Well, they don’t serve, except for a tiny number. Ha’aretz had an op-ed criticizing this unfair and unjust practice. The practice was codified into a law called the Tal Law which essentially permits Orthodox men to avoid service if they pursue yeshiva studies virtually indefinitely. If they drop out of yeshiva studies, they have to serve in the IDF. In the past several years no more than a couple of hundred ultra-Orthodox men have opted to serve in the IDF and even a new national service option gets few takers. After 5 years, rhe law is up for renewal and the Cabinet has approved a 5 year extension despite encouragement from the Israeli supreme court to change the law. It now has to go to the Knesset for passage but there’s a good chance it will be renewed. This article points out that within a dozen years, one fifth of the eligible men in Israel will not have to serve in the IDF – a conscription army. There was a comment in the discussion that followed which caught my attention and I thought it should be reproduced. It comes from Yonatan from Kfar Saba, and he is clearly biased and incensed.

I Feel Deprived

First of all, I work hard for a living. But there are many people in this country who don’t work at all, because they are to be found (I won’t use the generalization “they are studying”) in rabbinical seminaries. All at my expense, to be sure.

Secondly, I pay all my taxes. But there are many people in this country that don’t pay all their taxes, or pay none at all. This is either because they don’t work, for the above-mentioned reason, or because they hide their true income from the goyish, Zionist State.

Thirdly, all the members of my family have served in the army, one of them even in Lebanon. But there are many people in this country who don’t serve in the army at all, or serve a reduced tour of duty in some dummy unit for former yeshiva students. Let the Zionist, secular suckers get killed!

Fourthly, my children attended overcrowded classrooms of 40 children, during years when cuts in the education budget and cuts in class hours were an almost everyday occurrence. So I had to pay for private lessons, of course, on top of textbooks, fees for class outings, fees for class materials and fees for class whatnot. But I’m a “goy” (i.e. disparaging term for a non-observant Jew), why shouldn’t I pay? Yet there are many people in this country whose children attend small classes for a long school day, receive free textbooks, get two free meals a day, and don’t pay any fees at all. All at my expense, to be sure.

Fifthly, I paid my children’s tuition at the university, adding money for living expenses when necessary. But there are youths in this country who attend (again, I won’t use the generalization “study”) at rabbinical seminaries for many years for free, and get living expenses and rent money as well. All at my expense, to be sure.

Fifthly… And if the rabbinical “students” choose to get married and spawn children while at these yeshivas, I pay for that too.

Sixthly, I don’t even have freedom of religion. I worship at a non-Orthopox synagogue, which receives no support from the Ministry of Religions. So I have to pay high membership dues for the privilege of praying at the synagogue of my choice. But other, (ultra-)Orthodox synagogues are supported by the State, all at my expense, to be sure.

My rabbis are not allowed to perform weddings, conversions or grant divorces. But the rabbis of the (ultra-)Orthodox Establishment are employed by the State to perform these services, all at my expense, to be sure.

And now, after I have been deprived, exploited, extorted and oppressed, I am being asked to understand the necessity for the Tal Law? Not on your life. I`m a proud “deprivee”.

About the author

themiddle

29 Comments

  • Another antisemitic post…wow.

    Perhaps you just need to become orthodox ! You will be happier !

    FYI , most of them are living with 500$ per month to feed 10 childrens ! You prefer to bring some russians non jewish people to this state and pay them for an alya ? or help jewish people who are LIVING in Israel ? or perhaps you prefer to wait to transform this country as an arabic country ? (with about 2 children per israeli non orthodox family in average, it will be catastrophic in 20 years)

    Zionism is just a new religion…and the ultra orthodox like me just want to stay jewish for a real judaism with all the options…. and with a real jewish leader.

  • You’re a kike.

    Today’s anti-Semitic post and comment were brought to you by Beit Ha-Mishpat Ha-Elyon, Ra’am-Ta’al, Ikea and generous support from sheeny readers like you. Vote Gimel!

  • Why cant they get a job? Where in Halakha does it say that you cant provide for your family AND study? No where

    How is it fair that the government provides so much money for so many people who contribute absolutely nothing tangible back to this country? They don’t pay taxes, they dont work, they don’t go to the army and yet they get millions of shekels through their yeshivot.

    This post is not anti-semetic, its a man telling whats wrong with our country. Don’t dodge the real issue just by labeling it anti-semetic because he doesnt hold back against the Haredim..

  • Zack, they have a family, educated children…. This is how they are building the country ! We are not building a country with people who are spending 1 year in thailand after 3 years of army!

    Another thing
    What part of the entire budget is allocated to yeshivots ? Can you tell me that exactly ? Do you have an exact number ?

    Can you compare that to the budget allocated to the national Television ? the tel aviv theaters ?

    For the Gulf war, the army done nothing. but the jewish people prayed a lot: 1 dead

    Lebanon War: hundreds of killed people…For what? Rockets on sderots every day and the soldiers still there.

    Perhaps you just need to see the things & events differently, not like goyims!

  • That’s a good question, Jeremie. According to this report, total budgetary allocation 10 years ago to support of yeshiva students was about 1 billion NIS and the total spending was approx 160 Billion NIS. That’s a good deal less than 1% of the budget obviously. And that was about 10 years ago. This as being spent on 28,550 Yeshiva students.

    While not a huge part of the budget, that’s an enormous amount of money, especially since its being spent on such a small segment of the population. And this is going to a segment of the population who contribute nearly nothing back to the economy, nearly by definition because to get a postponment you are not allowed to be engaged in any for of work.

    What Muffti thought was most striking is that hte total number of university students was nearly 100000 and they paid approx 9,000 NIS. Which comes to about a billion dollars. Which is what they spent on yeshiva students.

    Sorry these stats are so old…but since the number of yeshiva students has been continually rising…

  • Thanks grandmufti 🙂
    Ok so all this problem for 0.63% of the budget….

    So I can confirm, this post is like all any racism post. You have a small problem and you are saying that this is one of the biggest problem for the country.

  • Well, easy, Jeremie…Muffti agrees it’s a small part of the budget; but we have to remember how many people are the benficiaries of this small part. uffti agrees this isn’t the biggest problem the country has. Iranian nukes, massive corruption and incompetent leadership…

    Put it this way…if 0.001% of Canada’s budget was given to the Muffti to follow is religious aspirations (well, if he had any), Muffti thinks people would rightfully object that though the part of the budget is tiny, the amount of money being spent on one man is exorbinant. It wouldn’t do, Muffti takes it, to have him complain ‘c’mon guys, its such a small part of teh budget’…

  • Without commenting on the rest of the comment, I wish to point out that there is a difference between “not separating church and state” and “not having freedom of religion.” Whether a person is Orthodox or not, whether he’s Jewish or not, whether his synagogue/church/whatever is subsidized or not, people are free to worship God in whatever way they choose here, or not to worship at all. It sucks to know that your membership dues are higher or whatever, but no one is sending the police to arrest non-Orthodox Jews for, say, not having a mechitza. The area that gets really sticky is non-recognition of non-Ortho marriages performed in Israel — which is very dicey — but again, no one is arresting you at the airport if you choose to get married in Cypress or New Jersey in whatever sort of ceremony you choose. Or, if you choose to have a Reform ceremony here and simply not have it be recognized by the government, no one is stopping you from doing that, either. If you want to bring back statues of the Moon Goddess from India and worship them, you have a government-enforced right to do so. The fact that the state is choosing to subsidize another religion, but not yours, doesn’t mean that you don’t have freedom of religion.

  • And, having things be unfair doesn’t mean that you are “oppressed.” This guy has a job, his kids attend university, he attends the synagogue of his choice . . . it sounds like he lives a pretty stable life with dignity. How is that being “oppressed”?

  • FYI , most of them are living with 500$ per month to feed 10 childrens !

    And to restate zach’s sentiment’s why can’t they get a job or even have a few less childrens?

    Now I don’t mean to generalize, but why are handouts to Ortho’s in Israel but folks of the same ilk in the US on such a dole are lazy welfare mothers who need to get a job?

    Lets talk about bigotry.

    Sarah-
    This is discrimination to be sure, oppression maybe not. But as a Reform Jew who has dealt with the way my Rabbis are addressed, dealt with funding shortages for Reform Shuls in Israel and many other issues this is a problem and it is called governmental discrimination.

  • The only thing keeping me from make aliyah to escape fundamentalist Xtian theocracy in the USA is the fundamentalist haredi theocracy in Israel. Where in the world can progressive believers go in the world to escape the frum?

  • Preach on brother Joel.

    If you want to play percentages, lets talk about 1% of the budget going to .1% of the population, nearly 100% of which don’t pay into that budget whatsoever.

    Some (not all, but some) of these yeshivas spout the same sort of rhetoric that we criticize the muslim imams of instilling in their youth. If they were left to run amok, they would undoubtfully turn violent (think blowing up Al-Aqsa or DOTR), then Israel would be a state sponsor of terrorism the same as those who we consider to be enemies.

    What is even more sad is that this Jew has to consider himself a goy in his own country because he feels so aleinated from the theocracy that surrounds it. This comes from those same yeshivot where the state funded Rabbis are preaching that those who don’t agree with them are not Jews at all.

  • “The only thing keeping me from make aliyah to escape fundamentalist Xtian theocracy in the USA”

    You’ve been reading way too much Dawkins.

    “Where in the world can progressive believers go in the world to escape the frum?”

    Try Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, San Fran, Winnipeg…on, and on, and on.

  • Jeremie, Hi there!

    First of all, never rely on WRMEA, it has a clear anti-Israel agenda and I am fairly confident that I’ve read that it’s a Saudi funded organization, which might make that agenda their mandate.

    Second, I have just spent a little time trying to parse Israel’s budget http://www.mof.gov.il/budget2007/takanotbudget.htm to see where I could dig up the numbers you seek. They are not clearly outlined and I suspect that many innocuous sounding line items end up in Orthodox and Haredi hands. You are welcome to try to figure out that budget at the enclosed link.

    Third, instead of calling names, you should try to address the substance of Yonatan’s comments. The first and most egregious problem is that the ultra-Orthodox don’t serve in the IDF while everybody else is obligated to do so (yes, some get out of service but their behavior isn’t sanctioned by law and doesn’t reflect the behavior of 98% of their entire community).

    As if it’s not enough that their sons and fathers aren’t at risk, or even just commit time to national service, they also don’t provide tax revenues in line with their numbers because a vast percentage either do not work or work at relatively low-paying jobs. As Yonatan points out, there is plenty of reason to suspect they hide revenues to avoid taxation as well.

    Fourth, they receive funding for schools that substantially exceeds that provided, per capita, to non-Orthodox children. As if that isn’t enough, many of these schools de-emphasize secular subjects. Of course, this means that their graduates cannot compete in a modern economy with all the attendant implications for future income and standards of living, future tax contributions, future support for the Israeli economy, etc.

    It goes on and on.

    There is no reason for bias toward any citizen of Israel. If you consider pointing out a bias that exists to be “antisemitism,” then you’re sadly confused. Israel is the only country in the world where an entire class of citizens is subsidized in such a way that they can avoid working or contributing the same as the vast majority of other citizens. It is so egregious that they have no fear of having far more children than the average citizen, in large part because they know there will be economic support that ensures they get the services they need for those children. Fine, if this is how they want to be, I disagree but I understand. However, when they then absolve themselves from making any contribution to the state (and please don’t tell me that praying is the contribution because you insult my intelligence) in the form of national service, military service, or business/employment matters, they also remove the right to receive services, or at least services above what other citizens receive. After all, the only way this can take place is if people like Yonatan have to contribute not only for themselves, but enough to support those who don’t contribute. This is bad for everybody and needs to be stopped.

  • The problem is the product of two issues: Ben Gurion wanting (needing?) their support in the early days of the state and offering a break on military service. The other is the nature of Israel’s government where they invariably need coalitions so that smaller parties wield outsized influence.

    With the former, there is no way Ben Gurion could have predicted the growth of this community and the implications of his decision. Regarding the latter, it makes sense politically but it makes no sense in terms of fairness or justice.

  • Off-topic here, Middle, but check out the current New Yorker magazine for David Remnick’s review of a couple of recent books on the Six-Day War.

  • I read it yesterday and was put off by it. It’s as if he’s absorbed what the “new historians” offer but doesn’t give similar weight to others who disagree. I ended up rushing through the article. I mean, he treats Ilan Pappe respectfully.

    I believe the question of what ’67 was about is an important one, and as someone who wishes that Israel would have no presence among the Palestinians, I do feel that many errors were made in 1967 and particularly the early years subsequent to the war. However, it is unreasonable to minimize, as he does, the absolute wall of non-recognition and non-negotiation that Israel faced in 1967 from the Arab world. It is also ridiculous to point out that Golda Meir said there were no Palestinians without explaining any part of the context. This is good propaganda, but in reality the nationalism that encompasses such large segments of the Palestinians population didn’t exist to the same degree back then and only had minor support at earlier times last century.

  • Sarah,
    The police are not making raids on Reform and Conservative Shuls in Israel, no, but that doesnt mean that people in those two groups arent equally represented or funded like the Orthodox are. Why should they have to go to another country to get married in the way in which they feel like when this is the Jewish state and they are Jewish!

    Jeremie: 0.63% of the budget or 63% of the budget it doesnt matter. It is still billions of shekels, either way you look at it going to people who contribute NOTHING to this country. Why should I have to pay for someone who is giving nothing back to this country?

    I wish we didnt have to have an army, but the fact is, we do, and everyone should go, Haredi or otherwise.

  • Middle, Remnick failed to address what, if anything, Israel could have done to meet the concerns Amos Oz expressed in the prescient comments Remnick quoted. It’s easy to claim things fell out of bed, without identifying how history could have turned out differently.

    Where Remnick is fairly persuasive, it seems to me, is in depicting the Israeli leadership as not knowing precisely what to make of its victory, the scale of which took it by surprise, obviously. Strategic purposes could have been defined more clearly, and public expectations tailored accordingly . . . The meaning of the ’67 victory remains up for grabs.

  • There is no question that the Israeli leadership didn’t know what to do.

    Aside from their internal debates and having to deal with the Khartoum Conference’s rejection, there was another important angle: the West Bank is the cradle of Judaism in many respects. Jerusalem was less of a question, but what do you do with a place like Hebron where Abraham lived? I think that, right or wrong, there was this compelling sub-story that helped their indecision. On top of that, however, one has to recognize that the Palestinians were not organized as they are now and if there was a peace to be made, it would have been with the Jordanians just as the Sinai was traded for peace with the Egyptians. Of course, giving the Jordanians the West Bank because of their victory in 1948 also brings up serious questions of fairness. In hindsight, it’s easy to criticize but I don’t know what I would have done back then. I don’t think I would have given the Waqf the key to the Temple Mount, however.

  • Typical dumb op-ed.

    I just typed out a long reply and the page refreshed.

    Most of the claims are baseless lies, generalizations, oversimplification, with some bullshit emotion-driven ranting thrown in as well.

    I’ll just comment on #6 to show the writer’s ignorance. Many Rosh Hashana’s have passed since the government fed money into synagogues. While the small building my synagogue uses is publicly owned, everything else comes out of our pockets. If this loser is paying high membership dues, then he should switch his synagogue committee wasting those fees.

    Shavuah tov.

  • To Zack

    0.63% and 63% of the budget are not the same thing at all. I think you need to live a little outside Israel to see all the differents governements are helping their population without discrimination all over the world.

    About the army, The main question is Why do we need an army if any of the leaders know what Israel needs to be ?
    If Israel is like any other state, why do you need to stay in this land surrounded by many arabs countries ?
    Why not going to another place in the world ?
    Why this land is more to Israelis than to the palestinians ?

    Sometimes, we need to take Gaza, sometimes we need to give Gaza and Gush Katif….
    Sometimes, we need to go to lebanon
    but for WHAT ?

    God wanted to give us this land but also all the mitzvots (and learning torah is one of the most important mitzva. It’s impossible for a jew to be observant without learning torah many hours per day. IMPOSSIBLE !) . If we want a simple state like all the others states (with a transsexual at the Eurovision and the worldwide gay pride in Jerusalem).
    I don’t know why we need to serve IDF…

    We are here to create a very unique country.

    When we will have a leader who will have this vision…I’m sure that all orthodox will want to serve the army.

    An orthodox Jew just want to be able to be a real Jewish with all the options. I’m orthodox. I’m working. I have children. I’m paying tax. I’m learning Torah 4 hours per day. If all the israelis will do that, we will not need all this full times “bahurims” and “avrehims” but I don’t want to serve IDF and be leaded by all the crazy israelis governments !

    About the orthodox contribution: What can you say about Hatzolah ? Zaka ? Meir Panim ? Ezra Lamarpeh ? Ezer Letsion ? the Laniado Hospital in Netanya ? all the gmahims ? and all the others very big organizations who are helping EVERY DAY ALL KIND of israelis !

    I think that they are contributing more to the country than Olmert himself !

    You just need to turn off your TV. I will be happy to visit this organizations with you…

  • Jeremie, with all due respect, your blood and the blood of Orthodox sons isn’t any better than the blood of non-Orthodox Israelis. Serve in the army, or provide 3 years of national service and you will find that much of the criticism you now hear will go away.

  • Jeremie,
    Sorry for the mix up with the numbers. I was at work and I got caught up in the conversation too much.

    In terms of the “why Israel” question, you know the answer to that question, its in the Tanach.

    Do you really think that many of the people in the Army now really believe in Olmerts vision or anyone in the government for that matter? No, of course not, they are Israeli’s too and barely even a percentage point of Israeli’s approve of Olmert. They aren’t in the army because they believe in Olmert or any politician for that matter, they are in the Army for a few other reasons. One is that they have to unlike your Haredi compadres. Another reason is that they actually believe in it, it being defending their familes and defending Jews. I read an article in Haaretz a while back that a record number of people going into the Army want to go to Combat units.

    I am aware of these organizations and the good things that they do. That is besides the point, congratulations, you just listed a bunch of organizations which do good things. Does every single Haredi Army aged male in this country work for one of those organizations? Of course not, these places do good things, but they are not what we are talking about here.

    Oh, also, have you ever heard of a unit called Nahal Charedi? A military unit for Haredi jews, they serve and study torah. They can’t even form a full batallion but thats besides the point. The Middle’s right, go to th army, or do national service. I won’t criticize you anymore.

    PS. I dont have a TV

  • Nahal Charedi is an interesting phenomenon… They just had their giyus that was supposed to happen months ago, but kept getting postponed because they didn’t have enough guys.

    A few notes about Nahal Charedi:

    a. Guys who do Nahal Charedi often serve shorter stints.

    b. their unit is getting a reputation approaching that of Magav (being a bit out of hand).

    c. For quite some time their hands were very much tied (their part of Kfir, the head of whom is slightly left-of-center compared to the rest of the IDF, and tried to keep Nahal Charedi on a short leash).

    d. They’re just now starting to see more action.

    e. Because of the units requirements, despite the fact that they are part of Kfir (which is supposed to move all over the country) they almost never leave their base for other bases. When they do, the IDF has to clear the new base of all female soldiers, and re-kasher the entire base.

    f. They don’t serve miluim (unless they request it, in which case they serve in a different unit).

    g. The running joke is that they’re called “Nahal Charedi” instead of “Nahal Charedim” because there’s only one Charedi guy in the unit.

    B’sof, there are major issues, and it is certainly looked at wearily by other members of the IDF. Who knows what it’s future will be. They want to become a full batallion on par with Nahal (where they used to be), Kfir, Paratroopers, Golani, Givati, etc… Looking at their recent recruitment numbers though, it doesn’t look good.

  • I agree with TM that the ideal would be a Jew who did it all – a religious life, plenty of children, gainful work, army service. Well sure. But there will always be people who are supported financially by the community to think their whole lives. You know, like having tenure in an American college. It is not totally stupid to subsidize “non productive” thinkers and studiers – every large business has an R & D dept, which is supposed to have wild ideas, not produce product. If more Jews were religious and fertile, there might be less need to have this division of labor, where some study really difficult, exacting Judaism, and have kids, and others do … neither.

    If you think contributing another Jewish baby is not “contributing to the country” ! Ha ha.

    I guess everybody contributes what he has. But no need to knock the others, or expect perfection. Yes, yes, they are not all geniuses… and some of the seculars do too have a few kids. But never a fourth. Maybe sometime a third.

    If I meet Margaret Sanger in hell, I am going to give her a piece of my mind. She was a eugenicist – and had contempt for Jews. Bet you didn’t know that!

    I will just be visiting. Hell, that is.

  • It’s not cause your a jew who like to live like goyim that you have to be proud of it…

    With this kind of text, don’t be surprise to find your child in a church one day… oups… sorry… they’re allready in a church ?

  • There is nothing wrong with the Ultra-Orthodox living the life they do. However they need to pull their own weight.

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