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The Utter Perversion of Moshe Rabbeinu's Message
No, it's not a Photoshop. This is an actual poster put up by Gimmel, the Ashkenazi charedi political party, urging its people to go and vote.
"Shall your brothers go out to war, and you remain here?!" Yes, the very words used by Moshe Rabeinu to castigate the tribes that were not going to share the responsibility of military service, are being used by charedim to castigate those who would not be sharing the responsibility of exercising political power to avoid military service.
It's not even the first time or the worst way in which this passuk has been abused. A few years ago, in a US charedi demonstration, the same passuk was used to urge people to leave the yeshivah and join a protest against the draft:
The irony of totally perverting the words of Moshe Rabbeinu for precisely the opposite of his message just takes one's breath away. And they claim that others pervert Torah!
It also reveals the utter theological bankrupcy of the charedi claims that the supernatural power of learning Torah makes it an adequate substitute for the physical, practical work that needs doing. Deep down they realize that full hishtadlus is always needed and can never be replaced by Torah learning. When there's nobody else to offload the physical work to, they do it themselves, with all their energies.
It's true that the real reason why charedim don't serve in the army has nothing to do with any purported belief in its supernatural protective powers. Rather, it's because, as Rav Aharon Lopiansky once admitted in Mishpacha, of the (very real) dangers of army service to charedi religious identity: “the robbing of our youths’ formative years as a ben Torah would be a price that we could not pay.” But, as Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein pointed out in response, "...How do we ask other, reluctant Israelis to pay a different price so that we don’t have to pay ours?" It's not only charedim who face dangers in the army. On what grounds can they justify a collective exemption from this national responsibility, without even offering anything in return - or even an acknowledgement of the sacrifice that others make for them?
The same goes for the problem of the charedi community not wanting to give its children an education that will help them get a job. They're not doing so for no reason - they're doing it because of the fears of the corrosive influence of secular education. These fears are legitimate - secular education does indeed threaten their way of life. But how do they expect that the rest of Israel will therefore shoulder a disproportionately large part of the burden of financing the country? And how dare they issues accusations of "sinas chinam" and even "antisemitism" when others point that out?
And this is precisely the nature of Moshe Rabbeinu's argument to the tribes of Gad and Reuven for joining the army. He doesn't say that they need the extra manpower. And he doesn't allow for any argument about learning Torah being an adequate substitute. Rather, his rebuke is a simple matter of shared responsibility. When there is a responsibility that faces the entire nation, the entire nation must share that responsibility.
Most charedim would not be so obtuse as to brandish Moshe Rabbeinu's words in a public perversion of their message. But they are nevertheless ignoring them.
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