web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘jonathan rosenblum’

Over Killing the Left

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
 Sometimes I wonder if the right wing really does care about the rest of Klal Yisroel. Oh, they pay lip service to it. There is a lot of talk about reaching out to our secular brethren. And there are Kiruv organizations run by the right that do a pretty good job reaching out to fellow non observant Jews.

But after reading the constant barrage of attacks against those who have crossed some lines in their attempt to reach out, I am beginning to think that Kiruv, is at best an afterthought. That they care a lot more about their own piety than they do about their fellow Jew.

It seems that ever since Rabbi Asher Lopatin, President of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, invited the leaders of Reform and Conservative Jewry to give their perspectives on how on practical rabbinics in our day, there has been one relentless attack after another. Not a word about his intent. Only about how much they damage he did by departing from tradition and t wise the wise counsel of the previous generation of Gedolim that forbade any interaction with them.

Even Centrist Rabbis (whom I count myself among) wrote an open critical letter to Rabbi Lopatin. As I said in an earlier post, It’s not so much that I disagree with them. But I would not have signed the letter. I know Rabbi Lopatin. He is a uniter and despite my disagreements with him he deserves a lot better than he is getting from – not only the right wing, but even from Centrists like me.

He should be left alone be given the chance to bridge the gaps he so fervently wants to bridge Rabbi Lopatin’s invitations to the Conservative movements and Reform movements do not make him a Conservative Rabbi.  Nothing he has personally done justifies making comparisons to the Conservative Movements’s founding. Rabbi Lopatin never budged in matters of Halahca without first consulting with his Rebbe – and mine – Rav Ahron Soloveichik. Rav Ahron was his Rebbe until the day he died.

Would Rav Aharon approve of what he is doing now? I doubt it. But then again I don’t really know. But Rabbi Lopatin has probably single handedly reached out and touched the Jewish souls of more non observant Jews than have all the rabbis on the Dais of the recent Agudah convention. With the massive intermarriage rate reported by the Pew Research organization, is this the time to be telling an effective leader of outreach how terrible he is? Wouldn’t have been more prudent to just be quiet?

With this in mind, let us take a look what Jonathan Rosenblum did in Israel a short time ago. From Mishpacha Magazine:

I participated in a panel on state and religion in Israel sponsored by the Israel Government Fellows Program of the Menachem Begin Center. My co-panelists turned out to be the current director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and a teacher at a Jerusalem “secular yeshivah” who is also a blogger on New Age spirituality. IRAC is the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.

Where is the condemnation here? You won’t hear any from me. Nor will you hear any from Joanthan’s Charedi base. He tries to differentiate between what he did and what Rabbi Lopatin did by saying (among other things) that he was not billed as a rabbi – which he is not. I agree that there are the differences between him and Rabbi Lopatin that he pointed out.

But he appeared on a stage with leaders of Reform to present and directly debate Orthodoxy with them. Rabbi or not, is there any doubt as to why Jonathan was invited to participate in that forum? He was the Charedi representative. His appearance there is hadly that differnt than that of Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Reinmanwho stood on the same stage with Reform Rabbi Ameil Hrisch. In fact Rabbi Hirsch and Rabbi Reinman did not even debate their religious perspectives – agreeing to disagree up front! Rabbi Reinman was criticzed. Will Jonathan be criticized?

Will Chabad be criticized for inviting Reform Leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs to their Shiluchim convention? Of course not. Most of the criticism of Chabad in recent years has to do with their Messianism.

Not only did Jonathan criticize Rabbi Lopatin, he criticicized the British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis for accepting an invitation to Limmud. Which is cross denominational day of Techaing whrere each denominations meets with vistors and teaches theme about their various perspctves. Why did he criticize him? He is worried about how this looks

(This refers to Psak given by Rav Aharon Kotler and many of the Gedolim of the previous generation forbidding interaction with Conservative and Reform rabbis because it looks like we are endorsing Apikursus.)

Really? ‘How this looks’ trumps the numbers of Jews who Rabbi Mirvis might reach at Limmud as Jews are otherwise hemorrhaging out of Judaism at record numbers?!

Interestingly Jonathan included the following in his article:

But that does not mean that one can easily extrapolate from the 1956 psak to other cases.

How  does Jonathan say that we cannot extrapolate from 1956 and practically in the same breath – do exactly that in the cases he talks about?! One can speculate that it would be the same. But for Jonathan to be so critical when he himself has done something so similar is unfair and counterproductive to the massive problem of reaching out to those hemorrhaging Jews.

What Jonathan said about these two rabbis is high praise compared to what Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter said in his Ami editorial last week. He basically said that the ‘tepid’ rebuke by those Centrists rabbis was not enough. He believes that Rabbi Lopatin and those who share his views are no better than the Conservative movement and should be treated that way!

That’s nice. And what about all the Jews, that Rabbi Lopatin has reached… and the potential number yet to be reached? What about he 70% intermarriage rate of no Orhtodox Jews? I guess his answer would be, too bad! And that as long as we ‘ the keepers of the faith’ perpetuate the Kollel system, make sure our women dress modestly, and jettison anyone who veers slightly to the left, we can ignore the rest of Klal Yisorel, sit back with a sense of triumphalism and really feel good about ourselves.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

The ‘Houses of Ill Repute’ of Nahal and Shahar

Monday, July 8th, 2013

And out come the extremist zealots of the Charedi world! Those who in part because of their insular lifestyle – have no concept of civilized behavior. And have the unmitigated gall to act in uncivilized and dangerous ways with absolutely no respect for human dignity. These are the people who have become all too familiar to us. They are the spitters, rock throwers,  and haters who do all of those things and more in the name of God.

We see them constantly in Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak, Bet Shemesh, and Williamsburg. In fact they were at it again this morning – directing their rage toward the Women of the Wall at what was otherwise a mostly peaceful event. From the Jewish Press:

A crowd of mostly male haredi Orthodox protesters surrounded the barricade, with some protesters singing and yelling epithets such as “Get out, Nazis!” Later in the service, protesters threw eggs and a bottle of water at the women, striking a male supporter of the group in the head.

I need not go into all the damage they have done and continue to do to Klal Yisroel. I have discussed their escapades so many times in the past that it’s getting boring, already. Not to mention the fact that I will run out of space if I start mentioning them all.

What have they done this time? From the New York Times:

On billboards in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter of Jerusalem last week, black-and-white posters warned the public against the “licentious military” coming to tempt innocent Haredi youths into “the whorehouses of Nahal and Shahar.” (and) portraying those soldiers, who volunteered under programs meant to attract Haredim, as fat, bearded, gun-toting caricatures in uniform snatching terrified Haredi children off the streets.

… The comics-style campaign against Haredi soldiers has been primarily aimed at children to counter what opponents of the draft said was the military’s attempt to legitimize the young men by sending them into ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in uniform.

As part of the outreach to children, the anonymous organizers of the “Hardakim” campaign announced a children’s poster competition this summer via a Gmail account, soliciting entries showing how best to shun the soldiers.

Pini Rozenberg, a spokesman for the Haredi community in Jerusalem, said the campaign was “an internal Haredi matter meant to explain to the Haredi youth why the army institutions are not, and will never be, legitimate.”

He added: “It is not personally directed against any particular soldier. It is purely educational.”

Who said that these people don’t get an education?! They do. And this is it.

Here is a description of one Charedi soldier’s experience:

(H)e had suffered daily abuse in recent months, being spit at and chased by children and teenagers calling out “Germ!” and “Traitor!” He now carries tear gas for self-defense…

This is indeed the sad and unintended consequence of what the government is trying to do to correct inequities in the military draft. It is something Jonathan Rosenblum first wrote about in lamenting the  reversal of progress made in this area internally by Charedim themselves.

Jonathan feels that the blame lies with the Lapid and company … that this backlash is a result of their external interference. Had they not tried to force change on the system, the Charedi world would have continued correcting themselves on their own and innovations like Nachal Charedi and Shachar would have continued to expand.

While I think that’s probably true – as far as it goes, I do not see Lapid et al at fault here. You cannot blame someone for doing the right thing just because vigilantes will strike back. You cannot let evil dictate your actions even if there are negative consequences due to retaliation. That would be giving in to evil. It would be like telling witnesses not to testify in sex abuse cases because their families will be harassed.

The fault lies in the attitudes fostered in the societies that produce these animals. A society that educates their children as described above. All that is needed to precipitate that kind of response is the kind of rhetoric heard in these quarters about Lapid’s actions being a Shas HaShmad. And then the Eytan Kobres of the world pour gasoline onto the fire with their own rhetoric… all while pointing out that we shouldn’t have rocked the boat. His words are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem.

Collateral Damage and Truth

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

The fallout of good intentions often amounts to what people call unintended consequences. In the case of the current ‘crisis’ facing the Charedi world in Israel, those unexpected consequences were more than predicable.

The government’s attempt to equalize the burden of military service in all segments of Israeli society – and qualifying financial aid to their schools based on the requirement of a minimal ‘core’ curriculum has generated one of the strongest push-backs in Israel’s history.  The entire Charedi rabbinic leadership is vehemently opposed to it. In some cases the rhetoric coming out of the Charedi side borders on incitement. As do foreign mass rallies in support of Charedi resistance to these new proposals.

The backlash is coming in the form of attacking Charedi recruits. In fact this was one of Jonathan Rosenblum’s arguments against the government current attempt at forcing the issue. He said that Charedim had been quietly and increasingly enlisting in the IDF to no one’s particular attention… and that these new recruits were pretty much left alone in their respective Charedi communities. The government’s threat to subject everyone to the draft has caused the following reaction from the usual gang of suspects. From Ynet:

According to the data presented, since the Peri Committee began to take steps towards equality of burden, haredi soldiers have experienced increased isolation, violence and harassment. The harassment includes physical assault, spitting at synagogues, slashing of tires and vandalism.

Kol Hahschalos Kashos. All beginnings are hard, the sages tell us.  One might call them birth pains. But just because birth is painful, does not mean we should be discouraging people from having babies. The fruits of giving birth are surely worth the pain involved. If that were not the case, women would stop having children and it would be the end of the human race.

The birth of the democratization of Israeli service to the military is surely worth the pain we now suffer. There should be no reduction in the resolve to complete this task.

That said, the physical and mental pain being hurled at Charedi recruits by the zealous Charedi youth acting upon the rhetoric they hear should not be left unchecked. They should be dealt with swiftly and judiciously by  Israeli authorities.

As I have said in the past… These birth pains are generated – not by the government’s desire to equalize the burden, but by the rhetoric of some Charedi leaders, politicians and media in response to it. Those reactions are further exacerbated by foreign protests like the one sponsored by the Satmar Brothers in Manhattan a couple of weeks ago and the one held a few days ago in Brussels.

Adding fuel to that fire is when two feuding brothers unite in common cause and then mainstream Roshei yeshiva who generally reject their approach to Israel nonetheless participate with them in protest.  This gives the ugly encounters these zealots have with Charedi recruits  - if not legitimate cover – then at least sympathy for their motives.

The attitude among even moderate Charedi journalists does not appear to be changing. The rhetoric remains and there are no attempts to see the view of the other side. And the ‘other side’ in this debate are not only secular Jews, but observant ones.

Case in point from YWN:

The developments in recent months in Eretz Yisroel have left many of us in the American Torah community confused. In recent weeks, Mishpacha Magazine has made it a priority to conduct a dialogue within the American Torah community regarding these issues, giving the opportunity for people to voice their questions and get solid answers.

A pilot event was held in Lawrence, where a candid and compelling conversation equipped participants with facts, figures, perspectives and insights from those in the thick of the discussions.

This week, Mishpacha will be hosting two more such events- tonight (last night), at the home of Yitzchok and Devorie Fuchs in Flatbush at 8;00 pm, featuring Mishpacha’s publisher Eli Paley and respected columnist Reb Yonasan Rosenblum, moderated by Eytan Kobre. Tomorrow evening (tonight), Wednesday, these two panelists will be in the Catskills, in the Twin Oaks colony, at the home of Rav Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, who will offer divrei pesicha.

Dialogue with the American Torah Community? Really? From Rav Aryeh Zev Ginzberg? I’m sorry, this is not a dialogue. It is a presentation of the Charedi side of the issue without any attempt to present a dissenting view from even a religious perspective.  This is not dialogue. It is indoctrination… presented as dialogue!

Will Jonathan Rosenblum Apologize to MK Rabbi Dov Lipman?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I cannot speak for him or predict the future. But I will go out on a limb here and say that Jonathan Rosenblum will apologize to Rabbi Dov Lipman. He is an honorable man of great integrity and will not let religious politics get in the way of doing the right thing.

In what can only be described as a justified reaction, Rabbi Dov Lipman responded in a Times of Israel article of his own to  all of Jonathan’s assumptions and accusations in his Yatedhit piece’. I think it was masterful  – if a bit harsh. But understandably harsh. He was hurt and insulted. At the end of that article Rabbi Lipman asks for an apology. I believe he will get one.

The only real question to be answered here is why did Jonathan do this? Why the harsh accusatory and derogatory rhetoric? I have to assume that his environment is responsible for that. The angry hateful rhetoric about Yair Lapid and Dov Lipman coming out of the Charedi world is filled with exaggeration and falsehood. It becomes difficult for anyone in that world to separate truth from fiction – fact from fantasy.

I understand the Charedi anger. What is about to happen to them is unprecedented. If all goes forward as planned – it will change the face of the Charedi world in Israel… to look a bit more like the Charedi face in America.

The Charedi rabbinic leaders in Israel who are not accustomed to these American standards are afraid of them. Why are they afraid? One can find the answer to that in Jonathan’s article. The rhetoric they use about Yair Lapid and Dov Lipman is the same kind that their rabbinic predecessors used about Czarist Russia and the Maskilim who collaborated to strip Judaism from the Jews.  They see the same thing here

They see the same insidious track  - a slippery slope of at first installing harmless subjects into the Charedi curriculum and then later adding not so harmless subjects thus slowly weaning Jews away from Judaism. Yair Lapid equals the Czar.  Dov Lipman equals the Maskilim.

Why do they not realize that things are not quite the same here and now as they were there and then? As I’ve said many times, they tend to focus only on their own Charedi world and have reactionary responses and feel the very essence of Judaism is being threatened when forces outside their world become involved. They do not bother to listen to explanation of people from the outside – even Charedim whom they feel have betrayed them.

Jonathan lives in that world, too. He of course knows that things are not quite the same now as they were then. And he is very aware of the problems in the Charedi world. But when one is so immersed in that culture it is almost impossible not to occasionally get caught up in the rhetoric. It has become almost an article of faith to look at any attempt at change that does not come from within as having evil intent. No explanation in the world will be granted any legitimacy.  They will not listen to it. The minute one tires to effectuate a change from the outside – it’s Czarist Russia all over again.

Why do I think Jonathan will respond with an apology? Aside from the above mentioned fact about his honor and integrity – he has proven himself by having done it before. And in a way that took a lot of courage.

A few years ago on Erev Yom Kippur Jonathan called Rav Aharon Rakeffet and apologized to him for a similar dressing down in another article.  After reading a critical post I had written about it – he realized his error, and did the right thing.  He even went to the trouble of letting me know about it. I truly admire a man who can admit his mistakes.

It is my sincere hope that at the upcoming RCA convention where both Jonathan Rosenblum and Dov Lipman were invited to speak – that they will be able to interact at length and learn to respect each other.  Both men are high minded, idealistic Bnei Torah with similar goals – if not similar methods.

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 .

A ‘Fake’ Haredi?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

He’s not really one of us. This is the description I have heard of Jonathan Rosenblum made by Haredim who don’t like to hear what he has to say about them. Which is why I think his latest article will do what many of similar articles in the past have done – fall on deaf ears.

Once again Jonathan has put pen to paper to write a profound criticism of his own community. A criticism often heard here. And even though that criticism is intended not as a condemnation but as mussar towards improvement, it will no doubt receive the same response it always had. It will be ignored.

The criticism he made was in response to Yair Lapid, whom he characterizes as throwing down the gauntlet to Charedim – challenging them to articulate their vision for the future of Israel. Jonathan candidly admits that Charedim have not done anything like that – that he is aware of.

This article is something I could have written myself. In fact I probably have written essays very similar to this one. My only criticism of his piece is his dismissal of Yair Lapid as totally irrelevant. With this I disagree. How can he be irrelevant if he was the stimulus for this very powerful response by Jonathan? I think Lapid is more then relevant to observant Jews for many reasons. Not the least of which is that he represents the very people he wants Haredim to address more properly.

Using R’ Shamshon Raphael Hirsh as his guide he has some very important criticisms which he unmistakably directs to his own Charedi community – publishing them in a medium that is geared towards them – Mishpacha Magazine.

He begins by recognizing that Charedim are a minority population albeit a growing one. Rather than trying to paraphrase what he said, here is the key excerpt:

WHILE MINORITY STATUS SHOULD not lead to diminished confidence in the ultimate triumph of one’s ideals, it is crucial, according to Rav Hirsch, that the minority remember that its goal is to win over the majority. Several consequences follow from that goal.

First, the minority must be ever mindful of ways in which its actions make its ideals less attractive. As previously noted in these pages, the Tolna Rebbe has said that had the Torah community done a better job of expressing hakaras hatov for the sacrifices made by soldiers over the years, it could have spared itself at least some of the current animosity.

The cause of the minority will inevitably be judged by the actions of its adherents. We can say, “Don’t judge Judaism by the Jews” as much as we want, but it will be judged by those who claim fealty to its dictates. As Rav Hirsch puts it, for thousands of years, “Judaism was judged by the Jews one saw, and the Jews [as a whole] were judged by the first Jewish person that came into the view of the gentile world.” The standard Rav Hirsch set — what might be called his Kiddush Hashem imperative — is a high one indeed: “Every single member of the minority must reflect in his own spiritual and practical life the truth and purity of his cause.”

Those words only add to the power of a lament I recently read of a rabbi who succeeded in building a large shul in an area of a major city in which there were previously no observant Jews. When he first began in kiruv work, nearly two decades ago, there was “still a certain respect and maybe even a healthy mystique” concerning the Torah observant world. In recent years, however, that has disappeared. Millions of Jews and non-Jews have been exposed to terrible chillul Hashem by “observant” Jews, and communal failures to address the actions of those individuals. As a consequence, a rabbi in kiruv is likely to confront the response, “Why would I even want to check out that world?”

Those words make fully intelligible the seriousness of chillul Hashem: “One who desecrates the Divine Name, even if he does teshuvah and Yom HaKipurim arrives and he remains fully repentant, and he suffered afflictions, still he does not achieve full atonement until he dies” (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah1:4).

Though we remain a minority vis-à-vis the larger Jewish world, as our communities have grown, they have become more insular and that insularity makes it easy to forget our minority status. With that forgetting has gone a terrible proliferation of chillul Hashem.

ANOTHER PERIL FOR THE MINORITY, writes Rav Hirsch, can be a certain passivity and loss of willpower brought about by over-confidence in its cause. Because it rightly “equates its own cause with the cause of G-d . . . it might easily fall into the tragic error of folding its hands . . . [and conclude that] since the success of its mission rests with G-d, it need do nothing.”

That passivity can take the form of failing to articulate a vision that can be understood by those outside our camp and appeal to those whom we must convince if the goal of becoming a majority is to be realized. Instead we content ourselves with slogans that we repeat to each other without ever testing them in the crucible of debate. He goes on to echo Lapid and challenges his own Charedi world to offer a Torah based vision of a state that is home to half the world’s Jews:

In a way, Lapid’s challenge dovetails with the final paragraphs of Rav Hirsch’s essay, in which he stresses the need for the upholders of Torah to avoid another danger facing minorities — “certain intellectual narrow-mindedness,” which becomes disdainful of all knowledge outside its particular domain as “utterly worthless.” Rav Hirsch writes that the cause of Torah “can have real, true existence only to the extent that it can mold and dominate the most varied facts of everyday living. . . . [A] minority must attach maximum importance to the realization of its principles in practice.” How many times have I made similar comments?! I am not Haredi and have been told many times to just mind my own business. But that kind of response just skirts the issues I raise. You don’t have to be Haredi to recognize a hilul HaShem. It is the obligation of every Jew to speak up when they see one. hilul HaShem knows no hashkafic boundaries – nor should any criticism of it be withheld.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/a-fake-haredi/2013/02/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: