Tuesday, April 1, 2014

When "Eilu V'Eilu" Doesn't Cut It

In the latest attempt to justify the Chareidi world's systematic refusal to share in the burden of military service, Cross-Currents posted an essay by Rabbi Doron Beckerman. It is, of course, rife with problems.

Rabbi Beckerman's single-sentence summary of why charedim don't serve in the army is that "there was always a portion of Klal Yisrael that was dedicated to full-time Torah study and that did not serve in the army." This is false. According to Rambam, the exemption for the Tribe of Levi was because they were teaching the rest of the nation, not because they were dedicated to full-time study (which they weren't!). Furthermore, there is no clear basis for saying that a non-Levite can suddenly become an honorary Levite, nor that yeshivah students are of such a caliber.

Rabbi Beckerman continually blurs the distinction between rabbinic scholars and yeshivah students. He quotes Rav Moshe Feinstein, regarding the Gemara's statement that “Rabbanan do not require protection,” who seems to apply this to anyone involved in Torah study who seeks to become great in Torah - but Rabbi Beckerman fails to note that Ramoh (Yoreh Deah 243:2), surely a much greater authority, insists that it only applies to an outstanding rabbinic scholar, and that Radvaz and Chasam Sofer maintain that it does not apply to military threats.

Rabbi Beckerman also argues that Torah study of yeshivah students provides crucial protection, and attempts to justify the charedi yeshivos that fled the South during Cast Lead by arguing that "just a soldier in an indefensible position will sometimes retreat, Yeshiva boys will move away from the danger so that they can continue their study undisturbed by constant air raid sirens and provide this merit." Of course, this entirely fails to address the objection; soldiers will usually stay and fight, as communities indeed did in the South, in order to provide protection where it is most needed. By the same token, yeshivah students should be willing to suffer a small decline in the quality of their learning in order to provide their protection where it is most needed, if they are doing this as their substitute for serving in the army.

Rabbi Beckerman also claims that "mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers" and that "they daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis." As someone who spent many years in charedi yeshivos and shuls, I can attest that this is simply false (and I'm pretty sure that Rabbi Beckerman knows that). At times of intense crisis, there may be Tehillim recited for the general situation, but never specifically for the soldiers, who are most at risk.

Unfortunately, the comments that were submitted to Cross-Currents, pointing out the above errors, were not accepted for publication; apparently, Cross-Currents is not so interested in comments that cross the currents of the worldview that it is trying to present. Another comment submitted by a friend of mine was likewise not published, but it is so important that I wanted to post it here in its entirety. It addresses a major theme in Rabbi Beckerman's article: that the different positions regarding yeshivah students serving in the army are simply a matter of halachic debate, like everything else, and that we should not challenge those who take a different view. My friend Joseph - a brilliant graduate of the finest charedi yeshivos - writes as follows:
May I humbly submit that R. Beckerman misses the fact this is not simply a 'halachic' debate. To give an example, there are several Charedi poskim, among them recognized Gedolei Torah, who adopt something approaching a permissive attitude towards tax evasion, even in Chutz La'aretz (see the following article from R. Chaim Rapoport: link). Now, were we dealing with a purely halachic question, most of us would have little problem adopting an 'eilu ve'eilu' approach. After all, who are we to criticize those who rely on the halachic reasoning of Gedolei Torah?
But I suspect that few of us would be happy to do that in this case, for essentially two reasons. The first is that issues relating to fundamental aspects of our worldview (especially matters of basic honesty) are much less amenable to an 'eilu ve'eilu' approach.
The second is that another community's decision to exempt themselves from what is commonly considered a basic obligation of citizenship (in this case paying taxes) has an affect on ME, in terms of how much tax I have to pay, and in terms of how I am perceived as a member of a broader community. It also leads to a fraying of the bonds of the society in which I choose to live.
To give another example, communities in which devastating child poverty and extremely high levels of welfare reliance are prevalent can certainly cite Gedolei Torah who legitimate the hashkafic and halachic foundations of their lifestyle. Yet few of us would be willing to agree that we are not entitled to an opinion on these unfortunate phenomena simply because of that. Should I accept that the worldview which systematically produces the humanitarian tragedies pictured so poignantly in the Kupat Ha'ir brochures is not one I am entitled to challenge, simply because those communities have 'al mi lismoch' on a halachic/hashkafic basis? To my mind that itself is a dereliction of moral duty.
The parallels to the issue of army service are clear.


  1. Rabbi Beckerman also claims that "mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers" and that "they daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis."
    The IDF is working constantly for the security of Am Yisrael, not only in times of "crisis".Having two sons in combat units, I'm aware of the frequent potentially dangerous missions that they are involved in, In addition to this, the moment someone dons the uniform of the IDF, they become a target for terrorist activity, no matter what role they are fulfilling within the Israeli army.
    It seems that there are a lot of people out there unaware of the constant sacrifice, and even heroism, that is going on to ensure their safety and allow them to go on with their day-to-day life.

  2. Here's my unpublished comment...

    Rabbi Beckerman: "In an attempt to clarify the issues as seen from a mainstream Charedi viewpoint..."

    WADR to Rabbi Beckerman he's hardly presenting the "mainstream Chareidi viewpoint" in Israel. What he's presenting is the very narrow perspective of a Yeshivish Oleh ensconced in an American boys' Yeshiva. More than anything, like so many Anglo "Chareidim" here in Bet Shemesh and many of the writers and readers of CC, Rabbi Beckerman is projecting his image of his ideal of Chareidism comibined with a bunch of classic misinformation with regard to the reality of both the army in Israel and, more importantly, the actual details of the new law.

  3. While all would agree that the Rema was a greater halakhic authority than Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, I assume you are aware that R' Moshe lived in the previous century and the Rema lived about 450 years ago. If R' Moshe was aware of the Rema (an assumption that I hope you share) and yet ruled differently, I don't see how quoting the Rema adds anything to the discussion. This seems to be a general mental block on your part. Those who hold the "Chareidi" view do not need to prove that this is the only legitimate halakhic opinion, they just need to show that it is a legitimate halakhic opinion. This is not to say that others, i.e., society in general, cannot pass laws based on other halakhic opinions (not that they are taking halakha into acocunt anyway); just that one cannot discount the Chareidi self-jusification based on this.

  4. Quoting the Ramah shows that the Gemara may well not mean what R. Beckerman takes it to mean. It further lends weight to R. David Ohsie's suggestion that Rav Moshe was not making a halachic case for an a priori blanket exemption from army service.
    With regard to the second part of your comment, see the second part of the post.

  5. He quotes Rav Moshe Feinstein, regarding the Gemara's statement that “Rabbanan do not require protection,” who seems to apply this to anyone involved in Torah study who seeks to become great in Torah - but Rabbi Beckerman fails to note that Ramoh (Yoreh Deah 243:2), surely a much greater authority, insists that it only applies to an outstanding rabbinic scholar

    i'm sure that the answer to this would be: we go by the poskim of our generation. plus rav beckerman wasn't trying to give a complete presentation of all the sources. he wrote an editorial, zeh hu.

    having said that, there are better kushiot one can ask on rav moshe's tz"l psak, starting with - it isn't a psak. a psak, especially one by rav moshe has sources, discussion, back and forth, proofs, etc.

  6. Exactly. That's why David Ohsie's take on this "psak" appears to be correct - see http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2014/03/rabbis-do-not-need-protection.html

  7. It seems Cross Currents has ‘learnt their lesson’ after the trashing that Yair Hoffman’s posts received and are no longer interested in substantive critique in the comments section.

  8. Might I suggest the Chareidim in question move to Quebec which is on the verge of separating from Canada after years of living off the public teat while showing complete disrespect to the rest of the country? The two groups have so much in common!

  9. "undisturbed by constant air raid sirens"

    I hope everyone sees what he did here. It's ugly. Basically, he's saying that they didn't move because of any danger from actual rockets. Maybe because, as scholars, they're immune (trying to difflect criticism). Or maybe he's saying that the only "danger" was Israeli hype, and those nasy sirens that do nothing but disturb yeshiva boys from learning. The mind boggles.

  10. Unfortunately, the comments that were submitted to Cross-Currents, pointing out the above errors, were not accepted for publication; apparently, Cross-Currents is not so interested in comments that cross the currents of the worldview that it is trying to present.

    Someone should create a website for comments to Cross-Currents that aren't accepted. You could call it "Cross Currents Cross Currents."

  11. Rather go to jail than admit that the "story" they've been presenting regarding the views within Jewish sources was not entirely honest or could possibly include contrary points of view which are equally valid. In their thinking, only their way and their thought process is valid. And, so they believe fervently, to reveal otherwise is to deconstruct the entire society. They believe themselves to have the monopoly on "Correct Torah-True (TM) views," and think that all their power and prestige over their flocks are built on that notion. An underlying problem behind all this.

    Think about it: What's been their argument in the rivalry with Mizrahi? That their view is not "Torah-true."
    What's been their argument against every competing ideology, group, or viewpoint? Not Torah-True. So if they conceded that one *doesn't have to learn full-time to be the only worthy type of Jew, or that army service isn't a sin, they erode almost every argument they've made for decades against Mizrahi point of view and every assertion of superiority ever made for themselves by admitting that their own ideology wasn't so Torah True after all.
    So where does that leave Joe Charedi? With personal CHOICE. The last thing they want him to have.

  12. nachum i think that you totally misinterpreted what rav beckerman said. he meant (IMO) that when the sirens go off, the yeshiva guys will have to stop learning and run to a shelter. or if they are in a shelter, the tension will interfere with their learning. therefore, for the guys to learn in the best way possible (which, in his worldview means that am yisrael would profit) the avreichim needed to move to a more secure area.

    again having said, still there is a problem, a huge problem, with this approach (even with my defense). having guys around is a tremendous boost for moral. the yeshiva guys could go out to the community, be with them, teach, etc. i was in quiryat shemona (briefly) during lebanon 2. what i described here is what the hesder boys did and it made an incredible impact.

  13. yissacher, there is a site like that. unfortunately the site master's english is atrocious.

  14. Here's my unpublished comment:

    Everybody, including members of Yesh Atid, agrees that the State of Israel should, in principle, exempt, and support, some number of people dedicated to full time Torah study. According to you, the Chareidi leadership agrees that, in principle, most who are not so dedicated to Torah study should serve.
    According to you, the Chareidi leadership is coming around to the view of the majority of Israelis, and it’s just a question of hammering out the details: The annual numbers of Chareidim to exempt, setting up a fair and objective system so that everybody who is deserving has an equal chance at the exemptions, and setting up the Nachal Chareidi units along similar lines to the Hesder units (with more Chumros, of course). If so, then there has been a massive failure among the Chareidi leadership in trying to negotiate these details when they had the chance!
    I disagree with your analysis, and therefore believe that there has been no such failure. Rather, the Chareidi leadership has been unwilling to negotiate because they oppose, in principle, the idea of the general Chareidi population joining the IDF.
    As for the claim that the Torah protects those who are not under direct and imminent threat: We see, in reality, that people involved in full-time Torah study DO HAVE a need for protection when not under direct and imminent threat??? If Torah learning doesn’t protect enough to obviate the need for armed guards, then how can the people learning Torah claim exemption from serving as armed guards?
    As to your explanation as to why yeshivos move away from danger zones: On the principle that Torah study provides a special Zechus for protection (while admittedly not impregnable), does it not supply a Z’chus to places that are under fire? How can they run away, taking their Zechusim with them, from the very place that’s under fire and needs their Zechusim most? Alas, it seems that Yeshiva bochurim indeed do need protection whether or not they are under fire.
    I went to mainstream Yeshivas my entire life and was never, ever lead in Tehilim for IDF soldiers. At most, we davened for Hashem to end “the Matsav in EY.”
    It is the Chareidi leadership that specifically led and is leading the charge in using the Yeshivos as safe havens from the draft, even today! It seems to many that, contra your protestations, the Chareidi leadership believes that it is vastly preferable to waste one’s time in the Beis Midrash coffee room than join the army.
    That’s why we are in this situation in the first place!
    Question: If only members of the tribes of Levi and Yissachar were priviledged with a “learning exemption,” why do Chareidim feel that they may arrogate this priviledge onto themselves? Shouldn’t the priviledge be limited to Cohanim and Levi’im, whether Chareidi or not?

    “At the same time, mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers. They daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis.”
    Question: I am truly curious about your use of the word “specifically” in your claim that mainstream Chareidi society daven and say Tehilim “specifically” for IDF soldiers in times of crisis. What is the number of Chareidi Yeshivas and Shuls, and what are their names, specifically, that daven and say Tehilim specifically for IDF soldiers, as you claim? (“Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel” after Tehilim doesn’t count.)

  15. I suggest that we can tighten up the reasoning of the post here based on what Student V suggests.

    If this is truly a case of Eilu V'Eilu, then those in Israeli society who want universal conscription have basis in Halacha for their position. Thus they are not haters of Torah or out to destroy Torah. They are just pursuing a different Shita and they have a right to do so.

  16. All of these arguments back and forth miss the point.

    Halacha l'maaseh does not work this way - it is not a discussion being debated back and forth in the Beis Medrash.

    The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether it is actually permitted for whole communities to learn and not work. There is actual Halacha written on this and it is very difficult to defend the Chareidi position against the established Halacha. The statement of the Rambam about not benefiting from your Torah is accepted and dealt with very seriously by the meforshim. There is very little basis in Halacha to permit learning and NOT working. There is debate regarding the RAV of a community, an exceptional Talmid Chacham and one who is independently wealthy. The Aruch HaShulchan has an interesting way of reconciling the discussions.

    Even were one to defend full time learning, one could not defend accepting charity to learn full time - that is clearly prohibited in Halacha - Even a Talmid Chacham should flail a carcass in the Shuk rather than accept charity.

    In order for one's Torah to be considered to offer possible protection, all of one's actions must be perfected. If the method of learning Torah is not defensible, the value of the Torah being learned is diminished and its ability to protect becomes less guaranteed.

    Rabbi Zvi

  17. 1. I have never seen (to the best of my knowledge) a response to the question of conflating talmidei chochomim with anyone who learns. Is anyone aware of R' Beckerman (or anyone else) responding (other than saying we can't change what the Chazon Ish wrought)?

    2. R H Schachter looks at government as a large partnership where majority rules and other laws of partnership apply. It's an interesting political science discussion that others would say (iiuc the chareidi narrative) that your responsibilities are less if you view the state as greater than the sum of its parts thean if you viewed it as the sum of its parts(partnership model)

    3. I'd give up on Cross Currents already although the idea of a parallel site with comments enabled is a nice one imho

    Joel Rich

  18. Here's my rejected comment:
    “Still, it is widely recognized that the Army has not done its part to ensure, to the best of its ability, that Charedim can serve in the Army without peril to their religious upbringing. There are values that the Army wishes to uphold, such as their view of the role of women and a certain “melting pot” uniformity, that are a threat, or at least a formidable challenge, to one’s observance of mitzvos.”

    I find it unfortunate, if not downright disturbing, that misinformation such as this persists, despite the great efforts made by the IDF to accommodate themselves to the Charedi lifestyle. It seems to me that there is a trenchant bias, whether conscious or not, against opening up to the enlistment of the many men who are officially enrolled in Yeshivos and Kollelim and are actually engaged in other activities. The few stories where the IDF did not fulfill its pledges are trumpeted and paraded as the rule, while the everyday successful integration of the thousands of Charedim in the IDF, with their daily minyanim, daf hayomi, glatt kosher and women-free work environments are glossed over as the exception. Not to mention the fact that in the vast majority of the cases where there is some kind of issue, the individuals involved frequently do NOT utilize the avenues of help that are available to them before turning to the media.

    I expect that the reaction to my post will once again be a rehashing of the very exceptional cases where the IDF has not lived up to its commitments. But once again, those are exceptions and not the rule. The everyday integration of Charedim in the IDF is unfortunately not sensational enough to make it into the everyday media, but it is a fact, which is frequently overlooked by many a Charedi, the author included.

  19. I don't know Beckerman, so I don't know if his article was a cynical piece of spin, or if he actually believes what he wrote. Sadly, I suspect the latter. When the Agudah (now charedi) PR camp invented the "Torah protects" theme, none of them really and truly believed it. It was self-understood that this was just a slogan to use in defense of all the yeshivah bachurim dodging the draft. But two generations later, a lot of young, naïve American yeshivah products have begun to believe their own propaganda. Thus they have to twist around and come up with the silly nonsense like what the fellow on Cross curents writes.

    Its unconvincing because its untrue. Nishmaim divrei ha-sheker.

  20. >although the idea of a parallel site with comments enabled is a nice one

    Every time I cut and paste a line from Cross Currents a big copyright attribution appears along with the excerpt. I suspect that were anyone to start a Cross-Cross-Currents site where the same posts appeared along with no comment moderation, that YM, RYA t al wouldn't simply rely on their Torah study to defend their rights but would hire a lawyer or two.

  21. Moshe Dick writes:
    wow! Reading about the many rejected comments on Rabbi Beckerman's article (icluding a couple of mine), it is no wonder that there is a paucity of responses (just 9...) in the cross-currents website. As I pointed out in an earlier comment on this website, one of the sad results of the present situation is the shutting down of any debate by the chareidi world on these important matters. Rather than saying " torah hih ulilmod ani tsorich" (it is torah and I have to learn it), they shut down debate and so hope to keep their flock in line. They resort in twisting rishonim (see commetns on the Rambam's views) and even rejecting later major Poskim (Chassam Sofer-see Rabbi Slifkin's article) who do not espouse their views. In this ocntext, the israeli government did the only thing they coudl do: cut the funding ,whiler requirinrg a modicum of engagement. In private, the chareidi leaders are ecstatic that the law has very few teeth and that a majority of their followers can still continue on their isolated ways. However, admitting this truth would not play well with the extremists and so, the non-chareidim must be portrayed as "kofrim', "amalek' and worse!

  22. Is there anyone here who realizes for a moment how silly this discussion is? Do you imagine for a moment that the hundreds of Charedi Roshei Yeshiva;, the thousands of Charedi Talmidei Chachamim; the tens of thousands of Yeshiva Bachurim and Avreichim, their wives, children and families would care one whit what a group of self-assured Anglo-Saxon Modern Orthodox people say or think? R Slifkin: don't you have anything better to do with your time?

  23. Moshe Dick writes:
    "clued in"- interesting...so the chareidi world does not care one whit about the rest of the jews.. OK, let that sink in for a moment...then, think waht happens when those same chareidim need money...When I go to shul in the morming (whether Boro Park Flatbush, Monsey...etc..) all I see are chareidim begging for money...when I check my postbox, I find it chok a block full with requests for monetary help and it comes, 99% , from chareidi mosdos or people...
    Maybe the chareidi world does not care about the views expressed here but I bet you they care about the money that is not given anymore...

    1. Wake up ~ if you choose not to support Charedim asking for charity, you might ccontribute to their suffering, but if you don't contribute towards the strengthening and support of Torah scholars they consider it to be your loss.

  24. Congratulations everyone - it looks like we just embarrassed Cross-Currents into posting all the rejected comments - except mine!

  25. little by little even the frum world is starting to recognize the need for transparency and openness. just because you can shut down debate in one small spot, doesn't mean that you can do it everywhere.

  26. Moshe Dick writes:
    I am generally reluctant to engage in a tit-for-tat dialogue but i really have to answer "clued in". In general, I continue giving to individuals (albeit in minor form) but I do exclude mosdos from that. The mosdos and their leaders are perpetuating this insane world where no one works and all rely upon charity. If the roshei yeshiva -and even the rebbes- would encourage people to go earn a decent living, the chareidi world in israel would not find itself at the edge of a precipice. And, if this entailed making a deal with the government concerning army duty, the government would be have been happy to comply (as they did anyway). Now, with the chareidi NO written large, the catastrophe is about to unfold.

  27. Moshe Dick writes:
    WOW !! Something must have happened at cross-currents!! They have just allowed over 45 comments , many of them critical.
    Is this the beginning of more openness ?? What a turnaround!

  28. It happened after they saw this blog post.

  29. Clued in: so why are hundreds of thousands of them protesting in the streets?

  30. Some people just refuse to accept reality. The Charedim have NEVER accepted any development that didn't come from within. That's why they don't join the army, that's why they don't wear techeles, that's why they don't say the tefilah l'mdinah - NOTHING. Their theology depends upon them being right about everything. Consequently, as Rabbi Wein just wrote about a few weeks ago, everything else - and that includes the biggest events of the 20th century - are just ignored.

    You think that's hard to do? No, it isn't. Consider that all orthodox Jews, not just charedim, are still using a halachic system that treats good religious gentiles as "idol worshippers", even though the last pagans died out 1,700 years ago. These examples can be multiplied many, many times. The Charedim, in turning a bling eye to any phenomenon that doesn't fit with their theology, are just practicing orthodoxy. We all do the same thing, just to varying degrees.

    (PS - CC may simply have waited till enough comments built up before publishing. You gotta give them time, you know.)

  31. It was four days. And beckerman read my post, and then immediately posted them.

  32. One major problem with R. Beckerman's thesis is that once we accept that all lomdei Torah (i.e. any male who is born to a Charedi family and hasn't dropped out of the system yet) is automatically exempt from serving in the army, then what should we do once the Charedim become 20%, 50% or 90% of the population?

    Assuming one rejects R. Tukachinsky's absurd argument (see the link R. Beckerman provided in his comment on Cross Currents) that there would be no security threat were everyone in yeshiva (I wonder if there's anyone who would be so detached from reality to rely on this in practice), then a certain proportion of the population is required to defend the country.

    Is there a point beyond which R. Beckerman would agree that Charedim should participate in national defense or would he advocate exempting them even once they were the overwhelming majority? If not, why?

    If the answer to that question is that he'd advocate waiting until the country's security was at risk then I presume he'd agree that if 90% of the country was Charedi and the army could get by on 10% of the population, then the non-Charedi 10% should bear the entirety of the burden.

    I would like to think that the absurdity of that suggestion is self-evident but I'm sure there'll be people who are more than happy to prove me wrong.

  33. Hey, slifkin, your arrogance and conceit really is reaching new heights. Are you aware that even if you do not want to accord him respect, RABBI Beckerman probably capitalizes his last name? And your superior knowledge of the Torah must have evolved into Ruach Hakodesh.....how else can we explain the assumption on your part that your postings have caused such an uproar at Cross Currents? Unless, of course, your overblown ego is at play here.......

  34. I apologize for not giving Rabbi Beckerman his title - I wrote that comment on my phone, but that's not an excuse.
    The reason why I say that the comment let-through was a result of my post is simple. Rabbi Beckerman's post appeared four days ago. During that time, only eight comments were let through. Then, right after this post, 45 further comments are suddenly let through - many pre-dating the other comments. And Rabbi Beckerman mentions that he saw my post. The conclusion is obvious.

  35. I have inside info (which I can't disclose) that the causality proposed here (about why the comment appeared) isn't what happened. Rather, the issue was when the guest blogger received administrative rights.

  36. J, so what if 90 percent of the country will be charedi? You can still maintain the same size army, full of chilonim.Just because the the charedi population increases, does not mean that the secular COUNT decreases! To be clear, I'm discussion the military aspect. Not the financial one.

  37. Either way it is commendable that he let the comments through. It takes someone big to realize that they are making a mistake; it is even greater to fix it.

  38. Mr. Impressed has submitted one of the most hypocritical comments I have ever read on this blog.
    To address a Rabbi with Hey, and then in the same paragraph preach proper etiquette for addressing a Rabbi. What can be more hypocritical and appalling.
    I certainly can understand why he would disguise his identity.
    Before someone can teach etiquette of any kind, one must first learn proper derek erez.

  39. To Isaac:

    Um.......that was the point.

  40. Natan Slifkin said...
    The reason why I say that the comment let-through was a result of my post is simple. Rabbi Beckerman's post appeared four days ago. During that time, only eight comments were let through. Then, right after this post, 45 further comments are suddenly let through - many pre-dating the other comments. And Rabbi Beckerman mentions that he saw my post. The conclusion is obvious.

    Ben Waxman said...
    I have inside info (which I can't disclose) that the causality proposed here (about why the comment appeared) isn't what happened. Rather, the issue was when the guest blogger received administrative rights.

    Oy, the hazards of post hoc reasoning :).

  41. Regarding the belief that the percentage of Haredim in the population will continue to increase at the rate it has in the past, there are solid grounds for doubting this.
    As I have stated here previously, no ideological system that contradicts day-to-day reality can endure for very long. World events of recent decades have repeatedly shown this. It is important to remember that the phenomenal growth of the Haredi world, particularly that of the Kollel communities with large numbers of children was a direct product of the creation of the post-Second World War welfare state. The benefits that system provides are under review and are being cut everywhere. For exmaple, it was possible in Scandinavia, which was the most generous in distributing benefits, to pretty much live one's entire life with on a relatively comfortable middle-class level without working. This is no longer the situation. Those who are long-term unemployed are required to look for work and, if necessary, take job retraining courses.
    The United States is essentially bankrupt and is financing its enormous deficits by printing money (or ar economist Paul Krugman delicately puts it) "borrowing money from itself" (i.e. saying "let the next generation pay for our party"). This can not go on indefinitely. The current crisis with the Ukraine is now leading people to say that NATO has neglected its armed forces and they now have to be built up after being drastically cut back over the last quarter century. This will cost a lot of money and since most of the countries have very low birth-rates, traditional economic groth will not pay for it so it will have to come out of cuts elsewhere, and the "entitlements" are among the biggest hunks of the national budgets. The point of all of this is that this economic pressure can induce a significant drop in the birth rate so extrapolating existing trends some decades in the future is problematic.
    I think the hysterical reaction of too many Haredi spokesmen to what is going on is an indirect confirmation that they are indeed aware of these facts and they are frightened to contemplate the consequences of them. Incentiary statements about those who are demanding reforms in these areas are not really directed at them, but rather internally to maintain a constant ideological mobilization. However, again, history has shown that endlessly telling a people that they are surrounded by enemies and they are in great danger from external threats leads to decreasing response over time when it is apparent to everyone that these threats are really imaginary.
    It is truly ironic that the reforms being proposed and implemented would end up strengthening their community and it would allow it to continue to grow by giving it more financial resources and self-confidence. Don't their leaders realize this?

  42. Of course they don't realize it because they need these "enemies" to justify their own power, just like the Arab dictators use Israel.

  43. @clued in

    Wake up ~ if you choose not to support Charedim asking for charity, you might ccontribute to their suffering, but if you don't contribute towards the strengthening and support of Torah scholars they consider it to be your loss.

    The thing is, I don't give particular respect to scholars of random subjects. Charedim study a Torah that is not the same one handed down from Moshe Rabbeinu. It's much closer to the Christains' New Testament, and I don't feel any loss when I don't support the local Church.

  44. To Impressed,
    Good save.

  45. וחלמיד-חכם המזלזל במצות ואין בו יראת שמים הרי הוא כקל שבצבור

    רנה להרחיק מקבלתה. וכו כ׳ סעיפים

    א לעולם ירחיק אדם עצמו מהצדקה ויגלגל עצמו בצער שלא יצטרך לבריות וכן צוו חכמים עשה שבתך חול ואל תצטרך לבריות ואפי׳ היה חכם מכובר והעני יעסיק באומנות ואפי' באומנות מנוולת ואל יצטרך לבריות

  46. My comment has not been released from Purgatory

  47. Rav Slifkin Shalom Rav,
    The tribe of Levi was not exempt from military service. We see quite clearly from Torah, Nakh and Hazal that Levites, even kohanim and even the Kohen Gadol were obligated to fight, even in a milhemeth reshuth.

    Rambam's statement seems to be referring not to national wars, but private property wars between the tribes. This is probably why the statement is found in the laws of shmittah and yovel and not found in the laws on war.

    It is also most likely that this is why he uses the term "orkhin milhamah" instead of "yotz'im l'milhamah". The Levite has no territory (k'shar Yisrael) to launch a border war over. Which makes sense, given the follow-up statement of "They don't obtain things for themselves by physical power".

    Rav Kook says precisely this in his commentary to MT Shemittah and Yovel:

    Orkhin Milhama – "this means to fight private wars, such as when one tribe goes to war for the portion of land that it would thereby obtain. But when all of Israel go to war, they must fight as well. And fighting in a war that involves the generality of Israel is also a way of serving the Lord. For whoever is more specially set aside for worshipping the Lord has an even greater part in it [the war] than the rest of the people."

    Rav yehudah Zoldan did a nice piece on this for Bar Ilan's parsha articles:


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