Monday, November 10, 2008

So Much for Bitachon,

In a meeting this past week of the leadership of the most “prominent” kollels under the auspices of Harav Elyashiv and Harav Shteinman an astonishing announcement was made: to hold a Yom tefillah on Nov. 13. The purpose of the Yom Tefilla is to “storm the gates of heaven” (it sounds like a line out of a Shlomo Carlebach sing-a-long) and plead for the financial health of Jewish philanthropists so that they can continue and donate to yeshivas and kollels. How proud they must be. How accomplished they must feel to have stooped to such a level.

Once again the hareidi community has demonstrated their self centered egocentricity, diminishing their self respect and robbing them of any moral capital that they may have once had. One would have thought that the economic meltdown which has had a global affect so powerful that it has been referred to as a “tsunami”, would recast the priorities of these spiritual (?) leaders.

The economic crisis has brought a starving and disease ridden Africa to new unbearable heights of suffering and deprivation. People throughout the world have seen their retirement savings evaporate and their future golden years not very promising. Businesses have been eradicated in short order, in the blink of an eye; thousands of employees who left for work in the morning returned home without jobs and without hopes of finding work in the near future, if ever.

Our sages and rabbis could care less about how our global village is being economically ravaged. Rather than call a Yom Tefillah for the financial health of our global village they selfishly concern themselves with a relative few insignificant kollelnikim. Their concern is that philanthropists will manage to escape this tsunami and continue supporting their institutions which do little for the betterment of the world we inhabit. Their only pedestrian concern is that the “chalukah” continue, no matter that there are starving babies in Africa and parts of Asia. The assistant director of nursery schools, Yaakov Segal’s comments were very revealing when he said:
“But now with key donors cutting back their donations in response to financial uncertainty, the damage that this will inflict on Torah study will lead to devastation in the world…Repentance, prayer and charity can reverse a hard decree.”
What Segal doesn’t get is that this was not the result of a harsh decree from God. This was a result of greed, and it was from this greed that Segal and the gedolim benefitted. In effect, what they are praying for is that the greed should continue in order that they can continue to maintain the Issachar-Zevulun model.

If the gedolim had any spirituality they ought to be doing two things: Instituting a day of prayer where they would be praying for the combined wisdom of western leaders to design and develop a system for economic recovery. They ought to be praying for the wisdom to redefine their Torah enterprises, and set them into a new direction. They need to become self reliant, and realistically scale back those in kollels to only the most outstanding and promising and those turned away, encouraged to work.

Just this past week, Jonathan Rosenblum writing in Mishpacha claims that there is a silver lining in this financial meltdown. When one is without the securities that we take for granted “bitachon” ought to kick in. He sites the story of Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein told by the magggid Rabbi Shalom Schwadron, that when Rabbi Levenstein received a regular pay check he wasn’t able to exercise his “bitachon”. Only when the paychecks became more erratic did his “bitachon” kick in. I’d recommend that the gedolim begin living with a little more “bitachon” in hashem and less “bitachon” in their philanthropists.