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”.