Friday, December 05, 2008

What Happened to Jonathan?

I usually agree with him. Although Joanthan Rosenblum and I have our differences they are quite rare. I generally find him to be an honorable and most reasonable advocate for Charedi causes.

But an article in Mishpacha that was reproduced on Cross-Currents is quite astonishing. I am not referring to the political part of the article. I am talking about the religious part. That part which talks of the existential peril the Charedi world faces.

First Jonathan treats the words of Rav Elyashiv as though they were said through Ruach HaKodesh – a spiritual state of mind that is Godly. Thoughts emanating from that state of mind are in some way a feeling of communication from God. This is not Nevuah - prophecy- but it is the closest thing we have to it we have today. Here are the opening word which indicate this:

Not for seventy years have the magnitude and multitude of threats hovering over the heads of world Jewry equaled those of the present. A few weeks ago, Rav Shalom Yosef Elyashiv reportedly told Rabbi Noach Weinberg, the founder of Aish HaTorah, that Jews have not been in such danger since the Holocaust. (That conversation was confirmed to me by senior personnel at Aish HaTorah.)

One prays that Rav Elyashiv did not mean that the threat to Jewish lives parallels that during the Holocaust…

One prays that he did not mean…?!

Rav Elyashiv is not a Navi. That is impossible since mankind lost that ability over two thousand years ago. Nor does he have Ruach HaKodesh. He testified to that very thing as reported by Rav Nosson Kaminetsky who heard Rav Elyashiv say so. Rav Elyashiv is merely stating his view on how he perceives the world situation now – much like any knowledgable lay person would.

We may indeed need to worry about a coming Armageddon, but not becase it is Rav Elyashiv’s prediction. And we certainly need not pray about what he meant!

The rest of my problem is the final paragraphs of his article. Jonathan vilifies the Israeli government of Tzipi Livni for withdrawing financial support from Charedi Yeshivos in Israel. He says it is in some sort of retaliation for Shas’s refusal to participate in ruling coalition she was trying to form with them.

True or not, this is not the real problem in the Charedi world and Jonathan knows that. He has even written about it. The real problem is the lack of training - and the lack of will on the part of the Charedi community in Israel to get up from the kollelim and and get jobs. All the talk about army service being a problem no longer holds any water since the advent of Nachal Charedi.

Yes, jobs are hard to find now for everyone - Charedi or not. The economy of the world is melting down right along with that of the US. But that fact doesn’t explain why there has been such resistance to the acknowledge the real problem in the past when jobs were more available.

The Charedi world had the ability to ‘pull itself up by the bootstraps’. It decided instead to retain the status-quo and blame the system – a system whereby government largesse and charitable contributions from abroad is the oil that fuels it. That oil is now drying up. And yet Jonathan blames the ‘evil’ government instead of looking inward as he has in the past.

Isn’t it just possible that the government is feeling the economic pinch too and that their tax base has shrunk? … that funds that were available to go to Charedi Yeshivos are now needed for more vital existential purposes – like defense and other vital government services?

I am not defending the Israeli government here. I don’t know how guilty they are of Jonathan’s accusations. But he ought to admit here what he has in the past. The system is broken. And there is no better time to fix it than now.