Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (19 February, 2018, 4 Adar, 5778)
What should Israel do about high fertility of Haredim?
This query borders on the prejudicial and is somewhat offensive:Â
Â What should Israel do about high fertility of Haredim?
Â I doubt that a query such as this would be allowed if any other Religious or Ethnic group were being considered. Hareidim (i.e. Ultra Orthodox Jews) are good people and valuable citizens. They bring a blessing to the world. They tend to have more children than most other groups but what is wrong with that? In most cases they succeed more than others in bringing their children up to be like them. This too is a blessing. There is nothing to stop others from copying them and doing the same. The world needs more Jews and they are bringing more Jews into the world. Nevertheless both the question itself and everyday reality demonstrate that there are some reservations about them.
Â Let us consider two of the main criticisms leveled against Hareidim in the State of Israel.
1. Hareidim do not serve in the Army.
Â Some do, most do not. The Tribe of Levi in ancient times did not go out to war with the rest of Israel. They learned Torah instead. The Hareidim in our times fulfill the function of Levi. In addition to that, the IDF has a surfeit of soldiers. It does not want or need Hareidim at this stage. It also does not really require women soldiers but it has to train them for ideological and social reasons. The secular segment in effect forces the general community to subsidize a coming of age experience for their young females!
2. Hareidim learn Torah instead of Working.
Â Learning Torah brings a blessing to everyone. A large section of Hareidim do learn Torah. They are supported to some degree by the Israeli government. Most of their funding however comes from work done by one or other of the parents, help from their extended families, or from private sources. A good portion of the funds arrives from overseas. From an economic point of view of work done, money exchanged, funds coming in, then Learning Torah is work! It produces more funds than it consumes. The Israeli Government and society benefit from it. There are Hareidim who wish to gain regular secular employment but encounter barriers. Government service is the largest employer in Israel. Hareidim are not accepted to its ranks. The situation is similar to that of Poland before the last world war. Meanwhile the secular (anti-Hareidi) bureaucracy stifles the free-enterprise sector, causes housing shortages, and discourages foreign investment.