16 comments on “Should We Be More Tolerant?

  1. Tesyaa #11: See my comment at #5 above, how non-observant Jews sincerely feel they are being extremely tolerant of us “when they provide Glatt Kosher meals for us at family functions and drape scarves over their low-cut fashions.” I definitely feel that tolerance works both ways, and I think that the BT and Gairim commenters have posted a lot of excellent examples of how they keep up good relationships with family members.

    As for use of the phrase “not-yet-frum” for non-observant family members, it was really an effort to try to think of the nicest way to talk about non-observant family members, sort of a euphemism in the style of Gemara Pesachim describing “night” as “ohr” light since it doesn’t want to use a negative expression.

  2. Kitzur said:

    “I believe it was Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l that paskened that this “heter” only applies in Chutz La’aretz where people are very ignorant, but in E”Y, the chilonim know plenty well about Torah & Mitzvos, and are more “shogeg” then “tinok sh’nishba”.”

    Could you provide a source for this?

    Bob Miller said:

    “We are now in an age swamped with both true and false information about Torah Judaism. At what point does the now-grown-up “tinok” living in a civilized country with advanced communications have personal responsibility for gathering and acting on the true information? Are we to assume that the biases formed in childhood are forever?”

    Yes. Look at the Rambam in Mamrim 3:3 – this is brought down in shulchan aruch yoreh deah, either 159 or 259, don’t have a shulchan aruch in front of me at the moment. Here is his language:

    אבל בני אותן הטועים ובני בניהם, שהדיחו אותם אבותם ונולדו במינות, וגידלו אותן עליו–הרי הן כתינוק שנשבה לבין הגויים וגידלוהו הגויים על דתם, שהוא אנוס; ואף על פי ששמע אחר כך שהיה יהודי, וראה היהודיים ודתם–הרי הוא כאנוס, שהרי גידלוהו על טעותם. כך אלו האוחזים בדרכי אבותיהם שתעו. לפיכך ראוי להחזירן בתשובה, ולמשוך אותם בדרכי שלום, עד שיחזרו לאיתן התורה; ולא ימהר אדם להורגן.

    The Shach there is a peleh, I have no idea how to understand it.

    Kitzur said:

    “However, if they’re doing it “l’hach’iss” (to be provocative), then we can’t be tolerant of them at all. They know what they’re doing, and are purposely going against it.”

    The Chazon Ish writes that even real apikosim – the ones that were not tinokos she’nishbu, but rather went off the derech – should be treated with love. It’s here:

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14334&st&pgnum=21&hilite

  3. “Also, when you refer to family members as ‘not-yet-frum’, it certainly sounds like you don’t accept them for who they are.”

    Tolerance and endorsement of a lifestyle are not the same. Their failure to take on the complete package of Torah and Mitzvos can’t actually be endorsed, for obvious reasons.

  4. In late November there are plenty of comments on this website about how to best share the Thanksgiving holiday and the subsequent Shabbat with parents and siblings who are not yet frum. Many contributors talk about finding solutions that allow families to still get together

    Interesting comment, Judy. While I agree that BTs show a lot of tolerance, why do you assume they’re the only ones? After all, the BT is the one who has changed. It must take a lot of tolerance for parents to accept that their kids rejected their upbringing. Also, when you refer to family members as “not-yet-frum”, it certainly sounds like you don’t accept them for who they are. How would you like it if a formerly religious person referred to his or her parents as “not yet off the derech?”

  5. To Gary #8: I would agree with you 100%. Much of what I’ve read on this site has been about tolerance, BT’s desperately trying to continue (and even enhance) their close relationships with non-observant family members. In late November there are plenty of comments on this website about how to best share the Thanksgiving holiday and the subsequent Shabbat with parents and siblings who are not yet frum. Many contributors talk about finding solutions that allow families to still get together, such as double-wrapped Glatt Kosher turkey or preset timeclocks. There is a lot of sadness, not hatred, expressed by the BT’s and Gairim who post on this blog. As said in one of the Aggaditas of the Talmud, “Pray for the end of evil, not the end of the evildoers.”

  6. In two years of reading this site, I have seen very few examples of “intolerance.” I think the majority of those examples (few as they were) were in comments rather than in the articles themselves.

    Not all non-observant Jews are intermarried, many are Jewish according to Jewish law, and while not dressing according to laws and customs of modesty, not all dress in the opposite extreme either.

    The outrage expressed over the Clinton wedding on this site does not contradict my hypothesis of civility towards individuals. I sense greater distress over the spectacular glorification of the pseudo-Jewish pageantry that took place there. We would be upset if our cousin “Abie” married “Irish Rose,” and perhaps not associate with him anymore. While every intermarriage is a wound for all of Klal Yisrael (the overall Jewish community) “Abie’s” wedding would not effect us on the magnitude of the Clinton wedding. Down the road, despite skipping certain events in “Abie’s” intermarried life, we would be principled but not disrespectful, and even reach out to him if he suffered a death in the family or he himself was seriously ill.

    While many here would take a principled stand against extreme behavior, I am confident it would be done in a civil matter. I do not see intolerance, at least manifested as disrespect, as a dominant trait among the people who write and comment on this site.

  7. The question of tolerance of non observant Jews is IMHO the issue of when do we stop smiling and nodding and when do we start screaming and raging.

    One Rav of our community talked about the chareidim who burnt down bus shelters because of the offensive ads. That rav said, “Suppose there had been swastikas drawn on those bus shelters. Then everyone would have understood the feelings of outrage.”

    Do we smile and nod politely when Marc introduces us to his wife Chelsea? Do we smile and nod politely when Adam introduces us to his spouse Steve, legally married in Boston? Are we tolerant of interfaith and same-sex couples or do we say something?

    In the Torah, we read that Pinchas was not tolerant of Zimri and Kozbi. He was intolerant to the point of being a zealot who took his spear and killed them. Now we don’t go around killing people nowadays for not following the Torah. But what is the right way to express our outrage, our moral objections to whatever is going on? I suppose for the right guidance in this area one needs Daas Torah from his/her own trusted Orthodox Jewish rav and posaik.

  8. Kitzur-Please see the relevant portions of ShuT Minchas Shlomoh and Halichos Shlomoh. WADR, RSZA did not make the distinction that you advocated for not yet Shabbos observant guests in Israel or for buying from someone who subscribed to the Heter Mecirah during the Shemittah year.

  9. Is “tolerant” being used as a synonym for “accommodating” here? I’m not trying to split hairs or engage in pilpul. I just want to mentally grasp the correct concept.

    From the other perspective, Jews who are not observant feel that they are being extremely “tolerant” of us when they provide Glatt Kosher meals for us at family functions and when they drape scarves over their low-cut fashions.

    I have three BFF’s named Debbie, Mindy and Barbara. We really have been best friends for what seems like forever, I think it’s more than forty years now. Debbie, Mindy and Barbara are assimilated Jews. However, when we get together, they always make sure to bring out the paper plates, O-U packaged cold salads, plastic cups, etc.

    Tolerance comes out of respect, out of caring about how the other person feels. I worked once with devout Hindus who were very strict about not eating any animal products, including such common foods as eggs and tuna. I brought in to a work party a bean and rice salad that these gentlemen could eat and they were very appreciative.

    I remember reading about how the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City had two employees who for religious reasons could not wear the prescribed headgear, a cap with the MTA logo on it. (Orthodox Jews had no trouble with it, simply wearing the cap on top of their yarmulkes). One was a devout Sikh who always wore a turban, and the other was a Muslim woman who wore a hijjab or headscarf. The two employees really wanted to keep their jobs and the MTA really wanted to keep them. Everyone sought to be “tolerant” and “accommodating” here. Finally the MTA came up with a solution. It now has an official turban with the MTA logo, to be worn by male employees of the Sikh faith, and an official hijjab with the MTA logo, to be worn by female employees of the Muslim faith. Now that’s being tolerant!

  10. I think a “tinok shenishba” or “captive child” in the context of this discussion is one who has been cut off from access to genuine information about Torah Judaism. Such a person is not considered to be guilty of violating Torah law, except for violating prohibitions that everyone knows about, like murder and adultery .

    We are now in an age swamped with both true and false information about Torah Judaism. At what point does the now-grown-up “tinok” living in a civilized country with advanced communications have personal responsibility for gathering and acting on the true information? Are we to assume that the biases formed in childhood are forever?

  11. Tolerant of the practices, attitudes, observances, opinions,… of non-observant Jews.

    If you prefer- “of what should we be tolerant” and “of what should we be
    not tolerant”

  12. It depends for what.

    If they’re purely a “tinok sh’nishba”, then there’s what to talk about. I believe it was Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l that paskened that this “heter” only applies in Chutz La’aretz where people are very ignorant, but in E”Y, the chilonim know plenty well about Torah & Mitzvos, and are more “shogeg” then “tinok sh’nishba”.

    However, if they’re doing it “l’hach’iss” (to be provocative), then we can’t be tolerant of them at all. They know what they’re doing, and are purposely going against it.

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