Nehemia Strasler in Haaretz writes a pointed and devastating editorial about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who spoke of, well, smiting the PM of Israel the other day and quickly went back on his statement on the following day. The editorial lists some more of the Rabbi’s gems.

Regarding women he said: “Walking between two women is like walking between two asses.” [ ed. as in donkeys 😉 ] He explained the murder of the six million in the Holocaust as being the result of the sins of the Jews against God, and he said that Meretz MK Yossi Sarid was “an out and out villain, who should be eliminated from the world, and like the villain Haman [from the Book of Esther], he should be hanged on a tree.”

He called the justices of the High Court of Justice “empty and rash, they are all rebellious, they have no religion and no law. They all have sex with menstruating women, they all violate the Shabbat.”

…during his weekly sermon, he came out against the disengagement and wished the prime minister “that the Holy One Blessed be He will give him one blow, and that he’ll die and not get up.” A day later he panicked, took back his words, and wished Ariel Sharon “a long life.”

Come on, read it all, you know you want to.

About the author

themiddle

49 Comments

  • So much for being the self-proclaimed ‘middle’.

    It’s easy to criticize someone or something you don’t really know about, or even remotely understand. I think the term in English is, uuhhh, ignorance. Sigh…

    If it can be claimed that so many Rabbis are faulty, imperfect, and flawed, well…it’s said that leaders are a reflection of the people being led, Rabbis being no different. Some also even go to the point of saying ‘we deserve what we get’. Flawed Rabbis, flawed Jews.

    We expect Rabbis to be perfect, sincere, kind, patient, to have great organizational skills, know how to talk to everyone in their language, be at every event, etc…is that fair? Granted that Rabbis are not given smicha only because of torah knowledge, they are also not formed out of a mold of super-posek. Like wine, some are great right from the beginning, some take more time to age, others longer, and some go rotten, ma la’asot. Aren’t we the same?

    In no way am I condemning criticism of Rabbis when it’s thoughtful, constructive, and based on proper arguments, but plain spite, derision, and ridicule of a man (and alluding to others in the title) who is considered one of the greatest Rabbis alive this moment, without serious thought (the article is written like a bad movie review) doesn’t even deserve a serious reply.

    Don’t use Haaretz to report about Judaism. You are doing you, your visitors, and world Jewry a major diservice by reinforcing the can’t trust ’em all attitude. Never expected this to come from from you, or are you trying to prove to Mobius that you aren’t a right-winger, Gd forbid.

    Rav Mordechai Eliyahu http://www.harav.org has claimed that the only thing preventing the coming/revealing of mashiach is respect for Rabbis.

  • Shabat shalom,
    and hodesh tov.

    Mi she’nichnas adar, marbim be’simcha!!!
    !!?? ???? ???, ????? ?????

    🙂

  • Josh, there are plenty of great rabbis. Men of wisdom, intelligence, profound understanding of Jewish law and culture, great ethics, and fine leadership qualities.

    There are some rabbis who are none of the above or possess a blend of good and bad.

    If you feel that perhaps we need to be better educated about the greatness of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, here is your opportunity. I’m open minded and willing to learn.

    I do think that avoiding the things he has said, however, even if you feel this editorial is beneath acceptable journalistic standards, undermines any argument you make. I think the article is written using the same derisive attitude the author is pointing out as pervading Yosef’s pronouncements. But is it inaccurate? Are these quotations taken out of context? I’d be thrilled if these are the confused thoughts of an elderly man who has lost some his clear thinking. Is that what’s going on here?

  • When I was living in Israel I remember reading in the papers about Rabbi Obadiah Yosef’s comment about women and asses and the consternation that followed. If it were a one-time slip up and he seemed contrite, maybe it could be tolerated. But It is a bit hard to understand or respect a prominent figure who makes such rash comments on a regular basis. After Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, menacing comments such as the ones he has made about Sharon and other secular figures should not be tolerated.

  • Regarding former Meretz MK Shulamit Aloni he ruled: “On the day she dies, we have to rejoice and have a party.

    To be completely fair and honest, I think I’ll party too when Shulamit Aloni dies. It’s pretty hard to be religious and not really dislike Shulamit Aloni.

    Which brings me, in a way, to my point: Ovadiah Yosef (who is, of course, a great scholar and chacham, regardless of his apparently inability to self-censor) is not operating in a vacuum. There has been a massive and pervasive contempt for the religious in Zionist thought since the days of Herzl–which became the dominant attitude of the secular political and cultural elite in Israel. Look how much the Zionist thinkers disdained the Ostjuden for being so backward and so dependent on their ancient and outdated faith. Look at the treatment the arriving Sephardi exiles received at the hands of the secular Ashkenazim, mostly for the grievous crime of being faithful (and therefore backward) Jews. When the Temanim got off the planes after Operation Magic Carpet, the secular Israelis took the children to separate schools, away from their parents, and cut off their peyot. Anybody familiar with Israeli culture could probably name ten movies all about how evil and dangerous religious Jews are (anything by Amos Gitai, really). Every day secular and leftist MKs, like Shulamit Aloni and her posse, scream that the nation will not get better until the religious swing from the lampposts. And it has become the conventional wisdom of Haaretz and all that it represents that Orthodox Jews, as this article comes right out and says, are nothing more than parasites, sucking away at the blood of the great and shining secular state.

    If you were an Orthodox Jew, a rabbi, somebody who believed that every Jew is responsible for his brother, how would you feel? How would you feel when the term “parasite” enters the normal, everyday public discourse? If you saw Shulamit Aloni on your TV saying that you were the reason for every problem in Israel, what would you do? If you asked a soldier if he wanted to put on tefillin and he hit you, what would you do? If you saw Tel Aviv on a Friday night, 2000 years of Jewish tradition and history forgotten for some E, some bad techno and a quickie in a bathroom stall, what would you think?

    Ovadiah Yosef is not, perhaps, a rabbinical paragon, and cursing people is not the best way to bring them back to the Torah. But what many people fail to realize is that the despised figure of the inflexible and “backwards” rabbi in secular Israeli thought is in many ways a creature they themselves created. Secular Israel has repeatedly condemned the religious since Zionism became a mass movement. Lo and behold, the religious got angry about it. Is it any wonder?

  • Wow Michael, there has certainly been hostility but the state has also given the Orthodox powers and resources that would be unimaginable to those same Zionists who founded the state.

    With all due respect, in today’s Israel more money is spent, per capita, on Orthodox school students than mainstream “secular” public school students; men can spend years if not lifetimes studying, instead of working, because of subsidies at their disposal; until very recently having large families was rewarded with state largesse; and the ultra-Orthodox (almost all) and those Orthodox (some) who wish not to serve in the IDF simply do not.

    So despite having been given influence, the ability to grow large families, study even if they’re no great scholars, (and among the ultra-Orthodox whose lives are heavily subsidized there isn’t as much paid in taxes as typical “secular” and modern Orthodox who “work” for a living) and not have to risk their lives or children’s life to maintain what secular Jews do risk their lives for, they are angry about how they are perceived to the point where it’s okay to wish death upon people?

    Am I missing something here?

  • As a descendant of 3 rabbis of Baghdad, I deeply deplore all this
    fighting among the secular and religious people in Israel.
    We have such a beautiful spiritual heritage, such beautiful prayers
    and teachings. Why don’t we enjoy them and share them with each other and all humanity, and stop these stupid internal power struggles (because that’s all this fighting is about, its nothing to do with true faith) Who may ascend the mountain of the Eternal? He/she
    who has clean hands and a pure heart.

  • Aah, Dave, from your mouth to god’s ears. We agree wholeheartedly!!! If only we could be discussing the beauty of our heritage instead of death wishes.

  • Well, while I agree with you, Dave, it’s hard to convince people to share our beautiful teachings and prayers and heritage if they pretty much hate them. You’ll never see contempt for the Jewish religion like the kind you’ll see in Israel.

    Allow me to explain. I don’t support death curses. Or death threats. Or anything of the sort. I believe that it is sinat chinam, something we must overcome in order to get our Temple and our Moshiach and all that fuzzy good stuff. We gotta looooove all our fellow Jews, even the ones that kick the Lubavitcher tefillin guys.

    But. That’s not what I was really talking about. I was saying that the statements of people like Yosef were not in vacuum. The religious establishment of Israel in many ways is a product of the secular establishment, which views it as plague of all plagues, the undoing of the Jewish people (however much sense that makes).

    Okay. First let me say this: I think IDF service should be mandatory across the board if you’re going to live in Israel. But the fact that some (not most, some) religious guys don’t serve is not an excusal for such widespread hatred. I mean, come on, how many guys in uniform have you seen with the kippah srugah or that cute way the Sephardi kids wear theirs almost falling off their foreheads? Plenty. It’s not that uncommon. Obviously, these are dati leumi and not charedi, but they’re still Orthodox, religious Jews.

    And objectively, T_M, what’s wrong with big families? I like lots of Jews. You like lots of Jews. We all like lots of Jews. And the Orthodox are the only people producing lots of Jews. And as far as studying, well, secular Israelis don’t see it that way, but there’s certainly merit in studying, as Dave put it, our beautiful spiritual heritage. And it’s an untrue stereotype that charedi men don’t work. Many of them do. And even more of them have wives that work too to help support their husbands’ studies (it’s not like men are the only taxpayers in Israel).

    And as far as having the right to wish death on people, what gives the more hardcore secular people the right to do the same thing? At least be even-handed.

  • Michael, where do you see people threatening the lives of Orthodox Jews or of rabbis? Show me and I’ll post it, because it would be just as abhorrent.

    Nothing wrong with big families…unless you’re a lifelong student in a yeshiva and somebody else is subsidizing your large family. Having kids is an expensive proposition for most people, but not if you develop a culture of subsidies. Of course many of them work, but many don’t. (Please don’t get me started about making a wife have 8 children and then work to support the family while the husband does yeshiva study).

    As for the hate of the Orthodox that you describe, I’m afraid I don’t see it as you do. Shinui, the political party, is probably the strongest expression of secular “hate” of the Orthodox and if you look at what they wanted to do, it’s essentially eliminating this institutional special treatment secular Israeli governments have provided for the Orthodox communities. However, if you consider the average Israeli who is secular, they don’t “hate” the Orthodox, they see them as loonies, but they also tend to see them as truer Jews than they. Talk about confusion!

    But the most important point here, Michael, is your point about these comments not coming about in a vacuum. Read that article and its quotations again. How does this remark justify calling women asses or suggesting that a blow from the all-mighty upon Sharon might be very desirable? Again, they are subsidized, given authority of civil matters within Israel, free not to serve in the IDF, have studies subsidized, receive more funds per capita for education than secular Israelis…doesn’t sound like hate, perhaps jealousy and anger? And still, show me where somebody calls for death. I’ll post it.

  • Well, interestingly enough, this comes via Jewschool…

    Here are some of the tasty quotes. They come from this article, which is admittedly biased and I don’t necessarily agree with everything it says, but none of these quotes are out of character both for the people who said them and given the general tone of Israeli political discourse (emphasis mine):

    Prof. Uzi Arnon; “We have to hang the Orthodox from every lightpole.” (Chadashot 30.10.92)

    Uri Avneri; “The time has come to bury them.” (HaOlam HaZe 10.11.88)

    Arnon Yekutieli; “There will yet be dead in this war” (Bar-Ilan St. 30.12.94 Kol HaIr)

    Prof. Uzi Arnon; “We must impatiently await the youth…that will fight the real enemy of the state of Israel. (Al Hamishmar 20.1.84)

    Shimon Peres; “We’re fighting 2 wars-a war for peace and a war against the religious. The war for peace is more important.” (Interview with “Kol Israel” Radio 13.5.93).

    Shulamit Aloni; “We’re in the midst of a war with Orthodox Judaism: We must not make any compromises.” (16.6.93 party meeting in Ramat Gan)

    Yigal Tamarkin; “When I see the Orthodox, I understand the Nazis.” (“Tel Aviv” 1986)

    MK Naomi Chazan (Meretz); “Only if we’ll succeed in getting rid of this evil, this black satan, only then will we be able to develop all the good of this country.” (Chadashot 30.12.92)

    Prof. Ginsburg; “Orthodox are the parasites on the body of our state.” (“Kol HaIr” 3.1.92)

    Shulamit Aloni; “You [Orthodox] sit on us as parasites, drink our blood and spill our blood” (in Knesset 3.7.91)

    Shulamit Aloni; “The Orthodox is darkness, rotten…the only language they understand is violence.” (Knesset 16.6.86)

    Well, there ya go, T_M.

  • Aw man Michael, look what you done gone and done. Why why why why do I have to go into shabbat with this preceding me?

    How many Haredi men do you think study in cheder? And so what? What’s the difference between that esoteric pursuit and say academics in universities who get paid to research minute esoteric topics with little or no immediate usefulness and will be of interest to only a tiny number of people? You know what I mean – ie “Dietary trends amongst middle aged women in 17th century Upper Bratislava and its impact on the region’s literary development” I mean don’t taxpayers in Israel pay for that too? And who bailed out all the kibbutzim? And who supplied private Israeli arms dealers with cheapo weapons for mega profitable resale to questionable 3rd world militias and governments?

    Don’t you remember how poisoned the religious / secular split was prior to the 1st Intifada? I remember synagogues being vandalized – In Israel!

    I mean geez louise, the vast majority of Israelis, religious, secular, whatever are loyal, law abiding citizens. Making a big fuss over differences, like you seem to always do, and highlighting extreme manifestations and un representative declarations is the thing that will most threaten Israel’s continued viability.

    Look, all my peeps in Israel are ostensibly allied to Rav Ovadia Yosef. But its a cultural thing. You think because he makes a couple of questionable pronouncements then all of a sudden everyone on our Moshav wants to kill Sharon and disses women? Our women are tough – anyone who calls them an ass will have his eyes torn out. Seriously. Don’t mess with them. Many of the men also work for various security services. You will never find a more loyal or conscientous bunch, period.

    Strassler’s Haaretz rant makes it seem like Rav Ovadia Yosef’s “followers” have no brains and blindly and immediately follow every little thing the Rabbi says. Of course they would! They are ignorant Sephardic Jews! That’s what she implies and in doing so, she clearly demonstrates her shockingly ignorant understanding of Israeli society. Not everyone that supports Shas is religious. In fact, most aren’t. In Shas many simply see the only political organization that gives a voice to Sephardic Jews. The fact that ubber secularists in Shinui are annoyed by Shas only enhances Shas’s stature. Shas represents a great way to stick it to the man.

    Finally, for the longest time, during the Oslo era, Rav Ovadia Yosef was actually in favor of territorial compromise, citing the concept of pikuach nefesh as being more important than land. Granted, that position has since been reversed, but even then, most Mizrachi supportes of Shas pretty much ignored that. So please, lets not make too much of stuff that is inconsequential. OK? Focus on the love and stop sippin on the haterade.

    Shabbat Shalom

  • No no… you just got T_M all riled up. I know he’s riled up when, despite being thorough and meticulous, he posts a rant frife with gross over generalizations and one sided comments that totally fail to look at both sides of the coin thus calling into question the appropriateness of his moniker….

  • Oh my god. I just wrote a lengthy and beautiful retort to ck, methodically crushing each of his points. Then I inadvertently erased it.

    When I stop weeping, I might try again.

    Riled up. Heh. You joker.

  • Michael, that website, is uh, you know, an interesting source but a little difficult for me to take seriously. If you like, since you did find that site, and even though I haven’t been able to corroborate any of the quotes by those evil lefties, I would be willing to post that as a post. I leave it to you to decide, if only because a Geocities site run by Kahane supporters is not typically a source I completely trust.

  • Well, Ovadiah Yosef is right about the Supreme Court, even if there are fewer things I would rather do than walk between two women. You win some, you lose some.

    And I will certainly not shed any tears when Shulamit Aloni has the decency to shuffle off this mortal coil.

    This is, however, Israel’s real existential struggle: modern political Zionism was conceived as a way for Jews to free themselves from the “curse” of Judaism and become “normal”, just like all the other nations. This is the poisoned spring from which hatred of authentic Yiddishkeit flows. For secular Zionists, the creation of Israel is not a culminaton and a fulfillment of Jewish history, it is its repudiation.

    Is it possible to maintain a Jewish state in Israel if the majority of Jews in Israel rejects the entire reason for Israel being there? Can secular nationalism replace the “nefesh Yehudi”? Will the “normalization” so desired by the secular lead to israel’s normailzation, or will it sap the country of its spirit? Or is a rebirth of religion, or, at the very least, a repudiation of secular anti-religiousness, required?

    Only Hashem knows for sure.

    FWIW, I think the haredim should be required to serve in the IDF or perfom some other equivalent natonal service. I also think that Jews hould start having lots more kids, secular or religious, doesn’t matter.

  • Well, like I said, it’s a biased and somewhat dubious source, but of course all those people are representatives of Israel’s ultra-secular population and nothing attributed to them is at all out of character.

    I don’t know. They might not be genuine quotes, I’ll admit, but it’s certainly quite likely that they are.

    I gotta say, Ephraim is right. More Jewish babies. Akhshav.

  • ck

    You’re correct that there are fields of academic reseacrh far less justifiable than yeshiva studies. But the number of academics in these dields (as opposed to “practical” research) is quite limited, while virtually every haredi can go study in Yeshiva. I’d have no objection if military deferment and more generous subsidies were limited to, say the 10,00 best and brightest (which was the original purpose of the military service deferments in the first place); but the situation now is that a sector of hundreds of thousands, many of which don’t work as an ideological matter, is subsidized by those Israelis who do work.

  • Okay, let’s try again…

    How many Haredi men do you think study in cheder? And so what? What’s the difference between that esoteric pursuit and say academics in universities who get paid to research minute esoteric topics with little or no immediate usefulness and will be of interest to only a tiny number of people? You know what I mean – ie “Dietary trends amongst middle aged women in 17th century Upper Bratislava and its impact on the region’s literary development” I mean don’t taxpayers in Israel pay for that too?

    Of course, I have to say that the problem here is that your analogy was flawed from the start. You either should compare university faculty to yeshiva rabbis who teach, or yeshiva students to university students.

    That’s another ballgame because universities are subsidized just as yeshivas are subsidized. However, university programs lead to degrees and to an ability to function as a working person in the real world. They are a stepping stone. Yeshiva study leads to…more yeshiva study. The university students go out and find jobs and pay taxes. The yeshiva students have big families, supported largely by the state and their community, and do not find work because they consider their studies to be work, and since they produce nothing, pay very little if anything in taxes.

    Once out in the real world, the university student will have to survive without subsidies and will more than cover his initial university education subsidy with the taxes he or she pays. He or she will also play an active role in society as a worker who produces/teaches/manufactures/runs a business, etc. In fact, his taxes will pay his share and then also pay for the yeshiva student, his family, his yeshiva, and his kids’ education.

    That Israeli university student will continue to serve in the IDF reserves, after having already committed 3 or more years of their lives to the IDF. The yeshiva students has done no service and will never serve the country, although he will readily accept its subsidies and complain when they are insufficient. We could continue, but the differences are so profound and so clearly work against the university student or faculty member that I am having a tough time understanding why you brought this up.

    And who bailed out all the kibbutzim? And who supplied private Israeli arms dealers with cheapo weapons for mega profitable resale to questionable 3rd world militias and governments?

    Another silly straw man argument?

    Look, at least secular Israelis who don’t study in yeshivas work and pay taxes to bail out the kibbutzim. The kibbutzniks also work and while many kibbutzim lost money, many others recovered and produce products and revenues…and taxes. They also produce plenty of…IDF soldiers. Yeshivas produce nothing, create no products or wealth, pay no taxes, and their students and teachers do not serve in the IDF. Yes, yes, I’m talking about a specific sector of the Orthodox community here, so don’t start telling me about the other sectors that do produce wealth. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

    The point is that when you serve in the IDF, produce income and pay taxes, government and societal mistakes that cost the state money are at least mistakes for which you pay with your work.


    I mean geez louise, the vast majority of Israelis, religious, secular, whatever are loyal, law abiding citizens. Making a big fuss over differences, like you seem to always do, and highlighting extreme manifestations and un representative declarations is the thing that will most threaten Israel’s continued viability.

    It’s quaint to think that I’m responsible, along with the UN, for the things that most threaten Israel’s continued viability. However, if you were paying attention to the article, it’s about an important and influential rabbi who is sowing hatred. Is it possible, ck, that this rabbi and his pronouncements are more important with respect to the viability of Israel than either I or Ms. Strasler?

    Look, all my peeps in Israel are ostensibly allied to Rav Ovadia Yosef. But its a cultural thing. You think because he makes a couple of questionable pronouncements then all of a sudden everyone on our Moshav wants to kill Sharon and disses women? Our women are tough – anyone who calls them an ass will have his eyes torn out. Seriously. Don’t mess with them. Many of the men also work for various security services. You will never find a more loyal or conscientous bunch, period.

    Good. Rabbi Yosef won’t be saying the asses thing around your women.

    Strassler’s Haaretz rant makes it seem like Rav Ovadia Yosef’s “followers” have no brains and blindly and immediately follow every little thing the Rabbi says. Of course they would! They are ignorant Sephardic Jews!

    Holy cow! Where did you get this crap? The article says nothing of the like and just a couple of weeks ago the same newspaper attacked Rabbi Shapira, who held the same vaunted post as Rabbi Yosef, for telling soldiers to disobey orders. Don’t start using the Sephardic/Ashkenazy line unless there’s a reason.

    If you read the article, it refers to disciples of Rabbi Yosef. You know what, it only took one Yigal Amir. It would only take one person this time around – Sephardic or not.

    That’s what she implies

    No she doesn’t.

    and in doing so, she clearly demonstrates her shockingly ignorant understanding of Israeli society. Not everyone that supports Shas is religious. In fact, most aren’t. In Shas many simply see the only political organization that gives a voice to Sephardic Jews. The fact that ubber secularists in Shinui are annoyed by Shas only enhances Shas’s stature. Shas represents a great way to stick it to the man.

    Okay, now you’re debating. This is a valid argument and definitely challenges her views about what Yosef’s motivations might be. Couldn’t you just say this instead of all that other junk?

    Finally, for the longest time, during the Oslo era, Rav Ovadia Yosef was actually in favor of territorial compromise, citing the concept of pikuach nefesh as being more important than land. Granted, that position has since been reversed, but even then, most Mizrachi supportes of Shas pretty much ignored that.

    Oh oh, this plays right into her argument that he is not motivated by faith or concern about Israelis in general, but about himself and his cronies.


    So please, lets not make too much of stuff that is inconsequential. OK? Focus on the love and stop sippin on the haterade.

    So if I’ve read your comments correctly, it’s inconsequential because the peeps on your moshav, who are ostensibly followers of Rabbi Yosef, would not listen to or respect the negative stuff he has said publicly.

    That seems like a weak argument to me, but what do I know?

  • Why hasn’t anyone mentioned the really divisive issue in Judaism these days? Namely, why aren’t contemporary fiction writers portraying Orthodoxy as a shiny happy utopia free of dissenting opinions, choosing to focus instead on the conflicts that can arise within a stringent religious context?

    Oh never mind. I’ll just use my time machine and travel back about a month until I’m smack dab in “the middle” of the Shalit “Observant Reader” controversy. Ahh. Good times.

  • TM, you’ve got some serious issues (along with a helluva lot of free time, it seems) with religious folk. Maybe Janice the love coach could expand her services and offer a little ahavat chinam advice.

  • Laya, I put up with the personal comments because I really don’t care much. I would suggest, however, that except for Michael, nobody has really addressed the topic. That includes you. Here’s the article again. Let me know if you learn something from it.

  • You know I just wrote a long boring response to everything that you wrote TM. Point by point. But at the end of the day, does it really matter? Your arguments are so evidently biased and unbalaced that they speak for themselves. I would urge you to reconsider the matter with an open mind. Perhaps it might be good to also contemplate a Jewish State where the study of Judaism is not fostered or encourged. A viable Jewish State is not just made up of taxpayers and workers, just as a viable University is not committed solely to pure utility. Just think about it… and stop sippin’ that haterade! Ahavat Chinam dude. Just think about it.

  • I cant stand reading things like this, mainly because i just can’t understand it. Im probably naieve but im surrounded by such kind, humble, modest, giving Orthodox jews. And i have alot of respect for Rabbis. But how he could he make such statements? I mean some of that stuff could be considerd loshen hora aswell…
    And then im also troubled at how secular israelis consider religous Jews nuts. I experienced a taster with my own family in Israel after i said im keeping Shabbat. And even my cousin in Israel was keeping shabbat in secret (thats v hard btw) just so she wouldnt be imbaressed or be called a loonie. Sounds more like the inquisition period in Spain than the so called “Jewish Homeland”…

    One things for sure….changes are needed

  • middle,
    sorry to disappoint you. I’m not going to waste time typing out a long response, and heck, there’s no point since you evidently have a thing for rabbis and yeshivah bochers anyways.

    What does the yeshiva student produce? Nothing. I mean, nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

    If only you knew the truth.

    On the same page you lambast Shinui, you actually adopt their contempt for Jews studying their Jewliciousness. Lapid is on record saying that all that religious studying is a waste of the Jewish mind and would be better used to study ‘secular’ stuff, but he ignores the fact that the Jewish mind is so great ONLY because of this study of ‘nothingness’. Yes, I’ll put words in your mouth but that’s the rationale behind saying that yeshiva students produce nothing, eh?

  • Why is it that the ahavat chinam folks aren’t addressing the Rabbi’s comments? I mean, am I so important that I’m the problem here?

  • Dude. The point is that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef can say that the moon is made of blue cheese. It won’t matter. We’ll still respect him because the sum total of his work is more important than a few isolated questionable comments. Remember he’s about a million years old, and while Shas supporters revere Rabbis, we’re not blind followers. Most Shas supporters are not Orthodox. Anyone, again, that knows anything about Shas, knows that.

  • Josh and ck, there is nothing wrong with studying torah and gemara. There is something very wrong when what used to be the exclusive domain of very highly prized students/scholars, is now available to virtually anybody, er, any male. Meanwhile, Israelis who work for a living are paying, what, 50-55% in taxes and serving in the IDF?

    Josh, do we need every available Orthodox individual to pray so that Israel is saved? Can’t we just let the really exceptional tzadikkim and chachamim do it?

    I understand the anger directed at me because I dare to bring up an article listing Rabbi Yosef’s ugly pronouncements. I understand that you hate it when I point out that a certain segment of Israeli population takes advantage of their faith in order to live a very different life than is available to most people in the world, including secular (and those Modern Orthodox Jews who choose to participate) in Israel. Really, I understand.

    Now, presume I don’t hate anybody. Presume that I respect learned scholars who have high moral standards and are Orthodox. Presume that I know individuals from various segments of the Orthodox public in Israel and abroad. Presume I have family members in all streams of Judaism including charedi. Presume that you are trying really hard to put me in a certain “box” in your minds because you don’t like what I have to say.

    Now consider the following: according to Bar Ilan prof, Noah Efron, who is Modern Orthodox (REAL JEWS Secular vs. Ultra-Orthodox and the Struggle for Jewish Identity in Israel, 2003), 60% of chareidi men between ages 25-44 do not work for a living (up from 40% in 2001). About 30,000 – 35,000 receive IDF exemptions, up from about a 1,000 in the ’60s.

    Think what would happen to Israel if 60% of all the men stopped working to study torah and all of the men stopped serving in the IDF. The only reason this segment of the population can do this is that the other Israelis (secular and Orthodox) are shouldering the load. How do you expect them not to be angry? How do you expect them not to feel that they are dupes who risk their own lives and limbs, as well as their sons’, so that some others may educate against their values while ensuring their sons have a cushy yeshiva education (at their expense) instead of sitting in the mud night after night waiting for the ambush?

    Also,

    I’m sure we are in agreement that a good portion of the hard-core settlement movement is Orthodox. A variant of Modern Orthodox/Nationalist Orthodox, to be sure. We did the math with respect to Gaza, if you recall, but now we are learning how deeply ingrained the funding for all the settlements has been within the government. Sasson has even complained that she still hasn’t been given numbers from certain ministries despite her mandate, by the PM no less, to investigate.

    Is this not a case of subsidies by the rest of mainstream Israel? Is this not a case of violations of Israeli law but because the funding seems to be coming from the government, the violation is upon all Israelis? Is this not something that goes against most polls of the Israeli population? Does this not create “facts on the ground” that will make it far more difficult for Israel to remove its presence from the territories even though polls keep showing a majority of Israelis approving a two state solution with removal of outlying settlements? Why would you expect that there wouldn’t be anger by the average Israeli?

    You keep talking about sin’at chinam and a’havat chinam as if one should just keep swallowing rotten food but pretend that it tastes good.

    Accroding to your logic, if Rabbi Yosef says horrible things, including possibly incitement to murder, and Haaretz or TM point it out, then it is Haaretz and TM that need to find the love in their hearts. Somehow, it is Haaretz and TM who hate and have issues, not the rabbi and those who stand up for him despite his inexcusable comments.

    If the settlers claim that those who oppose the settlements are fools, unpatriotic, traitors, anti-Zionist, Nazi-like, Judenrat-like, etc., why is it those commenting on these disgusting remarks and actions who are considered the haters? Because we bring it up and out into the open?

    You want ahavat chinam? Go out there and make sure it exists in the segments of the population that you support, including those to which you belong. Then, you may come and claim that the remarks I or Haaretz make are false and have no place in our cultural discourse. I’m happy talking up the positive things about Shas, the ultra-Orthodoxm, the settlements and the settlers.

  • ck, as to your comment #33, please note that the reason this discussion became focused on Orthodox Jews is Michael’s comments early on.

  • T_M: Wow. The things you don’t know about Haredim can fill volumes:

    There is something very wrong when what used to be the exclusive domain of very highly prized students/scholars, is now available to virtually anybody, er, any male.

    Not true. There are many Haredi men that work – the Israeli diamond industry for instance would grind to a halt without the Haredi element. Some haredi men are simply not cut out for study and they are directed by their Rabbis to engage in suitable employment, where they also presumably pay taxes.

    Meanwhile, Israelis who work for a living are paying, what, 50-55% in taxes and serving in the IDF?

    Did you know that the army has a Haredi unit? Well at least until a month ago anyway. But there are about 1000 Haredim in it and it was created at the insistence of Haredi Rabbis.

    Josh, do we need every available Orthodox individual to pray so that Israel is saved? Can’t we just let the really exceptional tzadikkim and chachamim do it?

    There ya go again. Most Orthodox Jews are NOT Haredim. They serve in the Army and they work. Stop with the innaccurate gross over generalizations. It’s embarassing already.

    I understand that you hate it when I point out that a certain segment of Israeli population takes advantage of their faith in order to live a very different life than is available to most people in the world.

    What I hate is that you force me, over and over again, to point out the weaknesses in your argument. The entire state of Israel is one giant welfare state. Every government worker, every University professor, every unionized blue collar worker, every soldier and officer, every kibbutznik, many business people, every person with a large family, every oleh – practically every single Israeli benefits from government largesse to one extent or another. That you ascribe more importance to a PhD student studying Crop yields in sub saharan africa tribes in 1873 than you do to a Yeshivah student studying Torah in 2005 is reflective of your own bias. Accept your bias T_M. Deal with it. Acknowledge it. The Yeshivah student is no more or less a shnorrer than the esoteric academic – or the average Israeli for that matter.

    Yes there’s the issue of Army service and taxes and everything else, and yea I think the numbers of haredi men not working is a tad high – but that’s changing. Welfare payments are more and more being tied to work programs. The knesset is slowly dealing with issues related to the integration of haredi men into the work force. Many Haredi women also work to support their husband’s desire to study and I can assure you, none of these people have enviable lifestyles – they are mostly dirt poor – keeping the flame of torah study alive is a demanding and taxing endeavor.

    Think what would happen to Israel if 60% of all the men stopped working to study torah …

    Imagine what would happen if monkeys started flying out of muffti’s ass. Geez. That would never happen, you know that, so why bother even considering it?

    …but now we are learning how deeply ingrained the funding for all the settlements has been within the government…

    Dude. Since 1967 we’ve been encouraging them to be there. The fact that we are now unilaterally abdicating ought not paint these people as villains. They serve in the army, work and pay taxes and pay for Israel’s continued security with their flesh and bones and lives. Again, they get the same subsidies that are available to anyone else. How much do you think it’s cost the state to keep all those kibbutzes running? How pissed off would the average Israeli be to learn about special status accorded to other elements of Israeli society? While these chazirim sip champagne in Paris on the government coin, the rest of the friarim work hard and save their shekels and pay their taxes so that these other dolts with connections and protectzia whoop it up.

    You keep talking about sin’at chinam and a’havat chinam as if one should just keep swallowing rotten food but pretend that it tastes good.

    Uh no. It’s all a matter of presentation. If I went to your Mom’s house and was served bad food, I wouldn’t spit it up with disgust and holler and yell incessantly about how bad it was. I’d be civil. And if I called myself the middle, I’d try and present an even handed and, again, respectful, portrayal of whatever issue bothered me.

    Believe me when I tell you that I am no great fan of haredi lifestyles. I do not think that incessant torah study for its own sake locked away in some basement is a good idea for a large segment of the population. KI metziyon tetsei torah – TETSEI TORAH. Torah study needs to be implemented in the outside world. But your one sided and regular bashing of Orthodoxy forces me to counter without getting into a truly useful dialogue. Saying stuff like What does the yeshiva student produce? Nothing. I mean, nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. is provocative, counter productive and, hate to say it, hateful.

    As for Rabbis who call for political assassination or for settlers who call for treason etc. etc. you know very well that I oppose that shit too. But i try to temper my indignation with some restraint and some understanding. OK, maybe not when it comes to Tommy Lapid, but seriously, he is so bald faced… Oy. Now I feel bad about Lapid. *sigh*

  • I understand the anger directed at me

    Angry? I’m just a bit disappointed with the ignorance and prejudice.

    Meanwhile, Israelis who work for a living are paying, what, 50-55% in taxes and serving in the IDF? Josh, do we need every available Orthodox individual to pray so that Israel is saved? Can’t we just let the really exceptional tzadikkim and chachamim do it?

    NO!!! Absolutely not. The more people studying and praying the better. We need every available Jew in the world to pray so that Israel is saved. We need more people to actually understand and internalize even just one bracha in their daily prayers instead of mouthing them without thnking.Our nation went through 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and at that time, there was also ‘torah study’ believe it or not, but only when Pharaoh decided to kill our sons did ALL am yisrael finally cry out to hashem for salvation.

    It saddens me that the charedim(and arabs) were pushed to the fringe of the ‘state’ and henceforth still refuse to serve it ‘civily’, but to end ‘studying’? Crazy suicidal idea. I think that the ‘state’ should continue to approach them gently with acceptance and understanding with the charedi leaders/rabbis so that the charedim will want to participate more openly and not be forced. The charedim are apprehensive to send their children out into the world? Well, then we must respect this and create ‘local’ ways for them to serve voluntarily; police, nurses, soup kitchens, etc…

    Think what would happen to Israel if 60% of all the men stopped working to study torah and all of the men stopped serving in the IDF.

    I wouldn’t mind if instead of my 25-30 days of miluim being guard duty, it were studying in a yeshiva. Think about that; officially sanctioned miluim yeshiva study. What a great country we’d have. Our enemies would really be scared of us.

    And FWIW, most Israelis don’t do miluim, and an increasing number of secular kids are getting out of serving (that has since passed the number of charedi boys not serving).

    Sasson has even complained that she still hasn’t been given numbers from certain ministries despite her mandate, by the PM no less, to investigate

    The supressed facts coming out actually show that Sasson had no official and legal mandate and this is all a very successful spin by Sharon with a complicit media to continue blackening and delegitimize the settler movement and supporters. Sasson is a former employee for the State Prosecution, and since recently leaving that office needs to pass a certain ‘cooling off period’ before taking on a similar job in government. She has not. On top of that, the world over, public leaders are responsible for the ‘errors’ of their underlings, but not according to this report which has recommended that Sharon consider possible legal action against government employees who assisted in the construction of unauthorized outposts, In Israel, no.

    On one hand, it warms my heart that this love for eretz yisrael is so pervasive in all government offices, yet who led these offices/ministries and signed all these budget allocations??? Sharon, Mofaz, Ben Eliezer, etc… In a normal country, these leaders would be expected to immediately step down due to this revealed corruption, right? Not here and you don’t even notice this or care. The witchhunt will be low-level civil servants doing their jobs given to them by their bosses, including the Prime Minister himself.

    Another two things about the report;

    Sasson and her report completely ignored two very important offices of the government that have already dealt extensively with the outpost issue; the state ombudsmen’ office and surprise, surprise, her former ‘State Prosecutor’s office’ where she worked for so many years. Convenient obmission, no?

    Sasson was no objective ‘advocate’. It is reported that she openly used the world ‘occupied territories’ in a visit to the housing ministry and did not apologize for it when approached, even though the ‘state’ does not accept this term. So it turns out that she was merely a private lawyer who was hired illegaly to do a study that has already been done and that the ‘real culprits’ aren’t even being fingered. In a real democracy, the media would have pounced on this, but here, the media and you openly admit that it supports the ‘disengagement/retreat’ plan and everything will be used to support this initiative, even when the facts contradict the effort.

    if Rabbi Yosef says horrible things, including possibly incitement to murder

    How many times have people publicly said things about other leaders i.e. ‘I wish Bush would drop dead’, or ‘someone should kill Abu Mazen’?
    FWIW, Rav Ovadia was speaking in the passive, not the imperative (unless you think that Gd will obey his order to him). The torah is filled with many ‘death sentence’ commandments, but it is also a given fact that they are virtually ALLWAYS supposed to be decided judicially. Imaginary ‘pulsa denuras’ by imaginary rabbis is another example.

    claim that the remarks I or Haaretz make are false

    Who says that they are false? and why are they so horrible? He’s a brilliant man and a brilliant torah scholar. I don’t see why he should curb his tongue because his opponents, or non-believers, or some ignorant people like to take words out of context. If you really wanted to criticize him, listen to more of his shiurim, understand his train of thought, read the sources, and then come post what you found.

    And lastly for now,
    to continue rehashing the ‘most shas supporters aren’t even religious’ is quite unintelligent and degrading (can you prove it?). He has many, many ultra-orthodox supporters, even people in higher tax brackets.

  • Josh. Please. I didn’t deny that he has “many ultra-orthodox supporters, even people in higher tax brackets.” But the bulk of Shas’s support is not Haredi or ultra Orthodox. Have you ever been to a Shas rally? And can you please email me? ck [at] jewlicious.com. Thanks.

  • T_M: Wow. The things you don’t know about Haredim can fill volumes:

    TM: There is something very wrong when what used to be the exclusive domain of very highly prized students/scholars, is now available to virtually anybody, er, any male.

    ck: Not true. There are many Haredi men that work – the Israeli diamond industry for instance would grind to a halt without the Haredi element. Some haredi men are simply not cut out for study and they are directed by their Rabbis to engage in suitable employment, where they also presumably pay taxes.

    In North America and most of the world, haredi men work for a living. In Israel 60% of Haredi men study instead of working for a living. Must be some special something in that water they drink over there to make so many competent scholars who don’t have to work for a living.

    TM: Meanwhile, Israelis who work for a living are paying, what, 50-55% in taxes and serving in the IDF?

    ck: Did you know that the army has a Haredi unit? Well at least until a month ago anyway. But there are about 1000 Haredim in it and it was created at the insistence of Haredi Rabbis.

    And another 30,000-35,000 who don’t serve at the insistence of other Haredi rabbis. For heaven’s sake, I would even accept some sort of national service as a reasonable replacement and even that they don’t give.

    TM: Josh, do we need every available Orthodox individual to pray so that Israel is saved? Can’t we just let the really exceptional tzadikkim and chachamim do it?

    ck: There ya go again. Most Orthodox Jews are NOT Haredim. They serve in the Army and they work. Stop with the innaccurate gross over generalizations. It’s embarassing already.

    Um, Josh was alluding to the importance of torah study in Israel’s survival. It’s a point of faith that he’s making but one that Orthodox politicians of all religious parties have and continue to make. My point relates to any Orthodox person who may extricate himself from IDF service or even work to pay taxes because they choose to and the state gives them the opportunity. In other words, my point was specifically not about just Orthodox who are Hareidim.

    TM: I understand that you hate it when I point out that a certain segment of Israeli population takes advantage of their faith in order to live a very different life than is available to most people in the world.

    ck: What I hate is that you force me, over and over again, to point out the weaknesses in your argument. The entire state of Israel is one giant welfare state. Every government worker, every University professor, every unionized blue collar worker, every soldier and officer, every kibbutznik, many business people, every person with a large family, every oleh – practically every single Israeli benefits from government largesse to one extent or another.

    Um, all those people work for a living, or endanger their lives in the IDF, or provide service to the state in one way or another, and all pay a portion of their incomes to the government in the form of taxes or the business for which they work pay.

    ck: That you ascribe more importance to a PhD student studying Crop yields in sub saharan africa tribes in 1873 than you do to a Yeshivah student studying Torah in 2005 is reflective of your own bias. Accept your bias T_M. Deal with it. Acknowledge it. The Yeshivah student is no more or less a shnorrer than the esoteric academic – or the average Israeli for that matter.

    Nope, that yeshiva student will produce nothing, will probably not work, will receive subsidies to LIVE ON and for his family to live on as a result of his choice to study in a yeshiva.

    You run a business, ck. Would you hire somebody who came to you and had spent the last 6 years studying in a yeshiva or would you hire a person who went to university to study, say, computer science? Would you hire Muffti over a yeshiva scholar of the same intelligence who had spent equal number of years in yeshiva to Muffti’s college years?

    Real world application of yeshiva studies is not very likely. In fact, it is part of the problem. Even those Hareidim who wish to leave the yeshiva world find it impossible to convert the esoteric skills of yeshiva study to the real world.

    Also, whether you like it or not, that university student brings value to the Israeli workforce that the yeshiva student cannot. The university provides a platform that resembles the educational platforms of the first world. The yeshiva…well, have you heard of madrassas?

    ck: Yes there’s the issue of Army service and taxes and everything else, and yea I think the numbers of haredi men not working is a tad high – but that’s changing.

    Way to hide that in the middle of the long post.

    These are the issues we are discussing!

    And you’re right, the number of haredi men who don’t work is changing. It’s growing. Look at the book I mention above by the Modern Orthodox Bar Ilan scholar, Noah Efron. It is not just growing, it is exploding.


    ck: Welfare payments are more and more being tied to work programs. The knesset is slowly dealing with issues related to the integration of haredi men into the work force. Many Haredi women also work to support their husband’s desire to study and I can assure you, none of these people have enviable lifestyles – they are mostly dirt poor – keeping the flame of torah study alive is a demanding and taxing endeavor.

    Their poverty is dictated by the choice to have large families while pursuing esoteric studies that have nothing to do with the real world or making a living. I acknowledge the poverty of most Israeli Yeshiva bocher families. It is sad that they place themselves in a situation where they require charity and government largesse (and at times government blackmail by their parties) to feed their many children and themselves.

    I admire their passion for what they do, but honestly, considering the hard work and life of the average non-yeshiva-going Israeli, and the challenge of making a living, paying taxes, and serving in the army in miluim, I don’t see why the Orthodox who choose this poverty-driven but subsidized lifestyle heavy on ignoring the harshness of the outside world deserve sympathy.

    TM: Think what would happen to Israel if 60% of all the men stopped working to study torah …

    ck: Imagine what would happen if monkeys started flying out of muffti’s ass. Geez. That would never happen, you know that, so why bother even considering it?

    Thank you for making my point for me. The part you did not quote was the 60% would stop serving in the IDF. You would never consider these things happening. It is as absurd as having monkeys flying out of Muffti’s ass. Right? So why are you so non-chalant about 60% of Haredi men doing it.

    TM: …but now we are learning how deeply ingrained the funding for all the settlements has been within the government…

    ck: Dude. Since 1967 we’ve been encouraging them to be there. The fact that we are now unilaterally abdicating ought not paint these people as villains. They serve in the army, work and pay taxes and pay for Israel’s continued security with their flesh and bones and lives.

    Yes and no. The movement began by forcing the government’s hand in 1967. However, you are right that Israeli administrations have tacitly and sometimes overtly encouraged the settlement movement.

    I didn’t see myself painting them as villains, though. Can you find a quote where I said they were villains? I have commented in the past about certain settlers who, for example, donned the orange star of David, or who advocate disobeying the government. But I don’t recall painting settlers as villains. Ever.

    For the record, I don’t think that most settlers are evil. I think some are, but I think that about every group of people around the world. You have good people and bad people everywhere.

    I happen to admire most settlers. The ones I’ve met had a true love for Israel and Zionism. They were salt of the Earth good and generous people. They had a passion for life and a desire to be part of something greater. They were generally understanding of the Palestinians’ difficulties, even if they correctly perceived them as enemies. Also, I do believe that over the years, the Israeli government supported and encouraged the settlement movement and as a result, one can consider many of the families that will have to move now as victims of misguided policies.

    Again, they get the same subsidies that are available to anyone else.

    No, ck. The settlements get far more than any other group in Israel. They get so much that the numbers are still being kept secret. Over the years they have received billions and billions of dollars in support instead of that money going inside the Green Line. If you consider the cost of defending one settlement these days, find me a comparable cost within the Green Line. You can’t.

    ck: How much do you think it’s cost the state to keep all those kibbutzes running? How pissed off would the average Israeli be to learn about special status accorded to other elements of Israeli society? While these chazirim sip champagne in Paris on the government coin, the rest of the friarim work hard and save their shekels and pay their taxes so that these other dolts with connections and protectzia whoop it up.

    We don’t disagree about any of what you’ve just written. However, those are legal expenditures. I have no problem with legal costs diverted to the settlements other than thinking they were a foolish expense.

    The point I was making is that we now know that illegal outposts and settlement were quietly and illegally funded by state ministries. We are learning that some of these outposts and settlements were built on privately owned Palestinian land against the law as defined by the Supreme Court.

    Those serious problems have nothing to do with the legal bailout of the Kibbutzim, which, if memory serves, cost Israel about $1 billion. I would guess Israel has spent many times that on the settlements.

    TM: You keep talking about sin’at chinam and a’havat chinam as if one should just keep swallowing rotten food but pretend that it tastes good.

    ck: Uh no. It’s all a matter of presentation. If I went to your Mom’s house and was served bad food, I wouldn’t spit it up with disgust and holler and yell incessantly about how bad it was. I’d be civil. And if I called myself the middle, I’d try and present an even handed and, again, respectful, portrayal of whatever issue bothered me.

    So you would have written something like this:

    The great and beloved scholar, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who is well regarded for his knowledge of torah and his greatness at scholarship, is unfortunately finding himself under some pressure these days because of some things he has said. Unfortunately, the great rabbi, who is well respected among many segments of the Israeli population, has recently been quoted as saying about Prime Minister Arik Sharon, “the Holy One Blessed be He will give him one blow, and that he’ll die and not get up.”

    Is that how an objective person called The Middle would do it?

    I mean, you realize that he is wishing death upon Sharon, and perhaps even suggesting to the one loonie who might be listening that it might be what God wants to see happening to Sharon. But you would like me to dress it up as a respectful paean to this great rabbi even if it’s a call to murder.

    Now here’s what I did write: “Nehemia Strasler in Haaretz writes a pointed and devastating editorial about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who spoke of, well, smiting the PM of Israel the other day and quickly went back on his statement on the following day. The editorial lists some more of the Rabbi’s gems.”

    I quote a part of the article and conclude with, “Come on, read it all, you know you want to.”

    So, ck, what the hell are you complaining about? That I used the word “gems?” Or is it that you would rather I simply not post stuff like this?


    Believe me when I tell you that I am no great fan of haredi lifestyles. I do not think that incessant torah study for its own sake locked away in some basement is a good idea for a large segment of the population. KI metziyon tetsei torah – TETSEI TORAH. Torah study needs to be implemented in the outside world.

    Good.

    But your one sided and regular bashing of Orthodoxy forces me to counter without getting into a truly useful dialogue. Saying stuff like What does the yeshiva student produce? Nothing. I mean, nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. is provocative, counter productive and, hate to say it, hateful.

    I’m sorry, but there are some fine scholars out there whose lives should be spent studying torah. They are a very small minority. The rest are doing something that perhaps gives them pleasure and a sense of fulfillment, but does not put food on the table, produces nothing except learning for its own sake without any useful outcome in the real world. It may hurt you to hear it but it is what I believe. I don’t hate the people who do it. I do hate that they do it at the expense of others. There is a difference between the two things.

    As for Rabbis who call for political assassination or for settlers who call for treason etc. etc. you know very well that I oppose that shit too. But i try to temper my indignation with some restraint and some understanding. OK, maybe not when it comes to Tommy Lapid, but seriously, he is so bald faced… Oy. Now I feel bad about Lapid. *sigh*

    I believe I’ve shown a great deal of restraint. I’ve said things that apparently hurt your feelings and may have offended you, but I have not indicated hatred for anybody.

    I have indicated that if people want to study in a yeshiva all their lives, they should contribute to the Israeli state in a manner equal to the average Israeli both with work and military service. If they choose not to do so, they should provide for themselves and their family and not ask the average Israeli who does work, pay taxes and serve in the IDF to also pay their way while risking his or his son’s life to protect that of these yeshiva-goers and their sons and families.

    That isn’t hateful, ck, it’s pointing out a severe problem which really does exist and exists in Israel today.

    If you think it is hateful to point out some of the nasty things Rabbi Yosef has said, I would ask you to not get your back up against the wall, but instead simply acknowledge that they’re bad and either do something about it or walk away. Why debate the obvious? What he said was absolutely not okay and if it weren’t for his advanced age, it would be very difficult to explain away.

  • Dude. With all due respect, even the most secular Zionists have painted their movement as the culmination of a spirtual narrative. Zionism without Judaism, Israel without Torah, is nothing. Zero. Nadda. Zilch. In that respect, the Yeshivah student contributes to Israel’s very raison d’etre in a way that the PhD student simply doesn’t.

    There is value to what we’ve called “esoterica,” beyond the practical utility of work and taxes, and that applies to both the University and Yeshivah world. And yes, some Yeshivah students are out and out shnorrers, but so are many secular Israelis – focusing solely on Yeshivah students and not addressing the entire welfare oriented nature of the Israeli state demonstrates some sort of ideological bias.

    Your stats about the cost of settlements is skewed. The IDF would still have to spend billions securing the land even if not a single settlement existed there. In fact part of the reason for settlements was that they increased the defendability of the area – made it easier and less costly to defend. To date, there hasn’t been anyone on the Palestinian side willing to take back the land on the basis of a reasonable settlement. So please, lets not be disengenuous with the stats.

    Finally, what can I say? I don’t have time to address every single point you make. My main point is lets try and be respectful of people’s sensitivities, lets try and be even handed and lets try and be realistic. What do I mean? Israel is in fact an amazing, even miraculous entity. The fact that I hear so much to the contrary is troubling. The media and the Internet have no shortage of content that is wildly critical of Israel and Judaism. I kinda hoped we’d be able to balance that out a little – not in a mindless way, not in a non-critical way, but in a way that is respectful and mindful, ultimately of the ahavat yisrael that I know we all share.

    That’s all I have to say. And all I ask is that you contemplate that next time you post. Feel the love bro, let it be your guide.

  • Coming a bit late to the party, but I just have a few points to throw in.

    1. “Forcing women to have 8 children and work so that their husbands can study.” WTF? First of all, the mitzva to have children lies exclusively with the man. The woman can chose to not have children if she doesn’t want them. Second, the man is obligated to earn a living and support his family, UNLESS he has his wife’s permission. Third, I find it incredibly insulting and condecending to these women that you would suggest that they are such weak creatures that they can’t talk back to their husbands.

    2. Without Torah, the land of Israel will dissappear tomorrow. What Torah scholars produce is Torah observant families. Theyare the backbone of the country, and we will achieve peace by their merit, not by secular actions.

    3. T_M, Ayn Rand called, and she wants her soapbox back.

  • Grace, does it matter whether there are 100 Torah scholars or 10,000? Do Israel’s chances at peace improve with more Torah scholars, or fewer but superior Torah scholars.

    Forgive me, but most yeshiva students are not the backbone of the country. Until they do a 90km stretcher run with 180 lb. Shlomo on the stretcher, with a full pack of gear and a weapon, over rugged terrain and then spend the following years slinking around in the mud preparing ambushes or going into fairly dangerous situations where their lives are in jeopardy, I really think they are as far from being the backbone of the country as you can get. And yes, those yeshiva students who do these things can definitely be described as the backbone of the country, along with the many secular Israeli men who do them.

    The same goes for the economy. Until the yeshiva students actually participate and strengthen the economy, they are not the backbone and perhaps are even the achilles heel of the country. Needless to say, those yeshiva students who work for a living, pay taxes and study, are definitely the backbone of the country, as are all those secular Israelis who do.

    You know what else? Back in the day – you know, a couple of thousand years ago, when the Israelites were living on the land – the backbone was also the fighters, the farmers, the shepherds and all those who supported the temple in Jerusalem with their tithes. The Cohanim, who lived off these tithes, and may be described as the scholars of that age, were a select and small group among the entire population. That societal model makes a ton of sense.

    I’m certain most Orthodox women who are able to have children simply crave to have large numbers of kids, raise them while the husband sits in a yeshiva, and then also go to work so they can provide financial stability to their family while he studies with no end in sight to his commitment to the yeshiva. I’m also positive there is no community, family or societal pressure on the woman to do these things. All Orthodox women do everything out of personal choice. How amazing!

    Ayn Rand? Was she Jewlicious?

  • Ayn Rand, née Alissa Rosenbaum, was indeed a Russian-born Jewess, much to my great embarassment.

    Otherwise, please note that there are now more non-Haredi Israelis being exempted from service in the IDF than there are Haredim.

    Also note that the Haredi dominated diamond industry accounts for $6.5 billion of Israel’s total exports of $22.7 billion. I think it would be reasonable to thus say that the Haredi community certainly contributes an inordinate amount, both economically and spirituallly to Israel.

    You don’t have to wear a black hat in Israel to be a shnorrer.

  • On a community level, Haredim overall contribute far more than they take. That’s what it seems like. And say what you will about the zionists, it was the Haredim and religious Jews who maintained that continuous presence in Israel prior to the advent of Herzl that we all like to use in our Hasbarah discussions.

    Just sayin is all.

  • Dude, they mostly weren’t Haredim. They were observant Jews who lived in the Land of Israel. Haredim are, well, kinda like a European invention and all. In fact, you resemble the type of observant Jew who was living in the Land of Israel during those many centuries of exile in the diaspora.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “on a community level,” but my intent is not to say they contribute nothing. My intent is to state that many of them contribute little to the economy, little to Israeli defense and take in quite a bit while others carry the load.

    However, you know what I would like? I would like you to be right. I want your statements to be true. I would like the haredim and other Orthodox and non-Orthodox resident of Israel who remove themselves from obligations to the state, to give as much as others and to lessen the burden on those who currently shoulder it. If you go to study in yeshiva, it should be only after mandatory national service of some form. If you receive living subsidies for any reason, you should either be actively searching for a job, or demonstrably provide work or volunteer work to some state institution (not some made up institution intended to circumvent this obligation). Full time yeshivas should have barriers for entry, like any university or community college, monitored by the government or an independent third body, so that it’s not enough to merely want to do it.

    Really, it’s not so difficult to bring this self-enclosing part of society into the fold. They just have to stop being afraid (or dismissive, or despising) of the state or its secular members.

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