Thursday, April 14, 2011

Not In Heaven

In Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits' extremely interesting work on the essence of Halacha, I found an important paragraph (Not In Heaven, 140) on the relationship between the modern State of Israel and its religious population:

This twofold alienation, from life and from halacha's concern with it, can be best illustrated by the one-sided educational ideal of the yeshivot in Israel. In general, they frown on secular studies. But a state needs an army, an economic system, health and welfare services, scientific research, technology, etc. The question, therefore, is: Does the Torah desire a Jewish people living in its own land or not? If the answer is affirmative, then the Torah must also desire soldiers, physicians, scientists, architects, engineers, policemen, social workers, etc. To say that these professionals should all come from the secular segment of the population would be a confession that the Torah cannot cope with life. On the other hand, to divide the people into a religious elite, exclusively dedicated to Torah study, and a professional majority, rather ignorant of Torah, incarcerates students of the Torah in another form of a Diaspora Museum, that of the present-day yeshivot.
I would highly recommend the whole book, and particularly the paragraph that comes before the above quote. (Read it to see why I am being so vague.)