Monday, May 17, 2021

Die and Don't Learn?!

It's unbelievable. Instead of "live and learn," people are dying - continually - and the lessons are not being learned.

Over the last year, charedi communities suffered a wildly disproportionate rate of deaths from Covid due to their opposition to subjecting themselves to government-mandated health precautions. Just over a week ago, 45 people were killed in Meron due to charedi opposition to subjecting themselves to government control and professional standards. And now, two people were killed and hundreds injured when unsafe bleachers collapsed in a chassidic shul - which was operating without licensing, against warnings from the fire service, and which had signs placed by the municipality forbidding people to enter. Incredibly, the bleachers were held up by a makeshift collection of beams tied together with wire - without any screws!

A number of people have sent me an article from Rabbi Yair Hoffman, decrying the charedi laxness with regard to safety. Yes, it's good that he's not doing the murderously negligent Daas Torah response of calling for strengthening Torah study and Ahavas Yisrael. But Rabbi Hoffman - who sometimes writes sensible articles, and sometimes wrong-headed and downright silly articles - makes the same mistake as that which led to all these senseless deaths in the first place. He writes as follows:

We have Hatzolah organizations. We have Zaka organizations. We have Gamachs. We have almost every conceivable chesed organization – from bris gemachs, shalom zachar schnapps gemachs, we also need one more thing.

We need to take charge of our own safety as well.  We need to hire crowd control experts for our levayos, for Meron, for our buildings, for our wedding halls.

There are experts who know what types of tweaks are needed in order to save human life. There are people, educated people with Phd degrees, that can survey and inspect any venue or building and can determine its safety and structural integrity in order to save lives and to avoid tragedies.

What we need to do is have the Chareidi world engage these experts. We should hire them and bring them down to our buildings and levaya venues, to our chasuna venues, to our shuls, and to wherever else we gather.  We need to bring them to Meron for recommendations. It shouldn’t be the Israeli government or the police or the IDF, it should be us.

No, no, and no! 

What Rabbi Hoffman doesn't grasp is that "charedim taking charge of their own things" is exactly what causes these disasters in the first place!

It's not enough to respect professional expertise. You have to respect being a part of a system of civic law. 

This is for two reasons. First of all, you're not going to know exactly what kind of expertise you need. It's not just crowd control. There's many, many different things that potentially have to be taken into consideration. When we applied for our operating license for the Biblical Museum of Natural History, there were endless discussions as to what exactly we do at the museum, and what kinds of consultants and expert opinions and authorizations were required. It's all part of a immense system set up for public safety; it's not something that some askan is going to be able to direct.

Second, there is the matter of enforcement. Once you leave it up to askanim or event operators to be in charge of safety, it's a recipe for disaster. There is simply too much self-interest involved. If the private consultant states that there is simply no way that the event can take place in a safe way, are they going to listen to him and cancel the event, or will they shop around for someone else who will give a different opinion - perhaps in exchange for a gift on the side? After all, what are the odds of something going wrong?

The charedi community needs to understand that they need to respect civil law. They need to be part of the State. They need to mature and take responsibility, which includes recognizing their limitations and the need for state apparatus.

Right now, all Israel is in mourning over the deaths caused by Hamas. Yet these are not even a tenth the number of deaths caused by charedi separatism over the last year. And while it's easy to get people to take action in the face of threats from Hamas and Iran, it's considerably more difficult to take action about the long-term, gradually developing existential threat from an increasingly large sector of the country that does not care about national responsibilities vis-à-vis the economy, the army, and so on. It's crucial to take the right lessons from the tragedies of the last year.

 

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35 comments:

  1. This is just awful. Just awful.

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  2. RNS, you're slightly missing the point:

    "It shouldn’t be the Israeli government or the police or the IDF, it should be us."
    "Won’t people listen to fellow frum people, unzerer, trained for these things more so than those where there is an unfortunate mutual antagonism?"

    Of course, this is a (mostly) lie. The antagonism is not mutual. That's just a paranoid fantasy. But it doesn't matter. Too many Charedim simply don't trust any expert who is tainted with Zionism. Cops are Nazis. Nachal Charedi service in the IDF is Auschwitz (yeah, that's what the pashkevil said.) With that sort of cultural baggage, advising the Charedim to "be part of the State" is a non-starter. That's why RYH proposes to duplicate State services with Charedi services. It doesn't matter if both the State & the Askanim would consult with the same "educated people with Phd degrees". As the old man said, "Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?".

    But RYH is still wrong. Does he actually believe that experts will be listened too, if only they're not coming from the evil illegitimate Zionist gov't? Don't be naive, RYH! Once, Rav Moshe Tendler responded to a שאלה in the name of his father-in-law & the response was rejected (at least in part) because RMT went to college. There's a Charedi fairy tale that RMF never read newspapers, because doing so would ruin his דעת תורה. So RYH is wrong. It's not enough that experts no be connected to Zionism; the experts also must not be connected to expertise.
    But that's not all. Even if you could find experts without expertise they would still be ignored. Consider what Satmar did to RMF. Does RYH think that Toldot Ahron, will listen to experts? Does he think they will listen to ANYONE?

    But still, you've got to start somewhere.

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    1. The problem with this narrative is that it doesn't apply to Karlin Stolin. The rebbe must recently issued stark critique of those who disrespect government representatives, and urged his followers to follpw all government issued safety precautions. It certainly does not apply to the Karlin Stolin Chassidim in Givat Ze'ev, who have lived for thirty years in peace and harmony with the authorities and their primarily secular neighbors.

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    2. You may be right. Karlin Stolin were unique among the חסידים in their observance, at whatever level, of health guidelines. And it could also be that Karlin's failure here doesn't represent the failures elsewhere in the Charedi world.
      So it could be that none of what I wrote applies to Karlin Stolin. It still applies to RYH's schemes.
      But, your comments are vital: it suggests an alternative to RYH's ideas- be a chasid/charedi without compromise who nonetheless respects the services and regulations of a functional State! No need to re-invent the wheel as Nachum commented.

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  3. A simple question, why reinvent the wheel? If the structure is in place, why is your distrust of "the government" so great? You rely on the government to keep your yeshivot open and to sustain your entire community! You use government hospitals, you rely on the IDF to keep you safe...


    Of course, this could go for some of the things on his list. Why Hatzalah when Israel has an ambulance service?

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    Replies
    1. Like it or not, Hatzolah is better than Mada.
      Which is a shame on the israeli government, especially since they receive almost all their stuff for free from donors abroad.

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    2. Mada is not government funded.
      Mada is an ambulance service and UH are first responders.

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure what the distinction is. If someone calls 101, Mada comes. That's called "first responder." There are lots of Mada people not in ambulances. (And Hatzala has ambulances as well.)

      Delete
  4. This piece may be of interest: https://www.kikar.co.il/392118.html


    “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

    ― Thomas Jefferson

    KT

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  5. Dear RNS, the point keep to overlook/deny is that the state is generally hostile to Torah and to Torah values (although the people are getting lazy and their hostility is getting less eager with years). That's why Charedim try to build a state within a state (yet not too successfully, due to the obvious reasons), not because they are idiots.

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    Replies
    1. "that the state is generally hostile to Torah and to Torah values "

      Exaggeration. Which of the main functions of gov't are hostile to Torah? Consider all the public services- which are anti-Torah? Are the hospitals anti-Torah? Are the buses anti-Torah? Are the roads anti-Torah? Is the fire department anti-Torah? Have sidewalks been paved against halacha? Are the street lights forbidden? Is the welfare system anti-Torah?Is it difficult to keep שבת? Kashrut? What about revenue- does the tax authorities sponge off the religious more than the secular?
      Summary: What are you talking about?

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    2. In what way is the state "hostile to Torah values?"

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    3. If hostile means giving money to yeshivos, then let's have more hostility ...

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  6. I'm wondering if some tort liability could help save lives. If the askan in charge of the gathering can be held personally liable (and/or the Rebbi), then perhaps they'll take safety seriously.

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    1. Probably possible....unlikely to ever happen given the nature of pursuing justice in IL currently.

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    2. I kind of doubt that Chassidim will sue their Rebbe....

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  7. The problem with the narrative here is that Stolin is probably the most integrated of all chassidim into Israeli society. The tragedy seems to be with the outside group the chassidus hired to put up the parentches. Stolin was basically the only chassidus to take Covid seriously.
    https://mako.co.il/news-israel/2021_q2/Article-4f38809df9a7971026.htm

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  8. At the risk of being sardonic, let's take a page out of their hashkafic book and consider what Haredim and especially Hassidim might learn from this situation. Let them make a serious Heshbon Nefesh about the recent year and half of tragedies: rampant COVID-19 mortality rates, tragic deaths and injuries at Meron, and tragic deaths and injuries in Givat Ze'ev, just to name three examples. All of these horrible outcomes occurred during their attempt to pursue life as usual, refusing to accept restrictions imposed by outsiders. What might HaShem be trying to teach them?

    Clearly, HaShem is displeased by Hassidut and its pursuit of life as usual. Clearly, HaShem is displeased by Hassidic leadership in particular, and Haredi leadership in general. Clearly, HaShem is meting out direct punishment to them for their choice of lifestyle.

    HaShem's will is for them to abandon the course they are on, shut down those institutions, and to rejoin the fold of normative Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hashem's will is quite obvious. He sent a plague to Toldos Aharon and no one understood what it was for. Yes the normal smartphone and one said not learning enough, and of course the women. They are always to blame as long as it is not us. Seeing that no one understood he had to send another disaster, now at least one should understand why. I doubt it still very much and chas v'sholom I hope it doesnt mean another one. One has to look at these two chassidus which are very similar except one is NK and the other Aguda. They are both into 'avoda'. Which they translate physically, meaning a lot of noise and movement. I think Karlin is louder but the other a close second. In plain English our davenning is not up to standard. People especially chasidim come at borchu or later and manage to put on both pairs of t'fillin daven and of course talk and look at their mobile and still be out by 'olainu'.

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    2. Jew well - I think he's a troll.
      Shalom shabbat.

      Delete
  9. This is simply a reflection of the all round degradation of Israeli society, politics and its institutions. The state and societal norms are being attacked from without - and from within - by the current government and the PMs eager sycophants and flunkies - a relationship now eating away at IL for nearly 2 decades. This will not change - it will only get worse. It is a process, a disease and these are the symptoms.

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  10. (Re: the above comment beginning with "At the risk of being sardonic". I didn't mean to post that anonymously, but this Blogger comment platform insisted I used my Gmail ID. I am well aware of Rav Slifkin's comment policy over the last decade+ and that was me.)

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  11. The Stoliner Rebbe is the only Rebbeh I’ve seen speak about doing things differently since Meron.
    I am sure he will make a public statement and take responsibility for this. He is the most open minded and honest of the rebbes today.

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  12. By this logic Rabbi Dr Slifkin should immediately hand over his museum to the state. He is not the state, and yet there he is occupying a responsible position in a private capacity.

    The state has no role in the implementation of regulations. It regulates, inspects, enforces, and punishes. The citizens are responsible for their own compliance with regulations.

    People who are genuinely bothered about Charedi lives help people who are Charedi to build up their professional qualifications so that they can organically comply with regulations.

    People with a sectarian chip on their shoulder because their book was banned aeons ago declare the incompatibility of basic levels of responsibility and citizenship with this particular religious identity. If you tell people their religious beliefs aren't compatible with the laws of the state, only a fantasist with delusions of grandeur would think that the religious identity would be discarded: in fact what falls away is allegiance to the state.

    But sectarian conflict was the aim.

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  13. Hamad now struggling to project power more than 15km from its borders. If you can call this slugfest warfare, Hamas have lost this round and their vulnerability is clear for all to see. Their strategic ability to escalate and de-escalate at their convenience has been lost. Their novel unmanned aerial and sea capabilities have proven ineffective.

    But only a simpleton would assumed they won't learn, rearm and rebuild. In two years time they will be more deadly than ever before. And that is because of the atzlus of the prime minister. If the residents of Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon want meaningful change they have to vote for it. The IDF could retake the entire strip in two months. But what would be the point without building up a significant constituency of Palestinian support?

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    Replies
    1. Damn. Trolling without spelling or grammar mistakes! Are you sure you're not a neural network?

      Delete
    2. I am moderately confident that I am a neutral network, albeit a biological one.

      Delete
  14. My frustrating FB conversation with a loyal chasid...

    (about the Stoliner Rebbe who took "responsibility" for the catastrophe)

    If the ropes were sufficient warning, why does the Rebbi admit malfeasance?

    · Reply ·

    Because that is what a (real) Rebbe does. He feels that his teffilot should have prevented such a disaster.

    · Reply ·

    Maybe he needs to teach his chasidim to add a shtickle more hishdadlus (even more than a rope) to the davening

    · Reply ·

    That may be. But the Rebbe will decide. Regarding COVID he was the first to close schools and his own shuls. The Rebbe will ensure that the necessary actions will be taken.

    · Reply ·

    The rebbe, by his own admission, is responsible for the deaths of two young men. Why should he decide anything? Maybe the best thing for him to do is to resign his position, pay the families of the dead and injured, and go into exile.

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  15. The grand rabbi of rationalism teaches that although you can know an effect from knowing a cause, you can't know a cause from knowing an effect. The Miron tragedy is an effect and its cause remains unknown. That's for the rationalists. But mystical sources point to sins such as lack of tzniyus, ahavas yisroel, and limud hatorah as presumptive causes. What of the sin of not being safe? It's certainly a bona fide sin but in relative terms, not enough to have caused the tragedy. What about the higher death rate during Covid? מנהגו של עולם מלך בשר ודם שסרחה עליו מדינה אם אכזרי הוא הורג את כולן אם רחמן הוא הורג חצים אם רחמן מלא רחמים הוא מייסר הגדולים שבהן ביםורין אף כך הקב״ה מייםר את יחזקאל כדי למרק עונותיהם של ישראל

    Some think that Ma'akeh illustrates the importance of being safe. But mystical sources understand it as a special Chiddush.
    כל גג אינו בכלל המכשולות, שאין הזיקו מצוי כל כך שהעומד על הגג זכור בטבעו להזהר, וגם הוא מנהגו של עולם וכמו שמותר לעלות באילן ומותר לעלות לבנות הגגין והעליות בלא מעקה סביבו, אלא שבגג בית דירה חדשה תורה מצות מעקה ולהקפיד על סכנת הנופל, ובזה צריכים לתנאי בית תוכו י' ודע"ד, ושידור שם אדם אבל המשתמש על הגג שאין תחתיו דירה לא חייבה תורה מעקה והוי בכל פעם כעולה באילן, גם בבית שחייבה תורה מעקה לא אסרה תורה על האדם שלא יעלה על הגג בלא מעקה אלא על הבעלים לעשות מעקה וזה ענין מחודש, חדשה תורה לגבי בעלים לחייבו להסיר מכשול, ובבית הכנסת ובית שאין בו דע"ד וכן בכבש לא חדשה תורה.


    Many mystic Gedolim mentioned areas for improvement such as the ones mentioned above, but virtually none said anything about safety, it not being the point. Except for one. His emphasis on safety diluted the mystic message. Events weren't kind to him. He of all people subsequently lost two souls. Now another mystic Godol announced that he will no longer allow bleachers, again diluting the mystic message. God protect us all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Except for one. His emphasis on safety diluted the mystic message. Events weren't kind to him. He of all people subsequently lost two souls.

      If you mean that the Stolin tragedy shows that he is to blame for not sticking to only the mystic message, you're contradicting yourself. You say that tzadikim get the punishments. You say it's a bona fide sin to neglect safety. So he did the right thing by giving the mystic reason/sin together with the natural reason/sin. Telling his people to do tshuvah for both. And for that tzidkus he was singled out for punishment, according to you.

      Delete
  16. Hey, Mystic:
    You quoted the Chazon Ish, but cleverly skipped the words that come BEFORE your quote: מצות "לא תשים דמים", שייכת רק בדברים המוגדרים כ"מכשול" או כ"מזיק", כגון סולם רעוע ובורות, שאין אדם יכול להיזהר מהם.

    You still say, Mystic, that jury-rigged grandstands are OK, according to CI's "mystical" approach? (I assume you know very well how foolish your interpretation is, which is why you skipped the sentence I just quoted.)

    Furthermore, as explained here ( http://asif.co.il/?wpfb_dl=4606 ), CI also says:
    אמנם, החזו"א עצמו סבור (על פי שיטת הסמ"ג), שגם במקומות שפטרנו היות ואינם עונים על גדרי בית, מכל מקום יצטרך להעמיד שם מעקה שגובהו שלושה טפחים: הסמ"ג (עשין ע"ט) מחלק בין בית, שמצריכים בו מעקה שגובהו י' טפחים, לבור - שמסתפקים בו במעקה שגובהו שלושה טפחים.

    מבאר החזו"א: כדי למנוע מכשול, מספיק מעקה שגובהו שלושה טפחים, המהווה מעין סימן אזהרה לעוברים ולשבים, מדין "לא תשים דמים בביתך". בבית - התורה חידשה שיש צורך ב"מעקה", המהווה מעין מחיצה שגובהה עשרה טפחים.

    לפי זה, גם במקומות שאין בהם גדרי בית, יצטרך להעמיד מעקה שגובהו ג' טפחים, למנוע מכשול וכדי שלא לעבור על הלאו.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You still say, Mystic, that jury-rigged grandstands are OK, according to CI's "mystical" approach? (I assume you know very well how foolish your interpretation is

      No, it's your interpretation. Of what I said. I said it isn't connected to Ma'akeh. Thank you to whoever won't clutter the discussion with Ma'akeh.


      You .. cleverly skipped the words that come BEFORE ..

      And you cleverly skipped the words that come AFTER the Smag, leaving the impression that we Paskin like him. asif.co itself makes this error claiming to report what החזון איש *עצמו* סבור.

      Delete
  17. It’s like in America where you can sue the store for spilling your hot coffee on yourself because the cup didn’t remind you it’s hot. This story is extremely unfortunate but rrally clear. The problem was not that the building wasn’t ready because that had nothing to do with this. Whoever brought/made such a bleacher is clearly the only negligible one. I don’t think anyone cleared with the Rebbe how they’re making the bleacher.

    ReplyDelete

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