Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

They're The Noisy Exception

As I've noted many, many times before, it's always a noisy minority of any community that makes it into the news and provides a negative impression of their entire group. The Chareidi community, in recent weeks, has proved to be no exception to the rule. Nasty anti-religious media bias doesn't help either. A chiloni serial rapist might rate a minor mention. A sexist public comment by a Chareidi gets front page.
That makes it so much more important to remember that just because there are idiots willing to give their friends and neighbours a bad name does not mean that all those friends and neighbours are equally nuts. For example:
Jerusalem: Haredim bring segregation to the street
Group of Neturei Karta activists tour capital's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods on Friday, call on men and women to use separate sidewalks

A group of ultra-Orthodox men took to the streets of the haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem last Friday and called on the public to adhere to a complete separation between men and women in certain areas of the city.
The activists toured the streets near Geula neighborhood in taxicabs and announced, using megaphones that on some streets men and women should walk on opposite sides of the road during the weekend.
According to a resident of the neighborhood, Avraham Cohen, those responsible for the initiative belong to the extremist Neturei Karta stream. "The leading rabbis of the ultra-Orthodox public do not support this initiative," he said. "This group decided to on their won accord go into the neighborhoods and set new modesty codes."
However, eyewitnesses said that although the segregation had not been sanctioned by prominent spiritual authorities, most passersby heeded the call last Saturday. "During the noon hours when women go out for a stroll and the men go to the synagogue, men and women walked on different sidewalks," one resident said.
But the same level of separation was reportedly not observed on the busy Friday, when the streets are regularly packed with crowds.

Look at the headline. Without reading the story, you'd easily conclude this was yet another wide scale Chareidi attempt to bring Taliban-style Judaism to the streets of Yerushalayim. After actually reading the article you get a different story - a bunch of misfits with megaphones trying to intimidate everyone, including their co-religionists, into following their xenophobic agenda, and failing.
Obviously the Chareidi community has to accept a share of the blame in how they are perceived by the outside world. As Rav Yonasan Rosenblum sadly notes:
That insight strikes with particular force today. What gentile looks at us and thinks, "Perhaps they really are the Chosen People?" What non-religious Jew looks to the Torah world and finds his curiosity aroused about the source of such refinement and simple mentschlikeit? The janitor in an Orthodox-owned factory recently asked his boss, "If you really are the Chosen People, why are you all so corrupt?"
We each carry around a set of adult pacifiers to grab onto at such moments. Who has not repeated many times Rabbi Berel Wein's famous line, "Don't judge Judaism by the Jews." But the Torah is judged, for better or worse, by the behavior of Torah Jews. Meeting a Torah Jew who exemplified something he or she has never before encountered serves as a major impetus for virtually every ba'al teshuva.
Rabbi Zev Leff likes telling a story of the Telshe Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai (Mottel) Katz. A non-religious Jew once asked him, "Rabbi, how do you explain all these religious Jews who lie, steal, and cheat on their income taxes."
Reb Mottel replied, "I have the same question about all those religious Jews who eat on Yom Kippur, drive on Shabbos, and don't keep kosher." The man looked perplexed. "Those aren't religious," he said. "Well, neither are those you mentioned," Reb Mottel replied.
Unfortunately, writing all those who lie, steal and cheat out of the ranks of Orthodoxy only takes us so far. For one thing, the former view themselves and are viewed as others as frum Jews.
Nor can their self-image be dismissed as simply a bluff. An Orthodox prison chaplain relates how he once brought a prisoner a set of the Four Species for Sukkos. The prisoner, however, rejected the esrog, telling the chaplain, "I'm makpid (strict) on a pitom." The chaplain could not resist asking, "About a pitom you are strict, and about defrauding widows you are lenient?" But obviously the prisoner did feel some connection to Hashem. Otherwise, why would he have cared about the pitom either?

Certainly the Chareidi community has, in generally, developed its theology to the point that a person's piety is judged entirely by externals. Maybe Joe Blowstein stole a million dollars from widows and orphans but look at his shtreiml. He's frum!
But we must not forget that these people are the exceptions. As Rav Rosenblum goes on to note:
NO DOUBT many Torah Jews could pass the Rabbi Schwab bookkeeping test. They just don't happen to be the ones who receive any media attention. Someone raised in the Breuer's kehillah of Washington Heights once told me that he had never ever experienced the slightest temptation to cheat on his income taxes. Just as the prisoner mentioned above could not imagine taking an esrog without a pitom, he could not imagine trying to short change the government.
And you will never hear about these people because there's no news in "Today Yankel did a hard day's work, didn't cheat anyone and bought flowers for his wife on the way home." Before we judge any community, we must remind ourselves of that simple fact.

9 comments:

David said...

Yeah, but the problem is that it's not just a few bad apples who are rioting or throwing rocks. It's a few bad apples who have the tacit consent (if not the quiet support) of their rabbis.

Do you seriously believe that if the rabbis that these ignorant sheeple follow were to come out and say that throwing rocks on Shabbos is assur min-haTorah that there would be any more of it? You're dealing with a fundamental defect by pretending it's an incidental problem.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Some have. YWN had a story on how a bunch of askanim came to Rav Shteinman asking him to sign a kol koreh banning vacations and he refused.
But there are also reports that Rav Eliashiv and others have been threatened with violence (and Rav Eliashiv has been physically attacked in the past) if they come out and oppose these askanim.
In addition, remember the politics at work. Many of these thugs work for the Eidah Charedit which means they don't recognize Ravs Eliashiv and Shteinman as their leaders. Now, they also don't listen to Rav Sternbuch who is running the Eidah but that's another problem...

David said...

So you're saying that these Chareidim are refusing to follow the orders of Chareidi rabbis? And that Eliashiv and others simply lack the courage of their convictions?
Also, maybe I missed it, but what do vacations have to do this? I knew these guys were loopy, but why would anyone of any religious persuasion be opposed to the occasional vacation?

SJ said...

So I guess Garnel by your logic the sephardic chief rabbi Saul J. Kassin isn't a real orthodox jew?

Off the Derech said...

But there are also reports that Rav Eliashiv and others have been threatened with violence (and Rav Eliashiv has been physically attacked in the past) if they come out and oppose these askanim.

Hahaha. LMFAO! That is probably the most dishonest statement from Garnel ever (and that's sayin' something). To imply that these askanim have power over the gedolim is really insane. Someone is getting prittty desperate.

Shalmo said...

There is an entire web of ironies and contradictions on this blog.

The most apparent one is that Garnel hates reform and conservative jews. And most definitely, in his nazi-like zeal, wants to kill all arabs and muslims, as his previous posts highlight.

Yet he spends so much time lamenting about the problems in the Orthodox world. And the problems in the Orthodox world surpass anything the reform, conservatives and muslims have to deal with in their own communities.

And yet in this strange dichotomy Garnel still goes on believing that Orthodox Jews are the pinnacle of human achievement; the light unto the gentiles Hashem wants them to be. And that Orthodox Judaism is the one true religion, nevermind Garnel's own heretical positions in that religion.

A very pathetic excuse for a human he is.

Anonymous said...

Who says Garnel's even human? :-p

Not Brisk said...

Garnel, I see you have a respectful fan-club. You must be touchin on a raw nerve...nuance doesn't make friends...

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

The truth is generally more annoying than a comfortable lie.

And Anonymous, if you'd have read the books I appear in as an important secondary character, you'd know that I'm a Grinaoulli.