Monday, February 19, 2018

Not Orthodox in the Extreme!

Setting fire to an IDF soldier in effigy - May of last year (TOI)
The pattern of behavior is quite clear. It makes me wonder sometimes if we are following the same Torah. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Not only are there modern Orthodox and Centrist Jews that feel this way - many mainstream Charedi  Jews feel that way, too. Although if I were Charedi  it would probably upset me even more than it does as a Centrist.

There is a segment of religious Jews whose values do not in any way match those of the rest us in Orhtodox Judaism.

They do not necessarily belong to the same sect or group. They have different rabbinic leaders. What unites them is participation in the same type of Chilul HaShem. There are many different incarnations of it. All of which go unpunished by anyone in a position of leadership that they may follow.

There are several examples of this again that happened recently. We cannot afford to just complain and ignore them. They must be fought as a plague upon Judaism.  Which is what their behavior amounts to. They are a plague upon religious Jews all over the world because they look so religious and are so meticulous in observance of many of  the Mitzvos of the Toraah – which their constant Chilul HaShem negates in my view.

Shoshana Keats-Jaskoll has a video of a wig burning event in Meah Shearim that turns my stomach. There is a lot of laughter going on but it isn’t funny. It is disgusting that these people set fire to an item used by so many married observant Jewish women to fulfill the Mitzvah of covering their hair. By this act they not only insult these women in a frightful way, they imply that the Mitzvah they perform is really an Aveira! I agree with Shoshanna: 
This is not normal, or okay. Men and CHILDREN burning styrofoam heads and wigs of women is really, really not ok
I would go further. It is not just - not OK. It is counterproductive and SICK!

And then there is the story about yet another religious soldier being attacked. This time in the middle of prayer. It happened at ‘Shtieblach’. That is an area in the Beis Yisroel section of Jerusalem that is near the Meah Shearim. It is what is known as a ‘Minyan factory’. There are constant Minyanim going on there for Shachris, Mincha, and Maariv so that if someone in the neighborhood wants to Daven at any time of the day, he will find a Minyan there to do it. From Arutz Sheva
During the evening prayer services, haredi extremists assaulted the soldier and forced him to flee the synagogue and call for assistance.
While his attackers pursued him, the soldier managed to escape when an ambulance arrived at the scene.
It is unclear if the soldier any injuries during the attack. 
This is just the latest in a series of attacks over the last few years against religious Jews serving in the IDF. And then there was the recent incident where two religious girls were chased down at a protest against a newly observant religious woman who joined the army.

There have been a great many stories about these people doing damage to others in their ‘righteous crusade’ to establish their version of Judaism as the only legitimate version. A crusade that keeps making one Chilul HaShem after another – as I’ve said so many times. The ‘gift that keeps on giving’. 

It is has become expected. It has become so ‘normal’ for these people to do these kinds of things that there is a tendency for the rest of the Orthodox world to just write them off as extremists best ignored.

Wrong answer.

Yes, they are extremists. But there are a great many of them. Too many of them involved in too many incidents to ignore. And they have spread to locations outside of Meah Shearim.  

They must constantly be condemned lest the casual observer seeing it or reading about it think that this is the way all religious Jews behave. I just wish that all rabbinic leaders from all stripes of Orthodoxy took steps to once and for all to completely condemn and ostracize them in a unified statement! Instead of - as is often the case - heaping praise upon their community as the most religiously idealistic among us! Even as they condemn the extremism that stems from them.  

That’s not good enough. It is absolutely the wrong message. They need to stop thinking like that. And once and for all declare to the world that looking Frum is not the same as being Frum. Far from it. That kind of praise perpetuates the belief that their extremism is just a function of their zealotry as defenders of the faith who have the courage to act! 

Leaders of all Hashkafos in the Torah world need to say loudly and clearly that these people are not acting any more Jewish than the Reform Jewish pioneers of the past who rejected all form of Jewish ritual. They need to tell the leaders of the communities that harbor them that - saying they can't control them is not good enough either. It is their Hashkafos that created this ‘monster’ and they share significant responsibility for these extremists; the harm they cause to innocent people; and the damage they do to the image of the Jewish people.