A Berdichiver Moment

You may also like...

21 Responses

  1. Moshe Dick says:

    You wrote a wonderful article that echo in many a jew’s mind. My criticism is only that you are talking to the wrong party. I am loath to say it but all the hatred comes from one side only. I did not see any hatred coming from the D/L camp and no invective,no insults, not even from the secualr jews. The invective, the insults, the condescension all came from the chareidi side. I think you erred in attending the asifa, as its sole purpose was to denigrate other jews.

  2. Y. Ben-David says:

    I would like to know what “sins are being committed in the name of statehood” here in Israel. Israel’s political system was founded by largely secular Jews, many (but not all) anti-religious. They were sick of the Galut, they were sick of Jews being everybody’s punching bag and they overreacted and many blamed it on the Torah, mainly because most had a very distorted idea of what the Torah really teaches us. They were also afraid that having a country filled largely by immigrants who came from over 100 countries in the world who had little in common would not be able to come together and form a solid national polity. Thus, they came up with the “melting pot” concept and tried to push a particular value system, i.e. Socialist Zionism on everyone. This fear was not unfounded. Look at what is happening the Middle East or places like the former Yugoslavia or Ukraine where the citizens don’t have a sense of national identity. Yes, they viewed the IDF as part of this melting pot at the time. Remember, we are talking about the first 20 years or so of the state.
    After the Six-Day War, when the Jews of Israel came into contact with the scenes where the TANACH took place, and inspired by this, a religious and traditionalist revival took place among large sections of the population which has continued and even strengthened to this day. In addition, the Socialist Zionist ideology has collapsed, leaving a vacuum, which has lead many to strengthen their Jewish roots, although it does not necessarily mean total observance of the mitzvot. Due to the collapse of the old socialist Zionist ideology which had a strong strain of intolerance, Israelis are much more respectful of other people views and values as long as they are not imposed on them. The dominant trend is “live and let live”. Thus, no one is trying to “destroy Torah” or the religious community. How can anyone claim such a thing. The secular taxpayer has allowed huge amounts of his money to be transferred to the Haredi and National Religious communities. The Haredim are thriving and their yeshivot are thriving THANKS TO THE SECULAR ISRAELIS who are now being accused of being “haters of Torah” and “self-hating Jews” merely because they object to an unfair situation where an entire community claims it should be exempt from military service. The new law even recognizes Torah study as a “national service”! People can not understand why someone who is not studying Torah full-time should not do his fair share. This feeling and belief is NOT A “SIN”. I have lived in Israel for 27 years and I don’t see anyone in the state apparatus persecuting religous Jews. The Haredi spokesmen who are using such inflamed rhetoric are doing an immense disservice to the community they claim to represent. I call on Haredi spokesmen to carefully measure their words before they cause a massive backlash.

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    R Landesman wrote in relevant part:

    “Many years ago, my late father-in-law, Rabbi Yitzchak Chinn z”l, was offered a job in Eretz Yisrael. As a talmid of R. Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz zt”l, he had very strong feelings about living in the Holy Land and saw the offer as a golden opportunity to fulfill a dream. Before setting off for Yerushalayim to discuss the offer, he stopped off in New York to seek counsel from Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky zt”l. The rosh yeshiva offered a number of suggestions and as he took leave, Reb Yaaakov said: “Reb Yitzchak. One thing of which you must be very careful. Don’t allow your seichel to be overwhelmed by the sight of Jewish soldiers.”

    There will be those who will construe Reb Yaakov’s message as a criticism of the State and its accomplishments. I prefer to see it as a warning that the founding of an independent Jewish homeland can lead to a myopic vision in which we forget or overlook the many sins that have been and continue to be committed in the name of statehood. I have no doubt that just as mitzvot performed in Eretz Yisrael have more meaning and impact, so too do aveirot committed here cause greater damage to us as a people. Yes, we need to be skeptical and careful not to be blinded.

    But on the other hand, in no way can we ignore the benefits that the State of Israel has brought us. And it is because of those benefits that we must clearly express our hakarat ha-tov to the soldiers and police and other officers of the State who serve as the conduits of His chesed. We need to temper the tone of the invective that has pervaded the current debates. I for one can not bear to hear a Jew label a fellow Jew with the N word or raise the specter of the Inquisition or the Holocaust when describing the challenges to chareidi lifestyle in Israel.

    There are those who raise the Satmar Rebbe’s thesis that the State is a violation of the three oaths imposed upon Jewry in our exile. Even if that position is halachically accurate, we have long passed the time when this is the issue. Sixty five years after the founding of the State, would you choose to disband and place our fate in the hands of our Palestinian cousins? Would you settle for the level of social services in Cairo or the health care in Damascus? National independence is a fact of life, and it behooves us to create the systems that will allow us – as a chareidi community – to function within its confines and develop the means to exert influence; not solely to protect ourselves, but to ultimately alter the face of Israeli society.”

    I would like to recall a Maaseh Shehyah kach Hayah. I once was returning to my office via train from a court appearance in the immediate aftermath of the Rabin Assasination. I was learning Gemara from a Daf Yomi cassette in the pre Ipod era, and a person with some art displays sat down next to me. He introduced himself as a secular Israeli, and asked me why religious Jews wanted to live in Israel. I discovered he was a very prominent secular Israeli artist. I told him that religious Jews sought to live in Israel because of the unparalleled nature in Israel of serving God and performing His Commandments. He then asked wny we couldn’t or wouldn’t stay in NY and I repeated my answer. At that point, he launched into vindictive rhetoric and blamed the religious community for the assasination. I then questionned the propriety of the behavior of the late Leah Rabin,in contrast to the late Jacqueline Kennedy ( Onassis) who welcomed Arafat into her house of mourning, but not R S Riskin. He then left my seat, and moved away. Unbeknown to me, a Charedi Jew was watching , and he walked over and introduced himself, and I recognized his name as that of the grandson of a prominent RY. He asked me if I had been overly harsh, and I responded by saying that Yishuv HaAretz was such an important Mitzvah that one could ask a Gentile on Shabbos to prepare the documents of sale of property in the Land of Israel. His response was that his grandfather ZL had the view that a Jew should feel as comfortable in EY as he did in the streets of Brooklyn. My response was that such a POV was rather myopic, especially 40+ years after Hakamas HaMedinah.

    Unfortunately, far too many of our Charedi brethren , whose devotion to Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim is amazing, do not get the message that the issues that divided us in pre war Europe are moot, and that the presence of a sovereign Jewish state has played a huge role in the Phoenix like revival of high level Torah study in Israel, with the yeshivos, charedi and hesder, being the ground zero of Torah study. Until serious hakaras hatov is expressed, the issues will rage unabated.

    FWIW, I too watched the video,and was proud of the soldiers who acted in defense of Israel, while wondering who took the video. It is easy to engage in speculation about the video being a product of Chillul Shabbos, but raising a Lchaim as RSZA did on the liberation of Yerushalayim, shouldn’t require any effort nor should some special kavanah for the recitation of Shalom Aleichem this Shabbos.

    I recall RHS being asked about the propriety of attending the Salute to Israel parade . RHS replied that support of the Medinah does not imply that one endorses all of its actions. More to the point, RHS noted that we are very happy on Purim, despite the fact that Esther HaMalkah lived with Achashverush all of her life and raised her children as complete Gentiles. Certainly, the fact that we have a sovereign Jewish state should compel a far more enthusiastic response than it generates in the Charedi world, almost 60 years from the Hakamas HaMedinah.

  4. dovid landesman says:

    Moshe – I went to the asifa for reasons similar to R. Shmuel Eliyahu and R. Shlomo Aviner; how could one forego the opportunity to join hundreds of thousands of Jews in kabbalat ol malchut shamayim.

  5. Moshe Dick says:

    Dear Steve Brizel!
    “ashrecho” on your wonderful words. I know that the “RHS” you are referring to was R”Chaim Shmulewitz zz’l who said (in 1967) that all who died in the Six Day,including secular jews, were “kedoshei elyon”. Add to that the fact that the Ponevezer Rov zz”l put up the Israeli flag in his yeshiva-so despised by the chareidim. I personally heard the Ponevezer Rov zz’l say about Eretz Yisroel, at an asifah in my very right wing yeshiva, that(in yiddish)-‘you can see the redemption coming” Till today,I remember that he said “oohgen” in his litvish yiddish and not “oigen” (my yiddish) for eyes. Where are the giants of yesteryear? The R”aryeh Levin’s zz’l, Rav Zvi Pessach Frank and so many others. They are sorley missed.

  6. Raymond says:

    This is a superb article that can help bring some reconciliation among Jews. I agree with the person above who wrote that between the two sides of the issue, that the ones who need to read articles like this the most, are the Chareidim. The Chareidim may wish to live in their own self-assured world, but to many of us outsiders, they look like just a variant form of the draft dodgers here in the United States.

  7. YY says:

    You say “we forget or overlook the many sins that have been and continue to be committed in the name of statehood”.

    This is probably the most important fact overlooked by religious people who advocate for chareidi participation in the Israeli army. The most important rule a soldier has to follow is ‘obedience’. By submitting yourself to the ranks of a Jewish secular army whose leadership and decision makers don’t take Halacha into account when considering risks and operational planning, you’re in effect submitting yourself to violate halacha. It doesn’t matter if they will promise the individual soldiers rights to practice religion, it won’t help if the Ketzinim will stop harassing soldiers who wish to not attend a concert which includes woman singers, ore even set up exclusively religious brigades. It’s about submission to an authority that considers itself higher than the Torah and Halacha, be it Shabbos, Shefichus Damim, Pikuach Nefesh and what not.

    To show you an example how far this issue of submission goes, Rav Moshe Feinstein in YD 3:44 says the following regarding hypnosis, which is a form of submission:
    שו”ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג סימן מד

    אך יש לחוש אם הרופא העושה זה הוא חשוד לעבור על איסורי תורה שמא יאמר לו לעשות דבר איסור ולא יחשב אנוס כיון דהביא עצמו לידי כך דהוא כהשכיב עצמו לישן אצל כלים שאינו אנוס כדהביאו התוס’ ד”ה כיון ב”ק דף ד’ ע”א מירושלמי עיין שם. ואם אין לחוש לזה כגון ברופא שהוא שומר תורה או באופן אחר שאין לחוש לאיסורין ולבטול מצות איננו רואים בזה שיהיה דבר איסור.

  8. David says:

    Three points re an overall excellent article:

    1. It is very possible that the guy who filmed it was a Druze.
    2. Even if not, are you surprised that a non-religious person was mechalel shabbos? He probably then went and lit a cigarette. How the movie was filmed has no connection with what people felt upon seeing this.
    3. I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but your last paragraph seems to imply that the policemen were doing something improper, as the coachman was. They were really just doing their job. A more accurate comparison would be if the same thing happened in the Shaked Committee (where the “sin” took place, according to the hareidi viewpoint). And I’m sure it did, as many people who are routinely denounced by those opposed to the law are shomrei torah umitzvos.

  9. Moshe Dick says:

    YY: Your comments are a red herring- if I may say so. Yes, in battle and in the army, following orders are a must. But so is working for any boss. For you to say that “you are submitting yourself to violate halacha” is ridiculous and erroneous. Actually, your refusal in warfare would be against halacha. Did you ever hear of “koslei chazeirim”? Look it up, you may get a surprise concerning warfare. Lastly, the incidents that you describe have all proven to be fictitious. You are welcome to your opionions, just not to your facts. R”Moshe zz’l psak is totally irrelevant here.

  10. David says:

    To YY:

    This is an old complaint.

    My first response is that actually halacha is supposed to be taken into account, and no soldier can be forced to violate halacha. I am aware that there are problems in enforcing this all the time, but overall this is more of a theoretical problem.

    Second, and more important, is that this reminds me of the famous story of Rav Zecharya in Gittin. He is blamed in the Gemara that due to his excessive concern about halacha, the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed. Issues must we weighed and balanced, not just ignored. In the same vein, I would criticize those who say that since it’s important that we have an army, we can ignore religious problems in the army. Thankfully, that has greatly diminished in recent years, due in large part to Rav Ronsky, former chief rabbi of Tzahal.

  11. L. Oberstein says:

    Welcome back Dovid Landesman. Your absence from CC has been felt. I think that most American yeshivish Jews do not identify too strongly with the battle going on.The evidence of this is the pitiful attendance at the Asifa. I was told that 85% of the attendees were chassidim. Without them, the busloads from Lakewoos and baltimore and far Rockaway and from some other yeshhivos of bochurim would have been a big bizyom. The chassidim can turn out at the trop of a hat if the rebbe ordrs them too. Oy veAvoi is the Torah is dependent on turnout from Satmar,whose agenda is full of that “N’word day and night.
    Hardly anyone I talk to in my sphere sees it the way the Eretz Yisroeldike Chareidim do. Nobody I speak to can understand why we can learn and go to school and then learn and earn a living but in Israel that is forbidden. I honestly think that had Yesh Atid not been so gung ho on “crimilization” there would have been no rally because that alone is what forced the hand of Rav Shteinman. One more thing, why do people keep repeating blatant sheker. Mr. “AA”, you are wrong. Netzach Yehudah in which my son and Dovid Landesman’s son served is not out to farfier yiddishe kinder, they are as frum and often frummer when they leave than when they came in.Do you not know this or is the trtuth not part of the spin that turns the Medina into every evil known to mankind.

  12. c-l,c says:

    R’ Pinchas Gruman of LA asked Ponevezer Rov zz’l about his accepting gov’t funding

    The reply: when NK came protesting the foundation of one of his buildings at Ponevezh , R’ Kahaneman was prodded “why don’t you do something about this? Why don’t you Make sure they didn’t come?” He responded “If they wouldn’t come on their own, I would pay with YESHIVAH’S money them to come! I want everyone to know that what I’m doing is only bedieved – not the right way to do things, but necessary because of the difficulty of the times.”

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe Dick-I was referring to R Herschel Schachter.

  14. cvmay says:

    It’s about submission to an authority that considers itself higher than the Torah and Halacha

    In every workplace, educational mosad, organization and medical group there is “Submission” to a leader, some elected, some appointed and some that are most experienced. In the armed forces, submission is the only path of survival. I believe it is time to stop rehashing, rewriting and rereading the historical scripts of the 1940-1960s. There is no such belief in “Koachi Votzam Yadi”, or remaking every citizen into an Israeli. That period of time is over and done with. Got to remove the battlegear and move FORWARD or as they say in IDF, “Follow me”.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with R Landesman’s view of the video in question. B”Ezras HaShem, when I recite Shalom Aleichem tonight, I intend to have in mind any and all Chayalim either in training, at home on leave, on their base or engaged in active military operations.

  16. Robert Lebovits says:

    Moshe Dick: “I did not see any hatred coming from the D/L camp and no insults, no invective, not even from the secular Jews”. I suggest you expand your field of information. Read the comments to virtually any article about Chareidim in the Jerusalem Post or other Israeli secular media and you will find descriptions of Chareidim that are beyond insulting. The terms used hearken back to the most vile anti-semitism of the pre-WW II era.
    I am dismayed that even among some writers on this forum the psak of numerous gedolei yisroel affirming the position of exclusive Torah learning over IDF service has been virtually deligitimized. It is one thing to support an alternative Torah perspective. It is quite another to deny the validity of major poskim because they challenge the current sensibility.

  17. Moshe Dick says:

    Robert Lebovitz: A little bit late but still on time. As per your Jost and other reference: sorry ,but no one has called the chareidim Aamalek, nazi, Haman, (jemach shemo) and more. They may not have depicted chareidim in a favorable light but I did not see any insults. As per your second point, pray tell me where does it say in shas, Poskim rishonim ve-acharonim, that ,as you say, “exclusive Torah learning over IDF service” is a psak din. Do you have the same psak as far as working for a living? All the sources I know tell us to work and the lav “Lo taamod al dam reiecho’ is still in the Torah.

  18. Cvmay says:

    Dear Dr. Lebovitz,
    I believe there has been and continues to be harsh rhetoric emanating from both camps without abatement. In the Charedi camps it comes from higher-ups while in the DL camps it comes from the lower-downs. But it comes and a time of mending is needed, a truce of words should go into effect.

    May a question be asked respectfully, those who are learning “exclusively” are not the main targets, what is the process for IDF enlistment for post Mesfita bochurim who are not continuing in “exclusive” learning modes? This is and has been an unanswered question. For Rav Shach, Rav Schwartzman & Rav Shmuelivitz zt”l…. there was an answer “ENLIST”

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    cvmay wrote:

    “In every workplace, educational mosad, organization and medical group there is “Submission” to a leader, some elected, some appointed and some that are most experienced. In the armed forces, submission is the only path of survival. I believe it is time to stop rehashing, rewriting and rereading the historical scripts of the 1940-1960s. There is no such belief in “Koachi Votzam Yadi”, or remaking every citizen into an Israeli. That period of time is over and done with. Got to remove the battlegear and move FORWARD or as they say in IDF, “Follow me”.”

    I agree completely-but I would add that the time of onset of the historical scripts that would be authors and revisonists in the Torah observant world begin with the rise of Zionism, and the reaction thereto.

  20. Robert Lebovits says:

    Cvmay: I don’t see the question of service by those who are not exclusive learners as “unanswered” at all. In fact, many answers have been given. Some gedolim – such as those you’ve cited – have proposed enlistment. Others have argued against it even for bochurim who aren’t committed to learning. My point is precisely that one position does NOT invalidate another. Asai l’cha rav tells us to determine for ourselves which halachic authority to follow – in all things. It does not tell us to demean or devalue the authority we choose not to follow.

  21. cvmay says:

    Mr. Lebovitz
    Most thoroughfares are two ways, vehicles go in either direction safely and defensively.
    We have not reached that point yet when it comes to halachic authority, since demeaning and devaluating is today’s norm.

    BTW the status quo laws regarding IDF deferment for bnei Torah was established many years ago and never updated since (WHY? might be an excellent question). The written rule is deferment is in place for a full-time Rabbinic student,,, (“Others have argued against it even for bochurim who aren’t committed to learning”) Arguing or disagreeing with a law does not change it unless all legal procedures are in place. I may argue against a certain speed limit on a freeway yet I can’t change it or disregard it as my own discretion.

Pin It on Pinterest