The haredi draft
Sir, – If our haredi rabbis studied the Talmud a bit more, they would learn the following lesson about their current attitude toward working for a living.
The sages of the Talmud worked at many diverse occupations.
For instance, Hillel was a woodchopper before he became the president of the Sanhedrin, and Shammai the Elder was a builder. Abba Hilkiah was a field laborer, Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakai was a businessman for 40 years, Abba Shaul was a gravedigger, Abba Oshiya was a launderer... the list goes on and on.
All of these figures managed to combine an honest job with studying. Indeed, they concluded that study without toil leads to idleness and sin.
The same goes for contributing to the defense of our country, in which the haredim live so comfortably.
Sir, – So the Belz dynasty wants its disciples to leave the country (“Massive haredi demonstration to take place in Jerusalem today,” March 2).
The IDF would not suffer.
Worker productivity would increase on average, and welfare payments would decrease.
The Belzers could study according to their rabbi’s curriculum and the only harm would be an increase in the welfare rolls of their new places of residence.
Sir, – As a religious Jew, I am deeply embarrassed by the violent and abusive rhetoric being used by some haredi rabbis, yeshiva heads and even Knesset members to attack Yair Lapid for his proposal to draft yeshiva students into service in the IDF (“Haredi leader: Lapid’s actions could lead to his assassination,” February 27).
This vicious and ugly rhetoric is bad enough. More disturbing to me, however, is that this incitement has led to violent demonstrations where yeshiva boys actually attack and injure Jewish policemen. This is sinful and immoral behavior, a desecration of God’s name that should be condemned, not justified or supported under any circumstances.
I understand that emotions are running high in the haredi community regarding the draft.
Sadly, it seems that the heat of emotion has led some to forget or ignore the fact that the ways of the Torah are the ways of peace and pleasantness. This is the principle that should guide their discourse, and ours.
Sir, – Let’s all calm down. If the goal here is to get the haredim to pull their share of the load as citizens, there are better ways to get this done. Do any of us really want soldiers in the IDF who do not wish to be there? Whatever happened to the idea of community service? There are hospitals, charity institutions and dozens of other worthwhile places where these men would do good work, feel much more comfortable and actually contribute something.
Anybody in a decision-making position in the government should know that it is pure folly to ask people to do something that is counter to their belief system. Community service, which is much needed, does not present a threat. What happened to that idea? As an outspoken member of the national-religious community, I believe that every citizen of this country owes something to both Israel and its people. I resent the fact that some communities do nothing at all for the greater good. I am, however, realistic and pragmatic enough to know what can happen when groups feel threatened.
Can we please stop the power plays and get back to an idea that can work? D’VORAH KLEIN Beit Shemesh Sir, – I look forward to the next haredi million-man demonstration, wherein this time they recite psalms offering thanks to the Israeli government for 65 years of supporting Torah study in the most magnanimous way in all of Jewish history.
Sir, – You state in “The Temple Mount” (Editorial, February 28) that “the controversy surrounding the Temple Mount...
is just one of many obstacles that need to be overcome....”
Totally wrong. The real obstacle is the unbelievable lack of spine in our political leaders – no matter what party.
Jewish pride, courage and determination are absolutely absent from their thoughts and deeds. Their ignoble behavior has served to mislead our people, converting them into a herd incapable of properly reacting to nonsensical statements and actions. A short list would do: the flight from South Lebanon, the retreat from Gaza, the non-completion of Operation Cast Lead, the Second Lebanon War and the ongoing release of convicted murderers in exchange for... well, absolutely nothing.
You don’t have to be a Grade A strategist to recognize that Jerusalem is “a pain in the neck” from a military point of view. But this should not have any bearing on a Jew’s thinking or doing when it comes to the city itself, of which the Temple Mount is the heart.
For me, an atheist, there is no room for religious sentiments when dealing with the Temple Mount. But it is the symbol of Jewish statehood and our roots in the Land of Israel. By handing over the keys to the Wakf Muslim religious trust, Moshe Dayan belied the whole Zionist doctrine and tacitly said to the Muslims that the Temple Mount – and the land – do not belong to us.
The present unacceptable situation has been created by our own doing (and not doing). To amend this, two things are needed: a new, really Jewish leader and a miraculous medicine capable of pulling us out of our slumber.
Sir, – Artistic license and architectural context have always been at war with one another, and clearly the new Cinema City in Jerusalem is no exception.
Reader Debra Nussbaum Stepen (“Calling Mr. Storrs,” Letters, February 28) likens the edifice to a cheap circus tent. But the overweening ambition of two previous mayors of Jerusalem already gifted us with the mast for the circus big top in the form of Calatrava’s Bridge of Strings – beautiful in its own right, but with respect to the architectural integrity of this wonderful city of ours, needed like an avocado needs knickers.
Why we are here
Sir, – You say that in an interview with the German TV network ZDF, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “reiterated his position that the settlements were one issue that needed to be resolved to get to a peace treaty, but were not the ‘real obstacle to peace,’” and that the “real obstacle to peace... was the Palestinians’ continued refusal to “accept finally a Jewish state, a nation state of the Jewish people” (“Merkel: reaching two-state solution is ‘part and parcel’ of securing Israel’s future,” February 25).
No, Mr. Prime Minister. The real obstacle to a peace that ends the conflict is your refusal to declare sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, the Temple Mount and every Jewish holy site. A sovereign nation does not give up its land, but builds on it. That is why we are here.
The Post also reports that in the interview with ZDF, Netanyahu called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government “great friends of Israel.”
Seems to me that everyone who wants us to surrender our land to our enemies is a “great friend.”
We don’t need Germany or any other country to tell us how to secure our future, which, with the “two-state solution,” would be a repeat of Germany’s “final solution.”