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The Rule of Law

Last week Rabbi Porush the son explained to us on Gabi Gazit’s morning show why the haredim have every right to rob the country’s treasury to support haredim who are too holy to work. What was clear from what he said is that the haredim, who have long disconnnected the arrival of money with actually earning it by working, clearly think that money is something that is given out, and therefore the haredim deserve their share.

Now Rav Porush the father tells us on Daniel Pe’er’s morning show that the laws in this country are not to his liking, and threatens that if we prevent haredim from doing exactly as they please, they’ll take to the streets and rebel.

In both cases, son and father present their case as if this is a secular-religious conflict. “You gave money to the kibbutzim!” Porush the younger cries. “The courts are overstepping their bounds” Porush the elder warns, and very helpfully his interviewer – the noted halachic expert Daniel Pe’er – points out “it’s a conflict between the law of the land and the halacha.”

Rav Porush himself, of course, wouldn’t have dared to say that. And for good reason. Because he knows, as does every child in a state religious school, that there is a very clear halachic principle which states: “The law of the land is the law.” Which means, that civil laws must be respected and obeyed –  that is the halacha. Religious Jews in the Diaspora were always very careful to keep the laws of the czar or the king. They prided themselves on being law-abiding, so that their actions shouldn’t be interpreted as a descecration of G-d’s name.

But why should it surprise any of us that the haredim are now threatening the rule of law? Since its inception a few hundred years ago, haredi society has had no respect for the halacha either. Every time they run into a Halacha that interferes with their lifestyle, they simply ignore it.

For example, the halacha, stated clearly in every ketubah, that a husband has to support his wife. Show me who’s supporting his wife in haredi society.

For example, the Halacha states that the Torah should not be made into “a shovel with which to dig.” Show me who isn’t using the Torah for monetary gain in haredi society.

What Israeli society has to understand, is that the conflict with the haredim is not a religious-secular conflict. The real conflict is simple: haredi society, having veered very far from the honesty and social justice inherent in the Torah’s laws, now finds itself collapsing financially and morally. As a result, it is becoming more and more radical in its demands from the general society that is shoring it up, whose support is the last pillar of its crumbling empire.

I say, if the haredim want a rebellion, let’s have one! Let’s all of us, secular and truly religious, halacha-abiding, rebel against the haredim and their vision of a society shaped and dictated by their ravenous personal needs and greed. Let’s uphold with all our might the rule of law – halachic and civil – which is our only protection against the horror of a society whose laws are dictated by the fanatic and the ignorant, the self-serving and the indolent.

I say, there is a place in every civilized society for those with no respect for the law, who encourage people to break it and who threaten judges and the courts when decisions are not to their liking. It’s called jail. Those who break the law, or threaten a rebellion against it, belong there, no matter what they’re wearing, and how holy they think themselves.

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