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Friday, March 28, 2014 

Jewish Press contributor's exchange with naive Haredi pal

A writer for the Jewish Press published an exchange he had with an old friend of Haredi background, who sadly believes the insistence Haredis share the work burden in this country is nothing more than persecution of his community. First, the Haredi man writes:
Under the deceptive mantra of “sharing the burden,” the government is responsible for a wave of unprecedented incitement against haredim, thereby splitting the nation. It is no secret that the objective of conscripting Torah scholars is a thinly disguised attempt at social engineering.

Is it conceivable that a Jewish government in Israel is trying to prevent its citizens from living Torah-true lives in the tradition that their ancestors for generations were moser nefesh for?
Sigh. For somebody who says he's a Torah Jew, he doesn't seem to recognize that many of the citizens he speaks of were part of the workforce and did their part to build this country in remote times, even as they put together the bible/Torah and studied its history. Indeed, a lot of the bible was practically in its early stages back in ancient Israel, long before Jonah had his encounter with God and the whale, as history scholars gathered many notable accounts with which to build historical research and piece it all together into something we could all learn from. That's the part the anti-military Haredis seem confused about.

Now, here's the response by the paper's contributor:
Haredim make a mistake in thinking that only the Lapid-led diehard seculars have a growing contempt for them. The dati-leumi [national religious] community is also increasingly hostile, because they sense – to me, accurately – that the haredi community is causing hatred for Torah. It is impossible to explain to, for example, my nephew, who learned in Hesder and completed his army service, why his Talmud Torah is somehow inferior to that of haredim. It is not. Perhaps his Talmud Torah is the same, but the haredi world’s “nosei b’ol im chaveiro” is completely absent. That deficiency in Ahavat Yisrael is glaring, noticed, and the reason why the society at large no longer tolerates it.

It is unconscionable that there exists in the haredi world this idea that work and army service are beneath it, and that the rest of society that haredim hold in contempt must support them so that they can sit and learn. I too would love to sit and learn, and have someone support me, but that is not the system Hashem set up.

Odd, indeed, that the Rambam’s clear statement (Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10-11) is ignored, if it is even taught
. But when he speaks of “kavah me’or hadat,” that is exactly what has happened. That construct of the haredi world as practiced today is unprecedented in Jewish history.

The haredi lifestyle as currently constituted is unsustainable. Everyone knows it, even their gedolim know it – but many are afraid to speak the truth for fear of physical attacks or peer reproach. They are literally trapped in a different era, using the language of Czarist Russia, Antiochus and Purim to describe a government that is the biggest financial supporter of Torah in the world. I fully endorse the notion of a Yissachar-Zevulun relationship for as long as the parties agree, but no Yissachar has the right to force someone else – the whole society? – to be a Zevulun. That is simply not part of the Torah system.

What is wrong with all Jews participating in national defense? Or, if for whatever reason haredim feel they cannot, what is wrong with even haredim doing national service – helping out in nursing homes, teaching Torah in deprived communities, even doing chesed work for a year or two? That is known as giving back to society. One can’t only take; one must give as well. Certainly, as Rav Dessler emphasized repeatedly, giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.
Well spoken. For a community that calls themselves guardians of the Torah, they sure haven't done much to help others learn it. Maybe because the potential students will understand it better than they do!
When I learned in Israel, I thought it quite natural to participate in the national defense. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the loss of sleep because of overnight patrols, but I am happy I did it, and only benefited from it, even in terms of Talmud Torah. How can Zaka take time off from learning to pick up the pieces, r”l, after a terrorist attack? Why can’t the same people work to thwart the terrorist attack in the first place?
He's nailed it. The Haredis who refuse to serve in the army sure aren't doing much to help prevent terrorist attacks on any innocent soul. No matter what they say, it's quite possible for jihadists to infiltrate their enclaves and cause horror, all because they're not out there helping, and all because they're not trying to lead people raised under the ummah away from the Koran they were raised under, which would help prevent more jihadists from being bred.
Why would a “secular” Jew be attracted to a “Torah” lifestyle that demands estrangement from the general society, a cloistered abode, a rejection of general knowledge, an inability to function in the presence of women, and a disdain for gainful employment and self-support? It doesn’t seem very attractive, except for one who wants to escape from the world.
This brings to mind something that many people may have overlooked - how many leftists over past years became Haredis, because they didn't want to serve their country and saw the welfare benefits - among other things - perfect for taking advantage of? As outlandish as it seems, I believe there is a possibility not many thought of or researched, that some leftists took up the Haredi lifestyle, and became a fifth column under everybody's noses. It sounds ironic, but it might turn out to be there have been some who did. Just take a look at Lev Tahor's overlord, Shlomo Helbrans. He may have been a leftist, and so too could some of his formerly secular followers.

We have to hope all this mess can be sorted out, and that more Haredis will wake up to reality. Even those who are potentially leftist.

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