Unity Where You Are Not Looking For It

A pre-Tisha B’Av message: there are signs of hope. At least in Israel.

We’re especially sensitive to it approaching the national day of Jewish mourning. We’ve internalized all the exhortations about unity, and how we have still not emerged from the sinas chinam that produced the longest of our exiles. Yet we find ourselves powerless to do anything about it. We’re all victims of the whiplash of modern Jewish history: bickering, derision, divisiveness, followed by amazing unity in times of crisis. Crisis abates. Repeat cycle.

It’s wonderful to see a very different trend, especially before Tisha B’Av. I found the interviews in this Ynet article moving and inspiring. There is pushback in Israel against the trend to keep businesses open on Shabbos. According to Ynet, secular Jews in commercial and recreational endeavors are rediscovering Shabbos as a cushion against the market attempt to rob Israelis of a day of tranquility.

In two of the longer interviews, two chilonim offer different reasons as to why they decided, after many years of operating on Shabbos, that they would close. Both were very pleased by their decision.

One claims that economics was one factor among many. More and more visitors to his establishment were frum. (He cited a recent conference to which 100 people were invited, nine of whom were charedi women who could not attend without mehadrin food.) But he concludes with a few words that he seems to intend as his bottom line: “we are all Jews.” He’s not becoming a baal teshuvah any time soon, but he accepts that the observant are not superstitious primitives whom enlightened people should shun. To the contrary, he has made honorable space for them at the table of the Jewish People.

The other key interviewee claimed that economics had no part in his decision to close after many years of seven day a week operation. In fact, he had no idea whether the move had helped or hindered his bottom line. He did it, in his words, because of “ahavat ha’am.”

It is exciting to behold that a growing number of Israelis can see past the frightening turn-off to religion provided by a minority of our more extreme chevra. And it will be interesting to observe whether the observant world will act with sensitivity and love, and find a way to encourage this trend.

[Thanks to Harvey Tannenbaum, Efrat]

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23 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    May we see similar articles where across the spectrum people look deep into their hearts and halacha for permitted actions to take that all recognize as flowing from ahavat haam
    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu, (may we see the comforting of Jerusalem and its rebuilding speedily in out times)

  2. dr. bill says:

    in addition to more authoritative unbiased sampling, it is nice to hear anecdotal evidence of Israeli chilonim showing a return of some level of traditional, albeit non-halakhic, behavior. unfortunately, given its opposition to the narrative often heard in chareidi circles, i doubt it will be reciprocated by chareidi leadership. but i suspect the chareidi street will slowly perceive the change. a reduction in sinat chinom has short and long term benefits.

    • lacosta says:

      But sadly the papers are filled with tons of stories of not only dalasim ( ex DLs) , but increasingly exharedim…. strange and sad times…

  3. Michael Samter says:

    In other words, these people came to their decision by looking inside their own hearts and neshamot- not via restrictive Shabbat laws. Maybe that’s the message of ahavat China’s this tisha b’av.

  4. Mycroft says:

    A Tisha Bav story 45 years ago I went to the Kotel Tisha Bav night, also went during day but story was night.
    In those days Egged had a major bus center opposite Jaffa gate. I got onto the bus and bus driver obvious chiloni was listening to so me rock station. A minute or so later dispatcher also chiloni gets on bus and in my translation, tells the bus driver its Tisha Bav have some respect for riders. They just came back from Kotel, turn off the radio. The bus driver did.

    • Bob Miller says:

      As more people lose interest in the old secular ideologies, opportunities for better communication increase. We shouldn’t let our stereotypes—even ones that were once valid—get in the way.

  5. Yehudah says:

    Feels the like twilight zone over hear. Much of the increased turn to our heritage in israel did not happen in a vacuum, they werent from bait hillel or spurred by a post from dr. Bill or mycroft. Why don’t you focus on the positive outreach to the chiloni tsibbur done by chareidim. For example ezra umarpeh helps thousands of chilonim yearly with medical challenges same for yad sarah. Hidabroot tv channel is veiwed by 200000 chilonim daily started by a belzer chasid and kesher yehudi has thousands of chavrusas between chilonim and chareidim on campuses such as idc, hebrew u and tel aviv u. Or ayeles hashachar which has opened shuls and programming on what had been virulently secular kibbutzim including (gasp) sde boker. No instead the commenters focus on a few rock throwers. The animus that i sense directed on us chareidim in this forum would be a great place to start a ahavas chinam campaign.

    • Y. Ben-David says:

      Although all these wonderful hesed organizations are no doubt having a positive influence on religious-secular relations, it must be noted that these things generally do not effect day-to-day relations between the two groups. Most hilonim have little day-to-day contact with haredim, but they do have considerable contact wit the Dalti Leumi (National Religious) community. For most young secular Israelis, this contact first comes in the army, along with their first personal contact with things like Kiddush on Shabbat, the Jewish holidays and general observation of how religious Jews act and what their sensitivities are. This then continues once they enter the workforce where they also come into contact with DL Jews, but much less so with Haredim. It is generally believed that most (but not all) out and out kiruv work is done by Haredim, but it is the DL’s who are expanding the religious community and influence on the wider society the most which is what is leading to he increasing tolerance and respect (if not outright adoption of Torah and mitzvot) towards religious tradition..

      • lacosta says:

        in fact the highly prevalent bilateral hostility between DL and haredi camps is addressed here–

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I am not sure if it is hostility but rather a lack of mutual respect which I call mutual appreciation of what the other has to offer or in classical terms,. a lack of hakaras hatov. I experienced firsthand two such episodes immediately prior to RC Av and Tisha BAv , one in a MO home and another in a shul that has great davening, commitment to Torah , Chesed and Israel and I can’t tell you how much both episodes convinced me that this is and has been the issue facing our communities that we have been ducking for a very long time. As long as we go on belittling the other, we will continue to have this issue. I posted many years on Beyond BT about this issue and I have seen precious little that has caused me to change my mind on this regard over the years.

        The continuing and ongoing absence of hakaras hatov between the DL( and MO) and the Charedi worlds really is the sinas chinam of our times. It can be argued that drashos about the evils of lashon hara WADR really do not address this core issue which all of us regardless of our hashkafic POV have to address. I should mention that I recently saw the following evidence of this lack of hakaras hatov in full display during the Nine Days and on Leil Tisha Bav and we really all have to look at our own individual and communal mirrors to correct this aspect of our individual life.

  6. Mark says:

    I’m still waiting for someone in the comment section to note (or link to) the video regarding attacking soldiers (which came out on exactly the same day as this one). Still nothing. Sad, but unsurprising – because I know too many people who would have posted it once upon a time, but perceive real hatred here and have lost interest in the site.

    The counterclaim that the comment section does (or may) not reflect the more RW segment of its lurking readership is thus an indictment of C-C, in that it does not do enough to facilitate a broad cross-section of views. It is not a defense.

  7. David says:

    Is “chiloni” a derisive term?

    • lacosta says:

      Not to chilonim, they are quite content to proclaim theirdisconnect to a religious way of life.

  8. Mycroft says:

    For better or worse, in general Chareidim do not associate much with chiloni Jews. Thus, other than professional kiruv which has had very few successes. To paraphrase someone who I know who is a professional in kiruv. If one looked at how little success we have in kiruv successes for the inputs in resources used it raises a big question as to is it worth it, compared to using resources to try and save those who are leaving our machene.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I think that you have to distinguish between Israel and the US. The social and economic barriers are far greater in Israel where IDF service and university study create social and economic networks that only someone with that background can access. In the US, many yeshivishe and Chasidiishe individuals work with many unaffiliated or R or C Jews without batting an eye.

      It is a mistake of a profound nature to look at the results of kiruv from a purely group or statistical POV. That is because kiruv affects individuals in different ways and continums. You have to look at where a person started and is heading, not whether an entire community has been affected because the mitzvah of teshuvah is an individual mitzvah that is the responsibility of both the individual and the community.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Kiruv and chizuk, especially in the US, are two sides of the same coin. See my last post on why success in kiruv is and should be measured on an individual basis and why both Kiruv and chizuk are obviously very labor intensive endeavors. I would challenge your claim as to “how little success we have in kiruv successes for the inputs in resources used it” based on my discussions with Dr Bill and yourself elsewhere on this blog on this issue.

      • Mycroft says:

        Just this morning after minyan I was discussing issue of lack of success in kiruv with kiruv professional. He stated everyone knows we lose far more than we gain, far more people are leaving Yiddishkeit than joining. He quotes one of the leading kiruv professionals who has been in kiruv for close to half a century on this issue. Not saying not worth trying but have very little success for assets expended. Probably could affect more people being saved by making Yiddishkeit more financially accommodating. To non wealthy.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft wrote:

        “Just this morning after minyan I was discussing issue of lack of success in kiruv with kiruv professional. He stated everyone knows we lose far more than we gain, far more people are leaving Yiddishkeit than joining. He quotes one of the leading kiruv professionals who has been in kiruv for close to half a century on this issue”

        Please define “Yiddishkeit” and identify “one of the leading kiruv professionals who has been in kiruv for close to half a century on this issue.” Did you read my prior posts on your cost effective take on kiruv?

        You wrote:

        “Probably could affect more people being saved by making Yiddishkeit more financially accommodating. To non wealthy.”

        Examples please -we don’t live in a workers’ paradise where individual merit and achievement don’t mean anything and differing views are discounted-unless you think that pluralism, inclusiveness and diversity are more important than the reality that some people because of their skills and expertise deserve to earn more than others.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    Queen Esther had a rare quality that disparate groups could relate to. Is this something we can cultivate ?

  10. dr. bill says:

    israeli law forbids various establishments from remaining open on the night of tisha b’av. however, i read that this has never resulted in a citation for violations; the law is not enforced. despite that, many establishments are closed creating the required atmosphere.

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