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Jerusalem - VIN Interview: Rabbi Lipman Clarifies Stance on Government Funding to Yeshivas, Secular Studies

Published on: May 9, 2013 08:08 PM
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FILE - MK Rabbi Dov Lipman sitting in the plenum hall of the Knesset during an introduction day for new parliament members, February 03, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)FILE - MK Rabbi Dov Lipman sitting in the plenum hall of the Knesset during an introduction day for new parliament members, February 03, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Jerusalem - An Israeli Knesset member who has been harshly criticized for his purported views on the funding of Israeli yeshivos responded to the maelstrom of fury and denigration being hurled against him, explaining that he had been misquoted.

After being informed that MK Rabbi Dov Lipman of the Yesh Atid party had suggested shutting down any Israeli yeshiva that does not offer a secular education, Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Baltimore’s Ner Israel Rabbinical college condemned Lipman for his views, calling him “a rasha” and comparing him to Amalek, according to reports on BaltimoreJewishLife.com. Lipman is a former talmid of Ner Israel who received semicha from the Baltimore institution.

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“The way I understand it, someone sent R’ Aharon Feldman a letter saying that he heard me say we should close down all the yeshiva ketanas that refuse to offer English and math and he responded saying the things that were said,” MK Lipman told VIN News.  “I never came close to saying those words. I never would say those words.  The whole thing is a shame.  I would never want any yeshiva to close.”

Lipman explained that, in his view, government funding should be withheld from any yeshiva that refused to offer those two basic subjects and that he has the backing of many within the Chareidi community who feel that their own education was lacking.

“I have people coming to me who are maybe 26 or 27 who have no math or English skills and they say ‘It is too late for me, but I want my kids to learn these things,’” said Lipman.  “We are talking about taking one hour out of the day to teach these subjects so that these kids will be able to support their own families one day.  The goal is for our yeshivos to produce talmidei chachamim, who are b’nei Torah and have the ability to sustain their families with dignity.”

Lipman questioned the notion that giving people rudimentary skills was antithetical to a Torah mentality.

“Every chosson under the chupah gives his wife a kesuba saying that he will support his wife,” explained Lipman.  “The Gemara in Kiddushin says that a father is obligated to teach his son a trade.  Our greatest talmidei chochomim of long ago had jobs.  I think it is a core value that b’nei Torah should be able to go to work and support their families.”

According to Lipman, many Chareidim who seek to enter the work force cannot find employment because they never received a basic education in secular subjects.

“Adina Bar Shalom, Rav Ovadia Yosef’s daughter, founded a college in Yerushalayim for Chareidim with her father’s blessings.  The men’s and women’s programs are completely separate and she was careful to ensure that the school had the proper ruach.  She came to the Knesset task force to help Chareidim enter the work force and asked us to please start providing a basic secular education in our yeshivos because fifty percent of the men who were enrolled in the college had to drop out.  They had no English or math skills and they just couldn’t hack the program.”

Lipman scoffed at allegations that he is using his position in the Knesset for personal gain.

“People who don’t know me personally are saying things about me,” said Lipman.  “I am literally busy, day and night, doing my job, which I view as being mikadesh shem shomayim, creating achdus and helping Chareidim have a parnassa.  This is what I do.  People have suggested that I am doing this for fame, to be in the limelight and it is totally absurd.  I was number seventeen on the list.  I never expected to end up in the Knesset.  I joined with Yair Lapid because he was trying to create a movement for secular and religious Israelis to work together and it put me in a position to try to create achdus.  Yesh Atid has no agenda for anyone to be less religious or to stop living their lifestyle.  People talk without knowing what is really going on.”

Dismissing the notion that Yesh Atid was using him to “kosherize” what some see as an anti-religious stance against Chareidim, Lipman insisted that all Israelis, regardless of their religious views need to work together.

“There is an us versus them mentality between the Chareidim and the Chilonim,” said Lipman.  “I am proud to be part of a group that is breaking down those barriers and telling people that we may do things differently, but we are one nation and we need to work with each other a and that is why I am part of Yesh Atid.  The key is to realize that secular Israelis aren’t out to make anyone less religious, but they also want to be respected for who they are.”



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Read Comments (15)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 09, 2013 at 08:50 PM Draye Says:

so he did not force the closure of schools that do not offer secular subjects.but withdrawing money could have the same effect.anyway why is he dictating to the gedolai yisroel how to run their schools?

2

 May 09, 2013 at 08:58 PM Secular Says:

Ironic that Rav Feldman leads NER ISRAEL, a Yeshiva known for the allowing bochurim to attend college. Indeed, Ner ISRAEL has produced many frum professionals; doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants BECAUSE of its attitude towards college.

3

 May 09, 2013 at 10:01 PM Boochie Says:

“I have people coming to me who are maybe 26 or 27 who have no math or English skills and they say ‘It is too late for me, but I want my kids to learn these things,’” said Lipman. “We are talking about taking one hour out of the day to teach these subjects so that these kids will be able to support their own families one day. The goal is for our yeshivos to produce talmidei chachamim, who are b’nei Torah and have the ability to sustain their families with dignity.”

openly most people wont admit it but in private most people agree

4

 May 09, 2013 at 10:42 PM DrUriBakay Says:

Rambam hilchos Talmid Torah perek 3 halacha 10 Rabbi Lipman you are a tzaddik may Hashem bless you

5

 May 09, 2013 at 11:00 PM Realistic Says:

It sounds like he is testing the waters, so beware. besides that just by his affiliation with Yesh Atit doesn't sound good.

I don't see any reason why science should be needed unless you want to become a doctor or engineer. but why is math considered Limudei Chol? All the Geoinim were masters in math! the Gr"a made a Seifer on Geometry. The Chazon Ish was a math wiz, and you can see he has tables which he certainly got from other sources. and the list goes on. but in no way do we need Yeah Atid members to tell us what to to, we can take care of problems by ourselves.

6

 May 09, 2013 at 11:36 PM berelw Says:

dov, i know you read the comments on this site. you are sincere in what you do. you have many valid points. and you only mean well for the klal. hatzlocha and dont take to heart all the attacks. when you are attacked it means you are doing something right. you are the perfect person to make a positive change.

7

 May 10, 2013 at 12:21 AM LebidikYankel Says:

Personally I think that having English or math skills is a secondary issue. Most of my yeshiva friends doing fine in business today have little English and math skills. Its more the thinking that 'its okay to work' that is the issue. I know many who ought to be working but are not because 'working is treif'.

8

 May 10, 2013 at 12:47 AM AnonN Says:

Reply to #1  
Draye Says:

so he did not force the closure of schools that do not offer secular subjects.but withdrawing money could have the same effect.anyway why is he dictating to the gedolai yisroel how to run their schools?

Since when did saying "I dont need to pay for what you want" become dictating to the gedolim?
Why does the government have to pay for a system which they feel will ultimately lead to people who cannot work because they have no skills?
The goal of education is to teach someone a skill. That is what the government is required to pay for. If the charedim aren't interested in education (which they aren't), thats fine, they can learn torah all they want, but there is no reason that money set aside for education has to be spent on Torah.

This whole issue invented by the charedim is insane. The complaint if i understand it correctly, is that because you won't pay for my way of life, you are discriminating against me. Everyone is free to practice their religion freely in Israel, that does not mean the government needs to fund that right.

9

 May 10, 2013 at 07:26 AM savtat Says:

Really, "stealing is treif" - working is fine. Vilifying others is probably also treif.

10

 May 10, 2013 at 08:32 AM BarryLS1 Says:

Dov, welcome to the wonderful world of politics. In today's times, when you can't debate an issue on merits, you destroy the opposition. Stay strong. You are doing the right thing.

Even for a typical Chareidi job of being a Mashgiach, or running a Hashgocho agency, you must know math and science. It's also sad to see Chareidi women, with B"H many children, forced to work obscene hours to support their families. The children should come first and should be left at babysitters for long hours. A child needs a parent, not an exausted worked to death mother. Not every Chareidi woman is a super-woman. How many Chareidi men sit and learn day and night. While many do work, you need to have qualifications to get a substantial job.

11

 May 10, 2013 at 09:16 AM Doc Says:

Rabbi Lipman totally misses the point. You cannot legislate intelligence.
Private school curriculum is based on the parents demand. If the parents are so opposed to the secular education, that is their own stupid problem. Forcing the schools to teach them will only make the problem worse, as change has to come from within.
Rabbi Feldman is right. We don't need another foolish liberal 'progressive' politician that panders to the low information voters.

12

 May 10, 2013 at 09:20 AM bobgrant Says:

IM a damage of not learning English in school here in the United States Which is the worst thing that you can do for someone . I was struggling for business And even to go in school to learn something college I wasn't able because I couldn't even do almost ABC

13

 May 10, 2013 at 10:01 AM benalt Says:

Reply to #1  
Draye Says:

so he did not force the closure of schools that do not offer secular subjects.but withdrawing money could have the same effect.anyway why is he dictating to the gedolai yisroel how to run their schools?

Why are the Gedolei Yisroel taking hand outs with pride and having a tantrum when they don't get what they want? Whatever happened to parnasa coming from Hashem? But it is okay when it comes from mechalel Shabbos...

14

 May 10, 2013 at 10:11 AM chosid Says:

There is no Rov that will tell you that once you are finished with "the system" and it is time to earn a parnossa that you cannot study limudei chol. The point is twofold - the government has no place dictating what our yeshivos should teach and all the knowledge necessary for a parnossa can be obtained after age 20. Kinderlach in cheder and bochurim in yeshivos katanos are at their most vulnerable and need as pure an atmosphere as possible. That is the worst possible time to start filling their heads with math and english. The existence of yeshivos that do that is not because it is the right thing to do, but because if not for theses yeshivos, children would be sent to secular schools altogether. Limudei chol in yeshiva is at best a bdieved.

It is never too late. Certainly not for people in their mid twenties.

15

 May 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM benalt Says:

Even though the drop out rate for Chareidim from places created to help them study to get a job is at 50% (even cited by the daughter of R' Ovadia Yosef who started such a college) who says the reason is their lack of secular education makes them drop out? You can google the information. I tried to get the drop out rate for girls which I heard was at 6% since they have more secular in their backgrounds but I couldn't find it right now.

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