New York – In an interview that aired on Zev Brenner’s Talkline radio program last night, MK Rabbi Dov Lipman discussed his views on last week’s Million Man March in Israel, what he views as misconceptions about the Chareidi draft and offered a special request for today’s Atzeres Tefillah in Manhattan.
Lipman scoffed at the notion that the new draft law was designed to take away from Torah values, noting that last week’s gathering in Jerusalem was an “atzeret,” a prayer rally and not a “hafgana,” a demonstration. Defending the new law as very much pro-Chareidi, Lipman outlined the terms of the new legislation.
Listen to the full radio interview below:
“Right now anybody who is in draft age in the Chareidi world, if they don’t serve, they are not allowed to go to work, so you have tens of thousands of people who are not allowed to go to work and support their families legally even if they want to. The law says that anyone aged 22 and over, because of the fact that they were brought up in this culture…they are allowed to go to work without serving.”
Lipman emphasized that after the law is enacted on Tuesday morning, 30,000 members of the Chareidi community ages 22 and up will receive letters informing them that they can go to work without any fear of being brought up on criminal charges and that there will be thousands of jobs, as well as numerous government programs, set aside to train these new entrants to the work force.
According to Lipman, the new law, which is on the books at the Knesset and is accessible to all, has a goal of having an additional 2,000 Chareidi young men enlisting in the army annually by the year 2017, a number he claims is realistic and attainable.
“There is a process and there are reasonable goals every single year for the Chareidi community to meet and I can tell you those goals are going to be met,” insisted Lipman.
Asked why there has been so much opposition to the new law, Lipman opined that the notion of having young Chareidim who are not completely committed to full time learning leaving their yeshivos is difficult for some.
“What happens when all of a sudden the doors to go open up and work are opened to these guys and 10,000 or 15,000 leave, what does that mean in terms of the yeshivas? They get paid money from the government based on the number of guys that they have. What does that mean for the Chareidi political parties and their power base that has always been just getting money for yeshivas and kollel…It is a shakeup for the Chareidi community. Change is difficult.”
“There is an issue of control here,” added Lipman. “There is an issue of power and that is certainly playing a role here.”
Lipman was quick to note that the only potential for Chareidim facing jail time for refusing to serve in the IDF was if the quota of 2,000 new Chareidim enlisting per year is not met, saying that the law would have to applied equally to all segments of the population.
“We are one nation…you can’t have different laws for different groups.”
According to Lipman, many secular Israelis are also opposed to the new draft rules for Chareidim, saying that exempting anyone at all from the draft is unfair. Lipman considers the fact that both Chareidi and secular Israelis are voicing their displeasure a vote of confidence in the new legislation.
“We knew going in that we had to compromise,” said Lipman. “We said it from the beginning – it had to be right down the middle. And if the secular community is upset and the Chareidi community feels that they have to daven about it and cry out about it, it seems like we found the right middle ground.”
Lipman also noted that there were various options available to Chareidim who enlist, including doing national service with entities such as Magen David Adom and Zaka and offered a suggestion of his own for the New York Atzeres Tefillah.
“When you pray for everything we are doing here that seems to be wrong, maybe put in a prayer for the soldiers also, who are defending everyone who is here…Show them you are part of am yisroel. Show them that we are one nation. Show them that even if you choose to learn Torah as your service to am yisroel, that you appreciate the soldiers and that would be the greatest Kiddush Hashem.”