Tali Farkash
Photo: Gabi Menashe

We’re not scared to die

Tali Farkash says haredim mostly scared about losing Jewish identity in army

Part 1 of article


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 haredim. In his most recent column, 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 Shabbat in Jerusalem (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 haredim 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 haredi 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 the “Shema Israel” prayer before dying was simply a way of life.


A haredi 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 haredim not rushing to embrace this opportunity?


As it turns out, people in Israel’s haredi 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 Hebron 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 haredi.


Special military arrangements for the benefit of the haredi community in the Intelligence Corps, Air Force, Education Corps, and Nahal 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 haredi life. Any attempt to accelerate the process through threats and boycotts will prompt the opposite reaction than desired.


Part 2 of article to be published Wednesday


פרסום ראשון: 09.09.09, 00:35
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