Monday, February 01, 2016


Punking the Frum Community “The New Zionists”

imageThe Jerusalem Post, and picked up by Voz Iz Neius, published an article titled “The New Zionists – Ultra-Orthodoxy has Effectively Surrendered to the Zionist Idea”.  The article APPEARS to be a lament by an ultra-orthodox author about how the charedi (Israeli ultra-orthodox Jewish community) ideals of the previous generations are being reversed in this generation…with a probable destination of Reform Judaism and turning their back on Torah.

Here’s a few quotes…

Jews must avoid “connecting with what amounts to religion’s destruction and an obstacle to the house of Israel,” wrote Lithuanian sage Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, while the chief rabbi of Lodz, Eliyahu Meisel, wrote that “anyone with God’s fear in his heart shall distance himself from them [the Zionists], will not walk with them, and will keep his legs from their paths.” 

One hundred and twenty years on, a Hasid is a minister in the Zionist government; thousands of ultra-Orthodox men serve in the Zionist army and a plethora of ultra-Orthodox colleges lead thousands into the Zionist state’s economic beehive and social mainstream…

The undeclared aim was to restore the proverbial ghetto, where thick and tall social walls would keep rabbinical authority unquestioned and modernity’s temptations at bay.  The key to such social resignation lay in the Jewish state’s leading social welder – the army. If Haredi men joined the army, they might cease to be ultra-Orthodox. If exempted, their distinctiveness would be preserved and, in fact, deepened….

…The ghetto’s slow but steady construction now proceeded unopposed. By 1968, the 400- man quota had doubled, and by 1977, an aggregate 25,000 Haredi men had already avoided full military service since Israel’s establishment.  This social nucleus of the emerging ghetto incubated in the secluded neighborhoods where the ultra-Orthodox lived with their rabbis close to their schools, yeshivas and shops. This self-segregation was further cemented by the men’s failure to acquire vocations, in line with their commitment to spend their time studying Torah, all of which reduced to a minimum their daily contact with the rest of society.

By the turn of the century, the annual number of ultra-Orthodox men avoiding full IDF service had crossed 7,000 ‒ enough to man two combat brigades.  Besides provoking the middle class, where many felt they were financing a celebration of draft-dodging and voluntary unemployment, this arrangement also perverted the Jewish tradition that, while cherishing lifelong study, had never financed it for more than a select few.  It was an anomaly that had to explode, and it did…

Faced with a harsh recession, Sharon and his finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cut in half the child allowances that had become central in many ultra-Orthodox families’ livelihoods. Prodded by Lapid, who was now deputy prime minister, they also trimmed government funding for yeshivas and other Haredi causes.  Ultra-Orthodox politicians felt choked.  With 65 percent of ultra-Orthodox males unemployed and their average income less than half that of the rest of the population, Haredi rabbis realized they needed a new deal with the Jewish state.  The ideal of non-work was, therefore, quietly abandoned. Ultra-Orthodox vocational schools began to sprout in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, initially training plumbers, mechanics, electricians and nurses, and then spreading to computer engineering, accounting and law….

Still, the walls of the ultra-Orthodox ghetto have been breached and thousands are pouring out, much the way the Jews of Germany, Austria and Hungary did when their own ghetto walls fell between the times of Moshe Sofer and Herzl.  Back then, it took hardly two generations before the newly freed Jews became lawyers, doctors, dentists, scientists, publishers, journalists, bankers, and tycoons.
The same process is underway in Israel – the Zionist creation where more than half a million ultra-Orthodox Jews now speak no language other than the Hebrew that Zionism revived…

Yet what appears as a lament to a generational lifestyle being lost is written by a secular Israeli writer, and much of what he describes is HIS vision, with limited or no experience, of the Jewish ultra-orthodox community in the next town over (that he’s probably never visited).

Being picked up by the ultra-orthodox Jewish news web sites, we’re being punked. 

The Jewish orthodox community, while maintaining the highest values, has and does adjust generation to generation and place to place, keeping Torah a living Torah while maintaining it’s ideals.  That’s Toras Chaim.  Our author believes that if a frum man goes to work that means orthodox Judaism is coming to an end.  He’s very very wrong.


  1. Very good post. Many of our great Torah Sages had skills to earn a meager living. The great Rambam, Ramban, Rashi, and many others. Many of the Eastern Chahamim however, as I understand it, did not earn parnassah but were supported by their community. So there has always been the opportunity to earn wages. That's how "printed money" came into usage; it started out as an verbal agreement, then as a paper note, then as currency. All because the traveling Jewish (working) businessman needed to insure his dealer/supplier would be paid for the merchandise he was given as soon as it was sold. Or something like that. Jews have always been "in business" in one way or another. "Working" is what we earned from Gan Eden. So it is not new. Some of our Holiest Mekubalim were sandlars, or silversmiths ....

    But what is new is how it is affecting the frum community in Zionist Israel. The pull of gashmiut is aging traction.

  2. Ps: what does 'plunking' mean?

  3. Punking is American street slang, though I think it's already a generation old, for faking or tricking you, usually in a non-financial sense or by fake-bragging.

    When I and some of my family members read the article, we thought it was an extremist in the charedi community lamenting changes - to the point we were disgusted that such attitudes exist within our community.

    Then it turns out the author (who's name is not included on the frum sites that picked up the article) is a secular Israeli. The extremist positions of the charedi community he writes about are partially his own imagination or interpretation. While some of the positions do exist, the interpretation or spin he puts on the make them...outrageous.

    And he finishes by _assuming_ a reaction to changes, a reaction that is similarly...outrageous.

  4. Presume the secular author is hoping that the religious and chareidi world will disappear; this has been the goal of leftist secularists from the beginning. Many in the chareidi world are learning that they need a good job to earn a living for their families and that has nothing to do with anything. In order to survive that is what one must do and should do, but love of H' and Torah is innate in the true Jewish neshama and thus remains true to H'. Believe the true goal of forcing chareidim into the army was one way of the haters of Torah to destroy as many neshamot as possible. Some and many of those from the chareidi world who do decide to leave Yiddishkeit and those from the secular world who are obsessed in destroying it probably have no Jewish neshamot. Simple as that. This is probably all a cleansing process; everything is from Shamayim.

  5. today on arutz7: "The Central Bureau of Statistics published a new report outlining labor trends in Israel. According to the report, the amount of haredi men in the workforce broke 50 percent during the second half of 2015. "

    anon, i wouldn't go so far as to say those who leave are not Jewish. a Rabbi's son who leaves is not Jewish?? confused, hurt, abused maybe, but as is said a Jew is a Jew is a Jew no matter what. he can always come back.


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