The Denial of Physical Reality is From the Top
When I first posted about the charedi ideology of denying the reality of the laws of physics, many people didn't believe me. In a subsequent post, I elaborated further about how this is indeed the case, whenever things are not of obvious urgency and the necessary efforts are bothersome. The Meron tragedy was one example of the dangers of a mindset that doesn't take science seriously. In the comments, someone gave another disturbing example, recounting how a young father in Kiryat Sefer was killed by a forklift that he was operating as a result of his completely disregarding all the safety regulations that were printed on it - and the local rabbis described it solely in terms of an incomprehensible Act of God that requires the usual vague teshuvah. But now, Dr. Marc Shapiro sent me a rabbinic responsum which is so extreme in its content and ramifications that it caught even me by surprise.
The responsum is from Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and one of the most prominent poskim in the charedi Litvishe community. He is widely respected as a halachic authority in both the Israeli and American charedi world. And, unlike with Rav Chaim Kanievsky, nobody would claim that he is utterly disconnected from the world, manipulated by others, or of declining mental faculties. Furthermore, this is a practical halachic responsum, not a mussar polemic. Thus, what he writes is extremely significant.
The circumstances of this responsum, written back in 2014, is one of the Gaza conflicts. The questioner is dealing with the extremely difficult situation of waking his children when the siren sounds and evacuating them to a safe room. This causes immense hardship for the children and families. And the questioner is asking whether he can just let them continue to sleep in their rooms.
Now, there can be room for a cost-and-benefit analysis of whether the degree of risk from rocket attacks is is significant enough to offset the vastly smaller but guaranteed damage from waking and moving them. But this is not at all the angle taken by Rav Zilberstein in his response.
Instead, incredibly, Rav Zilberstein addresses the question solely from a standpoint of hishtadlus. He begins by establishing that it is God Who protects Israel, though we are obligated to perform hishtadlus, which includes a halachic requirement to act safely. However, such obligations are only incumbent upon adults, since only adults are obligated in mitzvos. And so there is no halachic reason to wake children, since they are exempt from hishtadlus!
He adds a supporting reason, that since they are without sin and studying Torah, they may in any case have no reason to take safety precautions, since they are in any case protected from harm.
This is probably one of the most shocking things that I have ever seen, but it's really only the inevitable consequence of the Desslerian approach. There is no independent reality of rockets. There are only spiritual obligations, the neglect of which can lead one to be punished, possibly in the form of rockets. And since a child has no such obligations, he does not need to do anything, and the threat of rockets is meaningless.
The ramifications of this are truly staggering.
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