Jonathan Raven

How dare you call the Orthodox parasites?!

Sadly, many secular Israelis consider the Orthodox parasites. Their argument goes as follows:

A material portion of the orthodox community:

  • are either not Zionists, or anti-Zionists who will not contribute to the state in terms of national service (militarily or otherwise)
  • ideologically choose a path of full-time Torah study, rather than learn math, sciences, and languages
  • ideologically chose a life-long path of full-time Torah study rather than participate in the work force
  • expect the secular community to heavily subsidize their studies

However, this is not the full picture. One must look at this in a broader context before passing such judgement.

The Orthodox community have their reasons for these expectations. They do it out of love. They firmly believe that their Torah learning is for the benefit of the entire nation. They firmly believe that they are our spine without which the people of Israel will become crippled. Secular Israelis are not attuned to the spiritual benefits we reap from the Orthodox lifestyle.

This is not parasitic behavior, and labelling it so belittles the reality. This is bullying. This is narcissism.

Psychiatrists use an agreed upon criteria when assessing patients. According to the latest version of their diagnostic manual (DSM-5), narcissists “usually display some or all of the following symptoms, typically without the commensurate qualities or accomplishments:

  • Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
  • Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  • Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
  • Needing continual admiration from others
  • Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  • Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  • Unwilling to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
  • Intensely envious of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  • Pompous and arrogant demeanor

The Orthodox community in Israel exhibit at least 7 of the above 9 traits, certainly without the commensurate qualities or accomplishments.

To expect me as an intelligent human being to fund your self-perception against my will because you think of it as love – that is simply narcissistic. Dave Chappell explained this neatly in a segment on the trans-community during his 2021 Netflix special, The Closer. To be clear, this isn’t a comment on trans people. Paraphrasing Chapelle: “I will defend your right to live your life as you see fit – but it’s a question of how much you expect me to participate.”

Psychologists have recommendations to those in an abusive relationship with a narcissist. Major themes include:

  • Speaking up for yourself
  • Setting clear boundaries
  • Actions, not promises
  • Make an exit plan
  • Recognize when you need help

We secular Israelis are in a cultural toxic marriage with Orthodox Israelis. They are not parasites – they are abusive narcissists, and we require an exit plan before we reach the point of unsustainibility.

Taking my money without my consent to fund a lifestyle that I consider value destructive, because you think control equates with love… you are nothing but a bully.

About the Author
Originally from London. Father to 3 teenagers. Investment Manager.
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