Op-Ed: The Summer of Discontent

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Recently I was in a park in Modiin. Fortunately they let us in. In the past, families from other towns who appear Chareidi were barred from entry. We went to the lake where our children were excited to see the ducks. As we got closer, we saw that instead of the ducks playing happily, they were actually at war. One of the ducks, a black brute was biting the neck of, and pulling the feathers out of his fellow white duck. It then proceeded to climb on top of the poor victim, and pin him down mercilessly. Finally he released his grip and the ducks went on their way. I commented to my family, half joking and half serious, that  before the flood, the madreiga of the animals were affected by the madreiga of the people. Because in Israel everyone is currently tearing each other apart, even the animals are also tearing each other apart.

As our overworked Knesset members take their 3 month vacation (far longer that the Yeshivas that they so look down upon), they have left society with many rifts and even more fragmented than before. Let us examine some of the key areas of discontent affecting us this summer. Lapid and co. told the country about the great budget deficit that had to be rectified. Child benefits had to be slashed. Then they heroically announced they weren’t cutting them as much, but the reality is there are still great cuts. Let us take note that levels of child benefit in this country are minimal compared to other developed countries. In most of Europe, a family would receive around 60% to 100% more the benefit. Even before the cut, the levels were minimal, and now they are even more pathetic. Once upon a time, Israel was a relatively cheap country to live in. Nowadays, the prices of goods and service are on par with, and in many cases more than the equivalent overseas. Yet wages are minimal, such that the average family needs 2 jobs to survive. So there was a little assistance in the form of child benefit that gave recognition to the idea that raising children involves certain expenses. Some will ask why should a government pay child benefit altogether. One point is that the role of government is not just to take taxes, but even to give back and redistribute to citizens in the form of services and a certain level of social welfare to protect the weakest in society. Therefore giving child benefit isn’t meant to be a chareidi specific matter, it’s just what most civilized societies do for the betterment of its citizens.

 

This cut is supposed to save 2 billion NIS to the economy, which sounds like a large sum. Contrast this with a report on the state of the ports in Israel which concluded that structural inefficiency costs Israel 5 billion NIS a year, making the savings in child benefits seem like a drop in the ocean. Such monopolies as these (along with the infamous Electric Company) along with endless government wastage, inefficiency, favors to preferred businessmen are where the blame for the budget deficit really lay. Yet, the budget of cowards, instead of combating the real wastage, targets the needy. Lapid who campaigned to make the lot of the average citizen better, is directly party to making it worse, invoking a series of tax raises, thus reducing the amount of income the Israeli takes home even more. Yet average citizens are easy targets, large families don’t have the time to protest. We know the results of the protests of 2 years ago, prices are even higher! Then, Lapid says after all that, the cut in child allowance isn’t actually to do with the budget deficit, its an ideological matter, designed to hit large Chareidi families. Could you imagine in another country if a leader said ‘We are going to cut child allowances to get at the Indians who have large families’. There would be a need for resignations and apologies. Yet in Israel, this is acceptable. Then the government comes up with a childish idea, to pay students to fight bad publicity on the Internet. For that, there is money. What will come of it? Do I need to say it? Nothing.

 

Then there is the issue of drafting Yeshiva students. Amazingly, in the course of the deliberations, the Attorney General is trying to add a clause saying that after 2020, the arrangement will make no difference between all 18 year olds, there will be no exemptions. Whilst this clause is unlikely to make it into the final version, there is something interesting about this. Thus the real intentions are being revealed. Let me point out to those who still need convincing, that what we are going through now is nothing less than a full blown war against those who learn Torah. Some say, ‘but there will be exemptions for 1800 people!’ However this is political spin. Firstly who can decide who should and shouldn’t learn, it is impossible to decide, and was probably only suggested to make more friction in the chareidi world. Secondly, everyone knows that Torah is not only for the elite, those considered to have the greatest brains. The point is that Torah is for everyone, claimed lack of brains is not an excuse. Effort is what counts. Torah is about learning with yiras Shomayim and the improvement on the person. Sometimes a person needs time before he comes to fruition. Some of the greatest gedolim were not considered the greatest brains. A Lapid would not have let them learn. Yet with application they became what they became and the rest is history.

 

Besides all this, you have the farcical situation of the army canceling operations for lack of funding, but being asked to absorb thousands of new candidates. And then some do turn up, and they are sent away as the army isn’t ready for them, and doesn’t know what even to do with them. Instead of making brave decisions to revamp the army and make it effective and cost efficient by transforming into a professional army, in the name of ‘sharing the burden’ nonsense, they are making the problem worse for the army, making themselves look foolish.

Another problem is Naftali Bennett. With his awful grin, he is causing all sorts of trouble. His candidate losing the Chief Rabbi election, he is now trying to spread his tentacles into all sorts of things. In Beit Shemesh he first announces a candidate and then back stabs her by turning to another from outside his party, openly violating agreements. Ironically, as Bennett gives a hand to helping the Lapid cause, the EU has decided to turn its wrath to his cause, the settlements. It is interesting that Bennett threatened a collation crisis on issues of settlements, but on the matter of Yeshivas he is virtually silent. At best he claims he tried to minimize the damage to Yeshivos, but essentially they give power to Lapid and his agenda. When it comes to fighting Chareidim, even natural opposites are happy to join forces. All this tells me that if Torah were to be eradicated from Israel, Bennett would still be happy living with his settlements. For Torah Jews, if it were impossible to learn Torah in Israel R’l, we would have to settle elsewhere.

A Rav once related that someone in his congregation once said to him ‘I love your speeches but we are not on the same page. You speak about Torah and mitzvos, I want to hear about Eretz Yisroel.’

The Rav told him that indeed they have the same values, the difference is the order. ‘I love Hashem, I love the Torah of Hashem, I love the people of Hashem, and I love the land of Hashem. You love the same four things, just in a different order. You love the land, you love the people, then the G-d of Israel, and then the Torah.’ The ikkar of the Jewish people is Torah, that’s the way to be close to Hashem. Indeed the best place for that is in Eretz Yisroel, but we’ve been in golus for many years and survived. We are being challenged with new nisayonos on many different levels. May we merit help from Heaven to banish the evil decrees that threaten our people, and there should be an end to the persecution from others who claim to be Jews.

Aaron Yechezkel is an avreich in a Jerusalem kollel.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I couldn’t even read the rest of the article after reading the introduction. Kids always think they are fighting, but adults usually understand what’s really going on.

  2. Polarization and disenfranchising one kehilla to another is the ‘way of life’ in Israel.
    If only we could all adopt the hashkafa of Rav Goldstein, chief Rabbi of South Africa who looks for opportunities to bind and bond Yiddim of all stripes together in a global view of Torah mi Sinai.

    As our overworked Knesset members take their 3 month vacation (far longer that the Yeshivas that they so look down upon), – Me think that the Charedi parties have the same 3 month vacation as all other Knesset members!!

  3. In most of Europe, a family would receive around 60% to 100% more the benefit.”

    I am curious what the numbers are. In the US, we get a deduction of roughly $3800/year, which means a break of around $1000/year on taxes, depending on tax bracket. If you earn almost zero, and don’t owe taxes at all, then the government does not send you a check for that amount, so you actually get nothing from the state for having a child. Does the US otherwise send people money for having children? Of course there’s unemployment, WIC, rent subsidies, but they’re not really money for having children, and they’re not usually from the federal government.

    In Europe do governments give money to people who have children? How do they give that money?

  4. “This cut is supposed to save 2 billion NIS to the economy, which sounds like a large sum. Contrast this with a report on the state of the ports in Israel which concluded that structural inefficiency costs Israel 5 billion NIS a year, making the savings in child benefits seem like a drop in the ocean.”

    I don’t think that 5 billion makes 2 billion look like a drop in the ocean. 2 billion still sounds like a big number to me.

  5. Wow, Mr. Avereich from Yerushalayim. You and the meraglim have a lot in common. What was the purpose of your rant other than to say a lot of lashon hara al haklal and haaretz? Imagine how many potential olim you just turned away.

  6. #8 For your information, even the Chafetz Chaim agrees that one may speak lashon hara on reshaim and those who are out to destroy Torah and yiddishkeit.

    Potential olim? Momentarily Israel is the only country in the world where Torah scholars and charedim in general are persecuted, perhaps it’s better they wait it out in chutz le’aretz until Moshiach comes or at least till the racists in the government are replaced.

  7. Well, the editors of YWN know Shakespeare..
    Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion but why does everything boil down to money? All you hear for months now is whining,whining, whining about the lack of money for avreichim. Apart from the fact that every poor family gets subsidies in israel, and so will the kollel families, it is not the responsibility of the six million other jews in israel to support the families nilly willy.

  8. Here’s why any person with even average intelligence won’t believe most of your malarkey. You give yourself away with this hit and run, drive-by “Objective” little
    snideness….. “”.Another problem is Naftali Bennett. With his awful grin, -…””
    At least don’t insult the reader with a gratuitous phrase that has nothing to do with anything. Another Nachbi ben Vofsi report.

  9. What an unsophisticated way of looking at things. Yes, there are some people who have a misplaced emphasis on Eretz Yisroel, no less than some who within certain contexts have a misplaced emphasis on Talmud Torah. But the point is not to number them on a list – who made these items on a list!? And who prioritized them? Are you going shopping for $20 worth of merchandise and you only have $5? Really, Torah before Am Yisroel? “D’alach sanei lechavrach al taaveid, zo hee kol haTorah kula ve’idach perusha – zil gmor” The entire Torah is Am Yisroel – “v’ain nikra’in goy ela ba’Aretz” Eretz Yisroel is shkula k’neged kol hamitzvos. Oraysa v’Kudsha Brich Hu Chad. The problem here, and in general, is that we are prioritizing mitzvos instead of serving HaShem, we are defining ourselves and other communities instead of being B’nei Torah, Banim laHashem and a Goy Echad baAretz.
    And by the way, “His cause the settlements” … I guess you forgot the Beitar and Me’ah She’arim are over the Green Line. And since when did the Dati Leumi community get exclusice rights on Mitzvas Yishuv Eretz Yisroel? Does this mitzvah only apply to them, have you some ptur? I dunno, the Gemara cries that the Jewish people are exiled, and we mourn on Tisha bAv that the hills of Shomron are barren, is Eretz Yisroel even “number four” on your list? I guess as long as the Israeli Army conquered Yerushalyim, built an economy and pay for your Talmud Torah (which you assume they owe you while you simultaneously have such content for them, as long as they’ve done that for you how dare they hae a chibas Eret Yisroel for Chevron, Schem, Beit E-l, and I guess by now we’ve all forgotten that Ramalla also has Kedushas Yisroel.
    How dare these people, WHO LITERALLY DIE SO THAT MURDEROUS ARABS DON’T KILL YOU, who work for an economy that generates the money that pays the stipends you’ve gotten so far – have some feeling that they want you to share in the responsibility. I’m not trying to paint it as black and white, but even of you feel that you can’t fulfill what they are asking of you – which may or may not be true I don’t know it’s clearly a machokes – but have you no hakaras hatov for what they do give you, what they have given you until now?

  10. “The Rav told him that indeed they have the same values, the difference is the order. ‘I love Hashem, I love the Torah of Hashem, I love the people of Hashem, and I love the land of Hashem.”
    If this Rav was Moshe Rabeinu when the Golden Calf had occurred, we would have been wiped out.

  11. @DovidBaer stop with the “all lishma” card. Yes we do have to be makker tov. Yes they gave us till now their energy, lives and finances. BUT in the end of days what will G-D say to the Romans when they claim: “But we built our roads for the Jews.”? (Gemarah A”Z 3a)
    We know that the socialist laws were built into the country’s foundation and they, the Israelis themselves, claim that had Ben-Gurian known the number of Charaidim today he would have made a clause.
    G-D does not accept the Romans claim rather he tells them that they built the roads for themselves and not for the Jews. Yes, the Jews did gain from them, but that wasn’t their kavana and G-D throws it out the window. The Israeli government incorporated laws of socialist subsidiaries. Originally not specifically for the Charaidim and currently specifically not for Charaidim!
    We know their ultimate goal and so we must fight with everything! What they gave us was/is great and we thank them! But NOT WHILE WE PROTECT OUR SACRED TORAH!!!

  12. #17 – Firstly I can’t even believe that I am having a conversation with someone who titles himself “chochom-ibber”. What is wrong with you people always looking at Israel like it’s the 1940’s, “Ben Gurion this! Herzl that! Anti-religious socialists! etc.” Yes, many people in that time HATED Yahadus and wanted to uproot Torah (R”l). Today very few people are of that ilk and most non-frum Jews didn’t cut their peyos and throw away their t’fillin like their parents did, they are tinokos shnishba. Most Israelis are wonderful people. Trust me, I dislike Lapid and people like him as much as the next guy but he’s not most Israelis – and he is definitely no Ben Gurion – he may not like Charedim but it’s not religion he’s against it’s the religious (I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m saying it’s a socio-economic conflict over limited funds in a government budget and not a crusade against Torah).
    How can you compare millions of temimusdikke Yidden to the Romans. Firstly the Chazon Ish paskened they’re tinokos shnishba, secondly most are not only not against Torah, but they love Torah they’re just in a different place observancewise (go visit the kosel for selichos on erev Yom Kippur). Why all of this cynicism towards Am Yisroel? I guarantee you it won’t make them closer to yell like a madman. The Romans were son’ei Yisroel – these Yidden may not be b’nei Torah but afilu reikunim shbach m’leim mitzvos karimon. You should really be carefule before being motzi laaz and lashon Hara on HaShem’s people.
    So they’re kollel subsidies may not be lishma – forget thay they are Torah subsidies, these people are giving you a living when they owe you nothing! What is wring with you, before you can look at the world as a ben Torah you need to look at the world as a ben Adam – there is no en Torah if he is not a ben Adam as well.
    Are you seriously going to tell me that you view an 18 year old Yid who died from pieces of metal blown from agrenade meant for you somewhere in the hills of Lebanon while you sit in your Kollel is not lishma!? DARE YOU compare him to the Romans y”sh!? Go to his mourning parents in Tel Aviv and tell them that. Or better yet, you seem to think very highly of yourself, perhaps you can tell them when you see them in the highest level of Olam HaBa, “Harugei Malchus ain kol birya yachol la’amos bmichatzsam”

  13. @DovidBaer You are probably correct that most Israelis don’t want to uproot Torah and never really thought 2ice about it. It is however the few Lapids out there that have this agenda and ARE CURRENTLY convincing the mass Israeli population to come to their hateful beliefs. You mention that its not the religion rather the people who are religious that he is against. How can you not see through that?? What kind of empty excuse is that?? So the religion as an idea he is fine with but the people who actually practice it to the extent they deem fit, that is what bothers him? THAT IS RELIGION. How about this: I’m not against secularism, its the people who are secular that I hate (huh?!). It sounds ridicules. Yes, some of them do have a love for Torah and are the ones you see at slichos by the Kosel but those are not the ones screaming through the media convincing people of the parasite similarities of Charadim. Now thanx to the left media many many Israelis believe that if there are economic issues it is the Charaidim at fault. And if only they would share the burden (which sounds so politicaly fair) then all our problems would all work out and we’d be a great powerful and respected country.

    Funny how you think Lapid (and all those “awakened” to his warped vision) is not anti-Torah but he’s not mentioning the Israeli-arabs that have a similar percentage of population, are growing just as fast and are getting subsidiaries from the gov as well. It is the classic “Jew problem” that we are being blamed for. Its been done for years by outsiders and now from within. We caused the Black Plague, the economic downfall of many European countries and of course don’t forget that Germany lost WW1 because of us, right? The non-religious Jew was always more hateful than the non-Jew so its really no big surprise now that they’re filling the position. You can go on rampaging how I’m comparing them to the Nazis ym”s and all other historically recognized haters, Romans as well. But understand what I’m saying: No, I don’t believe “an 18 year old Yid who died from pieces of metal blown from a grenade..” is compared to a Roman. But IF some of his ideals were like the Romans then yes those ideals must be treated with the same eradication and total disregard as the Roman’s. Don’t mask my point in emotions by mentioning his mourning mother.

    In regards to the Chazon Ish’s psak that they are tinuk shenishbira, that just means in regards to their sins they are looked upon lightly but for them to enforce on us their ways is definitely not OK and not what the Ch”I meant. Again, some of them do have a love for Torah and are the ones you see at slichos by the Kosel but those are not the ones screaming through the media convincing people of the parasite similarities of Charadim and hopefully they wont allow such hate into their minds and hearts.