Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Kick Them Out Already

The angry resistance to the Israeli governments intentions to draft all its Jewish citizens equally continues to rage out of the Chareidi community.  Not a day seems to go by without further insults, accusations and enmity being expressed by their representatives, they who speak in the name of the "Gedolim" who, of course, know the mind of God Himself.
Is it any wonder they're so angry at recent events in Israeli politics?  For decades the Chareidi leadership has worked to crate an image of Judaism that fits its ideological agenda.  Jews were always Chareidi right from Matan Torah on down.  Moshe Rabeinu even wore a shtreiml at Har Sinai.  Why wouldn't he?  In this world view there was no debate, no variety within the Torah community through the ages, all was monolithic and agreed upon until those nasssssty Reforms and Haskalah types appeared in the 18th century and created new, evil movements that claimed to be Judaism.  What's more, it's Chareidi learning that sustains and supports the Jewish people and the land of Israel, nothing else.  Its "Gedolim" have "Dass Torah" and, through their special ruach hakodesh, possess infallibility and therefore require unquestioning obedience.  And it's always been this way, always!
Yet after the recent election this carefully contructed ideology faced severe problems.  Large numbers of religious but non-Chareidi Jews were elected to the Knesset, many of them on the slate of a secular party.  What's more they had no intention of giving the usual obedience to the Chareidi leadership's dictates.  They had the arrogance to assume that their version of Orthodoxy was also a legitimate expression of Torah behaviour.  They had the temerity to insist that Chareidim do not have a God-given (forgive the pun) right to sit and learn all day while receiving funds from the State they enjoy slandering.  Jews claiming to be Orthodox and not towing the Chareidi party line?  Chutzpah!
As bad as all that was, the response continues to show a lack of moral integrity within certain elements of the Chareidi world.  We already saw the Neturei Karta demonstration in which they dressed their children up as concentration camp inmates.  We had editorials in Chareidi publications insisting that Israel has simultaneous obligations to pay the Chareidim to sit and learn while not expecting them to serve in the army.
Now we have a major Torah authority in the United States spreading lies about what Naftali Bennett said in support of drafting Chareidim.  Not interpreting in a hostile fashion or selectively quoting but outright lying, in the name of Torah-true ethics no less!  And if that couldn't be outdown the recent demonstration by the Satmar Chasidim (an oxymoron if you know what the word chasid means) featured competing claims as to whether the Gaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit"a, supported the protest.  Some Chareidi blogs prematurely trumpeted the announcement that he did only to discover afterwards that Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, the Rav who made the announcement, hadn't actually heard such from HaRav Kanievsky.  To top it all off a written letter was produced which was claimed to be from HaRav Kanievsky in support of the rally and it was shown to be a forgery!  So now we have Roshei Yeshivah lying in the name of Gedolei Torah in order to support an ideological position and say it's approved by Daas Torah.  And as Rav Slifkin notes, the public propaganda put out by these groups strongly implies that if you don't agree with them you're not a real Jew at all.
It boggles the mind!
Perhaps it's time to stop expressing annoyance at provocations like this.  Perhaps it's time to stop simply blogging and editorializing and take a stronger stand.  For far too long one of the spot-on criticisms of Modern Orthodoxy and Religious Zionism is that the two groups accord respect and authority to the Chareidim while the opposite takes place in reverse.  For far too long we have come to accept that "real" Gedolim and "real" learning mostly occur in the Chareidi community.  This is not true and cannot be accepted any longer.
It's time to push back.  It's time to declare that the principle that sitting all day and learning while wearing the "right" outfit is not an automatic ticket to being designated as righteous.  Both Modern Orthodoxy and Religious Zionism have their own leaders and the followers have to start asking them the hard questions: are they really leaders or just quiet stand-ins for Chareidi authorities?
We are all taught that quiet responses calm bullies and make them go away.  We all know from real world experience that the opposite happens.  Bullies are only intimidated when challenged by superior force and the will to use it.  Are we willing to say that not accepting the legitimacy of the State of Israel is wrong?  Are we willing to say that saying tachanun on Iyyar 5 and acting as if nothing important happened in Jewish history on that day is wrong?  Are we prepared to stand up and reclaim Jewish history from those who have perverted and revised it to fit their narrow agenda?  In short, are we prepared to stand up for the truth and say that those who don't accept it have no place among us no matter how long their peyos?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Moshe Meiselman while an American lives in Yerushalim and is not as you state an American Charedi leader. He is also a bit atypical in that he is a nephew and talmid of RYBS and has a Phd in math from Harvard.

Neshama said...

It was ok for this Rabbi to obtain a PhD in math, but the little haredi boys that will need to feed their families in several years are NOT ALLOWED to learn math?

Why should that be so?

Fred said...

The push-back you envision ain't gonna happen. Look at the MBP controversy. The RCA and OU issued statements that were, at best, half baked against the practise, while the Aguda and their ilk ramped up the legal argument into a modern day assault on religious liberty. And, leave it to Satmar to start screaming like school children- THEY threatened to have a protest dressed in concentration camp uniforms, lest their penis-sucking ritual come under scrutiny by anyone outside the camp.

Its no different here- as soon as Satmar gets involved, its guaranteed to become a war zone of vilification, lies, accusations, excuses, and above all, anger. And its all self serving and completely self centered. They claim to love all Jews, and have amazing chesid organizations devoted to bringing Kosher food to people in hospitals, soup kitchen, financial assistance, and so on. Yet most frum Jews, and those Orthodox organizations that lean toward "modern", can't seem to extricate themselves from what I call "balance sheet frumkeit": Satmar commits massive public Hillul HaShem, wages war against anyone outside the camp (think Weberman's accuser), and get themselves embroiled in mega financial scandals involving public/taxpayer money. Yet, ON BALANCE, when you mix in all of that down-home-Brooklyn-style chessid that they perform, the result is, well, not so bad ON BALANCE. The dilution of the scandalous and disgracefull with the generous and heimish yields a product that's much more difficult to criticize.

I say its time for Jews to practise Separate Accounting- like good CPA's, lets start to push back like adults, and judge Satmar, and other nutcase hareidi groups, for what they are, separately, from what they do- both good and bad. Their community is disfunctional and corrupt on so many levels- it is high time to tell it like it is, when it is, without excuses, rationalizations, apologies, and the inevitable "but" excuse that seems to corrupt any reasonable analysis of the challenge normal orthodox Jews, of all variations, face from the vilda chaya's within our midst.

ahg said...

Great Post!

Just what I have been thinking, saying and occasionally commenting about online in the past year. Amen!

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

One suggestion is that when you are approached by someone for a donation to a certain yeshiva, you ask whether the yeshiva has sefarim from the Rav or Rav Kuk in its beit medrash. If the answer is no or limited, the response should then be that you are devoted to a specific style in learning -- and it is institutions that offer this style that you support -- and that the absence of the these sefarim from the beit medrash indicate that you do cannot support this yeshiva.

The what is this person going to say? The only possible come back is to argue that one should give even to institutions that do not reflect one's derech in learning. Ask to then get it in writing that this person advocates for charedim to give money to YU.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Adam Zur said...

Charedim are highly violent towards secular Jews. The idea they talk about of Love of Jews is hype. They will stop at nothing to get secular Jews away from their communities while still our demanding support. I do not see much reason to continue this farce.

Y. Ben-David said...

Although I agree with those who say a demonstration like this is out of bounds, I don't agree that those of us who identify with Religious Zionism should "fight back". I do not hold the rank-and-file Haredim responsible for the propaganda coming out of the official Haredi organs. I am very worried that the moderate rank-and-file Haredim are going to pushed into the arms of the extremists, destroying years of work which has brought many (most?) of the Haredi camp into a position of wanting to work, wanting to serve in the IDF and rejecting extremism in their camp. In any event, they CAN NOT be forced to serve in the IDF if they don't want to, so all this pressure, in the form of demanding legislation to coerce them into serving is simply a waste of time and is counter-productive.
I think the best thing for our camp to do is stand on our principles, continue educating our children in the true Torah path, but ignore the extremists. We can't let the current situation cause a massive rupture between religious people of all camps.

SJ said...

After much thought, I have to agree with the haredim on this one.


Drafting haredim will not solve Israel's demographic crisis, if anything assimilating haredim into the secular Israeli's other-than-procreation lifestyle will speed up Israel's demographic collapse.

Secular Israelis should consider having kids.