Sunday, April 07, 2024

Too Big to Ignore

Statement from the Agudah Moetzes
A statement by the Moetzes was just released by the American Agudah. To say that I am upset by it would be an understatement of epic proportion. 

This is not  to say that I’m on their level of Torah knowledge. Far from it.  It is to say that I am a total loss to understand how it is possible for any Torah leader to insist that every single Charedi individual in Israel sitting in a Beis HaMedresh should automatically be exempt from army service. Especially now at a time of war when there is a shortage of manpower - and no other subset of Jews is exempt.

Admittedly, I am not Charedi. My Daas Torah is not the Agudah Moetzes. The rabbinic leaders that I look to for advice and counsel would not even be considered by them for membership to their most exclusive of clubs. Nonetheless, I respect their views as Talmidei Chachomim and elders in the Torah world. Even when my own rabbinic leaders are in profound disagreement with them as they are on this subject. One can disagree but one must respect such people. And I do.

But in this case I am not alone. There are many prominent Charedi voices that probably have the same sense of consternation over this statement as I do.

That statement was published in Hebrew only. Not sure why they don’t want the non Hebrew speaking public to know what they are saying. 

Not that my Hebrew speaking abilities are all that great - but it doesn’t take a great deal of knowledge about the Hebrew language to more or less understand what it says. Which in my view is a direct rebuke of the rabbinic leaders that I agree with. The gist of which is as follows.

First they say that the thousands of their people that study with complete dedication and extreme effort are the ones that protect us  from our enemies and haters.

Then they declare that the G’zeira (edict) from the evil government voiding their army exemption - forcing them into the army - is a war against the Torah itself and even the Giver of the Torah (God Himself!) deadly pursuit against observance. Making this especially egregious in their eyes is that this G’zeira comes at a time of danger to the Jewish people (when more people should be studying Torah Not less).

In sharing the pain of the Charedi leadership in Israel they are asking their people to strengthen and maximally exert themselves to set up additional time for Torah study, prayer, and charity and cry out to the Heavens to void this G’zeira - so that not a single soul fall to destruction. 

As I indicated above, I am extremely disturbed by this statement. And I’m sure that many Charedim who have suggested common sense changes in the Charedi attitude to army service - are equally disturbed. At least privately if not publicly. 

get the strong commitment Charedim have to Torah study. A very laudable trait. What I do not get is why the entire population of  Charedi Jews must be exempt from army service. I get that they don’t want any of their young people to die in combat. But I don’t get how they justify others dying for them while they all sit in relative safety. 

Why do they not believe that that at least those that are not studying but faking it (which by their own count is at least 10% of them) - should be drafted? If they have a legitimate reason for that position, why don’t they articulate it? And what about the prominent voices within their own community that believe they should rethink their ‘no exception’ policy? 

Why do they not recognize that there are religious Jews fighting and dying in Gaza in greater proportion than secular Jews? And that these soldiers study Torah just as diligently as their people do when they are not serving their country?  Why do they not consider what the parents of these  brave soldier/learners are gong through? ...or even what the parents of secular Jews in the IDF are gong through? If they are concerned, why have we not heard much if anything about that from them? It certainly was not part of the Agudah Moetzes statement!

Why don’t they realize the damage this policy has done to the morale of the nation? Why do they not realize the extreme divisiveness to the Jewish  nation this causes?...a divisiveness that pits them not only against secular Jews but against religious Jews that study the same Torah they do? 

Do they think that the rabbinic leaders of these soldier/learners have declared a war against the Torah too? ...with the murderous intent to stop Mitzvah observance?

Do they not realize that enmity of secular Jews in Israel against them is exacerbated to the extreme with an attitude like this? That it pours gasoline onto the fire? 

Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to simply come to a sensible compromise where the majority of them could continue their exemption and study Torah full time while agreeing that the 10%  that are fakers be drafted?

I truly do not understand. why the Agudah Moetzes does not answer questions like these that are clearly on the minds of the secular and non Charedi religious public... and even on the minds of more than a few Charedim.

But I do understand the nature of the Charedi general public when it coms to Daas Torah. They consider their Daas Torah to be inviolable to the point of near heresy. The wisdom of their rabbinic leaders is considered the closet thing to God’s actual desire. So they follow it even when their own common sense says otherwise. If they are told right is left and left is right - that is how many of them will view it.. 

Some people believe that change will come from the bottom up. That grass roots Charedim will somehow - at some time revolt against their rabbinic leadership. But based on their view of Daas Torah, I don’t see that happening. Not on any large scale that would make a difference, anyway. Which is why I am so upset at the Agudah statement. The Charedi world is too big too ignore and growing exponentially with every passing moment.

*Agudah just released the following free translation of their Moetzes statement:

It is a kindness of Hashem to His nation that an entire world of Torah has grown in Eretz Yisroel. Those toiling in Torah learning have increased in quantity and quality. We have merited tens of thousands of Torah scholars – in whose merit the Jewish Nation exists – as well as a large population of G-d-fearing Jews, who fulfill the Will of Hashem, and through them all our people are protected from our enemies.

Now, the authorities in the Holy Land have cancelled deferrals and exemptions from army service for those scholars, attacking the Torah and its Giver, and because of these anti-religious motivations they are endangering all Jews in this time of war. 

We join in the pain and worry of all Jews at this danger. We join with the great Torah leaders of the Holy Land in their call to stand against this ruling. And we should all increase our Torah learning, our prayer, and charity, crying out to our Father in Heaven that not even one more soul should fall, until this time of Heavenly wrath passes.  

Hashem does not spurn the prayers of many – may we merit to see the raising of the banner of Torah and His salvation of His nation and His land, with the coming of the true redeemer, speedily in our days. 

Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America