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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776
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Anger at Haredim: Who Is to Blame?

There the draft is but one area Haredi leaders badly stumble over.

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Haredi men scuffle with Israeli police.

Haredi men scuffle with Israeli police.
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90



When one hears the term ‘Hate Crime’ it usually conjures up images of white supremacists beating up innocent black youth or some neo Nazis doing the same to an innocent Jewish youth. But hate is not unique only to cross racial or religious cultures. One can hate one’s own. A Chasidic girl’s school (Bobov) was recently torched in Israel.

This – says MK (member of the Kenesset) Yisrael Eichler of the Haredi Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ) party – is but one example of hate crimes perpetrated against Haredim that is completely ignored by the media. From 5TJT:

“Every day people spit at and curse hareidi Jews, particularly recently, and nobody is horrified by this.” Says Eichler. And yet if a girl gets spit upon bya Chardi Jew an entire party is created that receives enough votes to get 19 seats in the Kenesset!

The arson attack was the tip of the iceberg, Eichler said. “Every day people spit at and curse hareidi Jews, particularly recently, and nobody is horrified by this.”

“But when somebody in Beit Shemesh spits on one girl, a party was built on that spit that got nineteen mandates, and another twelve religious mandates joined them to boycott hareidi Jews and starve their children,” he said, referring to the Yesh Atid party and its pact with the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.

I don’t know how true it is that crimes against Haredim are ignored by the media. If true his indignation is understandable.

But I think he fails to understand why it is happening (if indeed it is). Did all these secular Jews wake up one day to become haters of Haredim – for no reason at all? To many of us who live outside of his world the answer is obvious. They were not born this way or suddenly cast into an anti Haredi spell by demons from outer space.

It is because of the Haredi sense of being in service to God to the exclusion of all others. They truly believe B’Emunah Shelaima (with complete faith) that they have the only true path to God. Their understanding of Torah supersedes the understanding of all others. And that nothing colors that understanding.

As such they view any opposition to themselves as either ignorant (at best) or outright hostility to God. The latter being the more common attitude.

Does he really think that Yesh Atid got their 19 seats because of bad press? …or from one incident in Bet Shemesh? Is it possible he may just be missing the real reason?

I think it is far more likely that the issue of the day – sharing the burden by serving in the army – is what drove this election. That may not be the only issue that drove Israelis to the polls for, but it was certainly one of the more important ones.

Their attitude about the draft is but one area that they badly stumble over. It isn’t so much the issue itself that polarizes the secular and Dati parties from Haredim. It is the way that Haredim characterize and react to it… that does. Their righteous indignation translates to condescension which is palpable – often turning into outright hostility!

Take for example Rav Shmuel Auerbach recent comments as reported in the Jewish Press. Referring to the requirement to resist the draft he said:

“[S]tand guard without any changes, because this is one of the fundamentals of the faith, in the category of ‘ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor’ (a commandment one must obey even at the cost of their own life). …The issue at hand (the draft) is nothing short of eradicating our religion… (emphasis mine)”

One must die rather than serve one’s country. That is how he refers to military service in Israel. Can either MK Eichler or Rav Auerbach or the many other Haredi rabbinic leaders not imagine how the typical Israeli mother whose son is subject to be put in harm’s way might react to that kind of statement?!

The answer must be that they are incapable of imagining it. The belief in the righteousness of their cause blinds them to the perspectives of others. Anyone who does not see it their way must be an enemy of Judaism to be resisted at the cost of their own lives if necessary. Yehoreg V’Al Ya’avor. Virtually all Haredi rabbinic leaders seem to feel this way to one extent or another.

Harry Maryles

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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