web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Dati Leumi’

Pesach and Solidarity

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Festival of Freedom, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik observes about our liberation from Egypt:

A group cannot be called am [nation] if there is no solidarity. Am is indicative of a readiness to share, a sense of compassion. The Jews were taken out of Egypt and were freed not because of their spiritual grandeur, but simply because they were charitable to one another; there was a feeling of solidarity among them.

Rabbi Soloveitchik goes on to state about solidarity in relation to the Holocaust:

If in the 1940s we had responded to the call for help that came across the ocean from the ghettos in Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic lands, we might have saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. We did not respond to that call. I thought at the time that the Jewish community was falling apart, that there was no sense of solidarity, of being together, of suffering together. It was a terrible crime on our part…and we have not purged ourselves from the great crime we committed, tolerating the destruction of six million Jews.

As Pesach nears, these words should set our consciences aflame. Today, some of the world’s most inspirational Jews suffer continual persecution and brutality. Masked troops destroy their communities under cover of darkness and jail their children without due process, traumatizing families and empowering the enemies of Am Yisrael.

These crimes occur not under the flag of nations like Egypt or Russia, but under the flag of Israel.

We should know the name Akiva Hacohen. After this patriot warned Jews in Yehuda and Shomron about planned demolitions of homes, in August 2011 the state expelled him from his home in Yitzhar. Akiva was then jailed for espionage in January 2012.

Subsequently “released” to a house arrest with 24-hour monitoring that in effect also put his family under house arrest, the state further prohibited Akiva from using communication such as a cellular phone and the internet. “All we wanted to do was to guard the Land of Israel,” his wife Ayelet stated. “Unfortunately, this is an anti-Zionist state which abuses Jews who love the Land of Israel.”

Ayelet’s reference to “an anti-Zionist state” is a key point. Zionism means defending Jews and building Eretz Yisrael. People who hurt Jews and surrender Israel to Islamist neo-Nazis are not Zionists, no matter how fluent their Hebrew is.

We should know the names of the bulldozed Torah communities Akiva and Ayelet tried to defend—names like Mitzpe Avichai and Ma’oz Esther and Oz Zion and Ramat Migron.

Where is our solidarity for these oppressed brothers and sisters? Where are the manifestations of collective outrage?

It takes little if any moral courage to say that dead fascists and perpetrators of rocket attacks from Gaza are evil. It is another matter to confront brutality against Jews that is perpetrated by Jews. Denouncing Hitler and Hamas while ignoring Jewish enemies is outrage on the cheap.

In fact, all too often the attitude of Jews in the dati leumi (national religious) camp toward these matters is one of coarseness and evasion. “Now that it’s done, it’s done,” a dati leumi commentator said about the Shalit deal soon after it took place. Another commentator likewise reduced Gush Katif’s destruction to having been “a bad policy.” (I suppose then that England’s expulsion of Jews in 1290 was merely a bad policy.) These statements bring to mind what Rabbi Meir Kahane wrote regarding Mishlei 17:15 and 24:24-25:

[T]hose who fail to rebuke, aid and encourage the wicked to continue, and through their silence or their very timid, tepid and ‘mild’ criticism that fails to stamp the deeds as evil and as wrong, they are in effect labeling them as decent and as acceptable, thus erasing the line between good and evil.

This Pesach, let us take to heart Rabbi Soloveitchik’s words about what solidarity means for Am Yisrael and act accordingly.

Are the Ultra Orthodox Incapable of Seeing God Fearing in National Religious Jews?

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Last Friday, Cross Currents published an essay by Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein that I consider to be of seminal importance. It is illustrative of one of the biggest problems impeding the future of Judaism. It involves the way the Charedi world is educated and the reaction of at least one of their rabbinic leaders to it. It is almost as if he had an epiphany.

The article itself involves a Kiddush HaShem that was done by Akiva Finkelstein, an 18-year old Dati Leumi honors student in Israel, and in and of itself is not anything we haven’t seen before. From Cross Currents:

An honor student in a dati Leumi school, he trained for eight years, and became Israel’s welterweight champion, and representative at an international competition in Armenia. Scheduled to fight motza’ei Shabbos, a change in the rules demanded that he be weighed in on Shabbos itself. His father flew in to help argue the case for him, and convinced the powers that be that Akiva could not get on the scale, but it would be OK if the officials lifted him on to the scale. At the appointed hour, the overall boss balked at this in a monumental act of small-mindedness, and told Akiva that he would either step on the scale himself or be disqualified. The secular Israeli coach urged him to do it. Akiva refused; in a single instant, he sacrificed eight years of training.

It was indeed a tremendous sacrifice and a true Kiddush HaShem. Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Rabbi Adlerstein goes on to tell how an unnamed Torah personality contacted him about the reaction by some members of his own Charedi community. He was extremely upset by it. What upset him? Again – from Cross Currents:

These comments gave Akiva no credit for the decision, but denigrated the eight years of training. Think of all the Torah he could have learned in the time he spent outside the Bais Medrash! Akiva was a loser, and so were his parents.

If I were to say that this reaction sickened me and ask what is becoming of the Yeshiva world – I would be called a Charedi basher. That is in fact how I have reacted many times to this kind of thinking.

But it was not me reacting to it this time. That was precisely the reaction this Torah personality had. In fact if one goes on to read the rest of Rabbi Adlerstein’s description of that personality’s reaction it could have easily have been me saying it. Bottom line is that he asked Rabbi Adlerstein to write about it.

That is the silver lining of hope for change in Charedi education.

It was very revealing that what many if us have known for years about the attitude of some on the right, is apparently proven to be a fact. It is also gratifying to know that a Torah personality is now aware of it and is pained by it.

I have written extensively in the past about correcting this erroneous Hashkafa that Charedi students have somehow incorporated into their thinking. At least there are now Charedi leaders that see this too. And saying so. At least anonymously. But the fact that this leader refuses to both be identified or personally address the problem in his own words and instead asks that a surrogate do it for him is part of the problem too.

I can attempt a guess at who it might have been. I know two members of the Agudah Moetzes personally and one by reputation and all three could have had this reaction. But it could have been anyone – including those who are not on the Agudah Moetzes.

I’m glad that there are Charedi leaders on the same page with me on this. But the fact that they refuse to make their views public and put the power and prestige of their own names behind it is one reason the problem will no doubt be perpetuated. This silver lining therefore contains a cloud.

What will it take to make this Charedi Rabbinic leader come out of the closet on this? I would be willing to bet that he is not the only one among his peers that feels that way. Being pained is not enough. Even making it known in an anonymous way is not enough. If the pendulum is to swing back sooner rather than later on this it’s going to take a lot more than expressing pain anonymously.

I don’t know why he refused to be identified. My hope is that he reads my comments or others like it and reconsiders. It is only then that a community that views the concept of Daas Torah as embodied by their Gedolim as defacto infallible that things have any chance of changing.

A word about criticizing Charedi rabbinic leaders.

There are some people that will see this post as a jumping off point for bashing members of the Agudah Moetzes and other Charedi rabbinic leaders. That would be terribly wrong in my view. I know there is a lot of anger out there about the reactions of the right about issues affecting the Jewish people. Good and well-intentioned people are perplexed by it.

But just as there are reasons that good and sincere people are upset, does not make those they are upset at bad people, God forbid. Charedi rabbinic leaders like those on the Agudah Moetzes are sincere too. They too have integrity. I firmly believe that they are as truthful and devout as their reputations indicate. They firmly believe that everything they do and say in the public arena is in the best interest of the Jewish people. And they have a lot more Torah knowledge that most of us.

That they can and sometimes do make mistakes is because they are human. It is also true that differing Hashkafos will sometimes lead to different interpretations of what is seen as a mistake. It is therefore entirely wrong to denigrate them in any way. What we may do is respectfully disagree with them. Which is a standard I try and maintain when I do it. I ask that if people comment on this – that they do the same.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Religious Zionist Outreach Takes Israel By Storm

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Something different is happening in Israel. It’s been going on for a few years already. Now it’s just about everywhere: The presence of Dati Leumi kiruv movements.

Israelis are used to seeing Chabad of course, and some attend lectures by Arachim and Aish HaTorah. But this is new. For the first time, you can find Jewish outreach stands manned by individuals wearing kippot serugot at shopping malls, bus stations and major intersections throughout the country.

“Our goal is to make the depth of Jewish learning and Jewish living accessible to the common Israeli, preferably through a learning relationship, a chavrusah,” says Avichay Boaron, general manager of the Ma’aynei Hayeshua kiruv movement in Jerusalem.

“We don tefillin and distribute Shabbat candles to people passing by, of course, but what we really want is to nurture this brief initial encounter with Judaism into a deeper, steady acquaintance.” Advertisement

But what makes these kiruv movements different from the ones we’re used to?

First of all, Israelis are more likely to share their spiritual needs with those who went to elementary school with them, served with them in the Israel Defense Forces, and work side by side with them at the office. In other words, with those religious Jews who are familiar faces in the secular Israeli world.

Second, the ideological foundation for Dati Leumi kiruv stems from Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook’s philosophy concerning the very roots of Jewish secularism, Zionism and post-Zionism.

Rav Kook, zt”l, explained that our brethren left a Torah lifestyle en masse about 150 years ago because they demanded depth in their day-to-day Jewish routine and no one provided them with it. This convinced them that Torah lacked real depth, chas v’shalom. Our job is to learn together about the intrinsic connection between lofty Jewish ideals and routine Torah living, whether it’s about keeping Shabbos and Taharas Hamishpacha, or the Torah’s outlook on Medinat Yisrael and Tzahal. These encounters are friendly, non-condescending, and very exciting.

Ma’aynei Hayeshua is one of the more veteran Dati Leumi kiruv movements. Founded in 2000 by a group of dedicated Hesder yeshiva graduates and volunteers with proactive backing from prominent rabbis such as Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l, Rav Yaakov Ariel and Rav Shlomo Aviner, they began by circulating informative fliers and divrei Torah about Dati Leumi kiruv. Once the idea caught on in the community, they quickly began building a nationwide network of volunteers.

“We feel it’s about time the Religious Zionist community had its own grassroots movement,” says Boaron. “If we’re going to have an impact on the Israeli scene – a real, tangible impact on the Israeli mentality – we must reach out with a widespread movement to infuse Jewish meaning in the individual and national Israeli orientation, and we must present a significant Jewish cultural alternative as well.”

And “Jewish meaning” is certainly on his agenda. Boaron’s Ma’aynei Hayeshua runs 100 manned Jewish outreach stands throughout Israel every week; 500 activists implementing weekly kiruv activities; 2,000 annual chavrusah matches with 50 new requests for chavrusahs every week; a year-round Outreach Training Course with 300 graduates; distribution of 10,000 Jewish outreach publications; production and distribution of Jewish books, booklets, and a widely acclaimed music disc; two 24/7 Religious-Zionist outreach centers of Jewish activity; an all-day bet midrash for ba’alei teshuvah; and a popular 16-page weekly magazine circulated every Friday among 70,000 religious and non-religious Jews throughout Israel.

“You wouldn’t believe how many stories we get from the volunteers,” says Yehoyada Nizri, director of activities at Ma’aynei Hayeshua.

“One was about an activist from an antireligious organization who approached one of our outreach stands. The polite and learned person behind the counter spoke to him at length, and the prospect even agreed to a chavrusah – and the chavrusah he got happened to be the rosh yeshiva of the Ma’alot Hesder Yeshiva, Rav Yehoshua Weizman. Today, this person is a happy, fully committed, frum Jew.”

In the past year alone, Nizri adds, the number of chavrusahs has doubled from one thousand to two thousand pairs. The outreach stands too are twice as active as they were last summer.

“Israeli society is changing, coming closer to Yiddishkeit,” says Nizri. “You can feel it in the air.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/religious-zionist-outreach-takes-israel-by-storm/2011/03/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: