Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Av 5763 - August 5, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
A Matter of Priorities

by Eliezer Rauchberger

A brouhaha broke out in the Knesset two weeks ago when MKs learned of plans to destroy Beit Frumin, the old Knesset building in downtown Jerusalem on King George Street where the Knesset convened for 16 years until the present Knesset building was constructed.

The House Committee held a special meeting to discuss preserving this building for posterity as a legacy to Am Yisroel and the State of Israel. All of the MKs at the meeting, without exception, voiced staunch opposition to any plans to bring in the wrecking ball, despite a NIS 10 million offer by a private entrepreneur.

Two former Knesset Chairmen, Dan Tichon and Shlomo Hillel, took the trouble to come and participate in the campaign to defend the old Knesset building. Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin was also on hand, of course, saying nobody could deny the site is symbolic.

Their campaign is indeed stirring. What a happy sight to behold MKs mobilizing in unity for the sake of our heritage and for the sake of history! And how good it is to behold MKs do not relate to the building as a pile of stones or mere cement and brick, rather they understand there are things that have symbolic significance and that one cannot live in the present without connecting to the past.

Yet it is deeply disturbing to note that to these MKs our history and heritage stretches back no more than 50 years. Why do these same MKs not mobilize en masse when the graves where our early ancestors have lied buried for hundreds or even thousands of years are desecrated? Do they distinguish between one type of legacy and another? Is the history of human beings and their remains less important than the history of wood and stone?

Why is the Jewish people's true heritage, which began thousands of years ago when the Torah was received on Mt. Sinai, of no interest to these MKs? After demonstrating history and heritage do interest them, could it be that the history of 50-60 years ago is more important than history reaching back hundreds or thousands of years? Is this not a warped approach?

Mr. Slomiansky, Sir: What is it that symbolizes our foundations? Beit Frumin, or the Torah given at Mt. Sinai, 613 mitzvos, the Prophets and Writings, Beis Hamikdosh, the Tanoim and Amoroim, the Shulchan Oruch and all of Am Yisroel's glorious past throughout the generations?

The present Knesset is unrivaled in harming lomdei Torah and shomrei mitzvos. This Knesset and the government have exceeded all of their predecessors in assailing the chareidi sector, which has followed the path of Am Yisroel's true, longstanding heritage. Not a heritage started 50 years ago. Am Yisroel was not born with the founding of the State of Israel.

Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky told the committee the City of Jerusalem has been trying to preserve the building for a long time but the national government refused, claiming the Treasury lacks even the relatively minor funding required to maintain the site.

Responding to a separate question by Roni Brown (Likud) last week Finance Ministry Meir Shetreet said delay in moving to the new office facilities in Kiryat Hamemshalah is costing the country NIS 2.2 million ($500,000) per month. In other words the State spent a huge amount to build tens of thousands of square meters of office space, but government workers refuse to move there, leaving them vacant.

So if somebody is looking for the small sum needed for Beit Frumin upkeep, he could obtain it--with plenty to spare-- by sending the government workers to occupy these empty office rooms. This money, over NIS 25 million per year down the drain, could also be used to fund a number of other worthy causes, namely the weaker sectors of the population this government has been abusing incessantly.

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