|R' Yitzchak Yaacov Reines - Founder of Religious Zionism|
“There are girls in this school who think that being a religious nationalist is okay,” the principal, Binyamin Metzger, is quoted as saying. “Today, we all know the truth, and that it is nothing more than paganism.”
“A person who likes his religion together with nationalism is like Hitler who also liked it, even worse,” he said.
The controversy initially erupted four months ago, when a student enrolled at the school – which has a mixed student population of ultra-Orthodox and traditional (masorti) Jewish girls - was suspended for expressing her support for national service. According to Channel 10, the girl has been at home for the past four months while subject to ostracism orchestrated by the school’s administration.
In a news feature which aired on Monday’s primetime nightly broadcast, Channel 10 showed footage of Metzger calling the young girl who was sent home “human filth.”
According to the report, not only did Metzger expel the student in question, but he also initiated a campaign of incitement against her while using classroom time to appear before students and reinforce his virulent opposition to national service.
“I want to hint to a few girls here in the class not to be like that little loser, that complete zero,” the principle is reported to have told his students. “Try not to go near her.”
These comments are so repugnant; you would expect them to come from extremists in Meah Shearim or Bet Shemesh. But they didn’t. They came from a principal who runs a Hashkaifcally mixed school in Ramat Gan.
Of course many people will say that this fellow is not mainstream. And that we shouldn’t judge all Charedim by the machinations of an extremist. But I have heard this claim made far too often in far too many cases. If there are so many instances of this kind of rhetoric – and worse actions based on it them - it isn’t the exception. It is one of their norms. Some people keep these views to themselves. And some people may oppose such rhetoric. But some may think they are right… even if the rhetoric is a bit strong.
I keep saying that the vast majority of Charedim are not like this. That most Charedim would never say that religious Zionism is akin to Nazism. And that anyone who says so is not only outside the mainstream but is practically insane - even if they oppose it. I’m sure that’s still true. But there seems to be a core part of that mainstream who believe exactly the same thing this principal does.
Apart from his vile rhetoric this fellow has vilified one of his students in public. The Gemarah compares that to murder. So I don’t care what his Hashkfos are, he ought get fied immediately for that. It is intolerable and unacceptable. How anyone like this can be hired to lead a school is beyond me. Unless he owns the place. Which begs the question, how can any parent send their daughter to a school like this? And yet, they do.
If this guy represents any part of the Charedi mainstream, how can any religious Zionist make peace with people who think they are Nazi-like? How can there ever be a reconciliation between these two religious camps?
This is not Judaism. At least not the Judaism of our forefathers. Nor even of our fathers. It isn’t even the Judaism of my own generation. This is new. The stridency of opposition by the right to anyone to their left – and the angry rhetoric that goes along with it - is unprecedented. And the current rabbinic leaders are not doing anything about it. The opposite is true. They encourage it. Underlings like this principal are simply following their lead believing that they are simply following Daas Torah. Well this is not the Daas Torah of anyone I follow. Nor any of the Gedolim of the past generation (with the exception of the Satmar Rebbe).
The Israeli Rabbinic leaders are increasingly allowing extremism to become the norm. As are their willing accomplices in the Kenesset and Charedi media. Even moderates like Rav Shteinman have been won over and has started using rhetoric like that. I do not recall any of the Gedolim of the pastever saying the kinds of things being said now. Religious Jews are now Amalek? Religious Zionists are now Nazis?! Is this what is being taught in their schools? If so what will the next generation be like? Will they dispense with mere words and take action against the ‘new’ Amalek?
Although it would seem that this is the direction in which we are going - I can’t believe that this is the wave of the future. I do not believe that these rabbinic leaders are the prototype for future Charedi leadership. I believe that the prototype of real leadership is the R’ Yaakov Kamenteskys of the world. The only question is - where are they?
What should the Charedi world look like? Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein paints a picture in the following interview. It is worth watching in total.
The video is apparently not working. I am in the process of trying to get it restored. In the meantime it can be seem here.