Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Mentchlichkeit and Rav Druckman

Rav Chaim Druckman - Photo Credit: YWN
I must admit being both amused and pleased by a recent article at YWN. It concerns the subject of Mentchlichkeit. They are for it. That of course should be no surprise for anyone who lives in the civilized world. But it is who they are reporting it about that is somewhat of a surprise.

YWN not only tells us of an address that Rav Chaim Druckman gave on the subject, but they actually treat him with respect! They refer to him as ‘Rav’ not rabbi; call him a ‘prominent Dati Leumi Posek’ and used the honorific ‘Shlita’ after his name. Shlita is the Hebrew acronym for Shyichyeh L'Orech Yamim Tovim Amen. (May he live for a length of good days, Amen). It is usually reserved for great rabbinic leaders.

Why is this a surprise? Because YWN is a Charedi news website. It was not that long ago that Rabbi Druckman was roundly condemned by the right for his lenient Psak about conversions to Judaism in Israel.  The Israeli government saw a demographic time bomb with respect to the many Russian immigrants who were not Halachicly Jewish for one reason or another.  

The government asked him to set up a special Beis Din for purposes of converting these souls to Judaism. He obliged and was condemned immediately by the right – calling all of his conversions, past and present – illegitimate. He was basically put in the dog house by the right. That created problems for all of his converts  – even those that the right would have recognized. I can clearly recall the vilification he got from the right when I posted on this subject a couple of years ago.

I am not going to go back into that issue. Suffice it to say that the conversion issues under attack were indeed controversial – having to do with how observant these converts would happen to be… and how vital that is to the conversion process. As I said Rabbi Druckman was very lenient about it and was virtually crucified. Now... he’s  ‘Rav Druckman, Shlita’ …and a  ‘prominent’ Posek.

I don’t what happened to change the attitude of the right.  But I’m glad to see it. Perhaps it is because they agree with his message of Mentchlichkeit – behaving like a civilized and dignified human being. In this particular case the Mentchlichkeit he was referring to was the lack of it displayed by ‘Price-Taggers’. These are extremists in the Dati Leumi camp that attack innocent Palestinians usually in response to a government action they don’t like.  These extremists see everything in terms of settling the entire land of Israel. Which of course includes the West Bank.

They believe that we are on the precipice of the Messianic era. And see themselves as agents in accelerating the process by reclaiming all the land of Israel as soon as possible by all means necessary. They view harassing Palestinians is a legitimate enterprise toward that goal. And if anyone or anything gets in their way… Palestinians usually pay the consequences. That is the ‘price tag’ for thwarting their messianic goals.

I don’t think anyone can question Rav Druckman’s credentials as a Religious Zionist. He condemns it and is speaking out about it to his natural Dati Leumi constituency.

Apperntly Charedim have been arrested in that regard too. From YWN: 
The rav also spoke of the chareidim arrested recently in Yerushalayim in connection to price tag attacks, and he expressed his sorrow over this alarming trend. “We must teach our children to be bnei adom (mentschin) and while there is no doubt that Eretz Yisrael is entirely ours, but this has no connection to our dealings with each Arab. 
In referring to the recent terrorist attack in Pisgot he said:
...we must deal with these animals appropriately, but how is this in any way connected to every Arab?” 
All I can say to that is Amen. But I would take this a step further. A very big step much further. There is clearly a need for a comparable Charedi Rav to do the same thing Rav Druckman did. They need to go into enclaves like Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak, and Ramat Bet Shemesh B, and say the same things to them about their own lack of Mentchichkeit. They ought to do it often. So often that it will finally register that their lack of Mentchlichkiet is so awful that it undermines their own goals, not to metion that it is a Chilul HaShem.

Lest anyone say that I am painting Charedim with a broad brush, I’m not.Not any more than Rav Druckman is when he speaks the lack of Mentchlichkeit  to his constituency.  I know that most Charedim are Mentchlich as are most Religious Zionists.  But both communities need to hear it – and teach it to their children. Because the future is in their hands.