Thursday, 1 March 2012

And Will You Draft Them?

The big news out of Israel right now is that the Supreme Court, in a close vote, overturned the Tal law which allowed Chareidim to avoid being drafted to the army.  Although the situation is temporarily in limbo there exists the very real possibility that the Chareidi community will lose its treasured position within Israeli society and expected to contribute to the defence of the country on more than a limited voluntary basis.
Naturally the secular population in Israel is ecstatic.  The idea that Chareidim do not help defend Israel while benefiting from the security the army provides has always been bitter for them to deal with.  Certainly one can understand the frustration of secular society in this issue.  And along with this has come the call to begin drafting Chareidim as soon as possible.
I would like to ask: is this feasible?
Keep in mind that for almost three generations now Chareidim have taken it for granted that they do not have to serve in the army.  From its origin as a casual gift from David Ben Gurion to the Chazon Ish, zt"l, this exemption has morphed into one of the articles of faith that Chareidim live by.  Asking them to serve in the army is like asking them to eat pork.  Chas v'shalom you should ever think they would want to do so!  Can one expect this community to simply roll over and say "Well it was a nice ride while it lasted.  Where do we sign up?"
What's more, given the recent proclivity towards violence the community has shown over the last few years, is it not likely that any attempt to institute a draft of Chareidi youth will be met with violent outbursts that will lead only to more public chilul HaShem?  And if Chareidi boys are forcibly drafted, how will the army cope with their passive-aggressive demands on everything from who teaches them to what kind of mehadrin food they'll eat?  No, any attempt to draft Chareidim en masse, Tal law or no Tal law, will be a disaster for both sides.  It will only entrench Chareidi hatred of Israel and the army while flaming the fans of intolerance from the secular side.
Instead, consider this proposal.  Right now one need to do army service of some kind in order to get documentation necessary to work in the economy of Israel.  Why not change this slightly?  For Chareidim learning is nowadays the sole activity they seem permitted to do.  In order to maintain this lifestyle they need the money from the coffers of the State.  Would it be so hard to apply the general rule to this population based on their specific need?  To wit: you want to sit and learn on our dime?  Do army service.  You don't want to do army service?  Fine, sit and learn but we're not paying for it.
No, it's not the perfect compromise.  It does suggest perpetuating the "learn, don't earn" culture that is slowly pushing the Chareidi community into crisis but it does take a step towards encouraging a slight integration of the Chareidi sector into the army.  And if it does encourage a few of them, that progress is something that can be built on.

8 comments:

SJ said...

>> will be met with violent outbursts that will lead only to more public chilul HaShem?

Such violent outbursts should be met with tanks already. If they wanna act like a middle eastern sheikhdom they can be treated like one.

Adam Zur said...

I think the problem was hubris. as you say it got to be ingrained that they were a privileged elite and that the secular population was there only to serve them. This went far beyond hashkafa. yeshivot became private clubs to sit and chat all day. no serious learning has come out of Israel since the chazon ish. The present day gedolim --some can learn. But in spite of their being litvaks reb ovadiah can learn better than them--(and he makes less mistakes--or no mistakes as far i i can tell.) The charedi world just does not seem to have very much connection with Torah anymore.

AztecQueen2000 said...

I say, turn off the financial tap. Deny them the right to vote. And, if they respond with violence, arrest every single last one of them

aminspiration said...

I think that all these comments are a little extreme.

Yes, the charedi community does not at the current time serve in the army but i do think that as religious jews they choose not to join in the same way that i choose not to go to bars or clubs. the atmosphere is just not conducive to spiritual growth.

As for them just sitting and doing nothing..you can hardly say that learning torah is nothing and has no impact on the protection of Gds people. Torah is what keeps the world going.

And as for no real torah being learned in Israel since the Chazon Ish?!!! that is a bit arrogant and small minded. How do you know? Really? You dont think that any of the gedolim who live their are good enough for you?!!

Hundreds of boys are learning daily, thousands of pages of gemara are studied. Do all of the bochrim learn all the time..no. But everyone takes a coffee break at their jobs. Yes some people are abusing the system but i hardly think its fair to condemn an entire group of people based on a stereotype and generalization. You cannot possibly know what goes on in every single yeshiva, in every house.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

I have to disagree with your analogy. If you choose not to go to a bar it has no impact on anyone other than the person who might now take the stool you would have been sitting on.
When tens of thousands of able men refuse to do army service it affects hundreds of thousands of others who have to pick up their slack. The two situations are not comparable.
Furthermore, the more religious Jews in the army there are, the more the army will have to adjust to their religious sensitivities.
Finally, yes Torah study is what maintains the world but the simplistic "We're the protectors of Israel because we sit at learn" wore thin a long time ago. First, there are tragically too many examples of Torah observant communities whose Torah didn't protect them (and there's always a reason that comes out afterwards, like they talked in shul or didn't give enough tzedakah, etc) and you can't expect me to believe that the kavannah to learn for the sake of protecting Israel ever comes up in that community.

ahg said...

I think any future exemptions should require the applicant to have passed the Bagrut. This will end the ghastly lack of secular education in the chareidi world, and enable those that want to earn a parnasah after the army to have a better opportunity.

It's ridiculous that ex-chareidim are driven to sue the state of Israel for depriving them of a basic education because they turned a blind eye to what goes on in the chareidi schools.

SJ said...

http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com/2012/03/worst-religion-ever-reward-goes-to.html XD

Adam Zur said...

I agree Rav Shach was Gadol and I also agree that Rav Ovadia Yoseph is extremely smart. But the place where I would look for gedulah --the Litvish Gedolim are not. Read a bit what they have written and you will see for yourself. However I admit they can learn. That much I will grant to you. But does this level of learning justify the changing th halacha from one must not take money for learning Torah to one must. Or changing the halacha to fight in a war of protecting the Jewish people--milcheme mizvah--in which you draft even a bride out of her bride-chamber. All the More so in this case in which learning Torah is not a petur from doing even the smallest mitzvah--much less this greatest of all mitvot.