Don't Cut Out Torah
Nobody in Eretz Yisroel must decide which is the worst crisis
facing Israel, whether the economy or the Palestinian terror.
Both are so pressing that they cannot be ignored, even while
the looming threats associated with the American war against
Iraq are drawing all the attention.
The relative quiet that we have experienced in Israel in the
past months is not a reflection of Palestinian desires. There
are minor attacks all the time and the reason that there have
been no major attacks is due to the determined effort of the
Israeli security forces who have, bechasdei Shomayim,
been able to stop dozens of attacks. The steady pressure kept
up by all the security forces -- the police, the army and the
Shin Bet -- has, with clear siyata deShmaya, been able
to keep the terror down to a level at which it becomes
evident to the Palestinians that their horrible terror will
not succeed. Though far from a solution to the painful
problem which will continue for the foreseeable future
(though that is hopefully not a long time), these efforts
must continue and be strengthened.
If the terror problem is more acute in Israel than in most of
the world (where it is still quite serious), the economic
challenge is not apparently worse in Israel than everywhere
else. America, Europe, Japan, Asia -- all are not happy with
their economic affairs. The only major country that is
reportedly doing well is China which, while it is growing
rapidly, still has a long way to go until it reaches the
level of a typical Western country.
George Bush's America feels that it can grandly spend its way
to renewed growth and prosperity, by budgeting a huge deficit
and passing tax cuts at the same time. It is also running a
very large deficit in its trade with the rest of the world.
Because of its size and status as the dominant power in the
world, American can get away with this -- at least in the
Israel, of course, cannot and it knows it. Faced with a
significant defense burden and slowing tax income, it must
slash its spending in many areas.
The Torah-haters like to point their fingers at the religious
community, saying that they want to "reorient the priorities"
of the State budget away from support of the religious
This is all demagoguery. The religious community does not
receive an outsized share of government funds, and the lion's
share of what it is accused of receiving is through general
budgetary items such as support for education which is a
universal entitlement. In the operating budget the religious
child receives moderately less than every other child, and in
the capital budget much less -- so there is not much room to
The items that are unique to the religious community such as
support for kollelim do not add up to that much. The
government, after recent cuts, only pays about $100 per
avreich per month, all of which cannot add up to more
than about $30 million a year -- an insignificant sum in a
budget of $50 billion.
To cut these vital areas seems to us like trying to put out a
bonfire with kerosene. The Torah is the essence and core of
our existence. The ultimate reality of the world -- and
especially of Eretz Yisroel -- is the relationship that we
maintain with our Father in Heaven, and Torah is the critical
component of that.
We will only aggravate our problems if we weaken our Torah.
The solution to our military and economic problems is to
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