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The Problem of Time
A proposed solution to charedi economics does not actually work
In response to the economic problem that the Charedi phenomenon of mass-kollel and opposition to secular studies creates for the Charedi community and ultimately for the entire State of Israel, many people suggest that it will ultimately resolve itself. As the need arises, charedim will eventually move into the workforce and secular education will become acceptable, just as it is for many black-hatted Jews in the US.
Unfortunately, there is a critical flaw here.
By the time that a man in the charedi community realizes that he needs a proper income in order to support his family, he’s in his thirties or forties or fifties, in a dire financial situation, with numerous children. At that point, he simply doesn’t have the luxury of spending years catching up on a missed secular education and studying for a career that pays a meaningful salary. (And even with those who do manage to enter a late-stage charedi job preparation program, there is a 50% drop-out rate.)
On a societal level, it’s even worse. By the time the charedi leadership accepts that they have to change their way of life, it will be too late. First, because this realization will only happen when they are either incapable of using their political strength to extract money from the rest of the country, or when there is nothing left to extract. The former may well not happen before the latter. Secular Israelis are not going to hang around while a government that needs charedi support is continually raising taxes from non-charedim in order to support the growing charedi population.
Second, even if the charedi leadership eventually does accept that change is necessary, it’s not something that can happen overnight. After convincing people for decades that secular education is treif and work is to be avoided, you can’t suddenly convince them otherwise. And even when you do convince them, it will only help them change things for the next generation. There is a lag of thirty years, after the money has run out.
This is why you can’t rely on charedi society to naturally evolve. By the time the problem is acknowledged, it’s too late to fix it. Active effort is needed.
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