other ways in a time of war and drafts.

    In short, a totally ridiculous comparison!

    I also like how Joseph conflates "religious Jews" with Haredim!!

    Jon
    -a religious Jew, son and grandson of religious Jews.

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  72. More from the Wikipedia article:

    "In the United States, there are two main criteria for classification as a conscientious objector. First, the objector must be opposed to war in any form, Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437. Second, the objection must be sincere, Witmer v. United States, 348 U.S. 375."

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  73. Also just confirmed regarding the Amish: they don't take money from the government! Out of principle of course!

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  74. First, the Amish have no problem with the existence of the United States. Charedim don't think the State of Israel should exist. While their official spokesmen never admit that this is the issue, it's perhaps refreshing that their apologists here do. On the other hand, said apologists shouldn't compare them to the Amish.

    Pacifism, by the way, has always been a central part of the Amish religion. (It's why they don't have "militaristic" mustaches, for example.) It's never been part of charediism.

    Amish take so little from the state, they don't even have social security numbers.

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  75. ...But a person who is only learning Torah is not contributing to the rest of society (unless you subscribe to recent mystical ideas developed by R. Chaim of Volozhin). He is building up his own Torah scholarship...
    גמ' סנהדרין צט: אפיקורוס כגון מאן? אמר רב יוסף כגון הני דאמרי מאי אהנו לן רבנן, לדידהו קרו לדידהו תנו. אמר ליה אביי, האי מגלה פנים בתורה נמי הוא דכתיב אם לא בריתי יומם ולילה חקות שמים וארץ לא שמתי. אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק מהכא נמי שמע מינה שנאמר ונשאתי לכל המקום בעבורם. רש"י: מאי אהני לן. והם אינן יודעין שעולם מתקיים עליהם

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  76. To WFB - That's the amora Rav Yosef's opinion, and that interpretation is Rashi's interpretation. I disagree. So do many others. We are just respectful of tradition, so we dont say so out loud. But make no mistake, most Jews dont accept that, neither in theory nor in practice. Neither do rabbis themselves. Have you never heard of rabbis disparaging other rabbis? Maisim shebechol yom.

    Z. Levitin

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  77. Many good points have been made in the OP and comments. A few more to add.
    1. As Rabbi Feldman says, the purpose of the Jewish people is to observe the Torah. But that is not the same as the definition of the Jewish people. All Jews are Jews whether they keep the Torah or not. What responsibility, if any, does Rabbi Feldman feel the Haredim have towards secular Israelis?
    2. Rabbi Feldman treats the 'status quo agreement' as a constitutional law giving the Haredim complete autonomy for all time. In fact, it was nothing more than a political promise--something Rabbi Feldman takes pains to describe, a few paragraphs later, as worthless. Haredim have not hesitated to go beyond the agreement when it suited their purposes: for example, Ben Gurion never promised to pay for Haredi institutions, or to create Haredi welfare programs. And the agreement covered specific issues: it was in no way a generalized grant of autonomy.
    3. Rabbi Feldman says that army service is not real pikuach nefesh. I think a test of that hypothesis is in order. Would he care to spend every shabbat in a West Bank settlement without the army's protection?

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  78. I think people are getting carried away here. The large majority of Haredim believe they are better off living in a Zionist Jewish state than any other concievable alternative. As I pointed out above, even the most extreme anti-Zionists never volunteered to live in King Hussein's Old City of Jerusalem or Hevron before 1967 nor do they volunteer to live in the Palestinian authority today. What they do believe is that no body or state organization outside of the Haredi world has any moral authority over them. Thus, they will not say that the state of Israel can dictate to them what their priorities should be regarding military service, education and the like.

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  79. @Avi.

    "@ScienceArt:

    Pirkei Avos 3:17 "If there is no Torah, there is no flour" is an obvious counter example. Unless you subscribe to recent rationalist ideas developed by Rabbi Slifkin.

    "I hate statements like this with a passion. Why do people like you so quickly reduce statements like that to absolutes? Do you really believe that you can live off of flour alone? Do you really believe that one must be acquiring (or producing) flour 100% of the time in order to survive? Do you really believe that flour is the end-all-be-all of life? Do you believe that the one comment in Pirkei Avos negates the dozens or hundreds of other statements of ChaZaL that contradict your interpretation?"

    On all baking related matters I don't have any strong opinions, and fail to follow your bizarre sequence of questions.

    I believe that reality (and Torah) is exceedingly complicated. I believe that Rabbi Slifkin's stark statement is disingenuous historical revisionism.

    The closing phrase, "Unless you subscribe to recent rationalist ideas developed by Rabbi Slifkin." while certainly lacking in accuracy, was intended to mirror Rabbi Slifkin's arrogance and inaccuracy.

    The truth is that rationalists do often indulge in historical revisionism. For example, Rambam (for whom I have the utmost respect, as did Rav Elyashiv) in Moreh Nevuchim who expresses an utterly untenable view about Korbanos being a horaas's sha'ah (For counter example,Yeshayah 56:7/8). This view never makes it into yad hachazoha - revisionists are torn apart by their internal contradictions.

    Reconciling all aspects of reality is an overly ambitious aim. Nobody has a grand unified theory of everything.

    The question is how to deal with the fault lines. Traditional Jews have considerable plasticity in their model of reality and don't fall to pieces when parts of it are shown to be inconsistent with other parts. This is a mesorah mediated through thousands of years, exemplified by the far fetched ukimtas scattered liberally throughout Shas.

    Rationalist Jews are often in denial about their own beliefs, and about the true nature of their religion.

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  80. "The Amish are less than half of one % of America. The Charedim are between 10 and 15% of Israel's."

    All democratic societies, including the U.S. and the European Union, recognize the right to conscientiously object on religious or humanitarian or pacifist grounds irregardless whether that religious group is large or a decent portion of the population.

    And none of the Western democracies, exclude religious conscientious objections based on an evaluation of why that religion objects.

    So clearly Chareidim are conscientious objectors in Israel. Chareidim opposed the creation of the State of Israel and Chareidim CURRENTLY oppose Zionism, which is the official political system in Israel.

    Furthermore, Chareidim have opposed the Israeli wars. From the War of Independence to the subsequent wars. Chareidim have traditionally been pacifists. Rav Shach often said let Israel give the Arabs territory if that will avoid war or terrorism.

    And don't waste your breath suggesting that the Chareidim move out of Israel:

    1) No other country will take in hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who are not citizens of that country.

    2) Chareidim have lived in Israel before the Zionists. In fact before Zionism existed. Let the Zionist come-lately's move out. (And they are; take a look around New York at the tens of thousands of Israeli Chilonim living there after dumping their Zionism.)

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  81. Joseph said...

    > Yet the Amish object on religious grounds to serving in the U.S. Military. And the U.S. Selective Service exempts them on religious grounds, as every civilized Western democracy does.

    The Amish were subject to conscription, and though most got deferments as contentious objectors, they were required to serve in other capacities.

    From here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/amish/

    “Late Spring, 1917
    The U.S. begins a national conscription service; some Amish boys receive exemptions for farm deferments as conscientious objectors, but others are required to report to Army camps. Drafted Amish who refuse to enter armed service are sent to the Army camps for non-combatant service and are often subjected to abuse.
    Some members of the Amish community express concern over Amish boys being pulled away from the church and not returning to their home communities following their service.
    “February 1941
    The U.S. and Canadian governments accept alternative service options for conscientious objectors (CO's): the American Civilian Public Service (CPS) and the Canadian Alternative Service Work (ASW) allow Amish draftees to work non-military assignments and stay in special CO camps. They will provide free labor in forestry projects, hospitals, social work and on farms. Many also receive farm deferments and may work at home because agricultural production supports the national interest during war.”

    The chareidim are refusing to perform any sort of service. Also, conscientious objectors are those who refuse to fight because they believe fighting – all fighting - is wrong, and that belief is part of their religion. Charedim cannot claim that their religion forbids violence.

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  82. Joseph:

    1. Claiming that the Charedim are conscious objectors is disingenuous.

    Charedim are not pacifists. Their refusing to serve in the army has nothing to do with being opposed to war and killing.

    It has to do with preserving their lifestyles and sticking it to Zionism.

    Were it not so why do Charedim also oppose doing national service?

    2. Israel as a sovereign state can pass whatever laws it wishes conscripting its citizens.

    If Charedim don't like the laws then they must bear the legal consequences.

    No country or international tribunal is going to be sympathetic to Charedim draft-dodging unless they see doing so as a way of undermining Israel.

    (Charedim may wish to turn to Iran to support their draft dodging).

    At the end of the day Charedim can whine all they want, but the law is the law and the majority of Israelis support it.

    3. This being said, I personally think that it would be a mistake for Israel to imprison Charedim who refuse to serve int he army. That will just make them martyrs.

    Rather, Israel should offer an alternative of national service and cut off all financial support for those who refuse to serve the state. If the Charedim feel so strongly about not serving the Zionist entity let them do so without demanding its financial support.

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  83. Moshe Dick says:

    To joseph and others....it is totally irrelevant who came first to Eretz Yisroel. Proof? you live in a country (the US) where the original settlers lost their war, so it is totally irrelevant that some chareidim came here before the Zionist enterprise. Today, the country is based on the Zionist idea and chareidim will hzve to live with it.
    To quote Rav Shach or others is utterly ridiculous because they have beebfited from the development of israel, being protected by the army and feeding off their fellow citizens. Time to give something back.

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  84. Joseph, Charedim are the furthest thing from pacifists. The most right wing views about Arabs and Israeli foreign policy are standard among them, something which can be easily seen by reading mainstream Haredi newspapers. And some charedi leaders cynically supported land giveaways for political reasons to get government money, as part of their coalition obligations. You really think someone like Ovadia Yosef is a pacifist?? Charedim are NOT conscientious objectors; you're just taking that cute, original tack now because the real reasons for Charedim avoiding involvement in Israeli society (or at least fulfilling some basic obligations) are indefensible. Your response also completely ignores how Charedi society is totally dependent on Israeli government programs.

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  85. Joseph: Charedim lived in Israel before Zionism? Oh really? "The Zionists" should just leave? Care to tell us more about "Jewish life" in Palestine then and what it would be like without "the Zionists"? Your claims disturbingly mirror those of Arab anti-Israel propaganda.

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  86. I have to say I can not understand why this attitude that service is not required prevails. A simple reading of the Gemara Bavli Sanhredin 14a shows that Judah ben Babbah sacrified himself merely to ordain his students. How much so that it is necessary to defend against a threat from Iran that not only wishes to wipe out Torah, but all Jewish people.

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  87. Joseph-
    Enough with the historical revisionism. The mainline Haredim, under the Agudat Israel representation, did NOT oppose the creation of the state. In testimony before the UNSCOP commission on the future of Palestiine set up prior to the UN Partition resolution of 1947 their position, although no explcitly demanding the creation of the state, was not negative and they emphasized that holocaust survivors needed a refuge, which obviously was Palestine. How can you ignore the fact that Agudat Israel representatives signed the Declaration of Independence and sent representatives to the Knesset?
    I know it bugs the heck out of anti-Zionists who love pointing out that there are yordim in New York, but for every one of them, there are many olim which has brought Israel's population up to the point that half of world Jewry lives in Israel?

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  88. Blogger PMEM said...

    "The charedim are a greater threat to Israel than Iran. They are destroying yiddishkite."

    Actually, sinas chinam and machlokes is destroying Israel faster than any other type of enemy we will ever face. Irrelevant as to whether it's chareidim, chilonim, tzionim, shalom achshav, sephardim, ashkenazim, wow, media, politicians, etc. Here we are in Av commemorating the destruction of our Beis HaMikdash and even after 2000+ years, we still don't get it.

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  89. There's a lot of hate-based talk, on both sides (esp on the Chareidi side), but I don't think this issue falls under "baseless hatred". It is a difficult problem that needs to be worked out. We can't just let it be, and we can't just "live and let live". The most we can do is to try to understand the other side and to be accommodating when possible

    It doesn't mean that we have to accept their arguments, or even respect those arguments when they are meant to obfuscate the real issues.

    It's not like Moshe Rabbeinu ever addressed Korach's "kol Yisrael kedoshim" argument.

    According to Dov Lipman's fb feed, thousands of people are about to get notices that it is legal for them to go work. Seems like a step forward, although the "Equal Service" crowd is fuming.

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  90. To address the various points that miss the target:

    The Chareidi minority do more "National Service" *already* than the entire Chiloni majority sector. This includes Limudei Torah, Chesed (that benefits everyone including chilonim) and much more.

    Chareidim have historically been pacifists ever since we have been in golus. Rav Shach's aforementioned statement is merely but one example of this.

    The Chareidim opposed the creation of the State. At most, they asked the international community to allow Jewish migration to Eretz Yisroel; not for a Jewish State.

    Chareidim will not be joining the Zionist Army irregardless of any new Zionist Law mandating it. If the Zionists wish to imprison a hundred thousand Chareidim for refusing service, let them start building their new prisons. We are ready.

    Chareidim living in Eretz Yisroel got along with the Arabs much better than Jews living elsewhere in golus got along with their gentile countrymen, prior to the advent of Zionism in 1898 poisoning Jewish-Arab relations. (This is not to say there were no Arab antisemites. But the Arabs were much less anti-Jewish than the Christians were.)

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  91. The Chareidi minority do more "National Service" *already* than the entire Chiloni majority sector.

    Baloney.

    This includes Limudei Torah,

    That's not national service.

    Chesed (that benefits everyone including chilonim)

    Most of their chessed is for their own communities. Yad Sarah etc. probably has more non-charedi volunteers than charedim. And there's a lot more volunteer chessed from non-charedim than you realize.

    and much more.

    Like...?

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  92. More historical revisionism from Joseph-
    The demand for free Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel in the post-war period meant support for a Jewish state, because that was the issue on the agenda and because the British blocked free Jewish immigration with their 1939 White Paper. Any Arab government put in charge of the country would have certainly prevented Jewish immigration and so would have a new UN mandate or international control, so as not to antagonize the Arab side.
    Joseph ignores Agudat Israel's signature on the Declaration of Indpeendence totally. If they opposed the state, why would the grant their hechsher to it.?Haredim are not now and never were "pacificists" because they never used that claim in other countries when there was mandatory conscription. Rav Shack with Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah opposed the Oslo Agreements, although SHAS supported them. They were offered a lot of goodies in order to support them but they didn't. Explain that if they are "pacificists".
    Haredim today serve in the IDF and have served in the past. I am not aware of any official Herem put on those do. In fact, their Knesset members repeatedly say that someone who is not learning in yeshiva should go to the army (I am not talking about the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit who makes up only about 10% of the Haredi population).
    Regarding the supposedly "idyllic" situation of relations between the old yishuv and the Arab population, this is another myth that has been propagated for decades...but even if it true and it was only the beginning of large-scale aliyah that "ruined things" all I can say is like I said before=the pre-existing old yishuv did not "own" Eretz Israel and they had no right or power to prevent other Jews from making aliyah, even if the Arabs didn't like it. Rav Yosef Haim Sonnenfeld, who was viewed as the leader of the old Yishuv and who opposed cooperation with the Zionist authorities was asked to testify to a commission after the granting of the Balfour Declaration (a Zioninst document) if he supported it and he said YES.

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  93. Joseph: Arabs and Jews in Israel get along pretty well actually. But how can you talk about the pre-State period with such rose-colored glasses? Do you realize you are talking about the Ottoman Empire? No running water? A tiny population of poor Jews? Second-class status for "People of the Book" (yay?)? Zionism "poisoned relations"? Your are truly ignorant. It is also a staple argument of pro-Palestinian propaganda. To be honest you sound more NK than just haredi.

    Also you still don't explain why the Charedim take so much money from the State, entering into coalitions, to fund their kollels and yeshivas and their way of life. Why do they do that, if they're so opposed to the State? Why were Charedim so angry that they are not represented in the current government? Shouldn't they be happy?

    In short, your perceptions of Israel and the pre-State period are much more skewed than just rose-colored...there seems to be some sort of controlled substance involved here as well...

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  94. If Jews were not seeking a Jewish State to replace the existing non-Jewish administration of Palestine, the Arabs would not have issued as strenuous objections to Jewish acceptance to living under non-Jewish rule in Palestine. It was the Zionist demands to have a Jewish State with Jewish rule of the Arab population that incited the Arabs to murder.

    The Chareidim had appointed Reb Yaakov Yisrael DeHaan to reach an accommodation with the Arabs. The Zionists murdered Reb Yaakov Yisrael as a result.

    Chareidim are the last people to volunteer military service in *any* country. We seek to avoid serving in Armies anywhere, despite any small number of exceptions you may cite. We are generally strong pacifists.

    Rav Shteinman even stated it is better to run to India, if necessary, to escape IDF service ( http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=160906 ) even if HE IS NOT LEARNING.

    We will agree to stop taking ALL State funding as soon as the State exempts us from any and all taxation, including VAT, income tax, property taxes, etc. Deal or no deal? If it is a deal, we are ready to sign. No more funding; no more taxation.




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  95. Regarding the fact that all talmdei hachamim recognize that all Jews have rights in Eretz Israel, and not just the pre-existing old yishuv, I bring another example from Rav Sonnenfeld. Eliezer Ben-Yehudah had become quite anti-religious and an opponent of the Old Yishuv-Halukkah community by the 1890's. Ben-Yehudah wrote an article about "Jewish nationalism" that the Turkish authorities viewed as subversive. Some members of the Old Yishuv suggested that they go to the authorities and state that they would support having him deported as a troublemaker. Rav Sonnenfeld totally opposed this saying we do not deport Jews from Eretz Israel.
    Another story about Rav Sonnenfeld....after the British mandatory regime was set up after World War I the British conducted a census and one of the questions was regardin what language one spoke. This was the time of the "language wars" when Zionists were promoting Hebrew as the national languages where as the Old Yishuv was totally opposed and supported Yiddish and other more assimilationist elements supported German, French or some other foreign language. To the surprise of many, Rav Sonnenfeld said he reported his language as Hebrew and he encouraged others to do the same. When asked why he replied that that was the language he spoke to Hashem in , but of course, he was aware of the implications in the community.

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  96. "The Chareidi minority do more "National Service" *already*"

    Irrelevant. As the Rambam paskens- במלחמות מצוה הכל יוצאין. (Plus while we all know some חסד is being done, you haven't provided a shred of evidence that it's qualitatively or quantitatively more.)


    "Chareidim have historically been pacifists ever since we have been in golus."
    Irrelevant and untrue. Being a pacifistic citizen of a nation at war would violate the Oath against rebelling against the nations. No sane charedi was a pacifist in regards to the Arab murderers in 1948, 1967, etc...

    "The Chareidim opposed the creation of the State. "
    Not true and irrelevant. Some charedim were Zionists. Have you heard of Isser Zalman Melzer, Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Menachem Kasher, Reuven Katz, Tzvi Yehudah Kook , the Sde Chemed, Shmuel Mohilever, Yissachar Teichtal and Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz? But what does opposition to the State have to do with the halachic obligation to participate in a מלחמת מצוה?

    "Chareidim living in Eretz Yisroel got along with the Arabs much better than Jews living elsewhere in golus got along with their gentile countrymen"
    And the Cossacks treated the Jews better than the Nazis. Have you read even one book on the history of Jews under Arab rule? How does the historic anomaly of the lesser anti-Semitism of the Arabs exempt Charedim from מלחמת מצוה.

    Incidentally, I recall reading one rav's view on why the Arabs weren't as bad as the European anti-Semites. He claimed that the Sefardic Jews were somehow less able to withstand such persecution. (I think I saw this quoted in the name of the Ben Ish Chai. Can someone verify this?) If that's the case, we can understand why Arab anti-Semitism increased with the waves of Ashkenazic olim...

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  97. "We will agree to stop taking ALL State funding as soon as the State exempts us from any and all taxation, including VAT, income tax, property taxes, etc. "

    You clearly don't live in Israel. Charedim are poor- they don't have much income, and thus paying little or no income tax. That also means that they get a huge deduction on their property tax. That leaves the VAT which is no where close to gov't benefits and support.

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  98. There's no milchemes mitzvah involved here, so your point has no relevance.

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  99. The Chareidi minority do more "National Service" *already* than the entire Chiloni majority sector. This includes Limudei Torah, Chesed (that benefits everyone including chilonim) and much more ------------ RUBBISH.

    Chareidim have historically been pacifists ever since we have been in golus. Rav Shach's aforementioned statement is merely but one example of this.---------"HISTORICALLY" CHAREDIM DID NOT EXIST.

    The Chareidim opposed the creation of the State. At most, they asked the international community to allow Jewish migration to Eretz Yisroel; not for a Jewish State. -------------- SO THEY OPPOSED THE STATE. SO DID THE ARABS. THEREFORE WHAT?

    Chareidim will not be joining the Zionist Army irregardless of any new Zionist Law mandating it. If the Zionists wish to imprison a hundred thousand Chareidim for refusing service, let them start building their new prisons. We are ready.---------- "WE"? WHO'S "WE", BUDDY? IF YOU WERE CHAREDI, YOU WOULDNT BE ON THE INTERNET.


    Z.LEVITIN

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  100. James,

    I understand (although disagree with) the charedim's belief that they are living under a foreign regime. My objection to your comment was what you claim follows: an attitude of "Get whatever you can from them."

    A man of honor and honesty who lives under a foreign regime tries to fight it or wants nothing to do with it (think of the famous line, "Bless the czar and keep him far away from us"). A man of honor and honesty does not try to smooch it.

    And I would bet you that the attitude of smooching the government (which equals "the rest of society") is a very recent one -- that the charedim of the 1950s and 60s did not think like this.

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  101. "We will agree to stop taking ALL State funding as soon as the State exempts us from any and all taxation, including VAT, income tax, property taxes, etc. "

    You clearly don't live in Israel. Charedim are poor- they don't have much income, and thus paying little or no income tax. That also means that they get a huge deduction on their property tax. That leaves the VAT which is no where close to gov't benefits and support.


    So do we or don't we have a deal? The Chareidim are willing to forgo ALL benefits on the condition that we are relieved from ALL taxation.

    Put your money where your mouth is, as we are.

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  102. "There's no milchemes mitzvah involved here, so your point has no relevance."

    Here's the Rambam:
    ואיזו היא מלחמת מצוה--זו מלחמת שבעה עממים, ומלחמת עמלק, ועזרת ישראל מצר שבא עליהם

    Have you forgotten the rocket attacks just last week?



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  103. Yehuda,

    Not being of them, I did a poor job representing their point of view and may have projected on them my own biases.

    The point is that under foreign occupation, one can still receive the social services and educational support given to all the other citizens without being hypocritical or a mooch. The yeshivas are already operating at 55% funding.

    You seem to be making the Edah Chariedi argument.

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  104. Joseph said...
    > The Chareidi minority do more "National Service" *already* than the entire Chiloni majority sector. This includes Limudei Torah, Chesed (that benefits everyone including chilonim) and much more.

    The rest of Israeli society doesn’t agree that limudei torah is a benefit. You can’t go into a store and try to pay with something that the owner thinks is worthless, even if you and your community think that it’s very valuable.

    Even granting your argument, they don’t do actual national service. You can’t refuse to pay your taxes on the grounds that you’re a businessman who’s business provides benefit to the community and you volunteer to clean up your neighborhood in your spare time. And Chareidim can’t refuse government service on the grounds that their learning provides benefit to the community and they volunteer for chesed organizations in their spare time.

    > Chareidim have historically been pacifists ever since we have been in golus.

    That’s impossible, since Chareidism is not even close to two thousand years old.

    > Chareidim are the last people to volunteer military service in *any* country.

    That’s because Chareidim think that all militaries are the Czar’s army, which are deliberately trying to turn nice frum boys into apostates. Not because Charedim (as a society) are opposed to violence.

    You never hear of Quakers throwing rocks at people who disagree with them.

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  105. So do we or don't we have a deal? The Chareidim are willing to forgo ALL benefits on the condition that we are relieved from ALL taxation.

    Put your money where your mouth is, as we are.



    If all Charedim are willing to relocate to areas over the Green Line and forgo all defense from the Army, we might be able to work something out.

    The fact is that Charedim, willing or not, receive many benefits from living within Israeli-controlled territory, and they are not willing to give them up. Any rhetoric to that effect is simply a lie. Something Charedim (or at least their apologists) have no issue with.

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  106. So do we or don't we have a deal? The Chareidim are willing to forgo ALL benefits on the condition that we are relieved from ALL taxation.

    Put your money where your mouth is, as we are.

    DEAL. As long as Charedim are also willing to forgo all the services those taxes provide. That means they can't:
    1) Drive on the roads
    2) Use public transportation
    3) Use water from the tap
    4) Use electricity (your bill doesn't pay for everything)
    5) Fire department
    6) Police department
    7) Sewage system
    8) Garbage collection
    9) Parks and other recreation facilities.
    10) Etc.

    Deal or no deal? Put your services where your mouth is!

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  107. Joseph

    So you think that it is right for the Charedim to demand that the secular public that does not value Talmud study financially support all Charedi men to study Talmud for their entire lives?

    Is this your idea of how to be mekadesh shem shamayim?

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  108. The rest of Israeli society doesn’t agree that limudei torah is a benefit. You can’t go into a store and try to pay with something that the owner thinks is worthless, even if you and your community think that it’s very valuable.

    Chareidim aren't looking to buy anything. And we've been living in EY before the Zionists.

    That’s impossible, since Chareidism is not even close to two thousand years old.

    Chareidim have been around since Matan Torah. Our ranks include such luminaries such as Moshe Rabbeinu and all of Chazal.

    If all Charedim are willing to relocate to areas over the Green Line and forgo all defense from the Army, we might be able to work something out.

    We've been living in EY before the zionists. The zionists can continue their migration to New York and around the world.

    The fact is that Charedim, willing or not, receive many benefits from living within Israeli-controlled territory

    We'll pass up on all the so-called "benefits" once we are exempted from taxation.

    DEAL. As long as Charedim are also willing to forgo all the services those taxes provide. That means they can't:
    1) Drive on the roads
    2) Use public transportation
    3) Use water from the tap
    4) Use electricity (your bill doesn't pay for everything)
    5) Fire department
    6) Police department
    7) Sewage system
    8) Garbage collection
    9) Parks and other recreation facilities.
    10) Etc.

    Deal or no deal? Put your services where your mouth is!


    Deal. We'll stop paying any taxes (VAT, property and all others) and we won't use any Israel government/State owned services without an arrangement to pay fair market value, per usage, for such services. As far as road, water, electric, and any other items we Chareidim have been using since before the State existed, we are entitled to continue as we have always used the roads, etc. We didn't ask anyone to pave the roads. And their paving it doesn't remove our right to travel where we always have traveled even before the State came into existence.

    So you think that it is right for the Charedim to demand that the secular public that does not value Talmud study financially support all Charedi men to study Talmud for their entire lives

    As I said, they can stop paying the Yeshivos a single shekel once they stop taxing us.

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  109. Joseph said "We didn't ask anyone to pave the roads. And their paving it doesn't remove our right to travel where we always have traveled even before the State came into existence."

    Still have to pay anyway. Ill remind you of the case of one who says "Echol imi"

    And on a side note, the fact that such an ignoramous, arrogant, holier than thou,low-life human being like you exists, scares the heck out of me..... How could we have let our brothers stray so far

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  110. The whole discussion of charedim trading taxes for services is pointless.

    The charedim are not a sovereign state that can negotiate with the Israeli government.

    They are citizens of Israel who are bound to abide by its laws.

    When the Knesset passes a law cutting funding for kollel students, Charedim have the following options:

    1. Try to change public opinion through arguments and put pressure on the Knesset to overturn the law (won't happen)

    2. Try to get their parties back into the coalition and get the law rescinded (unlikely)

    3. Take their arguments to the UN and get the UN to pressure Israel into restoring funding (UN won't care).

    4. Protest in the streets (won't help)

    5. Ally with the Palestinians, Islamist terrorist organizations and/or foreign states hostile to Israel to overthrow the Israeli government (kinda risky)

    Barring any of these measures, the Charedim can cry foul and whine all they want but they'll have to suck it up and adjust to the new reality.

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  111. MO: Future coalition governments will once again need the Chareidi MK votes for a majority coalition (just as most coalitions have since '48) and will once again provide the Charieidim their financial demands.

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  112. >Chareidim have been around since Matan Torah. Our ranks include such luminaries such as Moshe Rabbeinu and all of Chazal.

    How do you know Moshe Rabbeinu was charedi? Did he wear a shtreimel? Did he wear black only, even in the heat of the desert? I doubt it. It seems to me, he, as well as chazal, were probably Modern Orthodox. They wore modern (for their time) clothes.

    >We'll stop paying any taxes (VAT, property and all others) and we won't use any Israel government/State owned services without an arrangement to pay fair market value, per usage, for such services.

    Who says the Israeli government has to sell you the services for fair market value? A business can set its own price, even if they lose customers. And who says they have to sell you the services at all? They can refuse outright to offer them. No one can force them.

    >As far as road, water, electric, and any other items we Chareidim have been using since before the State existed, we are entitled to continue as we have always used the roads, etc. We didn't ask anyone to pave the roads. And their paving it doesn't remove our right to travel where we always have traveled even before the State came into existence.

    Who says so? Maybe it does. Maybe you have to go back to the old dirt roads, fire brigades with water pails, etc. Also, there are plenty of new roads and services that weren't around before the state. Keep off!

    But the truth is, you’re just full of hot air. Big bombastic talker! No way that you can live without those services. Why don’t you try it for a week and report back to us about your experiences?

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  113. Is there any indication that Rabbi Aharon Feldman read Meir Ben-Tzvi's "THE SLIFKIN AFFAIR – ISSUES AND PERSPECTIVES" compilation? Is there any indication that he is aware of the piece yet has chosen not to read it? The answers to these questions will say so much!

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  114. Minuscule is not properly spelled miniscule. (Just saying).

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