Sunday, May 13, 2018

A legacy of Lies

What will happen to him when he realizes his father lied? 
There is little doubt about the lies being spread among our religious brethren living in extremist enclaves like Meah Shearim. Lies about the founders of the modern State of Israel and their ideological heirs that run the country today.

These lies are perpetuated from generation to generation - whose numbers keeps increasing in far greater proportion than any other segment of the Jewish people. These are a lies that can and do easily lead far too many of their youth to rebel and go OTD  once they realize they have been lied to.  This following is a message that every young Charedi Jew from that world should hear: 
...Yanky, or Usher, or Chaim, you will grow up, im yirtzeh Hashem, and you will begin to think more independently. It might happen when you reach bar mitzvah age, or it might happen a little later. Suddenly you will see that the picture of the world you got from your father when you were nine or ten isn’t exactly true. You’ll find out that life in the Zionist state is nothing like a concentration camp. For example, maybe relatives from Eretz Yisrael will come to visit, and you’ll see that they look just fine — properly dressed, well-fed, happy, and if you ask them where their yellow stars are, they’ll laugh...
You’ll be left confused. The first seed of doubt will sprout in your heart, and it will take root. Little by little, you’ll begin to feel that your father deceived you about this critical issue. The more you mature, the more you will discover that the reality in Eretz Yisrael is quite different from what you imagined when you were a young boy who took in everything without question. You will learn that Eretz Yisrael isn’t Auschwitz, and nobody wears a yellow star… But you’ll also see that those who choose to devote themselves to Torah are able to do so without interference.
In the meantime, I pity you, and I fear for you. For once you lose your implicit trust in your father and doubt begins to gnaw at you, it won’t let go. 
This is not me expressing these views. It is Mishpacha Magazine Editor in Chief, Rabbi Moshe Grylak expressing them in his weekly editorial. Rabbi Grylak is what I would call a moderate Charedi. His magazine’s negative policy with respect to publishing pictures of women notwithstanding.

I obviously agree with him. Rabbi Grylak goes on to tell us what happened to individuals like that he knows from that community: 
He was a nice chassidishe fellow who worked in a print shop. I got to know him… and we became friends. We talked a lot, but I always had the feeling that the conversations were masking something else that was going on inside him.
One day, he took off the mask and revealed that he’d lost his emunah, because of the type of deception (described above). Little by little, he lost faith in everything, until he no longer believed in Torah or Hashem… The worm of doubt had gnawed clear through him, and when I went back to that print shop some months later and asked about him, they told me he had taken his own life, leaving a young widow and two small children. He couldn’t withstand the struggle that was tearing him apart.
I was involved in two similar cases as well, which baruch Hashem didn’t end in physical suicide, but rather spiritual suicide. One bochur was still single when he abandoned Torah and mitzvos; the other took his wife with him. 
This dark cloud may be a blessing in disguise, depending on how this community faces the challenge. If they continue along the same path they are now, they are clearly in danger of losing many of their children both physically and spiritually. 

If they can somehow be convinced by this sad phenomenon that their scorched earth policy of criticizing Israel is the main reason for it – they might modify their views. Perhaps they will take a look at the approach taken by Rabbi Menachem Bombach - a man from that community that was raised with similarly negative views. But whose views were modified by the reality he eventualy saw. 

Rabbi Bombach has rejected the ‘Big Lie’ perpetuated currently among extremist Charedim. His views are now clearly more mainstream and he is transmitting them to his students - most of whom have been raised with those negative views. 

On the other hand, I fear their current characterization of Zionism as Nazism is ironclad - a belief that is as inviolable to them as is the forbidden nature of Chilul Shabbos. 

I fear that they might see their increasing numbers overwhelming the numbers going OTD as a price that must be paid in order to maintain the purity of their position. 

If they see it as a numbers game, they very well may tolerate the increasing losses and take some sort of solace from their even greater increase in numbers via their high birthrate. As much as I wish for the former scenario, I fear the latter to be more likely. There has been too much water over the dam... too much time and effort invested in it.

If my inclinations are right, that wouldbe  both callous and tragic to the families that actually experience such losses. Suffering the loss of even a single child – whether physically or spiritually is not  compensated for by the fact that the rest of your children are doing just fine  – no matter how many children you have.

I am, however,  happy that a prominent Charedi publisher understands the reality and has made it clear to his many readers. If nothing else, it exposes the truth to a wider audience. It is an expression of Emes. And that is always a good thing.