Monday, April 12, 2010


All About the State of Israel

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

We received this really interesting comment...

Okay, and today I read about the issue of the planned desalination plant in Ashdod. I really don't understand this whole socialist water company thing. Is that sort of infrastructure industry keep out of the hands of private companies? I really don't understand how anything works in Israel. The technology is there to terraform the desert into Gan Eden. So, why is the desert still a desert in so many places? Are there Orthodox kibbutzim? Do the Breslov have farmers and ranchers? Do they have communities out in the country or is everyone forced to find homes and jobs where they can here-and-there in various cities? Can one own land and/or a house? Are there even plans to build a self-sufficient Breslover community or does such a thing already exist? Is it a lack of funds or government red-tape or is there a bias against letting the Orthodox do anything except study? If the Breslov had the funds and wanted to settle the Uvda Valley and farm it, could they? Clue us in, okay? I'd really like to understand how things work there, especially among the Breslov and other Hasidim.

So here it is, all about Israel while standing on one leg...

A. Water company. Israel has one national water company, Mekorot. They've done amazing things in creating a national water infrastructure, and continue to work to fulfill Israel's growing water needs. Given that they are a government company, efficiency is not their keyword. Yet, water network is one of those services that tends to be a money loser and require central planning - meaning it fits government control pretty well.

B. Desert a desert. First, not so many people want to live in a desert environment. Even if there's some (watered) green, it's still very hot and dusty. Second, it takes a LOT of water to turn the desert green. Israel does NOT have plentiful natural water supplies. It's a semi-arid country with seasonal (only) rainfall.

C. Orthodox kibbutzim. This is somewhat of an oxymoron. Kibbutzim started with a firm communist ideology, both in collective work and socialization. The kibbutzim were extremely anti-religious environments. Most kibbutzim have collapsed as collective concerns and sold off their property. Others turned into small towns. A few remain as communal corporations with shares.

D. Breslov farms/ranchers. Historically Jews in Eastern Europe were forbidden from working the land, leaving the Jewish people with no farming or ranching skills. Religious Jews arriving in Israel that went to kibbutzim had their religiosity removed. Those that didn't go to kibbutzim congregated in Jerusalem or other cities. Hence, there are no Breslov farmers or ranchers. Exception: in more recent times a few special guys here or there in the Tzfat (Safed) area and/or the Golan area may have a couple of private (often organic) farm or ranch situations.

E. Communities. Many small towns in Israel have a particular ethnic and religious flavor (with many original immigrants from the same country). Cities tend to have religious neighborhoods of various types (chassidic, not chassidic, different types of chassidic, etc). There are some religious cities and towns that are majority or almost exclusively religious. Similarly Israel has richer cities and towns, and poorer cities and towns.

F. Land ownership. In Israel there is private land, State land, and Fund land. Private land is private and subject to buying and selling like property anywhere, but is a small percentage of available land/property. State land (land previously owned or controlled by the Ottoman Empire/Sultan, taken by the British after World War I, and taken control of by Israel after the War of Independence) may be "rented" for 99 years (with perpetual renewal) for a purchase-equivalent price. Fund land is the Jewish National Fund, where Jewish people around the world donated money for the last 200 years or so to buy up the Land of Israel (and is around 30% of the land). Fund land is released for public works projects and sometimes regional development, is subjected to being "rented" like State land, and may be subject to additional restrictions.

G. Self-sufficient Breslover community. What's a self sufficient community in this day and age? That said, there are some communities that are rather new-agey organic gardening music playing close to nature religious with some Breslov-ness (Bat Ayin comes to mind).

H. Lack of funds. Breslov chassidim have a history of being the poorest of chassidic groups. Speaking of which, our own Rabbi Nati is starting a special Breslov oriented yeshiva in Ramat Beit Shemesh and could use some support. You can support him here or learn more about it on the Facebook page.

I. Uvda Valley. Desert, NO WATER, almost no rainfall, out of range of the national water carrier. You'd have to build a desalinization plant and pipe it up from Eilat. Not feasible.


crazy smade said...

Very, very informative. Thanks for taking the time to break it down for me. I knew money was - and always seems to be - a major issue with anything. I'm not sure why HaShem gives people wings and then clips them, so they can't fly. I suppose there's some greater lesson to be learned in that, but it sure is frustrating to have dreams and ZERO means and wherewithal to make them come true.

That aside, I was wondering why more people haven't gone the organic agriculture route that Bat Ayin has, especially since there are special halakhic issues there, but you answered that nicely and I appreciate the information.

Since I have no culture or people or group ... I'm drawn to others who do, especially when their way of life and their ideals exemplify the direction that mankind ought to be moving in. Hence, Hasidism in general and the Breslov in particular fascinate me on many levels and while I don't gravitate toward the Na Nachs, I can relate to their "fringe-iness," because I'm pretty much a pariah in my own country.

I was moved to tears time and again, whilst reading R' Chaim Kramer's "Through Fire and Water." Continuity, structure, discipline, lofty ideals, purpose, brotherly love, community, family, emunah, HaShem.... What the Breslov seem to have is exactly what I lack. What's not to love? I guess I'm just another Noachide moth that's attracted to the light of Israel and yet is prevented from become one with that light. :(

Anonymous said...

Well, I think there are religious kibbutzism and moshavism, though they're probably dati leumi. There's one charedi alternative-medicine oriented rabbi who lives in a commune-type thing near Tzfat. You can read about it here:

crazy smade said...

Well, I'm not so much into communal living as I am living in an actual community that is shtetl-esque and has farms, orchards, animals, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, if you will. A community that doesn't have to fall back on the "outside" for help or support or basic goods and can make do with the talents and products and businesses within the community itself. Then again, I might just as well dream of living on another planet, because one pipedream is much like another, when one is stuck in the mudpits of Goshen.

Anonymous said...

Charedim will be the majority of Israel within a few decades. So eventually they'll have to be in all kinds of professions, just as they were in shtetl times. And dati leumi communities, including settlements, are often agricultural based, and are small towns with people of various professions. Many dati leumi people are becoming interested in Breslov and chassidut, I've heard (such as Bat Ayin, as Akiva mentioned).

crazy smade said...

I'm certainly not worthy to join Klal Yisrael, but ... I so want to. I just don't belong where I am at present. I'm tired of being the Chicken Prince. I may not be a Prince, but neither am I a chicken. I only feel drawn to and at peace within Hasidic Judaism. It's to the point where I can't even function within another context or relate to anyone else.

josh said...

Sorry for the memory loss but I think that Ein Tzurim or Rosh Tzurim is 'almost' a Haredi kibbutz.

Unfortuantely, this lack of Haredi effort is another mistake of the past that hopefully, one day, might be corrected. We know that many Hareim actually welcomed the birth of the State of Israel, but eventually, did not identify with it. They refused to join the army and did not go to settle the land either. They abandonned these areas to the non-religious and until today complain about the blashphemy.

B'ezrat Hashem, very slowly, but surely, the Haredi community is understanding the need to take part in the Israeli society they live in. The internet is playing a big part in this. While the gedolim (or perhaps their 'askanim') are struggling to maintain a strong grip on the information their followers get, the internet is irreversible.

The internet has a lot of bad in it, but we assume that the vast majority of Haredim are God-fearing and do not visit the toeva sites. Instead, they use it to broaden their awareness of other Haredim and expand their 4 amot. Haredi high-tech companies, Haredi stores (Bnei Brak still has many national religious storeowners who used to make up the majority of Bnei Brak), Elad - the first all Haredi city, etc...

B'ezrat Hashem, achdut and immediate geulah.

Related Posts with Thumbnails