By Rabbi Moshe Averick
It seems that Yesh Atid MK (Member Knesset) Dov Lipman was upset that Rav Aharon Feldman, the Rosh Yeshiva (Dean) of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, publicly condemned him as a “rasha” (wicked person). Lipman – a Ner Israel alumnus – penned an“Open Letter to the Baltimore Jewish Community” on 5/8/13 clarifying his position on Jewish education in Israel – which was the cause of Rabbi Feldman’s condemnation – and why he felt he was judged unfairly. [Rav Feldman later clarified that while Lipman is not a rasha, he is wrong and misguided.]
Lipman, by his own admission, wants to cut off government funding for Hareidi schools that have the unmitigated gall to continue teaching the curricula that have kept the Jewish people alive and well for the past 3400 years. They must toe the line and accept a more “modern” curriculum or fend for themselves. Mr. Lipman feels that his black velvet “hareidi” yarmulke magically invests him with educational expertise and insight that eclipses that of the great Torah sages of both Israel and his native United States, who have unanimously condemned his views. Lipman, who rode into the Knesset on Lapid’s coattails and makes self-delusionary claims that he represents the best interests of the Hareidi community, would be lucky to receive even a handful of votes if he ran as a Hareidi candidate.
He also supports Lapid’s policy of compulsory draft for yeshiva students, while expecting the undying gratitude of the religious world because he graciously has allowed for 1800 full time yeshiva students to be exempt. How Dov Lipman got the idea that he has the authority to decide who should or should not be allowed to study Torah remains a mystery. My guess is that it results from an inflated sense of self-importance due to his role as Yair Lapid’s loyal Hareidi poodle.
In short, Dov Lipman has taken on the traditional role of limiting and/or destroying the study of Torah, that in the past was filled by various Roman and Greek tyrants, Hellenist Jews, Russian Czars, Communist dictators, and anti-religious secular Zionists, among others.
The issue, though, goes much deeper than the condemnation of a political lackey who will be dumped as soon as he outlives his usefulness. Many people – particularly those who are infatuated with modernity – seem to have forgotten that the Jewish state is only 65 years old, a drop in the bucket when viewed against the backdrop of 4 millennia of Jewish history. Secular/Socialist Zionism, the ideology of choice of many of the early founders of the State of Israel, is essentially dead. It had all the characteristics of a mule, which is the result of cross-breeding a horse and donkey. The upside of a mule: It has the strength of a horse and the endurance of a donkey. The downside: It cannot reproduce; its lifespan is one generation…period. Secular/Socialist Zionism – as far as its ability to inspire a new generation – has utterly failed. Non-observant Jewish university students who – in decades past – were outspoken supporters of the Jewish state and flocked to Israel as volunteers on kibbutzim are now demonstrating for Palestinian rights, marching with anti-Israel Arab jihadists on campus, and urging boycotts of Israeli products.
The future of the State of Israel lies with those who are committed to Jewish observance and tradition in some way that can be deemed significant. This certainly does not mean that all Israelis will be fully observant, Orthodox, or hareidi in the foreseeable future; but there is no future for those with an exclusively secular ideology. Nearly one third of all first graders in Israel today are enrolled in Hareidi schools. Close to 60% of all first graders are enrolled in Hareidi, Hareidi Le’umi (Nationalist Hareidi), or Dati Le’umi (Religious Zionist) schools. It is routine for religious/hareidi families to have 6-10 children. It is rare to find a secular family in Israel with more than one or two.
If Secularism struggles to provide the depth of motivation and commitment necessary to bring children into the world, how can it possibly hope to provide the commitment and motivation necessary to maintain a Jewish state in the face of worldwide demonization – the UN has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than any other nation in existence – and fanatical Arab/Islamic hordes bent on her destruction? The Torah describes our slavery in Egypt as a “fiery refining furnace.” In the ensuing 3,400 years nothing has really changed. The mission of our people has required us to endure an ongoing series of “refining furnaces” across the ages. In the end only those that cling to the eternal values of the Torah can thrive and grow through such a process.
If Dov Lipman would like to make a real contribution he should point out to Yair Lapid – as I wrote about at length in an earlier article – that the Hareidi community has been demonized and marginalized since the early days of Zionism. The Hareidim has been treated as 2nd class citizens since the founding of the state. Secular Israelis have bent over backwards in their attempts to make peace with the murderous Arabs/Islamists who surround them. It is time to now to make peace with their own Hareidi brothers and sisters. The study of Torah is the only thing that kept the Jewish people alive for thousands of years; the study of Torah is national service of the highest order and without it the Jewish people and the State of Israel would disappear.
My son Danny (left) who served the people of Israel as an IDF soldier and continues to serve the nation by living and working in Jerusalem. He stands with his brother Joshie who has continuously served the people of Israel by studying Torah full-time in the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
A final message to Dov Lipman: If you want to return to your true Torah roots and accept the authority of the great Torah sages when it comes to the education of our children, we will accept you back with open arms. If not, remember one thing and one thing only: When you hear Yair Lapid say “jump,” that is your cue to say, “how high boss?!”
Rabbi Moshe Averick is author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. He can be reached via his website.