Friday, July 18, 2014

The Other Side Of The Coin

Today I was corresponding with several people at one of the places that I am lecturing at next month, discussing which topic to speak about. Amongst the titles that I proposed was "Shall Your Brothers Go Out To War, While You Remain Here?" One person responded that it would be redundant for me to speak on that topic, since I would be preaching to the choir; the members of that shul would unanimously agree that the charedim should share the burden of military service.

I found this amusing. As I told him, "What makes you so sure that I am talking about charedim? Maybe I am talking about Jews in the Diaspora?" After all, that would be an even more accurate parallel to Moshe's statement to the Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven, who wanted the material benefits of the Diaspora!

In fact, while my posts on this topic have concentrated on the application of this principle to charedim, my talk on this topic this weekend in Beverly Hills will focus on the question of its application to Diaspora Jews, and indeed to all Jews: Do we all have an obligation to join the IDF in its milchemes mitzvah?

(Incidentally, due to a cancellation, I have an available Shabbos as scholar-in-residence for August 15th/16th in the US. Please write to me at zoorabbi@zootorah.com if you are interested. Preference is for the western side of the US, since I will be in LA on the night of the 14th.)

Meanwhile, on the battle front, Charles Krauthammer has a great op-ed, called Moral Clarity in Gaza. Please spread it (and similar articles) and thereby help the war effort, which is to a large degree fought in the battle of public opinion. And here is a link to a PDF of the prayer for the IDF.

42 comments:

  1. " Do we all have an obligation to join the IDF in its milchemes mitzvah?"

    Good question and good topic as well.
    Better question can be asked is- are most or many of the people in the galut especially if they make good money better used differently perhaps?
    Those who can physically fight is one thing, but also perhaps more important is the much greater financial help that can be provided (meaning they are used better doing this).

    - Also another important issue to this question- "Do we all have an obligation to join the IDF in its milchemes mitzvah?"
    is- Is joining the IDF engaging in Milhemit Mitzvah in of itself.
    First we need to define a Milhemit Mitzvah and see its objectives and then see if the IDF fulfills it or not.
    Perhaps it does partially because a Milhemit Mitzvah would call to drive the enemies out of the land and to kill out the adult males (at the least). In this weeks parsha it even included the dreaded word "revenge" and not only against the males but the females as well. Does the IDF fulfill those criteria?

    2) Another point can be addressed is would or does a Milhemit Mitzva ONLY have to be fulfilled through the IDF? Who says that that is the only means to fulfill a Mitzvah through, why or should or would we (or those reading here) be opposed to other forms of fulfilling the Mitzvah as well?

    Warren Burstein

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  2. A very good point you raised which they were oblivious to - part and parcel of that mentality is the self absorption.
    Your galuthi supporters are about to twist themselves into knots in your comment section explaining why this applies to Israeli haredim but not to them. Don't fall for it.

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    1. Chareidim have to serve in the IDF because they're Israeli citizens. Non-Israelis don't have to serve in the IDF because they're not Israelis.

      Citing tanach to take a jab at a community that calls itself "Torah True" is cute and satisfying, but don't make teh mistake of thinking that it actually matters.

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    2. Huh? The point is that you and the peanut gallery here correctly point out that haredim neglect their duties as Israeli citizens by refusing to serve, but the peanut gallery is also neglecting their duties as Jews by refusing to leave the galut.

      Delete
  3. Right now, unprecedented numbers of French Jews are arriving in Israel. Hundreds have come just in the last couple of days. A poll showed 70% of French Jews say there is no future for Jews in France. I am sure the rest of Europe is next.
    The only question is when AMERICA"S Jews will wake up and realize that the same applies to the great Jewish community in the US. The US is itself in terminal moral, social, economic and spiritual decline and it will drag its Jewish community down with it (see Charles Murray's outstanding book "Coming Apart"). Almost 50% of all the children in the US are born to single mothers and will grow up without any stable family structure. The economy is in long term stagnation and decline. However, most importantly for religious Jews to see is the MORAL rot that is taking place. For a good analysis of this read Dennis Prager;s columns at Jewishworldreview.com. It is odd that many religious Jews who live in New York criticize Israel for not being "religious enough', yet they live smack dab in the cultural and media center of the world that is propagating the anti-Torah values that are spreading like wildfire around the planet and affecting even the most insular groups. They simply pretend there are no non-religious Jews and what is going on all around them won't affect them, but it will inevitably. Thus, American Jewry ultimately will face the same crisis European Jewry is facing today. This is the message Rav Slifkin needs to give his audience in America.

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  4. Your galuthi supporters are about to twist themselves into knots in your comment section explaining why this applies to Israeli haredim but not to them.

    Some knots for thought from someone feeling a bit guilty in Baltimore, MD, USA:

    1) Israel needs support from the US. Among the many examples witness the financing of Iron Dome, the bribes to Egypt to keep its part of peace agreement with Israel, and the UN security council veto. US support is predicated in large part, although not completely, on the existence of American Jews as a political force in the US. It is not clear that Israel would be better off if all American Jews moved to Israel tomorrow. (A counter-argument could be that American citizens can vote absentee and their children born outside the US can become citizens. Still I think that practically that would not work).

    2) Age and opportunity: If I had it to do all over again knowing what I know now, perhaps I would consider a different path. It's not unusual for American "Zionists" who stay in an America to have children who go and serve. At my age, I don't have anything to contribute. My son who made Aliyah did subject himself to the draft. I think that Rabbi Slifkin has expressed similar considerations.

    3) To add to #3, if the IDF said tomorrow: we desperately need computer scientists who speak English to help us, then I would probably pack up and go. At least I think so. As it is, I have, unfortunately, nothing to contribute directly.

    4) As far as the hypocrisy of supporting universal service while sitting in the US: I agree 100% and I would never judge an individual who said that they didn't want to serve, since I am not serving. That said, I can still support the idea that those in Israel who do serve, whether or not they are observant of halachah, have a right to demand of their follow citizens that they share the burden as well. I also can say that I think having all the citizens serve more or less equally and then become self-supporting more or less equally, will result in a much lower level of anti-religious feeling among some parts of the population, as well as resulting in a sustainable economic situation for all citizens, which in turn will aid in Israel's security.

    You are welcome to now turn my pretzels into toast...

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    1. "1) Israel needs support from the US. Among the many examples witness the financing of Iron Dome, the bribes to Egypt to keep its part of peace agreement with Israel, and the UN security council veto. "

      - Not true at all. The financial "support" comes with strings attached. Israel cannot sell a lot of its technology to places like China and India because of the strings attached to the financial $ it gets from the U.S.A. Israel could make much MORE $ then the $ it get's from the U.S. as Israel is a technological and military powerhouse.
      - What did the "bribes to Egypt" entail? The U.S. sending Billions of $ in the form of weapons to Egypt that can only be used in a war with a major country (aka Israel). This means that Egypt the country that went to war with Israel over and over is now armed by the U.S. with advanced weapons that it can later use against Israel! The other part entailed Israel giving away 3/4th of the land it had to Egypt for a soo-called "peace" deal. Land that was and could be used for training AND rich in oil worth Billions each year. Egypt only made "peace" because it lost the wars over and over and saw that it cannot win. Just like Syria as well which never made any formal peace but just stopped attacking because it saw it cannot win against Israel. That's the ONLY thing stopping them and nothing else.
      - Maybe the only good thing from the U.S. but still not even necessary in the long run. The nations NEED Israel and its technology. Israel could say that if they want to boycott Israel then Israel will not sell its technology that is needed for so many things including computers, all sorts of technologies and every day uses.

      Warren B.

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    2. Not true at all. The financial "support" comes with strings attached. Israel cannot sell a lot of its technology to places like China and India because of the strings attached to the financial $ it gets from the U.S.A. Israel could make much MORE $ then the $ it get's from the U.S. as Israel is a technological and military powerhouse.

      Sorry, I don't understand your reasoning. The US rationally doesn't want to invest in military technology that will end up in China. It still is a huge benefit to Israel.

      What did the "bribes to Egypt" entail? The U.S. sending Billions of $ in the form of weapons to Egypt that can only be used in a war with a major country (aka Israel).

      Again, on balance, Israel benefits. If you think that the peace treaty with Egypt is not a net positive, then we discussing this issue is probably fruitless because our premises are so completely at odds with one another. But just to inject one fact, in 1973, Egypt showed that they could very well "win" a war with Israel.

      The nations NEED Israel and its technology.

      Like others, you are over-estimating the power of tiny country.

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    3. "Sorry, I don't understand your reasoning. The US rationally doesn't want to invest in military technology that will end up in China. It still is a huge benefit to Israel."
      I thought I explained it, the sales of weapons and technology that is prevented would EXCEED in profits if sold to different countries like China and India (and others we well). Get 2 billion and loose chance for 10 billion.
      - Egypt LOST the war, they kept loosing over and over and that is the only reason they made the "peace" with Israel. Anyway what "peace" is it? Do you know the daily incitement and hatred they have in Egypt against Israel? If they had the chance (militarily and otherwise) they would again start a war with Israel. No paper is holding them back. They got all of the Sinai, rich in oil and territory for absolutely nothing.
      -Might be tiny, especially because of the surrender but its a mighty country with a whole lot of G-D's blessing (through Jewish brains). Just look around the world, Jews create new things, invent technologies and many other things that the world needs. Israel is no exception.

      Warren B.

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    4. David O : a few years ago,, Israel made a deal with China to sell such technology, anticipating no opposition from US. The US govt opposed, on grounds that they wanted to sell the same technology (with the same controls israel was going to implement (to protect against China transferring to other mid east powers).

      MiMedinat HaYam

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    5. A few other points. US citizens serving in foreign armies are supposed to lose their US citizenship. Howe, the state dept for many years "overlooked" this, claiming that such dual citizens were "forced" by their host country to serve / enlist. One day, the state dept canchange its mind / policy. And or be selective between diff countries. The biggest problem would probably be a requirement to get s visa to visit US. Don't know british policy. But i know a british passport is good for many other countries, and an EU passport is good for many other countries.

      2. Every rinky dink military the world over wants the newest, most high tech, flashy weaponry. Even a supposed paramilitary wants 30,000 feet SAM missiles, even though they have no military need for it.

      Thus, the US (and russia) has tremendous influence. That's how the US controlled egypt these many years. That's how we controlled turkey (till the current islamis, anti secular govt got into power. And the military allowed it, for some reason. But the whole time, israel had,,and still has influence over turkish military, whose only enemies are greeks and kurds, and internal control. Which for some reason, the turkish military is abdicating in all threes.)

      Same with other countries. They all want the latest, the flashiest, etc. And they'll pay. Not only cash and bribes, but influence.

      MiMedinat HaYam

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    6. The IDF would like you to know that it absolutely does desperately need computer scientists.

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  5. At the moment they need experienced soldiers, not raw recruits. Jews in the U.S. Armed Forces have oaths and obligations which prevent them from serving in another nation's military. For some of the rest of us, maybe so. I am personally unfit for military service due to age and health issues but support Israel in other ways

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  6. Serving in the IDF is a great Miztvah. Unfortunately, the Rabbis at my girls' Ulpanot teach they must not.

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    1. Women are EXEMPT by the Torah and Hazal.

      Warren B.

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    2. Actually, halakha requires women to serve in a milchemet mitzvah. There's some debate as to what the parameters are, but they're definitely not exempt.

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  7. Rabbi Slifkin,

    As this is posed as a question that you have yet to answer - I trust you will post the transcript of the speech for discussion later? - I won't prejudge what you have to say before critiquing.

    What I do feel free to suggest is that there isn't hypocrisy in diaspora Jews being bewildered by or giving criticism toward Israeli Haredi for not serving in the IDF. The answer isn't a Biblical one, but simply the description I just gave 'Israeli Haredi', i.e. that if you are living in a state, you either abide by the law of the land or leave; if Israeli citizens are all obligated to join the army at 18, then so should the Haredi. I appreciate Arabs are exempted, but even they do some form of civic service for Israel. Diaspora Jews are not automatically given Israeli citizenship and we do not live in Israel or Israeli law. Therefore we are not obligated to join the IDF. This doesn't mean to say we don't support Israel in terms of money, lobbying, communication and argument. Neither is this a coward's option. Look at the recent near pogrom in France last week. Tomorrow there is a big anti war demo in London, which makes it a no go area for a day for Jews; in Turkey newspapers are calling on Jewish leaders to apologise in public for Gaza . We're a visible minority, sometimes being in the diaspora doesn't feel like a benefit.

    Should diaspora Jews serve in the IDF? My answer Check out what your local country says about fighting in a foreign army. If this is still what you want to do go and complete the full return to the land, obtain Israeli citizenship, don't look back. I wanted to mention my worry over how non Jews might see this, e.g. I can well imagine how some in the British media might link young Jews going to fight for a foreign country (as they would see it) and what a few young British muslims are doing in Syria and Iraq. I know there is no similarity between the two. But that doesn't stop others from twisting this like that, especially with the Torah verse being mentioned and how these jihadists doubtless have Quran quotes about muslims brothers fighting for islam etc etc.

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  8. Perhaps the question to be asked is to do we have and obligation to fight a "milchemes mitzvah" according to halacha? And if not, what makes it a "milchemes mitzvah"?

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  9. Just wondering if Rabbi Slifkin volunteered for the army when he made aliya or is he guilty of the same hypocrisy that he is accusing others of having
    shimmy miller

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    1. I am not familiar with Rav Slifkin's personal status in Israel and so I can't speak for him, but the olim who came when I did in the 1980's from the US were not conscripted, even though all the ones I know would have willingly gone, because the IDF decided they didn't need or want them, possibly figuring that considering their age and family situation, it was better for them to remain in civilian life full- time. Rav Slifkin has stated here that he is educating to his sons to go the IDF and so I can think of no better way of him personally fulfilling what he is teaching others.
      The American olim I referred to above were all "soft American momma's boys" who did not serve in the US and yet many of their sons are in the toughest, best units of the IDF so somebody is doing something right in raising a new generation of Jewish warriors in the spirit of King David's fighters. Don't knock it.

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  10. It's interesting that Israeli dual citizens who also have Spanish citizenship may decline to serve in the IDF without any punishment because they can loose Spain citizenship: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.585095 .
    So, apparently Spain citizenship is considered more important than Torah studies.

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  11. Anonymous: Milchemet Mitzvah isn't just conquering land; it's also any defensive war, as Israel has been fighting since day one.

    David Ohsie: I made aliyah and they didn't want me. Unless you're a doctor or dentist, they don't want anyone over 26 these days. (That is, starting at 26. Miluim go longer, of course.) But you have to make yourself available, at least.

    R' Slifkin: I imagine you know this, but R' Lichtenstein's position is that the answer is "yes": Every Jewish male (and maybe female- "kallah m'chupata"), worldwide. I heard this from R' Rakeffet, who agrees.

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  12. Perhaps the question to be asked is to do we have and obligation to fight a "milchemes mitzvah" according to halacha? And if not, what makes it a "milchemes mitzvah"?

    Two comments here:

    1) For the sake of argument, if the current situation was not a Milchemes Mitzvah, this would not imply than anyone is exempted from the draft. Defending the country is a communal obligation and the halacha provides explicit license to the community to force each other to contribute to such a communal obligation. See this post by Aron White on Hirhurim.

    2) For the sake of argument, if the current situation is a Milchemes Mitzvah, that doesn't imply that everyone drops everything to fight. It means that everyone could be required to drop everything to fight if called to do so. If everyone just stopped what they were doing to fight, the country would grind to a halt economically and would make defeat now and in the future more likely. Practically speaking, it gives the government the power to draft anyone, but doesn't compel an immediate draft of everyone immediately.

    Just wondering if Rabbi Slifkin volunteered for the army when he made aliya or is he guilty of the same hypocrisy that he is accusing others of having
    shimmy miller


    R. Slikin has written about this, although I can't find it now. I believe that his exit from Charedism happened to late to serve and that his children are on the path to serve.

    Right now, unprecedented numbers of French Jews are arriving in Israel. Hundreds have come just in the last couple of days. A poll showed 70% of French Jews say there is no future for Jews in France. I am sure the rest of Europe is next.
    The only question is when AMERICA"S Jews will wake up and realize that the same applies to the great Jewish community in the US. The US is itself in terminal moral, social, economic and spiritual decline and it will drag its Jewish community down with it (see Charles Murray's outstanding book "Coming Apart").


    Y. Ben-David: I think that again, this fits well with your vision of the world, which is a good one, but there is little evidence behind this. It is true that Jews have been persecuted throughout history in the diaspora, but we have also been persecuted in the land as well. There are no guarantees.

    I'd also point out that some of what you call moral decline is probably not that. For example, the tolerance towards homosexuality that many on this list probably consider moral decline is pretty clearly motivated by improved moral standards which seek to avoid creating disenfranchised "others" in step with the dismantling of the horrific "Jim Crow" system in the US.

    Finally, if you take the average non-Orthodox American vs. the average non-Orthodox Israeli, do you really think that that US compares unfavorably on your moral scale, whatever it is?

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    1. "pretty clearly motivated by improved moral standards"

      A professor of mine once said, when you use a word ending in "-ly," it's a sign you have a weak argument.

      "Pretty clearly"? To you, maybe. Have you ever paused to consider that at its root it is, in fact, immoral? Lots of people- a majority- think it is.

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  13. David-
    (1) I don't need to tell you what the Torah's views on homosexuality is. The fact that the majority of people may now find it acceptable doesn't make it right. I also assume you are aware of the midrash that says why Avraham Avinu is called "Ha'Ivri"...he was on one side and the rest of the world was on the other side. The argument that "5 million Frenchmen can't be wrong" has never been the Jewish approach to morality. Even most people who oppose the idea that homosexuality is an acceptable "lifestyle choice" do not think they should be beaten up in the streets. Questions such as whether homsexuals should be teachers of young children are still open.

    (2) Regarding the question as to there is a difference between non-religious Jews in Israel and the US, I can tell you that having lived in both countries, the difference is like that between night and day.
    Sure, there are non-religious Jews in Israel who live a lifestyle completely devoid of any real Jewish content, but this is a minority. The large majority of Israeli Jews have at least some connection to Jewish tradition such as having a Pesach seder, and a brit milah for their sons. Family life of Israelis is much, much, much closer in Israel than it is for American Jews. Many get together on Shabbat night and particularly on Rosh Hashanah and Pesach.
    The birth rate for non-religious Israelis has gone UP in recent years, which I view as a real miracle, in contrast to much of the world and particularly American non-religious Jews who are rapidly vanishing.
    Unlike in the US where the "Jewish Renewal" movement of non-religious Jews is basically superficial and only affects a small minority of non-Orthodox Jews, there is a real revival of interest in Judaism and Jewish culture in Israel, I have seen the change myself since we came in 1986. For instance, my place of work is a government company with a majority of non-religious workers. We used to daven mincha behind the kitchen. Today, we have a full service Beit Knesset with all 3 tefillot per day, a library of sifrei kodesh, a sefer Torah and short shiurim before Mincha. The new Beit Knesset was too small already when it was opened. Many non-religious Israeli come to say Kaddish and some have strengthened their Jewish observance as a result.
    Needless to say, all young Israelis who serve in the IDF come into contact with Jewish observance and religious soldiers so all Israeli have at least some contact with religious Jews, unlike in the US.
    So as I said, there is NO comparison.

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    1. 1) My point is that whether or not you agree with the changes, the impetus to some of these changes is actually a greater level of morality, not a decline in morality.

      2) I was speaking of the general level of "morality" not the connection to Judiasm by the non-observant. Generally, my impression is that Israeli version of acceptable public behavior is more European and that large parts of America (not the big cities) are much more "old-fashioned". I have not empirical data to back up my impression.

      Anyhow my point is not to discourage Aliyah, but to say that the comparison is not simple.

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  14. I must strongly disagree with your assertion that there is no evidence to back up my claim about the terminal moral, spiritual, economic and social decline of the US. Read Charles Murray's book "Coming Apart" (I believe he is a non-Jew). He uses extensive statistical and social analysis to show American society is rotting away with the explosive growth of a large white underclass, joining the existing black and Hispanic underclasses of people with little education, unstable family structure and welfare dependency. He also talks at length of the collapse of the "Torah sh'b'al peh" of the US, the American ethos which has existed for over 200 years outside the consitutional system and he shows it is this ethos that kept the country flourishing and it is now being thrown in the junk heap.
    Read also David Goldman's (AKA "Spengler") book "How Civilizations Die" where he shows that previous civilizations reached a point of no return and how Europe has already reached this point, and the US is not far behind.
    Also read Dennis Prager's blog at
    jewishworldreview.com
    He is a neo-con who emphasizes the supposed Judeo-Christian roots of American morality and although neo-cons tend to be super-partriotic American, he now admits the US is in steep decline.
    American Democracy itself is vanishing with politically correct behavior chucking out popular values, and a good example is the sudden witch-hunt against those who oppose homosexual marriage, something that was a given for centuries, and oddly enough, the war against those who oppose changing the name of the Washington Redskins. For 80 years, the name didn't bother anyone including American Indians, yet suddenly, anyone who wants to keep the name is called a "fascist" (BTW-I was called a fascist by a young Orthodox Jew when I pointed out that the Torah opposes the concept of homosexual "marriage"). I can add the attempts to ban Mark Twain's books because they contain a few racial slurs. What about freedom of speech? What hope is there for such a society.

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  15. David -
    The default, natural home of the Jews is Eretz Israel. A simple calculation of "where is it more advantageous for me to live regarding economic, social and lifestyle considerations" is missing the point. In the 1930's Jews in Eastern Europe were saying the same thing "look at the Arab violence there and it is a desert with an environment we are not used to", while at the same time they were ignoring the fact that the Torah centers of Lithuania, Poland and Hungary were caught between the pincers of two bloodthirsty tyrannies, Nazi Germany to the west and the Stalinist Soviet Union on the east, both of which were ideologically committed to eradicating Judaism. How could people have been blind to what was going on around them? It was OBVIOUS that the Jewish communties there were doomed, even if there hadn't been the Holocaust. History settled the question of whether it was preferable to remain in Eastern Europe or to make aliyah to Eretz Israel
    American and European Jewry are now facing the same historical processes. The Galut is coming to an end. Jewish history is pointing to Eretz Israel, which has what will soon be the largest Jewish community in the world and is the only country with a growing Jewish population and in which Judaism and Jewish culture is spreading instead of whithering like it is doing in Europe and the US.
    Most Jews didn't want to leave Egypt at the time of the Yetziat Mitzraim (according to Rashi), most Jews didn't want to leave Bavel at the time of Shivat Zion and most Jews didn't want to leave Eastern Europe when Eretz Israel opened up as a result of the Balfour Declaration. We don't want to see the same mistakes made again.

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  16. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzJuly 20, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    David - no state in the United States needed to recognize homosexual marriage in order to avoid disenfranchising homosexuals in terms of the tax code, health care coverage, inheritance law or any other form of economic benefit which can be granted to common law spouses.
    Also why do the same states in the US which have recognized homosexual marriage still
    disenfranchise polyamorous relationships? why is that disenranchisement not a form of "jim crow" and discriminatory against the spouses and the children in such relationships? If the advocates for gay mariage were really acting on in impetus driven by higher morality it's hard to see why this form of discrimination still exists.

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    1. "Also why do the same states in the US which have recognized homosexual marriage still
      disenfranchise polyamorous relationships?"

      Guess what, that's on its way too. It's closer than anyone thinks.

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    2. I think that if the the US allowed polygamy that would clearly be crossing a red line that no civil society has ever envisioned. It would almost as bad as allowing girls to be married at any age. It would be no less than the end of civilization as we know it. Clearly it is beyond thinking that any Torah Jew could live in such a society.

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  17. Serving in the IDF is a Jewish responsibility. When the Jews of America need to seek refuge where do you think they are likely to end up? Jews living outside of Israel indirectly benefit from having a state as they will need it in the future. Jews living in America should share the responsibility of defending Israel. Financial and political support from abroad is helpful but does not compare with joining the IDF and sacrificing one's life.

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    1. And Jews living in England have a benefit from Jews living in the US (and from non-jews living in Chins) and many others. There is no obligation to fight a war in a country in which you do not live.
      Imagine the Jews of Aix-Le-Bain were in danger. Would every Jew living in Ottawa be obligated to go and fight for them? Would you place this equal demand on them? Or is the State of Israel somehow a hechsher making jewish lives in Israel more important than those living in other countries? How about those living in Eilat? Do they have this blood advantage even though it is not in the borders of Eretz Yisrael?

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    2. Is there an obligation to serve in an army of a country in which you or a close descendant may live in the nearby future? Today it's France tomorrow could be England or America. French Jewry clearly benefits from having somewhere to go that accepts and protects Jews. Is it right to merely just show up? Personally I find it insulting when people call only when they need something.

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  18. David -
    The default, natural home of the Jews is Eretz Israel. A simple calculation of "where is it more advantageous for me to live regarding economic, social and lifestyle considerations" is missing the point.


    That was never my claim. I am saying that the notion that the US is equal to 1933 Europe is not well supported.

    American and European Jewry are now facing the same historical processes. The Galut is coming to an end.

    Maybe and maybe not. While I hope the Galut ends, I don't see the apocalypse that you see coming. Your answer is: but that's what the Jews in prewar Europe said. My answer is that you could just as well say that the Jews revolting against the Romans didn't see what was coming. Each situation is different.

    So the better argument, IMO, is that making Aliyah is a Mitzvah, not "move or die".

    I must strongly disagree with your assertion that there is no evidence to back up my claim about the terminal moral, spiritual, economic and social decline of the US. Read Charles Murray's book "Coming Apart" (I believe he is a non-Jew).

    I'll admit to not reading the book and I probably won't. But the reason is that I just don't see this as even a starting point. I see generally improved morals including a lower crime rate (not as low as postwar, but still way off the peaks), and a general increase in toleration towards others which is what, as a minority, we depend on. Undoubtedly, as man's has an evil aspect to his nature, this could turn and quickly, given a prolonged depression or somesuch. But there is not evidence of it yet.

    American Democracy itself is vanishing with politically correct behavior chucking out popular values, and a good example is the sudden witch-hunt against those who oppose homosexual marriage, something that was a given for centuries, and oddly enough, the war against those who oppose changing the name of the Washington Redskins.

    What you are saying here is not that democracy is vanishing, but that the politics is going in a direction with which you disagree. There are many things given for centuries which it is now considered evil to support, such as the slavery and the separation of the races.

    (BTW-I was called a fascist by a young Orthodox Jew when I pointed out that the Torah opposes the concept of homosexual "marriage"). I can add the attempts to ban Mark Twain's books because they contain a few racial slurs. What about freedom of speech? What hope is there for such a society.

    The fact that there are oddballs that want to ban Mark Twain is fairly meaningless. Do you think that there are fewer who want to ban Darwin? And I'm sorry for your personal experience with a rude person, but that really don't mean that free speech is dead. In fact, since you have such discussion with no concern that the authorities will knock on your door indicates that speech is still free. Does the existence of laws against incitement in Israel which would be illegal in the US mean that Israel is also not a free society?

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    1. Given the consequences of conservative political activism in the US today (IRS audits are only the beginning), I'd say yeah, free speech is pretty much DEAD.

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  19. "pretty clearly motivated by improved moral standards"

    A professor of mine once said, when you use a word ending in "-ly," it's a sign you have a weak argument.


    One could argue that quoting a professor's opinion about codewords for finding a weak argument is itself a weak argument :).

    "Pretty clearly"? To you, maybe. Have you ever paused to consider that at its root it is, in fact, immoral? Lots of people- a majority- think it is.

    Undoubtedly (uh oh :), a majority in some places consider it immoral while in other places a majority considers it moral. US politics indicate that, at least in the US, the majority supporting your viewpoint has either slipped away or is almost there.

    In any case, my point is only that in the places where gay marriage has been approved, it is because the majority see the opposite position as oppressing a minority, not because they have anything to gain or lose by it personally. The proof is that 97% or more of the population is not homosexual.

    Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzJuly 20, 2014 at 3:40 PM
    David - no state in the United States needed to recognize homosexual marriage in order to avoid disenfranchising homosexuals in terms of the tax code, health care coverage, inheritance law or any other form of economic benefit which can be granted to common law spouses.


    You are making a political argument which I don't which to discuss because it is beside the point. My only point is that this doesn't indicate people are becoming more immoral. Quite the opposite, they are becoming more sensitive the rights of "others". You may feel that they are ignorant, but the argument for immorality of their actions is lacking.

    Financial and political support from abroad is helpful but does not compare with joining the IDF and sacrificing one's life.

    No disagreement. That doesn't mean that all American Jews making Aliyah would be a net benefit.

    The IDF would like you to know that it absolutely does desperately need computer scientists.

    Are they now communicating via anonymous comments on blog posts?

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    1. That sensitivity to the rights of others extends in only one political direction.

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    2. Perhaps you are commenting on the fact that, for instance, while Jews are tolerated in the US, open expression of anti-semitism would not be. If someone working in any large company refused to hire someone because they were Jewish or post anti-semitic slurs or even holocaust denial, they would likely be ostracized or fired. In that sense, yes, there is always paradox that acceptance tolerance towards group A generates strong social disapproval and ostracism of those who show open "bigotry" (however defined) to group A. In the US, the law goes further and prohibits an employer from firing (or not hiring someone) because they are Jewish. As a libertarian, such laws do make me a bit uncomfortable.

      Again, all of this is beside the point. The main point is that there is a greater sensitivity towards others that is driving these changes. You may disagree with this or that policy, but it is not sign of moral "decay".

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  20. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzJuly 21, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    David Ohsie - your responses here (and on other posts) indicate how clearly the peravise post-modernist culture in the USA is eating away at the fabric of Jewish society in such environment.
    If you want to ensure a proper Jewish future for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren you should head over to the closest Jewish Agency office and take them up on the free flight - which Jews for 1,900+ years would have literally given their right arm and tongue to have received.

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  21. David-
    Within a period of approximately 20 years, from 1939-1959, ALL the old Jewish communities that had existed for between 1000 and 2500 years VANISHED, corresponding to the time of the Balfour Declaration, when Eretz Israel opened up, at least partially and then the creation of the state of Israel. Who'd have expected that? Yet it happened. The currently existing GALUT communities, whether you and I like or not, will go the same way, preferably by the Jewish communities finally realizing that a full Jewish life can ONLY be lived in Israel, and if not, they will be pushed out, as is happening in France and other places at the moment. All it takes is a little historical insight to see this happening in front of our eyes.

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  22. David-
    Within a period of approximately 20 years, from 1939-1959, ALL the old Jewish communities that had existed for between 1000 and 2500 years VANISHED, corresponding to the time of the Balfour Declaration, when Eretz Israel opened up, at least partially and then the creation of the state of Israel. Who'd have expected that? Yet it happened.


    This is not a sound argument. What the future holds is unknown, and therefore many unexpected things happen on a regular basis. That provides no support that your prediction of a specific unexpected result is likely to come true.

    Repeating my argument above, do you that that you think that the Galut itself was expected? Would you extrapolate from there? I wouldn't.

    The currently existing GALUT communities, whether you and I like or not, will go the same way, preferably by the Jewish communities finally realizing that a full Jewish life can ONLY be lived in Israel, and if not, they will be pushed out, as is happening in France and other places at the moment. All it takes is a little historical insight to see this happening in front of our eyes.

    Maybe and maybe not; neither of us can see the future. Right now, as I mentioned above, God's plan seems to include the US supporting Israel, despite the claim of some here that Israel would be better off without such support or that US gets more out of it than Israel does.

    That doesn't excuse any personal failings of my own, but it appears that we are here for a purpose as well.

    David Ohsie - your responses here (and on other posts) indicate how clearly the peravise post-modernist culture in the USA is eating away at the fabric of Jewish society in such environment.

    I would be a particularly bad person from whom to extrapolate judgement about the fabric of Jewish society in the USA, as I am something of a contrarian (at least according to those that know me). I would guess that 49 out of 50 people in my community would disagree with the same political views that are unpopular in this forum (mostly due to errors of parallax).

    I also think that it is somewhat amusing to imagine that the secular US society is more "post-modernist" than secular Israeli society. The trends decried in the comments are well supported by liberal Jews in both the US and Israel, except that you probably have more extreme leftists (as in for example, true socialists) left in Israel than you have in the US, given the more more "conservative" origins of the country here. (OK socialist is not post-modernist, but you get the point.)

    yankelJuly 21, 2014 at 4:45 AM
    And Jews living in England have a benefit from Jews living in the US (and from non-jews living in Chins) and many others. There is no obligation to fight a war in a country in which you do not live.
    Imagine the Jews of Aix-Le-Bain were in danger. Would every Jew living in Ottawa be obligated to go and fight for them? Would you place this equal demand on them? Or is the State of Israel somehow a hechsher making jewish lives in Israel more important than those living in other countries? How about those living in Eilat? Do they have this blood advantage even though it is not in the borders of Eretz Yisrael?


    Ummm... Isn't the answer obviously "yes"? Do you think that Roosevelt maneuvering the US into WWII was a mistake? I sure don't.


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