Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

What's the Point of Talking

Pity poor Rav Dov Lipman.  All the guy wants to do is improve the lot of his fellow Chareidim.  He's young, earnest, honest and hard-working, full of good ideas and eager to improve his community's lot.
And what's his reward?  Villification, slander, lies and public attacks.  And all of that from a community which claims to be the embodiment of holiness in the world, the ideal that God desires from all of us.
He's not alone, either.  As the wise RYGB has noted, it seems that anyone who questions the Chareidi party line in Israel is immediately lumped in with such historical figures as Hitler, y"sh, Stalin, y"sh, and Chiemlnitski, enemies of the Jewish people, Torah and possibly even God.  This seems to have been the fate of one Barry Jacobson who also dared not tow the official line in public.  Even Rav Jonathan Sacks is not immune from the Agudah's attack dogs, especially after his recent speech in which he gave his perspective of what's ailing Chareidism today.
As the pressure ramps up on the community in the face of the Israeli government's determination to integrate them partially into society the response has become even more fanatic.  One report out of Israel suggests that they want to make it illegal to not have Chareidi parties in the government.  Another report states that it is now sina qua non that Chareidim should not have to work but instead be supported by the State while they learn full time.  Therefore the Israeli government is going again this "natural law" in its efforts to extend the draft to them.
And need I mention the debacle over the Women of the Wall yesterday in which thousands of supposedly God-fearing Jews worked together to create a tremendous chilul HaShem in public?
How does one even respond to all this idiocy?
One thing is certain: rational conversation with the leadership and its representatives is a waste of time.  These folks live in a completely different reality from the rest of us.  We see that Israel survives both due to the physical and the mystical.  Yes, Torah study is a positive factor that guarantees the survival of the Jewish people and the State but the army is another important factor that can't be dismissed.  For these folks, however, it can be.  All the physical efforts, all the important work done to keep the borders secure are meaningless to them because in their world it's only Torah study that matters.
What if you try to point out there's lots of non-Chareidim out learning Torah while serving in the army?  The response is that it's only their learning that counts just like it's only their Gedolim who are real Gedolim.
In short, you can't reason with them.  Trying to refute their arguments is a waste of time because the principles of rational debate do not override their beliefs.  Tell them that staging a riot at the Kotel is a terrible thing and they will tell you that they do not care about what the world thinks, only God.  The idea that God Himself might not be onside with their plans simply will not occur to them.  It is axiomatic that He is.
So what's left?  As hokey as it might sound: self-reflection.  We on the outside also have principles and beliefs.  Are we being true to ours?  As mightily as the Chareidim fight against the draft because they truly believe theirs is the good fight do we also have that same sense of security?  Are we trying to create a Jewish nation in which burdens are equally shared or are we out to get the Chareidim?  Are we opposing a society of "learn, don't earn" because we really believe that it is not the Torah way or is it because we simply don't see any value to learning like they do?
This is the important lesson of all the hyperbole coming out of the Chareidi PR machine.  It is a challenge to us on the outside.  We need to be as focused and as principled as they are so that we can stand firm in our beliefs.


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer said...

Yitz Greenberg once said: Yitz Greenberg also famously said, "I personally don't care which denomination in Judaism you belong to as long as you're ashamed of it."

A kernel of truth in that...

Y. Ben-David said...

Very important to keep a cool head in times like this, particularly during the "Nine Days". What does this insane hysteria coming out of the propaganda organs mean? That the leadership is very afraid of losing their followers, to whom this propaganda is directed. I think the rank-and-file Haredim are very aware of the serious problems the Haredi community faces and that brave people, including some Haredi politicians are willing to stick their necks out and try to give them a better future. This scares those in power. Thus, we should never look at our Haredi brothers and feel dislike in our hearts because they are the principle victims of the system they are trapped in and I am convinced they know the truth. Perhaps it was a mistake to try to use legislation as the means of correcting the distortions in their society, leading to a strengthening of their extremists and to terrible things like assaults on Haredi soldiers in uniform, but the current political situation has certainly lead to a real clarification in everyone's positions and the expression of the true feelings of some of this in positions of authority in the Haredi community.
Those of us in the Religious Zionist community have to constantly be on guard, while clearly defending our positions and honor, not to let the disagreements get personal.

Fred said...

The big news is that a Haredi soldier was attacked yesterday in Mea Sharim; stones were thrown at him by a huge crowd that appears to resemble "The Lotter" in anger and determination. A police commando unit had to rescue the soldier and extricate him from an apartment where he was forced to hide! Can anyone believe what is happening here? I cannot....

I haven't heard a single word of condemnation from any member of the "Daas Torah" clique. Nor do expect to, since, as it's been said a zillion times before, "being Hardedi means never having to say you're sorry". I'm waiting for Rabbi Ginzberg, whose response to Barry was infantile, rude, and condescending, to make a statement that might indicate his fellow Haredim acted just a little bit out of character.

I won't hold my breath.

A few weeks ago, video clips of another Haredi protest showed throngs of rioters pushing steel dumpsters into police, both on foot, and on horseback; they had to dispers quickly to avoid being slammed by the dumpster. Does anyone realize how dangerous this was? The police and the horses could have been seriosly injured or possibly killed.

Garnel, you are spot on in pointing out they will never yield a centimeter in their blind adherence to an ideology that denies both common sense and moral decencey. I think its come down to the point that anytime the Agudah, the Yated, Lakewood, or any Haredi mouthpiece issues an accusatory and derisive public statementent against "the opposition"- a la Rabbi Sacks- it should be interpreted as a sign that we are doing the right thing.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Fred, it's quite clear that the level of hysteria will rise as the government pushes through with its plans so yes, the response is a measure of success.
But the reason the "Gedolim" haven't responded is simple and, on a certain level, it makes sense: they never advocated that the soldier be assaulted, they obviously don't approve of such behaviour so are they expected to issue a condemnation every time a Chareidi mob does something? It's obvious to them they don't support it and therefore they think it's obvious to us.

Fred said...

Garnel, when you consider how readily they portray themselves as victims of anti-Charedi bigotry and hatred, along with the fact that their public disapproval rating is something like 80% within Israel, one would think that they would be a little more media saavy when the opportunity presents itself, and at least issue a statement that sympathized with the soldier- a Haredi soldier, no less- was attacked.

I guess the Charedi Gedolim have never heard the phrase "silence = acquiescence".

Then again, when a little girl was spat upon in Beit Shemesh, there was neither a statement of sympathy for her, nor a condemnation of such disgusting actions by anyone identified with the Haredi leadership. Rabbi Anselem, and Rabbi Lipman visited the little girl and her family to show support for them, and look how the latter is being treated in Haredi circles. I suppose it's 'gonna get a whole lot worse as opposition to their myopic brand of Yiddiskeit grows, not only in the Knesset, but on the street as well.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

But again, that's the point of my post. The leadership either doesn't believe the 80% number or thinks that it's irrelevant because they should be universally loved so if they're not it's the seculars who are wrong, not them.
Are they supposed to issue a statement every time a Chareidi somewhere misbehaves? It sounds reasonable to say "no" because the Pope doesn't apologize every time a Catholic somewhere commits a crime but on the other hand these primitives are committing crimes in the name of Chareidism so there is an obligation to speak out.

Fred said...


To paraphrase Bill Carter: There's a whole lot more Catholics then there is Jews...

The problem is these "frum" thugs don't believe they are committing any crimes; they apparently believe they are defending the honor of the Torah from the enemy- kind of like an honor killing committed by a Muslim- its a similar mentality, really; they look in the mirror and see themselves as the "good guys". Just like the time they punished the little girl in Beit Shemesh by spitting on her, since she had the chutzpah to appear in public without wearing bullet proof stockings: in other words, the adult men with beards and coats did nothing wrong; she (a 10 year old) challenged their prurient inclinations by dressing immodestly, and therfore she asked for it.

From the outside world of sanity morality, and rationality looking in, they certainly did commit a crime in the name of Charedism- I would expect their leaders to issue some public statement decrying such behaviour- especially when they attacked someone who is supposedly one of their own. No such luck, although in retrospect, its probably better this way as their collective silence will continue to expose most of the Haredi leadership for what it truly is- a bunch of fake phoney fraudulent fanatics who disgrace Judaism.

Michael said...

No pity needed for Dov, he's doing fine. He ignores most of this stuff, especially what the US-based talking heads blabber about, as he knows it's completely irrelevant to doing his job. There's a lot he and Yesh Atid are accomplishing behind the scenes. It will have to be that way for a while davka because of the atmosphere that's been created by all these malcontents.