Incitement on Memorial Day

Journalist Amnon Levi speaks to Yaron Dekel concerning incitement against the Charedi community due to their failure to stand during the alarm on Yom HaZikaron:

YD: Welcome to the journalist Amnon Levi.

AL: Shalom Yaron.

YD: Let’s talk about one sector that is always portrayed in TV as one who does not respect the siren, and that is the Charedi sector.

AL: Yes, the truth is that for many years I have wanted to talk about this, and even to speak sharply, because in my eyes this is an example of ugly, blunt incitement against the charedim with this topic.

YD: Why?

AL: You see, in truth every year they take photos of the charedim in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem that are not standing at the time of the siren on the Memorial Day for the IDF casualties.

This is ugly. Why? Because, first of all, it’s not at random that they select Memorial Day as the day to take pictures of them there. They also do not stand during the siren on Holocaust Remembrance Day that occurs exactly a week before! Last week as well, during the siren on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the charedim didn’t stand.

The more “Orthodox” charedim, let’s say – and by the way there are parts of the charedim that do stand during the siren – to the vast majority of them, the siren is very difficult to them, and they don’t stand on Holocaust Remembrance Day either.

You are saying that Holocaust Remembrance Day – this is not the casualties of the IDF that they are accused of alienating – this is their father and their mother, entire chassidic groups were consumed in the Holocaust, so you cannot say that the charedim have no interest in the Holocaust!

So perhaps the reason is not one of respect or remembrance, and what there is here is incitement.

YD: Incitement of who? Of the secular community against the charedim?

AL: Look, there is a secularist coercion here. You know, they talk so much about…

YD: What about respecting our feelings, us the secular people that do stand?

AL: Let’s talk about this for a moment, ok? I just want to say one thing. We the secular people love to say so many times that there is a religious coercion, and here is a clear case of secularist coercion.

Because if a religious Jew, charedi Jew, in all the ways of his life wants to separate himself from the ways of the nations and to go on his way, which is according to the code of the Halacha and Jewish way of behaving – for a religious Jew, to respect the dead is done by saying Kaddish for them, saying Kel Maaleh Rachamim for them, there is a very clear code of behavior.

Alarms, flowers, a bouqet with a black bow, this is not part of their code.

YD: 100%, and what about respect for the majority of secular people who respect, or other religious people who respect, the IDF casualties with a moment of silence?

AL: Come let me ask you: imagine that tomorrow, Shas becomes the ruling party.

YD: Yes…

AL: Or another charedi party, even more extreme, and it says, we want to respect the memory of IDF casualties – but in our way! Therefore at 11:00 am on Memorial Day, there is no moment of silence siren,

YD: But?

AL: Everybody, including you, the secular Yaron Dekel, is obligated to come to the synagogue to say Kaddish in memory of the fallen.

YD: Then we would say no, this doesn’t even come to mind!

AL: This is exactly the point. This is exactly the point, Yaron! We demand too much of them. Why shouldn’t we respect [their way]? You know they too have casualties, they too have dead. Why wouldn’t each and every one respect the dead in his way? This has no connection whatsoever to disrespect of the memory of the fallen soldiers. It is ugly to say this. It is incitement.

Because we know it! Everyone that is even a little familiar with the ways of charedi society knows it! This has no connection whatsoever to respect of the dead.

YD: I must say that I don’t remember hearing such things, especially not from someone who is secular. These are things that you would usually hear from charedi spokespeople, but we never heard them from a secular journalist.

AL: See, you need to know the charedim a little bit to understand, truly just a little, that this is not the issue. In the last few years, a patriotic national wave has flooded the charedim, in a way that their rabbis perceive a threat. The whole issue of saying it’s alienation against the dead, and they are not serving in the army at all, so this is why they don’t care about those who died… this is so low, this is so crooked, this is so…

YD: Is there no truth in it?

AL: There is no truth in it, but there is another one truth in it, a very big one, our lack of tolerance by us. You know I see it during the siren you mainly…

YD: And also in the intolerance of charedim towards eating Chametz on Passover, so this is reciprocal, it’s not one-sided.

AL: 100%, 100%. But I say during the siren I stand and think about myself and my friends. I’m not glancing to the side to see who is not standing.

YD: Amnon Levi.

Thanks to Tzippy Yarom for her translation of this video.

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69 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    It is one thing to fault those chareidim who refuse to serve in the Israeli Army. On that issue, I am almost completely on the side of the non-Chareidim. But it is quite another thing to pick on the Chareidim for not acknowledging the Holocaust in the way that secular Israelis do. In a society like Israel that at least claims to be a democracy, each Jew should have the freedom to decide how much they want to display their connections with their fellow Jews. To force everybody to bow to a single will like that, is a form of totalitarianism, which has no place in a country like Israel.

  2. Baruch says:

    I think the word ‘incitement’ is way too harsh and is used way too freely in contemporary Israeli discourse in general, but I agree that the kvetching about the charedim not standing silently during the siren is blown out of proportion and just silly. Besides, my wife was in a supermarket in a charedi neighborhood during the Yom Hazikaron siren a few years back and the people DID stop and stand silently. So the whole thing is just absurd.

    That being said – let’s remember the Gemara in Yoma that the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem requires talmidei chachamim to conduct themselves extra carefully, such as not buying on credit, which can give a bad impression. People who claim to represent a higher religious standard will be held to a higher standard. This is not something to complain about. Our reaction should not be pointing about how bad the secular media is for looking for dirt about charedim. Our reaction should be to eliminate as much dirt as we can so they won’t find anything when they dig

  3. Menachem Lipkin says:

    The Memorial day vs. Holocaust day distinction is a ridiculous red herring. Really? It’s “better” that some don’t respect the siren on holocaust day? The intentional disrespect is vile on either day. Society expects all sorts of trivial behaviors from us that don’t force us to violate our religious or other beliefs. We accede because we instinctively understand that these things are part and parcel of allowing society to function with a modicum of civility. IMO, it’s really just crass immaturity that causes people to be “davka” on this issue.

    And the Kaddish example is simply absurd. Do you know the difference between passive and active? There is a world of difference between showing respect by doing nothing and forcing someone to say a prayer. I assure you, and I’ve seen it, that if there’s a moment of silence called for at a baseball game in the US, everyone, including the frumest of frum Jews respect that request. Now imagine, if the announcer instead of calling for a moment of silence asked the crowd to recite a prayer to J in unison. See the difference?

  4. L. Oberstein says:

    This is interesting. I guess that everything in Israel has to be politicized and become part of a kulturkampf. In the USA, we don’t view such actions as standing for a moment of silence as an attack on our religious freedom. Of course, the people who protested Egged’s listing the Sefiras haOmer count are also closed to diversity in the public arena. Some Gedolim allow a man to shake a woman’s hand if she extends it and it is the normal way of greeting and has no non tzniyusdikeh intent. Others make it a point of honor to refuse to shake a woman’s hand ,not to accomadate to the zeitgeis. My opinion is that if the whole country has a practice to stand still and contemplate , why not be a part of the country?Why philosiphize the issue, just stand still for a moment. Jews in Israel have to learn to get along and appreciate one another and not always see an attack in every little thing.

  5. Ben Waxman says:

    I would suggest that you (and Tzippy Yarom) are beating the proverbial beaten horse.

    From Arutz Sheva:

    The Israeli media was surprisingly quiet this year regarding its annual pastime of seeking out and documenting hareidim holding barbecues at Jerusalem’s Sacher Park while the country mourns on Holocaust Memorial Day.

    Aside from one story about a group of roughly 100 students from a Jerusalem hareidi yeshiva being caught holding a barbecue in Beit Shean Sunday night as Holocaust Memorial Day began, right beside a memorial to Holocaust victims and fallen IDF soldiers, a noted lack of such stories characterized the news.

    [This is a blessing, but no, you have completely missed what Amnon Levi was saying. In all cases the focus has been upon Yom HaZikaron, which has not yet arrived. — YM]

  6. Doron Beckerman says:


    I don’t at all like the idea of not standing still in public when the siren goes off. But can you explain why this seems to bother you so much more than the Finance Minister – a very high-ranking official – Facebooking public policy issues on Shabbos? I don’t want to cite any extremists, just Rav Kook zt”l in Chazon HaGeulah:

    חלול שבת בפרהסיה מטילה איבה נצחת, משטמת עולם בל תשכח, דבר זה לא יכול להיות נמשך הלאה, הקהל יזדעזע ובצדק, הגולה תעשה כמדורת אש לעומת מצב מחפיר זה

    ובראש לכל ההריסות הרוחניות, תופס מקום חילול הקודש של חלול שבת ההפקרי, הנורא מאוד, המדאיב את הנפש ומרגיז את הרוח

    ההריסות הגדולות הפומביות בחיי היהדות, שהן הולכות ומתגברות, לצערנו הגדול, במהלך הבנין שלנו בארץ ישראל, הן עלולות כבר לאבד מאתנו חלילה את הבסיס לתקומתנו הלאומית

    I understand that this does not mean (by and large) that we reject these Sabbath desecrators as people and as beloved Jews (just as we continue to love those who do not stand still during the siren…), but the very fact that there is intentional Sabbath desecration by some leaders of the Jewish State should be cause for profound, virtually unbearable distress, which must be expressed as forcefully and clearly as if ice picks were driven through our eyes, even as the perpetrator, tragically, knows not the depths of sinfulness in that which he does. This attitude seems very lacking.

  7. Jonathan says:

    This would ring more true if charedim (and sometimes datim) weren’t constantly asking secular Jews to follow halacha and/or charedi chumrot “out of respect” for religious Jews.

    To use a few examples:
    – Last week in several comments on this blog, Rabbi Doron Beckerman faulted Yair Lapid for not participating in the Israeli government’s annual mechirat chametz ceremony. Rabbi Beckerman was unmoved by another commenter’s explanation that Lapid (as a secular Jew who doesn’t sell his personal chametz) did not find meaning in the ceremony, and found it more intellectually honest to send a religious colleague to conduct the sale. Rabbi Beckerman insisted that participating in a religious Jewish ceremony is actually a job requirement of the Israeli finance minister, presumably since religious Jews would be offended by Lapid’s non-participation (even if he sent a fully qualified replacement to the ceremony.)
    – On Jan. 8, 2010, Rabbi Avi Shafran wrote that “out of respect…for the Jewish historical and spiritual connection” to the Kotel, Reform and Conservative Jewish women should refrain from holding their prayer services there. Or, as Rabbi Shafran put it, “public services there should respect a single standard of decorum.”
    – On June 12, 2013, Jonathan Rosenblum wrote critically of Rabbi Dov Lipman escorting a modern Orthodox school in “attire [that] was guaranteed to provoke an angry response” from attendees of a nearby “Yerushalmi [charedi] shul.” While R’ Rosenblum later apologized to Rabbi Lipman and the woman after he learned that the angry men were protesters, not worshipers, he did not apologize for his statement that modern orthodox women should conform the charedi modesty standards when walking outside a charedi shul.

    I say all this to make a simple point. If charedim ask others to follow their rules “out of respect,” then some reciprocity on Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron would be nice. Standing still for two minutes a year is not that big a sacrifice to make for ahavat yisrael.

  8. Confused says:

    As Orthodox Jews the obligation is on us to reach out to our secular brethren. It is demanded on us to bring them back to Torah Judaism. Their “incitement” does not absolve us of this obligation. Does ignoring the siren do anything to promote that? Do the images of yeshiva students in black hats ignoring the siren do anything to promote the healing that our society needs? Does any secular Jew look at the failure to stand for the siren as a sign of individual expression? The damage done by not observing the moment of silence on Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron does so much to alienate chareidim from broader Israeli society. You may call this incitement, but how difficult would it be to have everyone in Bnei Brak stop for 1 minute out of respect. I believe you are correct in assuming that there are photographers who wait for the siren to get the shot of Chariedim ignoring it as if it was nothing more than a car horn. I also believe that with just asking chareidim to respect the the moment of silence you can take away a powerful image from Chareidi bashers and also make a huge impact to general Israeli society. Sometimes you have to go off the beaten path to bring back the sheep that strayed from the shepherd and the flock.

  9. Surie Ackerman says:

    Well, Rabbi Beckerman, your remark to Menachem Lipkin has an easy answer. We in general ought to be more concerned about how we behave than about how others behave; it’s very difficult to change others’ behavior.

    I’m really wondering whether anyone has ever simply explained to Yair Lapid that posting official business on Shabbos on Facebook is at least as public and offensive as driving to conduct official business on Shabbos, and if so, what his reaction was, or would be. For people who are “into” Facebook, it’s just technologically enhanced conversation not “intentional Sabbath desecration” and indeed, he may not recognize the “depths of its sinfulness.”

  10. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Rabbi Beckerman. I think it’s a stretch to liken posting on Facebook to the public Chilul Shabbos Rav Kook was referring to. It’s an interesting dichotomy, as the effect is sort of public, but the action is private. Also, the only way for someone to witness it for the witness himself to be Mechalel Shabbos and since you can’t really see someone posting you have no way of knowing with certainty that the person is, himself, actually doing the posting. That’s without even discussing whether using a modern computer is really Chilul Shabbos.

    Further, there is simply no comparison between asking someone, who happens to be out in public, to stand still for 3 minutes a year and asking a non-orthodox Jew to refrain from his normal activities for something on the order of 1300 hours a year. Also, along these lines, today, unfortunately, the vast majority of Jews are not Shomer Shabbos. So simply, by the force of human nature, Chilul Shabbos cannot affect us the way it might have affected our ancestors at times of greater observance, ie the “Pharhesya” is not Shomer Shabbos. So, again unfortunately, someone who is being Mechalel Shabbos is not removing himself from the public, whereas someone who ignores the siren, which the vast majority of Israeli Jews do respect, is.

    That said, personally, I’d prefer if there was no unnecessary official government business conducted on Shabbos. (Though, perusing his Facebook page I’m not convinced that Lapid’s posts fall into this category.) What I was reacting to in our prior exchange was your assertion that Yesh Atid voters, in their quest for greater “tradition”, are turned off by the fact that Lapid uses Facebook on Shabbos. My point then, as now, is that the people who voted for Lapid, frum or not, knew that he himself was not orthodox and thus had no particular expectations in this area. Instead, these people are actually more concerned that some people are so obsessed with vilifying this decent man at every opportunity.

    In the end, I think they are two very different behaviors and thus a comparison of which “bothers me more” is not really relevant. And truth be told, it bothers me a heck of lot more than either of these things that Israeli flags are stolen off my car while it’s parked on your block while my wife is at work!

    At least I’m happy that we can both agree that we “don’t at all like the idea of not standing still in public when the siren goes off.” 🙂

  11. Rafael A. says:

    Menachem – this is coming from a secular Jew in Israel. How can you, a former disgruntled American chareidi oleh, not, for even one second, consider and listen to what he has to say? Maybe what he is saying is valid, and you instead have your head in the DL sand of your daled amos of Beit Shemesh. Maybe it is you who doesn’t have a good pulse on what is going on in Israel other than what you want to believe to support Yesh Atid’s political platform.

    As for me, I always stood when the siren went. However, this is not a Jewish practice and frum Yidden, chareidi or DL or whatever, should voice their criticism of this particular use of the siren to remember Holocaust victims and IDF soldiers HY”D.

  12. cvmay says:

    THIS IS AN ONGOING DEBATE/ISSUE/SCREAM every Yom Hashoah and it’s about time to end it all.

    Let’s bring this issue closer to home, a neighbor (Jewish or non-Jewish) is having a memorial service in their home (WAKE-Yahrezeit-Memorial Rememberance, etc.), at the same moment I am celebrating an engagement party (VORT), where I usually play music on my front porch, display balloons and other happy items. Since they are in a mourning mode (minhag, custom, secular ceremony), I am not going to play my music, display balloons or have a loud simcha event. It might even be changed to another evening or different venue not to cause them anguish.

    GET WITH THE PROGRAM!!!! Yom Hashoah is not a religious holiday – TRUE!! It should not be celebrated in NISAN – TRUE!!! (Many remember the kedoshim on Tisha Bav or 10th of Teves or even daily), No one asked me to designate this day – TRUE!!!! Yet for 2 minutes, 120 seconds – stand still and contemplate your shopping list, debts, say tehillim, daven for refuah shelayma for a choleh, or exercise your toes. OR stay indoors and do whatever you normally do at that time. To celebrate or BBQ next to a holocaust memorial is boorish behavior. For the secular media to go on the hunt for those disrespecting the day – should come up empty handed and with a grimace.

    IF and when You live in a country, figure out what is happening around you, if the entire culture/attitude/atmosphere is a turn-off then make a choice, do you want to be associated with the ARABS who are having a firework display on Yom Hashoah or can any Toras Hachaim behavior be found? This subject has been dragged through the media, blogs, speeches for years already, personally, negative energy. We as Klal Yisroel need to broadcast and display darchei NOAM stronger than ever for zechusim for am yisroel.

  13. lacosta says:

    maybe outside of neturei karta circles , it is rare for people to davka want to be in the public space in order to demonstrate their ‘shelo asanu kgoyei haaratzos ‘ [ i hope most people supported by the medina in their learning—either in school or kollel , are inside learning as they are paid to be , rather than gamboling thru the shuk]…. it seems in the last few years it’s mostly hiloni photographers looking to find someone dressed haredi walking around, and mostly not finding them….

  14. Yaakov Menken says:

    What Amnon Levi opposed, which many of the commenters appear to have missed, is the practice of going into exclusively Charedi neighborhoods where the residents feel no need to follow a gentile practice (a moment of silence) for appearances’ sake (as many/most charedim do outside charedi enclaves), and to do so specifically on Yom HaZikaron rather than Yom HaShoah in order to concoct the false narrative that charedim don’t care about chayalim losing their lives.

    It’s a lie, it’s an indefensible lie, and trying to defend the indefensible is just as low, crooked and ugly as the incitement itself. So I’m glad the commenters didn’t understand what it was that he was criticizing.

  15. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Rafael, I was never “Chareidi”, got close, but was never able to buy into the whole package. I was critiquing certain aspects of the post. I actually agree with the point that it’s wrong to davka enter a Chareidi neighborhood during the sirens just to get pictures to rile people up.

    Let’s not get started with the concept of “non-Jewish customs”. In the wake of this past Shabbos and endless discussions of the Christian/Pagan sourced custom of “Shlissel Challah” it would behoove people not to cast that stone. As, in doing so, one could easily bring our entire glass structure down in pieces. (For the record, standing in silent introspection during the sound of siren is not a widespread custom in other countries, however it is almost exactly what we do on Rosh Hashannah.)

  16. Doron Beckerman says:

    Surie Ackerman,

    Who is “we”? Me, my family, Dati, Charedi, Chiloni? Which label are you choosing? Besides, if a public figure is made aware of the acute pain his actions cause others, he makes accommodations.

    To Menachem as well,

    The reason I brought up FaceBook posting is specifically because Lapid was called out on it in the Knesset by MK Maklev.

    His response was a rather combative:
    אני מוציא הודעות בשבת מפני שאני אינני שומר שבת, אני לא אומר לכם מה לעשות בשבת ואתם אל תגידו לי מה לעשות בשבת, אני אוציא הודעות בפייסבוק מתי שאני חושב

    I can’t imagine any Likud minister saying that. One can only imagine a Charedi Finance Minister saying אני לא אומר לכם מה לעשות ביום הזכרון etc. The fact that there is less sensitivity to Chillul Shabbos by government officials is largely because the religious are just not assertive enough about it. (If I remember correctly, Rabin’s first government fell apart because he received a shipment of Israel’s first F15s on Shabbos.) It seems to me that this is the improper סבלנות that Rav Kook called רכרוכית הלב ורפיון הרוח – and it is thus no coincidence that the rift regarding assessment of Yesh Atid generally runs not along the black vs. knitted-kippah line, but rather along the Charedi (including Leumi)- Dati line; the Chardal crowd is just as vocal in their condemnation of Yesh Atid’s policies as the black-hatters.

    I think it would be appropriate for all of Lapid’s religious constituents to write him, identify as his voters, and politely but firmly request that he refrain from posting public policy issues on Shabbos, as this causes great distress and aggravation. This is *not* too much to ask of the Jewish State’s Finance Minister.

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    IMO, CV May’s following comment in part , hit the nail 100% on the proverbial head.

    IF and when You live in a country, figure out what is happening around you, if the entire culture/attitude/atmosphere is a turn-off then make a choice, do you want to be associated with the ARABS who are having a firework display on Yom Hashoah or can any Toras Hachaim behavior be found? This subject has been dragged through the media, blogs, speeches for years already, personally, negative energy. We as Klal Yisroel need to broadcast and display darchei NOAM stronger than ever for zechusim for am yisroel.”

    As long as Charedim exhibit and demonstrate behavior on Yom HaZikaron which can be easily equated to conduct as reprehensible as wearing Tzitzis outside of one’s pants in a Beis HaKevaros or learning in front of a mes, such behavior will be viewed as exhibiting not just a lack of hakaras hatov for the IDF, but rather public contempt for the task and accomplishments of the IDF in protecting Kneseses Yisrael and the Kiddush HaShem entailed therein.

  18. Toby Katz says:

    There are hundreds of thousands of charedim, maybe by now even millions. How on earth can you expect a community that large (several overlapping communities actually — chassidim, Litvaks, Sefardim, Neturei Karta….) to all agree to do or not do ANYTHING?

    As it happens, 99% of charedim do stand silently when the siren blows, at least if they are out in public. But one percent of charedim are still a lot of individuals, and if the cameramen fan out looking for them, they will surely find them. Good luck enforcing conformity on 100% of such a large population. And PS as someone noted last year, the cameramen themselves are not standing still for that siren. That ugly story they want to catch is just SO much more important to them than any national memorial.

    Even though I don’t approve of poking chilonim in the eye and would never do it myself, I must admit that there is some anarchic strain in me that takes secret pleasure when I see guys who are fearless of public opinion, who are self-confident and independent, who don’t cringe and don’t blink and just don’t care what the secular media think of them.

  19. Jonathan says:

    Rabbi Menken, why can’t charedim even in charedi neighborhoods stand quietly and recite tehillim to themselves during the siren?

    Doing so would eliminate the ability of dishonest journalists to mischaracterize them, show sincere respect for non-charedim, and maybe even allow time to think of the horrific losses our people have suffered in the Shoah and in Israel’s wars? Are they really doing anything so important during that one minute that it can’t be interrupted to stand still and empathize with the rest of Klal Yisrael’s pain in the lashon of David HaMelech?

    I think the real answer is similar to what Rabbi Olberstein and Menachem are talking about: in too much of charedi society, defying Zionism and the Zionists take precedence over nearly all else. If the Zionists are standing still, then they won’t. Perhaps it is this pettiness and desire to be poresh min hatzibur that is what (at least some of) the journalists are really trying to capture.

  20. DovK says:

    I think that this point would ring truer if more chareidi institutions would have other ways of acknowledging hakaras ha’tov for soldiers. In the case of the holocaust, there are kinos on 9 B’Av. But how many chareidi shuls add the paragraph to Yizkor that a Gadol BaTorah wrote years ago? How many chareidi shuls say the misheberach le’tzahal, even an edited one? If the claim is being made that each group should show their appreciation and value in a way that’s appropriate for them, then it would be appropriate to know how hakaras ha’tov for fallen soldiers and also today’s soldiers is being expressed.

  21. Y. Ben-David says:

    First point-
    Making critical comments about some person or some groups is NOT necessarily “incitement”. After all, the Haredi media and Haredi spokesmen are often critical or even harshly critical of non-Haredim but you wouldn’t call that incitment. Incitement is where someone is trying to arouse outright hatred or even violence against someone else. Criticism of the type mentioned in this piece is criticism of the type permitted by the concept of “freedom of speech”.

    Second point-
    I see only one real solution to the current conflict in Israel between the Haredim and the rest of Jewish society. As one of the people said at the New York demonstration to the media “we Haredim only want to be left alone”. I agree, but being “left alone” has to go in BOTH directions. The non-Haredi population in Israel also wants to be left alone by the Haredim. Thus, I propose the following package deal:
    Haredim would be considered a sub-group of Israeli society that does not recognize the legitimacy of the state, similar to the Arab population. They would thus be exempt from all military or national service obligations and would be allowed to work without having served in the IDF. IN RETURN, the Haredim would give up all claims to special budget allocations, tax exemptions, subsidies and other special privileges other citizesn are not entitled to. The Haredim would give up control of the Chief Rabbinate and local municipal Rabbinates which do not cater to a large Haredi population. Haredi political parties would not take advantage of being the swing vote on crucial national issues such as on territorial concessions. Haredi political parties would stay out of public discussions on issues such as religion and state, so if the non-Haredi population would one day decide on a separation of religion and state in Israel, the Haredim would not intervene politically on one side or another. Same with issues like the “Women of the Wall” since the Kotel is a public facility and not the private realm of one particular group. This is because just as the Haredim are entitled to their own value system which is not necessarily Zionist on the basis of “freedom of religion”, all other Israelis , like the WoW would also be entitled to THEIR rights on the same basis of freedom of religion.
    Educational institutions such as schools would be provided on the basis of population just as the secular schools are……a certain Haredi neighborhood would be entitled to ONE Haredi school, and no longer would the state provide financial support for separate Ashkenazi Hasidic schools, Ashkenazi Lita’i schools for fathers who work and other schools for children whose fathers study in Kollel (such separate schools do exist today, in fact), Sefardic SHAS schools and the such. Of course, the Haredim wuold be entitled to open such schools on a privately funded basis.

    I think this is the answer and I believe it would defuse a lot of tenstion. The only problem is that a Rav involved in public affairs to0d me that MERETZ indeed made such a suggestion in the 1990’s when they and SHAS were in the government and the Haredim rejected it. Maybe it is time to raise it again.

  22. Ben Waxman says:

    Rav Beckerman

    I can easily imagine a Chareidi MK or Finance Minister saying that because the Chareidi rabbanim, columnists, and askanim say that all the time. That their MKs don’t say it is simply because they have better fights to fight.

  23. Nachum says:

    “However, this is not a Jewish practice”

    “follow a gentile practice”

    Considering that Israeli is the *only* country in the world where this takes place, it’s about as Jewish a practice as you can think of. Unless, of course, anything non-charedi is “goyish,” which sadly some people think.

  24. Nachum says:

    “Rabin’s first government fell apart because he received a shipment of Israel’s first F15s on Shabbos”

    They actually arrived shortly before Shabbat. The government fell apart over the *implication* that the non-religious ministers present to receive the planes had driven on Shabbat because they didn’t have enough time to get home before it started. Wild, huh?

    “Jewish State’s Finance Minister”

    As a Religious Zionist, I have no problem making this statement. How can any charedi make it in good conscience? What do they believe is inherently “Jewish” about Israel? What makes Lapid any more liable to criticism than, say, Chuck Schumer?

  25. Raymond says:

    Somebody above made the following points, that if it is wrong to compel Chareidim to stand in a moment of silence on Holocaust Day, then why it it not also wrong to protest when a major Israeli politician openly displays his contempt for Torah Judaism? And why it is not also wrong to force Jews to have a certain standard of dress when at the Western Wall?

    However, those comparisons are not really logically valid. For one thing, Israel is a democracy. And so that gives any individual Jew the right to express their degree of religiosity or lack of it, on an individual level, in any way that they want to. However, when one is representing the State as a major political leader, one has the moral obligation to get with the Torah Judaism program, at least in public, if not in one’s private life. And therefore whatever his private religious beliefs happen to be, a politician like Tommy Lapid does have an obligation to be publicly respectful of the Torah way of life.

    As for the issue of proper dress decorum at the Western Wall, nobody is forcing any Jew to be there, but if a Jew does choose to visit there, they should have enough sensitivity for the holy place they are standing on, to dress in an appropriate manner. When I say appropriate, I am not talking here about men wearing a cumbersome suit on a hot day or women dressing more modestly than Jewish law minimally requires. In any case, there is all the difference in the world between forcing everybody to honor Holocaust Day in one narrowly defined manner, and quite another thing to ask people to not dress inappropriately at the Western Wall if they happen to be there. To make an analogy with money, it is the difference between forcing somebody to pay exorbitant taxes, and forbidding one to steal money.

  26. Yaakov Menken says:

    Just to start in reverse order, Nachum, are you serious? The discussion here is about a moment of silence, which is a common, global (read gentile) practice. And because this particular moment of silence happens only in Israel, you claim it is “Jewish” rather than aping the gentiles? You’ve just placed a hechsher on the Hannukah Bush, which is, after all, only found in Jewish homes. We can now do k’chol chukoseyhem u’minhagosehem, as long as we do it on a different day and for a different group. A fascinating thought.

    In general, it seems that some of the commenters are trying to dig up everything they can to justify the charedi-bashing exercise that Amnon Levi so accurately described. Y. Ben-David appears to have overlooked that the charedim who are least likely to stand at attention are in fact the very ones who refuse to participate in any way with the government. As Toby Katz pointed out, you have a diverse community — which, contrary to common expectation, does not actually engage in mind control — none of which holds standing silently at attention to be a moral virtue, and the State of Israel itself to be a “b’dieved,” in which we participate just as we participate in government whenever the law allows it (as in not only the United States, but the Polish Sejm prior to the churban). But the ones who ignore the siren (esp. in Meah Shearim) are first and foremost those who take no money from the state nor have anything to do with it.

    Both Y. Ben-David and Jonathan confuse in the issue of the Women of the Wall, who are coming to a religious site and trying to change it, which offends not Charedi Jews, but anyone attempting to pray according to millenia of Jewish tradition at the site. None of the leaders of Women For the Wall are mainstream Charedi — one is DL, one’s husband is part of Tzohar, and the third says “my Rav is charedi.” The government has provided an alternate site for all non-traditional prayers, but since WOW’s goal is raucous disturbance, using their own site is unacceptable. But if your goal is charedi-bashing, it’s a great one to throw in. After all, who cares about their prayers anyways, or their ability to pray undisturbed at the Kosel?

    It kind of discredits the whole enterprise. Amnon Levi’s point was correct and obvious. Whether or not people should stand at attention, not everyone is going to — and the particular choice of Yom HaZikaron, rather than Yom HaShoah, to display this to the country demonstrates that this is not about respect for the dead, but anti-charedi animus.

  27. lacosta says:

    >>>>Even though I don’t approve of poking chilonim in the eye and would never do it myself, I must admit that there is some anarchic strain in me that takes secret pleasure when I see guys who are fearless of public opinion, who are self-confident and independent, who don’t cringe and don’t blink and just don’t care what the secular media think of them.

    —– and yet i don’t think rebetzin katz you take equally kindly to the anarchic types who take pleasure in eating ham-on-cheese in a pita on pesach or yom kippur in a haredi neighborhood.
    yet hilonim would equate the two— since they respect their religion of secularity and the State often as rigourously as you do yours.

    [ of course , more of them [hilonim] are equally boorish in their incitatory activities than haredim are. partly because they have nothing to lose by being boorish-they dont believe in an olam habah, and they run the country/media ; haredim do have what to lose–they are scrutinized under a microscope— and have to behave better than anyone else….]

  28. lacosta says:

    the disagreement between r menken and Nachum on moment of silence as ‘goyish’ would seem to be the argument in hassidic thought as to whether all actions are divided into mitzva/assur
    [as many rebbes wrote] or mitzva/muttar/assur in which case there is neutral ground. clearly r menken holds like the former opinion, and undoubtedly would forbid thanksgiving or july 4 celebrations as well…..

    [No, the question is not muttar/assur but chayiv/patur. No one in the United States seems to check in on families to be sure they are eating a Thanksgiving dinner or not working on July 4. Nachum’s stance is that it is appropriate for every Jew in Israel to consider him or herself obligated to stand still as if it were a religious obligation, rather than, for example, saying Kaddish. — YM]

  29. Bob Miller says:

    Unless some violence is likely to follow it, “incitement” is the wrong word.

  30. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken wrote in part:

    “As Toby Katz pointed out, you have a diverse community — which, contrary to common expectation, does not actually engage in mind control — none of which holds standing silently at attention to be a moral virtue, and the State of Israel itself to be a “b’dieved,” in which we participate just as we participate in government whenever the law allows it (as in not only the United States, but the Polish Sejm prior to the churban).”

    There are obviously Chilukei Deos about accepting government funds within Charedi world. Yet, one looks for contemporary evidence of hakaras hatov of the State of Israel, the IDF, and the hashkafic and halachic facts on the ground since 1948 within the Charedi world, and any interaction between the Charedi world and the RZ, MO and secular worlds, and one is treated to arguments that were trotted out in pre WW2 Europe in response to secular and Religious Zionism and the Tsar of Russia or urban myths and stereotypes.

    [And that excuses the false claim that the Charedim don’t care about Jewish lives, by deliberately taking photos on Yom HaZikaron rather than Yom HaShoah? –YM]

  31. dr. bill says:

    I was listening to a shiur today on the internet, recorded on Monday in Israel. When the siren went off, the shiur stopped and in addition to the siren, I faintly heard Tehillim recited. When the siren stopped, the shiur resumed.

  32. Doron Beckerman says:

    Wild, huh?

    How far we have fallen…

    “Jewish State’s Finance Minister”

    As a Religious Zionist, I have no problem making this statement. How can any charedi make it in good conscience?

    Irrespective of the Charedi position, Israel’s definition as a Jewish State is on the law books. Post-establishment of the State, the Agudah has consistently made efforts to lend it as much of a Jewish character as possible. As the platform of Yahadut HaTorah states:

    אילו זכינו היתה שבת קודש מקבלת מעמדה ההולם בחוקיה של מדינת ישראל כיום מנוחה וקדושה מלא ומושלם

    The two MKs who advanced the law against public sale of chametz on Pesach were Avner Shaki (Mafdal) and Avrum Shapira (Agudah).

    That said, if the State were to legally redefine itself as purely democratic and not Jewish, the RZ would indeed have a much bigger problem with that than the Agudah.

  33. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken wrote in response:

    “And that excuses the false claim that the Charedim don’t care about Jewish lives, by deliberately taking photos on Yom HaZikaron rather than Yom HaShoah?”

    That’s not my point. Acting indifferently to those who served and died in defense of the State and Land of Israel since 1948 in any fashion, whether Bkum VAseh or Shev Val Taaseh strikes me a distinct lack of appreciation for their Mesiras Nefesh. Scheduling a simcha on either day strikes me as highly problematic.

    [The fact that “your point” is at best tangential to the topic of the article is why we’re getting stricter about comment moderation. Neither one is a Torah holiday, yet you’re more incensed at Charedim who have a simcha on a holiday they don’t recognize, than the city of Haifa running buses on Shabbos. What are the priorities here, for a Torah Jew? –YM]

  34. Jonathan says:

    Steve Brizel’s claim is not “at best tangential” to the topic of the article. It is a very good response.

    Apparently, we are supposed to be upset with the non-charedi media for alleging that the reason charedim don’t observe Yom Hazikaron is because they do not care about the fallen soldiers, when in fact they do not observe Yom Hazikaron because they think it is a gentile custom. Steve is pointing out that while it may be true that there are other reasons for charedim not observing Yom Hazikaron, it is still disrespectful of the bereaved families and others to plan smachot on Yom Hazikaron (or Yom Hashoah) or to do anything else that publicly advertises one’s non-observance of these days that are meaningful to Zionist Israelis. In other words, there should be a middle ground between what charedim say is a gentile custom (standing for the siren) and what especially offends everyone else (planning simchas, loudly shouting over the siren, burning the Israeli flag in some extreme cases).

    How is that not a valid answer?

  35. Y. Ben-David says:

    Rav Menken-

    It seems that in your questioning the motives of the Women of the Wall you missed the point I was trying to make. I am attemtping to point out a way of diffusing the tension that exists in Israel regarding Haredi conscription to the IDF in a way that would give the Haredim a permanent exemption from military or civilian national service by mobilizing the public support needed for the political efforts that would need to be made. Whether you or I like what the WoW is doing is immaterial. They are claiming the right to “freedom of religion” in the same way that the Haredim can use the Freedom of Religion (FOR) argument to get support for permanent exemption from conscription.

    I believe the FOR argument is the ONLY effective one that can be used in public to justify this exemption. All the other arguments I have heard from Haredi spokesmen do not make a good impression on the public at large. For instance there is the ‘we will lose our youth if they are exposed to non-Haredi people’ which most Israeli’s know is not true because there are plenty of non-Haredi religions people, often in their own families, who have served and remained religions and have even gone on to become major talmidei hachamim and maintained or even strenthened their personal religios committment. There is also the “the IDF doesn’t need or want Haredi soldiers”, which I personally find to be an infuriating argument because one can rightly ask “why do they need MY son but not YOUR son?”. This is no different than demanding that all blue-eyed people or people whose names starts with the letter M should be exempted because they are supposedly “not needed”. In any event, even if a lot of Generals say they don’t want Haredim, this is irrelevant because they don’t own the IDF, the public does and it is the public that has the right to make decisions on whether there should be universal conscription, not the Generals.

    Thus, the only way to get public support for a permanent exemption is to point out that the Haredi public does not identify with the state and for reasons of concience, can not serve. However, this must be done on the basis of RECIPROCITY. What the Haredim are demanding for themselves they must be willing to give to other sectors of society. If they want to be left alone, they have to be willing to leave others alone. If they demand Freedom of religion for themselves they have to be willing to give it to others. Regarding the WoW, it is irrelevant if you and I don’t accept their possibly non-Halachic argements, the fact is that they do not accept our Orthodox ones either. On the basis of the reciprocity I mentioned above, just as we want them to accept our value system, the Haredim will have to accept theirs as being equally valid. The Kotel is NOT a Haredi synagogue, it is a national site, liberated by the IDF. Yes, you are quite right that the tefillah has been conducted a certain way there and this precedent is important in our eyes, but the WoW, for better or worse, claim their values (which they claim to also be within the bounds of halacha, whether we like it or not). I am merely using this as an example, I am not advocating their position, but I am pointing out that if the Haredim are to achieve their goal of ending conscription for Haredi young men, the leadership is going to have to confront political decisions to gain public support, and reciprocity is the only way this is going to happen.

    [I’m letting this through as a reply, but because it’s too far from the topic, I will merely mention that Rav Goldwicht zt”l of (Hesder) Yeshiva Kerem B’Yavneh said that military service impedes progress to become a scholar, and no informed person could disagree that the current, challenging environment is helpful primarily to those with special fortitude and to those who were severely at risk in the first place. Weakened observance is widely reported to be more common than the opposite. — YM]

  36. Bob Miller says:

    For groups of Chareidim who are indifferent to State-related public observances, wouldn’t silence during the public silences help their PR with the general population? What point is there in alienating others for no valid reason?

  37. Raymond says:

    I have a point to make here that is so obvious, that I wonder why apparently nobody else has made it here so far. In all of this discussion about whether or not the Chareidim should be faulted for not stopping for a moment of silence on Holocaust Memorial Day, there does not seem to be anybody asking why we have such a holiday in the first place. After all, we Jews already have Tisha B’Av, which is such a solemn, incredibly sad and mournful day in which we remember so many tragedies to happen to our people, that it seems to me that the Holocaust would be included in all that. For as horrible as the Holocaust was, it was unfortunately not an aberration at all, in what the antisemites of this world have done to us Jews over the centuries.

  38. Yaakov Menken says:

    Bob, yes. Now go convince the anti-Zionist non-state-recognizing residents of Meah Shearim to get with the program.

    Jonathan, you are missing the point that Steve was missing. Regardless of how one feels about the failure of a segment of the Charedi community to stand on Yom HaShoah, the issue is the deliberate choice to wait one week and broadcast their failure to stand on Yom HaZikaron instead (and to do so as if it represented all charedim).

    This leads directly to Raymond’s point, as Kinos have indeed been written for the Churban in Europe. Given that the Charedi community was affected more than any other by the Nazi Holocaust, one cannot claim that it is because the community doesn’t value the lives that were lost. To engage with the decision of some charedim to not stand on Yom HaShoah would require a nuanced discussion about the secular state’s commemoration of the Holocaust that so affected their own families. To wit, the choice of a day during Chodesh Nissan, chosen because it was the date of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, thus singling out those who engaged in military rather than spiritual heroism for special recognition. I personally knew Menashe Schamroth zt”l, who blew shofar in Auschwitz, and heard his Tekios. Is the family hy”d that produced such a teenager less heroic than the Warsaw ghetto fighters?

    The deliberate choice to avoid that discussion and instead focus upon Yom HaZikaron permits the lie that it is because Charedim don’t value the lives of secular Jews that some of them don’t adopt the secular/gentile practice of standing at attention within their own communities. This demonstrates that the agenda is not dialogue, but incitement. No matter what your opinion on the issue of Yom HaShoah, I’m sure you recognize that this is reprehensible.

  39. Yechiel Elchonen says:

    Why does the Mir Yeshiva which takes money from the Zionist government not fly the Israeli flag? Is that not a lack of hacaras hatov?

  40. jbs says:

    Rabbi Menken,
    Both fighting the Nazis physically and spiritually are heroic. There is no one obvious day to commemorate Yom Hashoah. The state chose the day of the Warsaw uprising because it represented a heroic event. I don’t think anyone would say that this was the only heroism in the holocaust. It does not take away from the spiritual heroism shown at that time. I don’t think that any day of the year would have been acknowledged by the Chareidim as sufficient(except maybe existing fast days).

  41. Yaacov Dovid says:

    Thanks to Rabbi Menken for pointing out the basically healthy nature of Israeli society. Although a leftist coterie has highly undue power on the media, even a leftist radio station features a report with a secular journalist protesting leftist anti-chareidi propaganda. Listen to the clip, and you will hear that the interviewee is given free expression and although the interviewer challenges him, he allows him his say, and the impression is in favor of the interviewee. This is something very hopeful and perhaps even hints at a profound development in the present state of secular-chareidi relations.

  42. Toby Katz says:

    Steve Brizel wrote:
    “Acting indifferently to those who served and died in defense of the State and Land of Israel since 1948 in any fashion, whether Bkum VAseh or Shev Val Taaseh strikes me a distinct lack of appreciation for their Mesiras Nefesh. Scheduling a simcha on either day strikes me as highly problematic.”

    Other than a bris or pidyon haben, what simcha is typically scheduled on Yom Hazikaron, which falls out during Sefira? And why don’t you mention how problematic it is to make Yom Atzmaut into a yom tov, with Hallel and music, during Sefira?

  43. Dovid Shaleesh says:

    What I cannot understand is how the chilonim don’t fast on tisha b’av. It isn’t as if they weren’t affected by the churban!

  44. cvmay says:

    For as horrible as the Holocaust was, it was unfortunately not an aberration at all, in what the antisemites of this world have done to us Jews over the centuries.—- Raymond, you are now touching on a sore nerve, the Bluzhever Rebbe and Rav Hutner have hit heads on this point. With Rav Hutner stating that the Holocaust is a continuation of Churban Europa of generations and the Bluzhever Rebbe stating as a survivor that the Holocaust is a min b’atzmat and needs its own title.

    And why don’t you mention how problematic it is to make Yom Atzmaut into a yom tov, with Hallel and music, during Sefira? — It is problematic for most yet mutar for other sectors who have Rabbanim who paskin differently.

  45. DovK says:

    The other point that needs to be made is that the largest numbers of chareidim do in fact act in a respectful manner during the sirens. I know of many cheders and chinuch atzma’i ganim that teach kids to stand and say Tehilim during the sirens. It’s only the media response that makes not standing the “official” chareidi action. As in many things, the chareidi world is not uniform, and it’s wrong to give a stamp of approval to the more radical side by calling it “the chareidi action.”

    But a correlary of that is that those who do NOT in some way stand respectfully are doing so to make a point. It’s hard to blame the media that much for making the point that those people are themselves trying to make.

  46. lacosta says:

    if the shoe was on the other foot ie a haredi israel with a minority of hilonim, the media focus would be three months hence, which would be showing the unconscionable behaviour of the hilonim who are cavorting and partying all 3 weeks , peaking on tisha b’av. the haredi bloggers would be countering the hiloni defenders [‘only a few individuals are doing this in public’] with cameras showing their eating and partying on the day of mourning.

    the minority culture will always be scrutinized — Black children were raised being told ‘you have to be better [smarter, faster,etc] than the white man. the minority culture dream of ‘we shall overcome’ , but in the meantime expect to face unfair treatment until their Day comes….

  47. Raymond says:

    In response to cvmay, not only do I question the need for Holocaust Memorial Day in the first place, but I also do question the idea of Israel Independence Day. For Israel has never stopped existing in our history; no gentile could ever take away the fact that G-d gave us, and nobody else, the land of Israel. Nor is the modern Jewish State of Israel any kind of fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, as clearly the modern Jewish State of Israel is not being run according to the vision of Torah Judaism. The one real benefit of the modern Jewish State of Israel, is that now we have an organized system of military defense that helps ward off the constant gentile attempts to wipe our Jewish people off the face of the Earth. And that is why the one major area where I have disagreed with some Chareidim, is on the issue of serving in the Israeli military, for we Jews have a moral obligation to defend the lives of our fellow Jews.

  48. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken wrote in response:

    “The fact that “your point” is at best tangential to the topic of the article is why we’re getting stricter about comment moderation. Neither one is a Torah holiday, yet you’re more incensed at Charedim who have a simcha on a holiday they don’t recognize, than the city of Haifa running buses on Shabbos. What are the priorities here, for a Torah Jew?”

    Posing it as priorities IMO does not answer the question. Yes, it is a tragedy that buses run in Haifa on Shabbos. I would ascribe that to the fact that the population and politicians who represent them are simply insensitive to the issue-as opposed to Jerusalem, and other cities ( other than Bnei Brak). Yet-IIRC, none less tha R Schach ZL suggested that we look at ourselves to understand why Chillul Shabbos occurs in the Land of Israel.I would also argue that while some forms of legislation are necessary to preserve the Jewish character of the State of Israel, the resentment that such laws cause requires the Charedi and RZ worlds to work harder at demonstrating why Shabbos Kodesh is such a precious day.

    OTOH, failing to be Noseh Bol Chavero by expressing contempt either intentionally or accidentally by such means as scheduling a simcha on a day when so many have sustained losses in their family strikes me as inappropriate-even if it is a day that you as a card carrying Charedi choose to ignore, for reasons best left to you to explain.

    [You’re avoiding, rather than addressing, the issue. It is not true that the majority of the nation sustained losses on Yom HaShoah. In fact it is quite likely that the majority of survivors (and their descendants) do not value Yom HaShoah, as the majority of those killed were, in fact, charedi. So if the children of survivors help schedule the marriage of their own children on Yom HaShoah, what right does anyone have to tell them how to commemorate the loss of their grandparents? –YM]

  49. Steve Brizel says:

    Toby Katz wrote:

    “Other than a bris or pidyon haben, what simcha is typically scheduled on Yom Hazikaron, which falls out during Sefira? And why don’t you mention how problematic it is to make Yom Atzmaut into a yom tov, with Hallel and music, during Sefira?”

    I know of more than a few Chasunahs that were scheduled for Yom HaShoah. A Bris or Pidyon HaBen ( not on Shabbos of course) that is scheduled for Yom Hazikaron, in the absence of any compelling medical or other basis for not doing so, must be held on the 8th or 30th day.As far as Yom HaAtzmaut is concerned, my RY see no difficulty either in the recitation of Hallel without a bracha at the proper place at the end of the davening and a Chagigah with music, to mark the awesome occasion of the return of Jewish sovereignty to the Land of Israel.

  50. Ben Waxman says:


    The Rambam disagrees with you:

    הלכות חנוכה פרק ג

    א בבית שני כשמלכו יוון, גזרו גזירות על ישראל, וביטלו דתם, ולא הניחו אותם לעסוק בתורה ובמצוות; ופשטו ידם בממונם, ובבנותיהם; ונכנסו להיכל, ופרצו בו פרצות, וטימאו הטהרות. וצר להם לישראל מאוד מפניהם, ולחצום לחץ גדול, עד שריחם עליהם אלוהי אבותינו, והושיעם מידם. וגברו בני חשמונאי הכוהנים הגדולים, והרגום והושיעו ישראל מידם; והעמידו מלך מן הכוהנים, וחזרה מלכות לישראל יתר על מאתיים שנה–עד החורבן השני.

    Having a state is a value, even an extremely problematic one like the Hasmonean dynasty.

  51. Ben Waxman says:

    That said, if the State were to legally redefine itself as purely democratic and not Jewish, the RZ would indeed have a much bigger problem with that than the Agudah.

    Something of a red herring because no in any religious party is advancing that idea. Shaki represented an old style NRP that no longer exists. Having said, that I really doubt that the Chareidim would accept Cinema City opening up on Shabbat in Jerusalem were the state to declare itself a secular democracy (one small example).

  52. Cvmay says:

    R. Menken, this is the first time that I have ever read that the majority of those killed on the Holocaust were Charedi. Are there statistics or data of proof?

    [I can’t find it right now, but I was under the impression that a leading researcher at the US Holocaust Museum had made this point. –YM]

  53. Y. Ben-David says:

    I am not sure that “the majority of those killed in the Holocaust were Haredi”. First, few of the Jews killed in the USSR were religious because they had been living under Stalinist Communism for years. In Poland, the majority of the young people growing up in the interwar period gave up religious observance. The vote for religious parties in the Polish Sejm (Parliament) fell by half between 1919 and 1939. In Western Europe, most young Jews were not religious or at least not Haredi.
    In Poland, Zionist parties received a significant number of votes in addition to the anti-religious and anti-Zionist Bund, including the Mizrachi Religious Zionists.

  54. Yaakov Menken says:

    In the HaModiah of Sunday, 4 Iyar, the paper encourages people to stand still specifically. The Yeshiva World News translator says: Hamodia explains that for many secular residents who are unfamiliar with the chareidi way of life, their only source of information regarding chareidim is what the secular media feeds them. They are unaware that mishnayos and Tehillim are recited. They do not speak of the many bereaved chareidi families, but prefer to paint the chareidi tzibur at large in a disparaging light during the time the siren sounds.

  55. Y. Ben-David says:

    I have done some research on the question of the number of Haredim in Poland in the interwar period–(Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe outside of the USSR of 3.3 million). The Encyclopedia Judaica states that peak of Jewish representation in the Sejm came in 1922 with a total of 46 seats. The secular General Zionists were the largest party. They and the Religious Zionist Mizrachi had a total of 28 seats, which is more than half. Agudat Israel had 6 seats. In 1919, Agudat Israel had 2 seats and received 92,293 votes (I have no idea if women had the right to vote in Poland in the interwar period). In 1930 they received 155,403 votes and one seat, in the 1938 elections they received 2 seats. Of course, there were many Haredim who did not vote for the Agudah, including the Hasidei Belz who did not vote for a Jewish party. Other non-Hasidic Haredim voted for the Mizrachi in spite of it being Zionist because of disagreements with the Agudah. I also read that there were Haredim who voted for the socialist, anti-religious Bund because they felt it represented the interests of the workers better. Other Haredi workers set up the Poalei Agudat Israel party for a similar reason.
    Thus, we see that based on these voting patterns at least, main-line Haredim who voted for Agudat Israel were far from being anywhere near a majority of Polish Jewry.

  56. Cvmay says:

    Kudos to Hamodia for this first-time & overdue editorial.

  57. Steve Brizel says:

    Hamodia deserves a great Yasher Koach for its editorial.Can anyone provide a link?

  58. Raymond says:

    Ben Waxman, if you are reading this, you said that the Rambam disagrees with what I said about Israel, but you wrote his quote in Hebrew. My Hebrew is not good enough to understand that quote without it being translated into English. I greatly value anything that the Rambam says, so i would appreciate somebody translating that passage for me into English.

  59. Ben Waxman says:


    You wrote:

    but I also do question the idea of Israel Independence Day. For Israel has never stopped existing in our history; no gentile could ever take away the fact that G-d gave us, and nobody else, the land of Israel. Nor is the modern Jewish State of Israel any kind of fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, as clearly the modern Jewish State of Israel is not being run according to the vision of Torah Judaism.

    The Rambam writes:

    They (the Greeks) greatly persecuted them and heavily oppressed them until the God of our Fathers had mercy on them (the people of Israel) and redeemed them and saved them from their hands. The Hasmonean high priests overcame them and killed them and saved Israel from their hand. (Ben: Now the important part). They appointed a king from the priests and brought back government to Israel for more than 200 years, until the destruction of the Second Temple.

    According to the Rambam, independence isn’t only an idea, it has to be a reality. One of the achievements of the Hasmoneans was to return the kingship to Israel, even one so problematic as the Hasmonean dynasty. In its own way, according to the Rambam, Hannuka is actually the first Israel Independence day.

  60. Raymond says:

    I do not understand how what the Rambam says, repudiates what I said. I think it is safe to assume that when the Chashmonaim returned Israel to our Jewish ancestors, that the Jewish State was run according to the ways of our Torah. If that were the case with today’s Jewish State of Israel, I would say that it is indeed a fulfillment of Jewish prophecies. However, while the accomplishments of the Modern State of Israel are truly phenomenal, there are nevertheless all sorts of indications that it is not being run according to the ways of the Torah. Note how I fall just short of using the phrase, “According to Jewish Law,” because turning Israel into a theocracy has its own share of problems, and is not a development that I would necessarily welcome.

  61. Y. Ben-David says:

    Read the history of the Second Beit HaMikdahs period. Some of the Hashmonaim kings were not very nice and were Hellenists, yet it is this entire period, both the good and bad times of the Hashmonaim period
    that the RAMBAM is referring to as a time of independence and glory to Am Israel.

  62. Ben Waxman says:

    Some of the Hashmonaim kings were not very nice

    Some of them were simply evil.

  63. Raymond says:

    Well, then, the question becomes all too obvious. If no less an authority than the Rambam himself, considers a severely deficiently run State of Israel to nevertheless be a legitimate Jewish State, than why do perhaps the majority of today’s Chareidim reject the Modern Jewish State of Israel? Do they think they are smarter and know better than the man considered to be the greatest of all post-Talmudic Jewish theologians and legal authorities?

  64. Yaakov Menken says:

    Ben, so were some of the Kings from Yehudah!

    Raymond, even your question seems misinformed, so to state it as an implied challenge “do they think they are smarter and know better…” comes across as ignorant and even boorish, which departs from your norm.

    Before even addressing whether the Rambam is “considered” to be the be-all and end-all of Halacha, his every opinion accepted without consideration as to whether the majority disagrees (hint: no), it is necessary to consult his closest disciples’ closest disciples’ closest disciples to discern his meaning, instead of loosely comparing two things that may share nothing in common.

    The miracle of Chanukah is that H’ restored Israel to be a place where Torah and Mitzvos could be observed freely, and were observed by the entire Jewish nation under Hasmonean kings. The Destruction of the Second Temple is not attributed to rampant idolatry, immorality and bloodshed like the First, but to the more pernicious sin of needless hatred.

    So it’s not about the Hasmoneans, but the idea that we were back under Jewish religious governance. Aye the King was Jewish, but at least we had a Jewish King. That doesn’t mean that a modern state set up by secular Zionists will automatically be treated as the redemption. Even the most fervent religious Zionist cannot call this more than the early blooming, “Reishit Tzemichat Ge’ulateinu.” It’s not the same at all.

  65. cvmay says:

    Let the “early blooming” of the Geulah continue b’shalom.

  66. Raymond says:

    In that case, I was correct in the first place, that the Jewish State that the Rambam was referring to, was a religious State, which does make it different than the present, Modern State of Israel, which in turn means that my original contention that today’s Israel is not the Israel envisioned by the great Torah sages throughout the centuries, and that therefore the Chareidim are justified in how they see Modern Israel.

    By the way, calling me ignorant and boorish only makes me run away from the religious Jewish world, and of course makes me have less respect for those who feel the need to insult me. I already know and have acknowledged countless times that I am not a Torah scholar like everybody else here is, plus anybody who actually knows me can hardly accuse me of being an arrogant person. I am just a simple Jew who is interested in learning how to see the world from a Torah perspective.

  67. Y. Ben-David says:

    You have put your finger on the problem that has brought about the big crisis in contemporary Orthodox Judaism-What do you do if it seems that the primary sources of Jewish law, thought and belief, i.e. the 5 Books of the Torah, the Talmud, the Midrashim and the great commentators of the past (i.e. the “Rishonim”) seems to conflict with some of the views of at least parts of the contemporary Orthodox leadership? These primary sources, unlike in the past, are now available freely to anyone who wants to look in them. Thus, sometimes uncomfortable questions will be raised to the contemporary leadership and they are looking for ways of dealing with this. Not everyone is convinced that their answers are persuasive. This is the root of the current conflict within the Orthodox world.

  68. Yaakov Menken says:

    Raymond, I did not call you ignorant and boorish. What I said was “to state it as an implied challenge ‘do they think they are smarter and know better…’ comes across as ignorant and even boorish, which departs from your norm.” A question for the sake of learning and understanding is not often phrased that way. One would expect to see “can someone explain why their practice appears to differ from…” I’m sorry if you were insulted, but I was critiquing the comment and saying it doesn’t sound like you. I think most would agree.

    Y. Ben-David’s comment simply proves my point; the way you phrased the question played into his hands, to truly twist things around. The claim that “unlike in the past” primary sources are available has just thrown Jewish history and scholarship to the wind. These sources have been commonly available since the printing press — if not as easy to find as today, certainly accessible to those who wished to learn.

    What we have today is an environment in which many who can barely comprehend an Artscroll Gemarah (in English) presume to be able to discuss Torah on the level of those who devoted their lives to understanding it. As Rav Herschel Shechter and so many others have pointed out, this is ridiculous. The yeshiva world’s leaders did not run for office; they were elevated by their peers and the previous generation from relative obscurity (e.g. few had heard of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman until Rav Shach zt”l directed people to him) solely due to their Torah knowledge. They are experts in the material, which is often “impoverished in one place and wealthy in another.” If one only has superficial knowledge, he can claim to “debate” Torah with them, but these questions are hardly “uncomfortable” to those of us who understand how our leaders arrived at their posts.

  1. May 5, 2014

    […] There’s an organization called “Dossim” in Israel that has been working to counter the anti-charedi bias of Israel’s secular media for over a year. It is how I first met Tzippy Yarom, who did the first-draft translation of my earlier post about Yom HaZikaron-related incitement. […]

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