Traditions in Passing

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When two leading Jewish figures, one Orthodox the other secular Zionist, spoke in a storied 1952 meeting, did one best the other? On October 20, 1952, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion paid a visit to R. Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, known as the “Chazon Ish,” to discuss the political hot-button issue of compulsory national service for women. The Chazon Ish adamantly opposed the induction of young Orthodox women into national service while the Prime Minister considered a crucial matter of national interest. The two leaders did not resolve the issue together. However, one aspect of their failed conversation became legendary.

The Chazon Ish offered Ben Gurion a Talmudic parable to explain why the Orthodox viewpoint should receive priority. Surprisingly, multiple versions of the story exist. Dr. Benjamin Brown, in his recently published intellectual biography of the Chazon Ish, The Hazon Ish: Halakhist, Believer and Leader of the Haredi Revolution (available for purchase here: link), compared all the different versions and interviewed the only remaining witness — Yitzchak Navon — in order to establish the proper text. The Chazon Ish compared the Orthodox and secular communities to two camels (or boats or wagons), one with a burden and one without, arriving at a narrow pass. One must go first and the Talmud (cf. Sanhedrin 32b) rules that the camel (or boat or wagon) carrying the burden receives precedence.

According to Navon, the Chazon Ish continued that the Orthodox bear the burden of religious law while the secular do not feel bound by it. Because of the limitations they face, the Orthodox’s view should prevail. Other versions, which are far more prevalent, have the Chazon Ish comparing the burden to the ancient Jewish tradition the Orthodox uphold. In comparison, the secular worldview is quite new. The Orthodox camel carries 2,000 years of Jewish tradition and must therefore receive precedence.

Brown points out that Navon’s version is more pragmatic. The Orthodox simply have less leeway while the non-Orthodox are freer in their behavioral choices. The other versions are more rhetorically and ideologically powerful, expressing the superiority of Orthodoxy over the secular Zionist alternative.

If the Chazon Ish compared the Orthodox and their tradition to a camel bearing a burden, then it would seem he offered a compelling rebuttal to Ben Gurion. Interestingly, Brown points out that while Ben Gurion recorded the meeting in his journal, he left out this parable and, indeed, never wrote or spoke about it publicly. Was this an omission of embarrassment or indifference? Did Ben Gurion erase the parable from his memory because he felt bested or did it fail to make an impression?

Based on Shimon Peres’ recent book, Ben-Gurion: A Political Life, I suggest that Ben Gurion found the parable unconvincing. Peres, a long-time trusted aide of the Prime Minister, explains that, as a tactic to counter the Orthodox community’s ancient Talmudic tradition, Ben Gurion adopted a Biblical tradition. Peres (together with his co-author David Landau) writes (pp. 149-150):

In his battles with the Orthodox, he exploited the fact that many of them tended to focus on the Talmud and neglected the Bible. He put the Bible at the center of his philosophy and of the national ethos as he sought to fashion it, because the basis of the Bible was in Eretz Yisrael, whereas the Talmud, the “Oral Law,” was a product of the Diaspora… [H]e advocated the restoration of the Jewish people to the Bible and of the Bible to the Jewish people. As he famously declared to the Peel Commission, “The Bible is our Mandate.” He initiated a Bible-study circle at his home, and the annual Bible Quiz, which became a popular event, was his idea.

If so, Ben Gurion could have actually bested the Chazon Ish, had he felt the moment opportune. He could have responded that the Orthodox follow a Talmudic tradition that is 1,500 years old while the secular Zionists bear the 2,500 years old Biblical tradition. Had he done so, the conversation would have quickly degenerated into an argument, with the Chazon Ish protesting that the Orthodox, not the Zionists, bear the Biblical tradition as transmitted in the Talmud. Political expedience did not permit such an argument because Ben Gurion had a mission, albeit one he failed to achieve.

While the Chazon Ish’s parable carries great emotional pull among the Orthodox, I suspect that Ben Gurion found it uncompelling. His attitude toward the Bible allowed him to ignore it, if not counter it directly. From his perspective, it was based on a mistaken and easily dismissed premise. Neither of the two leaders emerged victorious from that 1952 meeting, whether rhetorically or politically.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

152 comments

  1. Gil — nice post, but I think your use of “Orthodox” is imprecise; “Charedi” would be more accurate.

    Ben Gurion had no lack of Orthodox advisors with whom he interacted on a daily basis. In today’s parlance, I rather suspect this famous visit might be called a “courtesy call”.

  2. As a reminder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Religious_Front and, of course, Rav Herzog and Rav Uziel.

  3. The link to the NYT article doesn’t seem to be working.

  4. OCR’ing the NYT PDF image requires a lot of manual editing, but here are the two key paragraphs in regard to the points I raised:

    After an hour’s animated discussion over glasses of tea, the area of disagreement between Premier David Ben Gurion and “Hazon Ish” was fundamentally as wide as ever, but they agreed on the need for understanding.

    Political observers linked today’s conversations with the defection of the religious extremists from the Government on Sept. 18.

    “‘Hazon Ish” is a phenomenon of Jewish life. His name is Abraham Yeshayahu Karelitz. He came here from Lithuania eighteen years ago. He never has been ordained as a rabbi and he holds no official position but his word is law to thousands of pious Jews for whom the official chief rabbis of Israel are too liberal. “Hazon Ish” is the pen name he uses in a score of’ commentaries that are being circulated in the United States and provide his source of income. It means “vision of man.”

  5. It should work now.

  6. IH: Ben Gurion’s primary religious advisor was R. Maimon.

  7. Here’s the rest of the article manually corrected from Adobe OCR:

    The talk today touched upon the Premier’s plan to introduce compulsory national service for women exempt from the Army on the ground of religious objection, the issue upon which five members of Agudat Israel and Poalei Agudat Israel broke away from Mr. Ben Gurion’s coalition and deprived the Premier of his parliamentary majority. No details of the conversation were disclosed. but the quintessence of the issue was aired obliquely later during a formal visit by the Premier to the municipality of Bnei Brack. which is dominated by religious extremists.

    I notice “Mr. Ben-Gurion said to bearded Mayor Itzhak Gershenkorn. a follower of the sage, “that you here are not opposed to employing women.” The implication was that if it was all right to employ women in municipal offices there should be no objection to 1
    conscripting them for national service in army offices, schools or hospitals.

    Mayor Gershenkorn replied: ”These women volunteered to work here.” indicating that he had nothing against voluntary national service for women but that the objection was to compulsion.

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  8. In any case, the NYT story confirms it was not “Orthodox” but “Charedi” (i.e. Agudat Israel and Poalei Agudat Israel).

  9. I believe that the Religious Zionists, or at least many of them (including R. ZY Kook), vehemently opposed *compulsory* national service for women.

  10. Happy to read a corroborating source you find. Thus far the source you came up with confirms my initial comment 🙂 ‘Nite

  11. Great post!

    I have at times been surprised by the strong biblical knowledge of some secular Israelis — more than many rabbis. Maybe more of us need to start Nach Yomi when the next cycle starts in a few weeks?

  12. Very interesting post, Gil!

  13. Let’s not forget Ben-Gurion didn’t believe in the Bible (he said “Isaiah is the whole of the Bible” and specifically “out of Zion shall go forth law…”) and he actually experimented with Buddhism for a full week, while Prime Minister on an official state visit to Burma in 1961, as Prime Minister.

    It is also interesting to note that the New York Times article (published on Oct. 21, 1952 and pictured above) detailing Ben-Gurion’s visit to the Chazon Ish’s home on Oct. 20, in the very headline called the Chazon Ish an “Israeli Extremist” Sage. (In the body of the article it also threw in that Bnei Brak “is dominated by religious extremist”.

    The media referring to Chareidim as extremist is far from a new phenomena.

  14. “he had nothing against voluntary national service for women”

    Suuuuuuuuuure.

  15. Joseph – If you read Brown’s book, you’ll see that the Chazon Ish would have been very proud to have been known as an ‘extremist’. Indeed, he wrote a famous epistle in praise of extremism.

  16. “The media referring to Chareidim as extremist is far from a new phenomena”

    Look it would be only 12 years later that a US Presidential candidate would say “extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice”-who says chareidim don’t take it as a matter of pride that they are extremists.

  17. I suspect had BG said he followed the Tanach, the CI would have laughed him out of the room. How many of the Mitzvos did BG keep, based on any interpretation? Unless BG meant he kept traditions of people like Achav…

  18. You can find the story of the Chazon Ish and Ben Gurion in Artscroll’s “In the Footsteps of the Maggid” by Paysach Krohn on p 261

  19. “J. on November 4, 2011 at 4:37 am
    Joseph – If you read Brown’s book, you’ll see that the Chazon Ish would have been very proud to have been known as an ‘extremist’. Indeed, he wrote a famous epistle in praise of extremism.”

    The media referring to Chareidim as extremist is far from a new phenomena”

    “Look it would be only 12 years later that a US Presidential candidate would say “extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice”-who says chareidim don’t take it as a matter of pride that they are extremists”
    Maybe both the CI and that Presidential candidate had the same extremist Yiddishe neshama in their blood.

  20. “Hirhurim on November 3, 2011 at 10:53 pm
    I believe that the Religious Zionists, or at least many of them (including R. ZY Kook), vehemently opposed *compulsory* national service for women”

    I suspect that the following represents a fair summary of religious zionism and women serving in various choices at 18 in Israel

    “Female members of the Mizrachi movement living in Israel faced a similar dilemma when they reached the age of 18. For many it is questionable in Jewish law whether women should serve in the army or not. Three options now exist for our young women. The first is to get a religious exemption from service, but this option is very rarely used. The second is to serve in the educational corps of the army where our girls serve as teachers in various spheres – to a regular soldier, those from underprivileged homes and those with learning impediments, as well as working in underdeveloped towns.

    The third option is called “Sherut Leumi”, a program under which Mizrachi girls volunteer for one or two years of national service.”

  21. IH,

    The term Charedi as a term to denominate solely “black hats” in the 1950s is anachronistic. At the time, it could refer to all religious Jews. It was only later that the term “dati” or “dati leumi” separated the RZers from the black hatters.

    The story of the final split between the charedi and religious-Zionist communities during the 1950s is a PhD that has yet to be written…

  22. “I notice “Mr. Ben-Gurion said to bearded Mayor Itzhak Gershenkorn. a follower of the sage, “that you here are not opposed to employing women.” The implication was that if it was all right to employ women in municipal offices there should be no objection to 1
    conscripting them for national service in army offices, schools or hospitals.

    Mayor Gershenkorn replied: ”These women volunteered to work here.” indicating that he had nothing against voluntary national service for women but that the objection was to compulsion.”
    Of course, it is not the work-it is the money the workers get paid keseph maleh for that one may be allowed to work for the treifa medina. Just like one can be involved in the govn’t to get money for Kollelim even if the medina is reishut-I have respected the Neturei Karta nad the Satmar for their more consistent beliefs.

  23. “The story of the final split between the charedi and religious-Zionist communities during the 1950s is a PhD that has yet to be written…”

    It was split way before the 50s.

  24. mycroft,

    Yes, but according to Dr. Benny Brown, and his argument is convincing, there were still areas of connections between the two communities in Israel, in spite of the serious differences. The 1950s was the final get critut.

  25. mycroft: Of course it’s not the money but the ability to choose a wholesome, religious atmosphere or to choose not to participate at all.

  26. Lawrence Kaplan

    For mycroft it’s (almost) always the money.

  27. aiwac — I accept that “charedim” is not as precise as one would want, but Gil’s use of “Orthodox” is way off the precision chart.

    From the NYT article, it would seem it was specifically Agudat Israel and Poalei Agudat Israel that objected in practical terms. Not, Mizrachi. Do you have a better segmentation word than “charedim” to describe them in the 1952 context?

    For those who want to research this further, a fantastic resource I know from my genealogical research is TAU’s Historical Jewish Press: http://www.jpress.org.il/view-english.asp

  28. Prof. Kaplan — please stick with the argument and not the person.

  29. This post is a terrible bizayon to the Chazon Ish, and can be recognized as such even without following the Charedi party line. I do not want to argue specifics: those who feel it in their bones know what I am talking about. Those who do not can give themselves a moment to think about it.

  30. IH: According to Wikipedia, R. Herzog and R. Charlap also opposed mandatory national service for women:

    link

    בשנת 1953 נחקק חוק שירות לאומי, הקובע כי כל בת דתייה שקיבלה פטור משירות בצה”ל חייבת לשרת בשירות לאומי. חוק זה עורר את התנגדותם הפעילה של גדולי הרבנים בציבור החרדי (ביניהם החזון איש, ר’ איסר זלמן מלצר ואף הרב יעקב משה חרל”פ, מגדולי תלמידי הרב קוק) שאף הכריזו כי השירות אסור באיסור “יהרג ובל יעבור” (אליהם הצטרף גם הרב הראשי דאז ר’ יצחק אייזיק הלוי הרצוג).

  31. Interesting, Gil. Thanks. The quotation makes it sound to me like Rav Herzog was not representative of the Mizrachi/RZ camp. I also note for aiwac the use of גדולי הרבנים בציבור החרדי.

    For those who are curious, the contemporaneous reporting that may be found at the Historical Jewish Press site may shed more light. The serious researcher would also want to see the voting in the Knesset.

  32. For clarity: Rav Herzog was not representative of the Mizrachi/RZ camp on this issue.

  33. Oh, FWIW, when this meeting occurred my Orthodox aunt was in Nachal on the re-established Kibbutz ha’Dati Ein Tzurim.

  34. All I’m saying is that the Chief Rabbi and the rosh yeshiva of Merkaz HaRav said that compulsory sheirut le-umi was yehareg ve-al ya’avor. So it is incorrect to say that the Chazon Ish’s objection was solely representative of Charedim. Yes, some maybe even most (I don’t know) Religious Zionists were in favor of sheirut le-umi. But important RZ figures strongly opposed it. I seem to recall seeing R. Shlomo Aviner quote R. Zvi Yehuda Kook as also opposing it.

  35. Are you sure R. Herzog said that compulsory sheirut le-umi was yehareg ve-al ya’avor? That does not pass the smell test given history as it has unfolded.

  36. Not 100% sure that he said “yehareg ve-al ya’avor” but yes that he opposed. Compulsory sheirut le-umi was never enforced.

  37. It really would be interesting to see the Knesset vote details.

  38. Ok, well I have no idea how authoritative this is, but the narrative makes sense given what has come out so far in this discussion.

    In 1951, Ben-Gurion challenged the Orthodox by presenting to the Knesset a series of secularist bills, among them, an amendment to the Compulsory Military Service Law that abolished the exemption granted to religious females. Orthodox young women would, under the amendment, serve in military offices, farm settlements, hospitals, and other social and national welfare positions. The amendment offended Orthodox views of female modesty. Minister of Social Welfare Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Levin of Agudat Israel warned the Knesset that any amendment to the Military Service Law that infringed on the rights of the Orthodox would be disobeyed, even at the risk of imprisonment or execution. The Chief Rabbinate threatened that “the rabbinical court would ban the military amendment, a world wide day of fast would be proclaimed in protest, and Orthodox Jewry would ‘fill the prisons in Israel with their daughters rather than comply with the law. . . .'” Rabbi Amram Blau, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Natore Karta, urged Orthodox females to commit suicide rather than accept conscription. Feelings ran high, and a few extremists went beyond rhetoric and attempted antigovernment action. The police foiled a group of fanatics who had plotted to blow up the Knesset and seized a small arsenal of weapons that were to be used by a minute band of zealots planning a “holy war.” 4 The amendment, however, was shelved before coming to a final reading. Two years later, despite protests in Israel and abroad, the Defense Service Act was amended so that unmarried women aged eighteen to twenty-six who were exempted from military conscription on the grounds of religious objection were required to render equivalent national public service. The extreme Orthodox groups were incensed, but in fact they were not affected because relief from national service could be administratively granted for a number of reasons, including “a family’s special way of life.” The moderate Mizrachi factions were placated by the provision that during their period of national service religious girls were to be assured of an opportunity to maintain a religious way of life. And, as a modest quid pro quo for the secularists, the law provided that it was to be implemented by a minister designated by the government, which meant that the law was to be administered by the Ministry of Labor, a longtime Mapai stronghold.5 In actual practice, because of NRP objections, the 1953 National Service Law has never been applied. Nonetheless, many moderate Orthodox girls voluntarily fulfill their military or national service. The great majority of ultra-Orthodox girls, however, have refused to perform any national service.

    http://members.tripod.com/alabasters_archive/orthodoxy_military.html

    Shabbat Shalom

  39. Rafael Araujo

    From what I understand at the time, Poalei Agudath Israel was on the fringes of what we would not describe as the “Chareidi World” and, if I’m not mistaken, merged with Mizrachi at some point. Or…maybe I should look this up first.

  40. Rafael — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poalei_Agudat_Yisrael. Perhaps you conflated Histadrut with Mizrachi in your memory.

  41. IH,

    Anachronistic use on Wikipedia is still anachronistic use. The author was using terms he or she is familiar with, but which were not the proper terminology at the time. Now if the author had brought a quote from THAT time making the separation, that would mean something.

  42. IH,

    The issue isn’t as cut and dry as women’s rights VS. evil fundamentalists. The IDF in the 1950s was a far less dati-friendly place than it is today. The OTD rate in general was well above 50%, and the IDF helped accelarate the process.

    One Bnei Akiva activist who later became the head spoke of how in the early 50s people would sit shiva for anyone going into the army, because the odds of their coming back home religious were small.

  43. aiwac — fine, but what is the historically correct segmentation?

  44. IH,

    People were more identified according to party (‘Mizrachi’, ‘Agudai’ and so forth). Hence the continued Haredi use of ‘mizrochnik’ as an insult later on.

  45. IH,

    As an aside, I suggest you get in touch with Dr. Benny Brown, he can tell you a lot more. He answered my questions quickly and completely in correspondence.

    Shabbat Shalom

    aiwac

  46. “the odds of their coming back home religious were small.”

    It’s even more complicated than that. It was not just the army and it did not start in the 1950s. This was reflective of an overall trend in society at the time that when kids left their parents control, they stopped practicing. It just turned out that for many, their gius was coincident.

  47. “It was not just the army and it did not start in the 1950s.”

    No, but the army certainly didn’t help matters, and in some cases it hurt (not being careful about Kashrut, forcing activities on Shabbat beyond any real immediate need &c). So the Charedi fear of mass female abandonment of religion was real and not mere scare rhetoric. One can disagree with them (as I do), but they were not paranoid.

  48. “People were more identified according to party”

    Agreed, but that is unwieldy. How about: Religious active-Zionist, Religious passive-Zionist, Religious non-Zionist (where the last 2 were predominately what we would call “Charedi” today)?

  49. “One can disagree with them (as I do), but they were not paranoid.”

    Agreed.

  50. “Rafael — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poalei_Agudat_Yisrael. Perhaps you conflated Histadrut with Mizrachi in your memory”

    I’m not that stupid. If you look on Wikipedia (which I am always wary of) under Yeshivat Shaalavim, it notes Poalei Agudath Israel as founder of the yeshiva describes it as between Agudah and Mizrachi.

    Also, have to point out that the Agudah was, unlike the Yishuv HaYashan, willing to be involved in the running of the State of Israel. It is interesting to note that BG tried to meet with the Brisker Rov, who was not an Aguda supporter, but the Brisker Rov refused to. It could be BG thought that he should meet with both the Agudah and anti-Agudah factions and chose the BR as the rep of the anti-Agudah/anti-state faction.

  51. The issue with giyus banot was the compulsion — it meant that parents completely lost control over their children’s education and direction. One prominent Charedi Rov and Poseil once stated that “Even if they drafted the women to sit all day and say tehillim out of the Korban Minchan Siddur, it would still be yehareig v’al yaavor.”

    That is miles apart from a woman voluntarily taking a job with a municpality, or volunteering to visit the sick in a hospital or work with underprivileged children. In those situations, at any time that things become inappropriate, one is free to leave.

  52. “Poseil” should be “Poseik”

  53. “Jews need a rigorous counting exercise like the census, not rosy predictions and wishful thinking of advocates, if the community is to really know what it is and what it needs”

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/145380/#ixzz1ckRmSqLJ

    Agreed at least to the extent of we should not rely on rosy predictions and wishful thinking which is often expressed by many.

  54. The United Religious Party List was only in existence for the 1st Knesset which ended in 1951-the CI BG story happened after that.

    My 1050AM post whould have been posted in the news thread of Hirhurim-when I realized my mistake I copied it there.

  55. Kol haposeil.

  56. Re Poalei Agudath Israel

    Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld has been the President of the
    Poalei Agudath Israel of America for many years.

  57. It’s apparent that some commenters here don’t understand Ben-Gurion’s views about the Bible. (E.g., “Ben-Gurion didn’t believe in the Bible.”)

    He didn’t care about halachot and mitzvot. But — like many other secular Zionists of the time — he regarded the Bible as the literature that was produced over a long period of time by Jews living authentic Jewish lives on their own land. As such, it contained authentically Jewish values, as well as providing the historical confirmation of our ancient ties to the land.

    If this isn’t understandable to someone, he could probably benefit from reading a book like Arthur Hertzberg’s masterful work, “The Zionist Idea”.

  58. BG admitted to some low-level Histadrut officials that the CI was the greatest he ever met.(This was related by a grandson of one of those officials.)

  59. cy: Entries in Ben Gurion’s journal indicate his later surprise, after the publication of one of his books (Emunah U-Vitachon?), that the Chazon Ish was not just a great legalist but also a man of great spirit.

  60. IIRC, there is at least one picture in HaRav MeBrisk of R Herzog, ZL, RTP Frank ZL , the CI and R Velvel ZL, on their way to a meeting with Ben Gurion on the issue of women being drafted. It should be noted that R Herzog ZL, while the CR, was respected by the Charedi world. There is a wonderful sefer about R Herzog ZL that has a picture of many of the greatest Talmidei Chachamim of the 1950s attending a shiur given by R Herzog ZL in his premises.

  61. “That is miles apart from a woman voluntarily taking a job with a municpality, or volunteering to visit the sick in a hospital or work with underprivileged children.”

    Life was difficult in Israel in that time period. There was rationing (see under Tzena) and the need to settle a huge number of immigrants (many of them dati’im).

    Did those Rabbis adamently opposed to BG’s plan ever an offer an alternative in which the young women — we’re talking about 18 year olds here — would do national service under the supervision of the Rabbinate?

  62. IH wrote:

    “Life was difficult in Israel in that time period. There was rationing (see under Tzena) and the need to settle a huge number of immigrants (many of them dati’im).

    Did those Rabbis adamently opposed to BG’s plan ever an offer an alternative in which the young women — we’re talking about 18 year olds here — would do national service under the supervision of the Rabbinate”

    Your argument that the state’s interests presented a compelling social and political need makes sense but IMO ignores the fact that the leaders of the State of Israel and secular Zionism had no small sense that their civic, social and political duties included raising a new Jew, who would have no need for a religious lifestyle, RZ or Charedi, regardless of their prior religious background, and who would serve as recruits for the Israeli experiment in socialist living known as the kibbutz. (In fact, in Chamesh Drashos, RYBS praised Mizrachi for ensuring that there was kashrus in the army, ensuring that Kiddushin and Gittin remained under the control of the CR, etc. ) IMO, this may very well have influenced the rabbinic leaders to view national service with grave suspicion as they sought to build religious communities in Isarel in the wake of the Holocaust and in the face of a strong secular Zionist ideology that viewed the Bible as relevant, and Halacha and Talmud as relics of the ghettos that went up in smoke.

  63. “extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice”

    Decades later the person who said that publicly said that he had no regrets.

    By that time, that person was no longer considered an extremist.

  64. LI Reader wrote:

    “He didn’t care about halachot and mitzvot. But — like many other secular Zionists of the time — he regarded the Bible as the literature that was produced over a long period of time by Jews living authentic Jewish lives on their own land. As such, it contained authentically Jewish values, as well as providing the historical confirmation of our ancient ties to the land”

    Arthur Hertzberg’s books are invaluable, but IMO, if one wants to sense the real flavor of how such views led to disputes between the pre war yeshiva world and the maskilim, try any of Chaim Grade’s books. There is a wonderful story that illustrates the depth of the dispute very vividly.

  65. Steve — sorry, but you’re making it up in 3:17 pm. There was a political negotiation in which compromises could have been reached. Indeed there are plenty of battles the religious won before, during and after this skirmish.

  66. IH-I think that your last post ignores the well known fact that the State in its early years did not exactly display itself as a place that tolerated political and religious diversity from a Labor Zionist POV, whether RZ, Charedi or Likud. Yes-there was a CR established with power of Kiddushin and Gittin, kashrus in the army, and a modus operandi re Shabbos and the public arena, but the drafting of women was a line in the sand for many Talmidei Chachamim.

  67. IH wrote:

    “Life was difficult in Israel in that time period. There was rationing (see under Tzena) and the need to settle a huge number of immigrants (many of them dati’im).

    Did those Rabbis adamently opposed to BG’s plan ever an offer an alternative in which the young women — we’re talking about 18 year olds here — would do national service under the supervision of the Rabbinate ”

    No. They didn’t have to.

    As it was, BG admitted later the purpose of the draft was “sociological”,notwithstanding all previous statements and
    proclamations to the contrary.

  68. cy — I’d be interested in the reference to BG’s admission. Can you supply? Thanks.

  69. Steve — socio-political reality was far more complex than your B&W narrative.

    Another question: what did the Agudath Israel and Poalei Agudath Israel, and/or the CI, demand in respect of the massive influx of (religious) Jews from the Arab countries in this period?

  70. And the Ma’ariv article of 20 October 1952 covering the meeting:

    http://www.jpress.org.il/Default/client.asp?Skin=TAUEn&Enter=True&Ref=TUFSLzE5NTIvMTAvMjAjQXIwMDEwMA%3D%3D&Mode=Gif&Locale=english-skin-custom

    For those interested in the CI, you will also find coverage of his levaya the following year among other articles.

  71. IH,

    “cy — I’d be interested in the reference to BG’s admission. Can you supply? Thanks.”

    I’m interested, too, though I wouldn’t be surprised. Read ANY study on BG and the IDF in the early years of the state, or on his attitude towards the Mizrachi Olim.

    He was quite clear and unapologetic about using the IDF as a crucible for being a social “melting pot” and turning everyone into “new Jews”.

  72. The media referring to Chareidim as extremist is far from a new phenomena

    Maybe being an extremist is far from a new phenomena.

    Kanaim pogim bo?

  73. “but the drafting of women was a line in the sand for many Talmidei Chachamim”

    How many males from the kehillot of those “many Talmidei Chachamim”
    served in the IDF?

  74. abba's rantings

    iirc it is only relatively recently that girls from the kibbutz hadati movement could do sherut leumi. until then they were required to go to the army. (similarly, the boys could not go to hesder and went to regular army until the establishment of shiluv.) so at least for this segement of mizrachi there was no opposition to female conscription?

    of course kibbutz hadati only represented a small part of the mizrachi movement, but as i understand it, for many years it represented the mizrachi idealization and the elites came from its ranks. so kibbutz hadati’s policy on female conscription should perhaps be considered as more important than one might assume based on its smaller represenatation.

  75. “While the Chazon Ish’s parable carries great emotional pull among the Orthodox, I suspect that Ben Gurion found it uncompelling. His attitude toward the Bible allowed him to ignore it, if not counter it directly”
    Agreed.

  76. It was in one of B.Wein’s books (and his tapes?)There was also another source, will try to find it.

    In Arik Sharon’s not yet published (delayed?) memoirs there is correspondence from 1959 with B.G.,advising that the men’s draft was (and is)inefficient from a military view,to be better replaced with proffessional career officers and a draft of a 2-3months (printed in Ha’aretz, April-May)

  77. “Charlie Hall on November 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm
    Great post!

    I have at times been surprised by the strong biblical knowledge of some secular Israelis — more than many rabbis. Maybe more of us need to start Nach Yomi when the next cycle starts in a few weeks”

    The reasons for the downplay of Tanach in traditional Jewish circles is not new-the question is worthy of a post.

  78. c y on November 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm
    “It was in one of B.Wein’s books (and his tapes?)There was also another source, will try to find it.

    In Arik Sharon’s not yet published (delayed?) memoirs there is correspondence from 1959 with B.G.,advising that the men’s draft was (and is)inefficient from a military view,to be better replaced with proffessional career officers and a draft of a 2-3months (”
    Not sure about 1959 but certainly armies need a professional army today-requires skills. The danger that one soldier who is captured by an enemy poses to the state is obvious to all Hirhurim readers.

  79. , “because the basis of the Bible was in Eretz Yisrael,”

    the assumption of the Bible is Israelicentric-of course the Torah was given outside ofIsrael.

  80. R. Wein’s narrative can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/cqpkn4z

  81. “According to Navon, the Chazon Ish continued that the Orthodox bear the burden of religious law while the secular do not feel bound by it. Because of the limitations they face, the Orthodox’s view should prevail.”

    That rought idea has been expressed by MO Rabbonim while speaking to non religious Rabbis-You don’t believe gittin are required but for unity of Klal Israel why not demand a get before remarriage and thus our children could marry your children. Although ultimately lost in general there have been some Reform Rabbis who have because of that required that their congregants get a Get upon civil divorece.Of course, if one approaches Reform Rabbis as reshayim they’ll say get lost we don’t need you etc.

  82. Lawrence Kaplan

    Given that sherut leumi is voluntary, the question arises as to why
    dati-leumi (DL) girls volunteer while Haredi girls do not.
    It cannot be because of the (ir)religious atmosphere, for given its voluntiary nature the proper atmosphere could be provided. Nor, contra mycroft, can it be a question of money, as if Haredi grls are more mercenary than DL ones. The answer, I believe is that Haredi girls, like haredim in general, do not see much, if any, value in serving the State. This is as opposed to DL girls, who have imbibed the general DL ethos of the importance of State service.

  83. Re religious women in the Army
    from
    http://www.hillel.upenn.edu/kedma/08/goldberg.pdf


    Personal modesty is also less of an issue, as girls have been allowed to request army-issued skirts of varying length to wear on and off the base since the initial integration of women into the army. The most serious concern from both camps is the immorality inherent in any mixed-gender environment. One haredi Rabbi, Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz (1878-1953), known colloquially as the Hazon Ish, went so far as to place the act of enlistment in the army in the category of arayot, or sexually immoral transgressions which are among the three sins a Jew must die before committing (the other two being murder and idol worship)!The difference between the haredi and dati leumi viewpoints regarding female service is related to the fact that the majority of dati leumi rabbis consider
    the modern wars of Israel to be milchamot mitzvah (“wars by commandment”),a term taken from the Bible and parsed by the Mishnah.13 In practical terms,this means that the dati leumi rabbinate views the wars that the State of Israel
    fights, and by extension military service, as religiously obligatory, while haredim do not. As a result, dati leumi rabbis are willing to interpret the law a bit more broadly due to what they see as the necessity and obligatory nature of army
    service. This may be part of the reason that the dati leumi community does not categorically deny women the option of army service.Although the sexual vulnerability of women in the army remains a major concern, the dati leumi rabbis will not go so far as to condemn them in the manner of the Hazon Ish. As mentioned, they are often willing and able to do a bit of fancy legal footwork in order to support their girls who join,but still tend to voice their objections in public.14 The mainstream dati leumi
    rabbinate is thus forced to take an awkward stance, most famously formulated by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Rabbi of the settlement of Beit El and Rosh Yeshiva (Headmaster) of the Yeshiva Ateret Kohanim in Jerusalem, who stated that “even if we don’t agree, we are with you” with regards to women of his community who join the army. One young woman who filled out a questionnaire is presently serving in the Education Corps. She said that the rabbi of her high school “explained from a halakhik [religious law] point of view why it is OK for a girl to go to the army, but that he still feels a little uncomfortable about it.”

    Once while waiting for a bus in the Central Bus
    Station I saw a female soldier with a dress down almost to the floor carrying a machine gun over her shoulder and waiting for the bus to Bnei Brak!!

  84. “The answer, I believe is that Haredi girls, like haredim in general, do not see much, if any, value in serving the State. This is as opposed to DL girls, who have imbibed the general DL ethos of the importance of State service.”
    Generally agreed -note my 117PM post which was posted beforeI saw your 109 post.

  85. “IH on November 6, 2011 at 10:47 am
    R. Wein’s narrative can be found here’

    His paragraph on the top of page 414 is a classic to illustrate chareidi history
    see eg
    …Calmly and wisely the Chazon Ish explained to the secularist leader…Quite understandably… the religious community was opposed to the very concept..”
    Of course R Wein had written in the same paragraph satisfied some Orthodox leaders especially those affiliated with the Mizrachi party.
    Of course equally true would have been to wrsome Orthodox leaders especially those affiliated with the Bnei Brak/Jerusalem chareidi communities were opposed to this comprimise that permitted non military service to Israel.

  86. Lawrence Kaplan – Haredi girls don’t do sherut leumi because their poskim hold that it is assur for them to do so. The reasoning behind this is multifaceted, but I do not think it is primarily a matter of not wanting to help the state and more an issue of not wanting the state to have ‘reshus’ over them.

  87. IH-did the members of the press attend the meeting between BG and the CI or merely report or speculate on what they thought transpired therein? Are you asserting that concerns about Yaldei Teheran and other similar incidents as well as the respectives of the CI and BG re the preservation of Torah in a secular Zionist milieu, especially in light of strong antipathy between some in the Yeshiva world, some Chasidic leaders as well as the secular Zionist power structure, which was at its zenith of political, economic and cultural power in the early 1950s, were not valid considerations for the CI to raise at the time of the meeting?

  88. Larry Kaplan-I very recently saw an article on Jewish Ideas Daily which analyzed the view of Charedim towards the state. Many Charedim,spend Yom HaAtzmaut barbecuing,watching parades from their roofs, visiting IDF bases or Mt Hertz, etc, but not do invest the day with any more sense of participation in patriotic activities which RZ view as a litmus test and define as the recitation of Hallel, any more than most Americans do on the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, who see the day as a nice day off from work, a day for a feamily get together or to go shopping, as opposed to watching a veterans get together or offer special thanks to God. I think that most Charedim, both in the US and Israel, outside of those who few write their usual articles in the Charedi media, simply are not interested in the ideologically tinged issues of whether to say Hallel. etc.

  89. IH-views such as the linked views of a prominent secular Zionist leader were certainly among the issues that bothered the CI in dealing with BG. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yitzhak_Gruenbaum

  90. “J. on November 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm
    Lawrence Kaplan – Haredi girls don’t do sherut leumi because their poskim hold that it is assur for them to do so.”
    Their poskim at best find the state maxui rather than rasui

    “The reasoning behind this is multifaceted, but I do not think it is primarily a matter of not wanting to help the state and more an issue of not wanting the state to have ‘reshus’ over them”
    They would prefer at least theoretically if the state never happened. What does the idea of a state not having reshus mean? do chareidim not believe in complying with laws of the US-eg mandatory education why not Israel?

  91. “Steve Brizel on November 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm
    IH-views such as the linked views of a prominent secular Zionist leader were certainly among the issues that bothered the CI in dealing with BG”

    The CI despised Zionism
    see eg from
    http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/rabbi_quotes/karelitz.cfm

    “The Chozon Ish said: Who keeps mitzvohs in our time and is still considered a non believer? Anyone who claims that it is the fault of the rabbis that 6 million Jews were murdered in Europe, and anyone who celebrates Independence Day (Reb Aharon Roter)

    The Zionist Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Unterman, showed the Chozon Ish a proposal to allow marriages on the 5th of lyar (Zionist Independence Day) and because he was afraid to explain the true reason, he claimed that on that day the soldiers are on vacation and can get married. The Chozon Ish said to him: “If this is so, then I am inclined to allow marriages from Rosh Chodesh lyar until Lag B’Omer.” The Rabbi of Tel Aviv argued that this is very lenient. The Chozon Ish then asked: “How is it that I am lenient and you are strict?” Rabbi Unterman was finally forced to admit that he wished to bypass the laws of mourning of Sefira on Independence Day. The Chozon Ish replied forcefully: “Perhaps it is more fitting to declare it a fast day!” (Reb Moshe Shonfeld)

    In 5701, the Chozon Ish commanded to announce on the 5th of lyar in his Bais Medrah that Tachanun would not be said because he was being honored with being Sandek (so no one would think he was celebrating Independence Day). However, in the last year of his life on the 5th of lyar, even though the Chozon Ish as honored with being Sandek three times, he still commanded that Tachanun be said in his Bais Medrash, explaining that he is doing this so no one will be able to testify in the future that Tachanun was not said in his Bais Medrash on the 5th of lyar and hide the reason of the Bris Milah. (Reb Chaim Shaul Karelitz)

    When war broke out between the Zionists and the Arabs, the “Haganah” began extension target practice next to the house of the Chozon Ish. One of the officers came to him and said: “The Rov should not be afraid of the shots; they are coming from our boys.” To this the Chozon Ish replied immediately, “I am more afraid of your shooting on Shabbos than the explosions of the Arabs all week long.” (Reb. Moshe Shonfeld)

    The Rosh Yeshiva of Chadera once spoke to the Chozon Ish about a certain problem which he thought would cause him persecution and asked, “What can we do, now they have kings and officers (the upper hand)?” The Chozon Ish answered him: “Don’t even use this expression again. The only difference is that before this, the secularists fought us with pens and now they do so with rifles.” (Reb Yachov Galinsky)

    The only actual difference with the formation of the Zionists State is, that before this they were hoodlums without arms, and now the hoodlums have arm. (Reb A. Y. Weintraub)”

    and see the following
    http://matzav.com/the-ideological-case-against-joining-the-zionist-movement

    from
    “According to Torah law you may not enter the World Zionist Organization,” the Chazon Ish told Poalei Agudas Yisroel, “and I doubt if [even] Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah has the power to permit it” (Pe’er Hador, I, p. 92).

    When in 5698 (1938) a proposal was raised for Agudas Yisroel to collaborate with the Mizrachi movement on religious matters, as part of efforts to uphold Torah laws in the future state, Agudas Yisroel published a declaration stating, “Clearly, as long as the Mizrachi [movement] is a part of the World Zionist Organization, there can be no discussion of any permanent union between the two movements” (Kovetz Igros Achiezer, I, p. 306).”

  92. Joseph Kaplan

    “That rought idea has been expressed by MO Rabbonim while speaking to non religious Rabbis-You don’t believe gittin are required but for unity of Klal Israel why not demand a get before remarriage and thus our children could marry your children.”

    R. Eugene Borowitz, one of the leading theologians of the Reform movement, once spoke in my then-shul on a panel with other rabbis. He was asked that very question. His answer (I paraphrase): That’s a very good question. I’ve thought about it a lot. As you know, I don’t believe a get is necessary, but because of the issue you raise, I would urge my fellow Reform rabbis to have their congregants participate in gittin as soon as the Orthodox come up with a get procedure they would accept that treats women the same as men.

  93. Mycroft, I trust that website about as far as I can throw it. By the way, the Encyclopedia Judaica paints him as a Zionist, believe it or not. You especially have to love “When war broke out between the Zionists and the Arabs”. Yes, that’s exactly what happened.

    Oh, and “Chozon”? Please.

    “but I do not think it is primarily a matter of not wanting to help the state”

    So why don’t Charedi men serve in the army?

    “simply are not interested in the ideologically tinged issues of whether to say Hallel. etc.”

    You’ll probably just call me names for asking this, but has it ever occurred to you that it’s Charedi denial that makes it “ideologically tinged,” not RZ? Read Meir Kahane on the subject, where he describes those who fail to see the hand of God in the State of Israel in very stark, and yet very logical, terms.

  94. Nachum,

    According to Dr. Brown’s bio, the CI considered anyone who said Hallel on Yom Ha’atzma’ut or who considered the gedolim as responsible for failing to save the Jews form the Holocaust to be a “frummer apikores”. A lover of Zionism, he most certainly was not.

    The main difference between him and the Brisker was that the CI believed the main battleground was not in the realm of politics but on the street – and that establishing schools and yeshivas was the answer, not boycotting elections and the like. This is why he told members of the Rabanut Hatzva’it not to resign over infractions of kashrut, since things would be even worse in the IDF if they quit.

  95. Notwithstanding the discussion, I don’t understand why Ben Gurion would not even have mentioned the parable. To answer this question, one would need to read his other journal entries and see whether he failed to list arguments from others, on different issues, where he felt their arguments were poor. Did he have a habit of not detailing poor arguments, or did he have a habit of mentioning them nonetheless? If he did mention them nonetheless, did he have a habit of countering them in his journal entries or did he just relay what he said at the time?

  96. Oh, don’t get wrong, aiwac: I don’t trust *either* of them. The EJ tries to make everyone a Zionist- even the Brisker Rav. (Then again, the Rav said something similar.) And on the third hand, I remember the original “gedolim cards” from the Aguda that made everyone a founder of the Aguda, even those who died decades before it was founded.

  97. Mycroft-IIRC, R M Schonfeld was a well known NK activist. I would not trust any comments attributed by R M Schonfeld to the CI, who AFAIk, was never affiliated with NK, either pre or after 1948.

  98. For more on how most Charedim view the presence of a sovereign Jewish , outside of the minority of vocal provacateurs act and write, see the annexed link. http://www.jidaily.com/QEu

  99. Nachum-actually, RYBS stated that R Velvel ZL was a great Ohev EY, but who also could not fathom the idea of a secular Jewish state.

  100. “According to Torah law you may not enter the World Zionist Organization,” the Chazon Ish ”

    I GUESS THE CI’s SOURCE IS THE FAMOUS 5TH CHELEK OF THE SA.

  101. “simply are not interested in the ideologically tinged issues of whether to say Hallel. etc.”

    It should be a technical Hallel halacha discussion-the Rav who was pro medinah was opposed to Hallel on 5 Iyyar

  102. Well, if this thread is continuing, something has been puzzling me: why would anyone to whom the CI is hashkafically important care what Ben Gurion thought of the Chazon Ish?

  103. “Steve Brizel on November 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm
    Nachum-actually, RYBS stated that R Velvel ZL was a great Ohev EY, but who also could not fathom the idea of a secular Jewish state”

    The Soloveitchik’s are very family oriented-remember R Velvel was his uncle. I have no reason to doubt BTW that R Velvel, the Satmar Rebbe or Rabbi A Weiss are all Ohavei Yisrael.

  104. “But I wouldn’t base that conclusion on the fact that they barbecue on Independence Day. I wouldn’t conclude that barbecue is equal to Zionism, thus participation of haredim in this trend doesn’t say anything about their position regarding the Zionist state.” ”
    From link that Steve linked to. It was an interesting link-not sure how much pro-Medinah it is or just a realization that if the hated medinah disappears they are facing Hakmas, PA, Hezbollah etc as t he rulers-all of a sudden the treif medinah is not so bad compared to the alternatives.

  105. “For more on how most Charedim view the presence of a sovereign Jewish”
    Thanks for the link-it is a view on how many Chareidim view Israel and especially how they have changed according to the authors view.

  106. “IIRC, R M Schonfeld was a well known NK activist.”
    You do not recall correctly. R M Schonfeld was a member of and active in Tzeirei Agudas Yisrael. He was a journalist for HaModia. He had a close relationship with the CI, as did all the Tzeiri activists of the time (e.g. Shlomo Lorincz), and many of his articles in HaModia were written on istructions from the CI. behest.

    “I have no reason to doubt BTW that R Velvel, the Satmar Rebbe or Rabbi A Weiss are all Ohavei Yisrael.”

    Steve Brizel didn’t say the BR was an “Oheiv Yisreal,” he said he was an “Oheiv Eretz Yisrael.” The point being that Ahavas Eretz Yisrael is not synonomous with Zionism.

  107. The general charedi attitude towards non-charedi society – as seen in army service, sherut leumi, and a dozen other areas – is simply to always take and never give. That it not to say that individual charedim do not choose to help non-charedim, but charedi society cannot formally endorse any policy which uses charedi resources to help non-charedim.

    I’m not sure I blame them for this attitude – on any level except the spiritual, it has proven very successful.

  108. CW-I think that you are confusing R M Schonfeld , a well known NK activist,with an Agudah activist of the same who was the father of RFS.

  109. “CW-I think that you are confusing R M Schonfeld , a well known NK activist,with an Agudah activist of the same who was the father of RFS”
    I don’t think so. The R M Schonfeld who is quoted above was a colleague of Shlomo Lorincz, who refers to him numerous times in his books. He was often referred to as “Safra D’vei Rav” because he was entrusted by the Chazon Ish, Brisker Rav etc. with writing many of the “Kol Korei’s” they issued. He had no affiliation whatsoever with NK, and decried their actions in many of his articles.
    Also, I think the picture in HaRav MiBrisk you referred to is not of the CI and the BR going to BG, but of R’ Isser Zalman Meltzer, R’ Meir Karelitz (the CI’s older brother) and R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank.

  110. “If so, Ben Gurion could have actually bested the Chazon Ish, had he felt the moment opportune. He could have responded that the Orthodox follow a Talmudic tradition that is 1,500 years old while the secular Zionists bear the 2,500 years old Biblical tradition”
    2500 or so years from the end of Nevuah but around 3400 years from matan Torah. Of course 2500 is not seder olam dates which I doubt many Hirhurim readers accept.

  111. “The point being that Ahavas Eretz Yisrael is not synonomous with Zionism”
    So what enven N have Ahavas Eretz Israel,

  112. The following is a straight quote from R Harry Maryles on his blog from Nov 7

    “Follow the money. I am beginning to believe that this is the underlying problem in everything we deal with – for good and for bad in Judaism. Pick an issue. Examine the problems with it. Nine times out of ten it can be directly traced to financial matters. Or at least indirectly.

    One might say this is a cynical view of Judaism. But I think an honest look at many of the issues discussed here will verify that.

    Of course if one would discuss this with a Rav or any prominent religious figure there might be a lot of denial – or at least spin. They would certainly accuse me of being cynical and say that I have an agenda. I don’t. I am just an observer.

    It is true that the Torah has higher values than money. But the truth of the matter is that money is what governs many of the decisions made in the Torah world”

    Not my writing but obviously I tend to agree.

  113. “RYBS stated that R Velvel ZL was a great Ohev EY, but who also could not fathom the idea of a secular Jewish state”

    which was certainly normative Jewish belief a few hundred years ago.

  114. Mycroft: The fact that Harry Maryles agrees with your view of the Jewish world doesn’t necessarily make that view correct. I, for one, think it is overly simplistic and smugly cynical.

  115. On the other hand it demonstrates that Mycroft is not a da’at yachid on this topic. I often disagree with Harry Maryles, but he is not a lone wolf in the views he expresses.

  116. Lawrence Kaplan

    mycroft and IH: Harry Maryles raised the issue of money in connection with divorce. Even there he pointed to other factors explaining the rise of the divorce rate. Whatever HM’s general statements as to the influence of money may be, he, unlike you mycroft, does not raise the issue of “follow the money” on almost every possible occasion.

  117. Shlomo wrote:

    “The general charedi attitude towards non-charedi society – as seen in army service, sherut leumi, and a dozen other areas – is simply to always take and never give. That it not to say that individual charedim do not choose to help non-charedim, but charedi society cannot formally endorse any policy which uses charedi resources to help non-charedim”

    WADR, I would suggest that Charedim decline to endorse policies that will further a non Charedi view of the world. That is simply a Charedi view of acting in their own self interest-which RZ and secular Zionists also have been doing for years.

  118. Prof. Kaplan — the first 3 paragaphs of HM’s post are unequivocal and not limited to divorce. Agree or diaagree with what he said, but he did say it.

  119. Steve — I don’t understand your point. When the RZ and Secular Zionists (and everyone in between on this spectrum) serve in the army or sherut le’umit, they are giving of themselves to the nation (not just their particular sunset of the nation).

  120. I think that one can acknowledge the financial stresses mentioned by R H Maryles without stating that “money is what governs many of the decisions made in the Torah world”. If that was truly the case, the demands of a bottom line oriented hashkafa would have prevented many of the most idealistic enterprises, many of which don’t or can’t show “returns” readily ascertainable such as yeshivos, kollelim, elementary schools, kashrus, kiruv/chizuk from ever being considered as community priorities.

  121. IH-your point re service in the army would have more merit if not for the well documented fact that many who attend Israel’s universities or work in high tech have a well deserved reputation for also dodging military service, as well as the fact that the IDF would not know what to do with the Charedi male population if it enlisted en masse . Even RZ realize by virtue of the Charedi Nachal and Hesder systems that not every RZ youth should be in the army without some sort of means by which he will be at least have an atmosphere that is conducive to his remaining a Ben Torah. Can anyone tell us whether talmidim in Merkaz Harav, as opposed to KBY , Gush or Shaalvim serve in hesder units? With respect to sherut leumi, one can even find RZ rabbanim with differing views. The real issue that noone in discussions likes to discuss is two fold-not everyone should either be learning full time or serving in the IDF, and the issue is one where the rhetoric on all sides predominates over any serious cheshbon hanefesh on an individual and communal level.

  122. “which was certainly normative Jewish belief a few hundred years ago.”

    And then this little thing called “Zionism” and “The State of Israel” came along and rendered all that moot. Chaval that many didn’t realize it.

    “decline to endorse policies that will further a non Charedi view of the world”

    Which is clearly an incorrect view- see above.

    Your last post simply avoids the point by playing games of “well, neither do they.” A) You are, simply, wrong. A huge majority of secular Israelis serve, and in combat units. B) So what? You haven’t really defended the charedim by either of your points.

    Also, Merkaz HaRav isn’t a hesder yeshiva; it’s a post-army yeshiva. The students there (not in the high school, of course) have already served, whether in hesder or elsewhere.

    No, not everyone should be learning full time. But if the law is that every able-bodied man should serve (a view that comes straight out the Torah and Gemara, by the way), then, yes, every man should serve. It’s a view that held sway in the Western world as well until relatively recently.

  123. Nachum-The point of my last post was not a defense or a solution, which I would be the last to offer, but rather to note some sociological and political realities and dilemnas that IMO are overlooked in the discussion. BTW, can you name one Western country that runs its military services by the notion that every able bodied man should serve? IIRC, even when the US had a draft, there were deferments available.

  124. “, explains that, as a tactic to counter the Orthodox community’s ancient Talmudic tradition, Ben Gurion adopted a Biblical tradition. ”

    Tactic invented by BG?

  125. ““money is what governs many of the decisions made in the Torah world”. If that was truly the case, the demands of a bottom line oriented hashkafa would have prevented many of the most idealistic enterprises, many of which don’t or can’t show “returns” readily ascertainable such as yeshivos, kollelim, elementary schools, kashrus, kiruv/chizuk from ever being considered as community priorities”

    Are they really community priorities? The issue is are people acting suboptimal for the Jewish community in order to maximize their personal interests sadly it happens often. Do you not believe that there are Rabbonim that will rule halachikally in favor of those who are their machers-I am not saying all by a longshot but it is sadly far from rare.
    How often have schuls tried to prevent other schuls from moving into their area.?

  126. Mycroft responded to the following post:

    “money is what governs many of the decisions made in the Torah world”. If that was truly the case, the demands of a bottom line oriented hashkafa would have prevented many of the most idealistic enterprises, many of which don’t or can’t show “returns” readily ascertainable such as yeshivos, kollelim, elementary schools, kashrus, kiruv/chizuk from ever being considered as community priorities”

    Are they really community priorities?

    Please present proof, as opposed to just your POV, why the above listed items should not be considered priorities, and what you would consider as acceptable communal priorities. FWIW, I have never seen other shuls prevented from getting off the ground by existing shuls. Shuls develope because members are seeking something that an existing shul does not offer them-as opposed to being given a plaque at a dinner.

  127. Mycroft wrote:

    ” Do you not believe that there are Rabbonim that will rule halachikally in favor of those who are their machers-I am not saying all by a longshot but it is sadly far from rare”

    Sorry-I don’t have such an inherently conspiratorial or cynical POV of Rabbonim.

  128. IH 3:03 pm

    If the state would have espoused a different philosophy (say, the chareidim’s) would they have rushed to serve (with the exception of the sephardim)?

  129. c y — that’s the inverse of my question in IH on November 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

  130. “No, not everyone should be learning full time. But if the law is that every able-bodied man should serve (a view that comes straight out the Torah and Gemara, by the way), then, yes, every man should serve. It’s a view that held sway in the Western world”

    Certainly the idea holds sway for countries that are facing threats to their basic existence.

  131. Steve Brizel on November 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “” Do you not believe that there are Rabbonim that will rule halachikally in favor of those who are their machers-I am not saying all by a longshot but it is sadly far from rare”

    Sorry-I don’t have such an inherently conspiratorial or cynical POV of Rabbonim.”

    Not all Rabbonim- there are some that are ethical. I have known many who IMHO are ethical.But sadly it is far too common for some Rabbonim who will engage in non ethical behavior.

  132. “If the state would have espoused a different philosophy (say, the chareidim’s) would they have rushed to serve (with the exception of the sephardim)?”
    No because in their opinion the whole enterprise is bad-not merely the application.

  133. “Are they really community priorities?”

    I wasn’t clear by my question-I was questioning if they were community priorities-not stating my opinion Are they really community priorities is a sociological question.Certainly, I believe they are very important priorities.

    “Please present proof, as opposed to just your POV, why the above listed items should not be considered priorities, and what you would consider as acceptable communal priorities.”
    Since I don’t disagree with those priorities I am not answering it-but I can’t provide proof that those priorities are the proper Jewish priorities they are simply my POV and your POV and probably most others who read Hirhurim but none of us have to the best of my knowledge submitted such proof.

    ” FWIW, I have never seen other shuls prevented from getting off the ground by existing shuls.”
    I have seen schul fight existing schuls fighting schuls that are moving even to more than a mile from them. Fighting has included fighting building permits of new schuls moving in.

    Please present proof, as opposed to just your POV, why the above listed items should not be considered priorities, and what you would consider as acceptable communal priorities.

  134. “, even when the US had a draft, there were deferments available.”
    True but deferrments were cut down a lot in the last few years of the draft and BTW there was serious talk of abolishingthe 4-D deferment. The Catholic church had changed its mind-it did not want clergy to join who were just trying to evade the draft. Similar BTW to the cutting down of jury duty exemptions.

  135. Steve, of course there are always deferments. A quadriplegic isn’t going to be serving in the military. But that’s not what we’re discussing here. We’re talking deferments that have no bearing on the person’s ability to serve, which did not exist until recently even in any other country (try getting out of the Civil War because you were in graduate school), and deferments based on class of society (which is what essentially goes on in Israel). Note that “defer” means push off, by the way.

    Anyway, one example: Switzerland. Look up “conscription” on Wikipedia for more. There was even an article in The Economist semi-lamenting the end of conscription in many countries. And I’m a conservative, so what happened 100 or 500 or 3000 years ago is important to me.

  136. Nachum,

    Nov 4 3:44 pm
    Nov 5 11:42pm
    !959(!)

    IH,
    For females there is none.For males,yes,a different state.

  137. Nachum-even during the days of the draft in the US and especially during the Vietnam War era, there were draft deferrments .

  138. “Steve Brizel on November 9, 2011 at 8:25 pm
    Nachum-even during the days of the draft in the US and especially during the Vietnam War era, there were draft deferrments ”

    They were in the process of gradually being eliminated-the purpose of the draft lottery which came in at the last 3 years or so ofthe draft was to make the selection from the whole population by random selection. I believe atthe beginning of WW11 there was also a lottery. The attempt was to get away from deferrments of groups.

  139. Comparing Israel with the US in this respect is absurd. A country with 300 million people has options that a country of under 8 million people simply doesn’t (leaving aside further complexities).

    FWIW. I believe that Greece, for example, still has mandatory military service. Likewise for Turkey.

  140. IH-I think that the issue is far more complex than the current modus operandi-that either all Charedi males sit and learn while all other males have to serve.Both strike me as ideologically based slogans that like all old hashkafic and political positions IMO, require evaluation as to whether that which was necessary years ago is required today, and who should be availing themselves of the solution that best accomodates their spiritual needs and the defense of the country.

    We already see vocational and educational and Charedi Nachal which offer options for Charedi males, who know that thet won’t become Talmidei Chachamim. Hesder has long offered a similar arrangement for RZ youth who wise to remain Bnei Torah while in the army. Charedi Nachal and Hesder are IMO crucially important, because it would be a tragedy for serving in the IDF to be the reason why someone goes OTD.

    It is also no secret that the IDF wouldn’t know what to do with the entire student body of Mir and Ponevezh if they all enlisted en masse, and that draft dodging is alive and well in many secular precincts as well. I don’t have an answer, but IMO, a serious Cheshbon HaNefesh is required as to whether the extreme POVs of Torah Umnasam for all and all males serve are necessary and wise policies.

  141. Steve — I am surprised you raise the red herring of secular draft dodgers: there are law breakers in all communities and one should not judge a community by them (e.g. Charedi pedophiles).

    When you get past the excuses, the bottom line is that if the Charedi community wanted to, a way could easily be found for the equivalent of Army service to make good use of all 18 year old Charedim. There is no lack of useful national work that could be done within the context of conscription.

  142. As an aside, perhaps some interaction with non-Charedi Jews at the age of 18, within an appropriate framework, would actually decrease the changes of Israeli Charedim going OTD.

  143. ” the bottom line is that if the Charedi community wanted to, a way could easily be found for the equivalent of Army service to make good use of all 18 year old Charedim. There is no lack of useful national work that could be done within the context of conscription.”
    the Chareidi world simply wishes they could stay in Israel with peace wo a State. Since that is a messianic impractical wish-they have to go all sorts of inconsistent gyrations.

  144. “As an aside, perhaps some interaction with non-Charedi Jews at the age of 18, within an appropriate framework, would actually decrease the changes of Israeli Charedim going OTD”

    Why?

  145. Two reasons:

    When one sees there are gradations of gray, one is less compelled to feel a need to choose between black or white.

    It would allow for developing social interaction skills that are necessary for success outside of the Kollel walls. [Having spoken to someone who provides counselling in Kiryat Sefer, I became aware just how big an issue this is in that community].

  146. “It is also no secret that the IDF wouldn’t know what to do with the entire student body of Mir and Ponevezh if they all enlisted en masse, and that draft dodging is alive and well in many secular precincts as well. ”

    But not in the ballpark of Chareidi areas I remember after the 2006 war theIDF put out a study of the percentage of male Jews who served in theIDF-some secular cities the figures went down to the 70s which was a internal scandal but not in the ballpark ofJerusalem which if I recall was in the neighborhood of 44% orof course Bnei Brak which was approximately 14%.
    Perhaps some Israeli can update my recollection with actual more recent figures.

  147. IH-I am not judging any community-I do believe that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones and that simplistic, stereotypical and urban myth based solutions about who should serve in the IDF and who should be sitting and learning for life should be jettisoned in favor of serious analysis of the issues.

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