We've all met a married couple in one dysfunctional state or another. One of the typical models is where one partner has given up on the marriage but remains because of the benefits it provides. The partner takes from the other, whether it's shelter, money or other such comfort, while giving nothing back. The other partner, worried that dissolving the marriage will cause more harm than good, plays the reciprocal role. He constantly gives in the hope that things will improve while quietly despairing that they won't. Such a situation can carry on for years or decades.
Sometimes I wonder if the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist (non-Chareidim) communities and the Chareidim are involved in such a relationship. It occurred to me that I should explore this for a couple of reasons. One is an oft-heard complaint out of Modern Orthodox circles about the lack of reciprocity when it comes to respecting the Torah scholarship of the leadership of the two sides. Modern Orthodox communities have no problem inviting Chareidi rabbonim to speak in their shuls while it is unheard of for the opposite to happen. People still mention from time to time how Rav Hershel Schachter and other prominent Modern Orthodox rabbonim were shunted to the side at the last big Daf Yomi celebrations over seven years ago put on by the Agudah.
They note that the only Modern Orthodox rav quoted in the Artscroll Stone Chumash is the Rav and that this only happened by special request of the sponsors of the book. The non-Chareidim use religious appurtenances produced by the Chareidi world while quietly accepting that any that they produce will not be accepted by those same Chareidim.
Every year the Chofetz Chayim foundation sends around videos about Tisha B'Av full of dynamic speakers. When was the last time one of those speakers was not Chareidi?
Mishpachah magazine by many of its subscribers was criticized over the last couple of years for including quotes from rabbonim such as Ravs Michael Broyde and Shlomo Aviner as well as producing a piece portraying Rav Hershel Schachter as a bona fide Talmid Chacham. Could one imagine a Modern Orthodox community condemning one of their publications for mentioning a Chasidic Rebbe or Litvish Rosh Yeshivah in a positive way? Such a mention would be taken for granted!
On the other side we frequently hear calls for "achdus" bu one has to wonder: what's the definition of achdus? Is it a vague "We're all in this together" or a demand that all Orthodox Jews become Chareidi in order to reduce diversity? Frankly, is achdus even desirable if such is the undertone that comes with it? Would it not be better to create an environment that fosters the attitude that non-Chareidi Orthodoxy is legitimate and that accepting this does not threaten the authenticity of Chareidism?
Don't forget as well that achdus is not something normative in Jewish history. Other than a brief 40 years of wandering in the desert and during the parts of the reigns of David HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech, we as a nation have made it an informal policy to be disunited. Even at the end of the Megilla we just read we are told that after saving the Jewish nation Mordechai was acceptable only to most of his fellows and Chazal comment that even after those events there was disunity amongst some.
Taking a step back it is easy to see that the relationship between the Chareidim and non-Chareidim is very much like the marriage described at the start of this post. The Chareidi community, whether we wish to acknowledge this or not, maintains its ties to the non-Chareidim based simply on need. They need non-Chareidi money to keep their institutions afloat. They need non-Chareidi customers to buy their appurtenances and mitzvah items. They need non-Chareidi boys to induct into Chareidism to help replace their hemorrhaging OTD problem. And in return?
On the other side the non-Chareidim have dug into the attitude that says that a split in Orthodoxy would be catastrophic and produce far more harm than benefit. To a great extent they are correct. After all, if the non-Chareidim were to say tomorrow "Enough!" and formally begin treating as treif the Chareidim who already do the same to them it would cause a great deal of trouble within their communities. Almost all non-Chareidim in North America would have to become vegetarians unless a large number of shochtim suddenly got turned out by YU (is there a course there in that?). Are there enough Modern Orthodox mohels to handle the demand? What about sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzos? Where would they come from in sufficient numbers? What about teachers in schools? And who would replace all those handy Lubavitch shlichim who perform important services on university campuses and small communities across North America?
So the marriage goes on but with the non-Chareidi side either quietly gritting its teeth in silent frustration at the unfairness of it all or dropping its self-esteem in order to accept its inferior position as the giver who gets little in return. Is there a marital counsellor out there capable of sorting this out?