Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Enemy Worth Fighting Against



Sunday saw 20,000 Satmar Chassidim hold a protest rally in Manhattan against the proposed draft of yeshivah students into the IDF. Regardless of what one thinks about yeshivah students being drafted, the protest was, of course, a horrible idea, for reasons discussed previously. To hold a protest in Jerusalem is one thing - but to hold one in Manhattan? To join forces with Satmar, for whom the event is effectively a hatefest against the State of Israel in general? To empower those who claim that Israel is religiously intolerant? To sit at a dais where the speakers are describing Israel as an "evil regime," and talking about how “the very existence of the state is a rebellion against God” and about how “the [Israeli] army was founded on murder and blood spilling”?!

Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky and other mainstream American charedi Litvishe figures, including the Lakewood establishment, were not in favor of the rally, following instructions from Rav Chaim Kanievsky. (It's rather sad that leaders of the charedi community in the US feel a need to say that they are following instructions from Israel.) This was despite Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel claiming that Rav Kanievsky supported the rally, and even a letter of support from Rav Kanievksy - subsequently ingeniously revealed to be a clever forgery.

However, the Satmar rabbis on the dais were joined by a small number of the more extremist Litvishe roshei yeshivah. The list reads like a who's who of people who were involved with the campaign against my books - Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Aharon Schechter, etc. Rabbi Moshe Meiselman was also there (he's on the left in the picture), which doubtless comes as a great shock to some supporters of Toras Moshe and other people who, inexplicably, see him as some sort of moderate, mainstream figure.

Anyway, I would like to comment on one of the flyers that was distributed, urging people to attend the event - which presumably means leaving the Beis HaMidrash to do so. It stresses the gravity of the situation, that Torah students in Israel are threatened with being forced away from the study of Torah, the real lifeblood and protection of the Jewish Nation. It urges those in the United States to join forces with their brethren in Eretz Yisrael who are battling this threat. And, right at the top of the flyer, it quotes a passuk from the Torah for a rallying cry:

"Shall your brothers go to war, while you sit here?"

Yes, you read that correctly. The very words stated by Moshe Rabbeinu in order to urge the tribes of Gad and Reuven to join the rest of the nation in the army, are being used here to urge people to protest against joining the rest of the nation in the army! Alas, the irony appears lost on them. Incredibly, it appears that they genuinely did not realize that the passuk means the exact opposite of how they employed it.

The flyer, and indeed the event itself, are extremely revealing. Charedim claim exemption from military service on the grounds that their Torah study provides the true protection. But, as we have noted on several previous occasions, they don't really believe that at all. When it comes to a cause that they really support - an enemy that is truly important for them to fight against - they don't trust in their Torah to help. Instead, they leave the Beis HaMidrash and resort to regular, secular methods of battle: protest rallies at sites of secular significance.

There's another point of interest in the flyer. It declares that Klal Yisrael is united, as one man with one heart, in support of this rally. Now, that might sound odd, in light of the fact that not only was this rally not supported by Reform, Conservative, secular, Modern Orthodox, or national-religious Jews, but it wasn't even supported by most charedi Jews. However, the fact is that Satmar and their ilk simply do not see these others as actually being part of Klal Yisrael, to all intents and purposes. Which, as I discussed in my post The Tragedy Of Segregation, is an unfortunate, but all too common, feature of ultra-Orthodoxy.

77 comments:

  1. The list reads like a who's who of people who were involved with the campaign against my books...

    You should be proud to have such enemies.

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  2. Where is the picture of Rabbi Meiselman from? I looked all over the internet and didn't find anything mentioning his supposed participation.

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  3. ttp://dusiznies.blogspot.com/2013/06/rabbi-noach-oelbaum-and-rabbi-moshe.html

    http://www.vosizneias.com/132880/2013/06/09/new-york-in-photos-thousands-of-satmars-demonstrate-against-israeli-charedi-draft/

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  4. The we're-learning-so-we-can't-enlist excuse doesn't even apply to chassidim, who have not adopted lifelong kollel learning in the same way the Litvish world has. Their whole campaign is disingenuous from beginning to end.

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  5. It is my understanding that Satmar do not take any funding from the state of Israel and therefore are independent financially. I also know many Satmar Charedim and they are not fanatical in any way. They believe, like you, what they believe.
    Whilst I respect your posts and find them interesting, I cannot help but feel your preoccupation with the Charedim is in itself should invite reflection as why it is such a preoccupation for you. As my teacher says:
    "whatever is on the outside reflects what is on the inside".
    Very few of us live up to our ideals, or the ideals of others who irritate us for various reasons. This is usually because we recognize in them what we don't like about ourselves or traits we envy in some way.
    Maybe we should look for the points we have in common with those souls, no matter how difficult it seems rather than pointing out the endless differences and inconsistencies we find in human nature.
    It is interesting to note that the Bible remains the number one bestseller year after year. This isn't because it is rationalist, far from it. It is precisely because it defies rationality that it continues to hold fascination. This, for me, is one area where the Charedim are strong and, as such, they are an invaluable part of the whole. None of the writings of modern orthodox or other groups touch the depths that their writings can. That only comes from dedication to the goal.
    I spent many years studying philosophy and found it wanting. Mount Sinai, was, I understand, about embracing the irrational as commanded, not being directed to the local job centre to become worthy citizens. Besides, with all the corruption and other uncivilised behaviour one witnesses in Israel today, like any other nation, what is there to inspire anyone to follow that example?

    Respectfully yours,

    Paul

    (formally of All Souls College, Oxford)

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  6. atzilut1 - Are you serious? Do you actually believe that Chareidi hashkafic writings today are deeper than those being produced in the Centrist Orthodox sector? I would very much like you to give an example, as I believe the opposite to be the truth. Current Chareidi hashkafic writing is, if anything, noteworthy for being shallow.

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  7. Would someone who was formerly of All Souls College, Oxford really write "formally"?

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  8. "It is my understanding that Satmar do not take any funding from the state of Israel and therefore are independent financially." If you drive on the roads, use the phone system, electricity, water, sewer, etc. etc. etc. You cannot be "financially independent". That's an absurd canard Satmar uses all the time.

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  9. "Rabbi Moshe Meiselman was also there (he's on the left in the picture), which doubtless comes as a great shock to some supporters of Toras Moshe and other people who, inexplicably, see him as some sort of moderate, mainstream figure."

    Are there really people who see him as moderate? I would have thought otherwise, after his revisionism of the Rav, and his Torah-science stance.

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  10. >>> It is my understanding that Satmar do not take any funding from the state of Israel and therefore are independent financially.

    what nonsense. who pays for the hospitals they go to , for the roads they drive on, the vast infrastructure of a modern state, the army that protects them, etc....
    I'm certain the poverty level earnings and the taxes (that many avoid paying) pays for all this.

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  11. using ha'acheichem as a rallying cry against universal draft has to be one of the most absurd and ironic things I have ever heard. Imagine bnei gad and reuvain using it to gather fellow tribesman to argue against moshe.
    what could be more ironic? using the first commandment to promote idol worship? And it would only add to the irony (if possible) if it was true they were not aware of basic pshat in Humash - pshat that I would guess many secular Israelis would be aware of. Maybe they do need more time in the beit midrash.

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  12. At least the two Satmar Rebbes have something that they hate more than they hate each other! They deserve some credit for that.

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  13. That rally is such an embarrassment. Thses galut Jews have no shame.

    Let them go march into jail then if they want to go to jail so badly. I guess with all those "sitting" nowadays, people think jail is no big deal.

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  14. > The list reads like a who's who of people who were involved with the campaign against my books

    Can we then assume that they will soon be charged with some crime or another? It seems to be the pattern with critics of your book...

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  15. "If you drive on the roads, use the phone system, electricity, water, sewer, etc. etc. etc. You cannot be "financially independent". That's an absurd canard Satmar uses all the time."

    This is actually a terribly silly (and halachically invalid) point. Those pieces of infrastructure were constructed for the general public, and their use cannot be avoided via an internally created alternative. Satmar have no ability to build their own, Satmar-only roads, phone systems, etc. And by "no ability" I don't mean "lack the technical skills" but "lack the legal wherewithal" (which makes the question of technical skills irrelevant).

    In the context of "you ask for tax breaks and take welfare but don't serve?!", the statement that Satmar don't take any funding from the state is perfectly reasonable.

    Whether it's true or a useful point, I take no position on.

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  16. Akiva - In your opinion do the Satmar have a requirement of Hakorat Hatov for the access to and utilization of the infrastructure?

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  17. What is the state of the Satmar education system outside of limudei kodesh? Can those boys in the picture read the signs they are holding?

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  18. In a discussion about hypocrisy, I think it's relevant if rabbi slifkin could elaborate a little on his own sherut leumi...?

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  19. Well, I wasn't expecting quite so much reaction to my post. Firstly to reply to EE's comment. Yes, I would say formally, because I have a form of dyslexia, which doesn't compromise my ability to think as required, though I am often guilty of making elementary mistooks;) I've worked with people who were borderline geniuses, but couldn't even remember who they were or perform even the most elementary tasks. Life is beautifully fractured in its symmetry at times.
    Regarding Scott's comment, I would welcome any example and am aware there are those in the Charedi community who are not as deep as they may appear. However, I am perhaps biased having known many who are deeply humble men doing their best to learn and explore Torah. I myself am merely a beginner on that path. The question of approach is deeply personal in terms of what resonates within each of us.
    So, what is the solution? More persecution? Or can someone come up with a solution that actually integrates apparently opposing lifestyles. And, as no one has yet responded to my point, what really is there to inspire in the secular Israeli life, against the Satmar and other Charedim?




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  20. "Akiva - In your opinion do the Satmar have a requirement of Hakorat Hatov for the access to and utilization of the infrastructure?"

    -Jeff, I don't know enough about the halachik/philosophical boundaries of hakarat hatov to say definitively. But off the top of my head, I'd say they have no more of an obligation in that regard than any other Israeli; roads are a communal project to which all taxpayers contributed.

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  21. " None of the writings of modern orthodox or other groups touch the depths that their writings can. "

    Atzilut, based on that statement I have to think you haven't read anything written by the Rav or Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, for example

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  22. There was one good thing about this rally:

    It appears to have been ignored by the non-Jewish media.

    That last thing we need is to have mainstream media coverage of an anti-Israel rally of JEWS.

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  23. Akiva-
    I would add Rav Eliezer Berkowitz to the list of great thinkers from the non-Haredi Orthodox world. He was willing to confront questions that the Haredi thinkers have great difficulty with including the Holocaust and even more basic questions like "what is the relevancy of the Torah in the modern world?". So many Haredi thinkers have an attitude similar to that of Timothy Leary...."turn on and tune in (to Torah) and drop out", in other words "we have a perfect society, join us and forget about everything outside of it".

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  24. "the Bible remains the number one bestseller year after year. This isn't because it is rationalist, far from it. It is precisely because it defies rationality that it continues to hold fascination. This, for me, is one area where the Charedim are strong"

    With almost no exceptions, Ashkenazic charedim neither study Bible nor write about it.

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  25. You are correct, Akiva, that I haven't read anything by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, except a brief synopsis of his views.
    However, given a choice between reading his works and those of Rabbi Nachman's Likutey Moharan, I know which I would choose. However, its purely a personal choice, like most things.

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    1. Huh? Aside from that being your personal preference which you admit is based on conjecture since you haven't read the other works, Rebbe Nachman is pre-haredi, so how does choosing his works over Rabbi Lichtenstein assert the superiority of haredi writings?

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  26. Interpreting events such as this, and the attitudes behind them, requires adopting - for the purpose of analysis - the point of view of the group in question.

    In this case, let us assume that the Satmar and their Charedi supporters believe that Zionism and the State of Israel are illegitimate; that the IDF is not engaged in a Halachically permissible activity, let alone a Milchemet Mitzvah; and that Limud Torah does in fact protect the true people of Israel. Let us further assume that, stretching the Talmudic dictum that a Shabbat violator has the legal status of a non-Jew with regard to certain laws, it is possible for one to remove himself from the category of "Jew" by one's behaviour.

    In light of these attitudes, the application of the pasuk on the sign makes perfect sense: How can a Jew sit by when his brothers are engaged in milchamto shel Torah to protect whole Jewish nation - which is under assault by estranged former Jews! Not only that, but these former Jews, who have willfully left the camp, have usurped the title Jewish Nation for themselves. It is as though some Christian would claim the Holy Land on the grounds that Jesus was Jewish, revealed a new covenant and the Church was the New Israel - the legitimate successor the to the Divine Promises.

    From their perspective there is no irony, no excess and no misapplication of Torah or halachah here. To engage them you must address them on their own turf. Show how "zayaftem Toratchem" (b'li guzmah).

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  27. Paul,

    "what really is there to inspire in the secular Israeli life, against the Satmar and other Charedim?"

    Let's assume for a second that there's a scale of insularity, and all Jews are on that scale, roughly in a bell curve.

    The three points you mentioned are 5, 95, and 60-90.

    It is thus very hard to answer your question.

    But if you ask what is there to inspire among "secular" Israelis? A great deal. A passion for justice. A passion to contribute to the world. Kindness and caring, for all human beings. A passion for truth. The drive to ameliorate suffering wherever in the world it may be found.

    I'm speaking of the current generation. The past few generations had other qualities - such as self-sacrifice and a passion for working the land and building it. That is not present in the current generation (mainly because it's pretty much built), but still deserves our Hakarat HaTov.

    We have not yet spoken about the entire middle section of Israel, which comprises people who are observant, but not committed to Torah to its fullest, and more relevant in this blog - people who are committed to Torah in its fullest, who study it and teach it, yet work for a living, and serve as needed.

    For the record, R' Nachman is not a good example, having died 200 years ago, and being a part of a different polarization of Chassidim vs Mitnagdim, not related to the current situation.

    R' Aharon Lichtenstein and R' Berel Wein are still living, may Hashem continue to bless them with long productive lives.

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  28. As for the use of that pasuk in this context, the irony is of Biblical proportions.

    If, as the Midrash says, Eliyahu HaNavi and Melech HaMoshiach are writing down our deeds, this is going to have its own chapter.

    And just as we try to understand what Yeravam ben Nevat was thinking when he printed up the flyers "Elu Elokecha Yisrael", we will need to understand, and JT attempted, what these people were thinking.

    It is very clear what they were NOT thinking. They did not, for one moment, consider the other side.

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  29. A friend of mine checked with a Satmar friend of his. He was almost sure that they did not realise that peshuto shel mikra has a rather different meaning to the one they intended. They are so far removed from real life that everything is interpreted in terms of its prior usage in Charedi discourse.

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  30. Rav Slifkin-
    That's the point....almost all of their propaganda in internally directed. They have no common language either with other Jews or with the non-Jewish world. Thus, their message is completely formed by their conceptual framework.
    As has been pointed out, when they claim that a belief that those not learning Torah should serve in the IDF or do national service, they use the argument of "freedom of religion", not because they really believe in it, but they simply view it as a buzzword that can be used in the small part of their message that they think might be received by outsiders. Considering that the "Women of the Wall" are also demanding "freedom of religion", is it reasonable to think these Haredim would be sympathetic to that "freedom of religion"?

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  31. First rational thing coming out of Lakewood in a long while.

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  32. Atzilut - you are, of course, free to read whoever you choose. You are not, however, free to proclaim that the folks you choose to read are deeper thinkers than the folks you have not ever read. It'd be a bit like a 12 year old proclaiming that his Chumash Rebbe was greater than the GRA - because he's heard great Torah from his Chumash Rebbe and none from the GRA. Or like a philosophy student who has only ever read Hegel proclaiming Hegel as the greatest of the philosophers.

    To make an informed comparison between the writings of the Modern Orthodox and the writings of the Chareidi world, you'd have to have read and understood both. Having, by your own admission, failed to do so, you are incompetent to speak on the subject.

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  33. From Rabbi Moshe Meiselman’s interview in Yated Ne’eman.

    http://www.yated.com/-the-identity-of-the-israeli-people-is-at-stake-understanding-the-current-situation-in-eretz-yisroel.0-949-7-.html

    ***********************

    “In fact, it is. The attempt of the current Israeli governmental coalition to impose its standards on an entire minority - chareidim - is totally against the concept of democracy as espoused by Jefferson and as practiced in America. While Bennett and Lapid may have the democratic right to believe that chareidim should be educated a certain way, they have no right to try to force this down their throats and prevent them from educating their children and young adults in the way that they have for thousands of years. Hamilton’s idea of the majority electing an elite to manage the affairs of the primitive masses was rejected by the American people as it was rejected by all western democracies.”

    ***********************

    I am surprised to learn that Rabbi Moshe Meiselman is a student and proponent of Jeffersonian democracy. Does he regularly set aside time from Torah learning to study the writings of the American founding fathers?
    Rabbi Meiselman is not disturbed that everywhere in the U.S. there are minimum secular education requirements that all students must fulfill. Luckily for the U.S., being the giant that it is, a volunteer army satisfies the requirements of defense. But were a draft necessary, would he argue that Kollel study is protecting America?

    Apparently, according to Rabbi Meiselman, formerly Traif America is now the model of political and social perfection. The permissive,licentious, hedonistic, materialistic, and morally relativistic culture of the U.S. are apparently not witnessed, and certainly not open to criticism.
    Sadly and perversely, Israel is his embodiment of evil. Even if the mainstream media is currently not paying so much attention to this rally, the antisemites in the form of neo-Nazis, Islamo-fascists and their allies and sympathizers will eventually use this rally in their propaganda campaign against Israel.

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  34. The פסוק in מטות reads יבאו not יצאו

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  35. To Akiva, I defy anyone to say they have read all and 'understood' both sets of works! Secondly, it doesn't make me incompetent, it just means I have come to a decision in which I predict there is little I could read from the modern orthodox camp that would persuade me otherwise. Judging by the level of disagreements on this and every other forum on Judaism regarding how one 'understands' Torah, Judaism etc, I would say we are going to be here for a very long time indeed.
    Since Chassidus actually contributed to what we term the formation of Charedi, I feel that Rabbi Nachman is relevant and, moreover, the factor of time has nothing to do with it. Wisdom is what lies beneath the human condition. The light is invariable, only we the receivers change, according to our senses, internal and external. That's why we can't agree.
    IMHO the battle has always been there, inside and out. Even within Charedi community there are numerous sub-groups, and sub-groups within sub-groups. It will always be so. How things will be decided in the future remains to be seen

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  36. It is important to know that charedism is a hefkerkite, a wild, audacious, irresponsible, self-righteous spasm. It reminds me of the 60s movement. These people are kooks. You are trying to analyze kooks and wondering why they make irrational statements. They are irrational. You ever try to talk to one of these guys? I'm talking about the leaders. I have. Whew. You don't have to be intimidated by them any more than you have to Jerry Rubin.

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  37. Gosh, a little too much anger, understandable as it may be. These are contentious times, with major changes about to affect the Hareidi world. No need to clang the alarum bells and better to keep the anger down, as the changes will happen on their own anyway, Bennett or no Bennett, Hareidi demonstrations, political machinations, dire threats of disasters and editorial meltdowns notwithstanding . The cloistering of men in seminaries was once a successful strategy in a time when Jews were prevented from economic activity, but revived, it's cracking under the current conditions for the same reason other archaic solutions fail: economic unsustainability. The Hareidi dream of a Jewish majority sitting around and studying all day while supported by everyone else will not happen, in spite of demographic projections by both sides, simply because such straight line projections of social phenomena,which assume static social and economic conditions in the modelling never happen in real life. We are witnessing the process now. Within a generation, the Hareidi in Israel will adopt the lifestyle of their counterparts in the US...as long as opportunities are made available. Peace, hugs and fluffies, bros!

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  38. "The attempt of the current Israeli governmental coalition to impose its standards on an entire minority - chareidim - is totally against the concept of democracy as espoused by Jefferson and as practiced in America." That's really specious logic. To impose the will on the minority for no good reason is non-Jeffersonian. The US government has never hesitated to impose the draft in a time of war, and Israel is in an ongoing state of war such that the US has never seen, ie true threat to survival.

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  39. Atilut1-
    The attitude that there is nothing to be learned from modern religious thinkers is a good example of the "turn on, tune in, drop out" philosophy that I mentioned above. Sure, there is a lot of good things in the writings of the thinkers of old, but there are modern problems they didn't deal with.....the problem of seculariztion, the problem of having most Jews not Torah-observant, the rise of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel and the myriad challenges it poses, the problem of having the surrounding society throw out all the values that all religions held by for centuries just a few decades ago. Many people don't want to have to think or worry about those things but many of us DO worry about these things.
    It is important to remember that today's non-observant Jews all had religious/Haredi ancestors, but most Jews jettisoned observance in the past couple of centuries. Sure, one can stick one's head in the sand and say they are not interested in understanding why and just pretend that the Haredim are somehow going to take over, but a mass-falling away could happen again. The reason most Jews abandoned observance was because they viewed Judaism as irrelevant and not addressing the crises that enveloped the Jewish world in the last couple of centuries. ( I should point out that a prominent thinker like Rav Natan Lopes Cardozo feels a major spiritual crisis is brewing once again and that the triumphalist approach of many Haredi spokesmen is misplaced). Thus, dismissing modern Jewish thinkers will leave those who ignore them without the kelim to deal with these vital questions of our time.

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  40. Rabbi Pinchos Jung was also there, and spoke in English. I remember him from when I was in Kol Yaakov, Monsey (2002-2004). Had no idea how extreme he was; he compares the IDF draft to the Greek persecutions! You can hear the "kiruv" side of him in the way he talks :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JeN9Y4fcEM

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  41. @PMEM 4:47 : My thoughts exactly! And what if the US draft comes back at some point? Will that mean the US is now also "at war" "against religion"?

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  42. It is important to know that charedism is a hefkerkite, a wild, audacious, irresponsible, self-righteous spasm. It reminds me of the 60s movement..... (PMEM)

    Ouchie, a tad harsh that evaluation, but what a brilliant observation. Made Temujin experience deep thoughts with his second cup of coffee and to chortle over the "who's afraid of Jerry Rubin" quip..... even though Jerry's spiritual minions have been far from harmless and ineffective, the way they've latched onto and changed academia and media.

    The  "hareidism" of today can indeed be read as a protest, a counter-cultural movement which behaves as other protest and liberation movements and which moved from the fringes to the main stream, at least within the "Judeosphere".  Another baby of the deep changes in the societies and the economies of the post-War years, it made rapid adaptations at its inception, but as it happened with its other siblings, it lost its flexibility and fossilized once it fixed dogma,  leadership hierarchies and economic strategies. We are witnessing the costs and reactions to this rigidity.

    One suspects, though, that the conservatism we are seeing from the leadership and the intellectual elite in the Hareidi world is deceptive; a melodrama over-represented by a jaded media, and that profound changes and adaptations are happening under the proverbial radar beam's coverage. Hmmmm, Temujin will stick to this coffee.

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  43. Y Ben-David

    I didn't say that modern orthodox writings were irrelevant. Far from it! What I am trying to convey, albeit badly, is that there is much in the Chassidic world that merits consideration, no matter how out of tune it may seem with the contemporary world. That said, I wouldn't expect the State of Israel to support me, if I wasn't willing to support it and I don't subscribe to enforcing one's views on another, eg segregation on buses. As I don't live in Israel, its not something I am personally involved in, although the issue of how one is supported and supports in a community is equally applicable to other countries.
    Perhaps like their Buddhist counterparts, alms round might become the norm. Or perhaps smaller self-supporting communities will be the norm, whether modelled on religious or secular ideals. Actually, if things get much worse in England, everybody is going to have to start sharing and being community based and I for one wouldn't be sorry to see that.
    However, if there are those who feel that they should follow Torah no matter what hardship it brings, then I believe that is a basic right. I think we need both, those who remain centred in the Torah of old and those who explore its myriad of adaptations. But as humans we have to live together, whether we like each other or not.

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  44. The issue of force is, in my opinion, the only argument the charedim have going for them. Milton Friedman, for example, a hero of the Right in the USA, opposed the draft.

    If charedim did not take all the money from the government that they do, I would have much more sympathy for their position.

    I think their whole way of life is wrong, but I don't believe in forcing my values on other people.

    Since, however, the charedim take so much money from the state, the point is moot. It's a package deal. You can't take and then not give. And if you won't give, you can't expect others to support your lifestyle.

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  45. I never hear actual reasons for their fear of the IDF. They just scream like hysterics in generalities. They do the same thing when sreaming 'bout goyim are so horrible but they never specify anything.

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  46. Having received your blog posts over recent weeks I am delighted to see such enlightenment and clarity within ultra orthodox jewry.

    The level of polarization driven by these so called 'haredim' is like a cancer eating away at Israeli society.

    There needs to be the short term pain that will arise from radical surgery (which will require real leadership) but then I truly believe the young charedim will embrace the liberation there Rosh's are so keen to avoid.

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  47. Please note that I didn't call the Litvish derech wild and self-indulgent nor the traditional Chasidic one. Charedism is like the 60s movement in that it is parasitic. It took over an existing construct and destroyed it. The 60s movement did this too. They hardly invented anything. They just tore things apart. Even the great 60s music is just rock n' roll. They didn't invent rock n' roll. The Charedim took existing Torah and communities and polluted them, made them irrational and destructive. It is the work of the devil.

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  48. I think the point of using that pasuk was specifically for the irony. They feel that they are the ones "going out to battle" against a foreign army by protesting against the draft.

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  49. Yoni, when you step outside of those insane asylums otherwise known as BT yeshivot and regrow your brain you realize how extreme these people are.

    I also went to KY back in 1990.

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  50. > Perhaps like their Buddhist counterparts, alms round might become the norm. Or perhaps smaller self-supporting communities will be the norm, whether modelled on religious or secular ideals.

    Paul, that is indeed what they do now. In addition to gov't funding (which is not insignificant), Kollels fundraise abroad and in Israel, and people are welcome to support them. Additionally, Chareidi communities are paragons of Chessed, with resource sharing called "Gemach", of everything from medical supplies to plastic chairs for parties.

    You asked earlier for what is there to inspire in secular Israel; there is a great deal in Chareidi society that is very inspiring also. Nobody argues that.

    But it doesn't give them the right to excuse themselves, as a group, from protecting the country, and also deliberately causing their sons to not be able to support themselves. Then they come to my door collecting alms.

    > I defy anyone to say they have read all and 'understood' both sets of works

    I would be happy to introduce you to several people.

    R' Nachman is far from irrelevant, he manages to speak directly to our generation (his own did not understand him at all), and his wisdom has had a huge impact in recent years.

    The only way he is irrelevant is to the question of "What is the relative quality of current Chareidi/Insular vs Modern/Inclusive thought?" and the only reason he is irrelevant is that he is not a member of either category.

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  51. The issue of force is, in my opinion, the only argument the charedim have going for them. Milton Friedman, for example, a hero of the Right in the USA, opposed the draft.

    He opposed conscription over an all-volunteer army because it enables the drafters to hide the costs of service through force, rather than paying people for the true cost.

    I don't see him supporting an "unfair" draft over a "fair" one (where fair means that everyone is equally subject at some time).

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  52. David Ohsie-
    Conscription is not only a matter of ecnomics. It also takes into consideration the population sharing in the effort to defend the country and even fight a war if necessary. In World War II, the US government rationed items that were not really in short supply in order to make everyone feel they were involved and everyone was making sacrifices. John Connally said one of LBJ's major mistakes duriing the Vietnam War was that the homefront was not asked to make any sacricies ("guns AND butter") and this put the whole burden of the war on the fighting men. This, of course, is a modern update of what Moshe Rabbenu told the tribes of Reuven and Gad : "You will stay home and your brothers will go and fight?!". This far transcends any claim of "freedom of religion", particularly if the fighting men are being asked to risk their lives at a particular time.

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  53. http://thepartialview.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-secular-media-gets-it-with-coverage.html

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  54. @Frank 7:24 : I thought so too at first, but R'Slifkin points out that they took down that particular sign when they realized:

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/06/10/satmars-remove-embarrassing-anti-army-poster-after-it-appears-to-promote-idf-enlistment/

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  55. Any chance that the ironic poster was but a practical joke that got slipped in under the radar? I know of some clever and mischievous people (bloggers, often) who would do such a thing.

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  56. PMEM said, "I never hear actual reasons for their fear of the IDF. They just scream like hysterics in generalities."

    In my own limited perception, I think the major fear is not of the physical danger, but what will be of the bochurim spiritually. And they state this unequivocally. Parents I know who sent their kids to Nachal Charedi usually either noticed 1)laxity of observance when their son finished the service, or 2) their son was so lax already, they had nothing to lose ("at least he'll davven three times a day with a minyan, etc.")

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  57. Yehudah P-
    Plenty of Haredi and non-Haredi religious boys and girls become lax in observance without any exposure to the IDF. I personally know several talmidei hachamim that did serve in the IDF. To pretend that Haredim are not going to be exposed to the anti-Torah values of the outside world even without contact with the IDF, and supposedy staying safe in their coccoon is simply putting one's head in the sand.

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  58. Apart from being simply wrong, the "they don't use government services" argument is silly. Can you imagine a World War II era American saying "I don't take welfare or go to public school, so I'm exempt"? Please.

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  59. "In my own limited perception, I think the major fear is not of the physical danger, but what will be of the bochurim spiritually."

    But again, that's very general. You can say it about anything. What specifically goes in the IDF that warrants such terror of religious collapse?

    I go to work every day at a corporation. There are all kinds of things that can bring me down. My job is to withstand it. That's the way God made the world, full of tests.

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  60. I ask this in sincerity.

    Yehudah P. is saying that young Haredi men who have had a lifetime of learning, will have, as a result of going into the IDF, a significant probability of not only not returning to the Kollel life, but of maintaining minimal mitzvah observance.

    Why are Kollel students so weak in their observance and resolution that this outside exposure destroys it?

    And I am assuming that the IDF will work to accommodate their mitzvah observance as much as possible.

    If it were certain that Kollel students would have zero chance of turning away from Torah after serving in the IDF, the Charedi community would have no objections?

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  61. At least they are giving more time to the ticking time bomb of Israel becoming majority non-Jewish. Once it happens and the closer it gets say goodbye to the Zionist enterprise and the lives of many many Jews (G-D forbid!) The Arabs would just love to slaughter all the Yidden yet we are here arguing with ourselves and doing nothing about the real "Enemy Worth Fighting Against" one that wants to take all of our lives and will if nothing is done now about it.
    Why do Christians understand survival and for the Jews to survive better then the Jews themselves?
    http://youtu.be/6fR8TZUUsf0

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  62. It seems my last response got lost in the ether!

    Kira, you response was both fair and balanced...well, when I do come to Israel, I look forward to the possibility of meeting such individuals of learning:)

    Here's a question. If one doesn't have Israeli citizenship and one stays for a given period of time, as a student, worker or tourist for example, is one obliged to serve in the IDF or equivalent role in protecting the country? We had conscientious objectors in the WWII, who were assigned other non-combatative roles. Could that work?
    At what point does being present in Israel or any country oblige one to serve in order to protect, given that one is protected as a tourist etc?
    If you were to take away the citizenship of those who refused to serve in some capacity, would that really help?
    This blog does at least raise many interesting if not vexing questions.

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  63. My previous comment was based on the presumption that a yeshiva bochur entering the Israeli army would be in the 18-21 year-old range, where he's more impressionable, and the temptations to be lax in observance are greater.
    Most parents would prefer to defer their son's service until their mid-20's, ideally until after they're married as well.

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  64. Samuel Dinkels:

    "Why are Kollel students so weak in their observance and resolution that this outside exposure destroys it?"

    The problem as I see it is like this:

    The Ashkenazi Charadi style of religious observance is so difficult and restrictive, that the only way they can justify it to people internally is by completely delegitimizing all other religious lifestyles. That's why you hear comments like, "Oh, the modern Orthodox are practically reform." from them.

    The moment one of their boys leaves the kollel and interacts with religious non-Charadi Jews who don't keep all the stringency's that they do, they're likely to start doubting, and dropping those stringency's themselves. Also, they're likely to start doubting the authority of their leaders as they start to see that the world isn't the way that their leaders said it was.

    That's the problem in a nutshell.

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  65. From his silence on the issue, I gather that Rabbi Slifkin has not carried out any army service. Some would argue that this doesn't invalidate the justice of the argument he is making - and of course this is true to an extent. However, his utter lack of empathy with others who are not serving in the army is, I am afraid, contemptible.

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  66. David Ohsie,

    Milton Friedman was opposed to force, which means he would oppose any kind of draft. (In other words, he would prbably favor Moshe Feiglin's move to make the IDF a volunteer army.)

    Nachum,

    You have to understand where the charedim are coming from. As far as they are concerned (and they are partially correct), they preceded the state. They were there first (i.e. the Old Yishuv). Then the "Zionists" came and set up this state around them. They never asked for it or wanted it. And now this state, which they never wanted, wants to tear them away from their beis medrash for three years.

    Again, I don't support their ideology, but can you really argue with this line of reasoning? Is it fair to come into "someone else's territory" (the Old Yishuv) and force your will upon it?

    As I wrote earlier, the point is moot since charedim want to force the rest of the country to financially support them. But if they took nothing from the rest of society, I would support them. I would think they are jerks, wrong-headed, preventing Moshiach from coming, etc. etc. but I wouldn't forcibly draft them against their will. That's plain wrong in my eyes. Influence and arguments, yes. Not power.



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  67. "However, his utter lack of empathy with others who are not serving in the army is, I am afraid, contemptible."

    I've got plenty of empathy for people who don't want to serve in the army because they've grown up expecting not to have to serve. My objection is to people pretending that they're not serving because they believe that Torah protects.

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    Replies
    1. Do you not think it's likely that you and they are motivated by the same sociological force - entitlement inertia, fear of the unknown ? It's an utter lack of empathy to seriously believe fallacious arguments which would be better interpreted as an emotional expression of anxiety about the future, especially given that your circumstances match their's.

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  68. Yehuda-
    The Haredim are part of Am Israel, a very important and respected part, but only a part. Eretz Israeli belongs to all of Am Israel, not just the Old Yishuv, even in the period where the Old Yishuv was the dominant element in the Jewish community in the country. The Old Yishuv could not just separate itself from the rest of the Jewish community and pretend it was totally autonomous.
    Right after the Balfour Declaration, there was an ugly situation where there was conflict between the Old Yishuv and the new Zionist authorities but the TARPAT (1929) massacres by the Arabs forced the two sides (most of the Haredim and the Zionist establishment) to reach some sort of modus vivendi. This was finally codified as the "status quo" agreement reached by Ben-Gurion and the Agudat Israel representatives before the creation of the state.
    Thus, most of the Haredi leadership did realize that they had to compromise to some extent, but if you look at it, they have been very successful in propagating their ideology to the younger generation, so experience has shown that total separation was not the solution to the question of Haredi survival.

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  69. He knew in advance what O'Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O'Brien said this he would believe it. Orwell, 1984

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  70. In response to some of atzilut1's questions: A person coming to Israel can assume also A1 status ("permanent resident"), which doesn't allow them to vote, but doesn't obligate them to serve in the army either. I don't think there's any time limit how long a person can be a permanent resident before making aliyah, or whether he needs to make aliyah at all.

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  71. Paul - when you do come to Israel, I'm sure that anyone on this board would be delighted to introduce you to any number of learned individuals. They abound in this country, "for the Torah comes from Zion, and the word of G-d, from Jerusalem" - and that is not limited to one particular philosophy or life style.

    > We had conscientious objectors in the WWII, who were assigned other non-combative roles. Could that work?

    That is part of the suggested plan. Not only non-combative roles, but in a different framework of "national service" which would be executed within their own communities.

    Not only that, but the plan allows for 1800 (!!!) young men in each year of such high caliber of Torah learning, that this will be considered their service, in every way.

    Additionally, as someone else suggested above, for those that feel that the ages of 18-21 are too impressionable to be sent to a challenging environment, the current proposal allows for a blanket deferral until 21.

    In truth, there is nothing magic about the age of 18, all it means is that high school is over. Many (if not most) graduates of non-Chareidi religious high schools take a year to study in a preparatory program (army sponsored and approved), or Hesder yeshiva, or even a non-Hesder non-Chareidi yeshiva. They join the army subsequently, and are better, more mature, more disciplined, more motivated soldiers.

    I've heard the argument against, which is that by 21, they are already formed and will not make as good soldiers, or already married, and married soldiers are given more money and special accommodations. But it seems to have been accepted as part of the plan, last time I checked.

    What's different about this generation and this attempt to create an equitable system is that the motivation really is not hatred. They are not coming from the point of view that Chareidim are about to disappear and therefore don't matter, nor from the point of view of wanting to punish them, reject them, or force them to be something they're not. They don't think that learning Torah is a waste of time and that yeshivas should be shut down.

    They just want there to be a system that includes everybody - in different formats perhaps, but as brothers.

    This could not have happened 20 years ago, or even 10.

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  72. SciencArt: > Do you not think it's likely that you and they are motivated by the same sociological force

    Sorry, but whom are you addressing? My post precedes yours, but that might be an artifact, and you might be referring to any of the above posts.

    I don't believe that anything in my post suggests inertia.

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  73. Yehuda P,

    I wasn't allowed to be A1 for more than 1 year, after which I had to decide whether the make Aliya or leave.

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  74. Hi Kira, try viewing in this URL (mobile) http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/06/an-enemy-worth-fighting-against.html?m=1#comment-form

    Google appear not to have integrated their mobile and desktop sites particularly well.

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  75. I am posting this about a week and a half late, but I had this thought in looking at the signs at the protest.

    Rabbi Shafran and other Charedi leaders claim that their kollel study physically protects Israel. But their signs at the protest read "Proudly go to jail than join the Zionist army."

    Apparently whoever made up their signs was not representing correctly their point of view. So I give these friendly suggestions to the Charedi community as slogans for their signs at their next mass protest in lower Manhattan.

    (1)"Proudly learn in Kollel day and night in lieu of serving in the Zionist army."

    (2)"Learning all day offers even more protection to Klal Yisroel than serving in the Zionist Army."

    (3)"If we proudly go to jail rather than serve in the Zionist army, we will proudly learn all day (in jail), which will still protect Klal Yisroel, even if they don't think so."

    (4)"Proudly demand money and support from the Zionist entity representing the Zionist army in order to learn in Kollel all day. This works like the mafia in demanding payment from business owners in order that their business not be destroyed (by the mafia).

    Okay, maybe they wouldn't have the last sign in public.

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