Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Hating Charedim – Whose Fault is it?

Rav Shmuel Auerbach speaking on Motzi Shabbos  (Photo - Jewish Press)
When one hears the term ‘Hate Crime’ it usually conjures up images of white supremacists beating up innocent black youth or some neo Nazis doing the same to an innocent Jewish youth. But hate is not unique only to cross racial or religious cultures. One can hate one’s own. A Chasidic girl’s school (Bobov) was recently torched in Israel.

This - says MK (member of the Kenesset) Yisrael Eichler of the Charedi Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ) party - is but one example of hate crimes perpetrated against Charedim that is completely ignored by the media. From 5TJT
“Every day people spit at and curse hareidi Jews, particularly recently, and nobody is horrified by this.”  Says Eichler. And yet if a girl gets spit upon bya Chardi Jew an entire party is created that receives enough votes to get 19 seats in the Kenesset!
 The arson attack was the tip of the iceberg, Eichler said. “Every day people spit at and curse hareidi Jews, particularly recently, and nobody is horrified by this.”
 “But when somebody in Beit Shemesh spits on one girl, a party was built on that spit that got nineteen mandates, and another twelve religious mandates joined them to boycott hareidi Jews and starve their children,” he said, referring to the Yesh Atid party and its pact with the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party. 
I don’t know how true it is that crimes against Charedim are ignored by the media. If true his indignation is understandable.

But I think he fails to understand why it is happening (if indeed it is). Did all these secular Jews wake up one day to become haters of Charedim – for no reason at all? To many of us who live outside of his world the answer is obvious. They were not born this way or suddenly cast into an anti Charedi spell by demons from outer space.

It is because of the Charedi sense of being in service to God to the exclusion of all others. They truly believe B’Emunah Shelaima (with complete faith) that they have the only true path to God. Their understanding of Torah supersedes the understanding of all others. And that nothing colors that understanding.

As such they view any opposition to themselves as either ignorant (at best) or outright hostility to God. The latter being the more common attitude.

Does he really think that Yesh Atid got their 19 seats because of bad press? ...or from one incident in Bet Shemesh? Is it possible he may just be missing the real reason?

I think it is far more likely that the issue of the day – sharing the burden by serving in the army - is what drove this election. That may not be the only issue that drove Israelis to the polls for, but it was certainly one of the more important ones.

Their attitude about the draft is but one area that they badly stumble over. It isn’t so much the issue itself that polarizes the secular and Dati parties from Charedim. It is the way that Charedim characterize and react to it… that does. Their righteous indignation translates to condescension which is palpable – often turning into outright hostility!

Take for example Rav Shmuel Auerbach recent comments as reported in the Jewish Press. Referring to the requirement to resist the draft he said: 
“(S)tand guard without any changes, because this is one of the fundamentals of the faith, in the category of ‘ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor’ (a commandment one must obey even at the cost of their own life). …The issue at hand (the draft) is nothing short of eradicating our religion… (emphasis mine)” 
One must die rather than serve one’s country. That is how he refers to military service in Israel. Can  either MK Eichler or Rav Auerbach or the many other Charedi rabbinic leaders not imagine how the typical Israeli mother whose son is subject to be put in harm’s way might react to that kind of statement?!

The answer must be that they are incapable of imagining it. The belief in the righteousness of their cause blinds them to the perspectives of others. Anyone who does not see it their way must be an enemy of Judaism to be resisted at the cost of their own lives if necessary. Yehoreg V’Al Ya’avor.  Virtually all Charedi rabbinic leaders seem to feel this way to one extent or another.

Add to this the appearance to secular Jews of Charedim only taking and not giving... and you end up with an Aviad Kleinberg. He has written an op-ed in Ynet that expresses the outcome of such attitudes. He was not born anti Charedi. He was made anti Charedi. Not by the press but  by comments like the ones above.  Here is how he thinks Charedim see him and all secular Jews. I think he is very close to being right: 
 (T)he seculars…eat nevelot and terefot, desecrate Shabbat in public and are accompanied by prostitutes (the haredi term for secular women who dress and behave "immodestly")
These people are not "kosher" enough do anything, apart from transferring money to the haredim of course. To get their hands on this money, the representatives of the haredi public are willing to overcome their contempt and sit in the Knesset with seculars (the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox also join the coalition; for the Ashkenaz haredim this is still too difficult). In order to receive State funds, the haredi lawmakers are willing to take time off from their Torah studies and sit in the plenum, where women dress immodestly and make their voices heard in public.

...The cultural and social boycott of the majority is a way of life in the haredi community. This does not mean that they cannot hold negotiations with the evil ones. They can, and they do; because there is no political boycott.

…They demand everyone else's respect as the (sole) representatives of the Torah, but they do not have to respect anyone else in return. They have a right to meddle in every affair under the sun, while others are forbidden from intervening in their affairs...
I would add that of late (or maybe not so ‘of late’) Datim (Modern Orthodox Jews in Israel) are seen in almost the same light as secular Jews. Some would even say they are even worse! (i.e. they should know better etc…)

Aviad’s anger is the creation of the Charedi world. The sooner they recognize this simple fact the better things will be. Rabbi Dovid Bloch said as much recently by asking The 12 questions. Until then they can cry Yehoreg V’Al Yaavor until they turn blue in the face. It won’t change a thing except to divide the country even more than it is now.