A New Dialogue in Eretz Yisroel – The Transformative Model

You may also like...

43 Responses

  1. Baruch says:

    Sorry to say, this idea is so far from reality precisely because it is based on common sense and pragmatism.

    The mindset and structure of the charedi community have been formed by the narrative of their being persecuted because of their allegiance to Torah, and they must therefore fight unrelentingly against this secular onslaught that is aimed at destroying the Jewish religion. The mere mention of negotiation, compromise, or give-and-take sounds in their ears as sacrificing their ideals and surrendering to the reshaim.

    Change will not happen until the charedim somehow realize that the rest of us are not trying to destroy Torah, and that our problem with army exemptions and public funding of private schools has nothing to do with religion.

  2. Daniel Goldman says:

    Rabbi Wolf,

    I welcome your comments. I have been involved in bridging gaps through moderated dialogue in Israeli society for many years. I have never felt more pessimistic than I do at the moment. I am not familiar with the methodology that you describe, and would be delighted to hear more. The saddest part of the current position is that there is a great deal of desire within general Israeli society for a more pragmatic approach to the relations with the Haredi community, together with a huge frustration that with every turn, anything that does not go the way of the Haredi askanim is considered the end of the world as we know it.

    There is responsibility on all sides to change the dynamic, but I see very little within the Haredi leadership prepared to genuinely play a role.

    Who are the Haredi leaders in Israel that you have identified that are interested in a truly mutually respectful dialogue?

    I am not asking anyone to agree with me, lets just start with respectful disagreement and a stop to the name calling (Amalek, Satan et al).

  3. Y. Ben-David says:

    Like many people, the writer believes this whole thing is a matter of coalition politics. If Netanyahu had made a coalition with the Haredim, it is thought that this never would have come up. WRONG. The Supreme Court has ordered the Knesset to make the situation fairer…i.e. it is not fair for one whole sector of society to demand that anyone born into it is automatically exempt from military service. Even if the Haredim join with the Left and they come to power they CAN NOT simply cancel the law. The PEOPLE want reforms on this matter and it will not go away no matter who is in power, even the Haredi parties.

  4. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Y. Ben-David: The PEOPLE want reforms on this matter and it will not go away no matter who is in power, even the Haredi parties.

    Ori: The people are supposed to be represented by the elected Knesset, not the appointed Supreme Court.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    The “official” representatives of the groups at odds here may have a greater stake in intransigency than their communities do.

  6. Ben Waxman says:

    I would hope (and maybe even advise) that the rabbanim who attend these sessions would come wearing their eye glasses.

    המבין יבין

  7. Rafael A. says:

    Binyomin, as you can see from the commentators already posted above, the problem with your approach is that here, online, the overwhelming narrative is against the Chareidi narrative. MO commentators (mainly) don’t want to acknowledge or hear the Chareidi viewpoint and as you see above, the burden for any change or compromise is on the Chareidi community. I agree that the Israeli chareidi community has been intransigent, and this approach on that basis might fail. I am not going to deny that. However, this may also not work because Yesh Atid, its supporters, Chiloni sympathizers, and large swaths of the DL community in Israel want to keep the “pedal to the medal.” They feel that because the Chareidi community poses such a threat to Judaism (many MO and DL commentators believe Chareidism is a new modern construct alien to traditional Judaism) and to the safety and financial well-being of the State of Israel (avoid IDF service and are economic parasites), they feel that all efforts, without Chareidi cooperation, are necessary both for the good of the State of Israel and the Chareidim themselves. Therefore, at this point, with the victories Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid have acheieved, I see little reason for the non-Chareidim to feel that they have to mediate this situation. When you have your foot on the other’s neck, why let up?

    That’s is why, unfortunately, your proposal will never come to fruition. At this point, I think that until the Chareidi community is molded into the image DL and Chilonim want them to be, this will be never come to pass.

  8. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    I think Baruch’s first mistake is to “blame solely the other side”. Such an attitude will not change the dialogue nor will it lead to change.

    The chareidim are far from the only ones being hardliners. It really is helpful when there are those who say the chareidim just want the rest of Israelis to die, because that is not unreasonable and hardline, is it?

  9. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Baruch: Change will not happen until the charedim somehow realize that the rest of us are not trying to destroy Torah, and that our problem with army exemptions and public funding of private schools has nothing to do with religion.

    Ori: Except that Charedi demographics are a threat to secular Israelis. IIRC, Charedim are 10% of Israel’s population but 25% of its elementary school age children. They are likely to become a majority within two generations. In a place like the US that has a “live and let live” ideology and sufficient distances to make such an ideology feasible, this wouldn’t be an issue. But that is not the culture of Israel, and arguably it can’t be Charedi culture because the Torah is communal. Secular Israelis are afraid that they’ll be told when they may or may not drive, shop, or work. They are afraid they’ll be told what they may or may not eat. Is that fear irrational?

    I don’t think there’s a way for secular Israelis to win, not without becoming the kind of country where nobody would want to live. But then again it is easy to live in Texas and give up on a country I have already left.

  10. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Sorry, I forgot to add one point. If secular Israelis see the Torah lifestyle as a threat, it is hard to believe they won’t try to destroy it.

  11. Eli B. says:

    I echo Boruch. In addition, as I posted way back, Bennett offered to discuss the issues with Rav Shteinman and come to a compromise, which Rav Shteinman rejected. I imagine if Rav Shteinman would offer, they could sit down and work out a deal.

    I would also note that the economic and religious persecution threats FROM the Charaidim are real, and until those are removed, the rest of Israeli society has to deal with that threat.

  12. Binyomin Wolf says:

    While I understand many of the points made by commenters, many of them are simply further spelling out the formidable challenges I pointed out in the article in implementing a dialogue process. Along those lines, some commenters point out the lack of willingness to engage in dialgoue on the chareidi side (Baruch, Daniel) and others point to the lack of willingness on the non-chareidi sides (Rafael, Ori, Eli). The truth is that this is the expected state of affairs at the beginning of any mediation.

    I pointed out above that both sides see the other as an exestential threat and therefore fight tooth and nail for their position. But that is not a reason why dialogue in an effective framework won’t work. That’s why it could work. Do people believe transformative mediation is only for those who are already very close to one another? It is designed for and works in situations where the parties have extreme animonsity and distrust toward one another! That’s what it’s designed for.

    The real trick, as I said in the earlier comment, is getting the parties into the door to participate at all. And that will definitely be a delicate process if we can get people with some influence on board. The key, as I said above, is to emphasize to pepole that participation does not obligate them to give up ground or concede anything at all. And it offers each side the opportunity to make themselves heard which has an upside. Each side may walk in thinking that they will not give up anything and will just try to get the other side to compromise. That’s fine. The truth is that it really does not matter. The main thing is getting people into the room and into the process.

    I can’t say whether and what compromises would or would not result from such a process, but the relationship between Jews is the key area of improvement. Even if that is all that is improved (and it almost certainly will, at least for those involved in the discussions), it will be a vital step in the right direction.

  13. Ari Heitner says:

    Baruch and Eli B: back atcha – change will not happen unless the self-identifying secular world (some of whom may wear kippot) realizes that the Haredim are not trying to sponge off of or destroy the country, and that our problems with coerced army service or second-class status of our schools do not stem from hatred or close-mindedness on our part.

    Ori Pomerantz: I wouldn’t live in Texas, it’s dangerous there – the murder rate in any of the major cities rivals third-world countries. Why not book a pilot trip and we’ll show you around our beautiful, integrated, diverse, child-and-family-friendly community here in RBS A?

    Lapid’s tactic has done amazing things for intra-Haredi unity. Sorry for the triumphalism, but we can afford to wait. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, we are pretty confident we will run the country just fine when the day comes. By that time Yair’s grandchildren will be na-nachs. I’m not sure what to do about that.

    I am not happy that with all the taxes that I pay, it only covers everyone else’s schools but not mine. But it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the tuition bill in Toronto. I don’t know what will happen when my oldest son turns 16, but right now he’s 7 and I try to teach him both the chashivus of Torah and to go say “todah” when we see soldiers and policemen. The views of the mountains are amazing. I go hiking with my kids on Friday afternoons – last time we found an ancient olive press with a mozaic floor. This country may be full of slightly crazy people; I fit right in with them and the rest of the chassidishe-litvish-anglo-israeli-working-learning crowd whose interests range from meta-mathematics to having a kumzits.

    I don’t know if Rav Shteineman refused to meet Naftali Bennett. I know Moshe Gafni and chevre worked as part of the Shaked Committee until the final decision on criminal sanctions, and I don’t know who they answer to if not R’Shteineman. I don’t have any protexia. I can’t call up Naftali Bennett. I’d be just another guy in line to meet R’Shteineman. I’ll let all of you know if that ever changes, but in the meantime I’ll try to keep in mind – and teach my kids – to make a kiddush Hashem wherever we go.

    I always try to shmooze with people from outside the neighborhood when the opportunity comes up. On Shushan Purim I was with my 7-year-old on the 417 bus back from J”m and we were sitting next to an older DL couple who said they had been living in Bet Shemesh for about 15 years. I couldn’t tell if they were surprised when I told them I have a tech startup. They were super happy to hear how much we liked Bet Shemesh, and that we had bought an apartment. They said they couldn’t figure out why everyone has to be so negative all the time.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Excellent piece! Some sort of dialogue is desperately needed to help all sectors of Israel realize that their rhetoric on these issues at the present is far from constructive and is part of a demonization of the proverbial other.

  15. Mr. Cohen says:

    Rabbi Avigdor Miller (a popular Chareidi Rabbi,
    born 1908 CE, died 2001 CE) delivered a free public lecture
    in the last year of his life, in which he taught that
    Jews should pray for the Israeli Army.

    I personally witnessed this; I was there.

    When a Jew recites Tefilat Shemoneh Esrei,
    he is permitted to add his own personal prayer requests
    in the middle of the final paragraph, which begins with
    the words Elokai Netzor Leshoni MeiRa.

    I recently began adding the prayer for the Israeli Army
    in that part. I know this is not the way it is normally
    recited, but it is permitted, and I can say it that way
    in any synagogue, any day except Shabbat or holidays.

  16. L. Oberstein says:

    Thank you for posting this intelligent proposal. I have nothing new to add. I hope some solution is found but all I can echo is “ma shelo yaaseh hasechel, yaaseh hazman”. But, who knows?

  17. Moshe Dick says:

    OriPomeranz: The demographic weapon that, very optimistically,you maintain will helph the chareidim is a chimera.The chareidi representation in the Knesset has barely changed in 65 years.(agudah has had 5 to 7 members since !948)Like the so-called Arab demographic danger that so scares the left it does not happen. The reason is simple : as they become responsible adults, chareidim start to act differently and ,secretly,leave their camp and vote in their own interest,namely forge other parties.

  18. Surie Ackerman says:

    Ori: “I don’t think there’s a way for secular Israelis to win, not without becoming the kind of country where nobody would want to live”

    Time and time again, the “demographic threat” posed by the Charedim in Israel is presented as if it’s some kind of decree from Heaven. The same complaints arise when criteria for government benefits that include being married and having children are said to be “biased” toward Charedim.

    Neither is the case, of course. It reflects a conscious choice by one sector of the population to make bringing more Jews into the world a priority, while other sectors have made other choices based on other priorities. (There are, naturally, exceptions.)

    If we still have two generations before Charedim become a majority, then there is indeed a way for secular Israelis to “combat” this “threat.” But I don’t see any secular leaders calling to fight that particular battle.

  19. Samuel Svarc says:

    Moshe Dick: “The demographic weapon that, very optimistically,you maintain will helph the chareidim is a chimera.The chareidi representation in the Knesset has barely changed in 65 years.(agudah has had 5 to 7 members since !948)Like the so-called Arab demographic danger that so scares the left it does not happen. The reason is simple : as they become responsible adults, chareidim start to act differently and ,secretly,leave their camp and vote in their own interest,namely forge other parties.”

    Unlike yourself, my crystal ball shattered yesterday when I took it out for some spring cleaning. I also have not crunched the numbers to see if the massive influx in the 90’s of around one million people from the former USSR might have pushed down the percentage of chareidim.

    Based on your vociferous opinion it seems you have. Care to enlighten us?

  20. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I call on the secular public to have lots of kids and educate them thoughtfully according to their concept of Jewish Israeli identity, to become productive members of society. The hareidi world knows what to do and they will do it when they are gently pressured to do so. For the long run I am optimistic.

  21. Baruch says:

    The secular side (Lapid) has been willing to compromise, and actually has compromised. Anyone who’s read the details of the draft law know that it is very far from making the touted שוויון (equality). (In fact, I think Lapid has created the worst of all worlds: he did not solve the inequality issue, and he made the charedim feel like they’re under attack. Now nobody’s happy.)

    So yes, as much as it pains me to say it, the intransigence is squarely with the charedim. And it is due to the fact that they are stuck in the mindset that the rest of the country is on an Antiochus-like crusade to eliminate the Jewish religion, and thus they are the Maccabees of today heroically defending the Torah at all costs. This is simply not true. Yair Lapid, though he is not somebody I particularly admire, does not care that I (an Israeli) go to shul three times a day, learn and teach Torah, and make Torah and mitzvos the center of my life. He might not respect it, but he’s not out to stop me from living this way. He just wants to change the current situation whereby religious choices are awarded with privileges that are not awarded to those who make other choices. Personally I feel the way Lapid has gone about this whole thing is terribly wrong, but I don’t possibly see how he is out to destroy Torah.

    Mediation only works when both sides are sincerely interested in conciliation. From what I can tell reading both secular and charedi media and blogs, I see such interest only on the secular side. I don’t see it on the charedi side because they are convinced that they need to defend against an attack which is not being made.

  22. Eli B. says:

    Ari Heitner – exactly. There is no trust. That is why there needs to be a serious discussion betweeen the decision-makers of both sides (Rav Shteinman, Rav Aurbach & the Chassidic Rebbes on one side, and Lapid, Bennett, Bibi, etc. on the other) and not let them out until they come up with a solution that makes no one happy, but both sides can live with. Bennett tried to have the conversation, and would probably be willing to do so. The hard part (as Rabbi Wolf points out) is getting Rav Shteinman & Rav Aurbach personally to the table.

    Personally, I think a solution is that anyone who wants to not be drafted can do so, but loses their (and their future children’s) citizenship (and all benefits that go with it, including Kupat Cholim), but gets a “green card”. That fits the laws on the books (and could withstand the Supreme Court, unlike the current bill), does not involve criminal sanctions, allows Charaidim to work & pay taxes (with a work permit), and also allows them not to support the entity of the state (which is why even when the Gimmel Charaidim were in the government, they were always “deputy ministers”). The children could opt into the draft and thereby become citizens when they are older.

    P.S. (relevant to the discussion): At what age does your son’s school stop teaching anything other than Limudei Kodesh?

  23. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Surie Ackerman: If we still have two generations before Charedim become a majority, then there is indeed a way for secular Israelis to “combat” this “threat.” But I don’t see any secular leaders calling to fight that particular battle.

    Ori: Secular leaders don’t have that kind of authority or even influence. They can speak about raising large families, but nobody would take them seriously on something this personal. It is not a decree from Heaven, but it is the collective choice of secular Israelis.

  24. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Binyomin Wolf: The real trick, as I said in the earlier comment, is getting the parties into the door to participate at all.

    Ori: This is part of it. Another part is who are the participants. If Yair Lapid, for example, were to participate in such a dialogue would it mean that the people who voted for Yesh Atid would accept a different opinion? Or would they vote for somebody else to take Yair Lapid’s place?

  25. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Ari Heitner: I wouldn’t live in Texas, it’s dangerous there – the murder rate in any of the major cities rivals third-world countries. Why not book a pilot trip and we’ll show you around our beautiful, integrated, diverse, child-and-family-friendly community here in RBS A?

    Ori: Thank you, but I lived in Israel for 24 years. I didn’t appreciate being forced into the IDF at 18, and I left the country as soon as I could do so legally (meaning I was advanced enough in my career to get a Visa to the US). I didn’t want my children to be subject to conscription then, and now that I’ve had them I want it even less. I want them to be free people at 18.

    I agree there are dangerous places in the major cities. But if you live in the suburbs (which I have to do anyway, with four kids that take a lot of space) that isn’t much of an issue.

  26. Moshe Dick says:

    Ari Heitner: yup, you sure sound very triumphalist and there is the rub, you sound like it but, in reality, you are lonly masking the fear and weakness of the chareidi world. your very optimistic will not happen. For you to say that- when the time comes- the chareidim will be able to run the state is plain delusional. Have you been to Bnai Braq recently? You say that you can afford to wait a generation or two- and thereby continue to let tens of thousands of families wallow in poverty because their leaders refuse to let them live a normal life, a life, incidentally, that was the norm for all of outr history? It ain’t gonna happen and change is inevitable.

  27. A simple Jew says:

    I have some questions for the commentators: how many here with ta’anos on the chareidi leadership have any connection with chareidi leaders beyond what they read about in a newspaper or online? Does anybody honestly think all dialogue between the two sides is reported? How do so many ntelligent people adopt anti-chareidi/anti secular opinions regarding these issues based on at best second hand information. No offense, but most comments are about as sophisticated as a debate regarding whether an alleged convict is guilty or not after hearing a news report on CNN. It is one’s democratic right to begrudge the chareidi tzibur. But for those of us who are loyal to Torah (regardless head covering/s), do you honestly believe the foremost leaders in the Chareidi community are totally unreasonable? Is it necessarily the case that you are the arbiter of reasonability? If you do think (the former, or the latter), are you unaware that a loyal and G-d fearing Jew has a biblical obligation to judge favorably an ostensibly sincere Jew? This obligation is amplified by someone who is acknowledged to be a Talmid Chochom. If you hold that this certainly doesn’t apply to a Chareidi Jew/Rav, that certainly is quite revealing. Do you honestly think the Chareidi leadership is so full of hate that they won’t talk to the leadership of the opposing camp? If you do,ou have what to repent for.
    In terms of name calling, if you look around, there is at least as much, perhaps more refined, more likely culturally different name calling coming from those opposing the chareidim. Unfortunately, plenty is going in both dierections and it is far from a one way street.
    In terms of chareidim developing into intelligent adults (hostility notwithstanding): the country grew proportionately too. Many chareidim don’t vote. Most of the more kanoyishe ones don’t vote. Thankfully, Chareidim don’t become intelligent adults (by your standard). The reason the numbers of mandates remain stable is due to periods of high immigration such as from the former USSR. as time marches on, we will see greater representation in the knesset BE”H.
    It is very nice to judge Naftali Bennett favorably, but how do you know it was Rav Shteinmann causing all the trouble. This certainly appears to be a problematic stance regarding judging favorably. Do those assessing the current reality have a greater connection to the one vast swaths of ostensibly Torah-loyal JEws consider to be the Gadol HAdor have an inside scoop the rest of us don’t know about? Perhaps. Perhaps their inside scoop emerges negius, an inobjective (to be polite) p’nimius.
    I didn’t comment to criticize anyone. I said nothing against lapid, bennet or anyone else. If I implied otherwise it was not by intent (even if done through negligence) and I apologize for it. My point is simple. If it’s not your fight, and you don’t know who is right, or if you have no justification for having an opinion, recognize that by opining against Talmidei chachomim, casting millions of Torah-loyal Jews in a nasty light, puts you in a more than halachically questionable and possibly morally bad spotlight. This applies which ever side you may have an inclination towards. Most of us are equally ignorant and should not take stands regarding issues we don’t understand, in thi case the chareidi position, as the secular position is quite clear.
    Note: this does not mean not attending rallies, tefillos etc… it just means not taking positions with unthought-of implications. It does include not making nasty and forbidden comments when they are not likely to be of practical necessity.

  28. lacosta says:

    >>>>the Haredim are not trying to sponge off of or destroy the country, and that our problems with coerced army service or second-class status of our schools do not stem from hatred or close-mindedness on our part.

    reb ari’s claims need to be reacted to individually.

    1] as long as the perception of haredi society is non-working poverty , ‘sponge off’ will be the perception many will assume

    2] secular israel certainly doesnt see haredi society as live-and-let-live: if nothing else, areivus mandates overturning OTD [ hiloni, DL, etc] life

    3] regardless of ‘problems’ with army life , hiloni society is not willing to give a free pass on this ; haredi desire to control its education establishment forces the government to not invest in that which it can’t control

    many issues could be worked out— but not all of Israel is willing to listen to hareilim say ‘give us another 100 yrs and we’ll work this out…’

  29. A simple Jew says:

    A comment to L Oberstein’s interesting remark.
    There is one basic distinction to when the change is orchestrated by “seichel” or zman. Seichel implies man-made orchestration, which means people determining what makes sense and acting upon it. This could be ultimately good or ultimately not so good. When zman is the catalyst for change, it implies times require certain actions, but had these been taken earlier, it may have been better. It should be noted that forethought is rarely easily recognizable as even after the fact, it is often not clear what would have been best. Even Rabban Yochanan Ben Zacai questioned his decision afterwards. He certainly acted with forethought. He was undoubtably extremely wise. Nertheless, despite all those things he was not sure of his actions.
    Moshol: anyone can love Torah, but if you’re out of flour, practical realities require a means of acquiring more flour. In other words, zman-based changes come from an internal/objective recognition of necessity, “seichel” based change is a result of subjective/presumed forethought.

    The following is not an attack on anyone, merely a reason to be highly suspicious objectively of the agenda of Yesh Atid:

    How does a person know if the one suggesting the “seichel approach” is objectively using forethought, or alternatively using his seichel to cunningly pounce upon his enemy (even if ultimately the pouncer believes it is to the benefit of the targeted population, but this is how each party perceives it practically)?
    There is one method of determing this with almost 100% accuracy (perhaps a slight exxaggeration). Who stands to benefit, and who to lose? If the one I am acting against (I perceive to be the ultimate loser if I win (ie my objective was achieved and his defeated, regardless of ultimate benefits)) and my actions are against him for my perceived benefit, it is very likely that my assessmentof what is good for him is not truly objective seichel, but simply an attack with cunning. It is also quite remarkable for me to arrogate to myself the ability to determine against your will what is goodfor you, especially when it is my agenda that will be achieved.
    I am purposely avoiding involvement with specific claims in the current Chareidi-everyone else debate. When Chareidim are in the red, they too go to work and make programs to provide practical training. The question when all is said and done is who will determine when the “zman” happens? Will it be practical necesity, or will their be new laws created to force their hand. To put it slightly more cynically, who will set the priorities for the Chareidi tzibbur, Charedim or those who perceive their own benefit from the defeat of the Chareidi agenda?
    I also avoided the army debate as that is a totally separate discussion.

  30. L. Oberstein says:

    I sent this to my son in law in Ramat beit Shemesh and asked if it could work.This is our exchange on this issue,which I think sheds some light.
    My son in law in Israel:
    “I do not know how it can work, but in my opinion, it is the only thing that can work. Dropping the gloves and going to war will not bring any solutions and will just escalate the rift that stands between the sides. There is only this way- without any of the legal jargon. It must be a consensual dialogue and both sides must compromise.”

    My question to him:
    Is there are leading Torah personality who has the authority and the strength to get both sides to sit down and talk it out? Or, are we hobbled by a lack of Gedolim who are young enough (under 80) and strong enough to take a stand? Rav Shteinmann is 100 years old and who is on his side enough that he can take a stand. He was pushed into the extreme camp now and who is left that will speak out loud?
    His answer:”Ultimately, I believe this will happen, because there is no other way and the current situation is not sustainable on each side. How and when remains to be seen. Personally, I agree that the chareidim, who represent Torah and HKBH should be the ones to show themselves as willing to talk and negotiate sustainable resolutions. But politics corrupts the situation.
    As I said earlier, we have much to be proud about here in EY, but also much to cry over. This issue and the way it’s being dealt with is from the latter. “

  31. Moshe Dick says:

    “A Simple jew’ has written two very thoughtful entries, so let me answer many of his questions with two stories-both absolutely true and , as you will see, very indicative how far the present chareidim have drifted from its moors and have turned their back to reality.
    In the late nineteen fifties, the first so-called “nachal chareidi” was formed- it was formed by the wishnitzer rebbe, R”Chaim Meir Hager zz’l. His purpose was simple: he thought that many of his bochurim should go to work (more on this later) and, as the law required them to do army service first, he proposed the nachal chareidi. Then, all heck broke out,objections coming from the litvishe roshei yeshiva. How can you leave the yeshivos? isn’t limud hatorah more important? etc,etc. The nachal chareidi was dissolved under that heavy pressure and the bochurim actually ended up in kibbutz chofetz chaim,then under Poalei Agudah, which was much more “zionist’ than the Agudah.
    R” Chaim Meir zz’l always lamented this episode, because he felt, rightly so, that not everyone is suited for yeshivo life and, as in Europe, the majority should go to work. If this emtailed army service (mainly milu-im) so be it. Unfortunately, the pressure from other chareidim was too difficult to resist and so, a laudable effort came to naught.
    The other story is from the Satmarer rebbe, R”Yoilish zz’l, not exactly a zionist. Yet, for years, he was totally against kollel life.He thought, rightly so, that fathers should go to work to feed their families and kollel life was only for a few selected ones. He even told bochurim to go to work. Again, unfortunately, the pressure from other chareidi leaders (mainly litvishe roshei yeshiva) became intense and he, too , gave in to pressure and now, of course, a large part of Satmar lives on gov’t handouts.
    What you can learn from these two,quite different stories, is that even the biggest “Gedolim” do give in to pressure from others. Even Rav Shteineman shelita has been physically attacked by kano-im. Unfortunately, the ‘street” often becomes extreme and the “Gedolim’ cannot stand firm against it.
    So, the hostility to chareidi lifestyle is not against the gedolim but against the mindless kano-im that seem to drive the debate, gedolim nothwithstanding.
    By the way ,the above stories are absolutely true and you can check them out.

  32. Ari Heitner says:

    Moshe Dick: I like your stories. When you visit Bnei Brak, don’t forget to also visit Beitar.

    Rabbi Oberstein: I sincerely hope both you and your son-in-law are right.

    Lacosta: The issues you mention are very real. More than that – Israel’s secular culture has socialist origins. You could say everyone (perhaps subconsciously) thinks we are living on a kibbutz, and there’s no greater sin than not pulling your weight. The accusation of “parasitism” against lomdei Torah is an old and storied one. From this perspective, choosing to live at a subsistence level, with the wife working and the husband learning, isn’t a morally valid lifestyle, even if the family’s income is enough to get by.

  33. ben dov says:

    Mediation requires a 3rd party trusted by both sides. I do not recall anywhere in this article explaining why this is a realistic prospect.

  34. Binyomin Wolf says:

    L. Oberstein,

    Very interesting exchange with your son. I’m to hear the basic idea seems like the only possible solution to him. And I agree (obviously).

    In terms of the “legal jargon,” we have to have some way of explaining the process, which is structured in a specific way to address the realities of how people behave in conflict.

    The truth is that without a mediator using a method like this, some people have less of a chance of coming to understand one another better in the course of the dialogue because things often turn into simple arguments with each side just talking past the other. In an actual session, there’s no “legal jargon” and the participants themselves define the language, goals, and outcomes of the process. But the the mediator’s role in “reflecting, summarizing, and checking in” is profoundly effective when it comes to causing the parties (even when they’re not intentionally trying to do this) to hear what the other is saying because they feel like they are being clearly understood, at least by the mediator (at the beginning).

  35. A simple Jew says:

    Moshe: your two entries serving as a basis or proof of any kind for anyone to formulate any opinion is exactly the problem I wish to address.
    First of all, assuming the details of your stories are true (which you should know, at least the second one is not).
    Response to the first story
    1) The Chareidi world is composed of many different groups with very different shitos on things. Thankfully, there is however a working relationship between the varying groups. If The Rebbe decided against taking a position in favor of maintaining this degree of unity, that is part and parcel of all unions.
    2) You noted an allegedly negative consequence of the failure of the original nachal chareidi. You can search the length and breadth of planet earth from the first Rosh Hashono till today, and you will not find a single decision which was 100% positive and had no negative consequences. In life we make decisions because the net gain is greater than the loss. There is always a loss. It could be the Rebbe felt the loss was greater than the gain. The likelihood is his colleagues disagreed. Therefore, you have absolutey no proof from thiss story to your point, other than to show there are disagreements in the Chareidi world.
    3) The Chassidim have split from the Litvishe Gedolim before, and they can do their own business if they want. If he did not this too is indicative.
    4) Second hand stories (at best) with such limited information indicate nothing other than the negius of the story teller. Every story has two sides. In beis din the majority is followed. It would appear even if the Rebbe lamented it afterwards, the more reasonable thing is to follow the majority.

    Response to story #2
    1) If you go to most Chassidishe communities outside Eretz Yisroel today, I’m pretty sure they don’t pursue kollel lifestyle as is done in Yeshivishe circles. The vast majority of them work as far as I know, which may be nothing, but it is what I’ve been told by people I assume know what they are talking about.
    2) Regarding government handouts: Chassidishe lifestyles I don’t know much about, but trust me, Chassidim taking government hadouts has absolutely nothing to do with Litvishe Roshei Yeshiva, this I know. America didn’t always have handouts, once they did, everyone who qualified took them, and rightly so.
    Moshol: imagine family X has a terribly ill child R”L who needs a lot of care. Those with experience know insurance will provide nursing care, but it can often be very difficult to find a good nurse. So the one of the pparents stops working to take care of the child. But how will the y pay the bills? In such a case, a responsible person takes government handouts, even if there are ways to avoid it.
    Note: they can survive, make do etc… without the handouts, but I think most people would agree under the circumstances it is justified. Why though is it justified? What is the basis for instituting handouts? IT is to enable people to prioritize for themselves what they deem to be more important and to relieve some of the pressures that would otherwise prevent people from doing so.
    How do we know this is true? Any time something is instituted on a public level, it targets the entire public, and the conditions for qualifying determine if it is targeting you. If they allow Kollel students to qualify, there is nothig wrong with benefitting from the system in place.
    Therefore, family X is very happy to receive handouts in order to be able to prioritize helping their ill child through this difficult period. And other people/communities prioritize other things. You may disagree with their priorities, but that only shows that you value other things more than they do, who says your values are correct? We can argue the Torah angle of it, sonei matanos yichieh and many ma’amarei chazal, but I can simply send you to any of the outstanding gedolim to answer you instead of making an educated guess which may be wrong. I’m not a Talmid chochom, I don’t argue on l’ma’aseh shailos, I ask my Rov. Obviously though, the gedolim advocating this approach disagree with your values.

    3) Chareidim pay taxes too,lots of taxes, supporters of chareidim pay lots of taxes. There is no reason to avoid government benefits in a socialist/quasi-socialist society which charges high tax rates. Don’t for every non-Jew to learn he’s no more tha a sophisticated ape. LEt JEws keep some of our money to teach that Odom Harishon was created as a tzelem Elokim.

    Moreover, ein hanidon domeh l’ra’ayoh, your “proof stories” certainly don’t prove that gedolim give in to pressures. The Satmar one is simply wrong. The first one is also too vague and if anything it shows a egree of achdus in at least the Chareisidhe velt. Boruch Hashem!

    NExt, Moshe, I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, well-meaning etc… but you should be ashamed of yourself (as should anyone who thinks like you). You should know something, but you have leveled (albeit unintentionally) an accusation at the gedolei Yisroel far more cunning and cruel than anything the YATED has ever written about zionist Rabbis.
    You have essentially argued that gedolim lead their kehillos on the most important issues based on personal considerations, naively believing every kanoi in their daled amos. Although with words you refer to them as gedolim, your attitude and the meaning of your words declare them to be corrupt, incompetent, cowardly, even somewhat foolish, gullible. But at least I write their names with honorifics.
    And all this is declared based on preconceived notions, negios, absolutely no first hand experience with gedolim or even first rate, (even 2nd rate?) Chareidi Talmidei Chachomim.
    And from your own proof will be your refutation (v’nahafoch hu). Rav Shteinmann has been physically attacked. Are you accusing him of leading out of fear lest someone else go after him? Are you questioning whether his directives are honest, upright etc… due to the immense pressure on him?
    Whatever pressure Litvishe Roshei Yeshiva may have ever placed on Satmar, there has been at least (without exxaggeration) 1000x more pressure from zionists on them, and others regarding other issues. They didn’t budge.

    Moshe, in short, I have no doubt everyone means well. But you, and everyone else including me must realize we cannot have shitos based on stories, we cannot accuse Talmidei chachomim of the most serious breach of trust, sending people to a life of phsical hardship and poverty in kollel due to personal considerations, and in fact, even doing so is I think a severe violation of numerous mitzvos and a tremendous chilul Hashem far beyond anything almost imaginable.

  36. Steve Brizel says:

    The issues that need to be addressed with the most urgency are the ratecheting down of the rhetorical excesses on all sides and the need to deal with the Kanoim in all camps and their excesses.

  37. Moshe Dick says:

    To “A simple jew”: in your first two comments, you said that you did not want to criticize anyone and you do not want to attack anyone. Well, you have changed that approach in spades in your answer to my comment, basically attacking my beliefs and my opinions. I can respond to your details some other time but I will tell you that we do differ very much in the approach to “gedolim”. I have respect for every one of them but I will clearly say that they do buckle under pressure and that, yes, they do have the same negyos that we have. I do not think they are infallible and yes, even they can make mistakes. This does not take away their “gadlus’ from them or even their holiness, but our tradition does not believe in infallibilty. Gedoolim make mistakes and do not necessarily stand up to all pressures.

  38. binyamin says:

    may you be succesful in your endeavors!

    rabbi alderstein – in his article “are they all r’shoim?” reported on a meeting between a representative of the israeli government. it is telling that he was willing to travel halfway around the word trying to establish a dialogue with someone in the harei world – and that he needed to travel so far to find someone to talk to

    another point – i get the impression that in the overall scheme of things – us english speakers are low in the hierarchy – and even if there are members of our community willing to engage in dialogue – dailogue can only be meaningful if it is done by the leaders of the indigenous chareidi leadership

  39. Binyomin Wolf says:

    Ben Dov,

    Certainly a mediator should be someone trusted on both sides. But the identity of the actual mediator should not pose one of the major problems. As I’ve said and I’m sure is self-evdient to most people, the hard part is getting the parties to the table. The particular identity of the mediator is also less relevant here because, as I explained in the article, this mediation model is different from others and the mediator practicing this method does not direct the process or interject his own perspective. If he did so, it would be a complete failure of the method itself. So the important thing for the mediator is having someone who has practiced transformative mediation (and speaks Hebrew fluently). He basically acts as a clear vessel. Someone who hasn’t taken a side on one side or the other is probably a good idea in terms of getting the sides to the table, but because his perspective, if any, plays no role, it’s not a key factor.

    Steve,

    Agreed! But we can see that many people can see nothing but malice on the other side. They therefore see no legitigage reason to ratchet down their strident and unproductive language, though it just pushes actual understanding further away. Participation in this kind of dialogue would go a long way toward addressing the attitude that the other side is pure evil, which is the attitude that gives rise to that kind of language.

    Binyamin,

    Amen! IY”H, we should have more people like Rabbi Adlerstein! I agree that we English speakers are not the ones who need to participate in the dialgue and that the “indigenous chareidi leadership” and those in the non-chareidi camps are the ones who would need to participate for this to make any difference in the horrible dischord in Klal Yisroel right now. As I said in the article, that’s why we need someone trusted on the chareidi side like Rabbi Grylak or maybe Rabbi Adlerstein to get that side to the table. We’d obviously need to approach key players in the non-chareidi constituencies as well.

    -Binyomin Wolf

  40. Steve Brizel says:

    R Wolf wrote in relevant part:

    “Finally, the chareidi community sees itself as the bearers of the Torah in Eretz Yisroel. In that position, especially where participating in transformative mediation does not inherently involve any practical concessions, we should have the confidence to be the ones to take the high ground by making overtures to start a substantive conversation to see where it leads”

    This presumes that only the Charedim are “the bearers of the Torah in Eretz Yisroel.” Any discussion or mediation rooted discussion that does not have the element of hakaras hatov for the contributions of the other, but rather works from ideologically ingrained premises that ignore the contributions of both the Charedi and RZ worlds to Harbatzas Torah is doomed to failure.

  41. Binyomin Wolf says:

    Steve,

    Thanks for your comment. This article was written on a blog which generally comes from a chareidi perspective. It would be couched in different terms if it were speaking to people coming from a different perspective. Given that target audience, it’s hard to convince someone to try a new idea if one makes changing their preconceptions a precondition to participation (alliteration unintentional).

    Mutual appreciation and hakaras hatov are key, of couse, in my view. But you’re making a mistake to think that the sides must already be close together or have a certain basic appreciation for the other’s perspective in order for it to work. The structure of transformative mediation is such that it usually brings out that type of appreciation through and because of participation in the process. As I said in an earlier comment, the fact that there is such antipathy by one or both sides is not a reason why the process wouldn’t work. It’s a reason why it *would* work. That’s exactly the problem and situation it’s designed to address.

    Kol tuv, Binyomin Wolf

  42. Akiva says:

    Defense Minister Boogy Ya’alon described Secretary of State Kerry’s attempts at transformative mediation between the Israelis and the Palestinians as “obsessive” and “messianic”, the Washington Post deputy editor, Jackson Diehl, was less kind in his recent editorializing the “transformative mediation” ideas of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, he used the word, “delusional”

    Perhaps this dialogue too, has a dose of both obsession and delusion.

    Obsessing … on the ‘charedi’ problem and

    Delusions … that the hysterical cries of TL and the secular media are actually reflective of the ‘not charedi Israeli public’s feelings and attitudes. Anecdotal evidence seems to contradict that premise.

    Few rationalists dispute that the PLO and Hamas have any interest in self determination or a state of their own. They only wanted the land from river to sea, to be ‘Judenrien.’

    Similarly, the Israeli secular media and the rabidly anti charedi politicians never had an agenda to address the basic needs of the pluralistic Israeli society. Say the cost of housing and cottage cheese.

    It has always been about preserving their political power. Initially to further their ‘Social Zionism’ goals and now to hang on to the last thread of ‘Post Zionism’ values, whatever they may be.

    Rather than pontificate on what the charedim ‘need to do’ perhaps more would be gained for all Israeli society, if the conversation addressed the real inequities and disparities that result from the abuse of power and overt racism that is so dominant in Israeli politics and the secular media.

    For instance, the preponderance of openly religious soldiers in the elite units of the Army contrasted with the ‘glass ceiling’ preventing ‘kipa wearing’ army careerists from being promoted to the upper echelons of the military hierarchy. Where is the outrage and call for transformative mediation?

    The overt and blatant racism in the government employment policies that deny opportunity to charedim and result in the most recent outrage of the treasury department having 300 new ‘reviewer’ positions to fill, over 500 qualified degreed charedi applicants, yet not one of them was hired. Affirmative action policies for Arabs mandating at least 6% be hired from that sector were also ignored. Where is the outrage and call for transformative mediation?

    And what about the discrimination against women in the army, baring them form positions of leadership and restricting them to solely subservient roles and functions. Where is the outrage and call for transformative mediation?

    Pay disparities in the workforce between genders, women generally get paid 30 to 40% less than men. Where is the outrage and call for transformative mediation?

    Where is the discussion on these examples of unequal “sharing of the burden.”

    So, why dear fellow bloggers, are we falling into that same trap of obsessing on the charedim, who for the most part just want to be left alone and not forced to do stuff that is anathema to their values.

    Why can’t the charedim get the same consideration and respect that the ‘same gender relationship promoters’ are granted?

    One final point, can anyone do the Israeli Government a favor and define “Charedi”? As of now without a definition, the law is meaningless, who are we going to throw in jail?

  43. Binyomin Wolf says:

    Reb Akiva,

    The last 3/4 of your comment is beyond the scope of that which is relevant in the oringal post. But the first 1/4 of your comment makes it apparant that you did not pay attention either to the nature of Kerry’s efforts or to what transformative mediation is, even as described in my brief article. I encourage you to reread the article and news reports about how Kerry has been pushing one or both sides in order to correct your error.

    Kol tuv,

    Binyomin Wolf

Pin It on Pinterest