Friday, December 30, 2011

"Charedi" Rioting Bums

First off, I put Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) in quotes, because the people who are rioting aren't charedi.  The term "charedi" comes from the Hebrew word for fear, because they fear God.  (Charada - fear and trembling in the face of God.)  These people clearly don't fear God, because if they did, they would never have the nerve to spit on Jewish people (or any people for that matter)!  They would never have the chutzpa to to beat women or use clearly inappropriate language, no matter who they were describing.

Getting more to the point, I want to post this important article, 

Welcoming The Charedi Spring, by Yitzchak Adlerstein.

After reading that, see this fantastic comment by David Ram:

To Yitzchok Adlerstein: Well written piece. I believe that your idea of trying to completely undermine the extremist elements as outside the purview of normative orthodox Judaism is a good idea, but extremely difficult.

I want to give you a bit more perspective – of someone that lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh and has interacted directly with some of the most influential chareidi rabbis in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.

In halacha, the reason why halachic issues are in fact an issue, since there must be 2 competing values. For example, not doing work on Shabbat and tending to a sick person. Sometimes the law is to keep Shabbat and not provide medication or otherwise to the sick, if the sick is not in danger. And sometimes we must break the Shabbat to deal with the sick. Both values are good, but they clash, and we need to know what to do in each situation. This is in essence the reason for questions and answers in halacha. Essentially, all halachic questions, by definition, are asked since there are 2 competing values at play. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a question. The same is true with what is happening in Beit Shemesh.

One of the main differences between Galus and Israeli societies is that in the galus – all you have is the 4 cubits of the law. In Israel – hashkafic values often battle even legal issues. The divide between dati leumi (nationalist Orthodox Jews) and Chereidi (ultra-orthodox) in Israel is not halachic. It is not even a divide regarding commitment to torah and torah values. It is philosophical. Largely around the concept of Zionism. That is it. All the rest is a façade. There is no modesty issue that the chareidim are battling in Beit Shemesh. It is Zionism in their midst. They have plenty of modesty challenges in their own ranks. This is about land, control, money and the eradication of Zionists from “their” communities. And in Israel, philosophy is fundamental. The rabbis in Israel place hashkafa very high on the priority list. Therefore, things like kavod habri’os, stealing, destroying property, shaming the name of G-d, etc. can often be viewed as a secondary value to undermining the power of Zionism and strengthening the power of chareidi lifestyle.

There is a common misconception among Jews in the Galus and even Anglo-Saxons living in Israel – that Israel is like chutz la’aretz. And by that I mean – there are 2 general directions (1) modern orthodox and (2) black hat. In chutz la’aretz, black hat communities are viewed as the ones that hold a strong commitment to Judaism, to Torah, to taking the obligations seriously and living Jewish in the fullest sense. And the modern orthodox are the ones that are perceived as only tolerating the religion and finding compromises that allow us to live comfortably despite it. (Sorry for the generalizations.)

In Israel, this is pointedly false. In Israel there are 2 general philosophical tracks from which to choose within Orthodox Judaism. Each track has its strong commitment camp, its more modern camp and even an extremist camp. One track is chareidi – where there are modern chareidi, committed chareidi and extremists. We have the luxury of knowing these 3 camps very well within Ramat Beit Shemesh. The second track is the dati leumi track, with the same 3 camps (modern, committed and extremists). The fundamental difference between dati leumi and charedi is ONLY leumi (nationalist) issues. NOT modesty, strictness in halacha, the shininess of an Esrog…nothing. Only Zionism. In addition, due to the natural pride of building the Jewish homeland, all 3 Zionist camps respect army service, education and work – even though many of the “committed” and “extremist” camps do not always serve the army, get an education and work. (much “frummer” than American black hats).

So this battle is real, and not at all new. And the “extremists” have the backing from serious rabbis and the agreement by many other rabbis to ignore the situation. And we all know, deep down, that the mainstream chareidi rabbis in Israel agree with the radical chareidim. Whether they agree or disagree with the tactics is one thing – but the underlying problem felt by the radical chareidim is agreed upon with virtually all mainstream chareidim. Some like the tactics and some don’t. But the tactics often get the job done…so all look the other way.

So again, this is a battle of values. And in Israel, much more than in the US, philosophy is a more important value than the Ten Commandments.

Couldn't have said it better myself

No comments:

Post a Comment