Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
Goodbye God, It's Elections
The 2015 Degel HaTorah rally in Bnei Brak. More amazing photos here
In the charedi community, there is a carefully-crafted non-rationalist worldview about bitachon and hishtadlus. It was relentlessly drilled into me during my years in charedi yeshivos that all hishtadlus is meaningless. God directly controls everything, and the laws of nature have no power. The only reason why the world seems to run according to various laws is that otherwise there would be no free will. Hishtadlus is just a price that we pay to keep that illusion going, but it doesn't actually accomplish anything. And to the extent that we recognize that, it's possible to cut down on the hishtadlus.
Supposedly, this is a major reason why many charedim don't serve in the army or gain a secular education and work for a living. To the extent that you realize that Hashem directly runs everything, you don't need to engage in the sham of hishtadlus.
This, however, is nonsense.
I'm not talking about the worldview itself, per se. Of course, the rationalist worldview, based on Rambam and many others, firmly disagrees with that approach. According to the rationalist Rishonim, the laws of nature are one of God's greatest creations. It's crucially important to respect them and work within them - and it leads one to respect laws in the religious domain, too.
What I am describing as nonsense is the notion that all these charedim actually believe what they think they believe. Because when it comes to elections, bitachon goes out of the window.
According to charedi hashkafa, it shouldn't make the slightest difference whether you put a slip into the box or not. Hashem decides (in fact, has already decided) everything. It doesn't make a difference who wins the election. And yet, the charedi community puts as much energy into campaigning as everyone else - in fact, more so. Their efforts result in a higher turnout than any other community!
Note the slogan on the right - you have to do
even more than you could normally doSometimes, aware of this discrepancy, people will try to explain it away. They claim that it's not about getting people to vote, per se; rather, it's about getting people to make a statement about the importance of "Torah" (i.e. charedi political power). But who are they trying to kid? If that was really all they are trying to do, they wouldn't ever either cheat or be worried about others cheating. And if it's all about making a statement about the importance of Torah, surely the best way to do that is to, y'know, actually learn Torah, not run around doing political campaigns!
I wish people would just make up their minds and be consistent. Either you believe that hishtadlus is real - in which case, give your kids the education that they need to earn a living. Or, or decide that it's not - in which case, don't bother voting, just learn Torah!
UPDATE: I should make it clear that this applies to mainstream, but not all, charedim. At both ends of the charedi spectrum, there are those who act otherwise. On the left are charedim who do believe in normal hishtadlus for everything. And on the right are charedim who are against doing hishtadlus for elections and even against voting. They, too, call out the mainstream charedi world for hypocrisy.
See too these posts:
The Hypocrisy of Selective Bitachon
Empty the Yeshivos!
More Emptying of the Yeshivos