(Thanks to CJ Srullowitz for the hat tip)
One of the recurring forms of criticism of the Chareidi world is that they do not sufficiently condemn the savages in frum clothing that are currently running riot in our holy Yerushalayim. However, as opposed to the craven apologetics of some folks, it is possible to find Orthodox voices community that are sick and tired of what's going on there. One of these voices is Rav Steven Pruzansky who, in his latest blog piece, not only unequivocally notes his disgust with the protestors but also explains how this sad situation has come about.
What I like best about the piece, however, is how is parallels my recent post on picking and choosing. It's always nice to know that someone else is thinking along the same lines as me (although Rav Pruzanky might not be so happy to discover that!):
Where a simple outsider sees “piety,” a more astute observer sees scrupulous observance of some Mitzvot and a wholesale disregard of others. The standard accusation against more modern Jews – that they “pick and choose” the mitzvot that suit them –applies with equal cogency to them: they may dress modestly, but many are public charges – violating the Talmudic mandate that one should “rather treat his Shabbat like a weekday than become dependent on public support.” They dutifully rest on Shabbat but treat its corollary – to “work for six days” – with disdain. They are close-knit but only within a narrowly-drawn circle; the concerns of other Jews, and love of other Jews, are not always readily apparent. If it were otherwise, they would not attempt to propagate their views by inconveniencing others, who are unsure of and uninterested in whatever point they are really making. Their study of Torah and observance of mitzvot are often punctuated by superstitions and irrational behavior that have no place among Torah Jews, including but not limited to fetishizing certain forms of dress. They can adopt every minority opinion – every stringency – except in the areas of Kavod habriyot, Ahavat Yisrael (respect for the dignity of others and the love of Jews), and several others as well.
Their attempt in that small enclave to re-create the European shtetl has succeeded, at least to the extent that they have duplicated the grinding poverty that typified European Jews when we ignore the mythology and the nostalgia. And it is poverty that – just like in Europe – has no escape, as the educational constraints they place on themselves deprive them of any realistic opportunity to better themselves economically. And, as I see it, that is the primary source of their discontent – not the secularism, the immodesty, the Zionism that surrounds them – but the happiness, the satisfaction, and the contentment that so many others derive out of life – especially the Torah life – that they are denied. Unable to contribute or even to discourse with others, their sole recourse is to stones, imprecations, and blockades. How sad… To be given an opportunity to re-create a fully-Jewish life in a land of Israel under Jewish sovereignty, and instead to squander it – in the process, antagonizing even other Torah Jews. Many are misguided, and to a great extent, misled by their leaders. And I am unaware of even one Jew who performed even one mitzva or avoided one sin as a consequences of a stone being hurled his way.
As I noted before, it's Elul. Yes, we all pick and choose but perhaps the first step towards genuine teshuvah is recognizing that and admitting our short comings with a resolution to try and do less of that in the coming year. Perhaps we cannot stop the chilul HaShem these primitives are committing for the world to see but in our personal lives we can still endeavour to commit as many acts of kiddush Hashem as we can to counteract them.