Sunday, October 17, 2021

Exceptional Charedim

The other night I went to the Kotel, to take my daughter on the occasion of her birthday. What we didn't know was that it happened to be the night of a hashba'ah, a swearing-in ceremony for IDF soldiers. I passed a wonderful charedi couple who were posing for photos with their son, and I couldn't resist taking a photo also.

It's a great picture, and it shows that there are charedim who have their sons enlist in the IDF and are proud of it. But at the same time, these are the exception that proves the rule. Nobody would be taking pictures of dati-leumi parents posing with their soldier son, because such a thing is perfectly ordinary. With charedim, on the other hand, there are only a tiny minority who send their sons to the army, and an even smaller number who actually proud of their sons for it (there is a category of Lone Soldiers who are charedi soldiers whose families have disowned them). 

Here's another example of an exceptional person. The BBC has an incredible story about a Chassidic rabbi from Brooklyn who has managed to rescue many dozens of people from Afghanistan. It shows that there are chassidim whose concern for others extends far beyond their community, to non-Jews in a different part of the world. At the same time, it is also true that such behavior is unusual.

In last week's post about Chassidim on a Plane, some people criticized it as being generic, prejudicial, unfounded, and even antisemitic. They are wrong.

I never claimed that all chassidim act this way on airplanes. Obviously, there are many who do not. At the same time, it also true that chassidim engage in such behavior to a much, much higher degree than do other Jews (for sociological reasons that are readily apparent). 

Making a generalization from a small number of cases to an entire group would be wrong. However, there's nothing wrong with making a general statement about a group which is true. Generally speaking, Americans are more overtly friendly than are Brits. There's a greater problem with the behavior of Israelis at hotels than with other nationalities. And there's a widespread problem with chassidic behavior on airplanes. That's just the plain truth.

Finally, to those who claim that I hate chassidim or charedim, I would like to point out the following. Due to my job at the Biblical Museum of Natural History, I interact with a broader range of chassidim and charedim than probably anyone else here. And the interactions are, without exception, entirely positive, and I love all of them.

I don't hate chassidim or charedim. I just recognize that there are very serious societal problems that need to be fixed.

 

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44 comments:

  1. Did you speak to the trio? How do you know that the parents wanted the boy to serve? Perhaps it was his choice and they were lovingly going along with it to prevent a break in the family?

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    1. chareidi parent of soldierOctober 17, 2021 at 6:11 PM

      Avraham's scenario is much much more common than Rabbi Slifkin's imagined one.

      Delete
    2. Not impossible, but they posed happily for a picture.

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  2. Not sure how Charedi that couple even is. Yes the father looks the part, but the mother's attire less so, which suggests Baalei Teshuva or Chabad, not normative Yeshivish/Charedi

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    1. Pretty sure Chabad. But there are other examples.

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    2. I was going to say something similar. And the son looks more Chardal than Charedi

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  3. Not even "some of my best friends are..."

    Just "a specimen I photographed is..."

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    1. Unfortunately, for once I agree with you.

      This is a shockingly poor post by RNS's standards.

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  4. How do you know if they were his parents? Did they tell you? Boy is not in the middle

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    1. I suppose it's always possible that the woman is his wife, because what other options are there that a charedi woman would let someone hug her like that (particularly in public)?

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    2. Oh, wait, they could be his grandparents. Any other options?

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  5. Again, we live in a world in which we're Not Supposed To Notice group similarities (and, kal v'chomer, differences). Groups don't *even exist*, we're told. (Except of course when they do.)

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    1. I fear you might claim to have misrepresents yourself when I quote your views on race back to you at a future occasion.

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    2. which is what insurance rating is based on
      kt

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    3. Knock yourself out, Hat. Because of Woke Cancelers of your ilk I've very careful not to spell anything out. I bet you're mighty pleased to be contributing to the constriction of free speech.

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  6. You recognize that there are very serious societal problems that need to be fixed...

    Just like Ben and Jerry, Peter Beinart, and l'havdil, the Satmar Rebbe recognize there are serious problems with Israeli society that need to be fixed. They don't hate Israelis.

    It's very easy to point out the alleged problems in OTHER people's society. The hardest thing in the the world to point out the very real problems with your own.

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    1. There's no need for that l'havdil. Yeah, they all hate Jews, specifically any Jews who don't buy into their program (which, at the base, is identical for all of them).

      Said program calls for the death of millions of Jews. So yeah, they're a bunch of anti-Semites who hate Israel and Israelis and Jews and God.

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    2. What do you mean? They all say that they love Israelis! Ben and Jerry have plenty of Israeli customers! And Peter Beinart has plenty of Israeli supporters!

      They are just constructively criticizing the very serious societal problems of Israel. What could possibly be wrong with that? The idea that they call for the death of millions of Jews is, of course, just hysterical, insane ravings. All they want is peace!

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    3. Yeah. R' Slifkin isn't threatening anyone with death. Give me a break.

      Delete
  7. "Finally, to those who claim that I hate chassidim or charedim, I would like to point out the following. Due to my job at the Biblical Museum of Natural History, I interact with a broader range of chassidim and charedim than probably anyone else here. And the interactions are, without exception, entirely positive, and I love all of them."

    Proves nothing more than that you want chareidi and chassidic patronage of your museum.
    And that could be for two reasons: you want their entrance and guides fees, and you want them to buy your books in the gift shop.

    I also love fish--that's why I eat them.

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    1. Yep. "Some of my best friends are black."

      The claim itself is very hard to believe, and I don't mean just because PS has no clue how much we interact with Charedim, or whether in fact we are ourselves Charedim. I mean because attendance at the Museum (like all public places) is way, way down, thanks to the moronic Israeli policies that he enthusiastically supported. The tourism that museums and attractions thrive on is non-existent. How many Charedim in a small country like Israel really visit a Biblical Museum, and how often, especially one led by a Director who hates them?

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    2. Rest your mouse on the words "Stop the lies". Or click them. Something fascinating appears.

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    3. He didn't say it proves anything.

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    4. I went to the site behind the 'stop the lies'. He has lots of fascinating salient points to make about the rationalist approach to Torah. He puts into words many of the thoughts that rattle around my mind, and explained the fallacies in many of the quasi-religious beliefs of some.

      Delete
    5. @Zichron, my confirmation bias is the opposite of yours, that it is holey.

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    6. "that it is holey", "it" being the site.

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  8. Finally, to those who claim that I hate chassidim or charedim

    any reader of your blog over time would come to that conclusion. If it's true that you don't, you should be careful that what you write doesn't continue to give that impression.

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    1. Spot On!!!! any unprejudiced reader of the this blog would most likely come the conclusion that the author is infected with an anti-chareidi/chassidic prejudice which colors virtually everything he writes. To deny this is, it seems to me, to ignore facts; and facts are stubborn things.

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    2. How many who think so are Chareidim themselves?

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  9. The only readers of his blog who could possibly come to that conclusion are those infected with the ridiculous postmodern (or possibly neo-Christian?) conception that disagreement, criticism, or disapproval somehow equal hate. Unfortunately these days that seems to be most people who read blogs of any kind, or breathe air.

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    1. Many people sense that the UN, with all their resolutions against Israel, hates Israel. Would you attribute that sense to the postmodern infection?

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  10. Jonathan Rosenbloom is an exceptional chareidi. Check out his recent book on Rabbi Noach Weinberg. Absolutely groundbreaking.

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  11. Friendly SpelllcheckerOctober 18, 2021 at 10:24 AM

    "and an even smaller number who actually proud of their sons for it" --
    who *are* actually proud

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  12. I'm honestly curious to hear, how would you feel if the NY Times published an article about how Israelis have a hotel behavior problem, and suggested different strategies to fix this problem, as well as gave an analysis about the shortcomings of Israeli culture that causes this problem?

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    1. Articles of this nature should be published in the Jewish newspapers. This would be a normal introspective behaviour. Russian tourists behave outrageously as well and the Russian media critisizes this behaviour and discusses the causes of it. The Jews should look at themselves through other people's eyes.

      For example, גזרות ת"ח-ת"ט had rational causes, but we chose to ascribe them to talking in shul during davening.


      מִי עִוֵּר כִּי אִם עַבְדִּי וְחֵרֵשׁ כְּמַלְאָכִי אֶשְׁלָח מִי עִוֵּר כִּמְשֻׁלָּם וְעִוֵּר כְּעֶבֶד יְהוָה.

      Delete
  13. https://www.rbth.com/politics_and_society/2017/08/01/why-are-russian-tourists-so-unpopular-abroad_814590

    Written by a Russian journalist. What's Yom Kippur about if not introspection?

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  14. "At the same time, it also true that chassidim engage in such behavior to a much, much higher degree than do other Jews (for sociological reasons that are readily apparent)"

    Other than your own individual observations and prejudices, what is your basis for this assertion? Have you done any studies? Taken surveys? This is a remarkably unsupported assertion by someone who claims to respect science.

    One must keep in mind that our observations are often skewed by many factors. If 100 chassidim behave properly, and 10 behave obnoxiously, it is the latter whom one is likely to notice.

    And Chassidic and Charedi Jews, because of their dress and habits, stick out and are much more noticeable than others.

    This was driven home to me at my first firm, where one partner handled white collar criminal matters. We had a case where a couple were invovled in defrauding several banks over a period of years to support their real estate empire. There were very active in their religious life, and gave lavishly to charity. They spent lavishly on one particularly event (which the prosecution tried to use to prejudice the jury.)

    If you think these were Chassidic or Charedi Jews, think again. They were devoted Greek Orthodox Christians. Yet no one tried to generalize to all of their religion or ethnicity. Yes they were crooks, but they were viewed as individual crooks.

    Frankly, the whole title of this post is offensive. "Yes, there are some good Chassidim/Charedim, but they are exceptional."

    (As for service in the IDF, that was a conscious decision by the leadership at the beginning of the State. Instead of carping about it, perhaps one should examine why they came to that conclusion.)

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    1. If I point out a flaw in one of your arguments, would I be violating Lashon Hara?

      So far I haven't pointed anything out so it's not Lashon Hara cause I can be assumed to be wrong. But if I point it out and convince some, would I be violating LH?

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    2. It's not LH, and if it is, I am mochel. You may "point out" anything you like.

      Delete
    3. I don't mean LH on you but on the Chassidim, on whose behalf you can't be mochel ....

      (Please give me a while till I can continue ....)

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  15. You see, Rabbi Slifkin isn't as bad as you think!

    ReplyDelete

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