Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Sivan 5765 - July 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Spreading Kedushoh to All Areas of Life

The story goes that when the first group of shochetim sent by Shearis Yisroel to South America came back to Eretz Yisroel, one of their first moves was to visit the rabbonim with a report of their work. Nothing of the sort had been done up to then by a mehadrin hashgochoh: to go into a non-Jewish meat factory overseas and shecht meat according to the highest mehadrin standard. Understandably excited, the rabbonim gave one Shearis rov a detailed report of all the halachic issues and answers that had taken place. After listening patiently to their report, his first response was: "Yes that is all fine. But will it be cheap?"

When Maran HaRav Shach zt"l founded the organizations that serve the Torah community today — Yated Ne'eman (Hebrew and English), Degel Hatorah, Shearis Yisroel — he certainly did it all only because he felt that it was necessary for Klal Yisroel and for kvod Shomayim. Rabbenu described his approach in his introduction to the fourth edition of his Avi Ezri: " . . . therefore our task is but to do what we have to do: to increase Torah and yir'oh, Torah in its purity, its wholeness and its true image, and Hashem will do His part, so that Torah is not forgotten among people, as He promised us . . . "

No doubt the most important result is the continued flourishing of Torah study, and in general the advancement of the borders of kedushoh, the exemplary, holy communities that are expanding all over Eretz Yisroel as discussed elsewhere in this issue. Nonetheless, there is a lot to do and a lot that has so far been left undone in the spiritual revolution — especially compared to the high hopes that many had when it all began.

Yet the revolution has not been only in the areas that are overtly identified with holiness, as many think. It extends to many other areas as well — great and small, political and economic. When assessing the results of these initiatives, these accomplishments cannot be ignored.

The battles ranged from the arcane — such as the struggle to push the government financing for chareidi education into the regular budget instead of making it a "special allocation" that had to be approved yearly but was under the control of the politicians, both chareidi and secular — to the mundane, like the trail-blazing trips to South America to slaughter meat. This approach, which has since been emulated by all sectors of the chareidi community, brought in meat that was a third (!) of the price of the mehadrin meat that had been available previously. Obviously this innovation was of great benefit to the entire chareidi community.

Yated Ne'eman also is an institution whose innovations have not been only in purely spiritual issues; its function is to present the position of daas Torah in all areas of modern life.

One of the major expenses of every chareidi family in Eretz Yisroel is housing — for itself and for its children. In this Degel Hatorah has again been at the head of initiatives that made a major difference.

The Ramat Shafat project in the Ramat Shlomo (Shuafat) neighborhood of Yerushalayim is a shining example. The entire neighborhood was built at the initiative of Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz when he was deputy housing minister some 13 years ago. The Ramat Shafat project encompassed about 30 percent of the entire neighborhood. It originally offered the apartments at about the same price as an apartment cost in one of the outlying areas like Kiryat Sefer. Later, after all the accounts were settled, it refunded 12.5 percent of what the surprised homeowners had paid.

Binyan Shalem, a building company founded by the Yerushalayim branch of Degel Hatorah, has built and sold some 3,000 apartments in Beitar Illit, Beit Shemesh, Modi'in Illit and Elad. Though organized as a company, its goal is not to provide a profit for its owners but housing for the Torah community. It has acquired a reputation for success in meeting this goal.

Now it is undertaking a mammoth project in Yeruchom that will more than double the number of apartments it has built so far. It is a well-thought-out project, put together by people who know what our community needs and who are driven by a goal of public service and not economic profit. If successful, it will undoubtedly draw other imitators, and the low prices will directly help struggling avreichim to marry off their children with dignity, and the alternative that it presents will restrain housing prices for the chareidi community throughout Israel.

One could not ask for a more literal interpretation of the Chazal (Megilloh 31b): Setiras zekeinim binyan — [even] the destruction of elders is constructive.

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