I did not go to the Ultra-Orthodox anti-draft coercion demonstration – even though I can identify with most of the claims being made by the Haredim.
As I wrote not long ago, ultra-Orthodox MK Yisrael Eichler has done more for Israel’s security than Finance Minister Lapid – even if Eichler had been learning Chinese instead of Torah. At a different opportunity, I will prove that Yisrael Eichler is also better for Israel’s economy than Yair Lapid. Nonetheless, I think that Yair Lapid is the best thing that has happened to the Hareidi community.
Even though the equal burden of army service issue is the spin of the century, Lapid is right about one very important thing: The Hareidi way of life in Israel must change. There is no such thing as everyone being able to learn Torah all day, just because you put them in black clothes. 80-90% of people cannot sit and learn all day.That means that if you force them to sit there, their potential is wasted, and they rot.
“Raban Gamliel, the son of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi says: Study of Torah combined with derech eretz (in this case, working for livelihood) is befitting, for the toil over them both causes one to forget to sin. And any Torah that does not come together with labor, ultimately is annulled and brings sin in its wake.” (Pirkei Avot 2:2)
Successive Israeli governments have allowed the Hareidi bubble to be inflated due to their interest in getting support from the Hareidi Knesset factions. But when Lapid left the Hareidi factions outside the coalition, he brought the problem to the surface. And that is the first step toward a solution.
Now for the spin of the century:
Everybody in this drama is doing and saying the exact opposite of what they really think: The last thing that Lapid wants is for Hareidi men to flood the army. But the method of ‘blame the Haredim and win votes’ works wonderfully.
The last thing the army wants is additional Haredi soldiers. The military is already carrying the weight of the roughly 50% of soldiers who are not needed. More enlisted soldiers with special needs for specific kosher food and gender segregation – who needs it? But the Chief of Staff will never say that publicly.
Many Hareidi youth actually want to enlist, to finally be part of their country, to be able to earn an honest living. But of course, they’ll be at the protest, to preserve their place in the flock.
For Hareidi leaders, Lapid is worth his weight in gold. In today’s reality of internet and smart phones, it is not easy to keep the youth isolated from Israeli culture. The ‘demon’ Lapid, the ‘Amalekian Titus,’ allows them to build the walls higher.
Just like a real Purim costume party: Each person comes with a mask that is the inverse of reality.