The Jerusalem Post recently published an article declaring that ultra-Orthodoxy has surrendered to the Zionist idea.
This declaration sure is news to the hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who want nothing to do with the Zionist State. The Post offers no concrete evidence to back up their claim; the evidence they do bring is circumstantial at best. Let's look at a couple of the mistakes on which the author of the Post article bases his conclusions.
First, he mistakenly classifies religious Jews who join the IDF as ultra-Orthodox. As ritually observant as these young men may be, that doesn't make them ultra-Orthodox. In fact, these boys are often viewed as pariahs in their old neighborhoods. There have been numerous demonstrations across the globe with hundreds of thousands of participants, decrying the Israeli government's attempt to draft ultra-Orthodox boys into their army. Surely, one cannot classify the boys who do break off as ultra-Orthodox. And if there are any truly ultra-Orthodox Jews there, one certainly cannot judge the vast majority based on the few who were unable to withstand the challenge and joined the army to improve their financial situation.
Next, the Post cites the fact that there has been an increase of ultra-Orthodox participation and influence in the government. While we at True Torah Jews are opposed to any participation in the Israeli government, still, one cannot paint with a broad brush and label everyone who does participate as having surrendered to Zionism.
Rabbi Reuven Grozovsky, head of Agudah’s Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, wrote at the time the state was established that participating in its government was, strictly speaking, a sin, and he classified the Agudah’s approach of participating as "aveirah lishmah" - a sin done with good intentions.
Rabbi Shneur Kotler, the late dean of the largest yeshiva in the United States, conceded that the ideal approach is to refrain from participating in the Israeli government. “The Satmar Rav proves in Vayoel Moshe that opposition to Zionism and non-participation in the state is the position that the Talmud and all Jewish legal authorities once held. On the contrary, our Agudah approach is a new approach: that in today’s environment, we have to commit a sin with good intentions and salvage whatever we can, choose the lesser of two evils and so on.”
And of course Rabbi Elazar Shach, despite his advocacy of participation in the Israeli government, is quoted extensively in this very same Jerusalem Post article as being strongly anti-Zionist.
Therefore, it should be clear that those who participate, even when they go a step further and take on more responsibility, do not mean to do anything more than a further “sin with good intentions.”
But the time has come for a wake-up call: the sin may not have been done with good intentions, and it certainly did not have a good result. Those who participate in the Israeli government would do well to remember the famous analogy, given by one of the rabbis who permitted participation, to someone who is attacked by a band of robbers and negotiates with the robbers to see if he can salvage at least some of his possessions. No one would misconstrue his negotiation as approval for the robbers. In the early days of the state, when the ultra-Orthodox community was small and under attack, this analogy made sense to many as a rationale for participation. But today, as the Post article rightly points out, the boundaries are becoming blurred, many Orthodox are benefiting from the state, and some people are beginning to forget what exactly is wrong with Zionism.
And this very point was made by the Satmar Rav years ago: joining the government and taking their money is truly a Faustian bargain, because once the Orthodox community becomes dependent on the Zionists, it will eventually fall under Zionist control. As the Torah says, the bribe blinds the eyes of the wise.
The Post conveniently ignores the fact that there is a large contingent in the Holy Land represented by the Eidah HaChareidis. Members of this group refrain from participating in the government altogether. These pious Jews do not vote in Israel's elections, nor do their schools accept funding from the Israeli government. In fact, for decades, another well known anti-Zionist group, the Satmar Hasidic dynasty, has helped to support schools that refuse Israeli government support through an organization called Keren Hatzolah, which distributes money to these schools several times throughout the year. If all ultra-Orthodox Jews have given into the Zionist idea, who does the Eidah HaChareidis represent? For whom does Keren Hatzolah raise millions of dollars every year?
The Post also gives the impression that increasing trend of ultra-Orthodox men in the State of Israel working for a living instead of pursuing Talmudic studies has something to do with surrender to Zionists. It does not. On the contrary, working for a living is a healthy feature of any Jewish community and, in this case, it enables the ultra-Orthodox to become less dependent on the Zionist state.
Don't let the Zionist media fool you. There are hundreds of thousands of fervently anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews throughout the world, and we will never surrender to the Zionist idea.