Technology and waste; yeshiva students and the draft; aliyah

Technology should reduce waste, not create it

Many inventions are created on the assumption that more and bigger are better, and that waste is a necessity. This framework of thinking fails to take into consideration the fact that the environment is being destroyed at an astounding pace and that animals face extinction or are being killed by what is considered “progress”.

The number of cars on our roads continues to increase at a dizzying pace along with the construction of highways. There are already far too many, but this “progress” continues unabated.

Cars speed along a hundred times faster than a swine in heat can make it to the feeding trough. Why are we capable of creating sophisticated car technologies but unable to place simple speed detectors along our highways? Is this kind of technology far too sophisticated for the Start-Up Nation?

Why not invest in reducing the need for more?

Why invest billions in highways and a pittance on public transport? How about technologies to facilitate transporting more people while wasting less? What about the animals who are being killed? Why make life a busy nightmare full of honking cars, pollution and cement?

This waste only serves to separate and alienate people and lead to even more destruction of our habitat.

Is creating the need for more waste progress?

It should be simple to create devices which would allow us to use our old televisions and computers instead of having to purchase more devices and waste more of our natural resources. Where are these inventions? Is greed the only parameter? Why are new devices so complicated? They are created by people who already understand them so know how to use them, but are frustrating to most “consumers”. Is this what is called making technology easier?

How to get yeshiva students to enlist in the IDF

In 1948 Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion and the few ultra-Orthodox rabbis who survived the Holocaust agreed that yeshiva students should receive an exemption from the draft. This was just a few years after the Haredi communities had been decimated in the Holocaust. Most ultra-Orthodox communities had been nearly exterminated.

Today the number of ultra-Orthodox in Israel is approaching a million and there are more yeshiva students studying Torah than there were in Europe before the Holocaust.

Israelis who work two minimum-wage jobs while taking care of a family do not understand why they must serve three years in the military while yeshiva students spend their entire lives studying Torah.

Charity brigades would allow yeshiva students to serve in the IDF

However, do we really want to arm yeshiva students? “Oy, my tsitsit (ritual fringes) got jammed in my rifle.” Why not form a new division of the Israeli Defence Forces, a charity brigade? Yeshiva students could spend three years taking care of Holocaust survivors, nursing home patients and the disabled. This would also allow them to perform mitsvot (good deeds), putting into practice that which they are being taught.

Diaspora Jews could also help replace foreign caregivers

Many of Israel’s 300,000 foreign workers care for the elderly. Theorizing about Israel’s security situation does little to connect American and other Western Jews to Israel. Birthright Israel and other programs which bring American and other Western Jews to Israel could also organise follow-up visits, whereby diaspora Jews could play an active role in Israeli society by helping care for the disabled. They would have a far better relationship with Holocaust survivors than people from the Philippines.

About the Author
Asaf Shimoni is an author, journalist and translator who returned to Israel in 2016 after spending 40 years abroad, most of them in the Netherlands. He grew up near Boston, made aliyah while living on a kibbutz (from 1973 to 1976), and graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. He also lived some 5 years in Sicily. He believes that the media should be as critical and truthful as possible.
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