Sunday, January 29, 2012

A one way street

In his weekly Mishpacha magazine column Yonasan Rosenblum told the following story.

He was in South Africa for the first Sinai Indaba and he had a debate with R' Moshe Taragin a Rebbe from Gush (a product of YU and R' Lichtenstein and a big Talmid Chacham) on the Charedi vs Dati Leumi perspective. He writes that he was impressed that R' Taragin was very fair in the debate and even praised the Charedi community. A few weeks ago R' Taragin invited him to Gush to speak to the American Talmidim about the Charedi community given what was going on. The next day R' Taragin sent him a 9 minute video detailing all of the chesed work done by the Charedi community as a response to the media storm from the events in Bet Shemesh.

Now we come to a very interesting admission by Yonasan Rosenblum and I quote:

I was deeply touched by the gesture. But it also forced me to ask myself a question. Had the national religious community been under a similar assault in the secular press as it frequently is, would I have spent any time looking for videos highlighting the wonderful aspects of that community in order to lessen the public outcry? And if not why not?

I think the answer to his question is very clear. The YU/R' Lichtenstein world has never delegitimized the Charedi world. They have very clear ideological differences the role of secular studies and the significance of the State of Israel and other issues), but they have always said that while we may disagree on those we agree on so many other things, namely, limud hatorah and kiyum hamitzvos. They have never called the Charedi leaders kofrim or mocked them. People in the YU world give money to Charedi causes and go to hear shiurim from Charedi Rabbis.

However, the same can not be said for the Charedi world. There is a general attitude in the Charedi world of thoroughly delegitimizing all those who do not follow the one true Charedi way, and having no respect for such people. It is found in the leadership, in the charedi media, and in the street. The Charedi world insists that it has the one true path and everyone else is wrong. They delegitimize everything else. R' Shach made the statement that it is a disgrace to call Hesder yeshivos, yeshivos, he made a similar statement about Maarava. The Charedi world would mock RYBS and did not give him the respect that he deserves. RHS would never be invited to speak at a Charedi event. At the recent Aguda convention Modern Orthodox were compared to misyavnim.

So IMHO the answer to his question is very clear, he would not search for videos because that would legitimize the Dati Leumi position in some way and that cannot be done by a true Charedi.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel believe in God

YNet has published a comprehensive study about religious attitudes among Israeli Jews and the results should once and for all destroy the myth that the Chilonim are anti-religious and out to make the Charedim not religious.

Here are some of the important numbers:

How do you define yourself?

7% Charedi
15% Religious
32% Traditional (Masorti)
43% Chiloni but not anti-religious
3% Chiloni anti religious

Belief in God, reward and punishment etc.

80%  believe in God
80% believe that people are rewarded for good deeds
77% believe that God intervenes in the running of the world (the hand of God)
74% believe that evil deeds are punished
72% believe that prayer is effective
67% believe that the Jewish people are the "Chosen People"

Life events (birth, marraige, death)

94% do a Bris Mila
92% sit shiva
90% say kaddish for parents

Observance of Shabbos

84% spend time with family
69% have a special meal
66% light candles
The bad news is that there still is a long way to go in terms of Shabbos:
65% watch TV
37% do sports
16% go shopping


63% separate between meat and milk
76% eat kosher in their house
70% eat kosher outside their house
72% will not eat pork under any circumstances

I have to say that these numbers are in many ways a welcome picture. Most of the people believe not only in God but in reward and punishment, prayer, and in the uniqueness of the Jewish people. This should tell us that there are tremendous opportunities to bring people back to mitzvos if only we approach them in the right way. The basis/spark is there, we only need to figure out how to light it. Unfortunately the events of the past few weeks have only made things much harder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pre-Matan Torah Jews in RBS B

Rafi has an eyewitness account from the woman who was attacked in RBS B.

Charedi sources are reporting accounts that she was a provocateur and that she picked up her shirt when the Avreichim yelled at her. I find that very hard to believe as she is a traditional Sefardic woman (just look at her last name Moshiach), just doing her job putting up posters.

In any case whatever she did there is absolutely no justification for what was done to her. Where in Halacha is there a justification to destroy her property (throwing rocks and damaging her car) no matter how she is dressed? What justification is there to physically assault her? These are serious issurim d'oraysa. It is very sad that there are so called Charedi Jews who believe that this is the behavior that the Torah wants from us. What kind of chinuch creates people who are ready to lynch a woman no matter how she is dressed? The fact is that this woman while wearing pants was not dressed in a revealing manner. The Chazon Ish once commented on the  Kannoim in Yerushalayim that they were pre-matan torah Jews, meaning  that their actions were not guided by torah but by emotion. Unfortunately nothing has changed in 60 years.

The people who did this call themselves kannoim, however the question that needs to be asked is can these people really be called kannoim? Please take a look at this post Who is a real kannoi? for the answer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taking responsibility for events that happen in a community

R' Slifkin (An Example of a True Gadol), refers to a speech that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein gave after the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin where he does some serious introspection about the murder and what led to it. He doesn't blame anyone else and try to bury this under the rug. He deals with the issues head on and accepts some level of responsibility for events that happened in his larger community. The contrast between R' Lichtenstein's approach and the approach that we see today is startling.

It is also amazing how relevant this essay is to the events of today. Substitute spitting on little girls, violence, Nazi imagery, etc. for Rabin's murder and every word that R' Aharon wrote applies to the current situation. In the essay he brings out 3 points worth of reflection:

1. The self-confidence that arises from commitment and devotion to a world of values and eternal truths - whether in terms of Torat Yisrael or Eretz Yisrael - sometimes has led to frightening levels of self-certainty and ultimately to arrogance.
2. we have promoted simplicity and shallowness ([my addition]e.g. there is only one true Torah derech)
3. Sometimes we taught our students to belittle and suspect others. One who doesn't agree with us is criminal, not merely mistaken.Any opportunity to credit a public leader with good intention was rejected in order to credit him with alienation, with hostility, with malice - not a suspicion of evil, but a certainty!

The essay has a lot more to say and I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Posek Hador is disconnected from the Dor

This is the headline of an article in todays YNet (in Hebrew).

Basically the article says that many in the Charedi world believe that R' Elyashiv doesn't really know what is going on in the outside world and that access to him is tightly controlled. The last letter that was published in his name was basically no, (see R' Elyashiv's No's - No to Nachal Charedi, No to Charedi colleges, No to Charedi job programs), no to Nachal Charedi, no to Charedi colleges, no to Charedi job programs with complete disregard to the desperate poverty in the Charedi street. In fact, things have gotten so bad that some people took his last letters to a graphologist to see if the signatures were real (see גרפולוג: חתימתו של הרב אלישיב זויפה).

Here is one quote from the article:

במכתבו האחרון של הרב אלישיב, שזכה למעמד איקוני למרות הספקות הכבדים באמינותו - נשמעה בעיקר המילה "לא": לא לכל אמצעי שיעזור לאנשים מהמגזר להתפרנס בכבוד. וכשיש אלפי ילדים שרעבים ללחם, במובן הכי פשוט וישיר של המושג - יש משהו בלתי נתפס בהתעלמות הבוטה מהמצוקות שמשדר השטח. היא לא אנושית ובטח שלא יהודית, והיא מצביעה על כך שלא באמת ברור לו, לרב אלישיב, מצבו האמיתי של צאן מרעית

במסכת ברכות בתלמוד (דף כ"ח), מתוארת סיטואציה של מחלוקת בין שני רבנים. באקט של פיוס מגיע המנהיג

מביניהם ל"סולחה" אצל חברו, ומוצא את קירות ביתו שחורים - כיאה לייצרן פחמים בזוי. הרב-האורח הפטיר בתמיהה למארחו, כי לא ידע שזה מצבו. השיב לו בעל הבית: "אוי לו לדור שאתה פרנסו, שאי אתה יודע בצערן של תלמידי חכמים".

רב מתבקש להיות מעורב חברתית. הוא נדרש לאינטימיות עם הבריות - מתוקף תפקידו. לי לפחות (אוח, הגירודים האלה), לא ברור האם כבוד הרב אלישיב באמת נכנס לעומקם של אותם "בתים מושחרים"; האם פתח מקררים ריקים, לפני שהכריז את מה שהכריז קבל עם ועיתון - או שאין הוא יודע בצערם של תלמידי חכמים, או של יהודים בכלל. אני מאמינה יותר באפשרות השנייה. לצערי, אפילו חותמת עליה.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Can someone who spits on little girls, embarrasses women on buses, throws rocks, etc. be called a קנאי?

Given everything that has happened in the past few weeks and actions by people who claim to be קנאים, the question that needs to be asked is can these people really be called kannoim?

After Shimon and Levi destroy the city of Shechem Yakov is very angry with them and asks them why they exposed their family to danger, they answer, הכזונה יעשה את אחותינו. Yaakov Avinu does not respond at that point but does respond when he gives the shevatim their berachos in this weeks parsha, ויחי. Yaakov says about Shimon and Levi, כלי חמס מכירותיהם, clearly negative and then he says אפיצם ביעקב אחלקם בישראל, that they will be spread around. However, Rashi comments that Yaakov was saying that they will be the מלמדים and סופרים for the Jewish people.

R' Yaakov Kamenetsky asks why should they be the כלי קדש? Yaakov Avinu was not happy with their actions. He answers that to be a כלי קדש you need to be a kannoi. Things have to bother you and you have to act on it.

R' Yaakov then pointed out that Levi fulfilled the beracha while Shimon did not. Levi rallied to Moshe Rabenu's side when he said מי לה' אלי by the עגל, however, Shimon did not. In fact, Shimon used his קנאות for bad in the מעשה of זמרי where the נשיא of Shimon was a kannoi against Moshe Rabenu and acted out his desires. And in fact, who killed Zimri, Pinchas from Shevet levi.

What was the difference between Shimon and Levi? R' Yaakov answers, Torah. Levi learned torah in מצרים and was therefore able to harness his קנאות to torah while Shimon was busy working and therefore his קנאות was not bound by torah and turned out to be a terrible thing.

The Chazon Ish once commented on the Kannoim in Yerushalayim that they were pre-matan torah Jews, meaning that their actions were not guided by torah but by emotion. This is a very bad thing which leads people to do terrible aveiros.

Unfortunately, this is the case of today's kannoim as well. They are pre-matan torah Jews like Shimon. Their קנאות is causing them to violate very serious aveiros for which they cannot do teshuva. They have been מזיק and stole from who knows how many people, an aveira from which there is no כפרה until you return the גזילה\היזק. There is absolutely no heter whatsoever to destroy public property to make a מחאה, it is simply גזילה from the ציבור. In addition, they have created a terrible chillul hashem, again an aveira with no kappara. Why? because their kanaus is not defined by Torah but by their emotions.

When R' Weiss was appointed the Av Beis Din of the Eidah Charedis people complained that he wasn't a big kannoi. The Satmar rebbe said that anyone can be a kannoi overnight, to become a Talmid Chacham like R' Weiss takes 20 years.

This is exactly the problem today, everyone is a kannoi but how many kannoim have their kanaus defined by the Torah?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

R' Aharon Lichtenstein on Daas Torah

R' Lichtenstein spoke on Chanuka about Daas Torah his talk has been transcribed and published here:

His main point is that torah knowledge alone is not enough and a person needs to have daas as well as Torah to be a leader.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Haredi State

Have you always dreamed about living to see the establishment of two states for two peoples? The dream has long since come true. Fantasized about a welfare state? Look no further, it's here. Demonstrated for affordable housing? Behold, it is now reality. Striving for a country not drained by enormous security budgets? You've already got it. Demanded classes with few pupils, a long school day, and free higher education? All these dreams have come true in the Haredi State, living in peace alongside the State of Israel. 
The Haredi State is a welfare state that would make the Scandinavians jealous. Most inhabitants are supported by pensions and stipends, and are almost completely exempt from income tax and municipal taxes.
Fortunately, the Haredi State has no army and needs none, thanks to the defense treaty with its closest neighbor. 
The fiscal agreements between the two states, regulating funding of the Haredi state by Israeli taxpayers, are ironclad, as are the military agreements guaranteeing protection from the Israeli army and the judiciary agreement giving the Haredi State control over matters of matrimony, divorce and burial. However, the actual border line between the new states has never been clearly drawn. Therefore it is only natural that the rapid growth of the Haredi population causes the border line to be moved every so often, as part of a slow - and ultimately justifiable - annexation of Israeli lands. This process of Haredi expansion and Israeli retreats has only one danger: The Haredi State might eventually lose the hand that feeds it.

You can read the whole article here: The Haredi State

From a chiloni point of view this article really hits home.


A Charedi satirical response to the secular press


This is actually quite good although way over the top. This is a good indication of how serious the Charedi world thinks the situation is. They truly believe that the Chilonim are out to get them, in fact R' Shteinman said just that yesterday (see where R' Shteinman calls the Chilonim Erev Rav who hate the Jews).  I think that they truly believe that the Chilonim want to wipe them out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

R' Shteinman's response to recent events

I am not going to translate the letter word for word instead I will try to elucidate it's main messages. The letter has 3 main points:
1. Both the Gemara and Tur/Shulchan Aruch state explicitly that a man should love his wife like he loves himself and give his wife more respect then he gives himself and therefore it is clear that among the Charedim the honor and respect of women is paramount. However, the Gemara does say that a man should not walk behind a woman.
2. The No True Scotsman defense. Based on 1 if any events occurred that disrespected women the perpetrators do not represent the general Charedi population.
3. It is pointless to try to convince some people in the general population of this because some of them  are doing this to attack the Charedi population.

This letter is clearly for internal consumption only. What is pathetic is the reaction of the Charedi press to the letter. Since it was written by one of the "Gedolim" they have to pump it up and make it seem as if this letter answers all of the questions raised by events of recent weeks. However, in truth, with all due respect to R' Shteinman this letter doesn't say anything new whatsoever and repeats the same defense that we have been hearing for days/weeks.

Mishpacha wrote the following describing the letter:
The publication of this letter was received with great satisfaction in all segments of the [Charedi] population because it contains an explanation and a clarification of a matter that is arousing disputes and arguments between torah observant Jews and those who are not yet observant.


Sunday, January 01, 2012

R' Chaim Kanievsky: Is Bet Shemesh in America?

This video shows how disconnected the "gedolim" are from what is going on and how dependent they are on "askanim" to get them the facts. Therefore it is hard to trust anything they say about contemporary issues. Does anyone believe that R' Elyashiv actually read the Mishpacha magazine/newspaper before banning it?

Mishpacha has been banned by R' Elyashiv

Shortly after coming out with a free Tuesday paper distributed in Charedi neighborhoods, Mishpacha has been banned by R' Elyashiv for distorting/falsifying the torah haskafa. It will be very interesting to see Mishpacha's response as well as the impact that this has on their readership.