Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Witch Hunts Against the Chareidim

Violations of the current Draft Deferment system has many citizens upset. There are many newly elected MKs in the Knesset with an agenda of change on this issue.  So I thought I'd offer some advice as to how we should approach this issue. It is good policy for fake scholars to not be allowed to abuse the system, but never at the expense of true Torah scholars.  Better a few bad apples sit, than one treasure be forced to do what is not best for him to do or for society that he do. It is not in the best interest for Israeli society to lose true Torah scholars.  Throwing out baby with the bath water is not the way to fix this. There is a difference between a holy Torah scholar and a draft dodger.  Finding the difference is a matter of policy crafting, but the only way to get to the optimum policy, is to start with some respect for the institution of the Yeshiva.

Now that Israel's population has grown significantly since the last major war, the urgency for everyone becoming a soldier is not the same.  Halachically speaking, if there are enough soldiers in the army already, there is no need to pull people out of yeshiva, even for a mandatory war, and therefore the reaction of the chareidi parties and the constituency that voted for them becomes understandable.

If I tried to tell you how to run your business, you would say, "Let me run my own business." So how can we say to Roshey Yeshiva, who are not just rabbis, but the greatest of rabbis, "Let me run your school." and then criticize them when they say, "Let me run my yeshiva."

Further, a civilized nation does not have to have one hundred percent of its population in the military.  The United States of America, for example, has less than two percent.  It is not unpatriotic to not be in the military. It is actually a sign of the victory of democracy over the forces that previously threatened to destroy it.

There are some who make no distinction between the idlers and the valued scholars. We are not talking about parasites, but of holy people carrying the burden for us. Just as active soldiers carry a security burden for the rest of us, so too yeshiva scholars carry a spiritual burden for us. The problem is there are some who don't do as they should. This has zero to do with those who do carry the burden for us.  There is a way to establish tests of those using the exemptions.  But the decision making process has to be in the hands of their Rabbis, not those who hate rabbis.  Does this make sense to you? Deal with the bad apples only, not with any that their Roshey Yeshiva say are exemplary and should be excused from alternate service.

A rav loves his talmidim like his children. Why should roshey yeshiva be frustrated with how their children are allowed to live their lives, when there is not a pressing military need in Israel for more soldiers in training.

A societal perception is not a military need, and thus why encourage bitul Torah when not everyone is cut out to be a soldier? Our most holy texts laud the spiritual value and protection to the nation that comes through Torah study. We can do nothing less than be humble before the Will of Heaven, and show extra care when bringing forth legislation on this crucial matter. Why fight with the Rabbis when we need their input the most to see that the right filters are set in place that will make everyone happy.

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