Fisking Larry Derfner, Part I

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13 Responses

  1. JR says:

    Reb Menken,
    Aside from the fact that your article can be easily “fisked'” line by line, something I will leave to others, you seem to misunderstand both Derfner and others’ view of the situation. The problem is not Valis’ guilt or innocence, the courts will decide that, all we have is speculation (both the accusers and the apologists). The problem is the Haredi reaction to seemingly every situation in which the Haredi community is in disagreement with outsiders. The instinct to riot, burn things, destroy property by hundreds of young men, man of whom subsist on fund provided by the State, is what people find objectionable about that particular community. And I am not trying to paint with a broad brush, neither is Derfner. I am sure during the Rodney King riots and the Crown Heights pogrom, you had no problem stating that the Black community behaved in a shameful and uncivilized way. Whether the LAPD was guilty was irrelevant, as it is here. So for the sake of honesty, when HAredim riot in Jerusalem, Ashdod, Beit Shemesh, Boro Park, Williamsburg, you would do better to condemn this behavior rather than “fisk” LArry Derfner. As far as I know he is not suspected of either killing his baby, or destroying public property. And the reason the HAredim are painted by a broad brush, is because all we hear from them and their leader is apologetics (and that includes you and Rabbi Rosenbloom), instead of trying to isolate and condemn the destructive elements in the community.

  2. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “It is certainly interesting that when he has something nice to say about charedim, he calls them “ultras,” and when he launches a withering, virulent, and remarkably fact-free critique, he calls them “haredim.””

    I actually prefer “Yeshivish” and “Chassidic ” to the terms “Charedi”, “Fervently-Orthodox”, “Ultra-Orthodox” , or “Right-Wing”. If my memory serves me correctly, one of the protagonists in this article felt similarly, and so described himself to the Times reporter. (“Yeshivish at Yale”).

    However, it is likely that the first two terms that I mentioned would confuse the poor media even more.

    It is interesting to note the view of Dr. Haym Soloveitchik, in “Rupture and Reconstruction”(endnote # 1):

    “The term “haredi” has gained recent acceptance among scholars because of its relative neutrality. Designations as “ultra-orthodox” or the “Right” are value laden. They assume that the speaker knows what “Orthodoxy,” pure and simple, is or where the “center” of Orthodoxy is located.”

    In a recent discussion elsewhere on the internet, someone referred to a certain Halachic opinion as the “haredization” of psak I countered:

    “My objection is to the conjugation of the word charedi, which has stereotypical implications. One can not call the opinion of a Rishon Charedie or non-Charedie without being anachronistic. Although the term Charedi serves a practical purpose as a means of social and ideological identification, I think its usage-on both sides of the spectrum – has deviated a long way from the original meaning of “trembling for the Word of Hashem”, which is a synonym for Yiras Shomayim. Just as no word has been coined, to my knowledge, for the “Modern- Orthodox-ization” of halacha, neither should we due this to haredim.”

    Whatever the correct nomenclature may be, when all is said and done, the real label which matters is “Eved Hashem”(servant of Hashem), and that crosses ideological boundaries.

  3. Dov Kay says:

    With respect to your discussion of New Age medicine, I note that a prominent Dayan in this town is also a prominent advocate and practitioner of Reiki, a dubious New Age cure. And he’s no baal teshuva (as that term is popularly used nowadays). I think that non-scientific alternative medicine is far more widespread in “frummy” charedi circles that you would have us believe. I believe that this dovetails with the Slifkin affair…

  4. Calev says:

    I agree with JR to a certain extent: what we have here, to quote a classic old movie, is a failure to communicate. From the outside, charedim appear to be an indistinguishable mass. For those of us lucky enough to have had at least some personal exposure to the charedi world it is easy to see why that impression is so false. However, most people have not had such exposure and so they build up an idea in their own mind that reflects more their own prejudices than reality. It is therefore important that the limited knowledge most people have of charedim is augmented by clear words and action to rein in the rowdy element (of young men) that does, alas, exist in that community. I suggest that, in the long term, any embarrassment and/or chillul Hashem that may come from a concerted drive against this element will be more than balanced out by the pride and kiddush Hashem that will derive from a community that has not only raised its already high standards of behaviour but has been seen to do so.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    Anyone interested in a Posesk’s POV on alternative therapies should read R A Z Weiss’s withering critique of the reliance upon such “remedies” in Minchas Asher , Parshas Bchukosai. RAZ Weiss clearly views alternative therapies as unreliable and not permissible to even consider violating Hilcos Shabbos.

  6. Yaakov Menken says:

    JR, please go back and re-read the first line of the Derfner article. The topic he wishes to discuss is precisely not the charge you are dredging up. The behavior of the rioters in all cases you mentioned was roundly condemned on these pages and elsewhere, long ago. You are simply finding a handy tool for your own gripes with the charedim, since I’m dismantling Derfner’s.

    At the same time, you surely concede that the average group of ten charedi teenage boys/men is better behaved, more respectful of authority, more devoted to intellectual pursuits, and less at risk for abuse of drugs, alcohol and/or “xtreme” physical activity, than the average group of ten secular teenage boys/men. The disgraceful behavior of the few makes, as I said, for a handy tool. But on balance the charedi community has nothing for which to apologize in this area. Do remember that the last time the Lod airport workers went on strike, they burned aircraft tires. Do you know how much financial damage is done by vandalism to one aircraft tire? And these, need I mention, were all adults, not minors.

    Dov Kay, I hope to think that the Dayan you mention is the exception that proves the rule — and you don’t mention whether he sees conventional doctors as well. I’ve certainly never heard anything similar.

    Francine, the author of the “eight hour” charge does live in Israel, and he claims it comes straight from the family. My experience with US emergency rooms is that cases perceived to be less urgent do wait much longer, and it all depends on what else comes in that evening. Baltimore has codes for when a particular ER is unable to accept new cardiac or other patients.

  7. joel rich says:

    Let me start by stipulating I have no knowledge of any individual’s guilt or innocence. I think there is much to be gained by moving from anecdotal evidence (Is X guilty, did the police do Y ?) to a more general cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching) as to why the perceptions of those outside our (defined on a case by case basis) world are what they are. IMHO there’s a lot we can do ( including kiruv and honesty and ahavat chinam (unconditional love)) to impact the perceptions of those around us while remaining true to our values.


  8. francine marino says:

    As the parent of a chronically ill child I have visited the pediatric emergency wards of several hospitals in Jerusalem numerous times over some eighteen years. Never, ever have I been made to wait anything near eight hours for treatment. Usually I have waited up to an hour for the assessment and tests to begin and often a lot less. The paper-work and release can drag the procedure out.

    Regardless of your criticisms of the Israeli government, it is absurd to maintain that the medical care is of a third world standard. How about living in this country before you disparage it? If Valis’ argument is predicated on a lie as outrageous as this one, (i.e. that his child received absolutely no attention for eight hours)I suspect he’ll have a hard time proving his innocence in court.

  9. Zman Biur says:

    I think you’re reading way too much into Derfner’s use of the terms “ultra-Orthodox” and “haredi”. It is by no means well-known that “ultra-Orthodox” is pejorative. What other English term is available to distinguish haredim from the non-haredi Orthodox? I understand that many if not most haredim reject the term, but I don’t see a good alternative in English. I doubt that most writers who use the phrase intend it pejoratively.

  10. Gershon says:

    1) Rav Y. Belsky is on record as being very opposed to what we would call “non-conventional” medical treatment.

    2) for those historians out there, the first group to use the term “chareidi” in modern Israel was the OU (Ichud HaKehilot Hachardeiyot Sheba’America) back in the mid 1980’s before the term was politicized. 🙂

  11. Toby Katz says:

    Reiki is total nonsense, I don’t care who believes in it. Unfortunately FFB charedim are not immune from gullibility.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    IMO, focussing on whether Mr. Derfner has a favorable view of Charedim misses the vote. Of course, he mistated the facts as to what happened in Ashdod. More critically, one wonders why he was so willing to accept a “confession” extracted under the duress of hours of police interrogation. One wonders whether he would automatically accept the same if someone other than a Charedi allegedly confessed to a heinous crime. The other issue that Derfner neglected was the unseemly rush to perform autopsies by the Chief Pathologist’s Office which has caused that office to develope an adversarial relationship with the Charedi community over the course of time. These facts were neglected by Mr. Derfner in his rush to convict the Charedi community of obstructing an investigation, etc.

  1. June 12, 2006

    Fisking Larry Derfner, Part II…

    Comments are closed here — please comment to Part II instead.

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