Friday, November 24, 2023

Sickened by a Charedi Rosh Yeshiva!

Rabbi Yisroel Bunim Schreiber (Rationalist Judaism)
It’s hard to imagine a more disgusting approach to fellow Jews than is the approach of one respected Rosh Yeshiva in Israel. Rabbi Natan Slifkin notes that he is on the more extreme end of the Charedi world. But unlike Neturei Kara Rabbi Yisroel Bunim Schreiber is not outside of it. He apparently has a lot of respect and influence in that world.

What he said in a filmed interview shocked even me. And I’ve been around the block a few times. I know full well that there are unapologetic extremists in the Charedi world that have a lot of influence. One need look no further than the late R’ Shmuel Auerbach and his devoted students. But Rabbi Schreiber takes the cake. From Rationalist Judaism.

During a recent talk to a group of yeshiva students in Jerusalem, apparently mostly or all from Mir, Rav Schreiber was asked what their attitude should be towards soldiers in the IDF, and whether they should express gratitude. Note that while many charedi shuls in Israel are saying tehillim for “the situation,” very few will actually specify the IDF. Rav Schreiber explains why one need not feel gratitude to the soldiers or even concerned for the injured...  here is a translation of some extracts:

“There’s no need to express gratitude to soldiers fighting in Gaza any more than to street cleaners.”

“The soldiers who draft are nebuchs. I don’t think anyone drafts willingly… if there was no obligatory draft, nobody would join, other than perhaps a few crazy mizrochniks…. They do it because they have to do it…. Why is there any need to have appreciation any more than with a plumber? …If a doctor heals you for free, then you should certainly thank him. But if he charges money? Then very nice, that’s his job! And if he’s forced to heal you, you don’t thank him.”

“ ‘Our relationship to the injured?’ Who says that there needs to be a relationship? What’s your connection to them? Why do you need to have a relationship with them?”

“A ‘community tragedy’ is not if 1200 people were killed… A community tragedy is one that affects everyone.”

“ The Meron tragedy? Lehavdil! Lehavdil! You feel connected because they were your friends, they were your family, they were your people.”

“Acknowledgment of good? For the entity called ‘The State of Israel,’ regarding which it is superfluous to talk about our opinion, there is no ‘acknowledgement’ and no ‘good.’”

I don’t even know where to begin. The idea that he is entitled to his opinion on this matter differs little from an opinion that says Hamas was justified in its barbaric massacre of 1200 innocent Jews. 

Do not misunderstand. I am not saying that they have the same degree of moral repugnance. Of course they don’t. But morally repugnant they both are. It is morally repugnant to not be grateful to those who are literally risking their lives to protect them. It is morally repugnant to say that one should feel pain only when religious Jews get hurt. 

It’s one thing to be opposed to the state of Israel and by default  the IDF. But to tell people they should not care about the life and limb of Jews that are not like him is a level of  insensitivity I would never have expected from a mainstream Charedi Rosh Yeshiva, no matter how far to the right he is. 

In my view, Rabbi Schreiber’s ingratitude for the IDF is so low that condemnation alone is not enough. If the rest of the Charedi leadership does not do more that the mild rebuke that forced him to make a non-apology, then they are not leaders at all. At the very least he should be removed from his position as Rosh Yeshiva

And yet, sure as I’m sitting here, that will not happen. Most rabbinic leaders of the Charedi world are elder statesmen whose Torah credentials make them widely respected. Anyone that would show any disrespect to them along the lines I suggest will be given the boot. They will be considered Chutz L'Machaneh - outside the camp of authentic Judaism! 

Nonetheless, I don’t know how any sane, intelligent, seriously religious Jew of any stripe can ever look this Rosh Yeshiva in the face again, with any degree of respect.\

I doubt that his opinion has any real sway on the vast majority of the Charedi world. Especially the Mir where Rav Chaim Shmuelvitz went out of his way to publicly express gratitude to the IDF. 

I guess he thinks R’ Chaim was a fool. But R’ Chaim was no less Charedi that Rabbi Schreiber is.  And that he has any sway at all on any Jew is beyond troubling.

Off my soapbox.