Saturday, March 1, 2014
RABBI SHMUEL ELIYAHU EXPLAINS WHY HE IS ATTENDING THE RALLY
The following is my translation of a Hebrew article which appeared on the Srugim website, here.
There are those who have asked why I and members of major Zionist yeshiva heads have made a call to participate in the rally calling for recruiting of Chareidi Torah scholars. Why should thousands of hesder yeshiva students participate in this rally? After all, we view military service as a great mitzva (commandment). Because of this great mitzva, we have served in the army and educated our students in this way. The movement to have the Chareidim participate in the labor market is a welcome and positive one, and according to Halacha (Jewish Law); so why are we joining the struggle of the Chareidim?
Moreover, if in our opinion the participation in the wars of Israel is a mitzva; if in our opinion it is much more preferable for those who work, than those who receive charity; why then, are we participating in a rally against the new conscription law? After all, this bill is designed to have the Chareidim share in the work-place and in defending the country, which in itself is a great mitzva.
There are several reasons for this. First is the reckless, inconsiderate way that Yesh Atid promulgated the matter of criminal sanctions. Upon the establishment of the current government, it was decided to go in the way of dialogue, of consensual agreement and not criminal measures. Parts of Chareidi society have already been drafted, other parts are working, and some are studying at academic institutions. This process can be encouraged and moved along by economic means.
In contrast, there are those who want to re-educate the Chareidim. Unfortunately, the MKs of Yesh Atid have overcome the members of the Bayit HaYehudi, and the Shaked Committee has decided on criminal sanctions. For this alone, one should protest. One should empower those people who are working (on this) without hatred, without a trying to educate the Chareidim, or to impose a lifestyle (on them).
Yair Lapid and his party's insistence to impose such a significant move upon the Chareidim, is a bit reminiscent of his father's hatred of the Chareidim and the religious. This is an attempt to bend the will of the Chareidim instead of discussion, negotiation. It reminds on of the story of the destruction of Gush Katif.
Yair Lapid himself wrote in Yediot Acharonot that it was clear that the expulsion from Gush Katif would not bring peace. He only meant to break the will of the National Religious public, to show them that they were not the boss of the country. It’s more than a feeling that Yair Lapid is trying to do the same to the Chareidi public - trying to break it instead of talking with them. We must resist with all our might against the recklessness of Yair Lapid and his friends.
The second reason is to honor the Torah world of the Chareidi community. These are people who fulfill the Mishna in Avot (6:4) literally, "(This is the way of Torah,) to eat bread with salt, drink water sparingly, sleep on the ground and live a life of hardship." Even if I disagree with them on some things I cannot ignore their devotion to Torah. About this, King David said in Psalms (119:63): "I am a friend to all who fear You."
The third reason is pain. You cannot ignore the pain of hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihood was broken, following the severe cuts imposed Yair Lapid on the budgets for the Yeshivot. You cannot ignore the pain of families left without bread and diapers. Even if we do not agree with everything, we cannot ignore the pain. "I am with him in (his) trouble."
I am deliberately not answering the question of why I am not taking revenge against those Chareidim who do not relate to the Torah world of national-religious with respect. Anyone with eyes in his head clearly knows that revenge and bearing grudge is the opposite of the path of Torah. It is also not effective. The arguments amongst us serve the Israeli left more than anything else. We need to increase unity, and in the end the respect and honor will come.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is the Chief Rabbi of Safed, and one of the Rabbis of Derech Emuna.