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"Shall Your Brothers Come Into War, While You Remain Here?"
Earlier this week I wrote a post that used satire to criticize the charedi approach of claiming that yeshivah students provide protection while simultaneously pulling them out of areas that require protection. A number of people criticized that post, arguing that now is a time for unity, not criticism, and certainly not satire.
Now, I do agree that in a time of national emergency, unity is required. Allow me, then, to explain why I consider my post to have been appropriate.
As we know, the Bnei Yisrael were terrified of waging war to take possession of the Land of Israel. In this week's parashah, we are told about how the Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven asked that they be allowed to remain on the east of the Jordan, and not to enter the Land of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu gives his famous reply (32:6): "Shall your brothers come into war, while you remain here?"
Would one ask why Moshe is sowing divisiveness at a time when unity is required? Of course not! First of all, his criticism was directly relevant to the matter at hand. Second, it was precisely the lack of unity that he was criticizing!
It was only a few months ago that hundreds of thousands of charedi (and a handful of misguided non-charedi) Jews rallied in Jerusalem and New York against the army draft being minimally applied to charedim with the same enforcement that is applied to non-charedim. They recited the prayer for Hashem to "pour out His wrath upon the nations" with regard to the Government of Israel. They expressed hakaras hatov to the NYPD but not to the IDF (a pattern that continues this week with the Agudah expressing its hakaras hatov to Obama for funding the military but not to the soldiers who are actually in the military).
Many of us still haven't gotten over that. And right now, it is the IDF that is protecting the citizens of Eretz Yisrael from the thousands of rockets that Hamas is launching. Right now, there are tens of thousands of reservists being drafted to join the regular IDF forces in a possible land invasion of Gaza. Why is the charedi community not part of this? Why is it the non-charedi community that has to put themselves out, potentially putting their lives on the line? "Shall your brothers come into war, and you remain here?"
Making things worse is that not only are they not serving in the army, not only do they not express hakaras hatov and concern for those who do serve in the army, not only do they curse those who try to make them join, but they are even weakening morale by evicting yeshivos from areas of the country that are in greater danger. And to add insult to injury, they claim that they are the ones providing the true protection!
So, yes, I think that at this time, criticism is extremely appropriate. And it is not "inappropriately harming national unity" to criticize those who are harming national unity. (As for the satirical tool of referring to the "black dome", the idea was to take them at their word that they believe themselves to be providing essential protection, which serves to highlight the problem in their approach.) Davka now, when everyone can see the importance of the IDF and the sacrifices that are made by its soldiers, and when everyone can see the folly and hypocrisy of the claim that yeshivah students are providing protection via Torah study, we have an opportunity to impress Moshe Rabbeinu's message upon the charedi community.