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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Eida HaCharedis’

Whose Fault Was the Haredi Attack Anyway?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

You know what? I’m not even angry at the extremists that physically attacked a Charedi soldier in Meah Shearim yesterday. It’s hard to be angry at people so brainwashed.

Is a pit bull at fault for attacking a human being? Or is it his trainer who conditioned it to do so? Animals have no ability to think rational thoughts. They act on instinct. Or in the Pavlovian ways in which they were conditioned to act. We have only one way to protect ourselves from these kinds of wild animals. If they are going to be anywhere near civilization, they have to be put in cages, like zoo animals.

Calling for punishment as many have done is useless. Because they are never punished. Their community protects them. The extremist rabbis of organizations like the Eida HaCharedis  or communities like Toldos Aharon consider turning in one of their own to the police (read: Nazis) – Mesirah.  A crime punishable by death! So even as even they might pay lip service in condemning such acts, they do zero, nada, NOTHING! …to stop them.

Instead they do everything they can to keep them out of jail. And even when they condemn them, they do so with a huge ‘but’! …sympathizing with their zeal and agreeing with their motives. Mentioning this caveat is even true of non extremist Charedi rabbinic leadership.

There were however quick condemnations from across the board in Israel. From the prime minister; from a Charedi politician (Shas leader Rabbi Aryeh Deri); from Yesh Atid’s leader, Yair Lapid; and even  from Nachal Charedi rabbis: From Ynet:

Nahal Haredi rabbis condemned the attack, saying it was “an act of hatred that is un-Jewish and un-Orthodox”, “blasphemy” and “shame and disgrace”.

Let me add my own condemnation:  Ready? Here goes: I condemn thee! There. That should stop them!

I am not angry at the dogs who attacked a Charedi soldier. But I am upset at the Rabbinic leadership who have thus far remained silent. I have not heard a single rabbinic leader say a word about what happened in Meah Shearim yesterday. Just so that people will know exactly what I am talking about, here is the Ynet description of events:

A haredi soldier was attacked by dozens of haredim in Jerusalem‘s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood. The soldier ran into a nearby building and called in police forces, which managed to rescue him unharmed.

The haredim on site were throwing stones at the forces trying to disperse the crowds, and four rioters were arrested for disturbing the peace.

Police said that the soldier, a resident of central Israel, arrived in the Mea Shearim neighborhood to visit relatives. When he was attacked, he fled to a nearby structure, where he changed into civilian attire and contacted police to report the assault.

 After clashes subsided, haredim gathered in the area, crying out against haredi soldiers and calling police ‘Nazis.’

Even if Charedi rabbinic leaders do end up voicing their condemnation, it won’t help. Animals cannot communicate verbally.

They must do more than condemn. Short of building cages for them with their bare hands (something I would be happy to help them with), they have to stop the hateful rhetoric that these animals instinctively feel which generates this kind of Pavlovian response we have all become so ‘fond’ of.They have to act! They need to do something drastic to show that their condemnations (should they ever come forth) are more than mere words. Like going out on the field during one of these confrontations and standing with the soldier. Even at their elderly ages.

Or here’s another idea. Let them organize a protest against these people. Mainstream Charedi rabbis are pretty good at calling for protests. When a Charedi rabbinic leader calls for a protest – tens of thousands of Charedim come out. Let speaker after speaker insist that these animals be put in jail… and that reporting them to the police is a Mitzvah – not Mesirah! Let these animals and their extremist rabbinic leaders see exactly who they are up against. That may not stop them. But at least it will give them food for thought.

Condemnations are mere words. They have to act! That is the mark of true leadership. Merely saying, ‘I condemn thee’ – no matter how loud and how strong – means absolutely nothing!

Jonathan Rosenblum’s Hit Piece on Dov Lipman and the RCA

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

I am truly disappointed in one of my Charedi heroes, Jonathan Rosenblum. I can already hear my detractors saying  ‘I told you so’ or saying that my beliefs about moderate Charedim  are completely wrong.

But they are wrong. I still consider Jonathan one of my Charedi heroes. He has proven himself to be moderate more than once.But not this time.  In an article in the Yated he has attacked the RCA for inviting Rabbi Dov Lipman to give a keynote address at their convention. He then goes about ripping Rabbi Lipman to shreds… describing him as a self promoter with ulterior motives who comprised his principles by joining a secular party. A party whose platform endorses a more secular government. One which would implement non Halachic innovations like civil marriages.As further proof that he is not an appropriate choice to keynote the RCA convention – he cites Rabbi Lipman’s approach to controversial issues facing Israel. Like his advocacy of lowering the Charedi standards of observance requirements for converts; his support for the Women of the Wall; and his argument that the Kotel is not a Beis HaKenesses and therefore does not require a Mechitza. (Hmmmm… that sounds familiar.)

It is fair to question Rabbi Lipman about his views from a Charedi perspective. But to deny him a platform  to explain himself publicly to the primary Orthodox rabbinic organization in the United States because of these questions is just plain wrong, and unfair.  Rabbi Lipman is not a Reform rabbi. He still considers himself to be not only Orthodox but Charedi. That he has reached a decidedly non Charedi approach to some issues, does not take away from that claim. I’m sure he still maintains many Charedi Hanhagos ( customs) like wearing a velvet Kipa and a black hat; using only Cholov Yisroel products; and not relying on the Heter Mechira for Shmitta years. He probably still sees Torah study as being of paramount importance – despite his advocacy of drafting Charedim into the military.

But even if he has somehow lost his credentials as a Charedi because of his controversial views, there is no question that he is Orthodox.  To criticize the RCA for allowing Rabbi Lipman to speak is to say that opinions that are contrary to mainstream Charedi thinking in Israel are illegitimate and should not be heard.Of course Jonathan has said the reverse. That giving Rabbi Lipman a platform is tantamount to endorsing his ‘anti Charedi’ views. I do not see it that way at all. Although I might agree with Jonathan that along with Rabbi Lipman a speaker promoting the Charedi side of things might have been a more balanced thing for the RCA to do.

One of the arguments Jonathan makes is that we here in the United States ought to ‘not mix in’ to the issues affecting Charedim in Israel. (I assume he means even American Charedim. That would mean that even an endorsement of the Charedi position by American rabbinic leaders should not be made. It was of course made by  Agudah. Jonathan did not complain then. But I digress.)He says that we are not familiar with the ‘nuances’ of Israeli life and we can’t possibly understand the opposition to reasonable change for Charedim. Certainly not when it comes to the draft. But even when it comes to inserting a minimal core secular curriculum in their schools.

The standards Rabbi Lipman wants to insert are far less than the requirements of his own Charedi Yeshiva in America,  Ner Israel. Or even Philadelphia (Lakewood’s unofficial high school). Jonathan says that as an American Charedi Oleh (immigrant) of only ten years residency he does not understand the nuances of the Israeli paradigm of full time Torah study sans Limudei Chol.

I don’t know. It seems to me that 10 years is enough time to understand it. What Rabbi Lipman is saying is that it needs to change nonetheless. I agree with him.  The RCA wants to hear him speak about these issues as a member of the Kenesset; as a Charedi; and as someone who has lived there for ten years and has observed both the positive and negative of this paradigm. What is Jonathan afraid of? Why does he see this as something bad? What happened to Elu V’Elu?

And what about Jonathan’s own education at Yale, which he personally values greatly – as he told me himself? Can he honestly say that what’s good for him is not good for Israeli Charedim? Why? Were he to do it over again, would he have rejected studying any Limudei Chol? Dov Lipman hasn’t even touched upon university education for Charedim. All he wants is for them is to know how to speak English… or know a bit about science, world history… or even Jewish history for that matter! Why is that so terrible?!

Is it because the Charedi leadership continues to reject it? Jonathan says that it is not so much that but about the fact that the program is being forced upon them. Really? Well, fine, let the Charedi leadership come up with their own alternative Limudei Chol program.There are two chances of that happening 1) slim… and 2) none! The fact that they haven’t tried on their own to do that in the past – since the very beginning of the state when the pressure wasn’t on – is indicative of how much interest they have in it.They are fighting this because they strongly believe that the evil secular government  (and their willing accomplice – Dov Lipman)  is imposing it on them. Is this how to deal with what they see as a problem? Even if I were to concede that this is a problem (which I of course do not), I don’t see this as the way to deal with it.Contrast the current Charedi approach to that of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, founder of the Eida HaCharedis. (You can’t get much more Charedi than that.) The following is a paraphrase form an ArtScroll (…it must be true if it’s ArtScroll) biography about him entitled, Guardian of Jerusalem. (21: 316 – 317).

Because of the dangers of the secular system attracting Frum parents to their schools, R’ Yaakov Rosenheim invited Rabbi Dr. Shmuel Auerbach to establish a secular curriculum in the Yeshivos of the Yishuv HaYoshon. Despite the ban on secular studies being taught – R’ Yosef Chaim expressed no opposition to the proposal that secular subjects commonly taught in the general schools (Arabic, Arithmetic, Science, History, Writing…)  be taught for a couple of hours a day in  the Yeshivos of the Yishuv HaYoshon.

One of Jonathan’s points is that Charedim were making progress in these areas already and that the only thing all this stuff has been doing is creating a backlash. Charedim already were increasingly getting training for the workplace in special programs designed for them.And perhaps more importantly some were increasingly interested in fulfilling their military obligations through Nachal Charedi and Shachar. The sight of a Charedi in uniform was become commonplace and accepted  in and around Charedi enclaves. But with the government trying to force it on all of them, Charedim in uniform are being barred from certain shuls… and some have been physically attacked and vilified in wall posters!

Jonathan: Instead of blaming Dov Lipman for this kind of disgusting backlash, shouldn’t you be in the forefront of blaming those who generate the motives behind this backlash?

Jonathan’s problem with Rabbi Lipman is not the only complaint being heard by the Charedi leadership in Israel. They have also complained that they have not heard a word from the Chardalim… those on the religious right wing of Religious Zionism who has in recent times sympathized with Charedi complaints about government intrusion into their religious lives. Why have these Religious Zionist leaders have been silent on this issue?

Seriously?

Well maybe it’s because they are on the other side on this issue. Maybe its because their schools have good Limudei Chol programs. And more importantly, their constituents not only serve in the military but thier Hesder students are known to be the bravest members of it – often volunteering in groups for the most dangerous assignments. They have certainly had their share of deaths and injury in combat. Maybe… just maybe that’s why the Religious Zioinist camp has been so silent!

Not that they think that none of their students should be exempt from army service.Some are. Students in their flagship Yeshiva, Merkaz HaRav, do not serve. They study Torah full time. That should be the paradigm for Charedim too.

Maybe that’s the ultimate reason that the RCA has invited Rabbi Lipman to keynote their convention. It may very well be that they agree with him.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

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