Sunday, May 25, 2014

What do they want from the Avreichim, that they should die from hunger?

So says the cover of this weeks Mishpacha's magazine where the cover story interviews the head of the largest Gemach in the world (who has seen a tremendous increase in the number of people taking loans), and details the financial crisis that the Israeli Charedi community is going through.

98% are requesting loans just to continue living. I know for sure of hundreds of girls who are sitting at home because there is no money to marry them off . People come to us because they need expensive treatments. What should I tell them? That they should forgo surgery until the government will fall? What do they want from the Avreichim - that they should die of hunger?

R' Kuperman then goes on to blame the financial crisis in the Charedi world on the government which has cut funding and the Charedi rich who don't give enough tzedaka.

What he fails to say is that the Charedi world itself is to blame for setting up a society that cannot sustain itself. When you set up a system where every man is supposed to sit and learn in kollel forever, you are setting the society up for a financial collapse.

Of course people can't marry off their daughters when the price for such a marriage is an apartment plus support for the husband to keep learning. Where on earth is the money going to come from when the father of the girl has himself been sitting in kollel for 20 years?

Of course people can't pay for expensive surgery because they have no supplementary health insurance because they can't afford the few shekels a month for such insurance.

Of course people have to take out loan after loan to pay their monthly bills, when the husband is sitting and learning (earning almost nothing) and the wife is earning next to nothing because she wasn't allowed to get a university degree.

A while back I posted a quote from R' Shteinman that people should not buy life insurance as the merit of giving tzedaka to the widows and orphans is what is saving this generation from destruction. The practical result of this policy is that every single day I get a flyer in my mailbox telling of some tragic death and that because of it the wife and children have no food to eat.

Someone in the Israeli Charedi world (not Jonathan Rosenblum) needs to state the obvious truth, that the current system is financially bankrupt and cannot go on. Much of the Charedi world is living in a fantasy world that the government is going to fall and the Charedim will be in the next government and restore the government money. It isn't going to happen. No Israeli government in the foreseeable future is going to give significant amounts of money to the Charedim. The Charedi world is going to have to wake up and understand that it has to become self supporting, and not self supporting with a handful of super rich paying the bills and the rest sitting and learning, but self supporting where the majority of the population goes out and works and only the true elite sit and learn long term.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A very different perspective on Shechita - Helping souls achieve their tikun

I was always under the impression that shochtim saw themselves as people providing a valuable service to the Jewish people by providing kosher meat. However, Mishpacha (Hebrew) had an interesting article last week about the Kosher meat industry in Argentina. As part of the article they interviewed Rav Asor who is the head shochet (as well as the oldest and most experienced) for both the Rabbanut and Badatz Beis Yosef in Argentina, and he provided a very different perspective as to how he perceives himself.

"Do you think I look at the animals with the eyes of a butcher? No, I look and think about the many souls that are gilgulim in these animals that are waiting for a tikun, and how much these souls will be helped when the meat that are in will be eaten at the seudas mitzva of Pesach night. I truly feel a shlichus.
I don't just think I know. Sometimes I see the tears in teh eyses of the animal, and I had some cases where the animal itself stuck out ist neck to my knife. At the last second you can see that the soul inside wants to get out. 

The truth is that there is no source for gilgulim in the Gemara, in fact, there is an explicit Gemara that seems to contradict the whole idea of gilgulim. The Gemara in Bava Metziah (107a) comments on the pasuk ברוך אתה בבואך ברוך אתה בצאתך that it is teaching us that just like a person enters the world without sin he should leave the world without sin. The רש"ש there comments that this contradicts gilgulim. The reason being, that the premise of a gilgul is that a nefesh that already sinned comes into the world to be מתקן that sin. However, the gemara states explicitly that a person comes into the world without sin. Gilgulim is a Kabbalistic concept which was popularized by the Ari and has now become part and parcel of Charedi Judaism.

If you are a rationalist does this statement of the shochet bother you? Does this make you have any doubt about the shechita?

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Supreme Court in Belgium upholds law forcing Charedi schools to teach secular subjects

It's not just in Israel, in Belgium starting next year, the Charedi schools must by law teach secular studies. Not only that, the government will be administering standardized tests to everyone and any children who fail the tests will be forced to transfer to a government run school.

The Admor of Peshvark told his Chasidim that in light of the ruling they should leave Belgium and go to a country that doesn't have compulsory secular studies. I wonder how practical that is for 2 reasons:
1. What countries don't have compulsory secular studies?
2. How will they get in?

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Source: Kikar Shabbat

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A letter to Mishpacha in response to their dramatic headline about financial collapse in the Charedi world

The following letter was printed in this week's Mishpacha in response to their dramatic cover story last week about the financial collapse of the Charedi Torah world.

As the wife of an Avrech in Kollel whose stipend has been almost completely cut, I would like to respond to the news that was reported about the poor status of Avreichim. I am writing with tears because I look around and I see that people have no idea. They don't know what we are dealing with every day. I am certain that it has been many years since Jews have been required to show this much dedication to Torah and supporting a house of Torah.
My Husband is an Avrech who is a Tzadik, he learns all day and excels, yet, in spite of all this, he has no stipend except the bare minimum - and people around don't know. Everyone is enjoying life and we are living in real poverty. 
I don't want to be poor, to have to ask for money, to become someone who needs help, but this is what is happening because we want to preserve a house of Torah and only Torah. 
If people now know what the families of the Avreichim were going through, it is a little bit better.

I have to say I don't understand what this woman wants. She can't have it both ways, she says that she doesn't want to be poor, yet she wants her husband to sit and learn all day. Well guess what, money doesn't grow on trees. She and her husband have made a choice and now need to live with it. Learning torah was never meant to be an occupation and a way to make a living. She is poor by choice and should not be blaming other people. Her comment that everyone else is living it up and enjoying life while she and her family suffer in poverty is particularly galling. People who work, work hard for their money and sacrifice a lot to do it. No one owes her or her husband anything.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Charedi world in Israel is in financial collapse

So says the Mishpacha newspaper this week. Tens of Kollels have shut their doors leaving thousands of Avreichim nowhere to go. The heads of the Kollels claim that donations from abroad (mostly the US) have dropped due to the incitement against the Torah world in Israel. What they mean by this is that many American Charedim don't understand why everyone should sit and learn and no one should work. They don't understand why secular studies are prohibited in high schools when all of the Charedi high schools teach secular studies. They don't understand on the insistence that no one should be drafted. The fact is that American Charedim are a different breed then Israeli Charedim and given the financial problems in the US are no longer willing to provide unlimited funds to bankroll a system that they don't really believe in.