An Anguished Question

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71 Responses

  1. ES says:

    Isn’t it amazing that after only two generations, we have come so far from the weak, galus-Jew mentality that even those who avoid sports and army take matters into their own hands?

    Isn’t it amazing that the characteristic of kindness, said to be genetic in all Jews, is the only thing holding the police back from taking more aggressive action against their own – misguided – people?

    Rav Levi Yitzhak MiBerditchev, where are you? [The Rebbe would constantly demand that G-d end the exile, based on the daily merits of the Jewish people – sometimes even finding beautiful insights in their wayward ways.]

  2. Moshe S. says:

    What’s almost as frightening is some of the comments on Yeshiva World about this story. (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/10957/Chareidi+Youths+Attack+Woman+For+Refusing+To+Move+To+Back+Of+Egged+Bus.html)
    One person absolves the charedi community of any blame for this, on the grounds that anyone who acts this way is by definition not charedi! (an ingenious way of ensuring that the charedim never do wrong – if they do wrong, then they aren’t charedi!)
    Another person attributes the entire story to the evil charedi-hating chiloni press. This is, of course, precisely the sort of person who is less opposed to such a thing happening (just as, lehavdil elef alfei havdalos, the Arabs who deny the Holocaust as those least opposed to it actually happening.)

  3. Calev says:

    These reports are heartbreaking. The Torah itself describes episodes where Am Yisrael’s behaviour fell far short of what was (is) expected. So, today, we absolutely must be honest with ourselves and face up to every kind of corruption – but in a spirit of yirat Shemayim, not the kind of inter-communal one-upmanship that is so often indulged in. As Torah-observant Jews we can not expect others to respect our opinions unless we ourselves are seen to behave well. Let’s work to be a light unto our own nation!

  4. Bob Miller says:

    “I have no way of knowing whether the story is true, in whole or in part.”

    Somehow, this detail did not keep speculation at bay. Is it possible anymore to withhold comment about events we are ignorant about, until we know the facts? Are we that defensive?

  5. Mark says:

    “Past history, however, would predict that there is some kernel of reprehensible truth, ”

    I beg to differ. “Past history” indicates that news of alleged Hareidi indiscretions remain largely unchallenged on the blogosphere and are accepted without reservation. I maintain that the well-known story of MSchear did not happen as she alleges. [Email me for some details that aren’t well-known]

    This does not mean that it couldn’t have happened. It also doesn’t mean that this story never happened. “Past history” however, predicts that few real FACTS will ever make it to the blogosphere and emotion and anti-Hareidi bias will reign.

  6. joel rich says:

    Bob,
    I expect that R’ YA was trying to head off the long list of commenters who would say it’s the “other” who is trying to get “us” with false reports.

    A generally good piece of advice in the office (for home I would substitute HKB”H for the Wall Street Journal) – Don’t advise a client to do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

    KT

  7. HILLEL says:

    Reb Yitzchok:

    In Islamic countries, the enforcement of strict moral codes is not considered a minus–it is a plus. So, how does such a story contribute to the demonization of Jews?

    On the contrary, as the following link demonstrates, such an incident is applauded in Moslem countries.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3462586,00.html

  8. Harry Maryles says:

    “I have no way of knowing whether the story is true, in whole or in part.”

    Somehow, this detail did not keep speculation at bay. Is it possible anymore to withhold comment about events we are ignorant about, until we know the facts? Are we that defensive?

    Comment by Bob Miller

    How do we know your name is even Bob? Because you say so?

  9. Moshe S. says:

    Speaking as a resident of RBS, I can say that while I don’t know anything about this particular incident, it is perfectly consistent with the sort of thing that goes on here all the time. There are major streets which are dangerous to drive through at certain times, due to the likelihood of hot-headed charedim throwing rocks at one’s car (and I’m not talking about Shabbos!).

  10. Bob Miller says:

    “…How do we know your name is even Bob? Because you say so?
    Comment by Harry Maryles — October 22, 2007 @ 11:28 am”

    “Harry”,
    The downside of thinking I’m Bob (if I wasn’t Bob) is much less than the downside of publically judging a report containing allegations that have not been verified.

    However, “Harry”, you did point to one truth about blogs—
    We really don’t know most of the time if what people represent about themselves in blogs is true or not.

  11. Ori Pomerantz says:

    HILLEL, I think your example and R’ YA’s mailing lists are different audiences.

    R’ YA’s mailing lists are probably full of Muslims who lives in western society and still have some connection to traditional Islam. In other words, Muslim versions of me. These Muslim have certain annoyances, such as:

    1. The inexplicable western preference to Israel, despite its awful history (remember, they learned history from sources that are heavily biased).

    2. The western perception that Muslim countries are backwards and oppressive. This perception is especially annoying because it is true, but possibly exaggerated.

    It makes perfect sense that they would love to spread news that show that Israel is not so modern.

  12. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Actually, the incidents in RBS B are underreported in the media. I have personally been witness to many that never made it to the newspapers. I have mentioned some of them here and one or two are far worse than anything that has been reported.

    Based on my experience I have no reason to doubt the essence of the current report. That, in and of itself is the tragedy that Rabbi Adlerstein is talking about.

  13. cvmay says:

    Excellent suggestion Reb Yitzchak,, Money for mosdos may be the impetus for rabbanim to sign on against violence (real or not, of course!!)

  14. HILLEL says:

    TO HARRY:

    His name is really Bob Miller. I can vouch for him–I recognize his distinctive wrting style and his distinctive approach to current events.

  15. Mark says:

    “How do we know your name is even Bob? Because you say so?:”

    And given that we have no reason to believe otherwise, we take him at his word. The Israeli press however, has given us plenty of reason to believe that their not impartial observors and therefore a degree of caution is warranted before swallowing their stories about Hareidim.

  16. He Who Remembers says:

    Sometimes the old maxim that “zo vie man cristelt sich, yiddelt sich” seems to have become, “zo vie man islamt sich, yidelt sich.” Propinquity to the middle eastern realm has turned some Jews into Muslim Brothers.

  17. HILLEL says:

    ORI:

    “Moderner” Muslims are a rare birds–an endangered species, who are slowly dying out.

    Among the vast majority of Muslims, worldwide–Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran–modesty in dress and public behavior is in, and the Internet, night clubs, movies, all the corrupting influences of modernity are publicly condemned.

    According to Horav Avigdor Miller, ZT”L, this is an inheritance that they have from our father Abraham, through his son Ishmael.

  18. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The “not real hareidim” argument is similar to the claim of our Evangelical Christian friends that antisemitic people such as various church fathers and Martin Luther etc. were “not real Christians”. Also during the Iranian Revolution it was claimed that the Shah’s guards who were shooting people were really Israelis because “real Muslims” would never do that. Get real.

  19. Bob Miller says:

    I vouch for HILLEL and Mark, too!

  20. mb says:

    Even in the absence of violence, would it make the concept(of women at the back of the bus) any more attractive?

  21. LOberstein says:

    Israeli society is a mess. There is violence in the secular schools , there is violence among the Chareim of one neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh, whose area is a suburb of Meah Shearim. The police don’t know how to control demonstrations without beating up innocent bystanders.The media is infested with anti religious bigotry.The chareidi media is muzzled and terrorized by the “handlers” who control the agenda and control access to the very old rabbis who are the only ones with authoriy, all others must pledge fealty or they are out of the circle.Anyone in the chareidi world who wants to do something to improve their poverty and lack of job skills has to worry about the consequences to them for being different. It is amazing then that so many of our children want to join that society and live in that world.
    The answwer I think is that most people,chareidim and non chareidim,are good people who don’t spend their time on demonstrations ,but just want to live their lives in peace. The chesed outways the insanity, but I still could never see myself voluntariy leaving the 21st century to live in a time warp where thought is so controled and actions even more controled. Is it really a good bargain.

  22. Reb Yid says:

    Why the need to make a straw man out of the Muslim media?

    Seems to me there are plenty of reasons to deal with this issue on its merits, and plenty of other ways to pressure those who are standing in the way.

    Besides—supposing for a moment that the Muslim media did not exist–would the current situation be any less worthy of immediate attention and repair?

  23. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “…How do we know your name is even Bob? Because you say so?
    Comment by Harry Maryles — October 22, 2007 @ 11:28 am”

    I’m with you Harry. I refuse to believe Bob’s name really is Bob Miller until it is verified in “Ha’aretz”.

  24. Ori Pomerantz says:

    HILLEL: “Moderner” Muslims are a rare birds—an endangered species, who are slowly dying out.

    Ori: Probably in their homeland. In the US they seem to be alive and well, as I learned from working with some.

  25. SBA says:

    I have spoken to a kanoi from Beth Shemesh today and he states categorically that they would never touch a woman. Makes sense to me.

    And I need stronger proof than just relying upon the Israeli secular media. And the fact that the police – who definitely don’t love the kanoim -haven’t charged anyone adds to my doubts.

    My friend does agree that there are a few troublemakers in BS – who make life unpleasant for all.

  26. la costa says:

    why should the chareidi world worry about what the velt thinks?
    if the Truth is uncomfortable would you deny it?
    would we stop keeping shatnez, aguna, or non-gay behaviour laws because they are weird or not PC?
    maybe the darchei noam approach is wrong and the kanoee is correct….

  27. Bob Miller says:

    La Costa said “why should the chareidi world worry about what the velt thinks?”

    We should not worry about all criticism from the “velt”, but we should worry about valid, or at least plausible, criticism from the “velt”. Whenever it’s demonstrated that hooligans from one of our communities really have crossed the line into barbarism, it’s their community leaders’ duty to straighten them out by any means necessary.

  28. michoel halberstam says:

    Message to La costa. Suppose we start a new Kanai organization that will hound down violators of mitzvos shebain adam lachaveiro, and other categories of mechallelai Hashem. Who do you think will make a greater contribution to yiddishkeit, ours or your jewish rednecks club. A blind person can see that violence against people who are just trying to get by in life, even if you claim to have their best interests at heart, does not accomplish the desired result in our world. At least identifying thieves and liars whose every word disgraces us all will have a positive benefit.

  29. Jacob Haller says:

    Assuming the comments from #26 are not a foray into sarcasm I’ll attempt to provide a response or two.

    If it’s irrelevant to “worry about what the velt thinks” then the Gemara, Tosafos and Poskim would not have bothered with matters of “Darchei Shalom” between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors. All the more so in a Galus situation.

    The rules of Darchei Shalom never instructed anyone to violate Mitzvos min ha D’Oraisa or D’Rabbanan in the name of achieving accolades or avoiding criticism from the general world. Furthermore, the dichotomy of “Darchei Noam” vs “Kanoi” sounds like a false one and is therefore unconvincing.

    Correct this if mistaken, but even if the (assuming the story is truthful and accurate) person was guilty, is justice meted out by the mob or the Beis Din based on eidos (testimony) and has’ra’ah?

  30. Jewish Observer says:

    “maybe the darchei noam approach is wrong”

    – that would be against a posuk

  31. HILLEL says:

    Question to all:

    The prototypical Kanoi is Pinchas. Was he non-violent?

  32. Doron Beckerman says:

    It is a true shame that we call people who do things like this “Kana’im”, turning the term into a pejorative, dirty word.
    “He’s a Kana’i” should be a badge of honor. This perversion is not perpetrated by Kana’im, but by misguided individuals thinking they are acting in the name of Kana’us.

    About true Kana’us, the Alter of Novardhok would say,

    “מתון מתון – ארבע מאה זוזי שויא, והקנאי יקר מכל הון”

  33. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    A seminary girl I know was asked to go to the back of the bus. She suggested to the guy that he sit in the back and that she remain in the front.
    Dovid Eliezrie

  34. SBH says:

    LOberstein’s portrayal of Israeli society is cynical, at best.

    Wherever there is a concentration of kedushah (holiness) there is an equal concentration of tumah (un-holiness). The generation of American Jews that are choosing to live in Israel over chutz la’aretz is attracted to the kedushah that exists here. They are willing and able to see through all the nonsense and recognize the spiritual advantages of living in a G-d centered society. Yes, it is a good bargain.

    I grew up in the US and have been living in Israel (Ramat Bet Shemesh, no less) for more than 7 years. The vast majority of people living here (both Israelis and foreigners) are not being “controlled” by anyone. I believe that perception is very much media-sponsored, and from my experience completely untrue.

  35. Bob Miller says:

    “…turning the term into a pejorative, dirty word”

    It’s great to have all these arguments where the terms have not been defined, because everybody in our in-crowd is supposed to know what they mean.

  36. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    I find stories like this very depressing, just as I find stories of youth from Religious Zionist homes assaulting police very depressing, and just as I find stories of youth from non-observant homes going to India and acting like total boors depressing. You hear absolutely nothing like this from any community, charedi, modern orthodox, or secular, here in galut America. What is going on in Eretz Yisrael?

  37. Jacob Haller says:

    “You hear absolutely nothing like this from any community, charedi, modern orthodox, or secular, here in galut America.”

    Dr Hall, how do define “like this”? Are the statistics of intermarriage in Chutz L’Aretz more comforting? How about the myriads of Jewish youth who have joined the H.Krishnas, JforJ, Zen Buddhist Temples or the ACLU?

  38. Sammy Finkelman says:

    What is going on in Eretz Yisrael?

    Well, let’s see. A lot of people think they are right, and think – because it is Eretz Yiosroel maybe – it is important that what is right be carried out in practice and don’t believe there is any central authority they can respect to arbitrate.

    Many Jews respect only a small portion of other Jewqs and have had virtually no contact now going back a genration of two with Jews in different communities, so maybe there’s now more activism or zealotry.

    And also of course – yeridos HaDoros – theer is now less understasnding of what the Halacha is and more strange ideas masquerade as Halacha, including ideas of who and what to listen to

  39. HILLEL says:

    If there is sufficient demand for the service, why not institute separate buses for men and women?

  40. mb says:

    If there is sufficient demand for the service, why not institute separate buses for men and women?

    Comment by HILLEL — October 24, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

    Why not seperate countries? Hillel, have you any idea how foolish this sounds?

  41. Moshe S. says:

    “I grew up in the US and have been living in Israel (Ramat Bet Shemesh, no less) for more than 7 years. The vast majority of people living here (both Israelis and foreigners) are not being “controlled” by anyone.”

    My friend, you are naive. Go and ask the store-owners in the RBSA shopping center about the tznius signs that they have up in the store. Most of them did not want to put up the signs, but they were threatened and intimidated into putting them up.

  42. Shlomo says:

    HILLEL:
    1) On many routes there is not sufficient demand. The charedi Jerusalem-Haifa bus runs about 4 times a day. Haifa-Ashdod is once a week. Of course Jerusalem-Bnei Brak is more often. 2) Families don’t want to be split up and have to look for each other at the destination.

  43. HILLEL says:

    TO MB:

    There are places where ladies-only subway cars are available. In Borough Park, Brooklyn and other places, there are ladies-only car services.

    I know that many readers of this blog will object to my using Iran as an example, but it just so happens that they are the only example I could find on the ‘net:

    http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1069104

  44. mb says:

    If there is sufficient demand for the service, why not institute separate buses for men and women?

    Comment by HILLEL — October 24, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

    Oh my goodness. Are you serious? What has become of Orthodox Judaism to make such a suggestion?

  45. HILLEL says:

    TO SHLOMO:
    The reason that the Hareidi buses are so infequent is that the secular Eged bus company has skimmed-off the customers for such a service by providing a pseudo-Hareidi service that operates in a haphazard and unofficial manner, causing all kinds of misunderstandings and fricitons among the non-Hareidi and semi-Hareidi public.

    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/02/18/the-kidnapping-of-rosa-parks/
    A decade ago under the rubric of multiculturalism private bus lines catering to the religious sector sprung up as an answer to rampant public permissiveness. Egged put them out of business, took them over, and problems began. Now the haredim are taking the rap for Egged’s rapaciousness.

  46. michoel halberstam says:

    After reading the comments of some of our contributors, I recommend that This blog publish a weekly review of the Meah Sheorim Kol Korahs since there are undoubtedly lots of people here who can be persuaded that anything is true as long as it comes from an alleged Chareidi. Egged is a company in business to make money To suggest that they are carrying frum people because they want to ruin it for a hareidi company yet unborn is nonsense. If you don’t think this is true, ask yourself whether Chareid businessmen over here don’t operate their businesses to make money, frequently without regard for the consequences. The problem is that everyone has developed his own yiras shomayim test, and for some, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as there is a mechitza where its being done. Others think being chareidi depends on which newspaper you don’t read . Still others define it in terms of what color shirt you wear. Hey Guys!!!! It’s about whether you recognize that you live in the presence of Kusha Brich HU. If you do, everything else will follow, and if you don’t He is smart enought to know it.

  47. nachum klafter, md says:

    When we read news reports which pose a challenge to our world view, it is very tempting to dismiss them as “unsubstantiated, undocumented, anti-Torah bias.” Rabbi Adlerstein did not succumb to this temptation. Independent of this specific story, he knows that there IS a real problem.

    There is an increasingly strident trend in the Haredi world which results in demonization of “others.” This is evident to anyone whose eyes are open. There are many wonderful things about the Haredi world, but a forgiving spirit toward outsiders is not among them.

    Haredi violence is not a brand new phenomenon. It was written about by Haredi leaders themselves, who were very troubled by the phenomenon. There is an article on this by Professor Menachem Friedman: “Haredi Violence in Contemporary Israeli Society”, P. Medding (ed.), Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Vol. 18, 2002, pp. 186-197.

    This article discusses the observations of Moshe Sheinfeld in the 1970’s about the emerging trend of violence. Sheinfeld was a Haredi leader, leader in the Agudas Yisroel youth movement–hardly a secular, anti-Haredi, leftist news reporter. I will quote from one of Sheinfeld’s articles, “Ha’alimut–Zemorat Zar Be-Hinnukheinu” (“Violence: A Foreign Branch of our Education”), Niv Ha-Moreh, 41, Sept.-Oct. 1972.

    “As much as Torah Judaism (i.e., the Haredi community) has invested supreme efforts in erecting spiritual walls to separate us from the erring secular Jews (“Hilonim”), the winds pass through them and affect our tender youth in particular. Heaven forbid that we should adopt an ostrich like stance and ignore the spreading manifestations of violence that are increasingly leavning their mark on the haredi street. Whowever makes light of these phenomena and draws comfort from the saying, ‘Let the young man now arise an play before us.’ (Shemuel Beit, 2:14), has blinded himself to the gravity of the anticipated consequences and the fould wells from which they spring forth.”

    Another quote from the same article by Sheinfeld:
    “It comes as no comfort that they wear the cloak of zealotry. If we view the matter clearly, we shall discover that this mantle is deceptive and tainted with hooliganism.”

    Only a very insecure person responds with denial and defensiveness to all criticism. A secure, confident person can look at his own flaws, can acknowledge legitimate criticism. Our community cannot improve if we do not face our problems.

  48. Moshe S. says:

    Now the haredim are taking the rap for Egged’s rapaciousness. – HILLEL.

    Er, no, actually, they are taking the rap for beating women.

  49. HILLEL says:

    TO MOSHE S.

    I think you missed the point of my post. I suggest you look at the article that I provided in my link. You will get a different perspective on the whole situation.

  50. Tal Benschar says:

    “Now the haredim are taking the rap for Egged’s rapaciousness. – HILLEL.

    Er, no, actually, they are taking the rap for beating women.

    Comment by Moshe S”

    While facilely true, it avoids the issue.

    If a Charedi community in EY wants separate seating on buses, there is no reason why they should not be allowed to have it. It may offend some, but there is no reason that community should not be allowed to have its standards in that community. Anyone disagree?

    To my mind, the best way of achieving this is to have certain routes designated as “separate seating routes” (or I believe they were once called Mehadrin routes), and have that the official policy of the bus line — whether private or Egged. Then there is no need for violence — that is the official policy. You don’t like it, take another route. You refuse to comply, the bus driver asks you to get off the bus.

    Instead, you have Egged putting the private bus companies out of business. Then they run lines in Charedi neighborhoods which are quasi-officially separate, but then Egged refuses to enforce that policy. This makes the community feel that it is being invaded, and there is no way for a communal response to express itself. That is when a few hotheads try to take matters into their own hands and violence results.

  51. Bob Miller says:

    While some actions of others may give the hotheads a pretext or opportunity, they are still hotheads to be disciplined and not applauded.

  52. Mark says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    Before I comment on your remarks, I’d like to point out that while I don’t always agree with you, I find you to be someone whose comments I look forward to reading.

    “Only a very insecure person responds with denial and defensiveness to all criticism. A secure, confident person can look at his own flaws, can acknowledge legitimate criticism.”

    I assume you’re point is that therefore Hareidim should not reflexively defend themselves against criticisms of practicing unacceptably high levels of violence and should instead accept and acknowledge the legitimate criticism.

    What troubles me about that is where do you find evidence that anyone in the Hareidi community thinks that such violence is acceptable? Who defended it? Did many people defend it to your knowledge? Are you basing your position on the fact that it hasn’t been widely condemned?

    I also wonder what your feelings are about what constitutes legitimate criticism? Does post #459 discussing this incident from a rabidly anti-hareidi blogger qualify or must it come from a source who would generally be perceived as favorable [or at least unbiased in either direction] to qualify?

    In your mind, do you think the cacophony of anti-haredi’ism that pervades the blogosphere hinder any efforts to convey sincere mussar in a manner that could be acceptable? IOW – if ones mother-in-law berated him daily for every imaginable offense, don’t you think that would hamper her ability to convey valid criticism?

    I’m really curious about your opinion n this matter or please correct me if I misunderstood your point in the first place. Thanks

  53. Tal Benschar says:

    While some actions of others may give the hotheads a pretext or opportunity, they are still hotheads to be disciplined and not applauded.

    Comment by Bob Miller

    ABSOLUTELY! The actions of the hotheads are clearly far beyond the pale and need to be controlled, if for no other reason than they are counter-productive.

    But that does not mean you should ignore the wider context.

    This reminds me of what occurred in EY when I was studying there some 15 years ago — when bus stations were torched. Surely a reprehensible act worthy of condemnation.

    But at the time I wondered — the ads featuring women in skimpy bathing suits which “ignited” the problem were put up in Charedi neighborhoods, including one I personally saw at a bus stop at the entrace to Geulah. How many bikinis did the company think would be sold by advertising there? It was clear that the posters were put up as a provocation.

    Again, it seems to me that there is a simple way for the community to enforce its standards in a peaceful way, as I have outlined. Is it that no one has tried, or is it that the parties invovled have no interest in reaching a peaceable modus vivendi?

  54. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “In your mind, do you think the cacophony of anti-haredi’ism that pervades the blogosphere hinder any efforts to convey sincere mussar in a manner that could be acceptable?”

    It’s a good point about the blogosphere(and some mother-in-laws) making it difficult to talk about these important issues without heat.

    However, I’ve found that even an article published in the Jewish Observer(before blogs) and Mishpacha magazine articles by a Charedi writer have sometimes caused what I perceive as defensive reactions by some(certainly not all) readers which I do not think is helpful. Granted, everyone is entitled to defend themselves, and other readers should portray the situation as a complex one, and as fairly as possible.

    Be that as it may, the good news is that any resistance has been overcome regarding public discussion of other issues, so eventually it can be overcome here as well, as more people want to see a particular subject publicly discussed in a constructive manner.

  55. nachum klafter says:

    “I’m really curious about your opinion n this matter or please correct me if I misunderstood your point in the first place. Thanks.”

    Yes, I think you partially misunderstood my point, but you ask some important questions nevertheless.

    My point–there IS a very big problem in the Haredi world now. Violence may still be relatively rare, but it is a manifestation of an increasingly intense hatred and demonization of the rest of the world. This includes slightly less right wing Haredi jews, non-Haredi Orthodox Jews, unobservant Jews, and to a lesser extent non Jews.

    I hear this criticism from Haredi rabbonim themselves. The article I posted shows that this was already a concern back in the 1970’s.

    “What troubles me about that is where do you find evidence that anyone in the Hareidi community thinks that such violence is acceptable? Who defended it? Did many people defend it to your knowledge? Are you basing your position on the fact that it hasn’t been widely condemned?”

    When I say “defensive” I do not mean “defending violence” in the sense of condoning or advocating violence. What I mean is things like this: “We are less violent than others.” “The media is jumping at the opportunity to make Haredim look bad.” “How do we know that this really occurred–it may be made up.” “There is even more violence among secular Jews.” “Rabin was murdered by a modern orthdox Mizrachi-nik, not a yeshivish, Haredi Jew,” etc.

    In other words, defensive reactions are those which are intended to minimize or deny the significance of the incident, and to avoid consideration of the possibility that there is a problem with hatred and anger toward “others”, and intolerance toward other Orthodox approaches to issues in hashkafa and idology.

    “I assume you’re point is that therefore Hareidim should not reflexively defend themselves against criticisms of practicing unacceptably high levels of violence and should instead accept and acknowledge the legitimate criticism.”

    I don’t think ANYONE should reflixively defend themsselves against criticism. This is not the derekh of Chazal or the ba’alei mussar.

    The capacity for self-reflection is one of the most important middos to cultivate in human nature. Look at Haredi publications–you will not see much humility or agonizing introspection. I am putting it mildly.

    I suppose what I would would like to see would be that the spiritual leaders who have advocated extreme measures to root out immodesty and modernity would show at least as much passion about rooting out the hatred and demonization of outsiders which leads to violence.

    “Dr. Klafter, before I comment on your remarks, I’d like to point out that while I don’t always agree with you, I find you to be someone whose comments I look forward to reading.”

    The fact that someone who disagrees with me nevertheless looks forward to reading my comments is a great compliment. Thank you.

  56. joel rich says:

    I don’t think ANYONE should reflixively defend themsselves against criticism. This is not the derekh of Chazal or the ba’alei mussar.
    ==================================
    I think this is inherent in modern public political discourse in all walks of life. Is it inherent in the briah for the tzibbur or are we all not as insulated as we think?

    BTW the need for continued criticism is probably most needed from within (for all groups – I don’t think my own does near enough)

    KT

  57. Gilana says:

    I have been sitting here thinking about what I would do if I was approached by an indignant man (or five) and commanded to change my seat or leave the bus, and my answer came more easily than I expected. I would behave as my mother and father taught me. That is, I would acquiesce. My heart would be pumping with fear and shame (from having been singled out,) but I would have no choice to comply, really, because it would be at that moment that it was within my power to prevent the situation from accelerating. And I am certain that afterwards I would be depressed and feeling hopeless, because it is not within my realm of comprehension to be able to approach an inert stranger and impose my will. With my action, however, I could possibly be assured of one less news article being fodder for those to whom denigrating all those with any observance in their hearts as contemptible.

  58. dovid says:

    What’s “semi-Hareidi public”? Are we semi-Hareidi, or maybe semi-semi-Hareidi, because after all we use the Internet?

  59. Mark says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    Thank you for your response. I guess we differ on this point:

    “My point—there IS a very big problem in the Haredi world now. Violence may still be relatively rare, but it is a manifestation of an increasingly intense hatred and demonization of the rest of the world.”

    I don’t know your background but if I recall, you’d affiliate somewhere other than the Hareidi community, no? Thus your perspective may be different than mine, which is as a card-carrying member of the Hareidi community, although I’d generally be considered more to the center of that group, as opposed to right-wing.

    I know that it’s a given in the blogosphere that there exists “an increasingly intense hatred and demonization of the rest of the world” in the Hareidi world, but I’m sorry to say that I don’t see it nearly the way you do.

    I attended a fairly typical BP HAreidi yeshivah and almost NEVER did the subject of MO come up, certainly not in the bashing sense. Of course, we knew that there are differences regarding certain hashkafos, and we believed that ours were correct but then again, so does every MO person believe about his hashkafos. There was no wholesale trashing of them as one might think.

    The same went for the Mesivtah and Beis Medrash I attended in the US, again a mainstream yeshivish place. And the same was true for where I studied in EY and Lakewood.

    In EY, things are different than they are in the US and any attempt to draw a parallel is bound to fail. Everything there is so much more radicalized, from secular to MO to Hareidi. In my time there I saw secular Israelis get into fistfights over a taxi fare, MO guys beating up arabs that they didn’t like and Hareidim shoving each other over a space in a falafel shop. In all my years in the sates, I’ve never seen such behavior from anyone, Jewish nor non-jewish.

    I think the defensiveness comes when people see outsiders [IOW – non Hareidim – and often people who are constantly attacking all things Hareidi – I don’t mean you here] read so much into a story like this one as if it was symbolic of a deep rooted issue in the Hareidi community. I’d venture that many of the people who are so sure of themselves haven’t ever lived in EY and don’t truly understand the situation there. Nor have they studied and lived in Lakewood or Boro Park/Flatbush. Much of what they opine is based upon what they’ve read from others and their opinion is just not as valid as they may think.

    Perhaps mine is not either, but at least I’ve lived in all the aforementioned places for significant amounts of time and I have reason to believe that the problem is greatly overstated. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems in the Hareidi community, but “an increasingly intense hatred and demonization of the rest of the world” isn’t one of them. If anything, there’s a movement toward greater tolerance. [As an example – Five years ago the JO ran a long Dvar Torah from a Young Israel Rabbi who’s heavily affiliated with YU and heads a fairly left-wing YI. That was unheard of in the seventies and eighties.]

  60. Miriam Shear says:

    With my action, however, I could possibly be assured of one less news article being fodder for those to whom denigrating all those with any observance in their hearts as contemptible.

    Comment by Gilana — October 29, 2007 @ 8:34 am

    No, Gilana, you would have assured that those demanding you move would be empowered and encouraged to continue their obnoxious, belligerant behavior. You would thereby become an unwitting accessory to the chillul Hashem (s?) that will inevitably occur as they get bolder and bolder. Perhaps it was the “Gilana” before you who also acqueisced to these inappropriate demands that allowed this scene to repeat itself with you.

  61. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “If anything, there’s a movement toward greater tolerance.”

    I, too, believe that in certain areas there is a movement towards greater tolerance, namely, that greater care is taken in public statements and print publications on the organizational level in America, in both the Charedi and MO worlds; I think that one must give credit where it’s due, in that area. As far as my personal experience living in the Charedi world, I also agree with Mark that there is no demonization of the Other; people are generally busy with their own lives and not with judging what other people think or do.

    Yet, there is room for improvement as well. There have been recent articles in the Jewish Observer by R. Elyahu Meir Klugman and R. Yehuda (Leo) Levi on the topic and it was mentioned at an Agudah Convention a while back.

    This issue is how bright or bleak to paint the picture. I agree with Rabbi Shafran’s response to Rabbi Wein, both in the JA and on OU Radio, that one needs to emphasize the positive as well. Yet, Rabbi Wein’s article(“Weeping and Wishing”) can not simply be dismissed as one does to an irate blogger.

    Bottom line, there is much positive—whether on the individual level, or regarding improvements made in organizational communication. But if people feel so strongly a certain way, to the extent that it’s called “Weeping and Wishing”, I would not say that they are imagining it, but rather that there is something to think about, if not to the extent mentioned, then at least partially so.

  62. joel rich says:

    This issue is how bright or bleak to paint the picture. I agree with Rabbi Shafran’s response to Rabbi Wein, both in the JA and on OU Radio, that one needs to emphasize the positive as well.
    ==========================
    R’BH
    Agree, but as we’ve discussed before (and I emailed Steve Savitsky after his OU interview on the issue) someone has to ask Charedi leadership if TUM is an acceptable derech in avodat hashem. A simple yes or no will suffice. The action plan for your thought will then be much easier.

    KT

  63. Eliyahu says:

    asking charedi leadership if TUM is ok or not won’t work. Simply because you have to first define whose version of TUM you are asking about. RAL? RHS? YCT? Lander College? TUM is too braod a term. And also is it ok for a very talented individual or for the average person?

  64. cvmay says:

    Gilana
    Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz just released an article about “Bullying” in schools, workplace, home, etc., and compared it to the recent event that occured on the bus in BS. By acquiesing to bullies you are encouraging the act to reoccur, I am in full agreement with M. Shear.

  65. cvmay says:

    BTW bullying is bullying, a venue does not change the episode. Youth, Adult, Charedei, MO, secular, non-jewish, Israeli and/or American – it is the same, BULLYING is BULLYING. People can benefit from classes on ‘Conflict Resolution’ as much as classes on tzinius, hilchos shabbos and taharas mishpacha. Grants and donors should be approached to fund these important sessions of ‘Conflict Resolution’. (not joking..)

  66. tzippi says:

    Re TUM, by whose definition: there’s TUM, and TIDE. Some will say that the conjunction (U=and, I=with) isn’t nuance, it’s the crux of the matter.

  67. joel rich says:

    OK, try this then (although saying one can’t answer without a specific definition of TUM sounds more like it comes from the presidential debate forum)- is YU an acceptable Yeshiva for a ben torah.

    KT

  68. Bob Miller says:

    OK, Joel Rich, what’s your definition of “Ben Torah”?

  69. joel rich says:

    A young man serious about his avodat hashem.
    KT

  70. RBS A resident says:

    It took me a few days of asking around to find anyone who saw evidence of the original news story. I got two responses:

    (1) Someone who drove through RBS B later that evening and described it as a “mess” – the garbage dumped in the streets as is typical of an ad-hoc demonstration.

    (2) Someone saw the bus pulled over by police, but was walking into a nearby store to do some shopping. When he came out (say 10 minutes later) the police were interviewing two women, and a soldier was having a yelling match with some charedim gathered around.

    #2 seems to cast aspersions on the newspaper descriptions of the woman and soldier “beaten up” (as opposed to unpleasantly harassed) and police tires slashed, and perhaps make the rioters who helped the bus riders escape a bit more dubious as well.

    Unfortunately this kind of news travels so quickly, that it’s nearly impossible to refute or clarify later.

  71. michoelhalberrstam says:

    On a related note., some of you may have seen the New York Times video on the internat about Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef and Bet and the issue of what, for want of a better word might be called “not so gentle religious suasion.” a shop keeper is shown as saying that in his pizza store named after America he uses the twin towers as a symbol because many chareidim woulld object to the notion of personal freedom and liberty that the statue of liberty implies. Personally, I don’t think that American jews need to be embarrassed to believe in the virtue of democratic institutions, and I am disturbed that such an idea is taken for granted. I guess a lot of what we have been discussing here relates to this idea.

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