He began to speak about reflecting on why this happened but, almost predictably, did not state the obvious: Jews were banned from praying because the police were worried about violence. Instead he brought up a gemara from the end of Makkos, the famous one about Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues seeing a fox walking in the ruins of the Temple and their varied reactions. He went on from there and brought in a beautiful interpretation but by then he'd lost me. All I wanted to do was shout at the screen: Dude! It's because you guys riot! If you didn't do that the incident wouldn't have happened.
It reminds me of a story I read somewhere on-line a few years ago about a community where some children had been killed in car accidents at a busy intersection. The community called a meeting and various people tried to determine what sin they were guilty of that had caused these tragedies and what they should do to make proper teshuvah. When the Rav of the community was asked though, his answer was simple: Maybe we should ask the city to put in a traffic light.
When people don't want to see the obvious answer to their problems they can come up with all kinds of different solutions. The average obese person with knee pain doesn't blame that Molson Muscle hanging down over their belts. He claims that the pain killers I gave him weren't strong enough or that he needs a better pair of shoes. Similarly the frum world, when looking at its problems, seems to possess a significant central blind spot with excellent peripheral vision. They see everything else other than their own contribution to what's affecting them.
A fantastic example of this is a recent letter from our favourite PR hack, Rav Avi Shafran which was appended to an article written by Rav Elchonon Oberstein in Baltimore Jewish Life. The subject of Rav Overstein's column was the recent spate of attacks on Chareidi soldiers by Chareidi civilians incensed by... well who knows anymore?
After noting several things which are not making their way into the Chareidi community regarding how much the Tzahal is trying to accomodate ultraOrthodox recruits and make the process of drafting them as painless as possible and after noting statements from the secular side of society showing care and concern for the worries the Chareidim have about this, a letter from Rav Shafran is appended which, on superficial glance, seems to be what I predicted he wouldn't do: acknowledge the problem and condemn it.
But read the letter carefully and the blind spot reappears. Consider:
Now, with various players putting the issues front-and-center, and signaling their intention to mold the charedi community to something closer to their own image, the (easily predictable, if unfortunate) result has been a counterpush – with things like army service and joining the workforce becoming, at least in the eyes of some – a playing into the hands of the enemy (here, Mr. Lapid and company).Note the way Rav Shafran has taken the Chareidi onslaught against the government and turned it around. Mr. Lapid and company have, from the start, done their utmost to avoid inflammatory statements and to find as many compromises as possible in order to accommodate the special needs of the ultraOrthodox while the response has been shrill and unyielding. But instead of noting this Rav Shafran simply repeats the canard: well of course we're upset. They've trying to change us into seculars!
The poster-posters and catcalls you describe are misguided and obnoxious -- I felt revulsion reading your account -- but they are just another sadly predictable result of the new polarization of the Israeli populace.How odd then that, despite this polarization, there have been no poster campaigns from the secular and Religious Zionist communities in Israel villifying the Chareidim?
Firstly, the American Gedolim as a rule do not comment on anything having to do with Eretz Yisrael,Unless it has to do with the Women of the Wall. Despite the WoW's only real presence is in Israel and therefore only an Israeli concern this hasn't stopped Rav Shafran from issuing comments along with many of his cohorts at Cross Currents.
And yet, on communal issues like the larger one in Israel, the Gedolim do feel they must call a spade a spade, and a stick-and-carrot campaign by anti-charedi people (even those who have occasionally presented themselves as “the charedim’s friend”) precisely that.In summary: yeah, bad stuff's happening but it's all the fault of those nasssssty seculars who want to destroy the Chareidi community so how can you expect "the Gedolim" to issue any statements?
Tisha B'Av has just passed and with it another opportunity to miss the point of the day. We must each of us be constantly performing a cheshbon hanefesh on ourselves while simultaneously judging our neighbours, both religious and secular favourably. Instead of blaming "the other" we must start blaming ourselves. If both sides were to approach the other with the opening statement "I'm the problem, how can I change to make things better for you?" then we would be many steps closer to eliminating Tisha B'Av as a fast day.