The purpose of this post is not to pontificate about how righteous I am. Neither is it to say that everyone should have my standards. I don’t expect that. The only purpose of this post is to spit in the face of Bituach Leumi, which is the Israeli version of Obamacare, and government welfare payments in general. Not the people who take them. Only the people that legislate them and give them out.
On June 27th, my wife, thank God, gave birth to a healthy boy. (For those interested, here’s a video of my Dvar Torah on his name, Efraim Avraham Farber. The short version is I named him Efraim because the tribe Efraim had the guts to lead the secession from the House of David in what started as a tax rebellion. And also because my favorite cartoon character is Phillip J. Fry from Futurama, who saves the planet from an army of invading brains. Avraham for my grandfather.)
Anyway, after Fry was born, my wife was forbidden by the State from working. At first I didn’t know that maternity leave was not optional. It is mandatory, ordered by the State. We were just going to forego the maternity leave payments because she works from home and there was no point in taking a break. And I have gone over here many times that we do not accept direct government stipends of any kind. I give our monthly child stipends away to Manhigut Yehudit, as well as the ₪1000 plus shekels we got after Fry was born. There is no way to avoid those payments unless we have a home birth and never register the baby’s birth, which is impossible.
Mandatory maternity leave in Israel goes like this: Bituach Leumi pays you, after you hand in a bunch of forms, for three months of your average salary of the previous three months. It’s one size fits all nonsense, especially for my wife. One of her jobs is teaching once a week at University of Haifa Bnei Brak, and there are no classes in July, August, or September, the months where she would be on paid maternity leave. But she’d get payment by Bituach Leumi for those months anyway because one size fits all.
She also edits a children’s magazine as well as puts together teacher’s guides. We were informed by the latter company that she could no longer legally be on the payroll. Problem being, the company cannot simply get someone else to edit the magazine because only she is familiar with the work and requirements. So what ended up happening is that she did the work anyway for free for those three months, because otherwise the entire enterprise would have been in danger and she could have had no job to come back to after three months.
As for the teacher’s guides, she offered to do them, but since it was illegal, they got someone else (those were easier to find replacements for), and then just let her go. So there goes that income forever, thanks to mandatory maternity leave that makes it unlawful for every woman in this country to be on anybody’s payroll.
There was an option for me to take “paternity leave” for 6 weeks to shorten the amount of mandatory maternity leave for my wife to 8 weeks, but since I am technically unemployed in Israel (I work for an American company remotely, and no I do not take unemployment), I could not take paternity leave even though I am home all the time anyway. So much for that.
We tried not to take the money and just ignore Bituach Leumi and bite the bullet, she having to work for nothing for 3 months by law, but then the company demanded she pay an insurance premium if she didn’t take the Bituach Leumi maternity money since that is what is required by law, for the advancement of women’s rights and such.
It would have cost us even more money out of pocket to ignore Bituach Leumi, so in the end we had to take the money so as not to pay the penalty for ignoring it.
So as of yesterday, we received ₪15,219 in taxpayer money to compensate for the fact that it is illegal for women to work 3 months after giving birth, no matter what their situation.
Since we do not accept a cent from Bituach Leumi, we decided to give it all away. ₪5,000 immediately went to the Moshe Feiglin election campaign. ₪219 went to a murder victim’s widow whose husband’s death the State tried to cover up as an accident. I would have given her the rest of the money, every shekel, but thankfully for her the State admitted her husband was murdered last week, so she’ll now be taken care of. I now have ₪10,000 left to give away, and I have a plan for it, which you will God willing be hearing about in the coming weeks and months.
I would like to reiterate that these standards are entirely my own, and I don’t expect anyone else to hold by my own stringencies. I don’t look down on people who accept tax money for whatever reason. Accepting tax money is not technically a libertarian crime, but it’s something I personally can’t do, to the extent that I can avoid it. I ask not to be tested by God in this regard, because if I actually needed it and my family was starving, I would probably fail the test and take the money. But thank God I don’t need it, and my not touching it will hopefully ensure that I never will.
In short, it’s not my righteousness that is pushing away ₪15,219 of tax money that came our way. It’s purely my loathing of the system that gave it to me and my way of seceding from that system and spitting in its face. Thankfully, I’m married to someone who is strong enough to live by my own standards.
May the ₪5,000 I gave to the Feiglin campaign be used to get rid of Bituach Leumi entirely, and misogynistic mandatory maternity leave laws in particular, laws that give women NO choice as to what they want to do after they give birth, and in many cases, as in my wife’s, force them to work for nothing for three months.