Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A People Extremely Apart

This is what they protest! (Jerusalem Post)
These Jews of Ramat Bet Shemesh-B  are not my people. Anyone that can behave the way this crowd did, cannot possibly be from the seed of Israel. One look at the video below will explain why. No words are necessary.

I realize that to consider fellow Jews not part of our people is an astonishing comment. Especially when these Jews are so meticulous in so many other aspects of Judaism.

There is not a doubt in my mind that most of them pay close attention to detail and go beyond the letter of the law in many of the Mitzvos.  Whether it’s Shabbos or Kashrus;  Tefilla, or Torah study…  Or simply the idea of wearing clothing that is designed by Jews – for Jews. So as to avoid violating Chukas HaGoy – the prohibition in the Torah of emulating non Jews (as they interpret it).  They look to their rabbinic leaders as icons. And follow their every directive – their every word!

One can admire their vigilance in going as far as they do – even if we disagree with their interpretation of Halacha and with the Chumros they have accepted upon themselves. They live that way because they believe their way of life is the most pristine way of observing the Torah. Living their lives in a higher state of holiness. We can and even should admire people that sacrifice so much in service of God. As long as they don’t impose that way of life on others. And by living isolated lives for the most part, they don’t.

So how can I say I don’t consider them part of my people- that they are not from the seed of Israel? Because of the behavior seen in that video.  Behavior that keeps happening.  

Degrading a fellow human being because he joined the army – especially in army units that are geared towards the Charedi way of life is not how Jews act. No matter how much you disagree with him. You can preach your disagreement from the mountaintops. I don’t  care. And they have that right. But when you keep doing things like what this video shows. You are doing far more than expressing a view. You are ‘murdering’people by ‘whitening their faces’. The Gemarah compares embarrassing a fellow Jew to murder.

Even though I don’t agree with I understand their objections. But I do not understand how they express them.  It isn’t just a few people that feel this way. It is all of them.  Most of them do have the will to out and protest. But enough of them do and often! Which means they agree with their goals if not with their methods. (I’m not sure they don’t agree with their methods as well. They might just be too scared to do it themselves.) 

They see a fellow like this as a traitor. And harass him a lot more than a non Charedi soldier. Who are they to make that decision? Who guides them in making these kinds of protests? It can’t be that their leaders are opposed to it – but they simply can’t control the mob. Or that these are just extremists and are not condoned.

They ARE condoned. If anyone of their rabbinic leaders have spoken up and condemned them  (like any member of the Eida HaCharedis for example) I haven’t heard about it. But even if they did say something, I don’t believe them. This can’t keep happening without at least the tacit approval by their leadership. There are too many people doing it. Too many times.

That other more moderate Charedi leaders have not said or done enough to condemn – or more importantly to prevent any further protests like this is a good question. I think they should. But at the same time I don’t think it will change anything. Nor will it help to put participants in a protests like this in jail. (That is in fact what happened. This was apparently a sting operation according to Rafi’s blog, Life in Israel. But it doesn't matter. The protesters didn’t know that.) Putting the in jail will just make them mad. And generate even more protests perhaps even violent ones with more people attending them. 

The only thing that will help is for  their own leadership to act. They must put the same energy into stopping this kind of thing as they do exhorting their people into leading the kind of religious life they otherwise lead. the They clearly are not doing that. Inaction on their part is at least tacit approval. Even if they might pay lip-service objection to it.

This is why I say these are not my people. They may technically be Jews. They were born of a Jewish mother. But so too was Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter, founder of ‘Murder Incorporated’. Being born a Jew is not enough. One must act like one in order to be considered a part of the Tzibur of Klal Yisroel – the Klal. If one is Poresh from the Tzibur, then he is by definition not a  part of it.

With the kind of constant behavior shown in this video they have removed themselves from the nation.  Even though their Mitzvah observance is exemplary. And their Chesed towards like minded Jews is superlative (which I am told it is). It is not extended to those outside of their general religious worldview. 

They do not behave in the manner of our patriarch Abraham who was renowned and is remembered for his kindness towards his fellow man. Even if they didn’t deserve it - as evidenced by his plea before God to spare the people of Sodom. Which is why I question whether they are actually descended from the seed of Israel.

I don’t think I will ever be able to go into these kinds of neighborhoods again and look at the people there the same way I have in the past: as exemplars of people going the extra mile in service of God. 

I’m sorry but I can’t help the way I feel. I now have a sense of contempt for them as a group until such time things change. And the only chance of that happening, it seems, is never.