A Plaintive Cry (Or Two) For Understanding
by Moshe Shoshan
Over the past few years I have been conducting an on again, off again conversation with Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein via e-mail. My main purpose in conducting this dialog has been to come to a better understanding as to why even in moderate charedi forums such as Cross-Currents, there have been exceedingly few direct, strongly worded condemnations of the extreme, violent behaviour and rhetoric directed against the State of Israel, its government and Army as well as the Religious Zionist population. I refer not only to actions and words emanating from members of the more extreme communities affiliated with the Eidah Charedis, but also more mainstream charedi groups whose rhetoric and behaviour has become increasing strident and offensive to non-charedim.
To give but one example, last year, Chaim Walder, perhaps the most beloved religious children’s author in Israel, wrote an editorial the Hebrew Yated Ne’eman, the official organ of R. Steinman’s faction of the Yahadut ha-Torah political party. Walder’s column unequivocally and unapologetically compared Yair Lapid to Adolph Hitler yemach shemo ve-zichro. Rabbi Adlerstein and numerous other chareidim with who I am in contact agreed with me that such language is abhorrent, but no public condemnation or criticism was forthcoming. Over the course of my conversations with Rabbi Adlerstein, I have learned about the social, political and ideological factors that make publicly speaking out against other charedim and especially their leadership very difficult in the charedi world. Ultimately though I find the explanations most unsatisfactory and like most Religious Zionists in my circles, I have become increasingly alienated from and disillusioned with charedi world. This is especially true here in Beit Shemesh, where a municipal election which we saw as being about fair and honest municipal governance for all citizens, was turned by the charedi leadership at the highest levels into a vicious holy war against non-chareidim in which all who opposed the charedi candidate were portrayed as rishaim and mechalelei shem shamayim (in the words of one respected figure in the charedi community ) and Nazis who allegedly sought to bring among other things, public chillul Shabbos to Beit Shemesh’s charedi neighborhoods.
I was therefore most gratified when R. Adlerstein agreed to publish the following courageous Facebook post by a charedi women from Petach Tikva named Esti Shushan. (She is a charedi mother of four from Petach Tikva and a graduate of the Wolf Beis Yaakov Seminary in Benei Brak. She works as an independent media professional and as a social activist in the charedi community.)
The background to the post is as follows: At the end of last month, an IDF officer in uniform, on leave from combat in Gaza, entered a shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his two young sons, to daven maariv. They were almost immediately expelled by a group of kizonim (radical charedim) who proceeded to surround them outside the shul preventing them from entering their car and then smashing its windshield. Fortunately someone hearing the noise thought it was a terrorist attack and called the police, who soon arrived to rescue the soldier and his children. A few weeks before, a solider was attacked in broad daylight by a mob on a main street in Ramat Beit Shemesh. There were many bystanders but only a religious Zionist women who happened to be in the neighborhood came to the soldier’s defense.
Incidents like these have been occurring periodically in charedi neighborhoods in Israel over the past year or so. The IDF takes the matter so seriously that it has given soldiers who live in Beit Shemesh and a few other charedi areas permission to change in and out of their civilian clothes while still on base so that they do not have to appear in uniform in their neighborhoods.
To the best of my knowledge, until this most recent incident not a single leading Ashkenazi charedi Rabbi or spokesman has stood up to condemn this treasonous behavior. Indeed, while covering an earlier incident in Benei Brak, the respected Israeli journalist Razi Barkai reported on his radio show that his staff had contacted all of the many charedi public figures who appear frequently on his show to articulate the positions of the charedi community and their Gedolim. But, with the exception of Aryeh Deri, they all refused to comment on the attack against the soldier. Following this most recent attack, Yaakov Litzman, a senior Knesset member from the Yahdut ha-Torah party, at long last issued a perfunctory condemnation of the attack to a local non-charedi newspaper.
It think that the essay that follows represents an important challenge to the chareidi community and its leadership to re-evaluate their attitudes and behavior towards the Army and non-charedi Israeli society in general. While I don’t endorse all of its rhetoric, I think that it is important to hear out this impassioned voice from within the Israeli charedi community, which is one of a few signs in recent weeks of efforts by some charedim to counter the extreme anti-IDF and anti-Zionist rhetoric that have dominated Israeli charedi public discourse in recent years. I hope that it resonates with many of you and emboldens more people to speak out publicly, despite the heavy price that individuals in the chareidi world often pay for publicly questioning the communal leadership.
Below is my translation followed by the original Hebrew, reproduced with permission of the author.
A Facebook post by Esti Shushan:
Before the “politically correct” rub it in our faces, I have decided that there are some things that need to be heard and written. Yes, war, quiet, shooting. Time to gather in silence, wrap oneself in a veil of discomfort and click one’s tongue, tut-tut. But this is precisely the appropriate time for profound cheshbon nefesh, because when the tanks and artillery return to storage we tend to forget a little, to push off and to avoid [these issues] about which in recent days we have been reminded. Precisely at the time that we try to clear our consciences with the bottle of Mint Crystal (a cheap soft drink) and packages of candy that we sent to solders at the front. Precisely now when we feel a pressing need to prove that we are carrying our share of the burden [of national security]. Without even waiting a little bit, the local mujahidin of Beit Shemesh have attacked a soldier while davening maariv in a local synagogue. So say it’s “Beit Shemesh”, “Extremists,” “rotten apples” (asabim raim- literaly, “bad weeds”)… We are not like them, we are OK, we even pray for the solders and occasionally consider saying a mishbeirach for them. So they begin to condemn. Aryeh Deri threatens to cut off (?) the hands of the attackers. Litzman expresses his horror to the media not in response to the act itself but to the destructive results it could have for the shelomei emunei yisrael (i.e. charedim). Their good image may be harmed. And I ask, where were you when this all started? Where were you when the previous times incidents like this occurred?
Listen well my chareidi brothers. Not the “Zebras” (a reference to extreme Chasidic sects like Toldos Aharon, who wear striped coats), not the Satmars, not the Neturei Karta. We the lovable, harmless charedim. Seeds of calamity were planted deep in the ground by the forgiving wink given to the disgusting chardakim campaign, (chardakim is a term widely used to denigrate charedim who serve in the IDF. It roughly translates to “charedi germs” or “charedi bacteria”) that no one from the charedi leadership or media bothers to denounce, certainly not with the ferocity with which they denounced the “draft decrees” (legislation to induct more charedim into the army) or the impure I-Phones. I know that when something bothers us we know how to scream. [We know] what it is to scream, to shriek at something. And as if in this atmosphere of incitement, reminiscent of Der Sturmer, with its brutally critical articles and venomous columns were not enough, but a few months ago you brought us the “Protest of the Million” (against the draft laws). There you brought out great flocks of sin-fearing Jews to shout in public “army of apostasy” (tzeva ha-shmad ) and to declare in a loud and protesting voice that we will have no part in it [the Army].
Due to marketing considerations known only to you, you called it a “prayer assembly.” But the signs you held up expressed everything you think about the Zionist army. Yes that same army of apostasy, which includes those sinners (porkei ol) that you denigrate, which some of our charedi brothers have joined despite the threats and insults from you that they have endured. They now all stand united to protect your homes and die for you. They are dying and dying. Not sitting with a cup of coffee and a gemara, dying! Being moser nefesh in the literal sense of the word.
But it is so convenient to blame the extremists. To say “our hands did not spill this blood, what do we have to do with this craziness?” The charedi mainstream, its leadership, its askonim, its superficial and irresponsible media, they are the ones who laid the ground for attacks against the soldiers who protect your shtetl, your shtreiml and that which is or is not under it.
You have learned the hard way that in the Middle East an army is a necessity like pickles with kugel. You understand, even if you won’t admit it, that it’s impossible to defend our borders just through Torah study. It didn’t work in the days of King David and the Philistines, according to which model exactly will it work today?
Deep down you know that your prayers may clear your conscience for your inaction and opposition when your brothers go to war, but prayers alone will not succeed in blowing up a single tunnel or in eliminating a single gang of murderous terrorists. From a sober and realistic perspective, Torah and prayer are indeed the life-breath of our nation, but just like they will never take the place of government welfare payments, they will never replace the need for the physical guarding of our security, a mission fulfilled by the Zionist Army of Apostasy.
רגע לפני שהפוליטיקלי קורקט מיירט לנו את הפרצוף, החלטתי שיש דברים שצריכים להישמע ולהיכתב.
כן, מלחמה, שקט, יורים. זמן להתכנס בשתיקה, לעטות דוק של מועקה ולצקצק בשפתיים.
אבל זה בדיוק הזמן הנכון לחשבון נפש נוקב, כי כשהטנקים והתותחים חוזרים לניילון, אנו נוטים קצת לשכוח להדחיק, להתעלם.
ובימים האחרונים קיבלנו תזכורת.
בדיוק בזמן בו אנו מנסים לנקות את המצפון עם בקבוקי קריסטל מנטה וחבילות ממתקים שאנחנו שולחים לחיילים בחזית.
בדיוק עכשיו כשאנו מרגישים צורך נואש להוכיח שוויון בנטל. אפילו בלי לחכות קצת- המוג’הידין המקומי של בית שמש, תוקפים חייל במדים שהתפלל ערבית בתוך בית כנסת.
אז תגידו בית שמש, תגידו, קיצוניים, עשבים שוטים… אנחנו לא מהם, אנחנו באמת בסדר, אפילו מתפללים על החיילים ושוקלים מידי פעם לעשות להם מישביירך…
אז מתחילים לגנות. אריה דרעי מאיים לגדוע (?) את ידי התוקפים, ליצמן מתחלחל תקשורתית לא מעצם המעשה, אלא מתוצאותיו ההרסניות לשלומי אמוני ישראל. שמא תדמיתם המהוגנת תיפגע. ואני שואלת איפה הייתם כשהכל התחיל? איפה הייתם בפעמים הקודמות כשזה קרה?
תשמעו טוב אחי החרדים. לא הזברות, לא הסאטמר’ס ולא נטורי קרתא. אנחנו החרדים החביבים הבלתי מזיקים. זרעי הפורענות נטמנו עמוק באדמה בקריצה הסלחנית מול קמפיין החרד”קים המתועב, שאיש מההנהגה או מהתקשורת החרדית לא טרח להוקיע, לפחות באותה עוצמה בה הוקעו “גזרות הגיוס” או האייפונים הטמאים. אני יודעת שכשמשהו מפריע לנו, אנחנו יודעים לצעוק. מה זה לצעוק, לצרוח את זה.
וכאילו לא היה די באיוריי ההסתה השטרימרים המובהקים, במאמרים המתלהמים ובטורים הפוגעניים. הבאתם לנו את הפגנת המיליון חסרת התכלית, רק לפני חודשים ספורים. בה הוצאתם עדרים שלמים של יהודים יראי חטא לצעוק בחוץ “צבא השמד” ולהכריז בקול רם ומתריס שאין חלקכם עימו.
מטעמים שיווקיים השמורים עימכם קראתם לה “עצרת תפילה”. אבל השלטים שהחזקתם סיפרו את כל מה שאתם חושבים על הצבא הציוני.
כן, אותו צבא שמד, המכיל את פורקי העול שבזתם להם, שבו גם כמה מאחינו החרדים שהצטרפו אליו למרות האיומים וההשפלות שספגו מכם. והם יחד ניצבים עכשיו להגן לכם על הבית וממיתים עצמם עבורכם. ממיתים ממיתים. לא יושבים במזגן עם קפה וגמרא. מ מ י ת י ם ! מוסרים נפש פשוטו כמשמעו.
אבל כמה נוח להאשים את הקיצוניים, לומר “ידינו לא שפכו את הדם, מה לנו ולטירוף”.
המיינסטרים החרדי, על הנהגתו, על עסקניו, על כלי התקשורת הרדודים וחסרי האחריות שלו, הוא אשר הכשיר את השטח לתקיפת חיילים ששומרים לכם על השטייטעל, על השטריימל וגם על מה שיש או אין מתחתיו.
אתם לומדים בדרך הקשה שצבא במזרח התיכון זה חובה כמעט כמו מלפפון חמוץ עם קוגל. אתם מבינים, גם אם לא מודים בזה, שאי אפשר להגן על גבולות עם לימוד תורה בלבד. זה לא עבד בימי דוד המלך והפלישתים, לפי איזה מודל בדיוק זה יעבוד היום?
ועמוק בפנים אתם גם יודעים שהתפילות אולי מצליחות לנקות לכם את המצפון על חוסר המעש והעמידה מנגד, כשאחיכם יוצאים למלחמה, אבל לא מצליחות לפוצץ מנהרה אחת או לחסל חוליית מחבלים רצחנית.
תורה ותפילה בראייה אמיתית ומפוכחת הם באמת נשמת האומה, אך כמו שאינם יכולים להחליף את קיומם של קיצבאות, הם לא יחליפו לעולם את הצורך בשמירה פיזית על בטחוננו, משימה אותה ממלא צבא השמד הציוני.
Dr. Moshe Shoshan teaches midrash and aggada at Bar-Ilan and Hebrew Unviersity. Much of his work, including his book, Stories of the Law (Oxford University Press, 2012) focuses on the nature, function and limitations of Rabbinic authority in classical Jewish sources. He lives in Beit Shemesh, with his wife and children.
I want to thank CC for posting this and for Dr Shoshan for eloquenlty expressing feelings that I and many other Orthdox/religious Jews here in Israel are feeling.
I became observant in Southern California while attending University in the 1970’s. In the wake of the Yom Kippur War I began to read about the history of Israel and I was inspired by the heroism of those who participated in the struggle to create the modern State of Israel and found that I identified with the values of Religous Zionism although I never was active in any of its organizations such as Mizrachi or Benei Akiva. When I began to strengthen my observance of Torah and mitzvot, I did this within the framework of various Haredi groups such as Yeshivat Hafetz Haim and I attended a liberal Haredi yeshiva in Israel. Thus, although I never identified as being Haredi, I had close and pleasant contacts with the Haredi community. Thus, it with great pain that I must say that recent events and the expressions coming out of the Haredi leadership, and especially its official spokesmen have lead to me, and many others , becoming completely alienated from the Haredi world. These actions and statements have done incalculable harm to the Haredi community and how the rest of the Jewish community in Israel relates to them. Is it possible to reverse this course? I have my doubts.
Yesterday, September 1st, was the first day of school for Bais Yaakov students. For reasons unknown, there is a secular school with declining registration which has a large facility here in Ramah Aleph (a 99% religious neighborhood). All of the students at this school bus in.
The city, which assigns facilities to schools, decreed that this school must give up part of its building to a Bais Yaakov which is very overcrowded. The secular parent body of the school was furious, and showed up in force to try to prevent these little girls from going to school.
My chevrusa had to take his 9-year-old there. It was a scene out of the days of segregation – he said the protesters were threatening to throw stones, until the police made clear that anyone who tried that would get a personal introduction to their nightsticks.
The police literally had to form a cordon to allow the chareidi kids to go to school where the city assigned them to go to school. Had the police not been there, the protesters would have forced the children away.
Not a reporter was to be found.
I honestly had not heard of attacks on soldiers anywhere in Bet Shemesh. It certainly is not happening in Ramah Aleph – where I have regularly seen soldiers in uniform davening at solidly Haredi shuls. If it did happen, I can guess where it did: in shuls/neighborhoods associated with the rejectionist streams.
The Eidah is not under the authority of R’Shteineman or R’Kanievsky. Their condemnation would does mean nothing; their relative cooperation with the government means they are pasul. Do not be fooled into thinking Haredi leadership is unified or monolithic – the cooperation with respect to the atzeres tefillah was unique, and its many components had very different intentions as to the meaning of the event. The Eidah has always rejected any involvement with the State, and now they feel an existential threat to their way of life. Please do not allow the Eidah’s ideas to define what mainstream Haredim – who are very much citizens and participants in the State – think.
During the course of the war, the Haredi community did a great deal to show unity and support for the soldiers. Many volunteers – including an elementary school choir – went to visit wounded soldiers in hospitals. Yeshivos cancelled vacation. There were Thursday-night mishmars till the wee hours of the morning, and extra tefilos.
R’Shoshan’s statement ignores that, and readers overseas will base their opinions based on what they do read and not what they are unaware of.
Hooligans are immune to condemnation, except by their leaders, and maybe not always then. It would be refreshing, though, if titular leaders of subgroups known to harbor or encourage hooligans were not treated as respected colleagues by any other leaders in the same “camp”.
It is very easy to understand the rhetoric against Yair Lapid based on the words of the Vilna Gaon quoted in Kobetz Ma’amarim of Rav Elchonon Wassrerman Hy”d. Professor Shoshan must be unaware of this Gaon for him to criticize Chaim Walder.
Yesterday, I was able to have a frank discussion with someone high up in Agudath Israel of America echelons.I said that it was time for the Agudah to recognize the existence of the State of Israel instead of “davening for the matzav in Eretz hakodesh” and the objection to saying the prayer for the IDF because it is an arm of the Zionsit Entity. He did not deny my charecterizatin and instead told me that people of my pesuasion were a declining force in the world inhabited by the Agudah. They are much more concerned about Satmar than people like me.
The rise of yair lapid is directly the result of the inability and unwillingness of t he less extreme chareidim in Ramat Beit Shemesh to make common cause with the parents of the girls’ school.
In other words, the difference between the crazies and the mainstream leadership and askanim is not as great as they would want us to believe. One accepts the State grudingly and withut any recognition of its legitimacy and the other is honest.
The recent war in Israel united all Jews and I do not believe that the Amcha share the fanaticism of the spokemen and leaders, but they have no voice or forum to express their opinions. Any change will come from below.
It does hurt me very much that the Agudah,which is so on the ball in every way ,is still unwilling to come to open recognition of the State of Israel. At the very last Knessia gedola ever held, in 1980, the recinded the invitation to Menachem Begin, who gave them more money and more respect than any leader before or after and they made no recognition, in any way share or form that there was a country called Medinat Yisrael.
After loyalty to the movement for 50 years, I am reachng the end of my rope.
I have a relative who is a Ram in a RZ “high school”. He toook his talmidim to a well known chareidi Yeshiva to meet with one of the magidei shiur(MS) there. He tells the following story – The MS asked the boys if they knew what was the most important thing to a chareidi parent. After all the obvious answers were rejected, the MS told them it was that their children be chareidi, thus they will be told there is no torah/talmidei chachamim in the RZ world etc. Once they are old enough to be committed (some might say faced with an incredibly high exit price), thge truth can then be told.
When you understand someone’s true priorities, decisions that seem illogical suddenly become completely clear.
The city’s actions at beit sefer tarbuyot ve’safot has been covered in the media and on Beit shemesh oriented blogs. I refer you there to get more details as to why the non-charedi residents of beit shemesh once again find the city’s behavior outrageous, but this is not the topic of Mrs. Shushan’s post or my introduction to it.
As for the mainstream chareidi rabbonim’s lack of influence on the Eida, Charedi Rabbonim have no influence on Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Secular Jews, yet they regularly condemn them in the harshest terms when their behavior or actions in any way deviates from their view of “Torah True Judasim”. Yet when other charedim violate major issurim and create massive chillul hashem they remain silent. Why the double standard?
As for your other comments, it does not seem that you actually read Mrs. Shushan’s post. She addresses these issues directly and explains why the charedi response in support of soldiers, such as it was, was woefully insufficient and was at best tepid compared to the extra ordinary show of support and achdus that came from every other segment of the Jewish population. By all reports that I have heard, the number of charedim visiting wounded soldiers in the hospital and certainly attending their funerals was exceedingly small. Given the fact that the charedi community has expressed such virulent opposition to the Army in recent months and given the fact that it was overwhelmingly non-charedim who were risking and giving their lives in the conflict, due to charedi refusal to serve, the charedi community needs to do much MORE than other Israeli groups in showing their support and appreciation. In a few years God willing my son will leave Yeshiva to go to the Army, while yours will likely remain in the comfort of the beit midrash facing only metaphorical wars and death. Your community did not experience the pain and terror of the war in a way remotely similar to the way mine did, where parents feared every knock on the door and went weeks with out hearing from their kids whose lives were in mortal danger. My old chevrusa’s son lost seven friends in the war. Your chevrusa’s daughter faced a protest in her school. Sorry, even if the protest was wrong, I have trouble sympathizing.
“He did not deny my charecterizatin and instead told me that people of my pesuasion were a declining force in the world inhabited by the Agudah. They are much more concerned about Satmar than people like me.”
I think its possible to relate to the Agudah the same way Marvin Schick writes that he related the OU at the time when it was part of the Synagogue Council. Ie, not see eye to eye on all matters of hashkafah, but cooperate or be involved on communal issues that transcend ideology.
Dr. Schick writes:
“During the 1960s, as well, I was active in Agudath Israel, as I had been since my teens, and also in the Orthodox Union, representing it on public issues. This dual commitment was and remains unique and reflected my determination to work for the entire community. When, however, Rabbi Samson R. Weiss, the Orthodox Union’s immensely gifted executive vice president, asked me to become an officer, I demurred, saying that while I would work voluntarily for the organization, an officer must take responsibility for the group’s policies and I could not take responsibility for Synagogue Council membership.” (Jewish Press, A Question Of Identity, October 13th, 2010)
The degree of nuance displayed by the writer is amply demonstrated by his inexplicable (or not)failure to make even such rudimentary distinctions as between Ramat Beit Shemesh A and B. In the Charedi shul where I daven, they don’t even make, let alone use, tar brushes as broad as the one used for this piece.
You lost me when you wrote:
“My old chevrusa’s son lost seven friends in the war. Your chevrusa’s daughter faced a protest in her school. Sorry, even if the protest was wrong, I have trouble sympathizing.”
What does one thing have to do with the other? Hatred and discrimination is wrong regardless of the targets. It’s not only Haredim that have trouble relating to the “other.”
My point is not that all charedim in Beit Shemesh are kanoim or even condone attacks on soldiers chas veshalom, only that they fail to take public stands against the kanoim and their supporters in the local government. I am intimately aware of the differences and similarities between RBSA and RBSB. Indeed there are more Kanoim and B than A, but it is a difference of degree, not kind. There is no shortage of extremists and fellow travelers in RBSA including leading anglo charedi rabbonim.
Perhaps i over stated things. Of course I feel bad for the little girl who had to face a protest at her school this morning, my point is that the author and many other charedim that I encounter fail to express any real appreciation for the sacrifices made on their behalf not only by combat soldiers but by their families, sacrifices which the vast majority of charedim will never made, as matter of proudly held principle. This is hurtful enough. Asking us in the context of this discussion to then have sympathy for minor things like a political protest that interfered with a child’s school day only adds insult to injury.
You need to understand that the charedi political establishment overwhelmingly supported by the charedi population here, and with the encouragement of the leading rabbis in the country, have constantly portrayed us as rishaim bend on destroying Torah. This makes sympathizing with the charedi other quite difficult, even if as you correctly point out, such sympathy is still in order.
I have to second what Micah wrote. Non-charedi residents are demonstrating against charedi girls (whose school is overcrowded) using perfectly suitable, empty classrooms in a school in their neighborhood, and attempting to physically prevent the girls from getting to class.
Needless to say, Dov Lipman did not show up to pontificate about how disgusting it was for people to try to intimidate these girls and prevent them from going to class.
The writer yields any moral high ground he might have attained, by attempting to dismiss this outrage as somehow unimportant. And that’s before we discuss the accuracy (or lack thereof) of his attempts to tar the entire charedi community with one brush.
R’ Yaakov Menken, I am dumbfounded by your statements to the degree that I am having trouble parsing them.
Are you trying to flip the Orot Banot story? Do you not see that the issue is not which children go to which school, but the rule of law vs might makes right? Since when is “greater need” an argument for taking what you want? Chas VeShalom that anyone connected with Torah should be associated with that line of thinking!
And then, you say that the writer “yields moral ground” on a completely unrelated issue? How? By not taking the side of “the Chareidim” in yet another local fight, that means that he cannot empathize with any Chareidim ever, and that means that the views that he shares can be glibly dismissed? How does that follow?
I agree, Moshe Shoshan’s comparison of what the different “Chavrusas” were facing is somewhat unfortunate, but if neither Micah nor yourself understood the point, let me try to restate it. Sending your kids to the army and sending them to yeshiva are not the same thing. It is not about moral ground, as both are moral actions. It is about Mesirus Nefesh. As Esti Shushan wrote above, sitting in an air conditioned Beis Medrash with a Gemara and a cup of coffee is not Mesirus Nefesh, no matter how much you’d rather be earning a living as a computer programmer. Putting your life on hold, leaving your wife and baby, leaving your fiancee, leaving your university exams, leaving your yeshiva, and going off to fight the enemy who send cocaine-laden suicide bombers to attack you in booby-trapped homes – that is Mesirus Nefesh. Any dismissal or denigration, any lack of respect, towards people who are Moser Nefesh for Am Yisrael is the highest form of ingratitude. Any tolerance or appearance of tolerance for that behavior is similarly anathema to Bnei Torah.
I hope that I have clarified what you appear to have misunderstood.
This is not about “the rule of law” but the rule of politics. As Ari Heitner said, the neighborhood is mostly Charedi, and with regards to children 99% is probably about accurate. It is, in fact, a perfect parallel to the Orot Banot story, with non-Charedi residents even injuring a teacher in their zeal to keep charedi girls from going to school. All it’s missing is Dov Lipman, because when the bias is against Charedim his concern for civil rights and a child’s education is mysteriously absent.
The non-charedi schools are emptying and the charedi schools are bursting. As a natural consequence, the municipality is going to have to find space to give the charedi students, either by leaving some buildings (more than) half empty and spending taxpayer money to build yet more schools, or by reallocating space in existing structures to conform to the new student population. This was a completely reasonable (and routine) decision by the municipality until the anti-Charedi education minister, the grievously-uneducated Shai “Haredim don’t pray for soldiers’ well-being” Piron of Yesh Atid, got involved. Where else were they supposed to go? He has merely said they can’t use a non-charedi school, and has neither proposed nor ponied up the money for a solution. Neither, by the way, have either you or Mr. Shoshan, who has explicitly said he considers it inconsequential if the girls can’t find space for a classroom. [Your comment asserting a lack of mesiras nefesh in learning demonstrates a significant lack of awareness of the economic consequences, but that’s a discussion for another time.]
If the author is going to write a broad-brush tarring of the Charedim, he then yields the moral high ground if he is willing to dismiss the importance of such disgusting anti-Charedi animus from residents of Beit Shemesh. And the unity generated by our prayers for Eyal, Gilad and Naftali sadly joins them in the dust.
Oy, the whole thing hurts. Fighting hurts.
I love Achdus and harmony, but for long I had a hard time being accepting of everyone and still keeping myself “in check” and trying to live a principle-oriented life. Then I found the following mantra which often helps me in trying to be both accepting and principled:
“If I had the same background and same life experiences as this person in front of me, could I be certain I would be different than him/her?”
Shalom Al Israel
Rabbi Menken, it is completely false, in several ways, to present this as a “perfect parallel” to the Orot Banot story. With Orot Banot, the school had long been designated for the dati-leumi girls; with Safot, the school had never been designated for charedim, and the mayor took over the school ONE DAY before the start of the school year. With Orot Banot, there was extensive harassment of the dati-leumi girls; with Safot, there was no harassment whatsoever of the charedi girls. You condemn Rabbi Lipman for failing to condemn the “disgusting intimidation” of the charedi girls – but there wasn’t any! There was no groups of men screaming at them or cursing them or spitting on them (as happened to my relatives and friends at Orot Banot). Please do not tar the non-charedi community with false accusations.
I, of course, can only judge from news reports, but when non-charedi sources (Israel Radio, Times of Israel, etc.) confirm Ari Heitner’s report of harassment, intimidation, and even an injury to a teacher as a result of a large demonstration by secular parents, I wonder why you are claiming that I am making “false accusations” instead of seeking a correction from these hardly-charedi news outlets. Is this about telling the truth or circling the wagons?
It is true for several reasons that Orot Banot is not a perfect parallel; I must grant you that I exaggerated. Orot Banot was a choice of a school building next to a charedi neighborhood (with an unfortunate surfeit of “kano’im”) rather than in the center of the community served by the school. In this case, the school building is in the middle of the very community where the children have no classrooms, while the children currently being bused in are merely 140 in a building able to accommodate 500 students.
I can show you several buildings in Baltimore that at present or in the recent past served different schools, primarily as the growing Orthodox community rents space from the cavernous yet largely-empty Temples that dominate Park Heights Avenue (if not purchasing them outright). I submit as obvious that in any other situation, the decision to utilize some portion of the 360 free seats in the Safot V’Tarbuyot school building would be regarded as not only acceptable, but the most prudent and logical course of action. But because there are “larger” considerations here, because this school is “the last non-ultra-Orthodox state institution in the largely Haredi enclave” of RBS, the Torah education of B’nos or B’not Yisrael, at your discretion, takes a back seat to politics.
Once again, Rabbi Slifkin, have you proposed an alternative for the education of these girls?
The media sources said no such thing. There are no reports of harassment and intimidation of the charedi students. The teacher who was injured was a secular teacher, who was injured in a confrontation with one of the security guards brought in by the mayor.
Your other points are likewise wrong. Orot Banot was designated its location long before the neighbors became extremist charedi.
With regard to alternatives – first of all, this situation should not have been allowed to develop in the first place. These girls did not spontaneously generate at age nine. Second, once it did develop, it should have been worked out in advance, following proper channels – not one day before the school year.
It is obvous that this article hit a nerve and that is why the retorts are so angry. Mrs Shushan and dr Shoshan are stating the obvious and anyone who tries to obfuscate may simply be unwilling to openly defend what is to me an indefensible postition. Rabbi Sherer used to say that there is a debate in the Gemara whether or not it is better that the world was created, but now that it is created that debate is not relavant and we have to live good lives. I contend that it requires a lot of mental gymastics to overlook the miracle of the rebirth of the State of Israel and it is obtuse to not recognize how much things have improved for chareidim in that state. The fight today is not because chareidim were persecuted, it is because they have been supported so generously that their population has grown so rapidly that it looks like they may take over one day. That scares a lot of people, including a lot of chareidim who wonder if they are up to the task of running a modern country. I think that the biggest helpers of Yesh Atid are those chareidim who give frum Jews a bad name and act in such an uncouth way. They cause hatred and it is not baseless. That is is the whole point. Things are changing.
Since there seems to be concern that Dov Lipman has not gotten involved in this situation, I share with you his remarks on his Facebook page. He obviously does not share the opinions of those who mentioned him pejoratively ,but then again, maybe there are two sides to this story.
לא גונבים בית ספר באמצע הלילה!
לא סוגרים כיתות אומנות ומוזיקה של תלמידים חילונים כדי לתת אותם חדרים לתלמידים חרדים!
לא לוקחים קומה שלמה של בית ספר חילוני ובכך מכריחים תלמידות ותלמידים להשתמש בתא שירותים משותף!
ובעיקר, לא בונים קירות בין דתיים לחילונים!
תודה לך שר החינוך, הרב שי פירון, על המאבק הצודק נגד ההחלטה הבריונית של ראש עיריית בית שמש ועל שהשגת צו סגירה ומניעה.
בתקווה שהשלום, השלווה, ותוכנית הלימודים המלאה יחזרו בקרוב לבית הספר שפות ותרבויות. ובתקווה שיימצא מבנה ראוי לכל התלמידות והתלמידים החרדיים.
בבית שמש – ובמדינת ישראל – יש מקום לכולם.
You don’t steal a school in the middle of the night! You don’t close art and music classes in a secular school in order to give those rooms to a haredi school! You don’t take away a complete floor from a secular school thereby forcing the boys and girls to share the only remaining bathroom in the building! And, most importantly, you don’t build a separation wall between secular and religious Jews! Thank you to the Education Minister, Rabbi Shai Piron, for this just battle against the bullying acts of the mayor of Bet Shemesh and on obtaining a court order that the haredi school must move out of the secular school immediately
I hope that peace, quiet, and the full educational program is restored to the Safot school in the very near future and that proper school facilities are found for all haredi students as well. In Bet Shemesh – and in the State of Israel – there is space for all
I think the writers prime point of the unwillingness to confront or challenge of disrespect to a soldier daavening is on the mark. It reflects a great sense of insecurity. Either the appearance of a soldier daavening challenges your value system so a person reacts with violence. Or an observer refuses to acknowledge the immorality of the act of violence due to fear of being chastised by others. Either way it’s a moral and spiritual failure.
Whatever the issue with the school. It’s irrelevant if the government officials are biased, or the secular parents reaction was outrageous. None of it has any bearing on the central issue raised. We are all responsible for our actions. A Jew who values Torah must constantly have the inner strength to rise to the moral high ground.
Again, Yediot is not a Haredi paper, yet it reports a “violent clash” that left one mother requiring the attention of MDA paramedics on site. The Jerusalem Post refers to “violent incidents” on Sunday and “scuffles” on Monday. This is in addition to the report of Ari Heitner that his chavrusa needed a police cordon to protect him, at a time when no journalists were seen. Given this plethora of reliable sources, Rabbi Slifkin’s claim of “no reports” of harassment and intimidation rings a little flat.
And speaking of music — or playing the same old tune — Rabbi Oberstein points out that while Lipman has not appeared on site as I said, he has indeed taken to Facebook to stake his predictable claim against the charedi community. In his eyes, it is entirely unreasonable that charedi girls be given an actual classroom in which to study, if this means requiring the music department to move to a different part of the more-than-half-empty building.
As for how the situation “should not have been allowed to develop,” it would appear that both the administration of the charedi Mishkenot Da’at school and the municipality agree that this is true. The school requested to be able to utilize some of the empty classrooms at least three years ago and was rebuffed. This year, the municipality invited the principal of the Safot school to discuss how to do this in a collaborative fashion, and she refused to dialogue.
Despite apparently being unaware of the municipality’s attempt to work with the school rather than take action by fiat, Shmuel Rosner offers a much more even, balanced approach in his op-ed about this conflict:
Lipman may be wrong. And it seems the overreaction of the secular parents is over the top. The Judaical system may be biased. However this has no bearing on the core issue of the writer. Two wrongs do not make a right.
The question is how should Jews who follow Halacha act. Is it right to attack a soldier. Should rabbonim be afraid to condemn immorality.
Dr. Shoshan, let’s see how intimately familiar you are. Can you identify the source of this message:
SPECIAL LEARNING FOR THE
ZECHUS OF OUR SOLDIERS
The entire community is encouraged to participate in an important event for the protection and safe return of our dear soldiers that are risking their lives to protect Klal Yisrael.
Yes, Rabbi Menken, there are reports of violent clashes and scuffles. However, none of these are reports about violent clashes and scuffles between secular and charedi students. They are reports about violent clashes and scuffles between secular people and security guards hired by the mayor. I don’t know why you keep claiming that the media is reporting violence against charedi students. They aren’t, and you should retract that claim. The only source you have is one person’s claim about what his chavrusa claims, and even that is not a claim about violence against students, just about an attempt to block the entrance of the school (which I have not heard from anyone else).
Furthermore, I don’t know why you simply take as fact the mayor’s claim that he tried to dialogue with the principal, and she refused. If you are following the news, surely you must be aware that the principal has a very different version of events, according to which she was invited to one meeting four days ago and the mayor did not show up. I don’t know which version is true, though I am skeptical of the mayor’s version due to past statements by him in Ami magazine; I don’t know your basis for being so sure that only his version is worth reporting.
I think that there are two types of Chareidim. There’s true Chareidim who are good nice people and follow Torah. Then there’s the extreme ones that are Not true, but just play the part. We need to be careful with this. Baruch Hashem, where I live, my Chassidish/Litvish neighbors are good, nice people.
I had a recent discussion with a charedi Jew, in which he asserted that the Israeli army is not protecting Jewish lives. The only thing protecting Jewish lives is Torah learning. So I asked him about the following scenario. Suppose a religious doctor happens to encounter a person suffering a heart attack right there on the public street. Should that religious man medically treat that person having the heart attack, or should that religious person instead whip out his Gemara and start to learn the Talmud? The chareidi Jew I was talking to admitted that we need to put in effort, yet was unwilling to make the connection to that effort being the Israeli army when it comes to protecting lives on a larger scale within the Jewish State of Israel.
When discussing the relative merits of the various major religions and related ideologies of our times, I have long prided myself on the idea that even if Judaism cannot be proven true in any absolute sense, that at least it is marked by being the most reasonable and down-to-Earth of all the major ideologies in existence, requiring the least amount of irrational leaps of faith. Yet here was this chareidi man I was talking to, insisting that he literally felt physically protected in Israel far more by the presence of Torah scholars, than by the presence of Israeli soldiers. I guess there really is no ideology in existence that does not have its logically absurd elements. Meanwhile, I have to wonder how religious it really is, to have such a total lack of gratitude toward the Israeli Army, whose heroic efforts make it possible for those religious people to study the Torah.
> This is not about “the rule of law” but the rule of politics.
Have you read Yoram Hazony’s The Dawn? He gives an insightful explanation of the role of politics in furthering society, and how important politics are in the eyes of the Torah.
Politics is about groups with different interests working together to further both their common interests and the divers interests of each group. When politics fails, the default is the law.
Unlike either private or public schools in America, the schools in Israel are run both by the local city government and also by the federal Ministry of Education. The city government may not make unilateral decisions about which school gets which building. It is more complicated than the calculus that you mention, and requires a lot of politics. Not heavy-handed “whoever has the greater need gets to take away whatever they want”, not “whoever is on my side gets whatever I can give”, but true, honest, difficult, empathetic politics of the sort that the Torah expects of us.
As Sharona pointed out, Chareidim are very nice people, and very good people, if I may generalize. That is not the problem. The problem is that they are wonderful in the individual sphere, excellent at organizing their own communities, and really, really terrible at governing. Actually, let me not tar all Chareidim with the same brush. Abutbul is really, really, terrible at governing. The fact that he is Chareidi is either irrelevant, in which case those who are Chareidim have no reason to leap to his defense, or, the fact that he is Chareidi is relevant and has to do with certain attitudes and axioms which inform Chareidi politics which in turn cause them to be really, really terrible at governing, to the degree that their politics are so inconsistent with what the Torah expects that it becomes a Chillul Hashem.
A few other minor points:
> yet it reports a “violent clash” that left one mother requiring the attention of MDA paramedics on site
It is clear from the report that the mother was secular.
> Your comment asserting a lack of mesiras nefesh in learning demonstrates a significant lack of awareness of the economic consequences, but that’s a discussion for another time.
No, I am quite aware of economic consequences, and that is precisely my point and the point of Esti Shushan above. Economic Mesirus Nefesh should not be compared to physical Mesirus Nefesh, nor to the impact on the Nefesh of those who have had to kill human beings in battle, and on those who survive while their friends are killed, nor on those who have lost limbs and organs.
Anyone who dares make that comparison belittles those who have literally been Moser their actual Nefesh. It would be highly ungrateful and inconsistent with Torah values.
[Kira, Yoram and I have known each other since childhood and he understands politics well, but politics can also simply be nasty business. There appears to be no lack of political nastiness here on all sides. The courts engage in politics as well, when it is clearly inappropriate.
You are imagining a comparison of incomparable things. The problem is that mesiras nefesh for Torah is a commonly-used phrase, from the time of Chazal through the present day, and its use to refer to “killing oneself for Torah” dates at least to Reish Lakish [Brachos 43b] on “this is the Torah, a man when he dies in a tent…” [Num 19:14]. Nothing in that statement denigrated the sacrifice of those like Rebbe Akiva who quite literally sacrificed their lives for Torah, but your blanket statement that sacrificing at the bank isn’t mesiras nefesh contradicts the larger ideal of self-sacrifice described by Reish Lakish, which it most certainly is. –YM]
You accuse me of tarring the entire chareidi community with a single brush, yet your own behavior precisely falls into the category that I am complaining about. You dont hesitate to attack opponents of charedim in the strongest terms, even in cases about which you are entirely ignorant of the facts such as the one with which you have hijacked this thread. Yet, you will not directly criticize other charedim, seemingly no matter what they do. If you have any examples where you have done so, I would be most interested in seeing them.
How exactly have I mis-characterized the charedi community?
Here are the questions charedim must ask:
Do I think Charedi publications should compare the army/soldiers/government etc. as Nazis? Am I satisfied than when it has been done the gedolim/leaders/politicians have condemned it?
As for the school in Bet Shemesh, I live in the neighborhood. (My kids are also in caravans but not in that school).
First of all, the idea that the kids are bussed in means they have no right to the building is obnoxious. They live in this city (albeit not right up the block from the school). There’s a huge building in Ramat Bet Shemesh B that houses a school where 99% of the students come from Rama Alef. Why not? We are one city.
Second, a school building that is half empty needs to share the space with another school. The school is not a private building – the city granted them that space assignment, and if they don’t need it all, it goes to another school. Simple. (The problem is there are NO transparent rules for how schools are assigned space, how many years people have to wait, etc., how much under-uyilization of space requires you to move, etc. A charedi yeshiva currently in Jerusalem was granted land in RBS-C to build on, even though local schools do not have buildings. Slimy politics there.)
However, although I think the school should have to let other kids use the non-used space, I will say that in fairness to the secular parents, when people suggest that their kids have no rights to the space they’ve been in for years “because the neighborhood is religious” and after the things that were said against secular people in the last election, I don’t blame the secular parents for being angry and frightened.
I’m sorry this has to get this level of personal.
Rabbi Slifkin, I live in your neighborhood. I guarantee we have many friends in common. I said tashlich at your amazing backyard “zoo” last year (our first Rosh Hashnah back in Israel after 7 years working for NCSY). You and anyone else who live in the area are welcome to look me up in the phone book and give me a call; I will put you in touch with my chevrusa, who for the record has zero connection to this discussion and is most definitely not aware of this blog. His comments to me that the police presence was the only thing preventing violence against the students were completely m’siach lefi tumo.
Dr. Shoshan, at the time I posted, I had seen no media coverage of the event. I can’t say I’m entirely impressed by what has been written, but my chevrusa’s opening yesterday (September 2nd) was something like, “Today when I took my kid to school, there were TV cameras and someone stuck a microphone in my face.” He was not interested in talking to them.
But I am letting details get in the way of my point to both of you: I don’t know how far your respective backgrounds have taken you beyond the Torah we can learn from giraffes and academic interpretations of the Medresh, but I’ve spent a lot of time trying to help my students mend relationships – with their parents, with their spouses. I’ve seen homes freshly split by divorce (kids can get divorced from their parents, too), homes long since split, and homes that have maybe narrowly dodged it.
One simple test captures whether a relationship still has a chance: can I believe that there’s something positive to the other side? Can I let them tell me how they feel, rather than dictating to them how I already know they are? If not, it’s all over.
Dr. Shoshan, I hear Mrs. Shushan’s cry of pain. But I refuse to acquiesce to your insistence that there is hatred (or indifference) in my heart, and in the hearts of my friends and family. There is no empirical way to know what the average Haredi-on-the-street thinks. Who gets to define the mainstream? Is R’Shteineman’s camp bigger? Is the Eidah’s? Is the Piacezna Rebbe’s? Rav Kornfeld’s? I learn, daven and interact all day long with people in hats and jackets and reklach and gartels and shtreimels and experience constantly the degree to which they care, to which every loss pains them, to which their caring motivates them to action.
Rabbi Slifkin, neither you nor I was there, but is it not reasonable to assume that just as the Menahelet of L’shonot v’Tarbuyot is a reasonable person, the Mayor is as well, and that both are acting in an attempt to do both what they believe is right? Unfortunately their relationship across a wide cultural gulf may prove impossible to bridge; I will bet you a very large pastry from Nechama plus a 3.5 shekel barad (big cup!) that she thinks to herself, “Who on earth are you to come put your apartheid wall in my school?!” while he thinks, “Who are you to bus your kids into a Hareidi neighbordhood and enjoy empty classrooms of space while the neighborhood kids are packed 40 to a room?!” (D’lo k’asmachta)
It’s my favorite quote from Fiddler on the Roof: “But Rabbi, they can’t both be right!”
So the voice in my head says it might be stupid, and it’s probably crazy, and it’s definitely chutzpa. And I really might be all those things. But it’s also Elul, and two things I want very much to work on are savlanus and akshanus.
So, Dr. Shoshan and Rabbi Slifkin, I would like to publicly invite the two of you to meet. I can think of a few other locals who could contribute a great deal. Let’s call up R’Dov Lipman and see if he’ll come. We’ll see whom we can get from the Iriyah. And we’ll hash out what could’ve and should’ve been done and said about past events from Orot Banot and on (or even before). And we’ll try to build a framework of communication that can help prevent future events before they become events. And we’ll all drink barad at one table, which is maybe itself an achievement.
What do you say?
The barad is on me.
Some questions for Rabbi Slifkin and Dr. Shoshan:
(1) Could you please point me to somewhere Rav Lichtenstein has vocally denounced Price Tag hooliganism? Do you feel he has sufficiently put his moral weight down on this issue? What about Rav Dov Lior? Why is there nary a word from the RZ Rabbinic leadership about attacking soldiers in Yitzhar, for example? Do you feel that Religious Zionists, as a whole, bear responsibility for the Rabin assassination?
(2) Do you accept non- or anti-Zionism, per se, as legitimate under Elu V’eilu?
Sharona, if you’re not being sarcastic, I’d like to remind you of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.
Regardless of all other claims and allegations, I’d just like to say that nothing- absolutely nothing- can justify that wall.
R’ Can’t Believe This Got Published
Try googling “rav lichtenstein price tag” and you’ll have the answer to your first question.
Does eilu v’eilu allow a partner in an enterprise to refuse his share of a liability accepted by the enterprise?
I want to thank Cross Currents and the writers of the article and the excerpted FB page. It’s hard for me to express my feelings of vindication that my thoughts and words are being expressed publicly.
I want to add that although I grew up in a home where love of Eretz Yisrael was constantly expressed, and I considered it a zechus to be able to move here, I have recently decided that the price for living here may be too steep. I love Eretz Yisrael with all my heart and soul, but I cannot raise children in a hateful environment. My options are 1) Stop being as chareidi as I grew up and get into a more modern community or 2) Raise my children in a toxic, bigoted environment.
I am not exaggerating and I am not seeing the actions of few as representative of the whole community. I am talking about widespread intolerance which I have heard echoed by the most ‘normal’ of people in my circles. There is a kind of disregard to law and order, counter-culturalism, disrespect to anyone and everyone (within as well, ironically) that I find hard to stomach, and harder still to justify as ‘higher moral ground’.
I think option 3 is what I’ll end up settling with. I will probably leave EY and go back to the community where I was raised. I’ll cry the day we make our return tickets, but I’m not willing to make my children, who I love, into such hating, blaming people.
And while I push off my decision, and try to give myself some time here while my children are young, I daven that Mashiach will quickly end our troubles.
Can’t believe that this got published – non or anti-zionism are legitimate. But today they just generate extreme cognitive dissonance. Just ask yourself a few simples questions – what do you think the fate of the more than 1 million Jews in Iraq, Kurdistan and Syria would have been had theer been no state of Israel and ISIS was coming through town? would they have done better or worse than the christians in Mosul? The Yazidis? the Shiite opposition?
Did torah scholars have it easier in the Pale of Settlement in forzen rickety batei knesset with food shortages and facing the 30 impressment into the Czar’s army as cantonists or in the modern State of Israel which pays the largest portion of the budget of most yeshivot (inncluding the largest ones such as Mir and Ponovech) and which haredi propagandists portray as “the worst and most oppressive situation the torah world has ever faced”?
when young impressionable minds are exposed to this cognitive dissonance and start asking questions and then consider the fact that maybe people they looked up to have possibly – just possibly – misrepresented things in the name of a “legitimate” ideology or world-view which has not held up in reality – do you think they will start asking if perhaps those same people lied about other things? or will they just turn to the next daf of gemara?
Rabbi Menken – I agree with you that politics is nasty. and there is no shortage of nasty politicians in all groups. I live in a small-medium sized mostly national religious town which has had its share of nasty mayors and council members, and no shortage of local political intrigue, dirty tricks, a culture of debate at council meetings which is in the gutter and others.
I also agree with the your comment regarding the courts
But frankly you then revert to typical charedi apologetics and try to explain that “we misunderstand the phrase”. We undertsand it very well. I went to charedi yeshivas and understand what it means.
But here’s the issue – 1) charedim REALLY DO believe that they are sacriicing for Torah which is as valuable as my son’s service as a combat soldier. and his freind’s and chavrusa’s service. and my neighbors reserve duty. the the reserve duty I did before discharge due to age. They really believe this. and MOST PEOPLE in Israel don’t believe it. and frankly – neither did Moshe Rabbeinu, nor chaza’l nor most normative poskim through the generations.
We also don’t believe that there is true mesiras nefesh for torah anymore. In most rabbinical and rosh yeshiva families you see shiduchim made with wealthy people. often very wealthy. lots of roshei yeshiva, menahlim, yeshiva administrators and others being driven in fancy cars. making expensive fancy weddings. lost of 3-5,000 dollar sheitels going around. We see this. and we ask – this is what gets you an exemption from induction???
You tar the entire community with one brush, and then when challenged for dismissing serious attacks on charedim [charedi children, at that] from the non-charedi side, you just redouble your attack. It is you who “attacked charedim in the strongest terms,” and I challenge you to find any similar generalization on my part that attacks all non-charedim. It simply doesn’t exist.
As for your claim that I am “ignorant” of political events, I use the same sources of any writer of op-eds anywhere in the world, plus, in this case, Ari Heitner’s eyewitness account. In multiple previous cases (e.g. Emmanuel) viewing with less animosity and from greater distance proved more accurate than the perspective of people claiming to be closer to the events. Unless, of course, you believe that sending a Yemenite Rav to jail for racism against Yemenites makes sense, as it did to the secular court.
But it is your statement that I will not criticize charedim that boggles the mind. In this thread itself, I referred to the neighborhood near the Orot school as being proximate to a neighborhood with “an unfortunate surfeit of ‘kano’im'” (note the “scare quotes”), implying anything but respect towards those who misbehaved in that case. My “criticism” of the behavior of certain people claiming to represent the charedi community could not possibly have been more transparent. What you didn’t hear from me was a willingness to join a stereotyped portrayal of all “charedim” as if they were collectively responsible for the idiots who expelled a soldier from a shul.
Your depiction of the charedim omits the call of Rabbonim in the Beit Shemesh community itself to pray for the soldiers (can you, in fact, identify the source of the call for “special learning” referenced previously?). It ignores the personal visit of the Bostoner Rebbe to soldiers on the Gaza border. It omits Rav Chaim Kanievsky calling for increased prayer and study for the merits of the soldiers. It omits the call of the Sanzer Rebbe for all his followers to come early on Friday afternoon and on Shabbos morning to say Psalms for all of Israel, though of course he and his followers were in Jerusalem, and it wasn’t their own danger he had in mind. It ignores the declaration of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman that miracles surpassing nature were seen by us — done on behalf of the soldiers.
And it omits the full color poster in the main Vizhnitz shul, listing wounded soldiers by name and calling for prayers and Psalms for their recovery. Thousands of Chassidim were thus asked to pray on behalf of men with such decidedly un-Chassidic names as “Liran ben Orly” and “Yaniv ben Yonit,” (in the event that they have not already seen a full recovery, may they have a refuah shleimah b’m’heirah), yet we don’t see that. Instead, we see in your report a claim that these same charedi leaders must “re-evaluate their attitudes and behavior towards the Army.” On what basis? Because the Rabbis were too busy calling for prayers on behalf of soldiers to “sufficiently” condemn those who attack them?
Please have a look at my twitter feed if you are still confused about my position on the IDF throughout Operation Protective Edge. Admittedly my posts to Cross-Currents were few during that time, because the audience here — charedi, RZ, and secular — all shared my opinion.
So you attack my “behavior” rather than address my argument on its merits, ignore inconvenient facts that disprove your characterization, and insist upon using a broad brush characterization of charedim. Yet, you argue, it is the charedim who are being needlessly divisive.
Rabbi Menken – with all due respect there are no atheists in foxholes and I’m sure that every soldier on duty was parying as hard as possible. So yes the prayers are nice – but what we want – what the people of Israel want and require and what is morally and ethically correct to do – is to submit to the draft just like everyone else and take your share of the burden.
“will thy brothers go to war whilst thou remain behind here?”
Do you think that Moshe Rabbeinu for one second – even one second – doubted that the other tribes would also be davening and praying when he made that call?
[Thank you for getting to the root of the problem. Until the charedi leadership and community is willing to abandon the belief that the study of Torah exclusively, by those willing to dedicate their lives to the pursuit, should be interrupted by no other matter, then some in the RZ community and beyond will always accuse the charedim of not appreciating the sacrifice of soldiers or their parents, hating secular society, not “sharing the burden” etc. etc. etc. And not only that, but they will trot out references to “Moshe Rabbeinu” to “prove” that the Rabbonim have it all wrong. That’s a price we must be willing to pay, without apology or prevarication. I have nothing further to add. –YM]
I agree that to the extent that Haredim falsely accuse and portray non-Haredim of being reshaim, anti-Torah, anti-Haredi, hateful, etc. it is sinas chinam. But I also believe that to the extent that non-Haredim are anti-Haredi, can’t sympathize with Haredim, overly generalize, etc. they are equally guilty of sinas chinam. If we let one set of misdeeds justify the other (and I suspect that there are unfortunately many people on both sides who do this) things can’t get better.
Thank you for the Rav Lichtenstein reference. (It makes my other sub-questions all the more poignant.) Now I invite you to google הרב גרשון אדלשטיין תקיפת חייל and see what you come up with.
If the essential answer to the second question is no, I’m afraid there isn’t much to discuss. [The primary enterprise of the Jewish people, by the way, is performing Hashem’s Will, not Zionism. And an awful lot of people in the Zionist world seem to have no issue with invoking Him without accepting liabilities He imposed.]
Religious Zionist Leaders including the Rashei Yeshiva at Yeshivat Har Etzion condemn Price Tag attacks in the media all the time. Open Mekor Rishon and see the debates that go on there. There is simply no parallel to the way debate is conducted in the RZ world and the Charedi world.
The limitations on criticizing the leadership and the community that even this blog imposes with a heavy hand are unheard of the RZ world. R. Ariel perhaps the most widely respected rabbinic figure in the RZ world recently published piece arguing that while public criticism against communal leadership needs to be done appropriately and respectfully, failure to issue such criticism when it is warranted is a serious moral and halakhic failing. I have never seen anything like this come from a contemporary charedi rav.
Rav Chanan Porat publicly asked mechila for the fact that he never condemned the depictions of Rabin as a Nazi before his assassination and R. Aviner publicly condemned the extreme hateful rhetoric against the government at the time warning that atmosphere could lead to tragedy.
I certainly think that nevertheless the Religious Zionist community bears responsibility for the failures of its educational system and for the actions of its leaders and I do not think it does enough to combat extremism.
As for non and anti Zionism, I believe that there is a very wide range of possible approaches to the question of the theological and halakhic status of the state. I think that non and even anti zionist positions raise many important critiques of RZ which we need to learn from.
However given the fact that the state is a reality which is responsible for the welfare and security of ha-am hayoshev betzion, I think that active opposition to the existence of the state is beyond the pale.
Furthermore, I simply do not think that the state can survive even in the long or even intermediate term if the charedi community does not fully embrace the legitimacy of the state, fully respect the its authority and institutions and fully and openly appreciate the tremendous benefits that not only the charedi community but all of klal yisrael receive from it. They cannot go on seeing the state and non-charedi Israel as an “unladen donkey”. Furthermore the charedi community needs to take much greater responsibility for contributing to the security needs, economic life and Israeli society over all.
[Thank you for getting to the root of the problem. Until the charedi leadership and community is willing to abandon the belief that the study of Torah exclusively, by those willing to dedicate their lives to the pursuit, should be interrupted by no other matter, then some in the RZ community and beyond will always accuse the charedim of not appreciating the sacrifice of soldiers or their parents, hating secular society, not “sharing the burden” etc. etc. etc. And not only that, but they will trot out references to “Moshe Rabbeinu” to “prove” that the Rabbonim have it all wrong. That’s a price we must be willing to pay, without apology or prevarication. I have nothing further to add. –YM]
WADR R’YM imho the “root” of the problem is not that “charedi leadership and community is willing to abandon the belief that the study of Torah exclusively, by those willing to dedicate their lives to the pursuit, should be interrupted by no other matter” (they certainly are entitled to make such a judgment) but that they seek to have their “partners” subsidize this belief (in shekel and in personal service to the enterprise which is Israel). The chareidi leadership and community can choose to continue this course but should not be surprised that it engenders negative reaction from their enterprise partners and it certainly may be a price that they are willing to pay without apology or prevarication (to man or HKB”H who will be the final judge of each of us and our approaches to life). I’d simply add that I would think that last point would weigh heavily on anyone who does not participate in the enterprise but also does not truly act on “the study of Torah exclusively, by those willing to dedicate their lives to the pursuit, should be interrupted by no other matter””
Nechama Friedman – please do not leave Eretz Yisrael. Please
in the US, UK or wherever you go you will be exposing your children to a decrepit declining westerm society which is all invasive and pervasive. The effcts of this society creep into even teh anglo-charedi world. and the anglo-charedi world is certainly not too far behind in developing a culture of – as you put it – ” a kind of disregard to law and order, counter-culturalism, disrespect to anyone and everyone (within as well, ironically) that I find hard to stomach, and harder still to justify as ‘higher moral ground’.”
I dont think that you are responding to what I have written and certainly not to what Esty Shushan wrote.
I cannot repeat my arguments over and over again, when they seem clear to the other readers.
Let me rephrase my question one more time
Are there any circumstances in which you have or would be willing to publicly criticize any leading chareidi rabbinic figure or institution by name? R. Adlerstein has made it clear to me that he is unwilling to do so. Are you?
[WADR, I don’t think any reader would say that this one question was the unique or even primary focal point of what amounted to a broad-brush tarring of charedim en masse. You referenced not criticism of leading charedi figures, but what you perceived as a failure to criticize extremists. I did respond to that attack, both in general and in detail. Now you are asking, despite the tarring, am I willing to debate a point with Hashkafic relevance, but which could provide further fodder for invalid assumptions and statements? No, at present I’m not willing to engage, especially as I said above that I’ve said my piece. –YM]
I dislike the defensiveness and the offensiveness that these discussions always seem to come to.
Here we go again, back in the wrestling ring of the ‘better people’ prize.
I want to come out clearly and say that I think chareidim are amazing and are doing incredible work as dedicated עובדי ה. In fact, as I alluded to earlier, I would faster go back to chu”l than leave the ultra-ultra-chassidish-chareidi community I belong to.
But I’m not sure why bringing up the obvious fact that extreme, hateful rhetoric is published and spoken in our world regularly, is causing some posters to start blaming other Yidden for being worse than them or totally irrelevant and incapable of meaningful conversation. It perversely proves the writers’ points. There’s a problem here.
For me, whether or not the Israeli government and associated institutions are pure evil or a Jewish democracy that allows me to live freely in the Promised Land is not the point of this discussion.
Because even if I believed that Zionism only caused evil, and even if I didn’t give a hoot about making chillul Hashem, and even if I thought that it was some mitzva to antagonize secular people whenever possible and to gleefully report about any wrongdoing they commit, and even if I believed that secular Jews walk around thinking about and hating us no matter what we do, and even if I thought that kanaus and the shrill editorials actually accomplished more than it destroyed, I still wouldn’t want my kids going through the general system here.
Because I sincerely believe that more than any hurt we’re inflicting on others, we are hurting ourselves. Victimization, lack of any sort of taking blame for any kind of communal problem, and worst, shifting it to the (fill in the blanks) is only creating a society of the self-fulfilling prophecy of “they hate us” sort.
Lots of chareidim don’t buy into the general attitude vis-a-vis non-chareidim.* But the media, the MKs and the dominant ideas I hear are enough to make me want to be in a place where Yiddishkeit is practiced with pride and responsibility, as it is here, but without any of toxic intolerance.
*Yonasan Rosenblum and Yitzchak Alerstein are my favorite writers for this reason
Rabbi Heitner, I think your idea is marvelous. If any ladies might be invited, I would like to come. I don’t live in Beit Shemesh, but I think there is an important conversation to be had.
It seem that according to Dr. Shoshan the only solution is for Chareidim to become Zionists, since any negative attitudes attributed to your average Chareidi can logically be traced to their view of the State of Israel and the belief and practice of Chareidim to disassociate with secular Jews and RZ Zionist Jews. Since we know that this is not going to happen, even if Dr. Shoshank, and apparently Mrs. Shushan, wants that transformation to happen, what then is the solution?
Nechama Friedman: May I ask what is so bad about not being a charedi and/or living in a more modern area? Millions of perfectly religious Jews do it.
The following facts seem indisuputable:
1. The city council illegally ordered workers to enter a school, divide it in two and erect a large unsightly fence in the playground.
2. This work was ordered one day before the start of the new academic year.
3. As a result of this work the boys and girls of the school are left with a single bathroom to share
4. This comes soon after 2 torrid elections resulting in much bad feeling between different communities. The community who won the election gain in this school scenario at the cost of the community who lost.
It’s also clear that the school is underused and that the space is needed by others. Further that there is a large discrepancy between the irya and the school as to whether or this latter issue was actually discussed prior to the forced separation.
Assuming I have it right, it is abomninable chutzpa to blame the parent body for reacting as they did to this forced partition of their children’s school. Orot banot? The differences with that shonda are so obvious as to be unmissable by anyone with any appreciation for truth or fairness. This partition was carried out by the law of the jungle, the city had the physical power to act and that appears to be what counted.
Of course the charedi girls school needs space, but to claim that as justification for unilateral, illegal forced action? This is a Torah-oriented website, no? Am I mistaken about basic Jewish values? Perhaps I need some Jewish reeducation. Or perhaps ideological commitment to one’s own clique/community/chevra/etc blinds people, even scholars, to the disgraceful actions of those whose overall ideology they share.
And that, in a nutshell, is the root of Beit Shemesh’s problems.
Longing for the day when genuine Torah values guide all mevakshei hashem, and when the foul wind of politics can be cast aside
the title of the post is A Plaintive Cry (Or Two) For Understanding – which is a plea not an accusation
by bringing in the current events in bet shemesh (dr. shoshan did not bring up the events in his article and in his comments deferred to other sites)- you are obfuscating his point – which is – no one would argue that because of all the people learning there is no need for an army.
when the chareidi world wants to get a message across clearly – they know how to do it – i.e. vote for aboutbul. i know you will repeat your references in your comment to dr. shoshan – get your message across that you appreciate the mesirut nefesh of the tens of thousands of soldiers who were in aza for an entire month – and their families who did not hear from them during that entire time – so that everyone will understand clearly that that is the official charedi view.
Despite some unfortunate naivety over the past months, it appears that achdut is not around the corner. Achdut is not people compromising and agreeing, but people willing to accept that other points of view, with which they may strenuously disagree, have legitimacy. I appreciate as well the truth of what I heard almost fifty years ago from Rav Lichtenstein, “Don’t mistake tolerance for a lack of principle.” But there is a telltale sign that the issue has gone well beyond just lacking achdut. Life has taught me that you have a better chance teaching pigs to sing than getting those who engage in ad hominem attacks to embrace achdut. Reading the comments above, it is easy to spot the ad hominem ones.
Just to update everyone who is following the fun from home:
Today the Ministry of Education in their great (and presumably Torah) wisdom, decided that the classrooms should remain empty.
So all the Bais Yaakov girls, wearing their sun hats and carrying their water bottles, had class outside in a tent. (No I do not know why they need sun hats if they are in a tent. Nor could we figure out who kindly provided the tent – perhaps the aforementioned ministry).
A brachah, it was only 32 today. Tomorrow will be a little warmer at 34, but for next week they’re calling for a very pleasant 31. In context, all of August seemed to be more like 35-36.
To clarify, I have no problem with living in a more modern area. I do have a problem with joining a more modern communal infrastructure.
As someone who believes that the Jews are a nation and the Torah is our Constitution (a view that was vigorously denied by some commenters here when I raised the issue in previous threads) all I am asking for is the for the Haredim to view Am Israel as a “team effort” with everyone doing their part. That means everyone respecting the contribution the Haredim are making, which is primarily in the spiritual realm but IN ADDITION, the Haredim would respect the contribution everyone one else in Israel is making, including in the physical, economic, defense realms, all of which ultimately contribute to the spiritual well-being of Am Israel as well. It is the refusal by many Haredim spokesmen to take this position (e.g. “we don’t want or need their army and soldiers”, “the medinah is tareif”, etc, etc) that upsets many people like myself. Taking the view that someone who is not Haredi has no spiritual value is not helpful and ultimately counter-productive.
Nehama Friedman-I have to second what Brooklyn Refugee said. Going back to the US is the WORST thing you can do. American Orthodox Jewry is committing spiritual suicide. The US is in TERMINAL spiritual and ethical in addition to economic decline and it will inevitably drag down the Orthodox Jewish community with it and it is happening already. There is no question in my mind that if you look around, you can find a community and education system that will meet your needs. As Nachum stated, there are plenty of serious religious Jews who are able to live unconflicted lives and still be part of the modern education and economic system while studying Torah on a high level.
[YA – Regarding the first point, readers will do themselves a great favor by reading one of the most prophetic pieces penned by Rav Kook zt”l, his non-hesped for Herzl that is really an analysis of the perennial friction within Klal Yisrael. It is a game-changer. Available in English at http://www.shaalvim.co.il/uploads/files/13-D-10-lamentation.pdf%5D
There is a lot to say on a micro level to each of Dr. Shoshan’s points (such as the touching naivete at thinking that the Beit Shemesh election was about anything, for ANY side, other than making a point in the national arena; it got international attention, and, as others pointed out, the immensely wide brush used to tar the Charedim vis-à-vis essential attitudes toward the Army and the non-Charedi populace), but there is something much more fundamental that Rabbi Shoshan and Mrs. Shushan are missing. Allow me an analogy:
When the Gush Katif expulsion happened, there were sights of Jews being marched out of their homes wearing yellow badges with raised hands! MK Eldad read out yishuv after yishuv: “Neve Dekalim, Judenrein.” “Shirat Hayam, Judenrein.” He read names of those scheduled for deportation. There were major scenes of flag-burning and shredding. There was spitting on soldiers. I don’t recall all that much condemnation for any of this. Most sane people realize that the Gush Katif explusion was misguided, and many fairminded people think that much of it was and continues to be simply evil. The aftereffects carry over to this day; “there is no house where there is no corpse.”
Ask yourself, then. What has happened all of a sudden? The Chardak campaign did not start five or ten years ago. You may think this government is seeking change for the better, but for the Charedim, this is an intensive government effort to socially engineer them out of existence. Charedim believe that this will have a most adverse effect on Klal Yisrael as a whole – you may disagree, that’s not the issue.
This, then, is a bitter war, with one side fighting for its very right to exist, against forces that seek to undermine the very kedushah and integrity of Klal Yisrael in VERY many ways, some irreversibly more destructive than a nuclear bomb, as Rav Aviner put it. There is a time for self-reflection and critique. A time when your own camp is being brutally pummelled into submission is, shall we say, most inopportune. It is a time to fight, and internal bickering over the media waves will weaken that fight.
And that’s why only for wildly egregious actions, which cannot be ignored, will the Charedim step out and condemn it, before once again battening down the hatches and shooting with all the legitimate or semi-legitimate weapons at its disposal.
Doron Beckerman wrote above, “…There is a time for self-reflection and critique. A time when your own camp is being brutally pummelled into submission is, shall we say, most inopportune. It is a time to fight, and internal bickering over the media waves will weaken that fight….”
Jews have been under the gun one way or another for millennia, with some brief respites. Somehow or other, we were often able to be introspective and to undertake communal self-improvement even when under extreme outside pressure. Torah Jews as a group (or as groups) can still do that constructively.
I still have yet to hear any one challenge any of my factual claims. I have never denied that many charedim were indeed concerned with the welfare of soldiers in the front and did things to express those feelings. I have never imputed any feelings of indifference to individual charedim. My point is about the poisonous rhetoric that dominates the charedi public sphere and the repeated refusal of Charedi leaders to condemn actions or statements coming from the established charedi leadership and its institutions even though the private admit their disgust and horror at what is being done in the name of Torah Judasim.
Since the Safot vetarbuyot issue has become a major topic here, I would like to update the readers as well. My wife just got back from a meeting that where she learned that in fact one of the local beis yaakov’s has extra class rooms that could have been used far more easily. The fact that this didnt happen seems to have a lot to do with the fact that the principle of this beis yaakov is the wife of one of Abutbol’s most enthusiastic Anglo charedi supporters. Abutbol probably wanted to put pressure on the chiloni school as well. He has made no secret of the fact that while RZ can be tolerated in order to supply the city with a tax base, he really would like to purge the city of chilonim.
In general there is a huge shortage of class room space in Beit Shemesh a problem which most impacts charedim. The MAyor has done little to resolve this problem. Building more classrooms for all with readily available government money was a major part of Eli Cohen’s platform. (As some one who was very involved in the Eli Cohen Campaign I can say with confidence that the campaign was driven entirely by local issues.)
By creating a crisis around safot vetarbuyot, the mayor distracts attention for his dismal failure to provide enough classroom space for his own charedi constituents.
Moshe Shoshan: “I simply do not think that the state can survive even in the long or even intermediate term if the charedi community does not fully embrace the legitimacy of the state, fully respect the its authority and institutions and fully and openly appreciate the tremendous benefits that not only the charedi community but all of klal yisrael receive from it. They cannot go on seeing the state and non-charedi Israel as an ‘unladen donkey’. Furthermore the charedi community needs to take much greater responsibility for contributing to the security needs, economic life and Israeli society over all.”
I see you answered my question. However, since what you want mean the end of the Chareidi community, that’s not going to happen (I am not commenting on whether it should or shouldn’t happen). Accept that Chareidim will not make the changes you want them to make – what is the next step? It seems to me that either it means the creation of two separate states in Israel, or Chareidim have to leave. Are you comfortable with those options? Unfortunately, those may be the only options available.
Rabbi Beckerman, could you please elaborate on your points, because I’m not sure I understand all of them.
For example, what point were you trying to make with your reference to Gush Katif? “I don’t recall all that much condemnation for any of this?” Of what? And by whom? Did the yellow badges offend you? What about the yellow badges that were worn by children during demonstrations at Kikar Shabbat?
The Chardak campaign did not start five or ten years ago, probably because there were fewer charedi men who felt a need to join the army at that time. Moreover, it should be clear that the Chardak campaign is NOT directed at the national-religious, but at *Haredim* who have decided to do things somewhat differently than what the campaigners think is correct. That these men may well have asked shailas in accordance with their individual circumstances is apparently irrelevant. Since when is “my way or the highway” a Torah approach?
“Internal bickering over the media waves will weaken that fight?” In other words, the ends always justify the means?
And finally, I hope you will forgive those of us who thought that a major rosh yeshiva calling a portion of the Torah community “Amalek” was a “wildly egregious action.” I don’t recall that being condemned by anyone of similar stature in Israel’s Haredi community.
“Are there any circumstances in which you have or would be willing to publicly criticize any leading chareidi rabbinic figure or institution by name? R. Adlerstein has made it clear to me that he is unwilling to do so. Are you?”
I wish Cross Currents did not criticize any individual Rabbinic figure or institution by name. Criticize the ideas and positions as to why they are incorrect-it should be irrelevant to our discussion who stated the position.
Ever hear of preparation for the new school year???
In communities that are governed with foresight,- plans,decisions, operational procedures are discussed & formulated months in advance. Was any political candidates awake & aware in April or May to a lack of classrooms & an overflow of little girls? Did every school note how many empty or unused classrooms they possessed? Was a report written & advise sought on what to do on DAY #1 of school? I guess not!!!
Mycroft: I cannot agree with you. If some low level Haredi or RZ figure engages in hateful rhetoric, it is one thing; if a prominent rabbinic figure from either of the camps engages in such rhetoric, it is another matter entirely.
I still have yet to hear any one challenge any of my factual claims.
Is that what you expected the comments to be about? “No, Walder did not compare Lapid to Hitler”?
I have never denied that many charedim were indeed concerned with the welfare of soldiers in the front and did things to express those feelings.
“I think that the essay that follows represents an important challenge to the chareidi community and its leadership to re-evaluate their attitudes and behavior towards the Army.”
What attitudes? What behaviour? All the Charedim and their leadership share the same attitude and engage in the same behaviour!? How is this not tarring with a broad brush? And do you want them (whoever “them” is) to reevaluate their attitudes, or how they express them?
My point is about the poisonous rhetoric that dominates the charedi public sphere and the repeated refusal of Charedi leaders to condemn actions or statements coming from the established charedi leadership and its institutions
The rhetoric, as I said, is the result of the feeling of the Charedim that they are getting their backs shoved against the wall. The expellees of Gush Katif and Amona engaged in FAR, FAR more venomous, treasonous, vituperative, and violent behaviour against the State, and that seemed to be understood. (SA, that is my point.) No one is going to get on Razi Barkai’s show and speak about it. Which “actions coming from the established Charedi leadership and its institutions” do you have in mind?
even though the private admit their disgust and horror at what is being done in the name of Torah Judasim
So what attitudes need changing?
(As some one who was very involved in the Eli Cohen Campaign I can say with confidence that the campaign was driven entirely by local issues.)
Yes, just like “I love RBS because…” was driven by local issues. I can’t believe you really think that the municipal election in Beit Shemesh was about the municipal election in Beit Shemesh; that there was no national context to it. That is flatly ridiculous. And if Eli Cohen thought so, he is naïve himself.
The Chardak campaign did not start five or ten years ago, probably because there were fewer charedi men who felt a need to join the army at that time
Yes, and all of a sudden there was a mass rush to exit from the Yeshivos into the Army, and the Chardak campaigners couldn’t take it anymore. Come on. I don’t support the Chardak campaign, but the fact is that due to the government’s draft law, the draft numbers dropped precipitously, because even Charedim who wanted to go were told not to go, and themselves decided not to go, because they understood that this was an ideological battle, where the individual’s needs must sometimes take a back seat. (Witness the shift of half of Tov in Beit Shemesh to Abutboul’s side in the second round.) The Chardak campaign is expressive of that – As an individual, you may have reasons to go, but you’re blind to the broader picture. And, I again emphasize, I reject the Chardak campaign.
In other words, the ends always justify the means?
Of course not.
And finally, I hope you will forgive those of us who thought that a major rosh yeshiva calling a portion of the Torah community “Amalek” was a “wildly egregious action.” I don’t recall that being condemned by anyone of similar stature in Israel’s Haredi community.
There was no need. He explained that he meant only the Bayit Yehudi party. Rav Elyakim Levanon just yesterday said that the people who carried out the Gush Katif expulsion were gripped by the spirit of Amalek, and that the courts are currently gripped by the same spirit of Amalek. Not a word of condemnation. See – people viciously lash out at those who hurt them when they are (or even were) pummelled.[And don’t try to distinguish between the two statements: Either it is legitimate to invoke Amalek/Nazi Germany against other Jews, or it isn’t, unless you actually believe the major Rosh Yeshiva meant we should annihilate that portion of the Torah community.]
You raise a very serious issue. It is quite tragic that in recent generations Charedim in Israel have adopted a self definition in which a situation in which most charedim work, some go to the army and the generally positive views of the State held by gedolim such as R. Shlomo Zalman, R. Gustman, R. Kahanaman, R. Arye Levin and R. Isser Zalman zt”l are mainstream would constitute the end of charedi Judasim.
However I know that there are many many charedi who agree with me on these issues. If they would take responsibility for the future ofthe JEwish people and organize themselves to actively push forward their beliefs and openly challenge the leadership structure which has deep vested interests in maintaining this unmaintainable status quo, I think things could really change for the better for everyone.
Unfortunately my experiences tell me that this is unlikely to happen.
what is your solution?
You write, “It is quite tragic that in recent generations Charedim in Israel have adopted a self definition in which a situation in which most charedim work, some go to the army and the generally positive views of the State held by gedolim such as R. Shlomo Zalman, R. Gustman, R. Kahanaman, R. Arye Levin and R. Isser Zalman zt”l are mainstream would constitute the end of charedi Judasim.”
Surely you then agree that the confrontational approach of Yair Lapid, Shai Piron, Dov Lipman &c. – in which the Haredim can do no right and are by definition on the wrong side of every argument – has not been productive in working with that part of the Haredi community which sees itself as carrying the torch of the gedolim you list (and a great many more)?
But perhaps you do not think it is so simple – after all, it seems you can admit Moshe Abutbol of doing no right either.
“The expellees of Gush Katif and Amona engaged in FAR, FAR more venomous, treasonous, vituperative, and violent behaviour against the State, and that seemed to be understood.”
Again, understood by whom?
Seriously? I’m trying to figure out which disengagement and Amona evacuation you were watching.
At my old gym, where they have TVs, I happened to watch part of the Amona evacuation live, and saw the totally unprovoked beatings that the security forces were meting out to those (girls included) who were simply standing on the roofs. Even the (presumably unsympathetic) news presenters watching the live footage were saying, “Well, why are the police hitting them? I don’t get why they’re hitting them, they haven’t done anything”
Why don’t you Google “pulitzer prize photo amona 2006” and you’ll see the AP photo from that event that won that year’s Pulitzer Prize. That tells what it was like at Amona.
As for the disengagement, I don’t think you are fathoming the degree to which the entire disengagement only happened because of a collective decision by the overwhelming majority of the NR community, including roshei yeshiva, to avoid a civil war by not ordering their talmidim in uniform to refuse orders and by expressly forbidding their communities to avoid lifting a hand against IDF soldiers or policemen. If the NR community had decided instead to riot and rebel — well, we can’t know what devastation that might have wrought.
Those on site in Gush Katif may have screamed, cried, yelled insults and passively resisted (had to be carried out of their homes)but I don’t remember “venomous, treasonous, vituperative, and violent behaviour.” If it was “understood,” it was because those people were being evicted from their homes. (Compare to the Haredi violence in Me’ah Shearim when police arrested a Haredi mother who was starving her child, for example).
Prior to the disengagement were demonstrations, of course, but if there was any untoward behavior it was by the authorities, who repeatedly refused permits for many demonstrations and kept protesting teenagers (again, girls included) held in detention for weeks because they committed the serious crime of refusing to identify themselves, or saying “I don’t accept the authority of the police or the courts.” (Perhaps that’s what you consider treasonous).
In short, I think we should leave the disengagement out of this, because your analogies are not going to hold water.
As for the rosh yeshiva using the Amalek reference, please do not distort facts. If you (or anyone) needs the link again to the video that went viral, I’ll send it to you. When the rosh yeshiva made that remark he did NOT say he was referring only to Habayit Hayehudi (as if that excuses it, by the way). He even used a clever biblical reference to make clear that he was referring to those who wear kippot srugot — no distinctions or differentiation.
The claim that he was referring to Habayit Hayehudi came afterward, in a half-hearted apology that is akin to breaking someone’s leg and then paying for the doctor to set it.
I don’t know why you think no one had to condemn it. Actually, I recall a very welcome, immediate heartfelt response here on Cross-Currents to those remarks, which incidentally were delivered 3 days before Tisha Be’av of last year.
Lkvod R. Doron,
“The rhetoric is the result of the feeling of the Charedim that they are getting their backs shoved against the wall” – THEREFORE, you are permitted to engage in non-stop anger, harsh rhetoric and bullying of others. In other words, the ends DO justify the means.
“The expellees of Gush Katif and Amona engaged in FAR, FAR more venomous, treasonous, vituperative, and violent behaviour against the State, and that seemed to be understood” – a correct and true statement EXCEPT it wasn’t a unanimous behavior adopted by all Rabbonim and expellees from Gush Katif and most IMPORTANTLY it STOPPED. The battle gear was removed and changed to formal wear. The battlegear adopted by many Charedi leaders has only been more fortified, never reevaluated, never a cease fire, never a peace treaty.
“were gripped by the spirit of Amalek” – Thank you for showing the readers how a leader/Rav can respond by speaking forthright without hatred and without despicable dialogue. The spirit of Amalak is not “Amalek” or a “house of Goyim” or worse.
I think that it is naively idealistic, to expect either Charedim to condemn the extremists in their midst, rabbinical or laymen, any more than certain RZ and MO leaders refuse to condemn the extremists who identify as RZ or MO. I think that it is evident from the articles here that were posted during the war that a unity between all Jews in Israel, even in RBS, despite their hashkafic differences, emerged and can grow-if we ignore extremist rhetoric and demonization of the other.
Anyone in the US who reads the American editions of Yated and Mishpacha can verify that during the buildup to and the war itself, there were numerous pictures of the IDF in action, of Chayalim in uniform davening, and great support for the war-regardless of numerous other hashkafic differences such as the recitation of Hallel and who should serve in the IDF. Those facts cannot be denied.
I have heard that R Zvi Yehudah Kook ZL had pictures of the Chafetz Chaim and Herzl in his dining room, and that R Kook ZL stated that the picture of Herzl was there as a means of demonstrating Hakaras hatov-to a man, regardless of his background, who was a visionary whose actions, regardless of his own lack of committment to Halacha, were in no small measure responsible for his ability to live in the Land of Israel.
Steve Brizel writes, “I think that it is naively idealistic, to expect either Charedim to condemn the extremists in their midst, rabbinical or laymen, any more than certain RZ and MO leaders refuse to condemn the extremists who identify as RZ or MO.”
As a card carrying Haredi (I mean, I think I have the card here somewhere), I would not say that at all. I think the DL leadership has done a fantastic and consistent job of condemning and clarifying any potential confusion about whether, for example, Price Tag attacks are rejected by not just the mainstream, but the hard core of the settlement enterprise itself.
And for that matter, the Agudah in the US does a fine job of making pronouncements on all sorts of things, up to and including their support for the State of Israel in its armed struggle against the bad guys.
I am going to continue being chutzapadik, and possibly crazy, and go out on a limb and state clearly what I have observed (and please tell me if you can demonstrate my error):
The Haredi leadership here is much more reactive, almost a leadership-by-default. R’Shteineman et al. do not sit and consult with the media relations gurus about wording of press releases. The leadership doesn’t make press releases. People may go to him and ask him to sign on to different initiatives, but he is not strategizing how to achieve goals by controlling his story and spin with various constituencies. If anything, I would hazard that the consensus is that there is nothing that will improve the standing of Haredim in the eyes of the secular, or even the modern. If Moshe Gafni is sent to the floor of the Knesset to make a statement, what he says is for the benefit of the Haredi community only. If it comes across as a little bit of an afterthought that Yaakov Litzman gets up and condemns beating up soldiers in shul, it is because R’Shteineman didn’t think he needed to tell you that was assur (remember, R’Shteineman goes by what you and I know he thinks, not by what Yair Lapid might think he thinks). I do not think you will ever see R’Shteineman actively go try to arrange a meeting with Lapid or Netanyahu. If they come to him, fine. If they don’t, then not. If the Shaked committee is within certain parameters, he will instruct the UTJ MKs to participate. If not, not.
Given the above, it is fascinating (at least to me) that R’Shteineman continues to instruct bochurim to cooperate with the draft office registration requirements.
(Full disclosure: I have never been to R’Shteineman; my interpretations are from afar. They are very much based on my experiences and observations with R’Elyashiv, whom I had the opportunity to be around few times, and with whose talmidim I spent a great deal of time – at least some of which discussing this exact issue)
Would it be possible to either restrict ourselves or for the moderator to restrict comments to those issues which are directly addressed in the article?
Whether or not you agree with Mrs. Shushan’s “call to arms” or the author’s general criticism that the chareidi leadership is not publicly vocal enough in condemning harsh rhetoric (and worse) towards those who support army service for all – whether observant or not – and the secular world at large, could we please stick to that topic?
I think Mrs. Shushan speaks eloquently. There may be many legitimate reasons to reject her plea, but they are getting lost here, by bringing so many related issues and debating their specifics.
It’s my understanding that the purpose of this site is to promote thoughtful conversations across various ideological lines. But when we throw everything but the kitchen sink into the fray, it obfuscates the topic at hand instead of illuminating it.
“a correct and true statement EXCEPT it wasn’t a unanimous behavior adopted by all Rabbonim and expellees from Gush Katif”
I assume (hope/pray) you aren’t implying unanimous behavior on the part of Charedim
” and most IMPORTANTLY it STOPPED. The battle gear was removed and changed to formal wear. The battlegear adopted by many Charedi leaders has only been more fortified, never reevaluated, never a cease fire, never a peace treaty.”
Let me get this straight. You agree in principle that it’s okay to engage in the kind of behaviors the authors of this post are decrying just you think it has to be limited to certain situations?
First off, I think that renders their whole point rather trivial. If Charedim aren’t doing anything too terrible, they’re just doing to much of it, that would simply be a matter of (very subjective) judgement.
“The battlegear adopted by many Charedi leaders has only been more fortified, never reevaluated, never a cease fire, never a peace treaty.”
What’s that supposed to mean?? There are daily articles comparing Yair Lapid to Hitler?? Also, you did read the comments here about Charedi support for the IDF during the war, didn’t you? You may think that’s insufficient but it’s hardly reflective of non-stop Medinah-bashing.
I think that the issues raised require all of us to take a deep intellectual and emotional breath and think about the atmosphere before the three talmidim HaShem Yimkam Dam were kidnapped and murdered. The rhetoric on both sides of the Charedi/RZ divide was over the top that it cried out for moderation and Cheshbon HaNefesh on both sides. The Achdus generated by the plight of the three Kedoshim and the IDF’s heroic efforts should not be dismmissed or viewed either cynically or as motivated by guilt-certainly that was not the response as related to the media or on the web. Any such accusations strike me as intellectual mudflinging which none of us should be doing during Elul, or at any other time of the year. I can only vouch for the Yated and Mishpacha in the USA which offered unstinting support for the IDF during the recent war with informative articles and equally inspiring pictures of Chayalim davening. I should note that the single best place for minute by minute coverage of the war was none other than Yeshiva World News-which also had great videos and pictures of the IDF acting in harm’s way and performing mitzvos.
I think that the issues raised require all of us to take a deep intellectual and emotional breath and think about the atmosphere before the three talmidim HaShem Yimkam Dam were kidnapped and murdered. The rhetoric on both sides of the Charedi/RZ divide was over the top that it cried out for moderation and Cheshbon HaNefesh on both sides. The Achdus generated by the plight of the three Kedoshim and the IDF’s heroic efforts should not be dismmissed or viewed either cynically or as motivated by guilt-certainly that was not the response as related to the media or on the web. Any such accusations strike me as intellectual mudflinging which none of us should be doing during Elul, or at any other time of the year. .
i think that one way that can all of us can demonstrate our love of the Land of Israel, would have been before Rosh Chodesh, to plant trees in the time permitted before the onset of the Shemittah year, and then to devote some time to the study of Hilcos Shemittah, in some intensive manner-regardless of whether one accepts or rejects any or some reliance on the Heter Mecirah. There are wonderful sefarim and many , many sugyos in Shas and shitos in Rishonim and Achronim that by delving into, one identifies with and understands the intensity and importance of the Mitzvah, as well as its hashkafic importance. IIRC, none other than R Chaim Kanievsky suggested the study of Hilcos Sheviis. I highly reccomend R Y T Rimon’s wonderful sefer on the subject for all interested. I am also aware that R Asher Weiss also has a sefer on Inyanei Sheviis.
” lawrence kaplan
September 4, 2014 at 12:51 am
Mycroft: I cannot agree with you. If some low level Haredi or RZ figure engages in hateful rhetoric, it is one thing; if a prominent rabbinic figure from either of the camps engages in such rhetoric, it is another matter entirely”
My intent in writing “I wish Cross Currents did not criticize any individual Rabbinic figure or institution by name. Criticize the ideas and positions as to why they are incorrect-it should be irrelevant to our discussion who stated the position” was to be a general comment about all posts-there have been attacks against positions in articles that have gotten into an attack against the person claiming that position-I just wish that personalities were kept out. I guess I was not clear.
“A time when your own camp is being brutally pummelled into submission is, shall we say, most inopportune. It is a time to fight, and internal bickering over the media waves will weaken that fight.”
I cannot express the intensity with which I profoundly disagree with your statement here. A time when one’s own camp is perceived as “being brutally pummeled into submission” is perhaps the most important time for self reflection and self criticism, particularly when those doing the “pummeling” are ones brothers and (particularly in the case of religious zionists) natural allies. After all, while it’s entirely possible that the folks doing the “pummeling” are motivated purely by a desire for evil and hatred of Jews/Torah (which is the assumption that generates the contemptible Hitler and Amalek references), it’s also possible that they are motivated by their own legitimate needs, the behavior of the community being “pummeled”, or their perceptions of those two factors.
And, in that instance, self reflection is absolutely critical, because it is the only thing that can prevent a dispute with potentially reasonable solutions from devolving into an existential crisis in which both sides must fight to the death.
And frankly, I don’t see the downside to self criticism. Are you afraid of giving “the other side” rhetorical points (“see, even Chareidi Rabbi X strongly condemns Y behavior!”)? Guess what? The lack of self criticism gives the other side rhetorical points as well (“see, not even one Chareidi leader strongly condemns Y behavior!”). And particularly given that the latter “rhetorical point” is far more persuasive to the persuadable middle than the former, circling the wagons, ignoring one’s communal faults, and simply lashing out as a matter of “defense” is not just morally wrong, it’s tactically counterproductive
R’ Akiva Cohen,
I truly appreciate your comment, and I even embrace it under many circumstances. But not on core existential issues, which inherently generate an existential crisis irrespective of the rhetoric. You have to ask what brings a Torah leader with an impeccable track record of moderation (and I am not referring to someone who has no such track record) to lash out with such vehemence. For many among the Charedim, the issues at stake, such as the independence of the Charedi Chinuch system and retaining the ability of all those who seriously wish to learn Torah to do so uninterrupted, are simply non-negotiable. (You are welcome to disagree, but it is tantamount to mass expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria and creating a Palestinian State along the ’67 lines vis-à-vis Otzmah LeYisrael. I don’t see Michael Ben Ari engaging in self-reflection while that battle is being waged, and I would justify his lack of it.) On such issues, the Charedim may have no natural allies, and in fact many among the National Religious can be, and often are, their most vociferous opponents. All the Charedim might have is a confluence of mutual political interests that allow for quid pro quos.
Shouldn’t the failure of one’s previous coping strategy also prompt self-reflection, if only to devise a more effective strategy or to execute the old strategy better?
What I’m wondering, with all the heat flowing back and forth between Yaakov and Moshe talking past each other, is if they realize that they’re landsmen, from Old Naʃʃau?
“I think that there are two types of Chareidim. There’s true Chareidim who are good nice people and follow Torah. Then there’s the extreme ones that are Not true, but just play the part. We need to be careful with this. Baruch Hashem, where I live, my Chassidish/Litvish neighbors are good, nice people.”
sharona, I invite you to google the “no true scotsman” fallacy.
Comments which are rooted in such urban myths and sterotypes as to guilt of Charedim for helping during the war while their brethren were rooting out Hamas in Gaza or that Limud HaTorah is the only source of defense for the Land of Israel IMO should be viewed as beyond the pale of proper comment by anyone-regardless of their hashkafic POV. At least in the US, the Charedi media had many positive articles about the IDF, great pictures which depicted Chayim davening, etc. I could care less about the motive.
My personal opinion is that ideas such as those espoused in this article (& comments) when coming from such a messenger (outside the targeted community) and esp when written with an attitude and demeanor as this article/comments, it only hurts the cause. It causes ppl to retreat to their trenches and undermines any progress. Just the fb post (with some factual background) would be great. This is a shame because I think that the discussion is an important and necessary one for the Yeshiva community and am disappointed we lost an opportunity to discuss it in a constructive way.