Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Cheshvan 5761 - Noveber 8, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Rabbi Halpert's Large Family Law Approved
by Eliezer Rauchberger and M. Chevroni

The battle against chareidim, which seemed to have calmed down a bit between shooting in Gilo and lynches in Ramallah, is raging once again. Who is on the warpath? None other that Finance Minister Beige Shochat. The background? The Large Family Law, proposed by MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert of United Torah Judaism and finally approved on 3 Cheshvan.

Shochat's words serve as a classic example of incitement. "This money which they give large families -- half a billion dollars, means less security. It means less money for protective vests and helmets for policemen. It means fewer medical personnel to treat the injured who were hurt as a result of the situation."

But Mr. Shochat: Who are the main beneficiaries of this law? All large families in the country. Israel, being a democratic state, makes no distinction between Jewish and Arab families. All citizens have equal rights. Achmad's ten children in Umm El Faham (does that name sound familiar? Yes, this is where rock throwers caused the main road to the North of the country to be blocked for days at a time) will receive the same benefits as Yosef Chaim's in Bnei Brak. According to the law, children's allotments will be significantly increased for families with five children or more. In addition, the grant given to women immediately after birth will be increased starting from the fifth birth and on. According to the estimates of the Treasury, which may err on the high side since the Treasury opposes the law, this will involve a sum of half a billion shekels.

The Law was approved with a majority of 54 supporters to 49 opponents with one abstention.

Shochat says: "It is a contemptible, irresponsible and corrupt deed. It is a disgrace that there is such a law on the books of the State of Israel. . . . The law, which was immorally approved, gives a special interest group in Israel money which it doesn't deserve." Shochat has promised to do his utmost to cancel the law as soon as possible, either as a private law, or via the Arrangements Law which is passed together with the budget. Chairman of the coalition Ofir Pines has already placed a private proposal on the Knesset agenda to cancel the law.

Rabbi Halpert has totally refuted Shochat's claims and said that during recent years the allotments to families with children have eroded by 50 percent. He said that the law will not burden the State and not affect its budget; implementation of the law, to take effect on January 2001, will be totally subsidized by Bituach Leumi funds.

Even Shochat doesn't claim that there is no need to help poor families. However he sees everything differently, rather rosily.

"The allotment for the first and second child should be increased," he is convinced. "The children of working people, and not of those who roam about in yeshivos -- people who pay taxes, should have been given."

Shochat continues: "Knesset member Livnat voted for the law, even though she knows and admits that it's a `bad law.' She should look in the mirror and puke. From whom is she taking money? To whom is she giving it, just so that she can become a government minister?"

Knesset member Livnat, who indeed voted for the law (apparently against her will) strikes back: "Shochat," she says, "as the Finance Minster was the man who abolished the allotments for former soldiers for young people. The government spends much more money today in order to survive. This government which doesn't have a majority, should go home."

Rabbi Halpert: Tens of Thousand of Children are Hungry

Rabbi Shmuel Halpert, initiator of the law, explains what led him to formulate it.

"It all began when I looked at some statistics. The numbers showed that more than five hundred thousand children in Israel are subsisting below the poverty level. These statistics gave me no rest. Thus was the Large Family Law in the Knesset launched. It wasn't easy. I had a tremendous amount of siyato diShmayo," says Rabbi Halpert.

"It's hard for me to understand the opposition. If Minster Shochat had only been a bit more sensitive to the social aspect, he would have embraced the law and not attacked it."

Opposition in the Likud

Members of the Likud also don't exactly agree with the Large Family Law. MK Dr. Yuval Steinitz presents his position and explains it:

"The Large Family Law constitutes the selling of the future of all of us for a justified aim. I'm a Zionist. As a Zionist I say that even if the aim to ease the plight of poor, large families, is justified, this law should not have been passed. The government should have searched for and found other solutions for such a justified aim.

"The Palestinian Authority is trying to destroy the Jews state by demographic means. Even Arafat made explicit comments to that effect."

Aren't you exaggerating a bit?

No. It is possible, cholilo,, to destroy the Jewish state by flooding it with Palestinians and Arabs. Such a flooding is liable to occur if the right of return is realized, and/or by an increasing birth rate. In addition, the number of Palestinians in the country is growing due to migration. All along, under our noses, Palestinians are migrating to Israel.

"The goal of the Palestinians is to bring in 100,000 people, and today over 40 thousand have penetrated Israel from Egypt, Jordan and the other side of the Green Line. The new law not only helps children who have already been born and really need help, but also encourages Arab birth in the Galil and the Negev."

The proposal was approved on Wednesday, 3 Cheshvan, for its third reading. We asked MK Steinitz to explain the voting of the Likud party.

"The chairman of the movement exerted pressure," he said. "There was an attempt on his part to dictate the members of the Likud how to vote, despite the fact that no meeting was held on the issue and no decisions were made."

Can you specify how the members of the Likud voted?

"Three members voted against and three left the plenum (MKs Arens, Landau, and Tzippy Livni). I also voted against, as did Meir Shetreet, Micky Eitan and Michael Kleiner."

Part of whom identify as anti-chareidi.

"Not me," Steinitz said. "My vote wasn't against the chareidim. I am definitely in favor of them. I voted against El Al flights on Shabbos, and I am on their side regarding judicial activism. I think that the chareidim also have to be against this law. On principal, I am not opposed to sectorial considerations. I believe that the representative of each sector should attend to the needs of its sector. But when the result is the encouragement of Arab births, that is dangerous for all of us.

"I sat with professors of demography and economy before the vote," Steinitz says. "Something had to be done, that's for sure. But money shouldn't be given directly to every child who is born, but transferred by means of various institutions.

"The cost of implementing the law is significant," MK Steinitz says. "It will also rise significantly, because it will spur the Arab birth rate. We mustn't commit suicide."

MK Michael Kleiner also wishes to stress that his vote against the law wasn't against the chareidim. He says that he is very much favor of the chareidim, and that he always says that the chareidim are Israel's demographic army. His opposition to the law, he says, stems from the same reasons as MK Steinitz.

Kleiner has a proposal: "The entire issue of help to large Jewish families should be transferred to the Jewish Agency, which should grant it massive assistance, and in that manner, channel help to whoever needs it without endangering Israel from a demographic aspect."

Rabbi Halpert: To Throw the Children into the Sea?

The sum total of the allotments for large families was raised by a half a billion shekels. Due to the nature of the issue, MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert stood in the center of the media storm.

In reaction, he said: "I had no idea that such an important, humanitarian law, providing a solution to tens of thousands of hungry children and to 500,000 poor children would arouse such responses. I ask Shochat: `What do you suggest? Throw the children into the sea, or perhaps, nonetheless, to try to improve their situation?'"

Implementing the Law Does Cost a Lot of Money

"Shochat, with his harsh words, did not relate to the fact that the monthly child allotments have eroded by 50% -- a direct result of his policies. He presents only part of the picture in order to say that the law is corrupt. It is a law that will benefit many families, freeing them from their poverty. The Finance Minster should have been the one to introduce it.

"Bituach Leumi has already been allocated this money. The Treasury gave the Department for Children's Allotments 18 million shekels to cover the unemployment payments. To say that this money is at the expense of the security is incitement."

Nonetheless, economists say that these allotments should be given to the first children until the fourth one, because when the first children are born the expenses of the family increase markedly.

"That's ridiculous," Rabbi Halpert says. "Just look at a family which raises one or two children in comparison with those who have seven or eight children. Which family has a more difficult situation? The law is a simple solution which doesn't cost the state money, and it helps tens of thousands of children. Everyone should bless this important, humanitarian, top notch law."

The Good News: What Each Family will Receive Under the Law

Rabbi Mayer Wisolvski, Rabbi Halpert's aide, reports the following statistics: The grant that every woman receives upon the birth of a child will be increased. According to the new law, starting from the fifth child and on, the grant will be doubled. This sum was NIS 2001, and will now be doubled starting from the fifth child. From now on it will constitute 40% of the average wage, as opposed to 20% until now.

In addition, the points of the allotment for five children will be updated. This means that each child in the family, starting from the fifth child, a will receive 240 shekels more than the sum previously received.

Cabinet Votes to Postpone Implementation of Large Families Bill

The government unanimously approved a proposal by Finance Minister Avraham Shochat to postpone implementation of the Large Families Bill to January 1, 2003. Shochat said he intends to present the treasury's proposal for postponement of the bill to the Knesset in the framework of the Economic Arrangements Bill for 2001.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.