Aug 16, 2007

we live in a backwards world

The head of Human Resources in the IDF, major general Elazar Stern, has been working towards finding a solution for the situation with the yeshiva boys and kollel members who currently have their army service deferred, but then they cannot go to work (even if they want to leave kollel and begin working) until they fulfill their army obligations, which because of societal pressures (and other reasons) is difficult for them to do.

Stern has been working towards a solution in which he would exempt completely any and every yeshiva student. Any yeshiva student or kollel member who wants to study in yeshiva would receive a full exemption from the army. That's right - an exemption - not a deferment. And if one day student x or y decides he does not want to continue in kollel but wants to go join the workforce, he would be able to do so without having to be concerned about any obligations to the army.

I am not sure how such a solution would work, as how would they justify exempting yeshiva boys and not others who want to do other things and not go to the army. And how would they ensure only those deserving would get the exemption rather than those who just ride along for the exemption and right away abuse it?

Regardless of my questions, I guess they would need to work out the details. In general, that is a solution Stern has been working on.

Stern approached the Minister of Communications Ariel Attias who is a member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party in an effort to get his and his parties support for his efforts.

One would think that the haredi parties would jump at such an offer. This is what they have always been looking for - a blanket exemption for their students from army service.

Surprisingly, Attias said he would recommend against supporting the proposal. Attias' reasoning was that the army is only looking to exempt these boys from the army in order to allow them to go out to work unhindered and unburdened by obligations to the army.

Attias said to Stern, "your concern is not really for the yeshiva boys. It is for the general workforce. This is really an attempt to allow more people into the workforce and weaken the ranks of those studying Torah (by making it easy for them to leave yeshiva, not just making it easy to stay in yeshiva). Of course the decision will be made by the gedolei yisrael, however we the representatives will recommend against this precedent to remove yeshiva boys from the world of Torah."

Stern said, so at least let's agree on the married avreichim, if not all yeshiva boys? For them it is more necessary as they have the burden of supporting a family and this will ease the transition of those who so wish to do so...

Attias' response was that someone who wants/needs to leave yeshiva and work to support his family, already finds a way to do so. This is not an attempt to help these men, but an attempt to weaken the ranks of those who study Torah.

One would think they would jump at such an offer, even if it really is being made with other intentions. They have always wanted exemptions from the army, and they always have to fight for deferments. I know plenty of people who have gotten exemptions by faking mental illnesses or whatnot, just so they do not need to be bothered with renewing deferments every year and with studying specifically in registered yeshivas and the like.


  1. The yeshiva world never wanted a blanket exemption like the one suggested by Stern. This is the reason for the lukewarm support or downright opposition to the Tal law because it enables somebody to leave learning at a younger age with minimal military obligations.
    From teh charedi POV the ideal situation was the one before the Tal law: an unofficial agreement between the army and the Vaad Hayeshivos where military obligations are deferred with no time limit, only as long as the person stays in learning and does not work.

  2. You rock, Rafi.

    I'm writing a similar post...slightly different POV, but same bottom line.

  3. rafi, rafi, rafi,

    you poor naive soul. you are missing the whole point. it's not about learning or army or work. It's about control. who is the power. who has the power and/or right to make decisions for these people.

  4. I'm with you Rafi. If I'm getting what I want, I am really not too concerned with what the motivations are.

    Which, I suppose, leads to Shaya's point....

  5. the Tal law is not the same. As you say, it does still leave the person with military obligations.

    shaya and mizellie - yes it is. I did not write it in the post though because I am saving it for another post. I actually spoke with Jameel on the phone today about the topic and we both agreed on that reason as well.

    jameel - thanks smiley

  6. The Roshei Yeshiva are afraid that there will be a mass exodus if suddenly anyone could just pick and up and leave.

    What is sad is that at the age of 22+ you have to keep people in Yeshiva basically by force, if you gave them a choice they would leave. What does that say about the chinuch of all of these people?

  7. bluke - good point. though it might not be bad chinuch. people might have to leave yeshiva for practical reasons - parnassah, ability to learn all day, etc...

    another factor I thought of in the vein you wrote, how sad it is that they are afraid to let 22 year old make decisions on such matters and they have to force them to follow along with the basic line.

  8. Ironically, Atias is a "working guy". I hate to generalize (OK, I love to generalize, but I realize that any generalization, no matter how on-the-money, is inherently flawed), but this is typical chareidi - don't let the "chareidi-man-on-the-street" think too much for himslef. The leadership is the one who knows what is best for each person.

  9. This is such a sad topic. What makes it even worse is the callousness and spiteful joy that so many charedim have that they get to game the system. The pride that is shown at their ability to stay safe and let anouther 18 yr old block a bullet for them.
    How very sad.

  10. danny - blow it out your a**.

    stay on topic here. besides, even meir (pur bro in machal) says that as many secular Israelis are hiding and avoiding the draft too. He was flabbergasted when he found out this wasn't a "chareidi" issue.

    The issue here is absolute power/control by the chareidi leadership over their minions.

  11. #1-as many in numbers not as a percentage of the community
    #2- the secular israelis aren't vocally proud and fighting for their rights to get a deferment, it is done but carries stigma, shame and consequences.
    #3- the secular don't have leader exhorting them to defer and making it shameful to serve in the zionist the satmar "rebbe" who flew through germany because "he will not support the zionist el-al" isn't that richly ironic, supporting germany over the wonder people confuse satmars with the neturei karta.

  12. i would have assumed that shas would be more receptive to such a deal, considering that many of the party's supporters are not haredim and will be entering the workforce

  13. as far as numbers and percentages go, I just read an article yesterday about the increase in secular Israelis who avoid the draft. The article was about Adi Eldar, the head of some government office (slipped my mind right now and I am too lazy to look for it), who has called upon municipalities to not hire entertainers who have evaded the draft. It is a growing trend and he says we should shun them.

    A very interesting point he made is that when Ben Gurion first agreed to allow the haredi yeshiva students to avoid the draft, they were just 4%. Today they have grown to 11%.

    He said that today the secular avoiding the draft is at 4% and we have to nip it in the bud before it increases quickly to 11%.


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