Sunday, March 02, 2014

Rhetoric that Makes their Views Difficult to Respect

Rabbinic leaders meeting in Bnei Brak last week about the draft - Photo credit: VIN
I could not believe what I was reading. Not that I haven’t heard similar rhetoric before. But somehow this time it got to me more than others. It made me angry!

There was apparently a meeting that took place in Israel prior to the big prayer rally today about drafting Charedim by leaders of all Charedi factions. Rabbinic leaders  from all segments of Charedi Jewry in Israel attended. Including those who are at extreme odds with each other about tactics. Differences that were so great that followers of one side resorted to violence against a revered rabbinic leader on the opposing side.

It is extremely difficult for me to understand how any thinking Jew, let alone people who are seen as the greatest leaders of our time by so many… could say the kind of vile and untrue things they have said about those who have been trying to make the draft system a fair one.  It is difficult for me to retain my respect for people who say these kinds of things. From Hamodia
It is not a time to desist, when those from among the government in Eretz Yisrael, directed by the prime minister, rose to rebel against Malchus Shamayim, and intend, R”l, to pass laws uprooting Torah and to impose criminal sanctions on those who are Torasam umnasam, to the extent that they will be thrown into prison.
We fear the terrible chillul Hashem, and the elbonah shel Torah, that this involves. We fear the result and are pained by the continuing harassment directed at the Torah world and the constant efforts to place obstacles before its every step. 
How can anyone with a say such a thing with a clear conscience? Let alone rabbinic leaders. Is this not just a wee bit of an exaggeration? Uprooting the Torah? Really?  I keep hearing things like this and it gets harder and harder to believe that this has anything to do with Daas Torah – even as Charedim define it!

How they can say any of this when there are probably hundreds of of thousands of religious Jews since the founding of the state  that have been drafted into the army; served with honor, and have not left their Yiddishkeit behind. How can they say this when there are probably tens of thousands of Hesder boys who have been drafted since its founding and choose to learn Torah while they serve their country in the most dangerous assignments.

It is hard for me to respect this kind of rhetoric. It is offensive to me. And coming from rabbinic leaders that are so widely respected, it becomes doubly offensive.  Because when these rabbinic leaders speak  – especially when they speak as one – none of their flock will challenge them.

They have asked the entire world of religious Jewry to participate with them today:  
The Moatzos Gedolei and Chachmei HaTorah are calling on all of Am Yisraelwherever they live, in Eretz Yisrael and abroad, to grasp the craft of our forefathers in their hands and to gather “kol haYehudim yachad kol shivtei Yisrael anashim vetaf — all the Jews together, men and children” to call to Hashem strongly — that our Father in Heaven have mercy on us like a Father to His sons. We are hereby announcing that all those who are chareidim lidvar Hashem will come together in an Atzeres Tefillah and mass protest on Sunday 7 Adar II 5774 (error - the 7th is next week, the prayer rally is today - HM). May it be a kiddush Shem Shamayim to counteract thechillul Shem Shamayim carried out by the uprooters of religion. 
To make matters worse, there are some Religious Zionist leaders who plan to participate. I don’t know what kind of logic motivates them to participate in an event that is so opposed to their very principles.  I guess they believe that Charedim who study Torah full time should be exempt! But even if that’s true, can they possibly believe that every single Charedi Jew that is registered in a Yeshiva should be exempt?  

The fact that the Kenesset committee charged with coming up with new and fair draft legislation is headed Ayelet Shaked who belongs to the Bayit HaYehudi party which is effectively the new religious Zionist party means nothing to them. That this committee has come up with a rather mild proposal that seems to have gotten quite approval by many Charedi activists also seems to have been ignored. As is the declaration Bayit HaYehudi leader, Naftali Bennett declaration that no Charedi Yeshiva student will ever spend a day in jail for dodging ghee draft.

I believe he’s right. I do not see Israeli police entering a Beis HaMedrash like the one in the Mir and rounding up students studying Torah and putting them behind bars en masse. If for no other reason that there are not enough jails cells to handle even a small fraction of them, let alone the terrible sight of Jews being rounded up by police that would be reminiscent of the Holocaust! This is not happening and everybody knows it.

This is the what these Charedi rabbinc leaders are condemning with such fierce rhetoric?! … and being joined in mass prayer by some religious Zionist rabbinic leaders?!

As I’ve said many times, I understand that these leaders are upset. They do not want any tampering with their way of life. But they cannot truly believe that this is a Chilul HaShem along the line they are saying. They can’t be that naïve. Can they?

No doubt they will bring out the masses today. They are within their democratic rights to do so. Hopefully it will take place without incident - which is their intent.  And it will have an impact if for no other reason then to show how determined they are and how many resisters there will be.

But that does not excuse the kind of rhetoric they are using. In my humble opinion it is not right to exaggerate the facts no matter how much they believe in their cause. I would not participate in something like this even if I agreed with them in their principled opposition to drafting Charedim.

Thankfully there are some Religious Zionist leaders that feel the same way I do. I was starting to second guess myself on this issue because of such widespread sentiment in all segments of Orthodoxy favoring the Charedi view of things here. Fortunately I am not alone. And why I am inclined to agree  with Rav Chaim Druckman. Here is what he said about this. From Matzav
Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman called on the Religious Zionist community last night to stay far away from today’s atzeres tefillah against the chareidi draft.
“I totally reject [the march],” Druckman said last night. “If this demonstration is being held to say that Israel is fighting against the rule of the Kingdom of Heaven, I am so shocked and outraged by it.
“There is no room to say it’s permitted to participate in something like this. [To] those calling for the demonstration using shocking language: where we are living? Are we living in some dark regime fighting against …a war on religion? Thank God we live in Israel - even if I have criticized the state.” 

A word of caution to anyone who wishes to comment on this post. Any attempt to disparage rabbinic leaders of any persuasion will be deleted as soon as I discover them. It is one thing to question what they are doing and even to have difficulty respecting their views on this issue. It is another to use it as an excuse bash them or the community which they serve.