web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



A Call to End Anti-Chasid Bigotry

People were literally saying that a chasid cannot write so well. It’s impossible they claimed.
F110515YN08

Photo Credit: yaakov naumi/Flash90

A few days ago I spoke with a Satmar chasid who studies academic Biblical Scholarship. We talked for a while and I got a sense of his typical chasidic upbringing, his current life situation, and his scholarship activity.

Like almost everyone raised in a deeply insular chasidic environment, he speaks English as a second language. HIs accent is not as thick as some of the other chasidic people I know, but it’s clear that Yiddish is his first language. However, once I got past the accent, it was also very clear that this was an extremely bright and erudite young man.

I talk to people all the time. Some are smarter than others. Some people have quicker minds than others. This fellow was smart, no question about it.

He wrote a superb article describing his journey into Bible Scholarship and the various ways it has adjusted his thinking and Jewish experience. It was beautifully written and made its points eloquently and somewhat poetically. I was asked to vouch for his chasidic bona fides, which I did, based on a mutual friend and my assessment following our conversation. (Verifying that the fellow exists and lives in the Chasidic community is not an endorsement or approval of the content of his article.)

The article generated a bit of a firestorm. Not because of its provocative content though. The largest issue seemed to be that people could not believe that a chasid could write such an amazing article. Turns out, the article was too good. It was suggested (accused?) that the chasid had written some notes and the editors of TheTorah.com must have rewritten it in proper English. To alleviate the skepticism, I asked to see the original draft he submitted to TheTorah.com and I again confirmed that it was at least 98% of his own writing. Only a few minor edits were made and they were use and stylistic edits, not wholesale rewrites.

But the skepticism remained. People were literally saying that a chasid cannot write so well. It’s impossible they claimed. I was challenged on my Facebook page and TheTorah.com also received extremely skeptical, bordering on accusatory, comments and feedback.

This is pure bigotry. And it disgusts me.

It is absolutely true that a chasid is going to be severely handicapped by his lack of proper secular education. The average chasid starts much further down on the ladder of English erudition. I don’t dispute that fact. But with some effort, anyone can learn how to write well. And if one has a gift with words, is able to put ideas into black and white in any language, those skills will translate into beautiful English prose and poetry.

While it is fair to say that a chasid will lack teachable skills simply because a chasid is untaught, it is bigoted to assume that a chasid will lack talent and ability.

After the Leiby Kletzky tragedy, I paraphrased Lee Anne Touhy from “The Blind Side”. In talking about the inner city ghetto, Touhy said that the cure for cancer might be in those ghettos. We need to give all youth the opportunity to discover it. The same thing applies to the chasidic ghetto. There are plenty of super talented people behind those walls. Some might have the talent to cure cancer, unfortunately few have the opportunity. Some have the talent to write incredible articles or books in English, unfortunately few have the opportunity.

But when someone gets the opportunity, it’s cause for celebration and recognition. When a chasid breaks free from the artificial wall his community has placed around him and discovers a special talent, we all benefit. And let’s not be so prejudiced against chasids that we can’t believe that talent can be found behind those walls. The only real difference between those on the inside and those on the outside is opportunity. But insofar as talent goes, those on the inside are at least as blessed as those on the outside.

To think that a certain group or subgroup is inherently inferior and incapable of achieving greatness is bigotry. Pure and simple. It’s no different than saying that a black person cannot be president or that a woman cannot be a Supreme Court Justice or that an Asian cannot play basketball or that an Orthodox Jew cannot be a rockstar. There are talented and incredible people everywhere. Some are given an easier path to discovering and sharing that talent, but talent is everywhere.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “A Call to End Anti-Chasid Bigotry”

  1. And now for the ultras in Israel.

  2. And now for the ultras in Israel.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are presuming that playing basketball, or being a Supreme Court Justice, or a medical research scientist does more for the world than studying Torah. Rabbi/Dr. Fink, don't you know that Torah study is what keeps the world in existence??? It's the most important contribution a Jew can make!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Logos of the Arab Bank
Arab Bank Found Liable for Hamas Terror Funding
Latest Blogs Stories
Obama and Netanyahu in the Oval Office

ISIS and Hamas are cut from the same cloth. Obama should listen to Netanyahu.

Rivlin

Last night I attended the big festive celebration of ten years of Menachem Begin Heritage Center and Museum. Security was tight, almost like at a foreign airport, because both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Ruby Rivlin were to be there. And yes, they were and yes they spoke. Officially the evening was a tribute […]

Teens-091214-Shofar

Hamas’ tunnels were destroyed as were plans for their unparalleled terror attacks on Rosh Hashana.

Doug Goldstein

Grandmaster Michael Adams talks about life as a professional chess player.

The Jewish Press stressed the possible ramifications of such a breach of Israeli political protocol

Why some countries are more economically successful than others? Tune in for the answer…

If not scared by God be scared by man; Hopefully ethics will integrate into lives for proper reasons

Smear campaigns by people with agendas other than justice do not faze him; He does what is right.

Countries like Turkey, Europe and even the US have proven fertile ground for recruiting terrorists

How many times have you heard anti-semites spew words like Israel are Nazis, or what you are doing to the Arabs is worse that what the Nazis did to the Jews?!…

My blog, Israpundit, was hacked, and I had to move to a new domain…

There’s much confusion about the definition of Daas Torah; simply put it means the wisdom of Torah.

We’ll never be able to negotiate a true, lasting peace with the Arabs.Their aim is our destruction.

Now I live in a country where every shop in the food court is kosher! I can have anything I want!

Pashkevil: “Come out today and battle the Zionist Amalek and all the traitors in Nahal Haredi…”

Jordan: Only M.E. country with no historical basis and ruled by occupiers placed by European powers.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

People act not because they think it’s right; they do what they do because it’s what they want to do

Dusk in the early morning hours seen from Mt Meron, Northern Israel. March 26, 2014.

What do we do when we want to be mad at God but we also want God to make it all better? Indeed, what do we do?

Rambam would also allow charity from a mumar as long as the person maintains basic belief in God and Judaism.

There is no song that tells the story of freedom like Shir HaShirim.

It is unfair to judge a 52 year old man with the glasses of a person who lives in a different world.

Adegbile was not making a moral statement by representing a man convicted of killing a cop.

Women learning Torah is becoming increasingly permissive, but women wearing tefillin is becoming increasingly stringent.

When the “offensive” statements in our Talmud were stated, no one thought they were offensive.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fink-or-swim/a-call-to-end-anti-chasid-bigotry/2013/11/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: