By Tali Farkash
Yair Lapid just told his readers about the possible return of the Shinui party. Why so? Because Rickey from Haifa is simply fed up with the chareidim. In his most recent column (see here), Lapid described the terrible suffering endured by seculars in the State of Israel. The people whose shops are being closed and who are being forced to park on the sidewalk on Shabbos in Yerushalayim (hey, isn’t it the same in Tel Aviv?)
In general, accordingly to Lapid, seculars are being abused to the point of reviving the Shinui party as the secular savior.
Most of all, in a special deal ahead of Yom Kippur, Lapid is willing forgive the chareidim for all their “sins,” if in exchange we agree not to fear military service and return home in a black body bag, because Lapid claims that the average chareidi does not join the army because he fears death.
Well, I have a few things to say about this:
First a general historic comment: Fear of death was never a Jewish anxiety. It never stopped all the stubborn “Diasporic” Jews from jumping into burning flames rather than to convert. Back then in the days of the riots and pogroms, reciting Shema Yisroel prayer before dying was simply a way of life.
A chareidi person, just like any other soldier who dies while protecting the people of Israel, is traditionally granted a spot in Heaven. On the other hand, an atheist stands to lose much more when he dies, because for him it is indeed the end of the game. So why are the chareidim not rushing to embrace this opportunity?
As it turns out, people in Israel’s chareidi ghettos are more scared about those who won’t die. They are concerned about those who will leave the army different than they entered it, that is, devoid of Jewish identity.
One can say many things about this fear, but one cannot say that this fear isn’t justified. The percentage of religious Jews who distance from religion in the army is very high. A parent who saved up in order to provide his son with highly quality and expensive Jewish education, which is not funded by the State, is uninterested in seeing his work going down the drain.
Nobody, including a bearded superman, is immune to the ongoing conflict faced by an individual who is different than his homogenous environment. Placing a man in a poppy field, surrounded by junkies, makes one realistically expect that at some point that man will be smoking up for the first time. What sort of anti-drug authority would say this is safe?
Similarly, we can propose that the seculars send their sons to perform national service in the Chevron yeshiva for the sake of preserving Jewish identity. After three years there, there’s a great chance that the fathers will be anxious and their sons will become chareidi.
Special military arrangements for the benefit of the chareidi community in the Intelligence Corps, Air Force, Education Corps, and Nachal Brigade are the first steps in a bid to allay very real fears and anxieties. This is a slow process that cannot be expected to end in one day, after more than 50 years of reclusive chareidi life. Any attempt to accelerate the process through threats and boycotts will prompt the opposite reaction than desired.
I am outraged by the fact that the chareidim in Israel are forced “back into the closet.” They are asked to sit quietly, in the dark, while studying the Talmud as not to disturb secular Israelis with their unwanted presence.
They are being informed that they must not shop at stores that desecrate the Shabbos, lest its owner decide that it makes financial sense for him to close down on Saturdays in order to gain more chareidi customers. They also, heaven forbid, must not send a talkback to an article featuring a shrimp recipe asking for some kind of kosher recipe for Shabbos. Why should anyone show any consideration to them too?
In short, I am sick and tired of the complaints uttered by Rickey from Haifa. I am fed up with busy chareidi family men who rush to save the lives of innocent secular kids stabbed in battle outside a nightclub, or who put drunken people killed on the road at 3 am in a body bag, which happened to be bought with chareidi donations.
I am fed up with the secular woman who will be calling a chareidi medical assistance organization and ask for equipment for her sick child, but still slam “those chareidim” later on. The same is true for the secular woman who will ask for a free ride in a well-equipped chareidi ambulance every time her elderly aunt needs to travel to hospital for treatment.
I am also fed up with people who performed their military service far away from the danger zone, but still want others to die on their behalf.
Mostly, I am fed up with people who score political points on the backs of an entire community that lives a whole life of physical and financial volunteerism for the benefit of the general population, not just three years.