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A Billion Dollars Against Chazal
The Government wants to spend an unprecedented amount on an effort to oppose the Sages' values and harm the charedi community
3.8 billion shekels. Over one billion dollars. That’s (part of) the price Bibi is paying for the support of the charedi parties. It’s money that will go to charedi schools and yeshivos which do not teach core secular studies or training to enter the workforce.
Naturally, this is arousing tremendous resentment in much of Israel. One Israeli journalist described the charedi community as “blood-sucking parasites.” Such appalling language is, of course, unacceptable (though it should be noted that language commonly used in charedi circles about their own ideological opposites, such as “Nazi” and “Amalek,” is equally unacceptable). But it’s also unnecessary. What the charedi community is doing via their political representatives is terrible enough in its own right; it does not need to be described with hyperbole or metaphor.
As even Avigdor Lieberman said, nobody is against giving money to the charedi community. What people are against is giving it in a way which harms both the charedi community and the rest of the country. The previous government offered to give the charedi schools a lot of money in exchange for teaching the basics of the core curriculum that would enable charedim to have a shot at earning a living.
This became known as the “Belz arrangement,” because Belzer chassidus agreed to it. It would have been absolutely revolutionary in helping charedim out of the poverty cycle and towards contributing to the national economy instead of draining it. However, Bibi shamelessly offered the charedi community the same money, but without any need to teach the core curriculum.
Bibi declared that “a haredi child should not receive less than a secular child.” But that’s exactly the point. A charedi child should indeed not receive less opportunity and education to be able to support himself and his family. And if the only way to make that happen is to offer more funding to those who will do this, then that is the right thing to do.
Chazal were very clear about the problems of relying on communal support and the obligation upon parents to ensure that their children will be able to support themselves. And when you consider how one-third of first-graders are charedi, it becomes clear that the very low rate of professional employment in the charedi world does not only harm them, but also threatens the entire national economy and the country’s very survival.
The amount of harm that the charedi mass-poverty system causes both to themselves and can bring upon the country is incalculable. And it’s something that the previous government was about to start solving, but which Bibi has instead made much, much worse. One can only pray that somehow the budget will fail to pass and the government will collapse.
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