A World Without Mozart
Update: This was first published in February, 2003 after I heard Avraham Poraz speak. He was part of the Shinui party, led by Tommy Lapid. His son, Yair, is now in the Israeli government. He is more diplomatic than his father, I will say that.
A World Without Mozart
As reported by Arutz-7’s Israel National News, the Shinui party’s Avraham Poraz told Israel Radio this morning that families should not have more than four children unless they have the means to support them. At first, I thought to ask Knesset member Poraz to define “means.”
Should families with an income of 7,000 NIS per month be allowed to have more children while those earning 6,999 NIS per month be limited to only four?Perhaps 10,000 NIS or 12,000 NIS?
If the family only brings in 3,000 NIS, should they perhaps be limited to only two children? What is the minimum amount a couple must earn in order to be allowed to have even a single child? Is this amount tied to the US dollar, the Euro? Is it before or after taxes?
I began to think of my own children. I doubt that Poraz would be swayed by my inability to imagine a world without my Aliza, my fifth and youngest child. After three boys, she is my petite, gentle child who often says “Koolum loves Aliza” (Everyone loves Aliza).
Should I have sent my salary stub to Poraz before becoming pregnant? I yearned for her and knew that my life was not yet complete until she was born. Though I had four children and my life was full and happy, I told my husband “someone is missing from the table.” Though I did not yet know her name, I was right. According to Poraz, perhaps I should have consulted my wallet instead of my heart.
It is unlikely that Poraz would be interested in my little Aliza or care that she fills our home with love and joy. It is enough for him that she is not within the four that he would allocate to each family. I wonder who else should not be born, who else should not have lived in a world according to Poraz.
Novelist Jane Austen was the seventh of eight children in her family. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a driving force behind the Soviet space program, was the fifth of eighteen children. Did their parents earn enough to justify their existence in the world of MK Poraz? How can the income of parents determine the future worth of a child? If we are so foolish as to listen to Poraz, what great minds and souls would be denied to us?
At the bottom of this statement by MK Poraz is his deep-seated hatred of the ultra-Orthodox. Poraz would have us believe that they are parasites, unworthy of their place in our society. They serve no one, no purpose. They do not work. They do not serve in the army. They take, but they do not give. They are a burden on our society.
It’s hard to argue with numbers. It’s true that many do not work, that most do not serve in the army and that larger families require more finances and therefore often need more assistance. But largely ignored by Shinui are some of the more amazing things that the Haredim do. I have seen a Haredi man put his arms around a woman to comfort her in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. I’ve watched them run to the scenes as others run away. We will all be forever haunted by the images of Haredim gathering pieces of human flesh for burial. How can you put a value on this? I have never seen MK Poraz do this gruesome task.
The Haredim have created a network of organizations to help families in crisis. Because they don’t take the easy way out and abort Downs Syndrome babies, the Haredi world has developed special schools to serve the needs of these children.
How can you know in advance the worth of a child, what amazing things he might discover, what wonders she might invent?
The Haredim that I know are wonderful people, who have raised respectful children, and who offer great service to our society and to our country. It’s true that they pay less taxes, but is that the only way we have to measure our citizens?
Maybe they do not serve in the army, but isn’t it possible that their service to the poor and disadvantaged adds its own value to our society? How can we call people “parasites” when they perform one of the single most difficult tasks, that of honoring our dead and seeing to our wounded?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the fifth child of seven. Can you imagine a world without Mozart?
As both a mother and a human being, I relate very much to what you say. And even have had similar thoughts about my third child — my only daughter — who wasn’t a planned pregnancy.
However, as a member of society, I also look at the larger picture. Population is a worldwide problem, not just an israeli one and not just one related to religion or targeted to ultra-orthodox. I can’t see how we as a world or we as a nation will be able to afford to feed one child, let alone seven. This is a conversation we all need to be having and a decision all adults need to thoughtfully make.
Actually, population isn’t a problem in Israel. The comment was made because the Shinui party member understood that those who tend to have more children in Israel are the ultra-Orthodox who would never vote for his party. Also, many of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel live at or below the poverty line and require government assistance. One reason for this is a complex situation in which they do not serve in the army and therefore, as they have not “yet” served, they are not legally allowed to work.
This is a very involved discussion – but the bottom line of why this comment was made had much to do about politics and it was, at the time, quite offensive. At the time, it was most definitely targeted to the Ultra-Orthodox. There are many reasons why people should choose to have or not have more children. I did not (and do not) believe it was this man’s right to define the criteria for other people. If someone chooses, on the basis of how much money they earn, to have or not have more children, that’s fine but what right did this man have to say you can have three children, but don’t have four unless you earn this amount? That was the point at the time…
When Mozart was born he only had one living sibling. All but Anna Maria were dead. Leopold and Anna Maria (the mother) only had to raise 2 children into adulthood. Pertinent only if you consider the economics of having children.
You assume that Haredim are at the core of Poraz’s comments. You don’t really KNOW. You are so right in noting that there are thousands of gracious and giving Haredim. But you may err in thinking them to be the majority. There are more thousands in groups that deny the right of the Zionist state to exist.
It’s complicated. Trying to make it simple is not wise. This said, there is some truth in all this when you realize that Jerusalem and Bnei Barak are the poorest communities in the country.