Originally Posted on Oct 25, 2006
When Modiin was first built, it was designed as a ‘secular’ haven for the people who used to fancy living in Jerusalem, but didn’t want hareidim for neighbours. As the city has grown, it’s begun to attract quite a few modern orthodox, including a lot of expat anglos, who for the most part, have similar feelings about the hareidim.
When we moved here last year from London, we were just happy to be somewhere where we had jewish neighbours, regardless of what they did or didn’t keep. I wonder now if we were a little naïve.
It’s not that we have had any difficulties, G-d forbid, with our secular neighbours. They have been as friendly as they can be, given the fact that we can’t eat in their homes, and they aren’t overly keen to come for a Shabbat meal.
But that ‘anti-haredi’ stance comes out in a lot of subtle, and not so subtle ways that has implications for everyone who lives here. It means that building synagogues, mikvas and schools in the area is loaded with a whole bunch of fears about being ‘taken over’ by the religious.
The irony is that if anything, the ‘religious’ people here are just as scared of being taken over by the hareidim. We also don’t want people telling us how to dress, telling us when we can drive our car, telling us what we can and can’t watch.
Until quite recently, I was firmly in this camp. How can you have free will – and the merit of doing a particular mitzvah – if you are being compelled to do it by outside forces?
But then my husband started to go to kollel a few hours a day, in the hareidi neighbourhood of kiryat sefer. There is no kollel in modiin, so that was the nearest option.
And lo and behold, we discovered that hareidim are not the scary monsters that many people persist in making them. Many of them are the kindest, non-judgemental and most genuine people you could care to meet. They have their priorities right: lots of kids, and a focus on learning and mitzvahs as opposed to accumulating pointless ‘stuff’.
In Israel, there is a long list of popular complaints against the hareidim, starting with the number of kids they have (that secular wisdom dictates that they can’t afford) and culminating with the ‘facts’ that they don’t pay taxes and don’t serve in the army.
I’m not qualified to comment on all the ins and outs of these issues. But it seems to me that they all touch on the same basic issue: hareidim act as if the ‘natural’ laws of the world don’t apply to them.
But of course, as jews, that is exactly how we are meant to act.
Once you see it in action, in a neighbourhood like Kiryat Sefer, it calls into question how many of us modern orthodox act and think.
I was talking to a hareidi woman who used to be chiloni (non-religious) and lived in Tel Aviv. She and her husband made tshuva a few years back, and now she lives in Kiryat Sefer with her five kids.
She does a lot of outreach work with girls in Ramle, many of whom don’t think twice before chowing down on a pork chop. She was telling me about her work and said something that really made me stop and think.
“A lot of these girls eat pig, but when you show them that the Torah is true, they make tshuva and over time, they go the whole way,” she said. “They understand that if the Torah is true, then ALL of it is true. Just as they shouldn’t eat pig, they understand that they should also try to do all of the other things in the Torah.
“It’s easier to work with them than to work with ‘frozen jews’, who are keeping more, but think what they are doing is enough. Frozen jews never really reach the top of the mountain, because they haven’t accepted that the Torah is true, and comes from Hashem. If you accept that the Torah comes from G-d, you can’t pick and choose which bits of the Torah you keep. They are all equally important.”
The point is not that we have to keep everything immediately. But the point certainly is that we have to continually strive to reach that goal.
It’s an uncomfortable reminder and it leads to a lot of uncomfortable questions, not least because i™ makes a very clear distinction between those that really believe in Torah and Hashem – regardless of their outward observance – and those that really don’t – again, regardless of their outward observance.
I don’t know what the answer is. But I’m increasingly of the opinion that when it comes to belief in G-d, you can’t spend a lifetime trying to sit on the fence.
THANK YOU for this post! In my few years as an NCSY advisor I have encountered many types of teenagers but the ones most receptive are those coming from completely secular backgrounds as opposed to conservative or more lax modern orthodox backgrounds and are “frozen” as you call it. [note: I came from a Solomon Schechter background but different family dynamics led me to find the way BH!]
I suppose that this old thread was posted again due to the news about the recent clash between Chareidim and Dati Leumi in Ramat Beit Shemesh. It is interesting that a Dati Leumi blogger who lives there (he made Aliyah from the U.S.A. with his wife and six kids in July 2006) says that the real issue is not tznius and not religiosity, it’s all about power and control. One group is trying to make the others move out so that it can take over the school buildings, mosdos, apartments and eventually the entire governance of the city.
although i can see michoel’s[october 26,2006 16:49] point only too well, by the Satmar especially,this is because i partially am totally screwed up and have a deep family split caused by my mum’s
out-marriage against my trad/sort of M.O [mum’s mum] and secular jewish atheist[mum’s dad]trying to spoil me and also force me to work despite my mild? c.p, sort of autistic o.c.d behaviour trying to keep mitsvot without yirat or Ahavat Hashem or Ahavat Yisrael or Ahava towards Bnei Noach and others, without background knoweldege in Musar,Hashkafa,Halaha,Mishna,Gemoro etc,plus l.ack of social skills and after a while driftied not onto the right derech and needed the help of G-d through Rebbe Nachman as I found Dvar too formal, as too OhrSom. and Aish and what secular and religious knoweldege I had was put down in all my contacts with both non-Jews & Jews because I failed to be Sh Ha B, because my limited emotional/social intelligence [Yetser Horo defeated my absract Yetser Tov
Gmar Chatima Tova and Briut al Ha-Tsom
just wanted to conclude by apologising to anyone who took the term ‘frozen jew’ as applying exclusively to MO.
ora is absolutely right, that the term didn’t and doesn’t apply to any particular group. it’s something that can occur to any individual in any community, regardless of their outward appearance of level of observance.
also, i’m not from North America, and it seems that terms like ‘MO’ are much more clearly defined (and jealously defended) over there. In the UK, where i’m from, people usually just define themselves as ‘shomer shabbat’ and that’s generally that, in most circles.
lastly, the post was not intended as a general comment on any group of people. i met a wonderful family in kiryat sefer and was very impressed by them.
when you meet people who are full of emuna, and who are just so kind and knowledgeable about the torah, it can’t be a bad thing to be impressed by that, and want to emulate it, can it? i’m not talking about dressing different or becoming hareidi, (whatever that means) but just striving to become a better jew.
as bruce pointed out, there are also many wonderful people in modiin, and we can always learn a lot from everyone we meet.
anyway, i apologise for any offense inadvertently caused by the post, and wish everyone a good voch.
Thank you! Those are perfect, and I am printing it out to share with others. Here’s an addition to your list:
Show genuine interest in your Sephardi friend, colleague or neighbor’s minhagim at relevant times, such as before a Yom Tov.
When engaging in Kiruv, research the particular Minhagim relevant to those you are being Mekarev, so that a) they can take pride in their particular heritage and b) they can follow in the derech that belongs specifically to them.
As an extension of Michoel’s #3, provide necessary assistance in building programs and institutions that cater to Sephardim, including offering encouragement, providing technical assistance on planning boards, pitching in on functions- increased infrastructure for communities such as Sephardim are vital to ensure the continuity and viability of their own distinct derech, particulary in locales in which they are a minority.
1. Say Shabbat Shalom to Sefardim
2. Put a picture of the Baba Sali in my home, together with my other g’dolim pictures, and explain to my children who he was.
3. Give tzedaka to Sefardi mosdos (Mosdot! that is).
4. Chop a minyan once in a while in a Sefardi Beit Hakeneset and just be noheg kavod for them and their derech.
“It takes some work but it is possible to be freindly and inclusionary yet allow for autonomy and validate alternative paths all at the same time.”
And B”H, that is what Klal Yisrael does.
Because of so many normal factors, certain segments of Klal Yisrael don’t persevere in their Mesorah. We can try to help them, and be proactive in this effort.
Now that we have finished flinging accusations, can we come up with some concrete suggestions? I personally work to point out my admiration to certain individuals on very specific parts of their Mesorah (after doing research), in order to instill pride in and facilitate preservation of their Mesorah. Can you share ideas of what you have done, so we can learn from one another and help in this important effort?
In Israel, the majority of marriages are between members of different communities,
any source for that information? I don’t think it’s accurate but don’t have a source to back me up :)
This may not be the case in haredi communities
I know happily married “mixed” haredi couples, so it’s not exactly uncommon there either.
knowing some doesn’t make it uncommon!
Jacob- There is no ambiguity here. Delivering a shiur in English to non-yiddish speaking talmidim and giving one’s daughters hand in marriage are gestures of inclusion not exclusion. If Rav Ruderman z”l “didn’t want them with us” then insted of according them the honor and respect of establishing Kehilot with fidelity to their own mesorah in halakha and minhagim he would never have accepted them into NIRC in the first place!
It takes some work but it is possible to be freindly and inclusionary yet allow for autonomy and validate alternative paths all at the same time.
Regarding # 64
“In Baltimore, Rav Ruderman insisted that the Persian Jews should have their own kehilla and rav. In Chaim Berlin, when there were many Persians there one year, the Rosh Yehsiva said the entire shiur in English instead of Yiddish, since Yiddish was not part of the Persian boys mesora.”
Of course, and unfortunately, there will always be difficult types of persons who would use the anecdote above to “prove” that Ashkenasi intentions are to separate from the Edot HaMizrachi as if to say “we don’t want you with us”
However, when the opposite is done by joining the two kehilas together, the difficult “critics” will then say “They (Ashkenasim) are robbing the Edot HaMizrach of their Mesorah!”
Some people unfortunately spend a large portion of time grasping a proverbial double-edged sword to sanctimoniously swing at anyone they judge as guilty of whatever.
Maybe your right. I don’t know. Take care.
JR–In Israel, the majority of marriages are between members of different communities (ashkenazi-sfardi, sfardi-ethiopian, russian-edut hamizrach, etc). This may not be the case in haredi communities, I really have no idea, but I know happily married “mixed” haredi couples, so it’s not exactly uncommon there either.
Has it been you that has had a less thoughtful approach, facilitating the “gradual contraction of Jewry’s rich cultural mosaic? No, I don’t think so. Well, perhaps your neighbor? Your brother-in-law? No one you could think of, right? It’s very easy to paint “society” with a dark brush, and attribute narrow-mindedness and the effort toward “diluted, marginalized or made to feel inferior and becomes an “endangered species” to a large society or community. Please don’t be so quick to do this.
Can you think of any of your friends or relatives who are “convinced that they… helping… thaw out of his state of a frozen state of arrested development to ascend the mountaintop”? You are bringing up an important issue, one of preserving and bringing back vitality to precious parts of Klal Yisrael. You can do that without speaking badly of others- this heated rhetoric does little to help the effort, and lessens the impact of the true issue.
How about someone writing an article on this important issue, so we can all focus on ideas and suggestions to arrest this sociological trend?
I was writing about Israel and in Israel it is not a minority that has this attitude.
And are you implying that the attitude is more prevalent amongst charedim than it is amongst MO?
I wasn’t implying anything. I don’t know if it’s more prevalent among chareidim than MO in Israel. My guess would be it is but I really don’t know.
Rav Aharon Shechter has a sefardi son in law. As is the son in law of Rav Shimon Groner z”l. There are many others.
Right, they’re not Israeli or living in Israel. There are many more “mixed” marriages (Sefardi-Ashkenazi) in the US.
“You are now talking about a shogeg. Before you were talking about a “deeply saddening Jew-on-Jew crime of cultural Imperialism”. I just don’t see it.”
I say that the two are not mutually exclusive. The cultural Imperialism is mostly unconscious but is borne of the smug conviction that “We are only being helpful. We are only trying to sophisticate and civilize you, to give you the one-true derech in Torah (lomdus) v”Avodah that I myself already learn/practice. To help you” in the words of the original post “reach the top of the mountain”
Way back in comment 29 you opined the attitude that “there is something wrong with you if you don’t aspire to be like me” is just obnoxious, whoever it comes from. .
I am well aware of the wonderful efforts of many Gedolei Yisrael that you described. Still, perhaps through the cumulative (non-conspiratorial) efforts of many less thoughtful and more narrow-minded rank-and-file people they’re has been a gradual contraction of Jewry’s rich cultural mosaic over the past several decades.
I think it’s most appropriate that we’re having this thread erev Parshas Noach. After all this is the parsha of the rainbow. As Paul Simon once sung
And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack
Everything’s the same
Back in my little town
“as well as chareidi-Ashkenazim view non-Ashkenazim as second-class”
I assume you mean that there is a minority that has that attitude. And are you implying that the attitude is more prevalent amongst charedim than it is amongst MO? I don’t see that. Rav Aharon Shechter has a sefardi son in law. As is the son in law of Rav Shimon Groner z”l. There are many others.
It was actually the secular, Ashkenazi leaders of the State of Israel who ripped the Yemenites’ mesorah away from them, cutting off their pei’os, sending them to irreligious schools, stealing babies. The secular leaders also ripped away the yiddishkeit of many North African Sefardim who made aliya. It’s a very sad chapter in the history of the State of Israel.
And it’s sad but true that both secular upper crust as well as chareidi-Ashkenazim view non-Ashkenazim as second-class. There are quotas on Sefardim not only in chareidi neighborhoods but in the yeshivos as well. Mixed marriages are rare.
As for changing allegiance in levush and minhagim – with the rise of the Chasidic movement, all who joined it changed their way of doing things and this same switch is made nowadays too. I can understand why people would be bothered by this.
In last week’s English language Hamodia weekly, the Mirrer Yeshiva has a full page ad highlighting the many Moroccan-born rabbonim educated there. This outreach effort by the Yeshiva was all to the good.
One of these rabbis knew my wife’s family in New Jersey and later was our rabbi on Long Island.
The formation of the Shas school system was, in part, an effort to give sefardim their own self-determination. In Baltimore, Rav Ruderman insisted that the Persian Jews should have their own kehilla and rav. In Chaim Berlin, when there were many Persians there one year, the Rosh Yehsiva said the entire shiur in English instead of Yiddish, since Yiddish was not part of the Persian boys mesora.
You are now talking about a shogeg. Before you were talking about a “deeply saddening Jew-on-Jew crime of cultural Imperialism”. I just don’t see it.
re comment 59 (if it ever makes it through the filter.) The administrators know me. They can assure you that my response was not fictitious.
Other than in the cases of the maskilim and early secular Zionists I’m not accusing anyone of anything sinsiter. But the Path to **** is paved with the best of intentions. i think that we’d agree that it is possible to sin bein odom l’cahveiro b’shogeg.
Please don’t make wild speculations about people you don’t know and never even met. The reason there are not Ashkenazi applicants to sefardi yeshivos is becasue there were always many high-quality Ashkenazi yeshivos. Nothing sinister.
Black hat Yeshivish. Group identity.
Anonymous (#57) said “This is not off-topic.”
Off-topic maybe not, but for sure this vehemence is off-putting.
I never asked the Teimani/chassid I met (in 1995) how he got that way, and you, Anonymous, obviously didn’t either. For all you know, his previous levush was Levi’s.
I challenge you, Anonymous: How do you dress, and why?
anonymous, you’re making a lot of assumptions here, without even knowing the guy or his story, or that of his new circle of friends.
There is no pattern of Yemenite Jews adopting Satmar Mesorah, and one report of such shouldn’t evince such a strong condemnation of supposed imperialistic sins.
Suppose the Yemenite Jew, for personal reasons, had a deep need to explore the Satmar way of life. Suppose he begged to be taught? Do you know that he was persuaded/influenced to change his Levush, or if he had personally longed to adopt Satmar appearance and lifestyle, based on his own personal reasons?
I think this may be a case of jumping the gun, perhaps.
I am not completely negating your concept of Ashkenazi culture and Mesorah taking over smaller communities, but these trends represent normal sociological changes (albeit sad) related to many factors, and does not reflect a conspiracy theory of such dramatic proportions as you describe. The lone Yemenit turned Satmar is indicative of nothing except his own individual story.
I admire your strong feelings on the issues of communities such as Sephardim and Breur’s slowly losing their unique identity and own beautiful Mesorah, and I support any efforts to help theses communities stay proud and strong in their own Mesorah. I have indeed spoken on this topic in the past, in particular to young Sephardic teens, and completely agree with its essence.
But let’s not get drawn into conspiracy theories of a devious Ashkenazi cabal bent on ripping traditions away from other communities. And we can also respect that Yemenite now Satmar individual, who chose a path that he feels is personally best for his Avodat Hashem. He is not a child, and we demean him by assuming his personal changes are not of his own determination.
We (ashkenazim) had our Mesorahs violently ripped away from us by the Haskalah and the Reform. Were there any similar movements in Yemen or elsewhere in the Sephardic/ Eidot HaMizrach world?
You say that Ashkenazi l’vush has become the norm across the board. Not just L’vush. Thinking, learning, davening (show me Stibelech anywhere in old North Africa), emoting (or lack of emotions) etc. To me all this is a deeply saddening Jew-on-Jew crime of cultural Imperialism. Satmars often accuse Zionists of robbing Sephardim of their Heritage. Satmars themselves now seem to be supplanting the ancient indigenous Torah Mesorah of the Yemenites with their own (of, I might add, a much more recent vintage).
This is not off-topic. It relates to two important issues raised in this thread. All this talk about quotas. Why is their never any talk about Sephardic Yeshivas and Seminaries limiting the amount of Ashkenazic students they will admit? Answer: they rarely if ever have any Ashkenazi applicants. And why is that? Cuz Ashkenazic cultural imperialists of every religious and irreligious stripe seem to have been incredibly successful in convincing both themselves and masses of Sephardim that their (Ashkenazi) lifestyles and institutions are objectively better, superior, the best yadda yadda. (To a lesser extent it’s happening to the Breuer’s Kehilla, heirs of the cradle of Ashkenazi civilization, over in the Heights.)
I think that all Jews are diminished when nay ancient Torah-true Mesorah is diluted, marginalized or made to feel inferior and becomes an “endangered species”. I speculate that all the Satmar Chasidim who directly or indirectly influenced this guy to drop his l’vush in favor of theirs were convinced that they were helping him thaw ought of his state of a frozen state of arrested development to ascend the mountaintop.
Hungarian chasidic is presumably no worse then yekkish, tzioni, or any other non-temani l’vush. Correct? Ashkenazi l’vush has become the norm across the board. They align themselves with Satmar so that is the l’vush they choose. No big deal. If we are not so makpid on maintaining the l’vush of our predecessors, why should we demand it of them?
If we can get past the finger-pointing
As the saying goes “Whenever you point the finger at someone else there are three more pointing right back at you!”
Then why’d they drop their traditional dress in favor of Hungarian-Chasidic? I’m sure that theirs is more suited to a middle-Eastern climate.
They Temanim in Satmar maintain their own mesorah. They have their own minyan, minhagim.
Shai–I have met plenty of “frozen Jews” in Israel, usually among those who consider themselves orthodox. An example: a family I know on shabbat. They light candles around sunset, sometimes a bit before, sometimes a bit after. They have a nice Shabbat dinner together, then wash the dishes just as they would on a weekday (hot water, regular sponge, etc). They don’t watch TV or use the car, but there’s also no effort to avoid borer or other “minor” Shabbat restrictions. As M and the orignal quoted haredi lady pointed out, these are the people who will very rarely be chozer b’tshuva and start really keeping Shabbat (and other mitzvot) according to halacha, because they’re convinced that they’re already keeping the important parts (their kids often decide that many more of the mitzvot are “unimportant”).
Charedim can also be “frozen,” it’s not specifically a reform/MO/masorti/whatever thing. In fact, I think that most people have some area in their lives where they think/act (usually without concious awareness of their behavior) as if they don’t believe in Hashem. It’s a very difficult thing to bring faith into every aspect of our beings and lives. That’s why this article is so valuable. If we can get past the finger-pointing about who is considered frozen and why, and instead look at our own lives and check for areas in which we have perhaps ignored Hashem’s presence/ considered halachot “minor,” we’ll get a lot from it.
Is that called reaffiliating or selling out and rejecting your Mesorah? I think this is something very different from Bnei Eidot Hamizrach who are Chabadniks and Breslovers or Ashkenazim who follow Rav Amnon Yitzchak. In all these cases it was the parents or earlier ancestors who rejected a Mesorah and cut ties with a cultural heritage but a traditional Yemenite becoming Satmar? What’s’ that about? Has he e.g. stopped eating rice on Pesach?
JR, I left the link for YNET where the article about Kiryat Sefer’s “quotas” appears. I suggest you read it as I have no more information than appears in that article. My understanding is that the problem is not BT’s per se, or Eidot Hamizrach per se – after all they allow 35% of them in their buildings. They are worried that a preponderance of Eidot Hamizrach chareidim in a building could change the character of the building not because they are Eidot Hamizrach, but because the perception of chareidim of these types is that they frequently come from families that are new to observance, and have many relatives who are not observant. Though they do not in any way believe that a chareidi BT family is in any way equivalent to a non-observant family, at the same time they believe that only a 65% majority of chareidim with generations without non-observant relatives is sufficient to counteract the damage that these non-observant relatives and ties thereto can cause in chareidi society.
I suppose if there was an equivalent rediscovery of Torah lifestyles amongst the ashkenazim of Israel, this might be an issue, too, but it’s not. Rather, with the rising sun of the Shas political party and their significant outreach efforts and funding of religious schools in largely eidot hamizrach neighborhoods, they have significantly increased the number of chareidi Jews who trace their eidot to north Africa. There is no equivalent outreach program for Ashkenazi Jews as far as I know.
Is an Eidot Hamizrach member allowed to reaffiliate to get around the quota?
Traveling in Switzerland, I once met a Teimani who had been learning at a Satmar yeshiva in Israel and was dressed in their fashion. A very happy guy, too!
In Kiryat Sefer, no more than 30% of residents of many new buildings are allowed to be Eidot Hamizrach, even though they are Chareidi, for all sorts of reasons associated with fears of BT’s from these communities.
And what about Ashkenazi BT’s? Is there a quota for them too?
Alter Klein: How come when people who live in Kiryat Sefer that feel they want or need a frum environment that isn’t acceptable including those doing chinuch which in your words is shlichus and when the over whelming majority of lubavitchers stay in crown heights that is ok. Let not have a double standard.
What double standard? The Rebbe wants his Chasidim to go out on shlichus, period. The vast majority of Lubavitchers living in Crown Heights are not in chinuch and not on shlichus. Most are living there because they DON’T want to go on shlichus.
Are most of the Jews living in Kiryat Sefer in chinuch? Highly unlikely.
The halacha is very clear when it comes to Tzedaka. Your immediate family comes 1st.
yes, with your $$$
Someone needs to be ready to go out there and put themselves and their families on the kiruv “firing lines”. It isnt easy.
Definitely not. It takes mesirus nefesh and great Ahavas Yisrael.
Most Jews live in that region anyway so lets work on the concentrated areas 1st.
How many Jews in Monsey are regularly and actively involved in outreach, would you estimate?
Some decided that when their kids got to a certain age, it was time to come back to a “frum” environment. I can’t blame them.
I can’t blame them either. Without the Rebbe behind them, they can’t do otherwise. This is why Lubavitchers commit to living in the C.I.S. while most others come and go.
Its like the army, send the younger ones and have a system of rotation.
And then there are the career soldiers …
Bad people should become good. Good people should become better. Deal with things as they are and don’t get discouraged.
I didn’t get the impression from the original post or subsequent comments that anyone hurled criticism at Charedim for living in homogenous communities like Kiryat Sefer or Bnei Brak.
An issue, as Menachem presented, surfaces when in mixed environments such as RBS when zealous Charedi cabals or juntas start enforcing standards for the entire place as if it was Kiryat Sefer.
Regarding rabbinic rejection of violent actitivity such as rock throwing and flag burning; is it fair to ask if the Rebbeim and Rosehi Yeshiva, in order to make their words meaningful, are creating a culture where those who participate in such activity could lose status where it really counts…..the Shidduch market?
As far as Shai’s comment. I consider myself Charedi, and I also couldn’t help but think that the term “frozen”, in the context of the article, was meant as an unfair jab at MO elements.
Conversely, and perhaps this could be the subject of a blog article, a decision to become Charedi by itself should not unfairly be viewed as a commentary, positive or negative, towards other movements within Orthodoxy.
Shai, I hear what you’re saying. Here’s my closing comment on the post- it’s a beautiful and thoughtful article, from the perspsective of someone who is getting to know some wonderful people and is looking past stereotypes. The statements regarding “frozen” in the context of the Torah’s divinity seems not in consonance with the article’s theme, and its inclusion does puzzle me, in light of what you pointed out.
I don’t know exactly who the woman was referring to; but I don’t think it was MO.
Regarding picking and choosing: this concept needs work all around, and is not exclusive to MO. Some individuals need to work on Loshon Hara, some on anger, some on Tefilah, and some on Tzniut. If we understand that the Mitzvot are all equally applicable to ourselves, and are working on those we are weak in, then anywhere we are on the ladder, it’s going up. If we think that some parts of Torah don’t apply to us as individuals or as a community, we need to increase our learning and understanding of Torah.
This applies to every striped Jew. I can definitely think of areas in which I am lacking, and feel I’m “OK” not to be working on- this thread has given me a lot to think about. But those who “don’t accept the Torah is true and comes from Hashem” are coming from a worldview that is qualitatively, not quantitavely, different.
Too be extra explicit for those that may be less familiar with that statement of Chazal:
“Just as no two people have the same face, so too no two people have the same natures” (What I am translating here as ‘natures’ could be translated in a number of ways)
The Kotzer Rebbi comments on this, that just as there is no complaint against one of the two people for having a different face, so too their is no valid complaint against him for having a different nature. One Rosh Yeshiva of mine that said this over many times, used to jokingly immitate one person complaining to another person “Why don’t you have red hair like me?! A chutzpah!” Looking down on someone for having different perceptions of life and Torah is equally ludicrous.
V’aino taaneh- there is no complaint against him.
How come when people who live in Kiryat Sefer that feel they want or need a frum environment that isn’t acceptable including those doing chinuch which in your words is shlichus and when the over whelming majority of lubavitchers stay in crown heights that is ok. Let not have a double standard.
The halacha is very clear when it comes to Tzedaka. Your immediate family comes 1st. Someone needs to be ready to go out there and put themselves and their families on the kiruv “firing lines”. It isnt easy. Every Jew should and can do kiruv.How so? The Jews in Monsey have plenty of secular Jews living near them where they can do kiruv and yet still have limited exposure. The same goes for most frum Jews in the NY/NJ area. Most Jews live in that region anyway so lets work on the concentrated areas 1st.
By the way, there are plenty of litvish jews on college campuses today doing outreach. Yes with exposure and yes when they have very small children. I know plenty of Yidden who went to small, out of town communities to teach, etc. Some decided that when their kids got to a certain age, it was time to come back to a “frum” environment. I can’t blame them. Its like the army, send the younger ones and have a system of rotation. But they need training and they need to feel secure.
As a neighbor of Katrin’s in Modiin, I have a number of comments to make:
1. There is a kollel in Modiin, as well as a yeshivat hesder, ulpana (girls’ religious high school), yeshiva high school, religious schools, etc. What is lacking are shuls.
2. Yes, many of the city leaders and many of the secular residents fear religious Jews – not hareidim, religious Jews. In their eyes, there is no distinction between haredim, dati leumi, modern Orthodox, etc. This is why there are so few shuls in the city. However, I have seen no evidence that religious residents “have similar feelings about the hareidim”.
3. I also learn with someone from Kiryat Sefer. He is a very sweet, learned person, and we have a wonderful chevrusa. However, our hashkafot are different (not better or worse, just different). I also shop there (I eat mehadrin), and my wife worked there with autistic children. There are many good things about Kiryat Sefer, and there are also some things that are not so good – as with any other city, Modiin included.
4. I am unsure to whom the term “frozen Jews” applies, but I do know that in Kiryat Sefer there are many who look down upon Modiin as a totally non-religious city. A friend visiting Kiryat Sefer from the US was told that Modiin has no religious infrastructure, not even a mikvah! Obviously not the case.
5. There are many religious Jews in Modiin who are constantly working to improve themselves in learning, davening, gemilut chesed, etc. They are certainly not frozen, nor do they doubt “that the Torah is true, and comes from Hashem”.
M, you are probably writing from someplace other than Israel. Reform and Conservative Judaism are almost non-existent here. Either you are one of the shades of orthodoxy, a traditional person who accepts orthodoxy as authentic but do not practice much (which is to say, not MO, in case there’s confusion), or you are a secular person that denies the existence of G-d, or believes G-d exists but that Jews are “nothing special”. The person writing the article was describing an experience in Israel, and therefore Jews who are “frozen” at a specific level of observance refers to whom? It’s not Reform and Conservative Jews.
Nebich the Jews of RBS sound as though they are fresh squeezed not from frozen concentrate.
“we need to keep doing the positive stuff we’re doing and not let it be spoiled by others who might not approve of our Torah growth path…”
I am all for diversity in Jewish life whenever feasible, although I do not know how to jumpstart its increase in our society.
I think that the above-quoted statement makes sense from a psychological perspective. We shouldn’t try to be someone we are not to satisfy someone else, or we will never be happy. Likewise, often not caring about what others think is arrogance, but sometimes being concerned with people’s opinions is not beneficial.
David Mandel of Ohel had an article which I liked titled “Black Hat, Gray Hat, No Hat Reflections on Orthodox Factionalism”. I quote from the end of his article:
People need to be comfortable with themselves, secure in their own skin, in order to find their place in the community. Dr. David Pelcovitz often speaks of the resilience of human beings, the inner strength people have that carries them through difficult times. Dr. Abraham Twerski is renowned for stressing the importance of self-esteem and positive self-image.
As long as we’re comfortable with who we are and what we want to be, and as long as we don’t feel pressured or compelled to be someone or something we’re not ready to be or don’t want to be, we can be in the Center, the Right, the Left – or anywhere else on the spectrum.
And please, let’s leave the labeling to clothing and food, not people.
May I add another perspective on the “Frozen” thought?
My take on “frozen” is those who have experienced some of the practice of Judaism, such as lighting candles (not on time), going to synagogue/temple with rituals and prayer, but without an understanding that our laws are divine and thus unalterable (the kol nidrei feast is inspiring, and brings the congregation closer)- these individuals hear about Judaism from someone and say/think, “been there, done that”.
Jews with this afilliation may not get a high from experiencing an authentic Shabbat, because their own version of Shabbat may also be inspiring and family oriented, and they can be spiritually anesthetized to true Torah. I have experienced this with others, and find it much easier to show the beauty and authenticity of our Torah to those who have been less exposed. To the former group, I’m just a friendly addition to their circle of friends (which is nice, but not as helpful to bringing them closer to Torah).
People who are not clothed in the veneer of a falsified Judaism may be more open-minded to real Judaism, and are more attuned to what is authentic when they meet it.
I know this has nothing to do with the MO/Charedi interactions, but I actually believe that the woman quoted in the original post was referring to what I have in mind, and was not thinking of any MO/Charedi worldview dispute when she said them. Here’s the quote: “Frozen jews never really reach the top of the mountain, because they haven’t accepted that the Torah is true, and comes from Hashem.”
I have never met a MO individual who does not accept that the Torah is true and comes from Hashem. And I don’t think anyone in any observant stripe, thinks this description is true of MO. So why would we be thinking that “frozen” in the post is referring to MO? The woman was referring to those who are members of non-observant congregations, and I agree with her; although there are countless individuals who have come home with a Reform, Reconstructionist, or Conservative background, it does pose a greater, although not insurmountable, challenge.
Frozen Jews never really reach the top of the mountain,
Last time I checked the last Jew to reach the e mountaintop was Moshe Rabenu. For the rest of us the challenge is not to grow weary of a lifelong ascent.
While confidence in the correctness/good fit of ones derech is essential to the process of “keeping on keeping on” operating under the delusion that “I have reached the summit, now it’s my role to shlep others up to where I am” is an overconfident attitude that is often counterproductive. Ironically it becomes a case of “the ice cube calling the popsicle frozen” because in the above described scene it is davka the climbers, who KNOW that they haven’t yet reached th e summit, who are still moving …while the mountain conqueror is the one who has plateaued.
I think that a major factor in “thawing out” frozen Jews is losing the smug “I’ve found it”self-congratualtion that can make a kiruv shmooze begin to sound like one of those radio hucksters shilling another get rich quick scheme that goes something like “ I made a fortune in real-estate. Dial 1-8oo-IM-SO-CLEVER” and I’ll rush you my book and CD that shows you how you (poor shlepper taht you are)can too!” I know that such an approach would leave me cold.Even frozen in my tracks! (See misconception #1 in the recent .Four Top Misconceptions People Have About Judaism post and thread.)
““vaino taaneh”. ”
Sorry Michoel I just didn’t get the Kotskers vort.Would you please elaborate?
Shai’s first comment lucidly describes the human dynamic going on with Israeli-Jewish communities. I appreciate the insight.
Just an observation. I certainly don’t have an answer to this complex issue.
Menachem, Actually I think the teacher’s main point was learning from the positive.
The control question comes from the fact that in an article which was focused on the positive, your takeaway was the subtle implication that Charedim think their way is the only way.
Some people point out that whenever we get angry, we are letting the object of our anger control us.
In any case it wasn’t meant as a criticism, only as a suggestion that we need to keep doing the positive stuff we’re doing and not let it be spoiled by others who might not approve of our Torah growth path.
Mark, Not sure how you got there. I’m just commenting on a blog. (A fine blog, but just a blog nevertheless. :) I don’t see how you come to ask those questions of me. If anything the opposite is true. I’m davka trying to point out to people like Katrin that frumkeit does not require Chareidi validation and while they certainly do not “control” me there is an element among them who certainly want to control others.
“Why not keep on learning more,”
Just started the new Z’man this week and am still loving it!
“and of course sending in your monthly inspirations to Beyond BT”
OK, I get the hint. :)
“What can I give to this person? What can I learn from this person?”
Very true. What I’ve learned in life is that sometimes what we learn from negative behaviour is even more valuable than what we learn from positive behaviour. When someone behaves poorly you can see just how bad the behaviour looks to others and if the behaviour is directed at you, you can experience how it feels which futher reinforces the desire to do the oposite, positive behaviour.
Michoel, nice to be on the same side with you. Who says Chareidim and MO’s can’t get along? :-)
Shai wrote: Regarding JR’s comment about putting yourself at spiritual risk to save someone else, you’ve got it wrong. The problem is not whether you put yourself at risk, it’s whether you have to put yourself at risk to avoid spiritually murdering your brother.
I don’t know what you’re referring to. I responded to Alter Klein’s remark and he doesn’t seem to be talking about what you’re talking about.
alter klein wrote: You are correct in saying that many chabad shlichim go out there. 1st, as soon as there kids get old enough(12-13), they send them back to brooklyn.
Therefore? Their children’s formative years, the foundations for their future lives as Jews are forged in the boondocks!
2) I would like to see research on children of shlichim and what % go off the derech.
I have no reason to think it’s any higher than the # of children who go off the derech in Lakewood, Monsey, Yerushalyim, Brooklyn, etc. On the contrary, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was only able to convince his Chasidim to go on shlichus because he said he took achrayus (responsibility) for the children (which is NOT to say that no shluchim’s children go off the derech, because they do, and it’s NOT to say that shluchim don’t have to put in hard work to properly raise their children because they have to).
3) How come most chabadniks live in brooklyn or morristown? Only the minority go out to thailand, etc?
1) Either because they wanted to go on shlichus and the Rebbe told them to stay put
2) Or because they work in chinuch, also a shlichus
3) Because, although the Rebbe asked that ALL his Chassidim be shluchim, not all his Chassidim rise to the occasion.
Most people need community strength. Chazal clearly tell us that.
absolutely, which is why going on shlichus is a major leap of faith and is only done because the Rebbe exhorts people to do their share in putting out the fire that is decimating our people rather than sitting pretty and looking out for #1
I still agree with Menachem! Chazal say that k’shem sh’partzufeihen … (translation mine) Just as no two people’s faces are identical neither are their personalities and temperments. To which the Helige Kotzer adds: Just as two people’s faces are not identical “v’aino taaneh”, so too their personalities and temperments are not identical “vaino taaneh”. If their are well meaning, sincere Jews that identify with MO, then there is a reason that they do so. Who is anyone to judge?
There may well be good reason to judge specific shitos, but the attitude that “there is something wrong with you if you don’t aspire to be like me” is just obnoxious, whoever it comes from.
Why are you letting another group define or validate your derech? Why are you giving them so much control over you?
Why not keep on learning more, doing more mitzvos, doing more chesed and of course sending in your monthly inspirations to Beyond BT.
To quote a favorite saying from one of my teachers: When looking at any Jew a person should ask himself these questions: “What can I give to this person? What can I learn from this person?”
Katrin – wonderful post. Yasher Koach
“However, I thought to mention one point: It is rare to see an article praising Charedim. In fact, this lone one, has had many commentors already detracting from the post’s theme.”
This statement is misleading. This was not merely an article “praising Chareidim”, it was an article prasing Chareidim at the expense of others. The title alone makes this point.
Mark, I appreciate your intent, but the subtle implication of this article, intended or not, is the association of “growth in Judaism” with being Chareidi. I think a lot of the problems that some of us are raising are directly linked to an attitude among many Chareidim that their derech should be the ultimate goal for us all, that growth should always be in their direction, that if you’re not on your way to becoming Chareidi then you are either “frozen” or headed down the wrong path.
We saw this article as a piece to motivate us to continue striving for growth in our Judaism. That’s why it’s filed “Frozen Jews” under the category of Plateauing, a problem many/most/all of us face in some areas.
On another point, isn’t the path of Torah to focus on the positive in others, and then trying to correct the negatives. Only if we come from a place of love and caring, which are rooted in focusing on the positive, can we be successful (and perhaps even halachicly permitted) in rebuking to change behaviours.
I think that Katrin was focusing on what she saw as positives (more dedication to learning and mitzvos and less dedication to materialism) in the community in Kiryat Sefer. That would seem to be a good thing.
To quote a gem from a previous thread, “One cannot hate Lakewood and love Syossett”.
You are correct in saying that many chabad shlichim go out there. 1st, as soon as there kids get old enough(12-13), they send them back to brooklyn. 2) I would like to see research on children of shlichim and what % go off the derech.
3) How come most chabadniks live in brooklyn or morristown? Only the minority go out to thailand, etc? Most people need community strength. Chazal clearly tell us that.
Shai, you said “But MO’s don’t deserve across the board condemnation, and chareidim don’t deserve across the board accolades. That’s what I mean by there not being enough Ahavat Chinam to justify the halo.”
I write this not to negate your or other’s comments, but to point out something interesting:
I don’t have an educated comment to offer on the situations you and others noted, as I am lacking familiarity with them. However, I thought to mention one point: It is rare to see an article praising Charedim. In fact, this lone one, has had many commentors already detracting from the post’s theme.
As I said, I don’t know if the comments are valid or not. The sentiment in general is rarely, however, “aren’t the Charedim doing a great job in this or that area.” Far from a halo, they most often receive condemnation from all sides. Is it deserved? I can’t judge. But one place Ahavat Chinam is certainly not practiced enough, and that is toward the Charedim.
“when it comes to belief in G-d, you can’t spend a lifetime trying to sit on the fence.”
No one is “trying” to sit on a fence,” katrin. No one wants to put holes in their pants all the time. People who are “on the fence” as you call it, may not know yet where to stop, or what hashkapa works for them. Maybe they love Torah, but have issues with some mitzvos or rabbin advice or rabbinical bans.
No one wants to struggle with their yiddishkiet – I would hope you know that. It is inner conflict and external community trends that have some people struggling for complete faith. “Frozen” jews, as you friend calls them, may not be frozen at all. They are more likely keeping within a place that allows them to do the best they can and stay as emotionally healthy as possible.
“If you accept that the Torah comes from G-d, you can’t pick and choose which bits of the Torah you keep.”
This is quite a limited way of thinking. G-d may not allow one to pick and choose what He wants us to do, but we certainly must do the most we can, even if it is not everything. Your assumption – or the other woman’s assumption that those who don’t so it all are somehow lazy or “not getting the full picture” is not an apporpriate one.
Regarding JR’s comment about putting yourself at spiritual risk to save someone else, you’ve got it wrong. The problem is not whether you put yourself at risk, it’s whether you have to put yourself at risk to avoid spiritually murdering your brother.
That’s a big difference, JR.
This is the link to the article I was referring to regarding limiting residents of Oriental descent.
You are forbidden to commit spiritual suicide in order to save spiritually another Jew. Your life comes 1st. That is coming to you from some who works in kiruv.
Thousands of Chabad shluchim put other Jews first though they don’t commit spiritual suicide to live in Thailand, Alaska, Turkey etc. but make their homes spiritual havens from which the light of Torah radiates forth.
I didn’t say that we can’t praise Chareidim. Many of them deserve it for their works as individuals and some deserve it for the fruit of their communities, who are truly ohavei yisrael. But MO’s don’t deserve across the board condemnation, and chareidim don’t deserve across the board accolades. That’s what I mean by there not being enough Ahavat Chinam to justify the halo.
What bothered me about your article is that your praise for chareidim was couched in several places as a contrast specifically those who are religious Jews but who are not Chareidi, especially because some of these people have views of Chareidim that you found to be in dissonance with your personal experience. Had you lived in RBS, as one responder does, you’d certainly have a broader palette of experiences with which to paint these broad brush strokes of yours, for better and worse.
Let’s look at a few quotes from your post:
“How can you have free will – and the merit of doing a particular mitzvah – if you are being compelled to do it by outside forces?” Are non chareidi Jews who follow the halacha feeling forced to do mitzvot? No. They feel compelled to take on chumrot and a hashkafa that many Chareidim CLAIM to be halacha. If they eat “rabbanut” hechsherim, it doesn’t make their kitchens treif, for example.
“But it seems to me that they all touch on the same basic issue: hareidim act as if the ‘natural’ laws of the world don’t apply to them.
But of course, as jews, that is exactly how we are meant to act.
Once you see it in action, in a neighbourhood like Kiryat Sefer, it calls into question how many of us modern orthodox act and think.”
Or what about the quote you favored, ““It’s easier to work with them than to work with ‘frozen jews’, who are keeping more, but think what they are doing is enough. Frozen jews never really reach the top of the mountain,…”
That was referring to whom, if not “modern orthodox”?
And then by the time you finish your article, it’s clear that it’s not Chareidim you are speaking of when you say “…when it comes to belief in G-d, you can’t spend a lifetime trying to sit on the fence.”
My problem with what you write is that it contains the sense of superiority that undergirds extremists’ abilities to be so destructive and disrespectful of people who aren’t exactly like them. If you aren’t aware of it, you should be aware that all the things that were written in a previous post about Ramat Beit Shemesh were true. And those were only a portion of the recent issues, which completely gloss over the beginning of the conflict that began many years ago when I lived there. I never got the prosaic picture of chareidim that you did from Kiryat Sefer. Though I was predisposed to that prosaic view, which was the foundation of my optimism when I chose RBS knowing that it would be a mixed community, the behavior of these extitremists in RBS disabused me of this affection in a major way. In fact, so disgusting was the behavior of these extremists, and so meek was the response of their rabbinic leadership to a whole array of these assualts, that it caused me to completely reconsider my attitude about rabbinic leadership in our day, especially chareidi rabbinic leadership.
Now that I don’t live far from Kiryat Sefer, I can go there and see what you mean. But I assure you that there are communities of datiim leumiim in Israel that are not less devoted to learning and good works, who send their children to kolelim as well as army service, who burden themselves with the affairs of our state and worry about the common welfare, and who are not by any stretch of the imagination chareidi nor to be described as the feckless creatures who pass as MO that you feature in your piece. We are not less Jewish nor less human, nor less caring nor less devoted to G-d for our not being Chareidi. I no longer see being chareidi as the destination of a life long path, but only as one destination. I respect those who take that hashkafa as their path, and expect that my path will be respected by them – but it’s not.
Again, I repeat a modification of your conclusion, “But I’m increasingly of the opinion that when it comes to belief in OUR FELLOW JEW, you can’t spend a lifetime trying to sit on the fence.
Regarding another posters request for more detail, the 30% was according to status as “edot hamizrach”, not BT. The reasons I mentioned BT was that the source of this information said that there is a stereotype of eidot hamizrach Jews that they are frequently of recent ascension to a Torah life, that they have many relatives who aren’t Torah observant typically, and therefore it’s not favorable fora community or building to have a concentration of such people. 30% is not a small number, but I personally think that there’s nothing wrong with people making an extra effort to be more understanding of these kinds of people when the stereotype is truthful. The same reluctance to accept these people as they are is found in allowing young edot hamizrach girls to enter the best of the Ashkenazi girls seminaries. There is a quota, for the same unfair reasons.
If the rabbanim are powerless then the p’shutei am need to take action. There should be charedim hanging bright lime-colored posters saying “people that throw rocks at cars or at women waling for excercise are imbeciles and have nonthing to do with Judaism. They will toast in H…” I am very serious.
When I commented that Menachem was right, I didn’t mean only about rock throwing. The subtle and overt coercion is intolerable. If some charedim want Kiryat Sefer type places, there is nothing keeping them from founding more or moving in to the ones already existing.
“it’s very rare to see chareidim praised in any way”
I agree. I see two reasons.
1) There is definitely anti-daati and moreso an anti-Chareidi bias in the mainstream Israeli media.
2) The Chareidim are allowing their zealot’s actions to “speak” for them.
On the grass-roots level there doesn’t seem to be any effort to counter their behavior. Posters will go up all over Chareidi neighborhoods if a resteraunt is about to allow “seating” but you don’t see posters condemming the Chilul Hashem and Chilul Shabbos associated with some “demonstrations”.
The leadership is also cowed into silence on this issue. A few years ago a group of Rabbis from my community met with some Rabbis from RBS B to discuss the Yom Haatzamaut issue. While the chareidi rabbis were sympathetic they said that they are powerless to do anything to stop the zealots.
Alter says, (Hi Alter) that the Rabbis “totally disagree” with the behavior of the zealots. I have yet to see or hear a public condemnation of this behaviour. Are such condemnations evident up there in the Kirya Alter?
Throwing rocks is wrong. The rabbis totally disagree with this. The ones that do it are hoodlums.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to live in an all religious neighborhood. I dont want me or my kids exposed to semi nudity, etc. I am sorry, some non religious people dress like they are at the beach. We should be doing kiruv however with limited exposure(no pun intended). There are plenty of dl who live in neighborhoods like kiryat moshe, etc to live among their own too. Bet El and Efrat dont have too many no religious people. You are forbidden to commit spiritual suicide in order to save spiritually another Jew. Your life comes 1st. That is coming to you from some who works in kiruv.
Also, there is a tremendous benefit for the kids, on shabbos, not to have to worry about cars driving. Apartments are small, parks are few so the streets are their playgrounds. They deserve it.
from post #2: “I must disagree with the notion that the Torah expects Jews to act “as if the “natural” laws of the world do not apply to them”.”
According to the natural rules of the world, the Jews had to attend the party thrown by Achashveirosh.
According to the natural rules of the world, Mordechai should have bowed to Haman.
All the other gedolim of the time did. Mordechai was the lone voice that protested. Seemingly, thanks to Mordechai’s fanaticism, Haman decreed that they should all be killed, ch’v and it took many years before Mordechai’s stance was vindicated.
That we Jews still exist is the greatest defiance of the natural rules of the world!
What about hishtadlus and making a keli? Well, you can check out “Chovos Ha’Levavos” about that … :)
p.s. not going to the Israeli army has nothing to do with the “natural laws not applying to them.” Moshe Rabeinu, Yehoshua, Dovid Ha’Melech etc. fought in wars. If the IDF had no females and was supportive (not merely tolerant and certainly not anti) of halacha, many more chareidim would serve.
from post #1 “In Kiryat Sefer, no more than 30% of residents of many new buildings are allowed to be Eidot Hamizrach, even though they are Chareidi, for all sorts of reasons associated with fears of BT’s from these communities.”
1) Is this a written rule that anybody can see in print? Is it legal?
2) And if they are not BT’s? Is there still a quota?
menachem and michoel
i completely agree – throwing rocks is simply unacceptable from any perspective.
i do understand people who are anti-chareidi – until we visited kiryat sefer, i had a few of those tendencies myself.
but that’s why what i saw there didn’t accord with all the bad press the chareidi world gets.
it’s very rare to see chareidim praised in any way – and particularly will all the tumult going on in the world and israel, this seems to be an area which could do with a bit more attention.
i’m not ‘blaming’ anyone for the situation. i’m just saying that jews of every stripe are a lot more similar than we all give ourselves credit for
“Menachem is %100 correct.”
OK Mark and David you guys can stop the blog now. :)
Menachem is %100 correct. I write that as someone that considers himself charedi and have had mild (albeit enjoyable) disagreements with Menachem on a few issues. Throwing rocks is COMPLETE INSANITY and some responsible people should tell them that they will certainly burn in gehinom if they keep it up.
Jacob, the next sentence reads, “But of course, as Jews, that is exactly how we are meant to act.” I think that speaks for itself.
Katrin, there’s no question that we all suffer from the “highway driver” syndrome, i.e. those driving faster than us are maniacs and those driving slower are idiots, only we are driving at the “right” speed. That said, a driver can respond in different ways. Some of the behaviour I’ve described is more akin to “road rage” whereas Katrin is describing a horn honk. Huge difference. Throwing rocks and vandalizing cars is a far cry from commenting on an e-mail list.
Look around. How many Chareidi communities do know of that have any appreciable number of chilonim? Yet, there are many DL communities that do. That speaks volumes.
Granted there are some communities, like Beitar and Kiryat Sefer, that were designated as Chareidi from day 1. And it’s their prerogative to set community standards. But we’re talking about repeated situations where a minority of Chareidim dictate through severe coercion to the broader mixed community or even to those outside their community.
Again I’m not attacking Chareidim, I’m asking you to put yourself in the shoes of those in Modiin who have been through this and who you are criticizing for being anti-Chareidi.
In response to the claim that we’re not supposed to act as if the ‘natural’ laws of the world don’t apply to us – If even in Yemot Hamoshiach, olam k’minhago noheig, clearly it already does.
first of all, i just want to reiterate that while i think it’s very healthy to be having this debate, it should be conducted in as friendly a way as possible.
Shai – there is nothing wrong with saying nice things about chareidim.
i appreciate much of what you and also menachem have expressed in terms of chareidim not always acting appropriately.
i’ve also heard the horror stories.
i 100% agree that no-one should be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, religiously, as the very least, it has a serious impact on free will, and on the value of anyone’s mitzvah.
however, i think that the strength of the reaction about being ‘nice’about chareidim is very interesting.
in many ways, i think the chareidim are to MOs what we are to our secular acquaintances.
in one direction, many of an MO’s non-religious acquaintances simply can’t understand their lifestyle, feel very uncomfortable about them, and rush to judgement on any percieved (or actual!) ‘sin’ that we may have committed, in order to perhaps feel less uncomfortable. how many times have we been held to a much higher standard than our non-frum friends and relatives, and been found lacking because ‘we are religious, and we should know better’.
in the other direction, how many times have we secretly wished that our secular neighbours would not play loud music or hold parties on a friday night?
Or expected our friends and families to ‘be more kosher’ for us than they otherwise would have. it’s religious coercion, no less than the paper skirt.
a little while back, on our modiin email list, ‘MO’ participants tried to tell non-religious posters a) that it wasn’t appropriate to ask where non-kosher restaurants where and b) that it isn’t right that the iriyah schedules family events on shabbat.
this is imposing our beliefs on others, albeit a different shade.
i think if we could really succeed in trying to put ourselves in others’ shoes, but those who are less and more observant than others, many – although not all – differences could be resolved.
we bridle at being told to wear a paper skirt. undertandably. our secular neighbours bridle about being told the iriyah shouldn’t schedule events on shabbat. again, understandably.
we all need to try harder to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
it’s not about giving the chareidim a halo, but more about removing the devil horns.
dov – as to why i’m qualified to praise but not criticise – it’s a basic principle of loshon hara.
there is enough criticism of the chareidi world circulating, and i don’t want to add to it for no constructive purpose.
Interesting, thought-provoking post and comments.
A Modiin anecdote: When my husband and I were living in Jerusalem, we spent Pesach with friends in the Gush. At the seder, I was chatting with a fellow guest, a six-year-old girl from Modiin. Our conversations went like this…
Girl: Are there arabs in Jerusalem?
Girl: Do you talk to them?
Girl: Are there charedim in Jerusalem?
Girl: Do you talk to them?
It struck me that for this little girl growing up in Modiin, arabs and charedim were just two kinds of “other.”
On the other hand, we frequently visited Kiryat Sefer to see my husband’s cousins there. Although their lifestyle is different than ours, it makes me happy to see Jews joyfully living different kinds of Torah lives.
Homogeneity has its benefits. For one thing, it reinforces a family’s spiritual goals and values. As a BT, I think that’s particularly important. But what about the values of diversity, broad-mindedness, tolerance, ahavat Yisrael and love for all of humanity?
The quote regarding “natural law” was
“But it seems to me that they all touch on the same basic issue: hareidim act as if the ‘natural’ laws of the world don’t apply to them.”
The writer was describing that many INTERPRET the lifestyle of the Charedim as if it’s not subject to what they philosophize as “natural law”. It doesn’t appear as if Katrin herself expressed an opinion on its role vis a vis the Torah.
Hi Katrin, I’m a “neighbor” of yours here in Beit Shemesh. I live in a corner of the “Sheinfeld” neighborhood that is bordered to the East by the Chareidi neighborhood of Nachala Menucha and to the South by the Chareidi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. My experience living here give me insight into understanding why many of your neighbors fear “Chareidization”.
By and large I would say that our Chareidi neighbors are much like you positively describe. However, there is a minority among them who act exactly in the way your secular and DL neighbors fear. Here are a few examples:
– During this past summer on most Shabbatot groups of Chareidi youth, and some adults, gathered at the kikar that adjoins our neighborhoods to verbally and physical accost chiloni drivers. They threw rocks an their cars and placed dangerous debris into he road. Mind you, this is not a road that runs through their neighborhood. It is a border road.
– Within the last few months some new apartment buildings in RBS B which face North toward our neighborhood were completed. Shortly after the new residents moved in, many of them hung bright, lime-green posters, on their balconies “warning” people to dress properly.
– On Yom Haatzmaut gangs of youths hang out at the kikarim and rip Israeli flags off of passing cars. (Often with adults standing by and laughing.)
– In RBS A, due to pressure (extortion?) from zealots, many (most?) of the stores now carry signs demanding that people dress “tzniously”. In at least one of the stores, a supermarket, women who enter wearing pants are given paper skirts to wear. (RBS A was originally established as a “mixed” neighborhood.)
These are just a few examples. I am NOT generalizing about all Chareidim. However, if this is the “face” that these neighborhoods present to the outside world can you blame people, like Shai’s RBS “refugees” for fearing a repeat performance in Modiin?
No-one will quibble with your criticism of the excessive materialism of contemporary culture, and the virtue of “mistapek b’muat” (making do with little). However, I must disagree with the notion that the Torah expects Jews to act “as if the “natural” laws of the world do not apply to them”. The Torah is predicated on our involvement in the “natural” world. The “supernatural” element is expressed in our appreciation that the “natural” way of the world is still directed by G-d. However, the denigration of the “derech hateva” (the “natural” way) is frequently used to justify a charedi lifestyle (yes, not serving in the army, relying on hand-outs as a way of life), even though this may be inconsistent with other Torah values. This idea is a rejection of the rationalism championed by the Rambam and other great Jewish thinkers throughout history. Also, why are you not qualified to comment on perceived problems in the charedi world if you are qualified to comment on its virtues? There is much that one can praise in the charedi world, but that should be not preclude a critical examination of the less praiseworthy elements.
When it comes to belief in YOUR FELLOW JEW, you can’t spend a lifetime trying to sit on the fence, either.
In Kiryat Sefer, much of the peaceful sense you get there is because the community is homogenous. It’s easy to accept one person who’s different when the nature of the community is already set. Everybody’s Chareidi. But they are not open to having Chilonim live there, or even Datiim Leumiim, for the same reasons people in Modiin are fearful of greater Chareidi numbers. Nobody wants to lose their communities’ personality, or the quality of services they receive that accommodate their chosen lifestyles, in favor of those who do not accept the legitimacy of those lifestyles and who don’t carry their own financial weight to advance them.
Witness Elad Mazor, Har Nof, Beit Shemesh, and more – there are no chareidi communities that became dati leumi but many who have become chareidi that were once dati leumi, and not because the DL’s became charedi – they were slowly caused to vacate. In Modiin, a lot of the DL’s came from Ramat Beit Shemesh where the change from dati leumi to chareidi is ongoing. I think that the reticense is understandable. I’m not going to get into the details, as anybody who lives in Modiin as you do can surely speak to one of the arrivals from RBS to hear the story, but it was not mere ideological fervor by chareidim or a lack of a ‘real belief in Hashem’ that led these Jews to leave for Modiin, or to behave defensively when they sense that their new location is threatened by the same forces that caused them to leave RBS.
And by no means are non-chareidi the only ones at fault and that chareidim are somehow unusually tolerant, which is what you imply. In Kiryat Sefer, no more than 30% of residents of many new buildings are allowed to be Eidot Hamizrach, even though they are Chareidi, for all sorts of reasons associated with fears of BT’s from these communities. And imagine what it’s like to be told that you can’t use a PUBLIC bus or take a seat on it because you’re a woman, and the residents of Kiryat Sefer demand that certain parts of the bus be reserved for men? Is that fair when your bus fare is no less than theirs? Whether you do or not, you know some don’t see this as fair, and they aren’t going to be excited about their community changing so that they are made to feel unwelcome, as such actions make them feel.
It’s no trick to respect those who are like you – what’s difficult is how you respect and compromise for those who aren’t. I don’t think that Ahavat Chinam is anywhere near where it needs to be in Israel for you to grant chareidim or anybody else the kind of halo you convey in your article.