Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Why No Condemnation?

Another day, another ugly incident in Meah Shearim.  In this case it's the recent mob violence directed towards a Charaeidi man who dared to show up in the neighbourhood wearing a Tzahal uniform.  As the story is told by the Israeli media, he was set upon by the locals, had to take shelter in an apartment and then had to be rescued by a special squad of police who themselves were attacked by the mob.  One shudders to think of what would have happened if the young man hadn't found a place to hide.
These people are Jews?  They're so Orthodox that they're Ultra-Orthodox?  What does that even mean anymore?
In the wake of the attack it has been noted in more than one place that there has been no statement of condemnation from any of the "Gedolei Yisrael", the leadership of the Chareidi community.  Some have noted a paucity of reporting of the incident in the Chareidi press.  Comments can be found on-line that downplay the severity of what happened and emphasizing that the soldier wasn't hurt so why get upset?
So why haven't the "Gedolim" issued a statement?  I would like to humbly suggest some reasons which will also cast a light on the nature of leadership in the Chareidi community.
1) Isn't it obvious?  Despite the anger and hate of Israel some in the Chareidi leadership possess, no major Chareidi leader, not even those in the Eidah Chareidit, would promote violence against other Jews, let alone threatening their lives, chalilah.  Why should they apologize or issue statements when it's obvious they don't approve of this behaviour?
2) How often does the President apologize?  When an American commits a crime somewhere, does the President of the United States go on television to issue a statement about how this act doesn't reflect America's values, etc.?  So why should the Gedolim have to issue a statement in this situation?  This wasn't an approved activity promoted by them but a random act of violence.  Besides, if they had to issue a statement every time a Chareidi misbehaves they'd have no time to learn Torah!
3) Who exactly should issue the statement?  From the outside Chareidism looks monolithic.  From the inside it's a community of communities, disparate in values and beliefs.   No one "Gadol" speaks on behalf of all Chareidim.  Nor do the "Gedolim" have regular board meetings in order to flesh out common policy.  The Eidah Chareidis wouldn't feel a connection to a statement by Rav Shteinman, shlit"a, nor would the Yeshivish care about a pronouncement from Ger.
4) What exactly happened anyway?  Remembe that the "Gedolim" aren't like regular people.  They do not read the newspaper.  They don't watch the news on TV or listen to the radio.  They certainly don't look it up on the internet!  Chas v'shalom!  They are entirely dependent for their information about the outside world on their handlers and those handlers can paint any picture they want without fear of being exposed for being manipulative and dishonest.  If any "Gadol" has even heard about this incident you can be sure the version he was told bears little resemblance to what actually happened.  In the hands of the handlers mobs become guardians of purity and pedophiles and wife abusers become the righteous of the generation.  Even if a "Gadol" wants to release a statement could you imagine how bizarre it would sound?
You aren't going to see a statement from Rav Avi Shafran on the matter for almost all the same reasons, plus he's way too busy attacking decent talmidei chachamim for daring to not see his brand of Judaism as perfect.  He's trapped in a conundrum.  On one hand he wants us to believe that "real Torah Judaism" is a society in which the "Gedolim" have absolute control.  On the other hand, acknowledging the riots means either claiming the "Gedolim" are responsible due to their leadership positions or that in reality the leadership doesn't actually control anything.  Far easier to distract by writing another diatribe against the WoW's.
The response of the average Chareidi-on-the-street is the litmus test here.  Do they feel they have more in common with other observant but non-Chareidi Jews or do they still feel a kinship with these primitives and see them more as misguided than as barbaric?


Moshe Laymore said...

The average Chareidi-on-the-street did not see the attack in his newspaper because it wasn't there (maybe a small note on page 45) and radio, TV, and Internet are worse than the New Testament.

Atheodox Jew said...

In terms of the "street", my sense is most normal people would say "oy" when hearing about it, but they're too busy leading their daily lives to pay much attention, much less do anything about it. They see the perpetrators as kana'im who it's better not to mess with, and simply try to stay out of trouble.

The Gedolim like you say live an odd sort of existence. I'm sure they get wind of what's going on, but they themselves aren't "activists" and will only make a statement when it's something their handlers are pressing them on.

Neshama said...

I'm really upset by the double standard on both sides, but more so on the haredi side. Violence

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer said...

See the updated
for an interesting letter by Avi Shafran.

Fred said...

The behaviour of Haredi gedolim, along with their many spokesman (who are often self appointed and have no official capacity) wreaks of sinas chinam. This, as Tisha B'Av approaches and we spend 25 hours mourning over the damage to Klal Yisroel wrought by this evil sentiment.

For thos of us who function in the adult world, there are certain standards of behaviour as well that are non-negotiable in terms of demonstrating a modicum of maturity and menchlichkeit. Among these traits are accountablity, fairness, equality and consistency of verdict, and reasonableness. If someone in business screws up, then they have to be held accountable for it; either they admit their mistake and attempt to rectify the situation, or they are simple put out to pasture. And if it doesn't turn out that way, due to corruption or protexia of some sort, at least the theoretical standard exists that allows us to express the ideal outcome, based on some sense of value and ethics.

Think back to the infamous Lipa Shmeltzer concert that was banned: the "Big Event", as it was originally called, became the Hebraic version of "the Day the Music Died". Aside from the totally bogus accusations against the promoters AND performers, the former lost $700,000 because a bunch of Askonim who thought of themselves as Holier than the Pope persuaded many sundry "Gedolim" to sign on the dotted line, like a pushy and recalcitrant insurance salesman, that the spiritual destiny of Judaism would be destroyed if this concert were allowed to take place.

What a huge embarrassment- a massive Chilul Hashem, especially to those of us who were taught to respect "daas Torah" without equivocation. Ditto for the ban on Rabbi Slifkin's books, but even more so, for the outright prohibition that was place on Rabbi Slifkin's THOUGHT PROCESS. It wasn't only what he actuall wrote- the ban was also on what Rabbi Slifkin actually thought. And in both cases- the concert that wasn't, and the censoship of Rabbi Slifkin that was, and is, to this very day- has there ever been a work of regret or remorse from a single member of the Daas Torah clique who put these miserable public debacles into motion, in the first place. Sadly, we are are aware that the answere is a big fat NO.

So why am I shocked, yet again, after so many other instances of being shocked over the behaviour, or lack thereof, of the Daas Torah crowd who avoids issuing the simplest public denunciation of the thugs who attacked a Haredi soldier? Or the shocking silence of any significant Haredi publicity mouthpiece (with some noteable albeit minor exceptions) to do the same (yet the Agudah can throw itself into a mega-tizzy over Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' mild critique of Haredi culture in his valedictory speech in the UK- complete with approval from their Gedolim over what Rabbi Sacks had the audacity to say in a public forum). Is something completely askew here?

I can only surmise that the present situation concerning the hard core Haredi mindset is more a representative of page out of Thomas Hobbs's "Leviathan" than a sugya from anywhere in Tanach. The very corpus of men who have assumed the mantle of Daas Torah, either by dint of their own brilliance or the fanaticism of their flocks, clearly resembles the equivalent of Hobbs's concept of the "Sovereign", who becomes the chosen ruler over the citizenry, who by virtue of the extant social contract, becomes immune from any conflicting powers, and thereby assumes the manly of absolute authority, absent any system of checks and balances, free to interpret the law and legislate by fiat, whose ultimate authority cannot and will not come under question.

I am frightened by this milieu. It is a paradigm where Rabbinic power runs wild, either through actions, or in the latest round of turmoil- inaction, silence, and dare I say, ignorance.

Mr. Cohen said...

I condemn the “Jews” who attacked the Chareidi soldiers.