Headline of the week

From the Jerusalem Post:

Haredim riot over arrest of pub-going, draft-dodging yeshiva student

The back story, as to how the yeshiva student was arrested, is even more amusing.

The violent demonstrations started on Thursday after a haredi yeshiva student from Elad was arrested in Eilat.

The student and three of his friends had been visiting the Crazy Elephant night club and then hailed a cab to take them to the main promenade where they wanted to find a pub.

According to the police, the group of four yeshiva students underpaid for their cab ride by NIS 5 and the cab driver, who was unhappy with their behavior, reported them to the police.

The police were able to identify and locate the youths, and upon detaining them discovered that one of them had not reported to the IDF for the preliminary drafting process.

According to the police report, none of the yeshiva students was wearing any religious items such as yarmulkes or tzitzit; they were dressed like secular young men on a night out.

In an interview with news website Haredim 10, the cab driver explained that it was the rude behavior of the four young men, which included them throwing an NIS 20 bill at him, which led him to make the complaint to the police.

Ha! It rather looks like Divine Justice to me. If the silly buggers hadn’t misbehaved, none of this would have happened. Perhaps the haredim might stop to ponder on that.

Irony in Israel

From an Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release:

On Thursday, 6 February 2014, President Shimon Peres delivered the largest online civics class in the world, setting a new a Guinness World Record.

President Peres delivered the online class using Cisco’s advanced technology from the company headquarters in Netanya to over 9,000 students in 215 classes in 71 schools across the country from Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Tel Aviv, Kuseife, Ofakim, Dimona, Hadera, Tiberias, Tayibe, Nahariya, and other communities across Israel.

In his 45-minute mass lesson, President Peres emphasized the values of equal rights, freedom of expression, and democracy. He stressed that computerizing education will help ensure broad and equal high qualitaty education for students throughout the country

The first irony is the typo, of course.

The main irony? From the Times of Israel:

The arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man who refused to enlist in the IDF sparked widespread protests throughout the country Thursday, as thousands of Haredi demonstrators demanded the young man’s immediate release from army prison and called on the government to reinstate payments to religious seminaries which were frozen earlier this week by Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators clashed with police forces on the light-rail suspension bridge near the entrance to the city. According to police, several protesters attempted to break through the police security buffer and throw bottles and firecrackers at security personnel and passersby. Fifteen demonstrators were arrested, police said. A number of main roads in the capital were blocked as a result of the protests, causing heavy traffic throughout the city.

They arrested somebody who ignored his draft notice. It’s an open and shut case. The Rabbis in that sector have been telling them not to go to the IDF and to ignore draft notices. And when the law is enforced? It appears these ultra-Orthodox do not believe in equal rights. They, presumably, didn’t get Peres’ message.

It took me an hour to get home yesterday, because of the demonstrations. Many drivers took the opportunity to wind down their window and use their right to freedom of expression to tell the protesters what they thought of them. It wasn’t complimentary.

Not in my name, said the Rambam

In a lengthy, informative, and refreshingly honest interview at the Times of Israel (read it all here), Dov Lipman provides, among other things, a stunning expose of the hypocrisy and bare faced cheek of some of the political haredi establishment.


INTERVIEWER: How did we get into this situation of mass full-time Torah study, and vast numbers of Haredi males not working? This is anti-rabbinical, this is not authentic Orthodox Judaism.

LIPMAN: Right. I’ll give you one line that happened during the campaign and then I’ll answer your question. I was on Haredi radio and I quoted the Rambam [medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides]. This is the same Maimonides that we’re sitting there [in yeshiva] and analyzing every little nuance of what he says about marriage. The Rambam says: “A person who decides to study Torah and not work and force other people to support him, that person disgraces Torah, disgraces God’s name and has no portion in the world to come.” This is coming full circle to Rav Ovadia and the elections. That’s what Maimonides says. If somebody is rich and wants to sit and learn Torah, fine. So what does the guy [interviewing me] say to me? He says to me: “You want to tell me that you’re relying on the Rambam?” That’s a quote. He says, “That was hundreds of years ago.”

INTERVIEWER: Unbelievable.

LIPMAN: I said: “That says it all.” If you have an answer for me, okay. But you have no answer, and your answer is, how can you rely on the Rambam from hundreds of years ago? I told my wife later: we are not a hundred percent right. We are a thousand percent right. That was the moment where it just all came together for me.

How did we get here? The rest of Israel is to blame. Because both right-wing and left-wing governments throughout have given the ultra-Orthodox parties whatever they wanted because they needed to form a coalition to advance their own [interests] — that’s how we got here.

In other words, some of the same people who want to reserve the right to study Torah texts and commentaries, don’t accept criticism of their selfish approach based on the sayings of the Rambam (a giant among the commentators). Now why might that be?

The bottom line is that the burden of state service should be shared, and those who use the Torah to escape their obligations are cheating the rest of us.