web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Reason For The Silence


Wein-011312

The terrible controversy regarding social issues that has been aroused in Israeli society by the despicable behavior of a fringe group of the haredi community is very sad. It seems that it is always the extremists that drive the agenda in all conflicts, both national and internal.

In my opinion there is absolutely no excuse, justification or religious principle that justifies such behavior. It demeans the Torah and its adherents and is absolutely counterproductive to Torah values and to the strengthening of a truly religious Jewish society.

The response to this wicked behavior by most of religious society in Israel, especially in the haredi world has varied from complete silence to tepid disavowal of the behavior of the group. Mostly, it results in a counterattack pointing out the obvious and far more serious deficiencies of secular Israeli society and then portrays all of haredi society as being systematically victimized by the media, the courts, the government and the majority Israeli society generally.

I am not here to defend any particular point of view or to cast aspersions at the sides in this current struggle. It is part of a 150-year long kulturkampf that unfortunately has not yet run its course. However, I feel there must be an understanding of the root causes of the continuing angst in the Jewish religious community in Israel and worldwide over all types of social and political issues.

The two seminal events of recent Jewish history are the Holocaust and the creation of of Israel. Both of these events, undeniable in their gravity and importance, have caused the religious Jewish world, individually and collectively, faith and theological problems.

To the non-believer for whom God never enters the equation, these two events are digested as being historical facts and little more. To the believing and observant Jew these events are very troubling. All attempts to “explain” the Holocaust have proven to be inadequate, logically or religiously. We are left only with faith in the God of Israel Whose Will is inscrutable. But that causes a certain amount of tension and frustration in our community of believers.

Because of the potential danger to faith that this issue poses, it is rarely discussed in our religious schools, its secular commemoration at the end of Nissan is shunned and it becomes the hidden elephant that is omnipresent in the room of our lives. The extremists in our midst even travel to Iran to support the current main Holocaust denier. And the general religious community, though abhorring such behavior, nevertheless again allows silence to be mainly its response since we are unable to explain, even to ourselves, why the Holocaust occurred.

What results is a subliminal rage within us that explodes periodically through the behavior of the extremists and the general community is silent because we are also consumed silently by that repressed rage.

How could a Jewish state come into existence and have staying powers if its leaders and fashioners were opposed to all Jewish traditional belief and Torah practice? This was one of the basic reasons for the opposition to practical Zionism by most of the Orthodox world prior to World War II. Even after the state came into being many great rabbis predicted it would not last.

One of the great leaders of the haredi world at that time told his followers that the state would only survive for fifteen years; perhaps fifty at the most. The haredi world has never felt Israel is its state. Mainly it feels that we religious Jews are still in exile, this time an exile imposed upon us by our fellow Jews.

What follows from that thinking is that the anti-state activities of the extremists, no matter how wrong, foolish and vicious, are greeted with either silence or muted criticism that soon turns into accusatory rhetoric against the representatives of the state.

The haredi community has bedecked itself with the comforting mantle of victimhood and is loath to remove that cloak from its shoulders. By not really being part of the state it avoids facing up to the fact that somehow, again, our inscrutable God has behaved not according to our logic and expectations and has somehow allowed our little state to exist and prosper well into its sixth decade.

It will take a major change of mindset in the religious world before we are able to face down the extremists and not merely be silent in the face of such desecration of the Torah and God’s holy name.

Rabbi Berel Wein is an internationally acclaimed scholar, lecturer and writer whose audiotapes on Torah and other Jewish subjects have garnered a wide following, as have his books, which include a four-volume series on Jewish history. A pulpit rabbi for decades, he founded Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Rockland in 1977 and moved to Israel in 1997.

About the Author: Rabbi Berel Wein is an internationally acclaimed scholar, lecturer and writer whose audiotapes on Torah and other Jewish subjects have garnered a wide following, as have his books, which include a four-volume series on Jewish history. Formerly an executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and rabbinic administrator of the OU’s kashrus division, he founded Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Rockland in 1977 and moved to Israel in 1997.


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.

2 Responses to “The Reason For The Silence”

  1. Heshy R says:

    Rabbi Kahane, HY”D, had a well-reasoned argument explaining the Holocaust. Most Jews, even religious, cannot stomach it. But that’s only because it rings true, and only he had the guts to take on the subject where virtually everyone else shies away from the subject.

    It dovetails with Rabbi Wein’s thesis in his article above about current Chareidi attitudes and behavior.

    Rav Kahane: Confronting the Holocaust, Jewishly
    http://bmartin01.blogspot.com/2009/02/confronting-holocaust-jewishly.html

    (You can only find it on an unrelated individual’s blog because the Kahanebooks site has been suppressed by the powers-that-shouldn’t-be.)

  2. Varagi says:

    The blog in the previous comment says: “And the Rabbis in Shabbat (33b): “When there are righteous in the generation, the righteous are caught for the sins of the generation. When there are no righteous, then little children are caught for the sins of the generation (this is the explanation for the million and a half Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in the death camps). Let each of us think long and carefully about this.”

    Whoever is satisfied with the “explanation” for the murder of the Jewish children is not thinking things deeply enough. It is hardly “the” explanation. Kashyas upon kashyas should come to one’s mind when reading this mamrei Chazal. Kahane adds that he wants to avoid “the creation of a Jewish God who is senselessly cruel.” The essay needs to go much much farther if he wants to succeed in this.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jawwal Cellular Communications HQ
Hamas Robs Bank of Palestine
Latest Indepth Stories

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

For too long the media and international community have been preaching that “Palestinians” bear no responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and they are passive victims of the conflict.

Iron Dome intercepted over 1,000 rockets aimed at Israel with a success rate of over 90% in 2014

We talked about the responsibility that comes with the pen, its potential to influence and inspire.

Amnesty International:The crippling of the power station was “collective punishment of Palestinians”

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

More Articles from Rabbi Berel Wein
The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

This book is more than just a biography of one of the leading figures in the Jewish world of the past century.

Front-Page-061314

My primary interest was in providing for my community, both spiritually and physically.

“When we landed in Beijing, a Chinese army captain and soldier, weapons drawn, boarded the plane and swiftly collected all passports. Since we had no entry visas to China, we were summarily hauled off the plane and marched to the terminal…”

The Holocaust and the rise of Israel occupy no space or time in many Orthodox schools.

There is an old rabbinic anecdote about a rabbi who was called on to deliver a eulogy for someone who had no redeeming social value whatsoever. The rabbi was hard pressed to think of anything positive to say about this person. So when he spoke he solemnly pronounced: “No matter how evil the deceased truly was, he was still a far better person than was his brother!”

The most dreaded status in Israeli society is to be considered a frier – a sucker, a boob, stupid and unable to withstand being taken advantage of.

It will take a major change of mindset in the religious world before we are able to face down the extremists and not merely be silent in the face of such desecration of the Torah and God’s holy name.

All societies survive through the retention of customs and traditions. If ritual law, halacha and Torah observance are the keystones of Jewish existence, the customs and traditions of Israel are the chain that has kept Israel bound to the Torah and its laws and values. The rabbis called the customs and traditions of Israel “the lessons of your mother” – in contrast and at the same time complementing “the teachings and disciplines of your father.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-reason-for-the-silence/2012/01/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: