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What makes a religious hypocrite?
The following comment was posted to my previous essays about how Bnei Brak is reacting to its rat plague:
“This post and the previous one illustrate nicely how no matter what the Jews (excuse me - Charedim) do, their haters will always hate them. If they use segulahs, they're irrational fools. But if they use natural means, then they're a bunch of hypocrites.”
This comment, reflective of many similar ones, might initially seem to be a penetrating observation. But in fact, it’s ridiculous.
The phenomenon that drove my posts is that the charedi community avoids some extremely serious societal obligations with the claim that they can rely upon (and provide for others) supernatural assistance instead. Specifically, these are serving in the IDF and contributing proportionately to the national economy.
There is no shortage of people claiming that charedi men aged 18-40 should avoid IDF service and can instead protect Israel via the supernatural power of their Torah. (Of course this isn’t actually the real reason why charedim don’t serve in the army, but as long as people profess this to be true, it is fair to rebut it.) Likewise, there is a claim that Bnei Brak avoided missiles because of the power of its Torah.
With regard to the economy, charedim are significantly underemployed. Meaning, there are significantly less charedim who are employed, and those that are employed are generally in non-professional careers and earn much less. Simultaneously, the chareidi community overall receives far more tax breaks and various benefits than the non-chareidi community. This, in combination with the lack of secular education given in charedi schools, means that the chareidi community not only has a problem with their own poverty, but also presents a threat to the national economy (which in turn threatens national security). They can temporarily use political power to extract ever-larger amounts of money from non-charedim, but at some point everything will crash.
And what is the response to this? What is the charedi plan? Usually, there is no response at all, just deflection. (Note that in the comments section to the previous posts, chareidi ideologues kept talking about the spiritual dangers of leaving yeshiva, but avoided addressing how to solve the problem that this creates for the economy.) When there is a response, it’s a claim that there is supernatural assistance. Rav Nochum Eisenstein, quoting Rav Chaim Kanievsky, says that there are supernatural miracles which can be relied upon to happen - as long as nobody tries to analyze the situation. (Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch of Slabodka Yeshivah, on the other hand, although saying that it is forbidden for charedim to get professional careers because of the spiritual dangers, confessed that he doesn’t know how to address the serious economic problem that this creates.)
And so it’s silly to say that “whatever charedim do, their haters will always hate them…. if they use natural means, then they're a bunch of hypocrites.” Chareidim avoid the two most serious national obligations with a claim that they can rely on and provide supernatural assistance instead (which just so happens to be Divinely implemented by way of everyone else working hard). So when they then follow natural law and exert maximum hishtadlus for everything that they see as important to themselves and that they can’t get other people to do for them - be it receiving medical treatment, protection against pandemics (when they take them seriously), obtaining political power, avoiding missiles that are actually being fired at their towns, or getting rid of a rat plague - then yes, they are a bunch of hypocrites.
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