Perceptions Of Their Perceptions, Cont.
In yesterday's post, "How Charedim and Non-Charedim Perceive Each Others' Perception Of Them," I observed that some charedim do not imagine that some non-charedim actually believe themselves to be following the better path in serving God. Today I would like to elaborate on that with another anecdote.
A newly-charedi person once asked me who I think is living closer to God's will, a typical dati-leumi person or a typical charedi guy in kollel? He was utterly amazed when I told him, "the former." He couldn't understand how I could think that way!
I tried to explain that in our view, serving in the army, contributing towards the nation/economy, and raising your children to be likewise productive citizens, are really, really important, from Hashem's perspective as well as our own, and that these are fundamental activities that are much more critical than various other minor halachos. (I would further add that from a non-charedi perspective, practices such as only eating food with a certain hechsher can even be seen as actually wrong; cf. the Tzlach's responsa about not dividing the nation by having different kashrus standards.)
One person emailed me to express his resentment over yesterday's post, which he considered "a waste." Ironically, this was a person who has changed from being dati-leumi to being charedi. But that was my whole point. As one of the commentators said:
"It is very important for parents to emphasize that aspects of their non-charedi lifestyle are not compromises, or done because it is easier (even if it is), but that this is what they believe the Torah demands of them. A lot of the pull of the charedi world is the feeling that they do everything according to the Torah, whereas others do not."
If we are going to help and influence others to live their lives in a certain way, it's not just enough to explain how each individual aspect is correct from a Torah perspective. We have to also emphasize that the approach as a whole is the Torah-True Way. That term has been adopted by some as a Registered Trademark - we need to reclaim it.
As one minor example, consider how when listing the three broad classes of Jews in Israel, most people will say "secular, national-religious, charedi" or "charedi, national-religious, secular." This implicitly encourages the idea that charedim are further along the religious spectrum than the national religious. But if you are national-religious, then you should not be believing that this is the case! If you are national-religious, then you should be expressing that as the pinnacle of religious life.