Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Avoid the Easy Answers

What with all the recent aggression by the Chareidi leadership against the Dati Leumi and Modern Orthodox communities, it is tempting to rech for easy ways to fight back. After all, what is being waged is no less than a continuous campaign to delegitimize any Torah movement that does not accept the Chareidi model as the authoritative, genuine and only form of observant Judaism.

The problem with fighting back is that it often doesn't accomplish what you want, assuming you know what your goals are the first place. That's why I read this article by Rav Levi Brackman with concern.

Yes, there is a deep felt feeling that the Dati Leumi and Modern Orthodox need to do something to fight back against efforts to destroy their legitimacy and authority. Yes, the attacks on both communities are shameful power grabs by a stronger, more organized opposition. But what exactly would the form of fighting back be? What would be the goals?

The suggestions in the article are certainly quite simple:

In a an article written by former Tzohar Rabbinical Organization’s Director-General Rabbi Hagai Gross, he proposes to close the door on Orthodox fundraisers, explaining that “this is mandatory in order to make the Orthodox community understand that the spiritual war they have waged on the religious Zionist world bears a financial price as well.”

It's quite tempting to tell any black-hat wearing meshullach who rings one's doorbell to take a hike. I'm Dati Leumi and I don't want to support Chareidim. But what if the institution the meshullach is a hospital, food bank or rehab institution? What if the person has a real personal need and doesn't really care about the bigger political picture? Is it fair to deny this person's request in favour of a greater political ideal?

One is to prevent the national-religious crowd from participating in Orthodox events, unless they are provided catering koshered by the Rabbinate, with vegetables permitted for sale or belonging to the court.

This proposal smacks of sour grapes. To use the example of Heter Mechirah to which this paragraph seems to allude, one must remember that even those who hold by the Heter recognize it to be less than ideal and only a stop gap solution to prevent farmers from bankruptcy and the Israeli agricultural industy from disaster. They would agree that if a way could be found to avoid economic disruption and observe Semittah k'hilchasah, that this would be preferable to holding by the Heter. In that case, to turn around and say that unless Heter mechirah product is served, one will not eat is absurd and proves no halachic point.

The question then becomes: Well, what can the Dati Leumi do to avoid being the punching bag of religious society? The answer is simple. The community must develop, en masse, all the elements of a functioning Jewish community. Large numbers of shochtim, mohelim, and teachers need to emerge from the Dat Leumi education system to decrease the reliance on Chareidi sources. A power structure needs to emerge, possibly culminating in a Chief Rabbi figure to counter the official Rabbanut and offer everything it does but in Dati Leumi style.

But most importantly, there are ways that people can stand up from themselves in a positive fashion and that is to know what they stand for and why they stand for it. Imagine a shul where no one generally wears suit jackets. If one goes to a Chareidi shul, out of respect one should wear a jack, shoes and socks. Why can a similar show of respect not be demanded of visitors to a Mizrachi shul where a different dress code is the dominant tradition? Why can't standing up for that tradition be the positive expression of religious values without slighting the other side?

This is a question that needs urgent answering by the Dati Leumi leadership. I don't believe that petty "Well, we're not going to play with you either!" moves will solve anything.


Anonymous said...

The article you refer to was written by Kobi Nahshoni and not by Rabbi Levi Brackman.

Zemer said...

Very interesting.