Friday, February 7, 2014

Going To Fight Rather Than Going To Fight


The charedi community proclaims that rather than to leave the Beis HaMidrash and fight with their bodies, the best protection against our enemies is sitting and learning Torah.

The Israeli government, which sees things otherwise, is taking various punitive financial measures against those who do not serve in the IDF.

In response, the charedi community today left the Beis HaMidrash to fight this with their bodies, rather than protecting themselves against their enemies (in this case, the government) by sitting and learning Torah.

This may appear extremely inconsistent. But I think that charedi avoidance of the IDF does not really have anything to do with believing that sitting and learning Torah is the best protection against enemies. It's because joining the IDF would exact a great price on the charedi community, and they do not see any reason to pay that price, when others can pay instead.

52 comments:

  1. Do they not see the irony of fighting against the draft by anything other than learning harder? Surely if learning is all that's protecting the Jews, not the IDF, then learning can stop a measly little court ruling? Why suddenly now is the 'hishtadlus' of leaving the beis necessary?

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  2. Whatever your thoughts about charedim [and I know they aren't great, mine also], you have to admit this looks bad. Looks bad that the Court would interfere with a clear legislative issue. Looks bad that Lapid would jump on that questionable ruling to apply it retroactively. Looks bad that bareheaded men on horseback are beating up Jews with batons. The whole thing just reeks.

    Anyway. We will now see tens of thousands of charedim engage in civil disobedience. Sit ins, traffic snarls, the whole deal. Of course, since civil disobedience was championed by the great tzaddikim Gahndi, Mandela [when he wasn't setting men on fire] and MLK, I will expect our friends on the left to applaud the Charedim too.

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  3. Post Haredi ThinkerFebruary 7, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    There is a famous Vort about the different responses to persecution during the times of Chanuka as opposed to Purim. When the Jewish People were threatened "spiritually" i.e. Chanuka, the response was to fight physically because "Hakol b'yedei Shamayim chutz M'Yirat Shamayim". When they were threatened physically i.e. Purim, the response was Teshuva and Tefilla for the same reason, meaning it was out of their control. When I was in Haredi Yeshivot, the current situation was always understood as a Chanuka case, where our "spiritual" existence was in danger (because inevitably the Torah True world could disappear). Therefore, the response would be to "fight" in protest as opposed to just Limud, Tefilla and Teshuva. In my experience, all of my Roshei Yeshiva firmly believed that in fact Torah learning would protect the Jewish People and only those who could not, or would not commit to learning should join the army (more as "Hishtadlus" than because it is in fact the source of protection - As in, the soldiers may find the terrorist, but not without Siyata D'shmaya from our learning). What I believe personally is beyond the scope of this post but I think that it is inaccurate to claim that nobody really has such a belief. Furthermore, it is untrue that the protests belie some sort of inconsistency in the Haredi worldview. It may be a fundamentalist, "reformed" view of Torah living, but for what its worth, I think it is internally consistent.

    I'm a big fan, keep it up!

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  4. Good point... Curious what response would be.

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  5. It's ben written about before: the Chareidi slogans about the protection of learning, the need for Israel to have it, etc. are all just slogans.

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  6. DF- LOL nice. People don't understand that its more then just "Torah learning protecting the nation" it is much more then that. Its about the control of the people and who get's the final say. The Torah or the Hilonim. I despise some of the Haredi mindset, but on the other hand we have the leftist regime who should NOT be given power and authority to rule. Its a hard call, to root for the (many times pacifist) Haredim with their ideology or support the hilonim who are criminals and don't have real authority to say anything until they make Teshuva.

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  7. If we recall Vayikra 26 "If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them,... You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you; Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you", can't we derive from this that the key in keeping enemies under control is in keeping Torah? If chas v'sholom everybody served in army but were not observant, "Your enemies will rule over you". Conversely, if everybody learned and kept Torah, maybe there would be no need in general army service. Those who suggest that only IDF protects Israel are actually denying the presence of G-d in our life.

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  8. Leaving the BM for a few hours to fight inscription which might last many years is certainly a worthy proposition.

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  9. "But I think that charedi avoidance of the IDF does not really have anything to do with believing that sitting and learning Torah is the best protection against enemies"

    I think it's both the value of Torah, and also challenges of the IDF or modernity. According to an article in Mishpacha(6/13):

    “For years the chareidi establishment stated the reason for not going to the army is because of limud Torah. But the real reason is that they want the boys to remain frum,” Rabbi Betzalel Cohen, founder of Shachar, told Mishpacha. “We’re not talking about an ideology of
    Torah as much as an ideology of Yiddishkeit. Of course, for an 18-year old we’re talking about Torah — how can you take an 18-year-old out of yeshivah? It’s unconscionable, even for those who aren’t the biggest learners. But for 21-year-olds who aren’t so
    into the full-time learning anymore? Then we’re talking about basic Yiddishkeit. There is a real fear — not unjustified — that all the screaming of ‘shivyon banetel’ [sharing the burden] is really ‘stop being chareidi.’ People are
    looking at the army through Israel’s history and Ben-Gurion’s ‘melting pot’ agenda. Statistically, going into the army chareidi means you might not come out that way"

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  10. wannabe said...

    Leaving the BM for a few hours to fight inscription which might last many years is certainly a worthy proposition.


    Leaving the BM for a few years to fight Arab annihilation which might last forever is certainly a worthy proposition.

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  11. I believe your are being disingenuous in this post. Did any chareidi Gedolim tell Yeshiva students to leave the Yeshivos in order to demonstrate? What percentage of chareidi Yeshiva students left the Beis Midrash to demonstrate?

    I don't think any Gedolim and Roshei Yeshivos told their students to leave the Beis Midrash to demonstrate. I also think that a very small percentage actually went out to demonstrate. The media, as expected, played it up.

    It seems that you are letting your predisposition to chareidim affect your better judgement.

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  12. @Post Hareidi Thinker. Do you think that this famous Vort is a true substanti explanation of the difference between Hanukah and Purim? Is the whole differnce of relying on Torah study for protection in war BUT not relying on it for anything else based on anything substantive?

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  13. DF, you say "Gahndi, Mandela [when he wasn't setting men on fire] and MLK, I will expect our friends on the left to applaud the Charedim too."

    Were those folks not demanding EQUAL treatment? The charedim are demanding the opposite...."treat us differently! dont force us to serve like everyone else!"

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  14. "Conversely, if everybody learned and kept Torah, maybe there would be no need in general army service. Those who suggest that only IDF protects Israel are actually denying the presence of G-d in our life."

    You're engaging in conflation here. There is no mainstream position that insisting on human effort necessarily denies Providence. Also, there is no contradiction between Torah study and army service. If you look into Nach, you'll notice that the greatest warriors were also the greatest scholars. And then there's halacha:
    במלחמת מצווה הכל יוצאין

    Indeed this is all implied by the posuk you cite:
    "You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you"
    Please tell us, who will do the pursuing? Whose sword? The posuk is telling us that even if we keep the מצות to the extent of receiving these ברכות, we still have to fight!

    You're comments about "no need for general army service" are also contradicted by halacha. The Chazon Ish paskened that the special halacha that everyone must participate in a מלחמת מצוה is not based on need. If there was a need, פקוח נפש would compel everyone to serve, and no special halacha would be necessary. The chiddush of the halacha of מלמחת מצוה is that even if there no military need, everyone must fight anyway. This has nothing to do with the ברכה that five will pursue a hundred, etc...

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  15. Haredim held a demonstration a few months ago where the the crowd pushed metal dumpsters with such force that they slid directly into policemen on horseback. That no police, nor horses were injured or killed is somewhat miraculous.

    A picture on Failed Messiah shows a crowd of protesting Haredim pulling on a police horses tail.
    (http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/02/picture-of-the-day-567.html). This is completely barbaric. They are like savages attacking an innocent animal, with a policeman on its mount, no less!

    Moshe David Tokayer- you are nothing but a disingenuos phoney. There were hundreds, if not thousands of Haredim protesting. If their protests were peacful, their position would possibly be respected. But they act like animals, and many leave the BM to do so. The Roshei Yeshiva are guilty- j'accuse!- for not actively and vocally condemning this behaviour. The haredi Rabbinic leadership knows full well how their minyans act, completely forgetting derech eretz kodmo l'Toray- and they do NOTHING. You can blame the media, blame the chilonim, blame the Israeli government, simply because it's easy to play the victim. Meanwhile, an enormous Hillul Hashem is being perpetrated by the same folks who hold themselves to be exclusive guardians and exemplars of the Mesorah.

    Rabbi Slifkin- be strong in your coverage of Haredi extremism and violence-as the old song verse goes- keep on keepin' on! And more to the point: the truth shall set us free.

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  16. "It's because joining the IDF would exact a great price on the charedi community, and they do not see any reason to pay that price, when others can pay instead."

    You have it completely backwards, joining the IDF would be a great benefit to the charedi community. They would stand to gain and improve their lives immensely. And most important be a great asset for the Israeli nation instead of the other way around.

    If on the other hand they would be sitting in Yeshiva learning Torah, then as their Rabbis say, there would be no need for an army because we will have no enemies to fight.
    We will never know if this is true or not because from what we can see from the reality of it all is whatever they are doing in Yeshiva is definitely not Torah learning. One sin brings another sin, but from the learning of Torah brings more Mizvahs.

    Case in point: The Times of Israel reports. http://www.timesofisrael.com/thousands-of-ultra-orthodox-riot-after-draft-arrest/

    …Rabbi David Zicherman, one of the organizers of the Jerusalem protests, called on the ultra-Orthodox public to start a civil disobedience movement.....
    “You are pushing us into a corner,” he said of the government. “We will start a war with the State of Israel, and it will burn like wildfire. We, Holocaust survivors, are now encountering a spiritual Holocaust.”

    Can you imagine, a WAR with Israel and it will burn and they call this spiritual. These are our Jewish brothers that is doing this to their own and you want to tell me this comes from learning Torah?

    "A number of main roads in Jerusalem were blocked as a result of the protests, causing heavy traffic throughout the city.
    A police car was reported to have been set on fire by protesters as well."

    Many innocent people were effected by their disobedient actions. What did these people driving in their cars do to them? Just beat up on anyone you can mentality.
    Is this truly the result of Torah learning ? May God help us.
    o

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  17. Ksil, I recognize your point. Like a commenter above said, there are lots of mixed feelings here, because the Charedim aren't great either. But that doesn't change what I said about Lapid and that court reeking to high heaven. And, while again, I acknowledge your basic point, it's not quite as simple as how you phrased it. VIACOM"L.

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  18. Realist- "Leaving the BM for a few years to fight Arab annihilation which might last forever is certainly a worthy proposition."

    Correct, but its not the IDF that is doing it.

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  19. DF, you say "Gahndi, Mandela [when he wasn't setting men on fire] and MLK, I will expect our friends on the left to applaud the Charedim too."

    Were those folks not demanding EQUAL treatment?

    I know that in the comments section on this blog, I would likely considered a left-wing liberal due to effects of parallax. But I do have to register some protest to the implicit demeaning of the above- mentioned gentlemen. Ksil is right that these men were fighting for freedom and equal rights. When Mandela came to power, he could easily have led South Africa down a path towards vengeance for past misdeeds, but he clearly and explicitly worked towards reconciliation instead. I'm not looking to ignite a political debate here, and I think that are host will block that, but if you argue that the entire world is wrong except for you, then your argument becomes less convincing. And if you predicate your arguments on a particular political view, you likewise weaken it.

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  20. There is clearly a "pink elephant" in the room that has been ignored for the longest of times.

    The Status Quo system that was enacted from the establishment of the state of Israel till today either gave an exemption or deferral for IDF service for all men involved in FULL-TIME Learning. This was explained as learning morning, noon and night and any fellow found in the streets during those hours are considered not part of "Torasu Umnasu" (Torah is his livelihood). What has gone wrong? About 25 years ago, a small segment of bochurim opted for not continuing in full-time learning and instead began working, attending vocational courses, hanging out, etc. while keeping some connection to their former Yeshivot. This segment of bochurim has increased, expanded and have filled the streets of every city in Israel.
    NOW, the 'pink elefant' should they be exempted or deferred from army service just because they happen to be Charedi (& are not fulfilling the status quo of full-time learning?)
    MAJOR PROBLEM, no system, program, plan was put into action for these boys. The entire issue of Bnei Torah's IDF service, exploded in the Supreme Court, Knesset, on the streets and minds of Israeli residents. WHY? WHY?

    Wasn't the leadership able to predict that eventually the current would overrun the shore?? So what now, is the question being asked!!!

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  21. When you're one of the Lords of Creation and the entire world was created for your benefit little things like consistency fall by the wayside

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  22. Rabbi Slifkin, do you actually think the smartest way to go about influencing Haredi attidudes about the army and society at large is to arrest them and completely uproot their way of life. Obviously the process of integration will be slow and hopefully organic, and what we are seeing now is nothing short ot stupid and shortsighted. Can you clarify whether you agree with the approach of yesh atid?

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  23. I have no idea which way is strategically best. It looks like "slow and organic" was waaaaay too slow for the rest of Israeli society to tolerate.

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  24. Rabbi Slifkin said, " It looks like "slow and organic" was waaaaay too slow for the rest of Israeli society to tolerate."

    True, but at the same time, the Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon keeps delaying enlisting the charedim en masse--I understand that the army has met its modest yearly quota of charedi soldiers in Nachal Charedi.

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  25. The problem is that "slow and organic" means "never" in this case. There is no meeting of minds and never a hint of compromise, only ever-increasing extremism on the part of the Haredi communities and ever-escalating demands.

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  26. Chesterton said...
    Rabbi Slifkin, do you actually think the smartest way to go about influencing Haredi attidudes about the army and society at large is to arrest them and completely uproot their way of life. Obviously the process of integration will be slow and hopefully organic, and what we are seeing now is nothing short ot stupid and shortsighted. Can you clarify whether you agree with the approach of yesh atid?


    I think that experience shows that outside pressure can help insider reform to move forward. It is precisely to head off imminent outside changes that insider changes are often made. If you look at the reports, most of the Charedi leadership did not support the protests because they hope to still work a compromise. The threat of funding cuts certainly plays a role in where those compromises will land, because it puts teeth into scenario where no deal is reached: bad things may happen.

    That said, I have no idea what will work in this instance (and you didn't ask my opinion :).

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  27. Post Hareidi ThinkerFebruary 9, 2014 at 5:17 AM

    Carol said...
    "@Post Hareidi Thinker. Do you think that this famous Vort is a true substanti explanation of the difference between Hanukah and Purim? Is the whole differnce of relying on Torah study for protection in war BUT not relying on it for anything else based on anything substantive?"

    Carol, I'm not sure I understand what you mean be substantive. If you mean: Does it say anywhere in the Mishna, Gemara, or Shulchan Aruch that Torah Study provides protection from war, but should not be relied on for more "spiritual battles"? The answer is obviously: No. However, if you mean: In the Hareidi world is such an idea considered to be an accepted part of the Masoret of Chazal throughout the ages? Then the answer, IMHO, is yes.

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  28. David Ohsie, I don't think ksil was criticizing Gandhi, Mandela etc. but rather saying that they were seeking equal treatment while the charedim are not seeking equal treatment

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  29. "The Status Quo system that was enacted from the establishment of the state of Israel till today either gave an exemption or deferral for IDF service for all men involved in FULL-TIME Learning. "

    This is untrue. There used to quotas limiting the amount of exemptions. Only under Begin were the quotas lifted.

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  30. Jack said...
    David Ohsie, I don't think ksil was criticizing Gandhi, Mandela etc. but rather saying that they were seeking equal treatment while the charedim are not seeking equal treatment


    Yes, I was seconding that aspect of Ksil's statement and disputing the implication of the the statement he was commenting on.

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  31. The charedi position is not that learning is the only method of protecting the nation. No rational person would say to close the army and send all soldiers to the BM. Rather the point is that both are needed (and that torah learning is the more important contribution) and those who want to contribute by learning should be given the opportunity to do so.

    Equally important is the opinion that a (or 'the'?) major aim of the draft movement is to further a melting pot ideology to homogenize society in a non-charedi manner to the greatest extent possible.

    The demonstration was an instinctive reaction to reject that perceived effort towards non-charedi cultural homogeneity.

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  32. There is a famous Vort about the different responses to persecution during the times of Chanuka as opposed to Purim. When the Jewish People were threatened "spiritually" i.e. Chanuka, the response was to fight physically because "Hakol b'yedei Shamayim chutz M'Yirat Shamayim". When they were threatened physically i.e. Purim, the response was Teshuva and Tefilla for the same reason, meaning it was out of their control.

    Whoever thought this up must have had his copy of the Megillah cut off at the end and also must have missed the Torah reading that day. He probably also forgot that the Chanukah story was set in the land of Israel while Purim is set in a foreign land. Other that those few flaws, the argument is quite compelling :).

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  33. Herb-
    I completely disagree with your assertion that the purpose of encouraging IDF service is for to enable "cultural homogenization". It is true that in the early years of the state, there was a strong belief in such a thing. In fact, it is somewhat understandable, because there was a fear that brinign a large groups of people for very different backgrounds (although all were Jews) would prevent any sort of cooperation and would lead to major friction, which could have been fatal to a struggling young society facing continuing armed threats.
    However, everyone today says they went too far in pushing a cultural homogenization, and that a country that claims to be a democracy has to allow diversity and religious freedom. That is accepted by everyone today.

    Having said that, it is still important for ANY healthy society to have a sense of solidarity between ALL their citizens, regardless of their personal beliefs. A good example is in the US...if Nevada has high unemployment or Louisiana has a major natural disaster, people in New York have no difficulty in sending their tax money to help the people in those affected areas. That is because they all view each others as AMERICANS, people with a common bond.
    Here in Israel, like any normal country, it is vitial for there to be a bond between all citizens, even while we allow differences in values, cultural and religious expression. It must always be kept in mind that Israel is unique in the world in that the surrounding countries do not accept Israel's legitimacy as a state and, as a result, Israel faces ongoing security threats that few other countries in the world have. As a result, Israel has mandatory military conscription. I think it is reasonable for those whose families face this conscription to feel that it is unfair if entire sectors of society claim they should be exempt from it and for those sectors to refuse to carry on any real dialogue with the others explaining their position or to make a real effort to understand the feelings of those who are asking these reasonable questions. Throwing out claims like those I have heard from Knesset Members saying "the IDF neither wants or needs our boys". The other side can ask "why do they NEED my son, but not your son?". It is high time for a true dialogue to take place on this crucial matters and to get away from the slogans of the past. The Haredim need to explain how they view their place in society, how they really view the importance of Torah study even for those who are not cut out to be full-time, lifelong scholars and how they view their relationship with other Israeli Jews who don't agree with them.

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  34. It's not about the army Most Army heads have already stated that they don't want or need Charedim in the army. It's about trying to control the Charedim and their life style.
    And on the Charedi side, it's just not about going to the army. It's about losing control of their masses.
    It can't be shoved down their throats. It has to be done other ways together with them

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  35. Y. Ben-David - It is simply wrong to maintain that integration isn't a prime objective of the draft movement. I've heard representatives say it time and time again on the radio. It's not a secret.

    As to your second point, the whole issue is a smokescreen for the real issue. The core of the debate is whether learning Torah provides a protective benefit to society or not. It's that simple. When people say things like 'why should my son serve' or why should my son risk injury' it understandably hits an emotional button, but it's still wrong. If learning was viewed as providing a valuable service, then just as mechanics, potato peelers, computer programmers, lawyers, etc. in the military are considered as providing essential services, and those who engage in these activities are not accused of letting others die for them, then those who learn would be seen in the same light. As I said, since those pushing for the draft don't view learning as providing any essential service, I understand their point of view, even though I strongly disagree with their conclusions as I, for one, do see the value to society inherent in torah learning.

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  36. As to your second point, the whole issue is a smokescreen for the real issue. The core of the debate is whether learning Torah provides a protective benefit to society or not. It's that simple. When people say things like 'why should my son serve' or why should my son risk injury' it understandably hits an emotional button, but it's still wrong. If learning was viewed as providing a valuable service, then just as mechanics, potato peelers, computer programmers, lawyers, etc. in the military are considered as providing essential services, and those who engage in these activities are not accused of letting others die for them, then those who learn would be seen in the same light. As I said, since those pushing for the draft don't view learning as providing any essential service, I understand their point of view, even though I strongly disagree with their conclusions as I, for one, do see the value to society inherent in torah learning.

    I think that this is provably incorrect:

    1) There are Dati Leumi that think that learning is very valuable to society but still serve.

    2) There are lots of agreed upon important functions that require some form of post high school education. This education is deferred until after service, IIUC. This does not mean that they are not important. Conversely, we put off learning for other important needs like caring for the ill and raising families. Assumption of a fair portion of the risk is viewed as similarly important.

    I'm not sure "why my son should risk injury" is reduced to being an "hitting an emotional button". It seems to be elementary fairness. If defending the country requires some number of people to put their lives at risk, the all the people benefiting from that risk should have an equal requirement to bear that risk. Anyone can say "I have something that will help you even more than me putting myself at risk", but then it is up to the rest as to whether or not they want to get that benefit in return for the rest assuming your fair share of the risk. If anything, spending any amount of time away from full-time learning to do other activities seems to "hit an emotional button" with people.

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  37. David said...
    It's not about the army Most Army heads have already stated that they don't want or need Charedim in the army. It's about trying to control the Charedim and their life style.


    I'm sure that all Army heads would agree that exempting all red-headed people or those whose initials are "DO" would not harm the army. Still, it would be patently unfair. That is the key argument that must be dealt with.

    And on the Charedi side, it's just not about going to the army. It's about losing control of their masses.

    Or maybe they are truly afraid of the cultural impact that such a loss of isolation implies. Which is why the oppositional approach may be counterproductive. It may be possible to preserve the culture and eliminate the unfairness, but not if there is not cooperation, then it becomes a zero-sum game.

    It can't be shoved down their throats. It has to be done other ways together with them

    It can't, but money incentivizes.

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  38. David Ohsie -

    So why is it fair that some soldiers serve their time in safe offices?

    And if the DL person you mention views Torah in the same manner as the person in yeshiva, they would agree that exclusive learning was a valid option too.

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  39. Herb-your comments are exactly the kind of evasions I was talking about regarding Haredi dialogue with the rest of society. You quote some unamed "spokesmen" as claiming the goal of the IDF is to cultural homogenize the Haredim. I already stated that there was a lot of that in the early years of the state. I can also point out that Tommy Lapid (i.e. Lapid Sr) said exactly that thing about 10 years ago. So what? These people are not the rulers of the country. I am sure you are aware that many, many Haredim and DL people served in the IDF and came out spiritually unscathed, or even strenthened.
    Instead of throwing out unsubstantianted comments, I would appreciate it if you would address the points I made about the need for national solidarity and for the right of the public at large to request such solidarity from all citizens who benefit from that state and society.

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  40. So why is it fair that some soldiers serve their time in safe offices?

    I'm far from an expert in how to conduct a military campaign. But in any military, there are many support personnel for each combat soldier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth-to-tail_ratio

    They are all needed. And in actual combat, not only the front-line soldiers are at risk. So there is no unfairness there. What would be unfair is if the combat soldiers were all drawn involuntarily from one group or if one group was given an exemption not given to other groups.

    And if the DL person you mention views Torah in the same manner as the person in yeshiva, they would agree that exclusive learning was a valid option too.

    You've made your theory unfalsifiable. I show you a group that values Torah learning and still fights. You claim that "therefore" they must not really value it so much. Maybe they value it, but they also value their obligations to defend the country. Or maybe they value Torah learning more, so that they are willing and eager to fight for it.

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  41. Y. Ben-David -
    If Torah learning is valued at least as much as any other military support person, who certainly bear no significant physical risk even in time of war (the person in charge of purchasing flour or designing army graphics or working as a military lawyer is at risk??), then it would follow that all are contributing to society as one unit and provide the national solidarity you speak of.

    If learning is not viewed as being at least as valuable as other roles, then no explanation will suffice, and understandably, all sorts of questions will be raised.
    That sums up the debate in a nutshell.

    btw, the speakers I referred to as wanting to homogenize the charedim aren't from decades ago. I’ve heard these views on the radio more than once in the past weeks. I have no idea who the folks are other than that they are currently influential enough to be recorded and quoted.


    David Ohsie-
    If you present such a dichotomy, then there is no way to understand the issue. Once you accept the idea of non-combatants as providing an acceptable essential military service (lawyers, programmers, cooks, etc), then all that remains to examine is whether learning provides such an essential service. Those who say it does, feel fine performing their service by learning. Those who disagree with the entire premise that learning can possibly be at least as important as any other non-combat role will obviously be unsatisfied with that situation.

    The fact that some DL value learning and being in uniform is no more relevant than if some military lawyers or programmers also serve in combat units. All official military personnel are looked upon as doing their duty even if it involves zero combat risk, and so would those who learn full time if that learning was seen as being at least as valuable as any other non-combat role.

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  42. Most of them just want to suck the country dry as they sit comfortably in their yeshivos..its not fair...

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  43. David Ohsie-
    If you present such a dichotomy, then there is no way to understand the issue.


    Sure there is. I explained above. There is a cost to be borne, in risk to life and limb, boredom, inconvenience, opportunity costs, etc. People naturally want that cost to be as equally divided among the beneficiaries as possible. Conscription is one method. An all-volunteer army would be another method, as long as the tax burden to pay for that was shared equally. Exemptions for some percentage of the population distributed non-randomly is unfair because the costs are not shared.

    As an aside, I didn't accept any dichotomy. There is a continuum of roles and dangers and they shift. Staff officers can still get shelled. And there are many costs borne by any conscript besides the danger as I mentioned above. If there were no such costs, conscription would not be needed.

    Once you accept the idea of non-combatants as providing an acceptable essential military service (lawyers, programmers, cooks, etc), then all that remains to examine is whether learning provides such an essential service.

    This isn't true at all. There benefits to be had *and* there are costs to be borne; you are looking at only the benefit side of the equation. If everyone gets to choose the "costless" way of contributing, then the costly jobs don't get done. And learning is "costless" because you are going to do it anyway. Actually it is probably sometimes worse than "costless", because there are probably some that go to learn just to avoid the army, or because they are forced to by the culture and they really feel they could contribute more at less cost by doing other more valuable work (by their own estimate of value).

    The proof of this is that education is definitely a benefit to society, and undoubtedly there are many that would be contributing more in University than by carrying a weapon, but education is deferred for conscription in order to share the costs equally. By your argument, since education is deferred for conscription, people must not think that education is valuable. But of course this is not true, so your assumption is invalid.

    Those who say it does, feel fine performing their service by learning.

    Yes, I would feel fine, if I didn't think about the fact that I was shifting the costs, sometimes deadly, to others, and doing for myself what I would have done anyway. Which is why I don't feel fine sitting in the US behind a keyboard.

    Those who disagree with the entire premise that learning can possibly be at least as important as any other non-combat role will obviously be unsatisfied with that situation.


    A=>B does not mean that B=>A. Anyone concerned about fairness will be similarly unsatisfied whatever they feel the benefits of learning are.

    The fact that some DL value learning and being in uniform is no more relevant than if some military lawyers or programmers also serve in combat units.

    It's relevant because it disproves your point. They could be doing things that they feel are valuable to society, but for some time, they do something else which is more costly because they feel that otherwise would be to shirk their duty.

    All official military personnel are looked upon as doing their duty even if it involves zero combat risk, and so would those who learn full time if that learning was seen as being at least as valuable as any other non-combat role.

    Again, you ignore both the cost side the equation, and the element of fairness in how the less costly jobs are distributed. This is exactly what people are saying when they ask "why does my son have to risk his life, and yours does not? It is very nice that you are doing something valuable; so do I. But have you also borne the cost?"

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  44. Herb -
    Since when does Torah learning - as important as it is - trump pikuach nefesh or a milchemet mitzvah? The non-combat jobs performed in the military still fall under those two categories. Does torah learning? Can you violate Shabbat in order to learn more torah?

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  45. David Ohsie-
    And those bearing the cost can turn to all those military support personnel who bear no cost and complain about that unfairness, too. No way. All valuable roles contribute to overall success, not just the risky ones.

    The comparison is valid and conclusive. If those learning were seen as performing a role at least as similarly valuable to any non-combatant in uniform, it would receive the same acceptance and understanding of fairness.

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  46. David Ohsie-
    And those bearing the cost can turn to all those military support personnel who bear no cost and complain about that unfairness, too.


    Anyone can kvetch about anything, but the argument would be invalid.

    Here is a simple example. You and two roommates need to clean the house, but one of you needs to clean the toilet. You get ready to roll a die. Then Herb says "Well, I'll do a different job without rolling the die. You can't complain that this is unfair since whichever of the two of you loses the die roll can complain of unfairness anyhow, so I'm not making it any worse".

    Everyone is put into the conscription pool. None gets to do exactly what they want (they are conscripts) but some bear more costs than others. As long as the process is for distributing the jobs is fair, then the result is fair. Exempting yourself from any cost or chance of bearing a cost is unfair. And *all* the jobs have a cost that those exempting themselves are not sharing in.

    No way. All valuable roles contribute to overall success, not just the risky ones.

    Right, but if the process of handing the risky or costly jobs is not borne by all beneficiaries, then the process is unfair. You have to take your turn cleaning the toilet too. (Apologies for the analogy, obviously IDF service is nothing like that).

    The comparison is valid and conclusive.

    This sentence is invalid and conclusory :).

    If those learning were seen as performing a role at least as similarly valuable to any non-combatant in uniform, it would receive the same acceptance and understanding of fairness.

    You are now repeating an assertion for which I've already shown there is a lack of evidence and in fact, counter-evidence in the Dati Leumi camp.

    I'll go one step further. If the IDF contracted out all non-combat jobs and put all conscripts in combat, would the currently exempt now go to volunteer? Of course not. So this argument is truly a red herring.

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  47. David Ohsie-
    You do realize that anyone who wants to can enter a yeshiva and fulfill their service to the community that way, should they so desire. You make it sound discriminatory when people freely choose not to do so. Obviously a secular person feels he has no option but the army, but the fact remains, learning is not discriminatory as anyone could opt in. If the exemptions would be handed out as special favors to friends and family, you'd have a point, but that isn't the case. Anyone can opt in.

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  48. David Ohsie-
    You do realize that anyone who wants to can enter a yeshiva and fulfill their service to the community that way, should they so desire. You make it sound discriminatory when people freely choose not to do so. Obviously a secular person feels he has no option but the army, but the fact remains, learning is not discriminatory as anyone could opt in. If the exemptions would be handed out as special favors to friends and family, you'd have a point, but that isn't the case. Anyone can opt in.


    1) So lets say that we eliminated the exemption for learning and substituted an exemption for studying Computer Science based on lobbying from the Computer Science departments in country. Surely without computer scientists to develop the systems that the military relies on, we could not support the army. It's completely fair; anyone that wants to study Computer Science can be exempt. Is someone opposed to such a policy saying that Computer Science is not important to the safety of the country?

    The problem is that each person will choose the thing that they are going to do anyhow as the way to "exempt" themselves from shared burden of conscription. That shifts the cost of conscription over to others who choose to do other things to support the country. So even if I think that learning is equally important to army service is equally important to having computer scientists, doctors, etc, there remains the problem that there is this dangerous work that needs to be done. In a fair system, that needs to be shared equally by everyone by an equal conscription or an all-volunteer army which everyone pays into supporting.

    2) I don't believe that this is factually how it works. Haredim don't join regardless of their participation or success in learning over time and those that do decide that they'd rather join the IDF are to some degree ostracized.

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  49. David Ohsie-
    1) You mention computer science and that's exactly the point. Those in the military serving safe and sound in some office programming away are not accused of shirking their civic duty because people understand that a functioning army needs those services too. If people would think that having people learn was as least as important, then the debate would be over. When people do not agree that learning offers at least equivalent value, they are understandably going to feel cheated by someone who learns.

    2) I don't understand what point you are making here.

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  50. David Ohsie-
    1) You mention computer science and that's exactly the point. Those in the military serving safe and sound in some office programming away are not accused of shirking their civic duty because people understand that a functioning army needs those services too.


    No, it is because they were drafted and then assigned to those positions whether they wanted to go or not. The conscripts are not allowed to say "In my opinion, the country is better of with me at the Technion for a few years than holding a gun, so toodle-oo", even though people understand that they need people at the Technion.

    The whole argument is absurd anyhow, since the Litvishe Charedi, unlike the Zionist Chasidim, won't even do national service teaching in the schools and such. (Someone correct me if I'm confusing the attitudes of the different groups).

    If people would think that having people learn was as least as important, then the debate would be over. When people do not agree that learning offers at least equivalent value, they are understandably going to feel cheated by someone who learns.

    No again, they feel cheated by someone that evades the period of conscription where they must do a job that they may not want to do for some time, before they go off to serve the country in the way that they feel is best. If the shirkers were all in the Technion studying computer science, they would feel the same way.

    2) I don't understand what point you are making here.

    The point is that Charedim don't serve even when they don't want to learn or have no success in learning. There is no population where there is 100% success in learning. It appears that they also actively discourage the non-learners from joining the Charedi units and don't treat well the ones who join.

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  51. David Ohsie-
    If the army sends someone to the technion because the army feels it's in the best interests of the country to train them that way, then that's OK. If the army would send bochurim to learn Torah because it understood the value in that, it would be OK, too.

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  52. Very judgmental and sarcastic. Though I see the presumed irony or hypocrisy,as a rationalist, there certainly can be found a different explanation. The claim that Torah protects us from the hands of enemies applies to enemies, not other Jews. There is however a time to make a demonstration, as the Halachah posits. I'm not claiming that the Halachah details the nature of the demonstration and I'm not justifying that particular one. What I do claim is that one can believe in the power of the "voice of Yaakov" to combat the "hands of Eisav" but with the secular voice of Yaakov attempting to quiet the Torah voice of Yaakov, perhaps a "Yesh Limchos" is in order. Besides, I have heard that there are Gedolim who have called for increasing learning to fight the decree.

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