Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Teves 5767 - January 10, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Battle of the Talmudei Torah in Eretz Yisroel

By Rabbi Moshe Karp

It's high time to unite the principals of all of the talmudei Torah (what the Education Ministry calls "exempt institutions"). The talmudei Torah face numerous battles and a lone talmud Torah has no way of defending itself and fighting back. In order to wage a battle with a united front a single organization must be set up, representing all of the talmudei Torah in Eretz Yisroel.

The talmudei Torah are fighting a battle against the Education Ministry, both a spiritual and a physical battle, and even the physical battle is really a spiritual battle in the final analysis. Everyone knows that the Education Ministry, its ministers, officials and all those associated with it are jealous of the pure Torah-based education children receive at the talmudei Torah. They also envy the curriculum and sifrei kodesh used in chadorim. They seek to impose their authority on the talmudei Torah, telling them which books to teach, how to educate and what world view should be passed onto the students.

To accomplish this the Education Ministry uses a stick-and- carrot approach: if you teach the students in accordance with our demands you will receive more funding from the State and if not, your funding will shrink more and more.

Waylaying and putting a wrench in the works of those who serve Hashem and keep His mitzvas was not an invention of the Education Ministry in the State of Israel. The same kinds of tribulations were caused by the enemies of Dovid Hamelech, who wrote in Tehillim, "They who render evil for good are my adversaries, because I follow what is good" (Tehillim 38:21). Commenting on the latter part of the verse Rashi writes, "For we cleave to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and His mitzvas."

While the Education Ministry and the justice system claim to uphold the principle of equality, hypocrisy reigns in High Court rulings and Education Ministry decrees against the chareidi sector.

Sitting at the Justice Ministry is a third partner, the Deputy Attorney of the Justice Ministry, who sifts through the small print in the law books in search of ways to further reduce funding for chareidim and their children. When he finds some sort of legal support his cry of "Eureka!" echoes across the Land and immediately appears in the media, heralded by reporters eager to inform their readers, viewers and listeners once again "the law" provides a way to deliver the chareidim another blow.

Other collaborators can be found in the municipalities and the local authorities that are reluctant to provide talmudei Torah the same funding other schools receive. Some towns provide talmudei Torah meager funding while others give them no funding at all.

Typically local authorities defend their budget policy by insisting the talmudei Torah are not "run by the municipality." While all of the other schools belong to the municipality, the talmudei Torah technically and legally belong to private organizations. They repeat this excuse so many times they themselves begin to believe it. As if there is some distinction between the Yankeleh enrolled at a municipal school and the Yankeleh enrolled at a talmud Torah.

The Yankeleh at the "municipal" school goes to study in a classroom where the lighting, winter heating, summer air conditioning, etc. are provided by the municipality, while the "non-municipal" Yankeleh does not benefit from any of these services. Of course the municipality demands the fathers of both Yankelehs pay all taxes, but the municipality gives the tax money collected from both of them to the "municipal" Yankeleh alone.

When a talmud Torah principals boldly goes to the municipal officials to request support for the Yankeleh and Moisheleh studying at the talmud Torah he is turned away by one office after the next until he leaves the municipality or local authority building humiliated, defeated and dejected.

All government entities wage these battles against the talmudei Torah and their students. Clearly a strong, united front is urgently needed to confront these schemes with professional tools, combined might and perseverance. Such an organization would have at its disposal all of the tools individual talmudei Torah lack.

This kind of association was indeed founded on 7 Teves, bringing together all of the talmudei Torah in Eretz Yisroel. The association will operate under the guidance of gedolei Torah in an effort to achieve gains, both directly and indirectly. We wish them siyata deShmaya, for Hashem loves unity among those who fear Him and keep his mitzvas. "Then they who feared Hashem spoke to one another and Hashem hearkened and heard it and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared Hashem and took heed of His name" (Malachi 3:16).

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