Thorny Problems, Thorny Solutions
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And so it begins. The consequences for the charedim of not being in the government have started. Avigdor Lieberman has announced that government subsidies of daycare for families in which the mother is working but the father learns in kollel will end. They will only continue for families in which both parents are either working or enrolled in training/ education programs.
Is this a good idea? It's not clear. It's a very complicated matter, and I personally certainly don't understand all the aspects or ramifications (and I think that the same is true for many people who nevertheless have outspoken opinions).
Of course the situation of mass kollel is wrong, against traditional Judaism, harmful to the charedi community, and dangerous to the entire country. It should be dismantled, not subsidized. And we're talking about 400 million shekels annually, which is a lot of money for the State to spend on something that is detrimental to national economic welfare. (Some have also raised concerns regarding where this money actually goes.)
But it's not entirely clear that stopping these subsidies at very short notice is the right way to change things. How are all these thousands of charedi men supposed to enter the job market at such short notice? On the other hand, if they can't find a job, then they can always look after the kids, instead of being in kollel. There's no reason why the State should pay for that.
Still, as I said, I do not know all the factors and ramifications. It might well be that Lieberman is doing something wrong, something foolish, or both. It could be like Lieberman's stated desire to immediately draft all the charedim into the army, which might also be wrong and is certainly foolish. It's true that the charedi exemption from military service is itself very wrong; as we just heard from the greatest Gadol B'Torah in history, there is no justification for an entire sector of the population to avoid sharing the burden of military service. But at the same time, it's also wrong to suddenly insist on drafting people who have always been allowed to be psychologically entirely unprepared for it, and it's foolish to think that it's actually practically feasible.
But one thing that I do know is this. Most of the charedim who are screaming about the evil of Lieberman's actions do not have a moral leg to stand on. It reminds me of when people in the Orthodox community were outraged at those who were reporting abuse to the press. If there's a problem that you're not fixing, you can't complain when other people try to fix it in ways that you don't like.
The structure of charedi society, in which there is mass deliberate unemployment, very few professional careers, and very little secular education, is a terrible, disastrous, dangerous problem. For all the talk about how charedi society is changing, and the new programs and new schools, the fact is that these are a drop in the bucket; the change is not anywhere near broad enough or fast enough.
Furthermore, most charedim - certainly the Gedolim and MKs - are not even trying to change the system! The only reason that anything at all is happening is that there is a rare situation of a government in which charedim are not members. And it's a situation which is unlikely to last for long. You can't really blame Lieberman for wanting to make changes while there is a rare chance to do so.
It can't be said enough times; as even Jonathan Rosenblum has acknowledged in Mishpacha magazine, the charedi community is driving the entire country towards economic ruin and consequent loss of national security. Together with their Likud partners, they were doing this unchecked for years. Given all this, I don't think that anyone is in a position to criticize those who are trying to change things while they can.
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