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Orthodox Conundrum

Nov 27, 2023

Many believe that the events of October 7th and their aftermath will lead to a major realignment in many aspects of Israeli and Jewish life. One of the most acute and obvious is the issue of ultra-orthodox deferments from the Israeli military. These deferments are granted based on the assumption that the Torah study in yeshivot is a vital part of the war effort, and on a metaphysical level is a major reason (and perhaps the major reason) for the Israeli army's success.

But is this based on an accurate reading of the sources? Can a modern state rely on metaphysical reasoning when making policy? And crucially, is it simply unfair for a large segment of the population to avoid putting lives at risk while other segments are on the front lines, fighting - and sometimes dying - for the sake of the people of Israel?

Michael Eisenberg has argued that the long-term health of the State of Israel demands that the  Chareidi population be integrated into economy in general, and into the military in particular. Rabbi Yehoshua Hershberg, in turn, asserts that the Chareidi reading of these Torah sources is, frankly, mistaken - and that a genuine respect for Torah and Torah scholars requires that we read them in a more sophisticated fashion.

Listen in as Scott and Rabbi Hershberg discuss the Torah texts that are used to justify ultra-orthodox deferments, and as Scott and Michael talk about the economic and social impact of continuing as things are today.

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Music: "Happy Rock" by