Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Poverty in Israel

The government came out with the annual poverty statistics and as usual there is a lot of hand wringing going on about how there are so many more poor people in Israel then in other OECD countries.

The fact is that these numbers are very skewed by the Charedim and the Arabs (I will not address the issue of the Arabs). The Charedim are almost 15% of all the poor in Israel and almost 50% of Charedim are living in poverty. However, Charedi poverty cannot be laid at the governments doorstep. Charedi poverty is by choice/idealogy.

There is no other subgroup in the developed world (that I know of) which believes in the following 3 ideas:
1. No secular education
2. Every adult male should ideally be sitting and learning Torah all day and not working
3. There is a mitzva to have as many children as you possibly can, financial consequences be damned

When you put these 3 together, it is a wonder that the level of poverty is not higher. If adult males do not work, that is asking for poverty and cannot be blamed on the government. Even if they do work, in the modern world, without higher education it is very difficult to make a living, period.

Therefore, if you take out the Charedi factor from the poverty statistics poverty in Israel would be very much in line with Western Europe.

The Charedi world wants to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand, have as many children as they can, teach their children no secular studies, and sit and learn and not go out to work, while on the other hand crying foul when the government decides to cut back the subsidies for that lifestyle. The Charedi world cannot expect the average Israeli taxpayer to subsidize their life.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The 13 Middos used to expound the Torah

Every day we say the ברייתא of R' Yishmael which lists off the 13 middos used to expound the Torah. These are the fundamental tools that Chazal use to derive halachos from the written Torah. In essence these are the basis of the oral torah.  Given that, you would think that everyone would agree on what these 13 middos are. However, there is a fundamental dispute among the Tannaim about the 13 middos.

R' Yishmael has

  1. כלל ופרט
  2. פרט וכלל
  3. כלל ופרט וכלל
As 3 of the 13 middos. R' Akiva on the other hand replaced these 3 with 3 different middos
  1. ריבוי ומיעוט
  2. מיעוט וריבוי
  3. ריבוי מיעוט וריבוי
The Rishonim and Acharonim point out that these are mutually exclusive. You either use 1 set or the other with very different results.

The obvious question is how can this be? The 13 Middos were given to Moshe to use to expound the written torah. How can there be a fundamental dispute about what they are? You can't answer אלו ואלו דברי אלוקים חיים because they are mutually exclusive. What happened to the mesora? How can there be a dispute about such a fundamental issue?