Reading the news of the “Million Man Atzeres,” that was the statement of our Sages that came to mind. “The ‘destruction’ of elders builds, [while] the ‘building’ of children destroys” [Megillah 31b].
The Yesh Atid [There is a Future] party has no future, because it does not understand our past. This is why the other quote that came to mind is from a more proletarian source — reading that Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy (of Yesh Atid) said that “thousands of chareidim will be inducted into the IDF and begin doing their part,” the line that came unbidden to my mind was “Oh Mickey, what a pity, you don’t understand!”
It really is a pity. Levy does not understand how the Jewish people managed to survive for 2000 years without a land to call our own, something no other nation in history has done. This was only due to our following the Torah, and the voice of Torah sages in each generation. If they think there is a substitute, they should read the Pew Report and ponder the imminent collapse of heterodox Judaism in America and worldwide. Do they really think that simply by assembling Jews in Israel, so that their children’s friends are Jewish, that’s a sufficient long-term model? Why is Brooklyn the fourth largest Israeli city?
They don’t understand what it means to cling to core values. This is the same foolishness that leads people to believe that if you give Palestinian Muslims a few dollars and a university or two, they will discard their belief that any land conquered by Islam must remain in the hands of Islam, and thus the Jews must be pushed out of Israel. With that same lack of insight, they believe that they will be able to draft charedim with threats of jail sentences. Really?
The budding Torah scholars will very happily choose jail, and be fêted as heroes for doing so. Have the great minds of Yesh Atid so soon forgotten what happened when the courts falsely accused schools in Emmanuel of racist discrimination against Sephardim, which culminated in the jailing of several rabbis, one of whom was Yemenite? People danced in the streets as they escorted those rabbis to jail, because the rabbis refused to compromise our values. Everyone recognized that the result would not be an end to discrimination, but interference by the courts in Torah education, and that was not up for discussion. These boys will be honored for the rest of their lives by their home communities.
Nor does the government understand how we won our wars. They have forgotten that in 1967 there was a shortage of Tfillin after the war — because of the soldiers who wanted them after what they had seen with their own eyes. They have forgotten that in 1973, we should have lost, r”l. They have forgotten that in 1991, thirty-nine missiles fell, primarily on Shabbos, corresponding to the thirty-nine categories of forbidden labor. They have forgotten the number of open miracles we saw at that time as well, and the lack of anticipated casualties. An academic study of the impact of Scud attacks (39 in high-density Israel, 2 deaths; 42 against low-density Saudi Arabia, 28 deaths) stated that “there is considerable anecdotal evidence that good fortune may have played a role,” and concluded, with considerable understatement, that “Israel’s fortunes appear to have been relatively good.” And they have forgotten, if they ever recognized, why things happened that way.
We can empathize with their lack of understanding, but we cannot endanger their lives and our own in order to cater to their foolishness. The Jewish people cannot abandon the Beis Medrash, the primary source of our protection, because they stupidly believe that learning Torah isn’t “doing their part,” rather than the most crucial.
Their “building” has destroyed. If their goal was to get those boys who are truly not cut out for continued learning out of the Beis Medrash and into Nachal Charedi, the specially-designed charedi IDF battalion, they have accomplished the opposite. The united Yeshivish, Chassidish, and Sephardi Gedolei Torah have now declared that no one should enter the IDF, because of the war now being waged against Torah scholarship. What sort of “charedi” person doesn’t listen to the unified position of all Gedolei Torah?
And the “destruction” of the elders, builds. Everyone knows that the IDF does not need all of the inductees it currently drafts, which is why the standards for exemption have become ever more lax in every other situation. It certainly does not need battalions worth of charedim who will unquestionably fail to follow military discipline, because the Army doesn’t follow the same standards as their rabbis. Many within and beyond the government have quite openly said it is an attempt to change our lifestyle, and the rabbis have responded to their declaration of war. They have unified the Torah community; even the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz HaRav and leading Dati Leumi rabbonim came to stand for Torah learning.
I am neither a prophet nor a visionary. But I do know that Yesh Atid will be removed from the government without meeting its goals. The Torah of the Jewish people trumps politics, every time.