Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Satmar Chinuch Lesson

The Two Satmar Rebbes: Brothers Aharon and Zalman Teitelbaum (5TJT)
“Bibi Netanyahu shame on you!” These words were heard on the streets of New York recently. I know a lot of people are – shall we say, not completely enamored of the current prime minster of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

That is an understatement. There is actually a visceral hatred of the man by his political opponents. Even among American Jews that otherwise support Israel - I have heard the vilest of comments about him. He is a hated man. How strange it must be to support a country but hate the leader democratically elected by its own people. One that has served as its leader longer than any other Prime Minister, including David Ben Gurion.

I understand why some people feel that way. They believe that his words and actions have done much to alienate world leaders – no less the one that leads this country, President Barack Obama. He is a individual whose primary interest is in promoting himself. He would sell his mother to the devil to secure his position as Prime Minister. (I completely disagree with them for reasons beyond the scope of this post.) 

I agree that he is an ambitious politician. And that he will do whatever it takes to stay in power. But that doesn’t really make him much different than any other politician. That’s why even Presidential elections in the United States are filled with negative advertising by both candidates against each other.  They will stretch the truth to cast their opponents in the most negative light possible. At no time was this truer than it is now.  But this election is certainly not the first time negative ads have been used. It has been going on for decades. Politicians are all birds of a feather when it comes to using unethical means to win elections.

Netanyahu bashers might find some comfort in Satmar’s feelings about him. The opening words of this post were chanted by very young Satmar children in New York. In two separate incidents. One was from children in a summer camp  affiliated with one Satmar Rebbe (R’ Zalman Teltelbaum) and one affiliated with the other Satmar Rebbe (R’ Aharon Teitelbaum). And they backed up this chant with eggs. (See video below) From YWN
(T)he young children are all given eggs and when the mock vehicle with the “Prime Minister of Israel” drives through the crowd, the children pelt the vehicle – covering it in eggs. Chants of “Bibi Netanyahu shame on you!” can be heard as the children cover the vehicle in eggs. 
I wonder how Netanyahu haters feel about this. Would they join Satmar in this endeavor? Given the chance would they pelt his vehicle with eggs and scream “Bibi Netanyahu shame on you!”? I hope not.  I doubt that they want to be seen as aligned with Satmar? And yet, when it comes to bashing the Prime Minister, they are of like mind it seems.

What makes this particularly egregious is that it was not a spontaneous demonstration of protest against a prime minister they disapprove of because of his policies. It was a Chinuch lesson. The entire event was staged to indoctrinate the very young children of Satmar to viscerally hate the Jewish State and its leaders. It was not so much an anti Netanyahu protest. He was just a surrogate for the State!

This is the legacy that  Satmar founder,  R’ Yoel Teitlebaum, has left his people. A people that may very well be the fastest growing demographic in all of Jewry. It is a legacy of hatred. A legacy that generates an international Chilul HaShem. One that generates the worst epithets at other Jews that do not toe the Satmar line on Israel.

I know that Satmar does many good things. They have some wonderful service organizations where their Chasidim donate time and money (from the wealthier of their Chasidim) to help their fellow Jews. Like their famous Bikur Cholim society that visits the sick and tries to help them out in any way they possible can. Regardless of their level of observance.

And yet I still cannot understand how anyone can support people that indoctrinate their youth to hate fellow Jews they disagree with about Israel.  Teaching them at such an early age - not only shout hatred – but to act on it. That they are otherwise nice people does not erase this very egregious Chilul HaShem. Doing a good deed does not erase doing a bad deed. When that bad deed is a Chilul HaShem, there is nothing that can erase it. (They of course think it is a Kiddush HaShem.)

It is not often that find myself agreeing with editorial comments of a Charedi website like YWN. (Although I probably do so more often than people might think.) But in this instance I agree with their closing comments completely: 
If anyone wonders where the deep hatred comes from to yell Nazi at other Jews, to have the Chutzpah to call 100-year-old Mahigei Hador “reshoyim” and “lowlives”, it begins at age 5 and ends in violent Hafganos in Meah Shearim, where public property is destroyed, the lives of tens of thousands are inconvenienced and people are violently attacked.