Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 17 May 2010

Castles Built on Sand

There is much that the Chareidi community that they can be proud off.  Sixty years ago they were a decimated group, written off to eventual extinction.  Now they are the dominant part of the Torah-observant community and the fastest growing section of the Jewish nation both in numbers and influence.  The number of yeshivos and other institutions continues to grow at a tremendous rate.  They are producing books at a pace unprecedented in Jewish history and many of their leaders and inspiring figures continue to lead lives at a level of exceptional piety.
Then why is it when someone Chareidi has the temerity to point out the success of the community that it seems to grate on the nerves, like "how dare they boast"?  What is it that bothers us about it so much?
One could say that it's due to petty jealousy.  Do we perceive them as being "frummer" than the rest of us?  Are we simply annoyed at how they, despite their refusal to engage all the aspects of the modern world we can't live without, continue to grow and strengthen? 
Or is it something simpler?  After reading this article at Cross Currents I think I've figured out the reason I'm so bothered.  To put it simply, today's Chareidi community is a castle built on sand.
Everything I said in the first paragraph still applies but one must take a step back and look at its foundation.  Yes, in Israel there are yeshivos springing up everywhere.  The population is growing.  But all these things come with a price tag.  Food and medicine must be paid for.  There are bills for building and running institutions.  Despite the presence of many generous donors, the vast bulk of the money needed to keep the Chareidi community going comes from the secular government of Israel which that same community treats with scorn and a complete lack of gratitude.  If the chilonim were to cut off the money supply tomorrow, how many Chareidi would simply starve to death, chalilah, from lack of cash to buy the most basic supplies?  How many would turn to crime or leave the life of faith they lead out of desperation or disillusionment?  And for those who think otherwise, the patient of the chiloni population is not unlimited.  They know that they are paying to support the Chareidi family of 10 which seeks to replace them in the country they built and they will not endure this forever. 
In America, things are not much better despite their outward appearances.  No, the government there does not fund an indigent lifestyle but a different source does.  Recall that only a generation or two ago it was still considered muttar to work for a living.  Many of those who did accomplished a great deal and amassed a decent amount of wealth.  Their progeny, however, have embraces the "learn, not earn" lifestyle and financed it quite nicely from that wealth.  However, these progreny are reproducing at a tremendous rate.  When the capital that the grandparents created is consumed by the children, what will the grandchildren live from?  Fresh air and good wishes?
For all our sakes, it is incumbent to stand up and point out that this culture must change.  Should some stay in kollel and learn at the highest levels?  Of course.  Our culture has always thrived and endured because of the efforts of those who would delve into the brightest depths of Torah.  But their numbers should be restricted to those who will be the next generation of religious leaders and thinkers, not every bench warmer who wants a free income without having to work for it.  For the sake of our future, we must challenge the assumptions that have been foisted upon them and call them what they are: a slow ticket to ruin. 

1 comment:

Nosson Gestetner said...

There are some taking steps towards this. In Ger, the top 5% are allowed to remain in Kollel beyond a year after marriage, and remain there. The rest are on their own to get jobs.