Monday, May 26, 2008

Two Charedim and the Wave of the Future

There are two people who comment frequently on this blog who are my most frequent critics. They both seem to have as a primary goal to discredit everything I say. One goes by the name JImmy and the other goes by the name of Chareidi. Both have raised the ire of many readers here. Many commenters have asked me why I tolerate them, especially Jimmy. To put it the way J did in a recent comment thread:

Harry, why don't you ban JImmy? He adds nothing to the discussions, and I have never seen him make a constructive point. If he wants to spell out a 'true' charedi perspective, I really don't understand why he can't do it respectfully.

The answer to this question requires more than a simple response. It requires some analysis of the JImmys and the Chareidis and why I believe they do what they do.

To answer why I believe that Jimmy can’t respond respectfully, it’s because he doesn't respect modern Orthodoxy at all. He totally rejects it. He believes that he is in effect a ‘stand in’ for his ‘Daas Torah’. He also believes what his 'Daas Torah' has told him - that all blogs are Assur. His purpose here is therefore twofold: 1) To ridicule and bash anyone who considers himself modern Orthodox in any way shape or form. 2) To try and close down my blog. It doesn't matter what anyone says in support of Modern Orthodoxy. Nor does it matter that there is value in much of what is written by either me or many of the thoughtful commenters. To him it's all hogwash... because his 'Daas Torah' told him so.

To that end, he will ridicule any subject I write about because I represent that Hashkafa. Even if he agrees with most of it, he will find something to bash.

His ‘Daas Torah’ has also told him that blogs are the worst form of Rechiluls and Lashon Hara - and in some cases a danger to the soul. That’s why they forbid reading them. Why does he participate then? He thinks that someone has to. So B'Makom She'Ein Ish... Where there is no one who will stand up to the task - he will ‘sacrifice’ himself L'Shem Shamayim and take up the battle to close down my blog. He sees himself as 'Daas Torah’s' presence here - battling evil.

Why don't I ban him? Because he basically follows the rules here. But more importantly I want people to realize exactly what we are dealing with in much of the Charedi world. This is how many of them think – or are indoctrinated to think. Not all - but many. The only difference between him and others like him is that he has no inhibitions about saying exactly what is on his mind - and we get to see what people like him really think.

By contrast Chareidi is a more rational, thought out personality and does not buy into JImmy's hardline Hashkafa as much. But he still does not hesitate to bash me at every opportunity - albeit more often with rational arguments. That's because he thinks I have some kind of anti Charedi Agenda and because he seems to get some sort of perverse pleasure in 'showing me up'… and in the process showing flaws in modern Orthodoxy’s Hashkafos.

Why don’t I ban him? Because he too basically follows the rules here. And more importantly he too is a voice from the Charedi world – the more moderate one. It is just as important for people to know that this kind of Charedi exists as it is to know that the other kind exists.

Chareidi's Hashkafos represent the wave of the future. Just as I think the left wing of Modern Orthodoxy will not survive over time as an independent Orthodox entity, neither do I think the right wing of Charedism will survive as an independent entity. Both are too extreme.

As I’ve said many times, moderate Charedim will ultimately combine with right wing modern Orthodox in cultural ways with little difference in lifestyles. In fact they already are, as Rabbi Berel Wein has pointed out. They often live in the same neighborhoods, send their kids to the same type of schools, participate in higher education for purposes of Parnasa, Daven in the same Shuls and are Koveiah Itim – establish regular times for learning Torah. Sometimes with each other. They will even having a similar look (e.g many right wing modern Orthodox Jews wear black hats - at least on Shabbos).

That is why I am so disappointed in Chareidi. He could be a positive and forceful advocate of his kind of Charedism. In fact I really think we may have had a meeting of the minds on many if not most issues. And on those where we differ, the discussion could be respectful and educational. But alas, he too has decided that my purpose here is to bash Charedim. So like JImmy - at every opportunity he finds ways to bash me, even when he might otherwise agree with me.

It's too bad. I don't really expect to convince the JImmys of the world to be more tolerant. But I do think I have a chance with the Chareidis of the world... just not this one.