Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Crossing Party Lines

When I first heard the news that a Chareidi woman had signed up to be on the Meretz party list, I dismissed it as a joke. After all, the definition of "being religious" is very loose. It was possible that this woman used to be Chareidi and still kept a semblance of observance, or perhaps she insisted on going to shul more than once a year.
But it seems that Tzvia Greenfield still considers herself a genuine, card carrying member of the Chareidi community. Somewhere along the line she became convinced that the Meretz agenda best reflected her Chareidi values and decided it was time to make a stand.
Well, as I and many others have noted, there's plenty wrong in the Chareidi community that needs fixing and speaking out about but I don't think joining Meretz is the way to do it.
As Tali Farkash notes, being Chareidi isn't simply about not having a television in your home or wearing a bad wig in public. It goes far beyond that:
Many people, including me, fail to understand how it is possible to bridge the gap between the views shared by Meretz voters, who believe that the Bible is a collection of folklore tales, and haredim who believe it is the divine word of God.
But on the brink of the abyss between the two sides stands Tzvia, one foot here and the other there, and with impressive skill manages to feel like she is part of both sides at the same time.
It appears that a PhD in philosophy, like Greenfield has, is necessary in order to bridge this impossible gap.
To be honest, I do not presume to be able to put together complex sociological tests and determine the criteria for being a haredi. So, what was it that bothered me so much about Greenfield and made me label her a stranger to the haredi camp?
Well, I could live with the fact that she owns a dog as a pet, although with us fish and birds are more popular. I can also forgive the television set at her house. Many good haredim own one, although I will never let one cross my doorstep. I can live with her definition of the Zaka organization as "necrophilia lovers." Why be petty? Even her impression that haredi women are "ignorant creatures, baby-making machines" is insulting but not impossible to swallow.
But neither I nor you, Tzvia, can sanction, in the name of God almighty, the desecration of the Shabbat, bringing illegitimate children into the world, homosexuality, abortions, and any other bone of contention between believers and heretics. Issues that are an inseparable part of your party's platform, and let me give you a little hint, Tzvia – they don't quite adhere to the Torah's views on these matters.

That is, to put it mildly, an understatement. From the examples brought in the article, it seems obvious that Greenfield's views on Judaism have become distorted through a hateful lens. To call Zaka members necrophiliacs may be accurate, but that's like calling surgeons knife-happy. Both focus on a characteristic of the group, remove it from its context and condemn it. Hardly a fair assessment amongst thinking people.
Perhaps Ms. Greenfield has had a falling out with her community but not her culture. She wishes to remain Chareidi but can't stand actual Chareidim. Perhaps she has concluded that it is impossible to effect change from within the community. After all, UTJ would never allow her on their election list. Again, this is not exceptional. My best friend in Israel is just such a person. However, although the Arabs like to say "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", we don't subscribe to such simplistic thinking. Our bloody history provides too much evidence of the incorrectness of that statement.
As Farkash notes, being Chareidi is a package deal. It includes accepting certain religious and political positions as part of the deal. Rejecting those positions costs you membership in the group.
If Ms. Greenfield has a problem with the Chareidi community she will not solve it by bringing in the enemy of her enemies. She will simply empower those enemies more and give them an unjustified hechsher for their anti-Jewish, anti-Israel views. Hardly worth what she might hope to accomplish.


Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Shkoyach. Well said.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

To call Zaka members necrophiliacs may be accurate, but that's like calling surgeons knife-happy. Both focus on a characteristic of the group, remove it from its context and condemn it. Hardly a fair assessment amongst thinking people.

Excellent description of this kind of debating tactic.

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

While reading your comments, I remembered something that Rav Yaakov Weinberg zt"l once said and while it is not exactly on point, it may give some insight into an interesting dilemma that a frum individual may encounter within the political process. From Rav Yaakov's words, I understood that there were actually two objectives in being involved in the political process. One is the advancement of one's agenda. The second is the protection of one's agenda. Rav Moshe's famous position in regard to abortion is a case on point. He directed the Aguda in America to adopt a pro-choice position in the political debate over abortion because this would protect a frum person's ability to make a halachic decision in a case of abortion rather than have to face the possibility of a law that would contravene the halachic view on abortion if some pro-life positions were to be adopted. Rav Moshe was protecting the Torah agenda rather than advancing it. This can make for strange bedfellows. In the case of rights, for example, it could mean that we could join with other advocates for human rights -- which would also protect our rights including our religious rights -- although we don't agree necessarily with the rights that they are actually advocating. Without saying I agree with this, this could be Dr. Greenfield's view. Meretz, in promoting human rights, could also be in the forefront of protecting the rights of frum individuals although in protecting human rights it could also be promoting specific positions that we would actually find offensive. I should conclude, though, that this is just a speculation to explain what would seem to be a contradiction, the connection of a charedi person with Meretz.

Rabbi Ben Hecht