[Avodah] A Third of Israelis Will Be Ultra-Orthodox by 2050, Forecast Finds

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Thu Nov 25 18:03:28 PST 2021

On Areivim, in the thread titled "A Third of Israelis Will Be
Ultra-Orthodox by 2050, Forecast Finds", R' Yitchok Levine linked us to the
Haaretz version of this story, and commented:

<<< I have some problems with the arithmetic in this article.  One out of 3
is one-third not a quarter! >>>

I don't subscribe to Haaretz, but I did read the JTA version of this report
and I too was amused by the arithmetic. Specifically:

The headline was <<< Nearly 1 in 3 Israeli Jews will be haredi Orthodox by
2050, per Israeli economic projections >>>

The first paragraph said basically the same thing: <<< Nearly one third of
Israel’s Jewish population will be haredi Orthodox by the year 2050,
according to projections by Israel’s National Economic Council. >>>

The second paragraph gave a different number, which was still clearly
labeled as an estimate: <<< ... about a quarter are projected by Israel’s
National Economic Council to be haredi Orthodox, ... >>>

Finally, the third paragraph gives a specific number, unqualified by weasel
words like "nearly" or "about": <<< By 2050, that figure will rise to 24%
of the total population, the council claims. >>>

My point is that for some definitions of the word "nearly", it is not false
to say that 24% is nearly one third. And for almost *any* definition of
"about", it is not false to say that 24% is about a quarter. And yet, I
think most would agree that the headline was clearly exaggerated to attract
our attention.

Is this exaggeration wrong? Should we be complaining about it? Should we
feel misled by a headline that gives a figure more than a third higher than
the actual percentage stated in the article?

I would suggest that the editors did NOT do anything wrong here. Their goal
was to draw our attention to an article that they felt we should look at,
and the headline succeeded in doing that (at least for RYL and myself).

Up to this point, this post was fit for Areivim. Here's the question which
brings us into Avodah territory: If you're offended by the exaggeration in
this headline, how do you feel when (for example, by mitzvos hat'luyos
baaretz) the Torah Sheb'ksav says "all", and the Torah Sheb'al Peh explains
"rubo k'kulo - majority is just as significant as the entirety." L'havdil,
but the means and ends seem similar in both cases: get the reader's
attention by deliberately overstating the facts, and then explain the


Akiva Miller
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