Good Little Soldiers

One argument, minor though it might be, in the discussion of Haredim serving in the army and/or national service is that they wouldn’t make good soldiers anyway.

Tomorrow, the Haredi world is about to prove that their sons would make great soldiers. Never mind the fact that no one is actually asking them or forcing them to serve in the army. To be clear, we are asking them to serve the nation in some physical capacity for a period of two years.

That service can be done in the army, but it doesn’t have to be. They can sweep the streets, work in a hospital, guide people through Yad Vashem, help in schools, etc. etc. It does not, by virtue of the request, mean that we are poisoning their souls or leading them astray. This is a fair request and one that should not be answered as it will be tomorrow.

Tomorrow, their rabbis have called them to march into Jerusalem, to get there any way they can. What will they do there? Sure, they’ll listen to a lot of speeches and maybe say some prayers, but anyway you cut it, what they are really doing is protesting and more, intentionally doing all they can to paralyze the city of Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish nation.

And most likely, at the end of the day, they will leave the city, littered and desecrated with garbage as they have done so often in the past (I have the pictures to prove it). If, as expected, hundreds of thousands answer this order, they will prove that they will make excellent soldiers, responding to the commands of their superiors without questioning. That is pretty much all they will prove.

To be fair, there is an inherent inequality in forcing Haredi youth to the army or national service without also forcing Arab youth, Bedouin youth, and rich secular kids in Tel Aviv to equally serve. So the law must be enforced fairly, and here is how:

Without regard to religion or economic status, on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis – if need be, on a street by street basis, and certainly on a name by name basis, where the youth do not serve the country, the country should not serve the youth or the community that encourages them.

  • No government loans or assistance in getting mortgages should be given to those who do not serve. All government tenders which force developers to offer a number of free apartments per development project should be canceled. Instead, the value of the apartment should be donated back to the government. Several projects in Beitar fall into this category.
  • If 60% of the youth in any given area (neighborhood, city, whatever) do not serve, the government should not fund Egged buses to serve that area. Cities like Elad, Beitar, Kiryat Sefer, and Bnei Brak will not have bus service; nor will Har Nof, Ramat Shlomo, and Mea Shearim. If you want bus service, encourage your children to serve the nation that provides service back. Yes, you can hire buses yourself to run these routes. However, an additional tax should be levied against these buses for use of the roads. We built these Zionist roads and if you do not serve, you cannot use them.
  • No car can be registered in your name, if you did not serve. You cannot be issued a license to drive and rental companies will be fined if they rent a car to you. You cannot drive on the streets paved by the State you refuse to serve.
  • The government electric company should not provide electricity to these neighborhoods. Certainly street lighting should be stopped immediately. Electricity is not a human right or necessity.
  • No mail will be delivered by the State you refuse to serve. If the mail system can be configured to flag mail that must be forwarded, it can be flagged to separate and file away mail for people who do not serve. If more than 3 people who live in the house did not serve, no mail should be delivered to that house. Why should the Zionist mail serve you, if you refuse to serve the country that funds and manages this service?
  • Universities and colleges – any that receive government funds – cannot accept you, certainly not if you do not pay the FULL tuition.
  • Hospitals will continue to serve your needs, in birth, in sickness, in emergencies, but you will be billed the full cost of the care, automatically deducted from your bank account. No longer will you use our medical services – the ones supported by the Zionist national healthcare. If you need any non-emergency care, you can fly abroad or pay full price.
  • No passports will be issued in your name from the Zionist State of Israel – you might want to look quickly into getting citizenship of another country, since you don’t value this one enough to take a fair share of the burden of sustaining it.

Tomorrow, you are about to declare war on the State of Israel and in return, it must declare war on you. We are not asking you to compromise on any Torah laws. You can serve within your communities, but you must serve. Two years of the lives of your children – as our sons and daughters give. There will still be time for learning; still time for marriage and children and all that life has to offer.

There is a fundamental problem in your refusing to serve. No question that the details have to be worked out so that you do not have to compromise on the level of kashrut (kosher food). And no, you should not be forced to serve with women in close quarters (though I regularly see Haredi men standing right next to women on the trains and buses) and you’d be amazed at how many Haredi youth I see in Internet hang-outs as I walk passed them.

Yes, you have a right to ensure that your sons are put in an environment that does not contradict Halacha (Jewish law), but again and again, the army and other organizations have proven this possible. These are all details.

The fundamental core of the issue is that the prayers and learning of my sons is not less important or valuable to God than the prayers and learning of your sons. My sons are not anymore expendable than yours; their lives of equal value and importance to the people of Israel. Until you accept that, you truly do not have a place in this society and if you do not have a place, you should not be allowed to benefit from the services it provides.

The Belz Hassidim have threatened to leave the country if a law requiring them to serve the nation in some capacity passes. Our response is that this is up to you. Certainly, we understand your issues and if that means you choose to leave the country, we wish you a safe trip.

By the way, if you leave the country, you won’t be allowed back in – certainly not as an Israeli citizen and not on any visa we issue – that too is only for those who serve this country. I have a neighbor who told me that once he was told he could be a shaliach (a representative) for a Jewish organization. He would live abroad for two years, all expenses paid. He and his family were very excited. They went to tell his parents and amid all the excitement, he noticed his father sitting on the side. His father was not joining in the great joy of the family and when he asked his father why, the response was something like, “What did you do wrong, that God is exiling you from Israel for two years?”

It was a sobering thought, and one I offer to the Belz community – what are you doing wrong, that God is even considering exiling you from this holy land? And more, are you so ignorant of life in America that you think it is better to live there than have your children serve the only Jewish country that has existed for the last 2,000 years? Two years, and they can live all their lives here as rightful citizens…you would honestly rather they spend their lives in exile? What, truly what is wrong with your community that you think this way?

Tomorrow, the good soldiers of the Haredi world will converge on Jerusalem and bring it to a standstill. It takes no brains to do this, no dedication to Torah, no great learning. Apparently it is acceptable to give up learning when the rabbis of this community decide to make a political statement, but not acceptable to consider fairly paying your share of the social burdens required to sustain a community.

By sheer numbers, tomorrow’s demonstration is likely to be the second largest single Chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s Name) ever committed by the Jewish people, second only to the sin of the golden calf.

There too, in their ignorance and self-centered focus, they lost sight of the most important issues for the Jewish people. The future of the Jewish people has always been tied to this land, promised to us by God. We fulfill the promises made to us, each time we defend this land and it is wrong, so very wrong, for a community to live here without sharing in each aspect of the operation of the State.

Prayers and learning are of infinite value but they do not replace the need to defend and serve, just as the need to defend and serve does not replace the need to pray and learn. Our sons and daughters can do both, must do both.

Tomorrow, when you come to Jerusalem – each dirty cup you drop on the ground, each piece of paper, each tissue – is an affront not only to our beautiful city, but to God, who declared it holy. Each moment that you stand and strangle the city and cause others hours of hardship is on you. Schools will stop early tomorrow – that means that Torah learning will not take place – and that too is on you. In such a large city, if someone gets hurt and the ambulances can’t get to the hospitals on time – that too is on you. Each one a sin, a Chilul Hashem, each an expression of sinat hinam (disdain/hatred of your fellow Jew).

All this, because you are selfish and misguided enough to think your sons are holier than ours; your prayers of more value. Tomorrow, as you march, it is the golden calf you serve, not God. The golden calf remains a symbol for all time, reinventing itself throughout the generations. Perhaps once it was a physical statue. Tomorrow, it will be a symbolic one – its shape that of hundreds of thousands of Haredi men, women and children gathering to serve their own needs; too cowardly to put those needs before serving God, Israel, and the Jewish people.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.