Will Haredim Soon Sing Hatikvah?

I didn’t think so either, at least not till the news broke that the official national anthem of the State of Israel will not be sung at a departmental graduation ceremony at Hebrew University. This is not an accommodation to the growing number of haredi students enrolled there, but in deference to Arab student sensibilities.

Now, the only group that old-school haredim should dislike more than old-school Zionists (like Naftali Imber, who wrote the words to the song) are new-school secular liberals. The old secular Zionists, for all their faults, did build up a Jewish country in which Torah thrives, despite the best efforts of the most viciously anti-Torah in their bunch. Many showed enormous dedication to an ideal, which included devotion to the Jewish people. Some of the folks running today’s Israeli universities, however, show little or no Jewish pride, and often take positions that undermine the security of Israel. They are no more accepting of Torah and Jewish tradition, and a good deal less altruistic.

So if the far left types are now opposed to Hatikvah, maybe everybody else will start singing it?

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13 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    Israel seems to behaving differently than Jews(still) in the Golah.  At least in the US, as Rabbi Maryles often points out, convergence between the left and right of the chareidi and MO streams, is increasingly occurring.

    OTOH, for reasons requiring a lengthy explanation, apparently the opposite is occurring in Israel.  In the self same institution where this atrocity occurred, the study of Talmud and halakha grows by leaps and bounds.  The Israeli version of what we call modern orthodoxy, is splintering into a wide array of groups, few exhibiting signs of chareidi convergence.

    My visits to Israel leave me very encouraged, particularly by the increasing level of traditional observance particularly among the non-orthodox.  the aberration you report is a sad reminder that extremism, both to the right and left, still lives on.

  2. Mycroft says:

    I have no real problem with someone refusing to sing a song composed by an anti religious person who was buried in NY if they are consistent with not using niggunim and davening tunes from those who did not keep a frum lifestyle.

    • Bob Miller says:

      I’d like to see way less borrowing from the most boring rock & pop music.  This is a quality rather than a lifestyle matter.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Do you say Tehilim? By your self imposed definition we should not.

  3. Raymond says:

    Here in America, the vast majority of Americans happily celebrate such secular yet patriotic holidays such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving.  Comparatively few of them have ever read this country’s Constitution or even Declaration of Independence, and they might disagree vehemently with this President or that, and yet that does not stop them from celebrating those holidays, nor should it.

    I mention this because I do not understand why the Chareidim cannot take a similar stance toward the Modern Secular Jewish State of Israel.  Yes, I agree with them that things are still not run in Israel according to the letter of Torah law, nor often even in the spirit of Torah law.  However, does life always have to be so black and white?  Does Israel have to resemble the times of King David or King Solomon for the Chareidim to appreciate the fact that we Jews have control of our precious Jewish land back after almost 2,000 years?  What is to be gained by those awful pictures I have seen of large groups of Chareidim getting together to gleefully burn Israeli flags?  I don’t often invoke what little Yiddish I know, but isn’t it just a shonda fer da goyim that there are tens of millions of Christians out there who are apparently more pro-Israel than are too many Jews?  And talk about politics making strange bedfellows, but how bizarre that the Chareidi attitude toward our little Jewish State of Israel too often matches that of secular Leftist Jews which, in turn, matches that of our islamoNazi enemies.  I have to say that it is like a miracle that we Jews survive even despite the divisions within our own Jewish ranks.  Surely G-d must the One Who is keeping us alive.  As David Ben-Gurion famously said, “Any Jew who does not believe in miracles, is not a realist.”

  4. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    In defense of Naphtali Imber, his original poem, Tikvatenu, is not the Hatkiva sung today. There are significant differences in the refrain, and subsequent verses refer to Jews praying at the graves of the Avos, crying in the night, mourning at the wall, and finally, the hope that a wrathful G-d will have mercy on us.  Maybe we should go back to Imber’s original poem.

  5. Ben Waxman says:

    1) A Chareidi friend who was a volunteer for the Lupolianski campaign told me that on the night that Lupolianski was elected, right before everyone went home, all the Chareidim in the room sang Hatikva.

    2) A Chareidi MK becoming a minister was considered to be verboten up until it happened. Just saying.


  6. DF says:

    “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than today?’, for it is not wise to ask that – Koheles 7:10.

    The truth is there were many more hardened apikorsim among the early Zionists than there are today. And some of those early Zionists, like Moshe Dayan, did the exact same type of thing complained of in this post. We are better today, not worse.

    The other thing is that Hatikvah really does pose a problem for Israeli Arabs (or Druze, or Christians, or Bedouins) and its not a new issue. They don’t have a “Jewish soul”, they haven’t been in exile for 2000 years. Another song can be written which maybe they still wont love either, but which they would not find objectionable. The Charedim? I just read the poem again to make sure I haven’t missed anything. There is literally nothing in there any Charedi can take issue with. Their issue is not the song, but the fact that a state exists, period. I don’t see a reason why such objections should be taken seriously.

    • tzippi says:

      Both I and my children attended yeshiva day schools where Hativkah was/is sung at school functions. I still find it moving.

      But you don’t think Chareidim have a different vision of what am chafshi means? Free for what? Freedom from or freedom to – to serve G-d?

      Though I must mention something I heard R’ David Olesker say, in talking about his hasbara efforts. Look at other national anthems. They talk about trampling the enemy, their blood, all sorts of gory imagery. We otoh have the nebbiest national anthem: Please, just leave us alone and let us do our thing.

      • IIRC, R Ahron Soloveitchik zt”l suggested that frum people substitute the word “dati” for “chofshi.” Truth be told, however, as I watch countries in which there is no real freedom, the word “chofshi” becomes more tolerable. And I think of the Sefer HaChinuch’s explanation of why sefiras ha-omer, i.e. the countdown towards Matan Torah, begins on the second day of Pesach rather than the first. It is worthwhile, he says, to celebrate freedom itself for one day, before invoking other goals and brachos.

      • la costa says:

        we’ve  been substituting  ‘am tora’  for  ‘am chofshi’  for years;  but  we aren’t really haredi…..

      • tzippi says:

        Nice thought, not that the Chinuch needs my haskama.

        But since, according to the song, that day was well over 2000 years ago, there’s been time to think about the greater issues of defining freedom.

  7. David Ohsie says:

    Not to be overly contrarian, but Hatikvah literally makes no sense for any non-Jewish citizen of Israel, even if they are 100% loyal to the state and happy to be citizens thereof.  I don’t think that Jewish or other non-Christian citizens of the US would sing God bless America if the name Jesus was substituted for God.  There is a reason that American public discourse, even if when the speaker is a devout Christian, will include mention of God, but not Jesus.

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