24 February 2014

Going to prison for doing a mitzvah?


Going to prison for doing a mitzvah?


"Have you heard the news? The United States Government has sentenced a number of Jews to prison for the crime of giving charity. Yup, that's right. These people gave money to charity, and because of this, they were sentenced to prison. This has happened to lots and lots of Jews. You might even have heard of some of them - Bernie Madoff, associates of the Spinka Rebbe, etc.

"Of course, this is a nonsensical way of describing the situation. Bernie Madoff was not sentenced to prison because of what he did with his money. He was imprisoned because of what he didn't do with his money, i.e. to give it to the investors who it belonged to. People who are punished for tax evasion are not being punished for spending their money on houses and cars - they are being punished for not giving their money to the government.

"This is all obvious, right? Yet for some inexplicable reason, the same mistake in describing the current situation in Israel vis-a-vis charedim and army is being committed by a wide range of people.

"I'm not talking about whether it is innately right or wrong, fair or unfair to other Israelis, or strategically wise or unwise to punish charedi draft-dodgers with prison. But in order to have any meaningful discussion about it, we have to describe the situation accurately.

"Nobody is being "sent to prison for learning Torah." They are being sent to prison for avoiding army service. They are not going to prison because of what they are doing with their time; they are going to prison because of what they aren't doing with their time. It's true that they are learning Torah while not being in the army, but it is inaccurate and inappropriately inflammatory to describe this as the reason for their going to prison."

7 comments:

yaak said...

I disagree with Rabbi Slifkin's assertion that it is inaccurate or inappropriately inflammatory. It's actually very accurate and very appropriately inflammatory. It should inflame one's passion against it.

Lema'aseh, a boy who is learning Torah is being told that he can no longer do so and must join the army, and if he doesn't, he will be sent to prison.

Rav Shteinman Shlit"a is correct to say that sending those who wish to stay learning to prison (which will be the end result no matter which way you slice it) is a Hillul Hashem of the highest order, which must be protested.

(By the way, your link doesn't work.)

Neshama said...

Yaak, But what about this:

"As the proposed bill is now structured, very few actual haredi yeshiva students would be drafted against their will. Instead, the haredi quota would primarily be filled by ba’al teshuvas, ex-haredim, haredi shabbabnikim (‘bums’ who either were expelled from haredi yeshivas or walked out of them and who now roam the streets in packs), and Chabad hasidim (who are not part of the mainstream haredi community and its negotiating process)."

The above I believe was conceived by those close to Rav Shteinman.

"But the proposed bill as it is now worded would allow many haredim to leave yeshiva in their early- to mid-20s, and would also lead to many haredim joining the workforce in some fashion, things haredi rabbinic leaders feel would lessen the authenticity of the haredi community – and haredi rabbis’ hold on their followers."

yaak said...

See my blog where I answered you.

Kol Tuv,

Yaakov

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