Friday, February 13, 2015

The Mindset of a Worried Charedi

Guest Post by Rabbi Chaim Nachman

Are the animals of ISIS our new rabbeim?
The following letter was sent to me by Rabbi Chaim Nachman. I do not know him or what he does. But after reading his letter I surmise that he is an American Charedi that now lives in Israel and has adopted many of the attitudes of Israeli Charedim.  Including the belief that the Charedi political parties are the best hope for providing the solutions to their problems.

Needless to say, I am in profound disagreement with a lot of what he says. My views on these issues have been expressed many times in many different ways. But in other areas he expresses the same concerns I have. Perhaps even more strongly than I ever have.

He asked that I publish his thoughts. I normally do not publish unsolicited submissions from people I don’t know.  But I thought it valuable to hear what the perception of a mainstream Charedi in Israel is about their predicament - and his analysis of it. He is apparently  concerned about a recent poll that showed that the Charedi parties will lose a seat in the next Kenesset. I have taken the liberty of translating some of the less common Hebrew words and phrases he used. They are in parentheses following each word or phrase. Otherwise, his post is unedited. It follows:

Let’s be real and responsible.

Elections in Israel have real and lasting consequences, as even the uniformed found out the last time around. Funding was cut, yeshivos and kollelim were closed, children went to bed hungry because two pseudo-parties were founded to steal Shas voters and didn’t make the cut. Three Knesset seats were lost and Netanyahu went to Lapid and Bennet to make his coalition. All the talk about the draft and shivyon banaetel (sharing the burden) came about because of that unholy union. Children, and their parents go to bed hungry because of what happened in the last election.

So now, there is a chance to change that. There are new elections. The poll numbers for Shas and Gimmel (The Charedi parties)were up; those for Lapid and Bennet were down.
So what happened? Frum people declared war on Gimmel. In the name of fighting the army they are makriv (sacrifice)dozens of garbage pails at important crossroads. They shut down highways so that people should be late to work.

What do they accomplish? Hatred for frum yidden is reignited, not only in Israel, but around the world. Shas and Gimmel are now down to five seats each. Lapid is rising. They are causing, beyodayim,(by their own hand) that kids will suffer, the army will seek to draft yeshiva bochurim, the Shem Hashem will be tarnished, people will hate us more than ever. Everything the gedolim have fought for since the founding of the state is going down the tubes.

Our culture is based on Torah and mussar and shulchan aruch.

What happened to gadlus ha’odom (greatness of man)? What happened to veohavta lereiacha kamocha (love thy neighbor as yourself)? What happened to gezel z’man (theft of time) and gezel mammon (theft of money)? What happened to Chillul Shem Shomayim?

What happened to communal responsibility? What happened to thinking about where your actions will lead and what they will cause? What happened to being a mench?

Are the animals of ISIS our new rabbeim?

Do we judge our behavior from now on as how it compares to people who burn others alive and chop off the heads of people they disagree with?

Is this the way of derochehu darchei noam  (our ways are ways of pleasantness)? Is this the way of the Ramchal, Mesilas Yeshorim, Pirkei Avos and the Chofetz Chaim?

What are we coming to?

I learn Torah every day. I learn mussar every day. I daven every day. I believe that by doing so my neshoma (soul) is cleansed and improved and raised. I believe that my neshoma stood at Har Sinai when the Aseres Hadibros (10 commandments) rang out. Mine was there, yours was there, but those of the people who rob, cheat and steal from the general culture were not there. What is there for me to learn from them? What is there is to be gaining by comparing me to them? We make a brocha every day shelo asani goy; what are we saying? Among other things we are saying that we are bnei Torah, we follow the Torah to be our guide, not the prevailing culture. We thank Hashem for being held to a different standard.

We do not curse, scream, yell, act like animals. We do not get in the way of people trying to go about their daily affairs unmolested. We do what we can shetehei shem shomayim misaheiv al yodeinu (to sanctify God’s name by our own hand).

We follow the midos (character traits) of Hashem yisborach, ma hu chanun af aatah tehei chanun, ma hu rachum a f ata tehei rachum. We have mercy on Hashem’s creations. We treat them with gentle kindness.

We strive in every one of our daily actions to cause people to want to draw closer to Hashem, and appreciate that Yisroel, v’oraisah v’kudsha brich hu chad hu (Israel, the Torah and God are one) is more than a collection of funny words we sing on Simchas Torah, but that learning Torah transforms us into Godly people.

We don’t judge our behavior by comparing ourselves to the uncultured and unlearned, we judge ourselves by what our Avos and Imahos (patriarchs and matriarchs) would say about us. We make a cheshbon hanefesh (introspection) each night as we put our heads on our pillows and wonder what we could have done better that day.  

I’d venture to say, screaming Nazi, burning garbage pails, working that the frum parties should have weaker representation in the Knesset and strengthening the hands of those who seek to impoverish all bnei Torah and draft the younger ones into the army are not things that pass muster in any honest cheshbon hanefesh.  

Not that long ago gedolim worked with mesirus nefesh to get people to the polls to vote for Gimmel.
It was a chov kadosh (a holy obligation).

What happened to that chov?

Who of us can take the responsibility for what will take place if the chareidim are out of the next coalition?