Oct 21, 2015

The black and white solution to terror

There has been some discussion over the past few days, mostly on the Haredi radio stations, about the decrease in terror attacks and causalities ever since Rosh Chodesh - the day the new zman in the yeshivas began. The increased Torah learning has clearly added protection to the Jews of Eretz Yisrael.

The discussion was not just that.

The discussion included similar, related, topics, such as:
* Rav Chaim Kanievsky and other rabbonim being quoted as saying the way to protect oneself from becoming a victim of a terror attack, and to decrease the attacks in general, is to strengthen our Torah learning.
* Rav Uri Sharki rejected the above concept, saying one has nothing to do with the other. We need strength. People need to do their part, learn self-defense. The country needs to act in strength. When there is what to do, from a physical perspective, one must do it.

So, does the Torah learning help? Does it protect us, somehow, somewhat?

I believe it does, even though I do not necessarily understand in what way or how.

Does that mean we should not do our hishtadlus, put forth our physical efforts to do what is necessary to solve the situation, to improve, to defend ourselves. No, I do not think it does. I think it is incumbent upon us to, in addition to learning, also do what we can to defend ourselves, to stop the terror. I don't think the two, learning and physical effort, contradict each other. Each will help in its own way.

To the Haredi community everything is black and white. Either Torah learning is the solution, or it is not. If you suggest another solution, it means you think Torah learning is not a solution. If you say Torah learning is the solution, nothing else is necessary.

Another, not connected example, a fresh example, of how they see everything in black and white, is something I heard on the radio this morning. On Radio Kol Hai this morning they had the mayor of Bet Shemesh, Moshe Abutbol, on air. They were talking about a recent attempt by the local Likud branch to pressure the mayor and coalition, via the Likud MKs and Ministers, to designate construction of a future neighborhood in Bet Shemesh for the general and religious, not haredi, public.

The mayor was open to the idea for multiple reasons. The haredi broadcasters were on the attack. One of their main points of attack was the idea that demanding some construction for the general public means they are trying to chase away the haredi public.

In a town like Betar or Kiryat Sefer or Yesodot or Bet Chilkiya, for example, maybe such an argument could be made. In a town that is 100% Haredi, demanding the construction of a secular neighborhood can be seen as changing the makeup of the town in a way that would negatively impact its residents.

In a town like Bet Shemesh, where the Haredi community is only about 50%, give or take, of the city, why must construction of a secular neighborhood mean they want to chase away the Haredi community?

Then again, perhaps the facts on the ground have already shown it to be partially true, in the opposite direction. Bet Shemesh was a general, mixed population, town. Mostly secular and traditional, with some religious. As soon as they started building a Haredi neighborhood, that set the tone for the city to continue building Haredi neighborhoods and ultimately "chased out" the secular and religious. So maybe the haredim are justified in being concerned that construction of a secular neighborhood would chase out Haredim. Though I don't see it as being true, because, as I already said, they came to Bet Shemesh knowing it already had a large general community. This will not cause them to leave if it did not prevent them from coming in the first place.

My point in bringing this example is how they see it in black and white. Whatever good might come of it is irrelevant. The Haredi community has been moving to Bet Shemesh. Building for anybody but Haredim means, in their minds, that Haredim are being chased away.

With the Torah learning issue - it is just as black and white. Either Torah learning helps or it does not. There is no middle ground. If Torah learning helps, nothing else is necessary. Doing something else, even in addition to, means you do not really believe Torah learning helps.

My question is, and it is really just the return of an old question but it is coming to me again now based on the clarity displayed by the Haredi community in this instance with "clear evidence"of how the Torah learning worked - and that is, if it is so definite that Torah learning protects and nothing else helps or is necessary, then what right do they have to take vacation from their learning? The IDF, trying to protect Israel, does not take vacation. Ever. The IDF does not say we are taking these 3 weeks off every year. How can yeshivas take off 3-4 weeks 3 times a year? If Torah learning protects, they should feel the duty, pikuach nefesh even, to continue learning without stop. Obviously people need breaks, as they do in the IDF and in every other system in the world. So they can implement a rotation of yeshiva boys and kollel yungerleit taking vacations -  10% take a week in July, the next 10% take a week in August, the next 10% take vacation in September, etc..

And I ask this only because to them it is so clear and obvious that this is the only relevant solution to terror.

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  1. Charedim and Muslims have a lot in common. Both groups trend to the right (conservative) in terms of culture. Both see giving something to another group as taking away from theirs. Both see expansion of territory as their due, and will fight to keep expanding, even at the expense of others.

  2. Sorry, Avi. The chareidim are dedicated to Torah and that in itself makes them prone to an insulated community, as they do adhere to the dictum - a nation that dwells alone. That should suffice for any Jew to understand!

    1. I would agree that Charedim believe they are dedicated to Torah. However, most Charedim ignore the foundation of Torah, so I don't really believe they actually are dedicated.

  3. I wish people wouldn't give "reasons" for guaranteed safety, it always makes me worry that they're setting up more of an ayin hara.


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