web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Why Haredim Have An Image Problem With Most Israelis

Share Button

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.

The current backlash in Israeli society against haredim is not merely a matter of theology or of vastly different societal values, different dress and customs. That would prove insufficient to provoke the over the top reaction that has emerged over the past several weeks against haredim generally because of the abominable behavior of some haredim – with, unfortunately, the tacit approval of many other haredim.

The underlying motive for all this haredi bashing is that Israelis – religious, traditional, secular and haredi light – are tired and disgusted of being friers. They have had it with a large and growing section of the Israeli population that they feels is being supported by the general public while contributing next to nothing to the general good and welfare of society.

It is useless to protest that the study and observance of Torah and the continuity of Eastern European or Sephardic traditions is somehow the guarantee of the continued existence of the state of Israel.

The religious Jewish community has never educated the general public to understand this issue correctly and thus the haredi world stands defenseless in the face of the public onslaught against it. And not only is it defenseless, it itself, in many respects, is the main culprit in causing this disparagement of Torah, its students and teachers. It is guilty of making the general Israeli society feel like a frier.

It is well recognized that thousands of haredi young men are not really cut out to sit and study Talmud all day. The streets are full of them even if they are not yet those who have thrown off their garb and faith. Yet the rabbinic and chassidic leaders of the haredi community refuse to endorse the practical notion that these young men do national service stints – in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, shelters and other welfare institutions.

In this way they can fulfill their obligations to the state and society and allow themselves to obtain the necessary educational and vocational skills to enter the Israeli workforce and not be condemned to a lifetime of borrowing, charity and poverty.

Who should care for the stranger, the widow and the orphan if not the strictly observant Orthodox community? Why is this not seen as the fulfillment of a Torah value?

Why is it perfectly acceptable, after already condemning two generations of haredi families to poverty and often to the dysfunction that poverty causes, to continue to condemn a third and a fourth generation to such a fate?

Is it the sole and main purpose of the haredi members of Knesset to allocate as much government funds as possible for the unemployed, the uneducated and the unappreciative at the expense of others in society?

These are the questions Israeli society asks of the haredi world, for these are the issues that engender in Israelis the feeling of being made a frier.

And then there are the small things that have been raised to be great principles of faith in haredi society that are continual irritations. I cannot understand why a prayer on behalf of the soldiers of the state of Israel is not allowed to be recited in haredi synagogues and institutions of learning. Is this not the height of ingratitude when such prayers for the Czar’s army, the Turkish army and various “friendly” governments when we were in exile were recited?

The haredi community may have legitimate theological problems with the state and its leaders, but what does that have to do with the ability to say thank you to those who protect it from annihilation – or for that matter to a government that provides it with millions of shekels and without its support it would collapse?

Its refusal to acknowledge these benefits even in the smallest way and be appreciative of them creates the frier reaction among the general Israeli public and endangers the very way of life and goals haredi society is attempting to preserve. One would think these realities would be self-evident to the haredi community and its leaders.

It is our joint responsibility as Jews to make the Torah and its holy traditions beloved among all other Jews and respected in the general world. Following policies and mores that accomplish just the opposite of this goal is morally indefensible. In essence this makes a frier of all of us, haredim included.

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.

Share Button

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. A pulpit rabbi for decades, he founded Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Rockland in 1977 and moved to Israel in 1997. His latest book is “Patterns of Jewish History” (Koren Publishers), from which this essay is adapted.


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.

No Responses to “Why Haredim Have An Image Problem With Most Israelis”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein

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.”

Legends are necessary for nation building and community cohesiveness. Legends of holy and pious people and legends about villains and the wicked are often subject to fabrication and gross exaggeration, but they leave no doubt in the minds of later generations as to who was the holy and pious person and who was the villain.

Having survived the Knesset elections with all of the uncertainty that all elections provide for the so-called winners and losers, perhaps it is time to take a cursory look at the democratic process of elections from a perspective of Jewish history.

One of the favorite food staples in the Jewish home during the High Holy Day season is honey. Traditionally, from Rosh Hashana until after Succot, honey is served with every major meal. It is smeared on the bread over which we recite the Hamotzi blessing, the sweet apple is dipped into honey on the night of Rosh Hashana, sweet baked goods are baked with honey, and honey is used in the preparation of foods such as glazed carrots and sweet desserts. Aside from the caloric disaster that this custom entails, one is really hard pressed to find a negative thing to say about honey.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-haredim-have-an-image-problem-with-most-israelis/2012/02/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: