The following text was recently published ahead of Independence Day in a religious newspaper, please read it carefully and try and guess to which sector of Judaism the author belongs to: "Anyone who looks around sees that there is only one thing in this country that is blessedly thriving: The world of the Torah.
"Tens of thousands of young men study Torah at the yeshiva halls day and night. It is not uncommon to find nowadays young men who are wonderfully versed in several tractates of the Mishna. The land is filled with Torah instructors who raise generations of God fearing students.
"When have we last witnessed, in recent times, such large-scale and comprehensive flourishing in the Torah world? Where else in the world are there yeshivas that produce scholars on such a scale? Where else are there educational institutions that so many Jews from all over the world send their children to? If there is one flag that should be flown high in this state, it is the flag of the Torah." End of quote.
Haredi paper praising country?At first, I thought that this text was written by a student from the Zionist yeshivas of Merkaz HaRav or Har Hamor. The prosperity of the Torah world in the post-Holocaust era is indeed one of the signs of redemption. Such praise for the State of Israel is heard on occasion among religious Zionists.
However, the aforementioned excerpt was published on the haredi-Lithuanian daily Yated Ne'eman. The months of Iyar and its holidays are known as the days in which the haredi newspapers put special effort into slamming the state and its failures, its flags and symbols. So how come a haredi paper published such praise for the country, I wondered?
And indeed, the last part of the article has put my mind at ease. The writer concluded his column with the next sentence: "But the truth must be told: This blessed prosperity in the yeshiva world after the Holocaust of European Jews has nothing to do with the state and its authorities. It does not exist because of the state. It exists in spite of the state."
Torah world thrives due to Zionist stateThis last statement should be challenged: Is there really no link between the state and the prosperity of the Torah? Of course there is. You bet there is.
The world of the Torah thrives in the Land of Israel due to the Zionist state and its religious and secular citizens. It prospers because we had built in the Land of Israel a good state for Jews in general, and for religious Jews in particular. The world of the Torah also flourishes because yeshiva students and yeshiva heads receive grants, stipends and subsidies that enable them to sit and study. The world of the Torah prospers because the state funds with its taxpayers' money numerous Torah institutions.
The world of the Torah attracts students from the Diaspora because Israel is protected by Jewish soldiers, because Hebrew is spoken here, and because the danger of assimilation in the Land of Israel is smaller than in any other place in Europe or America.
The world of the Torah thrives, and forgive me for brining up forgotten memories because the State of Israel enables a large percentage of Torah students (and also those who sit outside idly) not to serve in the Israel Defense Forces like the rest of the citizens, who bum around in combat units. Being a Torah student in the State of Israel is easier and more pleasant that in any other place, owing to the state. And this is a good thing. Not only the problems and misfortune are because of the state, but also several successes and achievements.
Yissaschar laughs in Zevulun's faceSo, I'm not asking any haredi to sing the national anthem on Independence Day (certainly not during the Counting of the Omer, which is a period of mourning), and even not to light up a torch. You know what? Even a thank-you is not necessary. This is also a state of the haredim, and it's not a duty to be Zionist. But if there are ungrateful people who think that the world of the Torah thrives here only because of a miracle, only because of the inspiring air of the Land of Israel, they should be told to take it easy. Everyone here is a partner.
The agreement between Yissaschar and Zevulun stipulated that Yissaschar sits and studies Torah, while Zevulun provides for him, and that the two are rewarded for the Torah study. And according to the midrash, Zevulun is even rewarded first. It's true that our Zevulun, especially if he is secular, is not always happy with the arrangement, but who asks him? And the truth is that nowhere in our ancient texts does it say that Zevulun should earn a living while Yissaschar laughs in his face.