The “Machane Hacharedi” and I do not share the same God

I hope that what I write below is not true. The headline in the Charedi newspaper “Hamachane Hacharedi” i am sure is just a misquote of the Belzer Rebbe but they wrote it and the newspaper meant it. I hope and pray it is not true that the “Machane Hacharedi” really will pick up their marbles and emigrate from Israel, Eretz Yisrael, on the day the draft law passes. Because if it is true, then the “Machane Hacharedi” and I do not share the same God.

The God I believe in is slow to anger and judgement, of everyone, so I am measuring my words and reactions.

The God I believe in told the children of Israel to head toward the Land of Israel, the land He promised to our forefathers. The God I believe in was angered by the 10 spies, all leaders, who bad-mouthed the Land of Israel and felt it was uninhabitable or conquerable. It would appear that the “Machane Hacharedi” still remembers the free fish, squash at watermelon that the exiled Jews enjoyed in Egypt.

The God I believe in had Moshe tell the two-and-a-half tribes that it is inconceivable that “your brethren will go to war and you will sit at home” in Trans-jordan. The “Machane Hacharedi” seems to believe that not only must you sit at home but you should run to Trans-jordan, or America, to get away from the war.

The God I believe in appointed Yehoshua, the warrior, to conquer the land. Frankly, I am not sure what the “Machane Hacharedi” thinks about Yehoshua or King David, for that matter. The God I believe in never suggested to the prophets to leave the Land, when for hundreds of years idol-worshipping kings lorded over the tribes of Israel. The “Machane Hacharedi” either thinks that a law to draft citizens is worse than idol worship or does not believe in the same God that I do.

The God I believe in told us to work 6 days a week and rest for one. The Great Tanna Rabbi Yishmael suggested that work was the best way to keep people God-fearing and learning Torah for the long term. In fact, Rabbi Yishmael says that many tried to learn torah all the time and were not successful. It seems that times do not change. I believe in Rabbi Yishmael’s God-ly wisdom. The “Machane Hacharedi” does not.

Rashi was a winemaker in France and the Abarbanel was an economist and advisor to the King of Portugal. They both would have given an arm and a leg to live in Israel under any government, especially a government that supported the largest number of Torah scholars in history. In fact, The Rambam and Ramban, both doctors, did sacrifice to get to Israel. The Rambam felt he was violating 3 commandments every day by living in Egypt. The Ramban believed he was not fulfilling any mitzvoth living outside of the Land of Israel. I believe in that same God. I am not sure what the “Machane Hacharedi” believes.

I pray three times a day that God should return us to Jerusalem. Unlike my wife’s great grandfather who did not return from Auschwitz, we were fortunate enough to return to Israel after 2000 years in Exile. The “Machane Hacharedi” has forgotten Persia, Spain, the Crusades, Germany and Poland etc.

Threatening to abandon the Land of Israel after we finally returned is not the same as protesting a draft or a law. The last time 10 leaders of the Jewish people suggested it, the God I believe in punished us and we then wandered for 40 years in the desert. So, I call to my brothers in the Machane HaCharedi: We are brothers and “This Land is very very Good.” My God said so.

[Originally published on 2nd March 2014 by MIchael Eisenberg]