Monday, September 21, 2009

Segregation Forever!

One of the themes of these ‘ days of awe’ that began in the month of Elul and concludes after Yom Kippur is the concept of Achdus – togetherness or unity. Repentance or Teshuva works better for us as a group. This is one of the reasons that we are encouraged to Daven with a Minyan more during this time of year than at any other time of year.

The idea is that we pray as a group for forgiveness and salvation. Most of the prayers and supplications are written in the plural. In this way we all benefit from the combined efforts of the group. As individuals we all have our own specific strengths and weakness. Some of us have more to do Teshuva for than others. Some of us Daven with more fervor than others. As a group we get the combined positive elements of all - as long as our intent is to do Teshuva.

This morning I was directed by a friend to an insightful post in the blog: A Mother in Israel. Apparently new ground has been broken on the Tznius front. However it accomplishes the exact opposite of Achdus. It preaches segregation.

There is a sign posted in the playground of the Charedi neighborhood of Neve Yaakov in Jerusalem. The translation is found in the above-mentioned post (which includes her inserts) and reads as follows:

According to the suggestion of our teacher the great rabbi H. Kanievsky, women are requested as follows, to divide seating in the city according to groups of women. Women dressed appropriately (wide clothes, a properly covered neck, a modest scarf [MiI: to cover hair]) will sit on separate benches. Women dressed immodestly [bepritzut] Heaven forbid, (tight clothes/open collar/bandana) will sit by themselves. And in this merit the women [MiI: there's no question as to which women, even though the wording is vague] will merit viable offspring, a comfortable living, and true comfort [nachat] from their children.

The blogger points out what she believes is the obvious intent of this sign, it is aimed - not - at the way Chiloni or secular women dress. It is aimed at the way Dati women dress. A Dati is someone who is basically a religious Zionist - that generally speaking - is comparable to a right wing modern orthodox Jew in religious attitude and practice. In essence, therefore, the Charedim of Neve Yaakov want to segregate one religious Jew from another.

I find it difficult to believe that Rav Kanievsky had anything to do with this. I am increasingly coming to believe that – just about any time a religious leader is quoted by self serving constituencies that they do so without the permission or knowledge of that leader.

The putting up such signs tend believe that the rabbis they quote in them would certainly agree and not mind the use of their names in such ‘holy pursuits’.

In this case for example they base this on the fact that these leaders have spoken about the need to tighten up the tznius standards in their own communities. Tight clothing - even though they cover up all parts of the body required by Halacha - has been strongly protested by leaders like Rav Kanievsky.

These people see this sign as a natural step in the direction of accomplishing that. To them fragmenting Klal Yisroel even further than it already is a price worth paying in order to accomplish the high Tznius standards to which they they aspire! Achdus be damned!

I doubt that Rav Kanievsky would agree. Even though I believe that R’ Kanievsky would like to see improvements in the manner of dress even in his own Charedi world - I strongly suggest he would have nothing to do with a sign like the one in the Neve Yaakov playground.

Divisions don’t bother these people. To them it is a plus. They want to live in a world that is populated only by people like themselves.

I suspect that there is another agenda here and not exactly a Tznius one. I think that we have reached a point where many Charedim hate Datim even more than they hate Chilonim. Welcome to the Aseres Yemei Teshuva!

Hat tip: DK