Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

No, Rav Sternbuch, We Love Our Religion

Rav Moshe Sternbuch, leader of the staunchly anti-Israel Eidah Charedit, recently added his sagacious voice to the growing number of Chareidi leaders protesting the imminent implementation of the universal draft in Israel.  Some of what he said was predictable and repetitive, such as the boring comments about how Israel is trying to uproot Torah, the army is evil, we are all the tribe of Levi, etc. etc.
And some of it was just plain insulting.  Not insulting to the intelligence but insults not worthy of a man of his stature.  Let's look at the opening statement, for starters:
Concerning the terrible decree to conscript yeshiva students [bnai hayeshivos], it calls for Da’as Torah about the severity of the matter.
Now, whenever someone says "Daas Torah" these days it's a code for "My arguments wouldn't hold up in an open discussion on the subject so I'll prevent that by declaring 'Daas Torah" which means 'How dare you disagree with me?'"  On the Chareidi side it's impressive.  Outside that community it just contributes to rolling of the eyes.
But then he went a step further and if Koheles is correct that the words of the wise are heard when said gently then Rav Sternbuch either disagrees with Koheles or...
The Ra'avad [Rosh Av Beis Din] of the Eidah HaChareidis, the Gaon Rav Moshe Shternbuch, chose to speak out against the entire Religious Zionist [Mizrachi] sector: "The Mizrachnikim are haters of Judaism [sonei das]. Today they revealed their true faces." By way of distancing from the [Religious Zionist] entity he did not [even] agree to mention the name of [Naftali] Bennett [head of the HaBayit HaYehudi party]: "In holy places one does not mention such names."The Ra'avad did not leave it at that, but he [Rav Moshe Shternbuch] also chose to attack the entire Religious Zionist community: "For years we knew that the Mizrachnikim were haters of [our] faith [sonei das], but they were always careful to display themselves as "lovers" of [our Jewish] faith and that they themselves are "religious" [dati'im] and they came to preach [lidrosh] in synagogues, today they revealed their true [hypocritical double] faces because they have joined with the haters of the [Jewish] religion [sonei hadas].
Whenever there is an incident in Israel involving Chareidim attacking people who are mechalel Shabbos the usual apologists explain that the reason for the violence is because the passionate love these particular Chareidim have for Torah and Shabbos drives them crazy when they see a sinner desecrating the holy day.
Goose and gander, Rav Sternbuch.  You are wrong, sir.  We do not hate our religion.  We are not sonei das.  It is because we love our religion, because we love the Torah that we are so passionately angry at those who have twisted it almost beyond recognition into a fossilized remnant of itself and then announced that this remnant is the only true Torah Judaism there is.  We are angry at people like you.
I've seen it written that the Torah acts like a mirror, that what a person is like inside is what he thinks he sees in the Torah.  What kind of Torah does the Eidah Chareidit see?  An uncompromising one full of anger and punishment, written by a deity who has nothing better to do all day than try to trip us up and then chuckle gleefully as our sins get written up in the Heavenly register?  That's not our Torah.  That's not our Ribono shel Olam.
Once upon a time the task of a religious Jew was to make the name of Heaven beloved by all.  Tell me, sir, how many non-Eidah Chareidit types have you accomplished that with?  And how many have you turned off from any interest in Torah observance through your strident declarations that your way, the way of the xenophobic shtetl where every outsider was an evil demon waiting to rape and murder, is the only true way of Torah?
Once upon a time a religious Jew was a functioning member of society.  He stood up to the temptations of the outside world and insisted on bringing holiness into it.  His faith cowered before no outside philosophy.  He could learn math, science and history and bring it into the service of Torah to accomplish a more complete worship of the Ribono shel Olam.  Tell me, sir, when did the Torah become such a flimsy vessel that it has to be hidden behind ghetto walls for fear that its adherents will defect from it en masse?  When did even speaking a language with proper grammar become goyish?
We are angry because every time we try to make a suggestion to your community to improve relations between us we are insulted, belittled and patronized.  We are told that only your "gedolim" are real Torah scholars and only your way of practice is real Torah observance.  You insult us and then tell us we should be privileged that we have a chance to support your community.  Should we not be angry about that?
We are angry because everywhere we look we see the hand of God working to move history forward towards the final redemption and you disagree, refusing to give the Ribono shel Olam any credit for the miracles and kindness He has performed for us.  The Satmar once said that any time something bad happens to the Jews it's God punishing us but when some thing good happens it's just the Satan trying to trick us.  You've turned God into a dysfunction, abusive parent.  Should we not be angry about that?
We want to bring forward history to its Divine conclusion.  We want to increase the presence of God in the world.  We want to worship Him by living complete lives in his service, harnessing all we can of the world to bring us closer to Him.  You want to hide behind closed doors and high walls and pretend the Cossacks are at the gate while you debate who's ox is liable for that pit in the public domain.  Who really loves God and Torah?  Who really doesn't?
We are angry but we do not hate.  Unlike you we know we are all one big family.  We know that God's plan for history includes all of us.  We want to embrace you but when we try you shove us away and call us dirty and inferior.  We are angry like a brother is angry at a brother.  The language of hatred comes from your side, not ours.  Do you not understand that or has your self-righteousness completed clouded your faculties?
We want one nation, prospering and sanctified, engaging the real world and showing God's plans for it.  We want you to join us.  But if you don't, if you want to wallow in your hatred while calling it "Torah true" we can't stop that.
You are wrong but we don't hate you.  Pity?  Maybe, but hatred is not acceptable.

5 comments:

RAM said...

When we contemplate how little groups of Jews really know each other, we should try all the harder not to delay Mashiach's arrival by inappropriate behavior.

E-Man said...

Wow, this SHOCKS me. He said that??? Wow, can't believe it. (Sarcasm)

ahg said...

You missed the best part:

"The Zionists and infidels are the Amalek in this generation who want to destroy religion. "The Satmar Rebbe zt"l was from the beginning against the Zionists and infidels and said not to associate with them, the fact they have a kippa on their head, is a shmatelke, nothing else."

As seen here: http://www.bhol.co.il/article_en.aspx?id=52980

Those of us who consider ourselves Religious Zionists are Amalek. Since all chareidim there's an obligation to kill Amalek, it can be considered as inciting violence toward RZ.

Adam Zur said...

I have two comments. First the fact that a person can write light reading chidishim like Moadim u' Zemanim does not make them a gadol. This any avreaich can do. There is nothing about this person that makes him a “man deamar” (person in the know) at all except the political power he has in Israel and which he would have no where else in the world.
Second is personal. Did you see a blog that had an interesting statement from the Rambam that all agree that Moshe wrote the whole Torah and the answer of Reb Chayim Halevi Soloveitchik on the obvious contradictions to this thesis. I mentioned this to my learning partner and he wanted to see it.

Fred said...

Great column. The ongoing narrative within the Haredi world has become a balancing act to assume the position as standart bearers of the Torah (i.e., Daas Torah) and to assume the default position as the victim if the original clarion is not accepted. Spice up all of that with some extreme verbal abuse toward "the other guy"- in this case, the Religious Zionist crowd- and you have quite a public spectacle that the world is invited to view, courtesy of the (evil/Satanic) internet.

What a disgrace. Under "normal" circumstances, the Satmar Rebbe would be properly accused of "hate speech"; perhaps he should pay a visit to a less tolerant society that has political correctness oozing through its collective psyche (France and England come to mind) and open his mouth there. But, he, being a R-E-B-B-E (of Satmar, no less), and having undergone the requisite apotheosis that elevates him beyond the realm of mere mortals, can simply get away with it, while bilking and shnorring and gaming every available public aide program known to modern society, instead of perhaps, making a contribution to it.

Is it any wonder that there are so many formerly religious Jews who have decided to simply check out?