Photo: Zoom 77
Hagai Segal
Photo: Zoom 77

Jews, go out to work

Haredi community cannot expect to be supported by taxpayers forever

United Torah Judaism Knesset Member Moshe Gafni said this week that High Court judges have never ruled in favor of the haredim. He may have gotten carried away a little, as the High Court did rule in favor of the ultra-Orthodox once or twice – yet overall he's right.


The likelihood of seeing a haredi petitioner smiling as he walks away from the Jerusalem courthouse is as slim as the chances of passing a resolution against Turkey in the Security Council. There is no haredi representation among the judges and no attentive ear to their arguments.


Even the religious judges don't like the haredim too much. Honorable Justice Levy, for example, slammed them to a much greater extent than was warranted over the Emmanuel schooling issue.


On the other hand, Ganfi's growing bitterness does not prove that the High Court again harassed the haredim with is latest rulings. The court's recent decision regarding haredi income supplement is a proper one.


Bnei Brak cannot go on living at the expense of others forever. If it wishes to spend all its time studying the Torah, it must secure private funding for this lifestyle. There is no moral possibility of imposing this lifestyle on the public coffers, and as weird as this may sound, there is no religious duty to do so. The opposite is true.


Our Torah is uninterested in Torah-studying that is not supplemented by actions. The phenomenon of an immense Jewish community that doesn't work and only studies is a problematic modern-day innovation.


Making a living 

Up until two or three generations ago, even the wisest yeshiva students would make a living somehow after they got married. The overwhelming majority of them did not sit at the Beit Midrash day and night, but rather, only headed there after fulfilling the duty of making a living and providing for their family.


The 14th Century constitutive Jewish law text Arba'a Turim, written by Rabbi Yaakov Ben Asher, notes that a yeshiva student whose main occupation is studying should not put aside his studies for anything, with the exception of making a living, because we cannot have a person who does not provide for himself.


Maimonides expressed similar sentiments using more decisive language. On the personal level, he insisted not to live on welfare – he maintained a clinic in Cairo, and only had time to respond to Jewish law queries in the evening.


Of course, in the Jewish State we are allowed to expect that authorities offer significant support for Jewish studies as compared to anthropology or Japan studies, for example. However, we cannot demand that the government keep supporting yeshiva students forever. Our sages greatly valued Torah studies, but went to work in the morning.


פרסום ראשון: 06.19.10, 14:06
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