A storm has erupted in the political system as a result of
the untoward remarks of Justice Minster Yossi Beilin who, on
Sunday (4 Nisan) launched a sharp and unprecedented attack on
the concept of "families blessed with many children." Beilin
made his remarks in an interview in Sunday's Ha'aretz,
in one of a serious of articles attacking the extra monthly
allocations paid by the government to large families.
Beilin's remarks were received with shock and much anger not
only by the religious sector, but even among the overall
populace, because they were directed toward large families in
general, without regard to whether they are chareidi,
religious or secular.
Minister Beilin said in the interview: "The fact that there
are many children is not a blessing. Most of the large
families are a decree distress, difficulties and deprivation
on their children, who become burdens on society. Most of the
mothers in such families become servants and slaves of their
homes . . . The concept that birth must be encouraged in
order to maintain a demographic balance is cruel."
He made these remarks in reacting to a proposal submitted by
MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert to grant large families several new,
additional benefits. That proposal has already passed the
preliminary Knesset reading (kria tromit) and two
weeks ago it nearly passed the first reading. However, due to
Meretz's parliamentary maneuver in requesting that the vote
be seen as an issue expressing no-confidence in the
government -- which requires a further waiting period before
it can be brought to a vote -- it was postponed to a later
date, after the Pesach break.
Beilin says: "There is no connection between the blessing of
having children and numbers. Large families are not
necessarily blessed ones. If all of the children are
neglected, is this also a blessing? It's like saying that if
a person has only two children, his family is not one which
is blessed with children. That's not a nice expression, in my
view. There are families in Jerusalem with 15-17 members. Do
these children receive good educations and proper attention?
When there are many children they are a tremendous burden on
the wife . . . I don't want Israeli society to be composed of
large families. That's a terrible poverty decree."
Beilin attacked the promise Prime Minster David Ben Gurion
gave in the 50's to allot 100 lirot to every family with ten
children. "That's a terrible statement. . . . I think that he
made a big mistake. We must distinguish between helping poor
and large families, something which we must continue to do,
and encouraging families to join the cycle of childbirth,
poverty, stress, frustration, and the becoming of a burden on
society. I am categorically against such encouragement, and
don't think that it is the state's role."
Beilin thinks: "The arrangement of the child allotments in
Israel constitutes an incentive to have more children. I
don't want financial considerations to play a part in the
decision of whether to bring more children into the world.
Today they discriminate between children when they apportion
the allotments. I say: Don't discriminate. Give every child
an equal sum."
Condemnations of Beilin's remarks came from all sides of the
Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz said: "We have a dispute with the
secular world, over what is more important -- to `live it up'
or to live. The secular have no regard for life. What's
important to them is to live it up. If having more children
prevents them from having a good time, then according to
them, they shouldn't have more children. That's the essence
of the dispute between Torah Jewry and secularism. However no
one, not even the secular leaders, has ever dared to say that
[out loud in public]. Beilin has said it and that's what so
disconcerting. According to his approach, the encouragement
of childbirth results in the imposing of heavier taxes on the
"This type of approach is hair-raising. It can easily lead to
the conclusion that there are people whose very existence is
far too expensive, such as the crippled and the mentally
disabled and others who are "bothersome" to society. The
perspective wherein we measure human life by one's
utilitarian value is very hair-raising. There is a mythology
of distortion, which is all lies, such as the well-known lie
that families have more children because they have a
financial incentive to do so. There's nothing more ridiculous
than that. No one profits from child allotments.
"The secular resort to lying, defaming and mudslinging so
that people will regard chareidim in a disdainful manner, as
if we give birth to children for monetary reasons. It's
frightening what that man does. The biggest lie is that in
large families, children don't receive good educations. The
fact is that all of the drug addicts and the `jet set' are
not from large chareidi families. Violence prevails in the
secular schools. That's not the case in the chareidi schools.
What type of education do children receive in the large and
blessed families? Exemplary educations. Come and see our
Shabbos table, then you'll remove your shoes in deference to
the holiness and see education for love of Hashem and love of
one's fellow in its true form."
"Beilin says that in our community women can't advance in
their careers. There are chareidi women who work and also
manage their homes. But they focus on the most important of
all: to raise generations to Torah, derech eretz,
courtesy. That man, Beilin, is replete with lies and with
patronizing attitudes. He defames mothers who raise their
children honorably," Rabbi Ravitz concluded.
Rabbi Moshe Gafni said: "This is a very serious expression.
According to Beilin, anything that has no economic value,
should be gotten rid of. According to his approach, we should
get rid of the crippled and of the development towns, and
there is no need to found enterprises for the unemployed,
because anyone who isn't constructive, in Beilin's eyes,
should be gotten rid of The prophet said: `He didn't create
it for chaos, but in order to populate it." Hakodosh
Boruch Hu created the world in order to eliminate chaos,
and so that it would be populated with people who would help
each other. What sort of world does Beilin wish to enter? A
world of chaos. If he finds himself in trouble, who will help
him? Does he want to enter a world like the one he envisions.
Does he want Israeli society to enter such a world?
"During the first years of the state, large families were
looked on favorably and were called "mishpachot beruchot
yeladim" -- families blessed with many children. The
majority of Israeli society and its leadership saw large
families as a blessing. Today, the Justice Minister says that
he regards large families as a burden. Does he want the next
stage to be throwing newborn infants into the Nile? I can
only pity his value system, and how he sees the world and
society. Parents love their children, whether they have one
or ten. However one who doesn't know how to take care of ten
children, will not know how to take care of one either. The
proof for this is that the "high society kids" who are
involved in crime, come from wealthy homes where there are
only one or two children. `Beware of the sons of the poor,
because Torah will issue from them,' " he concluded.
MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert sharply condemned the sharp
expression of Beilin. "Minister Beilin isn't truly worried
about the burden of large families. He is worried about the
`lest they multiply' aspect of the chareidi families who are
liable to take the government out of the hands of the Left
and Mr. Beilin in the near future. Beilin supports the
immigration of non-Jews from the C.I.S, and opposes the
natural demographic proliferation among the Jewish Nation.
Beilin is continuing with the ideology of Teddy Kollek who
said that two things bother him: chareidi proliferation and
Arab proliferation in Jerusalem.
The Labor and Welfare and Labor Minister, Eli Yishai attacked
Beilin and said: "If we want a Jewish majority in Israel 30
years from now, we must encourage children and help large
families by investing in their children's education and by
offering them assistance in raising them. It has been proven
that children from large and blessed families, who have
received good educations, grow up beautifully, and contribute
to the state and its economy. The state should thank those
parents who choose to enlarge their families and in that way
sacrifice much for the good of the state. These families
deserve maximal help so that they will succeed in raising
The Housing Minster, Yitzhak Levi said: `[Beilin's] remarks
emit a bad odor. They constitute an anti-Jewish declaration
which negates the Jewish values of the State of Israel. It is
forbidden for a public figure to say such things. The Jewish
outlook encourages family life, precisely before Pesach and
the Seder, when the concept of family life receives an added
boost, we hear remarks which contradict our belief and faith.
Such remarks made by a public figure are forbidden. We will
encourage and help large families."
The Minister of Commerce and Industry then said that we must
change the policy of the distribution of children's
allotments and expand the allocation given today for one
child and give equal allocations for all children. He also
proposed using the existing budget of children's allocations,
and to redivide it equally among all children.