How deep the rot goes in Chareidi religious philosophy has been exposed in the last few weeks during the crisis in 'Aza.
Now let's get something straight. There are many Chareidim who are sincere learners, who really do care about their fellow Jews, Chareidi and non-Chareidi, and how really feel that the performance of mitzvos and their learning benefits klal Yisrael. I am not speaking about those folks. I'm speaking about the ones who ran.
We saw this during Lebanon II and what is now being called the First Gaza War and we saw it over the last few weeks. When trouble starts with Hamas, two things fly: rockets and Chareidim, the former over the fence from 'Aza and the latter to Bene Beraq and parts eleswhere.
Why should this matter? Well, as is famously known one of the biggest reasons Chareidim use to justify their ongoing refusal to serve in the Israeli army is that their learning is the true protection of the State of Israel. Never mind that the Chareidi community officially has no praise for the State or even a trace of hakaras hatov for all the State has done for it. Ask any Chareidi PR man and he'll tell you that the shteiging that goes on in their world is the real Iron Dome over Israel.
But unfortunately their public behaviour in times of crisis belies this belief. No one is asking Chareidim to line up around the fence with 'Aza, gemaras in hand, to prevent Hamas and its subgroups from lobbing missles into Israel. But if the contents of Chareidi yeshivos are, collectively, what is the real protection from danger in Israel, should they at least not stay put where they are, continue their heiliger lives as usual like the klei kodesh they styles themselves as?
In truth I think most Chareidim don't believe for a second that they are contributing to the protection of the State, especially as most of them have been raised to hate that very State or at the least to view it with contempt. They don't believe they are immune to incoming rockets just because they learn intensely all day. They run because they rationally realize they are in danger and feel no sense of responsibility to the community around them.
It is selfish, yes, but unfortunately some elements of that communitty revel in that very middah.
But here I think is an even more unfortunately corrolary. Consider the logical conclusion to this. The average Chareidi kolleleit sits and learns all day. He says cannot stop doing this to serve in the army because his learning is the real protection for Israel but he doesn't believe that at all. Either it's something he simply says out of habit like Baruch Hashem! or he consciously knows he's lying. There's little nafka mina there but the implication is staggering. All his learning, much of his mitzvah observance, is based on a lie. He is lying so he can learn. How different is this from stealing one's fellow lulav because it's really nice and one wants to maximize one's hidur mitzvah?
If this is true then what other time-worn Chareidi bromides are there which are similarly discredited? They claim fealty to their "Gedolim". Is this true or is the relationship the other way around? Are the "Gedolim' really hostages to their populations, afraid to pasken in any other way than what the people want for fear of losing their "Gadol" status if they breach the party line?
In fact, how much of Chareidi philosophy is really true and how much a convenient dogma to serve a narrow, selfish agenda that has little to do with true love of the Divine and His Torah but rather to preserve an insular community that simply sees no ties to others around it?