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Gafne: There is No Such Thing as a ‘Working Chareidi’

gafneSpeaking with Mordechai Lavi of Kol Berama Radio on Tuesday morning 29 Teves, MK Moshe Gafne explained from his perspective there is no such thing as ‘working chareidi’.

Following is excerpts from the radio interview which lasted over 20 minutes.


I do not accept the categorization. There are those who opt to leave yeshiva and join the working community.


Are they called chareidim?


No they are no. I do not accept this. It does not exist. One who does not learn in kollel and works has left.


Is it true that at times children are discriminated against due to their ethnicity?


I tell you now as in the past this is simply not true. There are children who are not accepted for one reason or another. Sometimes because the parents work, at times other reasons. There are many. Now we are speaking about something else.

One can go to work and that is fine but they are not the same as those immersed in limud. By the way, to my sorrow, I too am working and it is not the same.


Yes but your children are accepted.


Please, we are not speaking about this. I know there is a person who turned to me about this. I know what you are talking about…In the time of the Chassam Sofer there were those who worked and those who did not but the difference is they all adhered to his word, unlike today…

I do not accept the category. There is no such thing as working chareidim and I do not need an asifa. This is the fact.


But these people do not know who to vote for? Who represents them?

Gafne elaborates how he dedicates a great deal of his time to work with mosdos and Chinuch Atzmai and to address issues of students being accepted and rejected in schools. This he insists is all the time and not just now, before elections. I have my record that speaks for itself and I do not need elections to make the point.


Can you admit there is a group that feels Yahadut Hatorah is now their home, that you do not represent them? Perhaps the people Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai are working to enlist?


It is not a “group”. There is no group like this. They are trying to drum up votes. I cannot speak for them. I know we cannot compete with one another or worse, than one will not pass the minimum threshold and the votes will be wasted. Those evil people with their gezeiros did not differentiate between us and we should not differentiate between one another.


What is a working chareidi? One who wears a shirt that is not totally white? What is he called?


Finally we get to it. Anyone who adheres to Torah and rabbonim and wants his children educated as they should I will work to assist him. I do not understand from shirts. I deal with the person, not clothing.

Honestly, I do not look at one’s clothing but I look at the person. It is possibly competition between mosdos.


Rav Gafne you are avoiding the issue. Is there such a thing as working chareidim?


No there is not. There are chareidim who adhere to gedolei yisrael. That is it.


Have you visited the Kiryat Ono Chareidi College?


No. It is not my job. My job is to concern myself with the needs of lomdei Torah and that is it. One wishing to attend a chareidi college may but it is not my job. I do not represent academics.


That is exactly the point. That is what they say. You and Yahadut Hatorah does not represent them. Don’t you understand this is how they feel? They are looking for representation.


From my perspective I represent them too but not regarding academics


No you do not and that is where we started. They are without representation


They must consult with their rav, the same rabbonim who permitted them to attend a college, even a chareidi one. We have to worry about the lomdei Torah for that is our goal and our future. I do not encourage academics and it is not my job. The thousands in these colleges do turn to me and I do my best to assist them.

Let one person come off the air and tell me he came to me and I refused to assist him.


I have him on the air. Are you willing to debate him?




What scares you so much? I do not understand.


For me it is ideology. It has not and will not change no matter how good they are. I am here for lomdei Torah, not academics. Since the lomdei Torah keep us all going and they are targeted [by the government] it is my job to assist them, no one else. Anyone who approaches me as an individual that I can assist I have and will always continue doing what I can to assist.

There are many including person close to me that shifted to academics but that is not what I do.


What about “chardakim”?


Please, I told you I do not know about all these titles. I follow what I was taught by Maran HaRav Shach and do my best to assist anyone and everyone that comes to me.


I never heard you stutter like today. I have rachmanus on you. You are in an untenable situation. Perhaps it is time to reconsider and look at the generation and it is time to change things around


You can say what you need to and I will respond as I do. Thanks for having rachmanus and I need it for certain due to the load. However there is nothing to change, not even one millimeter. This is what it is and will continue to do. This is our job and our responsibility. Hence, I have rachmanus on you that you thought Gafne will say different things on the air and I disappointed you.


You believe it works like that?


No but you have rachmanus on me so I return it.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

26 Responses

  1. Fascinating.
    I would be very interested in hearing the actual interview. I would want to hear Gafne’s voice and the exact language he used to explain his views. Is there any way yeshivaworld can post a recording?

  2. I can’t believe he said it. It’s not about being more religious, its about learning and not making a living.

    He wont help out the poor guy who can not make a living.
    Anyone who votes for this party after reading this needs his head examined. Shas has much straighter hashkafah.

  3. I’m usually much less harsh than I will be now.Get rid of Gafne from UTJ immediately if not sooner.Besides the fact that it seems that he is incoherent and contradictory,his basic premise is ludicrous.All political groups bring people closer to them and do not intentionally push people away.This was not the intention of Agudas Yisroel ever, nor was this the reason Degel broke from Agudah.Would he say these words to Baalebatim who payroll Degel?Or those who support all chareidi causes?There are much more working Chareidim in Israel than many people think.Also defining work isn’t simple either. Anyhow he’s pushing away his support base and a good 50% of his vote,and insinuates that no Chareidim ever have an allowance to work. A leader who kicks away his constituents must be removed.

  4. Very, very strange!
    Isn’t there a פסוק that says יגיע כפיך כי תאכל? What is wrong with an ערליכער businessman who dedicates his day to both לימוד תורה and to business?
    Does not the תורהitself inפ’ בראשית describe אדם as a man who has to work?
    What’s wrong with working and being a חרד and ‘צמא לדבר ה? I don’t get it!
    Isn’t the fact that Yossochor goes before Zevulun is because he’s תומך תורה? Something is not quite right!

  5. either some of the nuances the interview were lost through the translation, I’m thoroughly ignorant of Israeli society, or this interview makes little sense:

    1. at one point he says that he wants to help everyone. then he says that chareidim are those who only learn. Those two groups are not equivalent. Who is he representing? If it’s just chareidim then it’s nice to say that he likes to help everyone but that doesn’t and shouldn’t translate into votes – Netanyahu might be a nice guy who tries to help people, but that doesn’t mean everyone will vote for him!

    2. isn’t it a little odd from a logical perspective that someone who does not consider himself chareidi – full time learning – should represent chareidim? People generally elect someone who can relate to them. It’s a little unsettling to say that someone from a group can by definition not represent his own constituency.

    3. He also said that charedim are those who follow the call of gedolei Yisroel. I’m assuming that geolei yisroel would want people to be chareidi. That would mean that all must be engaged in full time learning. Gafni seems to be using the term to include even those who are not engaged in full time learning…

    4. Finally, it is clear that the definition of chareidim cannot only include those engaged in full time learning because women are not engaged in full time learning. Unless he believes that half the population in Bnei Brak is not chareidi it is clear that he was only speaking about a specific topic.

    For all those reasons I think that this section of the interview may have been taken out of context – both content and cultural.

    Also, why can’t people speak nicely to each other?

  6. Throughout the “share the burden” campaign I always said there’s a lack of clarity in our politicians message. They don’t know what they really stand for.

    A very popular israeli kiruv person told me that we are not in Golus only in the hands of the secular government and media, but we’re in Golus in the hands of our own Askanim and politicians.

  7. It’s clear that there was a miscommunication or bad translation from the original Ivrit. He is actually saying there’s no sub-category called “working chareidim”. Anyone who listens to the gedolim is who he represents. And that those in yeshiva are on a higher level than those working.

  8. If one defines “haredei” as a professional “Ben Torah”, then there are many people connectged with zionist yeshivos who are hareidim, and many Baal ha-batim who wear non-modern clothes, are super-strict in halacha, and reject the medinah, who are non-hareidi. The definition fails.

    It also fails since many people associated with kollels in fact are employed based on what would constitute employment doing similar work in a secular university (teaching, administration, etc.), so by any objective definition, they are “working”.

  9. I have to say that even if there were some contradictions on gafnes part he is a master at avoidance….. If u read tis transcript of how many words? It’s like he gave them nothing new to talk about…
    That being said…. The concept of learning and working with a torah’dig kup is unfortunately very ignored in the olam litai in eretz yisroel. A bit out of hand. Most yeshiva bachurim that wanna remain like they were but merely want a make a small parnasah loose all their reputation and even wen they do don’t know how to tackle the outside world or the challenge of hard hard work; they all want a lot of moeny. Not realizing since they never saw it in their lives; that a lot of money is a result of small and hard jobs very often. On the other hand, the only way to become wealthy in israel (one of the ways) is in real estate so…. But one point I can attest to even if were not chassidish. Lie they say in hebrew: ein al hachassidim. Te chassidish orl and its rabbanim in eretz yisroel are an example… They are by far not to be compared to chassidus in america; much more focused on the real things, very openminded (if u look beyond the chitzoni)they know how to have their non learners make a parnasah right, much less children rejected or kicked out of their yeshivos cus they belong; I watch some families I see that cud easily fit into mizrachi mosdos and they are in their school cus that’s where they belong…I’m very impressed.

  10. Thanks Spectrum for posting the interview link. Please listen to it and you will possibly get a different picture. It is rather unfair to quote extracts in this way from what was really quite an aggressive interview. Degal HaTorah was founded first and foremost to protect the interests of the Litvishe Yeshiva World. (This is in of itself a full time job, especially in the State of Israel). The Litvishe world regards learning one’s entire life as the ideal to promote and that working is a be’diavad situation, not a goal to pursue. Individuals that perceive the need to work are expected to have consulted with da’as Torah. There is no room for the concept of “working as an ideal” in such a framework. Rav Gafne states that he uses his full effort to help people that are working, providing that they subscribe to the above values that his party was founded upon (following da’as Torah). People who subscribe to a different worldview are advised to change it, or look elsewhere for representation. L’anias da’ati mamash, this appears to be the bottom line.

  11. What garbage!
    1) if everyone has to learn, why are there so many Erlicher Yidden who work?
    2) not everyone can survive on a kolel check, and their wife’s pay check (unless you live in Lakewood or eretz yisroel).
    3) if everyone has to learn, most of the jews in the world wouldn’t be chareidi.

  12. I think his family should stop buying groceries, because the people selling groceries are working. In fact, he should never go into a store again, because stores are commonly populated by people who work. Their middos might rub off on the pure MK.

  13. I am assuming this was not the intention of the translator and/or editor, but after listening to the interview this is a travesty. The translation or excerpts give an entirely different impression than what Mr Gafne actuall said and anyone who understands Hebrew can see that.

    His point was that he does not label any group as “working Chareidim” but rather that he represents all Chareidim without differentiation. The exact opposite of what these excerpts portray.

    Please reserve judgement until you hear what he actually says. And yes, it would behoove YWN to correct this posting.

  14. If one listens to the recording, it is apparent that the above report did not depict accurately MK Gafne’s perspective about people who work. Since emotions have been stirred and strong comments have been made based on inaccurate information, perhaps the honorable response would be the publication of a correction. This will also prevent any future readers from any potential ill feelings.

  15. Everyone. Before venting on gafni,listen to the whole interview via the link I posted earlier.

    When you actually hear it you understand the discussion better, whether you agree with it or not.

    Yagel libi;
    He does say there that he also works…

  16. #20- First of all, kol hakavod for posting the link, which I have not yet listened to (it’s nearly two hours long). But let me say that I didn’t claim that Gafne does not work but rather that he does work so, prima facie, hadra kushiya leduchta: by his own definition he is not charedi.

  17. The dilemma that is facing UTJ is that there are Bnei Torah who are employed & remain Bnei Torah. Except when u begin to venture into the halls of Parnassah U are greeted with a new olem. A world that is diverse, that includes many Yiddin and a world that functions under halachis of business, money, bein Adom L’chavro & profit & loss. At that time U need a party that is expansive that is willing & able to function with DAAS Torah in the halls of academia & parnassa.
    The title of Baal Habais in America is admired, respected & looked up to if a person is a Baal Habass/ben Torah – this new persona is emerging & being stifled by a rigid, restricted agenda of UTJ.
    Remember Charedi is a noun… U can attach the adj of women, working, rich, poor, ultra, nationalistic, learning or extremist to the noun. Does UTJ serve all the adjectives is the TRUE QUESTION???

  18. I listened to the original and his words were mistranslated.
    What he said was there aren’t two categories of Chareidim , working and non-working. There is only one category and it’s those who listen to Gedolei Yisrael , working or not.

  19. Gafnis oppinions,reflective of many “chareidim” in EY, epitomize what is afoul with current chareidi hashkafa. It is a perversion of the Ratzon Hashem, as transmitted to me by my parents and rebbeyim. Even if the above interview was posted via google translate, every word of his resonates with the public platform put forth in “chareidi” platforms like yated ne’eman.I want no part in his shecker!Keep your distance from his party and his poisen!

  20. I was very confused with the translation, and listened to the original broadcast. The translation is incomplete and misrepresents what Rav Gafne was saying. Just like one613 says in post 23. In a nutshell, Rav Gafne says there are “Haredim” and “non-Haredim”. A “Haredi” listens to the Gedolim and wants to raise his family to be bnei-Torah; whether he works or not is simply a matter of circumstances. This is why he strenuously avoids the term, “Working Haredi,” to define a Haredi special-interest sub-group. You can have a Haredi who works, and he is just as committed to learning and to Torah as those who learn. But, a working religious man whose interests and hashkafa are different from learning Haredim, who does not set limud haTorah and protecting the lomdei Torah as the first priorities, this means that he has left the Haredi world. This is what he was trying to say. Therefore, Yahadut HaTorah represents all those who know that Limud Hatorah is paramount, even if they work. To make a special interest group called “Working Haredim” means that these people are interested in advocating for something other than strengthening Limud Hatorah.

  21. I would request of YWN to write a column about the official position of Rav Gafne and Yahadut HaTorah. This current article is misleading and unfairly casts Gafne in a decidedly defensive and negative light, by not clearly representing what he said in the interview.

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