Sunday, May 29, 2011

Burn Baby… Burn!

I am beginning to wonder what the real motto of a certain type of Chasidus is. Once again we have a strong condemnation of any electronic media capable of accesing the outside world. This time it is The leader of the Dushinsky Chasidic dynasty. From Ynet:

The Rebbe not only called for a boycott of electronic devices which do not meet strict Orthodox rules, but also demanded that they be burned…

During a sermon delivered recently, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky launched an unprecedented attack on the modern devices. "Internet and computers, no need for talking anymore. Anyone caught with a non-kosher device will be thrown out of the yeshiva immediately," he said.

The rabbi added that students whose parents own a computer with Internet connection would be expelled from the Hasidic dynasty's institutions.

"I warn you that anyone who owns any of these devices must burn them tonight.

There’s your answer to the problems with the internet. Burn your IPhones. Don’t just throw them out – burn them!

Chasidim must have some sort of fascination with fire. Lag Bomer many of them swarm to Meron to see the Boyaner Rebbe light their fire. And it is a big one. The health hazards of something like this don’t seem to phase them. The fact that the fascination generated by this event spawns hundreds of smaller but just as air polluting bonfires by all strata of Israeli Jewry apparently means nothing to them. They probably consider it flattering that there are so many bonfires across the country on Lag Bomer. And if spewing pollutants into the air is not enough, there is the following from the Jerusalem Post:

Jerusalem fire and rescue services responded to 180 incidents of out-of-control bonfires over the course of the night. There were double the normal amount of firefighters on duty for the holiday.

Big deal! Out of control bonfires? It’s Lag Bomer!

Of course the most recent ‘fire’ event was the arson by an 18 year old Chasid of the Skverer Rebbe. He is reportred close enough to the Rebbe to have spent much time in his home providing personal services to him. That fire resulted in severe burns agains the target of that arson, Aron Rotenberg, for his gall in Davening at the wrong Shul.

The Skverer Rebbe finally came out with a statement about it almost a week after the event. Why? Bad publicity. From VIN:

The Skver community is reeling following Sunday morning’s attack and Aron Rotenberg is hospitalized with third degree burns covering half of his body.

In my view this statement falls far short of what he should have said. He did not even offer an apology. He simply said to Daven for the victim and that ‘violence has never been our way’. He should haved made a serious public apology immediately and called for mass Tehhilim. There he should have spoken to his Chasdim and advised introspection about the kind of kanaus that generates incidents like this. And finally he should demand justice for the victim and his family.

That violence is not ‘their way’ needs to proven at this point in my view. It’s hard to take the Rebbe’s statements seriously.

Events of recent years seems to say the opposite. Violence is their way. Is Skvere really any different than those streams of Chasidus that have displayed violence when it suited them? Like Satmar, and Toldos Aharon (in Meah Shearim and Ramat Bet Shemesh) in recent years.

And now this incident in Skvere.

I have to wonder about the circumstances of this Ben Bayis - a young arsonist who spent many hours in the home of his Chasidic Rebbe. Did this young man have no clue that violence ‘has never been their way’? Was he just a psychopath and the Rebbe just never noticed it?

If it is true that this young man spent time in the Rebbe’s house - I am beginning to think that he is not a psychopath at all, but a true Chasid of the Rebbe whose Hashkafos led him to protect the honor of his Rebbe with a ‘fire in his belly’.

If he were a psychopath and the Rebbe didn’t notice it, what does this say about a Chasidic Rebbe’s vaunted keen perceptions about people in general and his Chasidim in particular? Was he not able to detect such a major flaw in the character of his young constant house guest? I think the Rebbe does have that ability.

His young protégé probably does not fit the definition of psychopath. He is just a devoted zealot whose aim was to protect his Rebbe’s honor. The Rebbe probably sees such zealotry as a positive thing. What the Rebbe probably didn’t realize is that this young man would go that far.

This young man learned to react this way somewhere in his cloistered environment. He surely didn’t get it off the internet. I suspect that violence is their way – when they see the need.

This young man saw the need – and acted. And his attraction to fire as the medium of rebuke toward a ‘wayward’ Chasid should not come as a surprise either.