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 Yated ‘hit 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.
(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))
Dov Lipman (MK in the Yesh Atid ["There is a Future Party"] Party) gives Yishai an update on how the new and powerful party is handling issues like “Women of the Wall” and the black hat response to a potential draft to the IDF. Is Yesh Atid succeeding in their core campaign promise – addressing middle class economic concerns? Listen in to find out!
Naftali Bennett has made a huge mistake. Driven by emotion—blaming Sara Netanyahu for his new pact with Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid, and the sense of rage many of us in the National Religious camp feel towards the likes of Aryeh Deri, and towards the Haredim who look down on us as being not much better than the secular in terms of our Jewish merits—he has gotten himself into the worst possible partnership.
Before I proceed, I must add that in many ways Bennett is merely the newest victim of a terrible situation in which wife of the prime minister has been intimidating her husband and through him the politics of the entire country. Everyone in the Israeli media is familiar with this pathological mess, as does the political class, but to date no one has been able to effectively control it. Bennett did not invent Sara Netanyahu, he was simply foolish enough to cross her, and then not smart enough to realize what an enemy he has created. If Bennett’s clashes with Sara Netanyahu lead, God forbid, to the evacuation of Jewish homes, it would be a catastrophe reminiscent of “the modesty of Rabbi Zecharia ben Avkules destroyed our Temple.” (Gittin 56a).
In their declaration of fealty, which they repeat incessantly, both Yair and Naftali are telling the world how, when sitting together in government, they’re going to collaborate on those 90% of the issues about which they both fully agree: they’re both in favor of free enterprise and less red tape, they both favor rational religious legislation—Ayelet Shaked even wants civil marriages for those the Rabbinate has declared unweddable.
Yair (and his two rabbis, Shai Piron and Dov Lipman) wouldn’t mind, I expect, giving the Ministry of Religious Services to Habayit Hayehudi, and appointing the much deserving Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav Chief Rabbi. And I suppose Bennett, who is kind of a Libertarian on many issues, wouldn’t get in the way of public transportation on Shabbat for those communities that want it (e.g. Tel Aviv).
And both Lapid and Bennett agree that it’s high time the Haredim carried the burden of military service and full participation in the work force like the rest of us. I mean, how many among us don’t feel that the majority of those Haredim don’t even belong inside a yeshiva, that they should stop living like parasites and stop the pretense of saving “klal yisroel” by warming up a yeshiva bench.
This proud, new Lapid-Bennett axis agrees on so much, except for those meaningless 10% of the issues where their thinking is radically different. That, of course, is the part where the Netanyahu-Lapid-Livni axis freezes construction—any construction—in the homes of half a million National Religious Israelis, and then comes to the homes of 100 thousand National Religious Israelis and puts them on trucks because they live on the wrong side of the security fence.
Check out the Yesh Atid list of MKs and find even one—including the two honorable rabbis—who fought against the Gush Katif mass expulsion of between eight and ten thousand Jews. Back in 2004, Rabbi Piron, when asked for a psak (halachic ruling) on what to do about the Gush Katif plot, prescribed doing what we can to avoid the uprooting, but only with love, because on the other side stood great patriots who felt, innocently—not my cynical interpretation, his—that this way they’ll bring peace to the land. And then the good rabbi added, with love, that “we settled on the hilltops at the expense of settling in the hearts” of Israelis. Meaning, of course, the hearts of the good rabbi’s friends on the left who would like to see all of us in a DP camp south of Beer Sheva.
And MK Dov Lipman had this refreshing thing to say to Paperblog: “If, and I emphasize if, we reach a point where we have an internationally backed agreement which they will sign (not like Gush Katif which was unilateral) which includes our terms including an undivided Yerushalayim, then I believe we would have to accept it even though that means the painful giving up of Jewish homes and land.”
And those are just Lapid’s Rabbis! For heaven’s sake, talk about the camel giving a lift across the river to the scorpion! The Yesh Atid list is comprised of anti-Orthodox professionals. The entire country was talking last week about MK Ruth Calderon’s opening speech, where she taught a blat gemorah from the podium and showed how Jewish tradition belongs not only to the black hats and not even just to the knitted yarmulkes, but to the hatless as well. Marvelous, not a dry eye in the house. But check out Calderon’s anti-Orthodox record, and you’ll discover anything but a yearning for mutual respect and acceptance.
But forget about those relatively harmless wall flowers, whose actual influence on the politics of expulsion has been negligible—because no one has given them the power so far—and look at the number 5 man on Lapid’s list, former GSS head Yaakov Peri, who’s been advocating the expulsion of Gaza, Judea and Samaria Jews his entire career, who signed the Ayalon-Nusseiba petition calling for the splitting of Jerusalem – this is Naftali Bennett’s ally!
If, God forbid, the Lapid-Bennett axis succeeds in forcing itself on Netanyahu “as is,” we will have created the most formidable enemy of the settlements since the time Yossi Sarid and Yossi Beilin held office and brought us Oslo. Moreover, Bennett can make it possible for Lapid to gain some prestige as a brilliant this or that minister—let’s face it, despite his dubious education and occasionally strange notions of history, math and other Core Curriculum (Limudei Libah) problems, the man has flash—in two to four years Lapid can emerge as the new white hope of the left, leading a Nouveau Oslo government—obviously without Likud and without Habayit Hayehudi.
And what is this burning problem of the “equal burden” that must be faced head on this minute? The refusal of nearly eight percent of Israelis—the Haredim—to serve in the army. Man, this burns us up. It makes us sick, just looking at these young men with their hats and their beards, and their Eastern European dress, total parasites—while more than 20% of the population, Israeli Arabs, are just as parasitic on every single issue, except for the fact that they also, on occasion, collaborate with our enemies.
Sadly, Naftali Bennett was not thinking like a Jew this time around, and, I believe, acted on his feelings and not with his head. We’ve all been so enamored with the idea that Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi together comprise 31 MKs, exactly as many as the Likud Beitenu does, and some have even quipped that our own “pact” is stronger than the Liberman-Netanyahu marriage.
But, you know, Habayit Hayehudi together with Shas and United Torah Judaism comprise 30 MKs, with the difference being that it is wholly Jewish, never mind the cultural differences, and that over there Bennett actually carries the biggest stick.
Folks, despite the cultural differences, the more astute—and learned—members of Habayit Hayehudi, working with the likes of Eli Yishai from Shas and Meir Porush from UTJ, could settle the “equal burden” thing in a day. The yeshivas are just as interested in getting rid of their freeloaders, the punks who hang around “Cats Square” in Jerusalem, doing drugs and beating up unsuspecting Arab passersby—they just need to find a way of looking good doing it.
And despite the sad record of Shas in the ushering in of Oslo—the vast majority of Haredi politicians today are not enemies of the settlements, especially since so many Haredim, their voters, live outside the “green line.”
It’s not too late, folks, for the more introspective and astute members of Habayit Hayehudi (I’m looking at you, Uri Orbach) to forge the axis in which we could all rejoice, the axis of Torah Jews who are willing to overcome their relatively minute differences on military service, and compromise over the chief rabbinate, which has been turned into the private property of the Haredim (whose voters don’t even use its services).
Other than that, I’d like to find out I have 30 proud, pro-settlement Orthodox representatives in the Netanyahu government, uniting in offsetting the Livni-Mofaz direction—rather than a leftist government our man Naftali helped create with his sweet, home grown naivete.
Yes, it is true. I, a haredi with right-wing political leanings, stood on the same stage with representatives of Yisrael Chofshit, Hitorirut Yerushalayim, and Meretz – three secular and very left wing groups – at the massive rally in Beit Shemesh on the last night of Chanukah. I have received a lot of criticism for doing so but I maintain it was not only the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do to save our city.
I could have focused on the issues that separate me and most other residents of Beit Shemesh from those groups and not worked together with them. However, history has shown that if Jews had not been willing to put aside ideological differences to unite around the things we agree upon, we would not have a state of Israel, we would not have a functional government, and the Jewish people would be doomed for destruction. And Beit Shemesh would be in real trouble.
The Talmud is very clear that just as people’s faces are different, so are their ideologies. God created the Jewish people as twelve tribes, each with its own perspectives and focus. Our challenge is to find a way to put those differences aside and work together to achieve progress and success. How did Agudat Yisrael join together with the vehemently anti-religious communists to sign Israel’s Declaration of Independence? How did the Allies join with the Russians to defeat the Nazis? The answer is simple: necessity. The Nazis needed to be defeated so enemies joined together to do it. The Jews needed a homeland so Jews from all backgrounds united to make it happen.
Residents of Beit Shemesh had two pressing issues on the table as of just a few weeks ago. First, extremists were causing trauma to little girls through their verbal assaults, and police refused to arrest them because “it was just words.” Second, the national government was in cahoots with local authorities to build future neighborhoods for haredim alone. (No one is against construction for haredim. The issue is not building for the rest of the city’s many other populations as well). These were real threats to our city’s present and future.
We had to do something to turn the tide. As a result of our partnering with secular and left-wing groups to organize a nationally televised rally, both issues were brought to the national agenda. Now, because of our efforts, the police have committed to arrest anyone who merely screams at a girl. The national government now wants to work with us to build future neighborhoods for all populations. If I and other rally organizers are labeled “foolish” or “naïve” for joining in a coalition that helped bring about this success, I wear those appellations with pride.
Religious extremism in Israel needs to be dealt with – now. All Jews must unite to remove this threat to our country’s future. We must proactively work to transform Israel in this realm before we can reach our full potential. Along with the negative e-mails and messages I have been receiving for my activism these past few weeks, I have been touched by the outpouring of support from both moderate haredim and secular Israelis who have thanked me for taking on this challenge and doing what is right. So those who are closed-minded and not willing to join forces with other groups can remain at home while complaining about our problems. The rest of us will join together to save your country.
I must add one more point. I have been stunned at the venom with which people have written about these “left wing” and “anti-religious” groups. Have those critics ever taken the time to actually talk to representatives of these groups? Yes, I disagree with these groups about many fundamental ideas but sitting with them during the planning of the demonstration taught me so much.
I was always told these groups were “anti-religion” and posed the greatest danger to Orthodox Jews being able to continuing worshiping God in Israel. But in sitting and talking to them, it became clear that this was simply not the case.
First of all, many of them are the nicest young people I have ever come across. They sincerely wish to make Israel a better country. But beyond that, even on the level of ideology, their very liberalism actually dictates that no one be told what to do and that everyone be able to worship as he or she chooses.
They are not out to stop the religious from observing Shabbat, kashrut, etc. They simply want us to back off and not tell them what to do – a reasonable request. The proof of all this is what was said or not said during the rally. There was not one anti-haredi or anti-religious sentiment expressed.
Tensions in in the mixed Haredi-Secular city of Beit Shemesh came to a head this week as thousands of protesters from around Israel came to join in a protest against violence by a small group of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have been harassing school girls attending an elementary school on the border between a Hassidic and a national-religious neighborhood. The issue of the Beit Shemesh violence came to national prominence earlier this week after Israeli television broadcast an expose featuring Na’ama Margoles, an eight year old girl traumatized by members of the Sicarii extremist sect who attacked her verbally and spit on her.
Media attention took on unexpected strength following a previous story regarding ultra-orthodox men harassing women on public buses that they have claimed as their own, enforcing a strict separation of the sexes.
Rabbi Dov Lipman, an American-born educator from the mostly national-religious Kiryat Sheinfeld neighborhood adjacent to the Banot Orot school, the focal point of the violence in the city, organized a mass protest in the name of his organization, the Committee to Save Beit Shemesh. Lipman, who describes himself as both a haredi and a zionist, allied himself with Israel Hofshit (Free Israel), an NGO dedicated to maintaining the separation of religion and state in Israel’s public sphere.
Following calls by President Shimon Peres and other national figures, both secular and religious residents of towns from across the country streamed into Beit Shemesh, causing massive traffic jams and marching through the streets yelling slogans in favor of religious tolerance.
There were few ultra-Orthodox attendees at the rally, despite vehement opposition to aggression within the community itself. One ultra-orthodox attendee, a reporter for the moderate-haredi news website Behadrei Haredim, told Jewish Press that he believed many haredim, “hundreds [of whom] wanted to attend,” were turned off by the inclusion of groups his community perceives as anti-religious. “Why should we attend a rally against our own community,” he asked.
One ultra-orthodox man attending the protest, who like many members of his community spoke with the media on condition of anonymity, stated that the lack of opposition to the violence of the extremists in his community could be explained by the “fear” of retribution.
Another member of the community expressed a similar sentiment, telling Jewish Press that voicing significant opposition could lead to loss of marriage prospects for children and difficulties in enrolling children in certain schools.
While many of the attendees stated that they only opposed religious coercion and not the haredi community in general, there was a vocal minority that expressed vehement opposition to Israel’s ultra-orthodox.
Some protesters carried signs comparing the expansion of the haredi community, Israel’s fastest growing, to the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb; though one attendee carrying such a sign did clarify that she was only referring to the violent minority and not to the community in general.
However, the focus on violence, some believe, masked a bigger issue, that of the “haredi’ization” of cities such as Bet Shemesh.
Several local activists, including Rabbi Lipman, have explained that while the mainstream haredi and secular communities get along well in general, some members of the haredi leadership are attempting to take over the city.
Citing 20,000 housing units recently approved for haredi residents, as opposed to a much smaller number for all other sectors, Lipman explained that as part of his coalition agreement upon taking office, Prime Minister Netanyahu promised the haredi parties that Bet Shemesh would be theirs to develop.
In response, local hassidic activists were quick to point to their fast growing community as a reason for the large numbers of housing units being built for them, saying that they only want to live in peace. Taking over the city is not their intent, they emphasized.
Local activists were quick to point out that the Edah Haredit, the umbrella organization representing many of the most extreme of the anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox groups, has condemned the violence in the forms of pashkevilim, street posters that are frequently used to communicate Rabbinic edicts to the haredi public.
However, one local haredi activist opined, the ultra-orthodox media has fallen down on the job, keeping the full extent of the extremists actions hidden from the view of the community, which is disgusted by such behavior.
Following Friday night’s television broadcast on Beit Shemesh, religious leaders have come out strongly against violence and coercion in religious affairs, with Israel’s Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi Yonah Metzger stating that the haredi community does not own the public sphere and popular Sepharadi ultra-orthodox politician Aryeh Deri calling for residents to beat up anyone using violence against children.