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Monday, March 11, 2013 

There can be no monopoly on Torah

David Weinberg covers the sad case of the Haredi parties whining victimhood for not being in the coalition, when they have guilt to shoulder say, in the endangering of this country to jihadists, and have gone miles out of their way to declare monopolies over affairs of a country they haven't even helped to build:
Ultra-Orthodox leaders are in an uproar because religious Zionists won the upper hand in the recent elections and will probably be part of the next government, while haredi representatives won't. They're yelling about the destruction of the "world of Torah" that will result from societal reforms that Habayit Hayehudi insists upon.

So here's a news flash for my haredi brethren: You do not possess exclusivity on "the world of Torah," and with historic perspective you may yet come to thank Habayit Hayehudi for nudging you to a better place.

No less than you do, religious Zionist Jews represented by Naftali Bennett's resurgent national religious party want to strengthen the "world of Torah" — by keeping mitzvot, studying Torah and expanding yeshiva institutions, and by serving in the military, advancing the Israel's technological and industrial prowess, and contributing to the economy.

All of the above strengthen the "world of Torah." [...]

Frankly, your narrow "world of Torah" will not survive if the large haredi public is allowed to wallow in religious backwardness and poverty. So, with regrets — and excuse the condescension, for your own good — we're going to have to wean you off the national dole.

Because of the way we differ in building a "world of Torah," there is a very big difference in the way our respective politicians do their jobs. We religious Zionist Orthodox Jews want our elected representatives to act for the benefit of all parts of the population, not just take care of narrow, sectarian needs. Bennett and his colleagues, for example, intend to build cheaper housing for all young couples in the country, not just haredi couples.

We religious Zionists also want a user-friendly and open-minded rabbinate in this country, one that will bring about sanctification, not a desecration, of God's name in the general public, and that will draw nonreligious Israelis back toward tradition, not turn them away from it. I'm sorry that this means that we have to — we just have to! — take the Chief Rabbinate and all its local affiliates out of haredi hands, and place it back in the trust of moderate, Zionist rabbis who come with a Klal Yisrael approach to the job (emphasizing shared community and destiny among all Jews).

[...] the vile and violent name-calling some haredi leaders have taken to — labeling Yesh Atid's leadership, including the impressive Rabbis Shai Piron and Dov Lipman, as "haters and enemies of the Jewish people" and branding us religious Zionists as "goyim" — only calls into question your morals, religious standards and wisdom, not ours.

It makes me wonder how well you know the strictures against speaking with an evil and libelous tongue laid out in the "world of Torah's" codes of Jewish law.
It should make EVERYBODY wonder. Who are these self-appointed judges who come off sounding more like vulgarians and are obviously content to reject some of the most important beliefs in the Torah like "life and death are in the hands of the tongue"? They should be throughly ashamed of themselves. And we wonder why they have such horrific gall to slur women, who, just like men, are God's creations, as "shiksas", "whores" and other obscenities when they sit at the front of a bus?
Part of the "world of Torah" is settling the land of Israel — strengthening the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, not tearing them down. And here is the moment I have to remind you that we religious Zionist settler-supporting types were right about the dangers of the Oslo Accords (which haredi political representatives notoriously voted for), and about the perils of the Gaza disengagement and expulsion (which weren't opposed by haredi leadership either).

It's shocking and repulsive that haredi politicians, speaking on behalf of the "world of Torah" which you improperly claim for yourselves, are now spitefully threatening to wreak revenge against Habayit Hayehudi by voting to withdraw lock, stock and barrel from the West Bank and destroy religious Zionist, Torah-true settlement communities.

I find it hard to believe that true haredi rabbinical giants have reached the conclusion that this is the "way of Torah." Do they really believe that rewarding Mahmoud Abbas as a righteous gentile and making terrible diplomatic and security mistakes are justified just because Aryeh Deri and Yakov Litzman aren't getting seats at the cabinet table? Or because some yeshiva boys at the margins of haredi society, who aren't anyway truly learning Torah, will have to do national service and go to work?
Tragically, some of them do. The socialist mindset some of these Haredi movements go by is an unfortunate outgrowth of Czarist Russia/eastern Europe, and it leaked over to some of the Sephardic groups who took up the lifestyle too. And which reminds me, Shas' leader Eli Yishai said:
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) wrote Saturday night on his Facebook page: "We are getting close to the unveiling of the new members of this government. You succeeded in bringing about the reality you have prayed for, but not one haredi will stand beside you to take pictures in the President's Residence garden. But on the day after, once the victory bells of those whom the prime minister allowed to take him hostage to fulfill their personal whims stop sounding, the 2013 elections will emerge as the day when an entire population, traditional and haredi, was cast out solely due to its beliefs and views."
Why yes, that's right, beliefs and views just like what Weinberg described. That is why Shas does not belong in the government, and should be throughly ashamed of themselves for their sainthood and victimology stance.

The Jerusalem Post says Shas and UTJ are quite the sore losers, and how they refused even a compromise that could've been to their liking:
It may be that Lapid preferred a government that did not include the haredim. And it may also be that behind closed doors he told associates that it would hurt him politically if on the day the new government is sworn he is photographed alongside Shas and UTJ MKs.

But if haredi politicians had been willing to accept in principle the idea that haredi exceptionalism must gradually come to an end, Lapid could not have prevented Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from adding the ultra-Orthodox parties to the coalition.

Unfortunately, even Shas, the more moderate of the two parties, refused to accept even one of the most lenient approaches to integrating haredi men into the IDF and national service – the plan backed by Netanyahu and formulated by Prof. Eugene Kandel, chairman of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Regardless of whether or not Lapid and Bennett had made “sharing the burden” central to their demands as part of the coalition negotiations, the incoming government has an obligation to find a suitable replacement for the “Tal Law,” which the High Court of Justice in February 2012 ruled discriminated against the non-haredi public who are obligated to serve a full three years and was, therefore, unlawful.

Did the haredi parties truly expect the government to ignore this ruling and risk being held in contempt of our highest court? Still, it is unfortunate that at least one of the two haredi parties was not successfully incorporated into the coalition, not because there is anything inherently unjust about being “exiled” to the opposition for refusing to compromise on one’s principles as some haredi politicians would have us believe, but because without cooperation, the inevitable integration of haredi men into the IDF and into the labor market will be needlessly delayed.
Actually, there are some interesting things that came in the wake of this: the Haredi parties have let everyone see just how dishonest and even prejudiced they sadly are, to say nothing of the alarmingly crude language they see nothing wrong with employing. And if that's how they're going to behave, like a whole bunch of spoiled juveniles, then I honestly can't feel sorry to see them on the outside looking inside. Nor can I feel sorry for Aryeh Deri of Shas, who's also taken to whining:
Shas leader Aryeh Deri castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday for keeping the ultra-Orthodox out of coalition talks, and ultimately out of the emerging coalition, saying Netanyahu had failed to take the country’s less fortunate and poverty-stricken citizens into consideration.
No, Shas has failed, since they couldn't encourage them to make a convincing effort to get jobs for themselves and share the national burden, which would've helped tremendously.
“We see here before us the establishment of a bourgeois government, which for the first time consists entirely of members of the upper class… a government whose leaders do not know the meaning of hardship. And as if that were not enough, they are also the ones that are supposed to cut the flesh, to order the difficult cuts whose immediate casualties will be the poor. They are the ones who unfortunately have to determine policies,” Deri wrote on his Facebook wall.

The Shas party has traditionally represented the interests of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox, many of whom have large families and fall below the poverty line, and depend on government help to feed and shelter their families.
Instead of being self-reliant, a lesson that can be found within the pages of the Torah/Bible too. Dependence on welfare and laziness rather than to seek a real job is exactly why a lot of the rest of the public got mad at them - because the Haredis seem to think that only the non-Haredi citizens should have to do the hard work. That aside, Deri is resorting to some absolutely boring cliches of attacking the rich, instead of encouraging people to work to be as wealthy as the politicians he blatantly attacked.
“You cannot wash your hands of this,” Deri warned Netanyahu. “I have no doubt that history will harshly judge the person who gave his hand to this condition. True, there are plenty of excuses: They forced you to say it… you even bothered to condemn the steps… but those excuses do not stand the stringent test of history,” Deri said.
And Deri cannot wash his hands of the dhimmitude he put on display when he supported the Oslo accords and making concessions to the PLO. Such cowardly steps do not stand the historical test. And with Deri's convictions for corruption, that's why it's better not to have someone like him inside the government, where he could do potential damage to the state and its funding.

So I think letting the Haredi parties go into the opposition would serve a perfect lesson for them. It just remains to be seen if they'll actually learn it. The saddest thing is how, at a time when Israel is facing dangers from Iran, this is how the Haredi parties have to behave instead of cooperating for the safety of Israel.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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