It is now about a year since the Finance Minister and his
Treasury Department first began their emergency measures to
reform and rehabilitate the Israeli economy. So far, for the
vast majority of Israelis, things have been getting only
worse. Though there are some signs that this may be changing
for the better, it has not happened yet. It may happen and it
It seems pretty clear that there is no foreseeable danger of
a collapse of the Israeli economy. Although it is not growing
the way everybody would like, there are no gross imbalances
that will have to be rectified one way or another.
(Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the American
There is probably not a family in Israel that has not been
affected in one way or another by the government cutbacks
that took place over the last year. Families with high
incomes and/or a lot of assets hardly felt the difference.
Families with low incomes and high expenses certainly
suffered much more.
Boruch Hashem we cannot prove that we have suffered by
showing how many have left the kollelim to take jobs.
So far there has been no noticeable change in the normal
turnover of men leaving kollel to go to work, despite
the cutbacks in government support.
Even at the highest level Israeli government aid reached
almost fifteen years ago, no Jewish family could live only on
what the government paid to a typical family. No one lived
only on what they got from the Israeli government.
The government cutbacks have nonetheless meant a lowering of
the standard of living in the Torah community and the need to
watch expenses more carefully. For some people it meant
catering their own simchas rather than hiring someone to do
it. For others it meant buying less expensive food and drink,
and wearing clothes somewhat longer. For others it meant
having to accept outside help. So far, there have been no
significant changes overall. Things have not been as bad as
the worst predictions, but the cuts have caused pain.
Most importantly, despite the necessity to do without even
more, the masses have not left the tents of Torah. They do
not kill themselves in those tents because of government
transfer payments, but because of their deep conviction that
this is the proper way to live.
Material life should be driven by true and pure spiritual
goals. The spirit is not just something that can be given a
little time on weekends, but rather it is the most important
part of reality, and Torah is the highest pursuit that the
Jewish people have.
Just as the Aron Hakodesh, the container of the
Luchos, in the desert really carried along those who
appeared to be carrying it, so today the Torah really
supports those who appear to carry it. This includes those
who learn it and those who support those who learn it. More
broadly it really includes the entire Torah community and
even the entire Jewish community. Those who seek every
opportunity to strike out at Torah are ultimately propped up
by those they wish to harm.
This is even the way the whole world works. Hashem Himself,
so to speak, constantly sustains the whole world, including
those who oppose him bitterly.
But this situation will not continue forever. In these months
of geulah we are reminded of the eventual state of the
world in which "before You Hashem they will kneel and fall
and give honor to Your Name . . . and accept the yoke of Your