Rav Yonasan Rosenblum's latest piece, a statement of the obvious, is an excellent reminder that some in the Chareidi community have not been subsumed by the mindless groupthink that many askanim wish was a requirement for membership. In it, he notes all the problems a community dedicated to not supporting itself will run afoul of.
(1) Do you think there are any differences of kind, not just magnitude, between the homogeneous group of idealists who rallied to the Chazon Ish’s banner and today’s chareidi community of three-quarters of a million nefashos?
(2) Do you have any idea of the degree of poverty in the chareidi world, including among avreichim? Do you see the chareidi world today as vulnerable? What, for instance, would happen if the Israeli Supreme Court ruled definitively that the state cannot fund schools that do not teach a common curriculum? Israeli welfare payments have grown twice as fast as gross family income over the last two decades. What do you think the impact would be if the Israeli government decided that disparity is unsustainable and imposed another dramatic cut in welfare payments, like the cut in child care allowances under Prime Minister Sharon (with Netanyahu as Finance Minister)?
(3) Do you see any cost to traditional Torah family structure from the assumption that the wife will be both the primary breadwinner and primary caregiver to very large families? Do you think most women are capable of sustaining both roles?
(4) Do you think the Gemara knew what it was talking about when it said that the primary source of marital strife is the lack of money? Do you see poverty having an impact on shalom bayis in the Torah community?
(5) What do you think happens to a eleven-year-old who is already struggling and falling behind in cheder when he asks his father what he is going to be when he grows up and his father tells him his only option is to be an avreich?
(6) Is there any point at which the communal cost in terms of drop-outs and broken families is too great to be sustained without being addressed at its core?
All excellent questions. The problem is as followed. As Mary Shelley wrote years ago, Victor Frankstein could create his monster. Controlling it once it had come to light was the more difficult problem. The Chazon Ish, zt"l, and his contemporaries were successful in creating a full-time learning society which relied on the outside world for support to continue on. Rav Rosenblum is obviously correct: the time has come to rein it in and restore a sense of balance to the Chareidi community.
But here's the problem. Who exactly will go into the batei medrash of Israel and America and shout out: "Hey guys, the Chazon Ish said this would only go on for two generations! Time's up! Those of you who are not going to be the next posek hador, get out of here and find jobs!"? And how many of these pious learners who supposedly live and die by the orders of their "gedolim" will suddenly discover a rebellious streak?