Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman was slammed this week by hareidi parties after he suggested that yeshiva students, during their Passover break, should help clean Israel's streets as an act of chesed (charity).
One of the main points of criticism against Lipman was that he should not be telling others to clean streets unless he sets a personal example and does so himself. Ultimately it was revealed in a photo that Lipman had indeed done this last year.
The row between Lipman and the hareidim began when the MK was driving home from the Knesset and saw yeshiva boys from all backgrounds hiking and enjoying themselves during their vacation. This got him thinking that he should look into organized chesed activities for these yeshiva boys during the vacation.
The next morning, during an early morning jog in the city of Beit Shemesh, MK Lipman saw three older men, each over the age of 70, working hard to clean the streets. He then thought it would be nice to see yeshiva boys pitching in to help out in that realm and in other ways, which led to him posting the following on Facebook as an example of an act of chesed that yeshiva boys can do during these days:
“I saw three street sweepers - all aged 70 and above,” wrote Lipman. “I thought to myself - why can’t yeshiva students use their vacation time to voluntarily help these old people and give them a little freedom, or at least ease their work a little? Just a thought.”
The post received hundreds of likes and shares but also hundreds of critics, some of whom said that Lipman was disgracing yeshiva students by suggesting that they clean the streets and asking why he is not asking secular youth to clean the streets as well.
One of the respondents to the post was MK Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism), who said, "I suggest that first of all MK Lipman set a personal example by using the Knesset recess to volunteer and sweep the streets of Beit Shemesh. In addition, I suggest he sweep the hareidi public off his agenda and take care of the youth who his party represents.”
MK Lipman explained in response, both on Facebook as well as on several hareidi radio programs, that he sees cleaning the streets of Israel as a merit and not as disgraceful, adding that cleaning the streets was only brought as an example and that there are many other methods of chesed that yeshiva boys can carry out.
Lipman also pointed out that he did not mean only hareidim but yeshiva boys from all backgrounds.
People continued to press MK Lipman, asking why he doesn't practice what he preaches, at which point a Beit Shemesh resident posted a picture, taken by a passerby, of MK Lipman cleaning the streets of Beit Shemesh last year without asking for any press.
Following the incident, MK Lipman said, "I certainly learned from this that we have a lot of work to do in education if people think it is a disgrace for yeshiva boys to helper older men clean the streets of Israel - education about honoring the elderly, education about chesed, and education about the value of Eretz Yisrael.
“I actually think that we should consider legislating specific days in which students from all backgrounds - religious and secular - do acts of kindness,” he said. “This would unite the country around the core Jewish value of chesed.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)