Sunday, September 04, 2011

When Misguided Piety Becomes Evil

I don’t know what to do about the lawlessness that seems to define a segment of Jewry. And I’m not even sure how wide spread this segment is. Whether it is Meah Shearim Bet Shemesh or Squaretown All I see is that they always seem to take matters into their own hands when things don’t go their way.

One could say – just write them off. Leave them alone in their own isolated little world and let the rest of Jewry get on with their lives. That would be nice except that they do not confine themselves to one little corner of the world. They instead create havoc for other Jews. All in the cause of their exclusionary version of Judaism.

They have large families. 13 children is not an unusual amount. As a result their members tend to outgrow the limited confines of their various locations. Meah Shearim is an example of that. Young families looking for a place to live have founded new communities ‘out of town’. Satmar did this with Kiryas Joel. Skvere did this with Squaretown. And Meah Shearim did this with Bet Shemesh.

They cannot simply be ignored.

The latest event that that illustrates this problem happened in Ramat Bet Shemesh B. This community consists mostly of Meah Shearim transplantees who have re-created the religious environment of Meah Shearim and virtually taken over an entire suburb. When something happens that might violate their sensibilities they take matters into their own hands.

This actually happened in that community recently. How were their sensibilities violated? Was it Chilul Shabbos? Was it opening a movie theater near their town? Was it a mixed audience concert? No. it was none of those. It was the opening of an Orthodox religious elementary school for girls. Yes, this is what set them off.

They cannot countenance a Dati educational presence anywhere near them. A school like that bordering on their town is simply too close to them for comfort. In an effort to keep their neighborhood pure they have pulled out all the stops to close that school down. This included vandalism and mobs shouting ‘Shiksas’ at the girls as they leave the building. That is the plural of the term Shiksa - a pejorative for non Jewish females.

Needless to say that sent many of those young girls home crying.

These people (and I use the word ‘people’ reluctantly) have no concept of human dignity. They are selfish and self centered. They see only themselves as important. They are indoctrinated to value only their own version of Judaism. To that extent they see any other Jew as either evil - or an ‘innocent’ that is ripe for their Kiruv.

They are in fact known for their hospitality to Jewish visitors in Meah Shearim. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from people that have spent time there and testify as to how wonderful their experiences were. But just try and build a Dati School near them. Hospitality is not the word I would use to describe their reaction. Criminal hostility would be a better choice of words. Perhaps even more precise description would be ‘all out war’! It doesn’t matter if it is in Meah Shearim or Bet Shemesh. The goons are at the ready to do the dirty work.

I see this as their Hashkafa. Not as a ‘hooligan’ problem. To say these are their hooligans is to misidentify the problem as merely typical of any growing society that has its share of hooligans. These goons are nothing like that. Their Hashkafos allow for violent solutions to their problems.

They can cry ‘wolf’ all the way to the Kotel. They can say these are our criminal element and we do not approve of them – all day long. It doesn’t convince me. The pattern is always the same and the response is always violent – whether it is in Meah Shearim, Bet Shemesh or Squaretown.

Any Hashkafa that condones what these people did at this school is evil at the core… It doesn’t matter how many Chumros they incorporate into their lives. They can all have the longest beards and the longest Peyos. They can all and wear Rabbenu Tam’s Teffilin and buy $500 Esrogim on Sukkos. They can all sing and dance to the heights on Simchas Torah. They can ‘elevate’ the Shabbos experience like no other community. They can venerate their Rebbe and treat him like a King or even an angel from heaven. They can be the most hospitable Jews on the planet. It doesn’t matter.

Bullying other Jews, especially young religious ones makes their entire Hashkafa a non starter.

Nor does it matter that most of them don’t ‘approve’ of the hooliganism. They can shout it all day long from the rooftops. I don’t believe them. The bottom line for them is that they disapprove of a Dati School far more than they disapprove of the violent means to rid them of it.

This kind of stuff has been going on too long for there to be any kind of legitimate deniability. At this point in time - they are guilty until proven innocent! Unfortunately this is what their history of violent reactions teaches us. At least that is the way I now see them. And that is how the rest of Jewry should. I no longer have any respect for them, their way of life, or their leaders!