Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Frumkeit Replaces Mentchlichkeit

I wasn’t going to write about it. It is just more of the same. What more can I say then simply repeating myself? But after reading Rafi’s post, I have changed my mind. In fact reading this makes my blood boil. As it did his. Which is why he didn’t write about it at first.

I am referring to an article in Ynet about Natalie Mashiach, a woman (pictured) who was assaulted by a group of Charedi men. What was she doing? Hanging posters about the national lottery in Ramat Bet Shemesh B - home of the ignorant and primitive Jew. Primitive - because they reject modern technology, and live in virtual isolation from the rest of the world. Ignorant - because they refuse to read anything that is tainted by outside influences. Including any secular media. They only read media sanctioned by their rabbis. Media that censors anything negative about their community.

One of the things that bother me about a story like this is that the Charedi world tends to do the same thing that the extremists of Bet Shemesh do with respect to the secular media. They too reject any negative story about the Frum world. The refrain is: You can’t believe anything those Reshaim write. They are anti religious. So when Ynet reports on a true story that involves so called ‘Frum Jews’ doing harm to another human being… they say: ‘Don’t’ believe it!’ ‘Ynet is a secular paper with an agenda.’

This attitude reminds me of a post written by a Charedi young man a couple of years ago who was sexually molested by a Frum member of his community. He eventually went Off the Derech (OTD) because of it. When he finally worked up the courage to tell a community Rav about his abuse by that man, he was rebuffed. Why? Because he is no longer Frum and therefore has no Ne’emanus! You are not Shomer Shabbos and you are being Motzie Shem Ra on a Shomer Shabbos Jew. He turned his back on that young man.

The inability to see reality because of Frumkeit is why things like child sex abuse are still around.

It does not help when stories like the one in Ynet are not believed for the same reason. And what does their Frumkeit make them do once they do believe the story? They may condemn it but they find excuses like saying the victim provoked them.


Here is my message to the Charedi who thinks like that: STOP BEING SO FRUM AND BE A MENTCH!

Unfortunately, I’m no longer sure that the Charedim in Israel are capable of doing that it anymore. As per Rabbi Addlerstein’s post in Cross-Currents. And I include American Olim who are Charedi. They have bought into the Israeli mindset. At least those who have lived there a while.

But I’ll say it anyway. You must do more than shake your head, say tsk tsk and then add excuses!

What can you do? Rafi has some ideas. But rather than paraphrase, I will excerpt what he said:

This is not a haredi issue, it is not a dati leumi issue, and it is not a secular issue. This is a Bet Shemesh issue. Bet Shemesh, the people of Bet Shemesh, the elected officials of Bet Shemesh and the police of Bet Shemesh all together, has to solve this problem.

This is also a national problem. While it is happening in Bet Shemesh, it is also happening in Jerusalem. It is also starting to happen in other places, such as Elad and Modiin Ilit, they are fighting in Rehovot about similar issues and it continues to spread.

Locally, all good people of Bet Shemesh need to put an end to this, and nationally it must be dealt with as well, with support and activism at the highest levels. This is not a gang of teenagers, and that 50 people can stand around and watch 6 hooligans attack a defenseless woman and not try to stop it is unacceptable.

I am sorry to say this but this is WAR. It is not a war between religious Jews and secular Jews. It is a war declared by the anti- Semites of RBS B against their religious Zionist neighbors! (Yes, that’s what they are - anti Semites who hate all Jews that believe in any form of Religious Zionism!) The means being used by their ‘army’ (the Sikrikim) is violence - both physical and mental.

It doesn’t really matter in the final analysis that most of these people wouldn’t themselves be violent. What matters is that they agree with their motives and their goals. They are on the same page with that. They would like nothing better than to take over the entire area and purge it of the ‘evil’ Religious Zionists and their negative influences.

The recent attack against a defenseless woman (who isn’t even a resident of that area but was there doing her job) is just another battle for these people. To them all non Charedi Jews are the enemy and valid targets for attack. It didn’t matter what she was doing there. The mere fact that the enemy crossed into their territory was enough for an ambush. They have a history of attacking Religious Zionists. Especially young women.

I have called for boycotts of all businesses in RBS B. I have called for demonstrations and picket lines in front of every store by the residents of neighboring RBS A. And I have called upon the Charedi Rabbanim of RBS A to lead them. They should be joined by Frum people from all over the country. Especially Charedim. And their Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva. Let them all come to Ramat Bet Shemesh B and make a statement! Again and again! … instead of just saying ‘tsk tsk’! I renew my call for that.

I would of course add that the police should be relentless in arresting the perpetrators and the courts relentless in seeking justice. Not one individual caught hurting a fellow human being should be given any mercy. They should be thrown into a maximum security prison for the maximum sentence to be served without parole!

The peaceful citizens of of the Sheinfeld area that borders RBS B want nothing more than to live in peace with their neighbors. Of any stripe. As they always have. Most of them are Religious Zionist idealists who made Aliyah for the sole purpose of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Yishuv Ha’aretz. And they were there long before the extremists and their enabling neighbors in RBS B from Meah Shearim.

And this is their reward?!