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Tuesday Discussion: Haredim and Baseless Hatred

July 9, 2013 – 11:48 am6 Comments

From the editor:

haredim2Welcome to the Tuesday discussion.

We’re in the nine day period, counting down to Tisha B’Av. We’re told every year around this time that the temples’ destruction was due to baseless hatred between Jewish groups. Every year, parallels are drawn between those ancient hatreds and today’s divisions – the most obvious being between Haredim and non-Haredim.

There is currently an imbroglio surrounding Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’s critique of Haredi isolationism. Information on the controversy can be read here, here, and here.

The question for today’s discussion: On whom is the onus to bridge the gap between Haredim and non-Haredim? Is such a bridge even possible?

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  • TheSadducee says:

    I like how the guy in the background of the picture has kindly held the invisible man’s hat in preparation for the brawl…

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    So the saddest part of that picture is of a religious man being hit by an Israeli policeman with a closed fist.
    I remember many years ago on Kibbutz in 1986 being shocked at the malice and the anger displayed towards religious people and how they were held to ridicule by the kibbutzniks and I actually cried after seeing in the Moadon a play making fun of the religious people of Mearsharim put on by two kibbutzniks from Australia. Was it entertainment to make fun of people burning bus shelters because of the semi naked people displayed on the shelters? How much more appropriate would it have been for the secular advertisers to sit down with the rabbonim of Mearsharim and design more appropriate adverts for the shelters and more like a group of yids using their Yiddishe Kop rather than acting like a bunch of ignorant idiots who have to resort to violence to solve their differences.
    We do know better.
    I am often disgusted by ads displayed in magazines in doctors’ surgeries, but I do not burn the magazines either. I just do not look at them. So there needs to be compromises on both sides but often it is the religious that are making the compromises.
    We do need a more active involvement in the state and government affairs from religious leaders and the charedim. The charedim have much to offer the state and the losers are ultimately the secular sectors of the Israeli society because Israel without spiritual leadership has lost the plot and gives away land like it does not belong to them in the delusion that it will bring peace. There is no logic in that at all.
    Israel needs to present a united front on all accounts. There are secular and religious Israelis co-existing respectfully in some areas and towns. That is the start.
    It starts with

    Co-operation and co-existence

    For each individual in a community. Every Jewish individual has a great soul and enormous potential to do good in the world. Non Jews also have a part in the design because that is what Hashem wants but the
    Individual efforts
    Tangible planning
    Yearning for peace
    comes from the Jewish nation and until the Jewish nation stands united in totality, we will not have a third beit mikdash. We have to build the third beit Mikdash in our hearts, homes and communities and extend it out to our country Israel. Build instead of giving away, treasure what we have and defend it, not devalue it.
    Do we want to behave like the worst of the goyim. Young Israeli girls in the army showing their bared bottoms on Utube. It was stupid seeing as they are no longer two or three years old but young women who should have more respect for themselves and others. Behaving like prostitutes and not like respectable young ladies and certainly did dishonour the uniform of the IDF. One wonders how they were brought up and why they do not value themselves as more than bits of flesh on display for all and sundry.
    On some levels feminism and Orthodox Judaism have a lot in common. We all want self respect for women and for each other. When we lose the plot and allow our people to follow the examples of the worst of decadent society akin to ancient Roman times and we all know how Rome ended up, we have lost the plot. Family is built on stability and peace and real caring. It is not built on anger and hatred of each other. It is built on honesty and truth and caring for each individual in the society as a whole.
    Why is it so easy for an Israeli policeman to hit one of the religious men? Is it because the religious man follows values and adheres to a Torah lifestyle in a way that makes that policeman feel guilty? Why can’t they sit and find a common ground and respect each other. After the holocaust, people lived together in a sort of peace and it was an opportunity to draw the nation together. However Ben Gurion made some very big mistakes. Rav Kook OBM did much good and educated many people. Everyone both secular and religious had to stick together and recognize who they really are and what their purpose in life is.
    I think the Israel of the fifties and sixties and seventies had more emuna and really Jewish values than the Israel of today which has sunk to a new low in Tel Aviv and other places with the mode of dress, language used by younger people and the behaviour. There is a return to more traditional values but the edges of society are frayed. We need to repair and make garments of beauty for Moishiach’s arrival and to work on the building of the beit hamikdash. The garments I refer to are not outer garments but spiritual garments and that is much more demanding and harder.

  • TheSadducee says:

    On a serious point – the onus to bridge the gap needs to come from both sides.

    The haredim need to acknowledge and respect that there are Jews (and goyim) outside of their preferred lifestyle and recognise that there is value in secular subjects (eg. science, history, politics, literature etc) and that interaction can be of benefit to all participants. There are no doubt significant numbers of haredim who could assist other Jews to learn the fundamentals/basics of Judaism/yiddishkeit.

    The secular/rest need to acknowledge that the haredim have made a life-choice and respect those preferences while living themselves differently. They could engage the haredim with assistance in the areas that they are deficient in (eg. secular social issues/skills, education etc).

    Can the gap be bridged? It can with good will on both sides, but I think it is unlikely without some significant leadership displayed – particularly from the haredim.

  • R B says:

    Being an ex-Israeli and reading Israeli Hebrew online media almost daily, I think that the gap cannot be bridged.

    We are talking about two separate peoples who hate each other, and do not share a single current value or piece of culture, only history. Secular Israelis have in common with non-Jewish Aussies much more than they have with the Haredim.

    There are also issues which relate to the character of this debate:

    1. The debate is managed by leaders whom interest is money, power and influence, not just ensuring their followers have the right to live according to their values and beliefs. This is true mainly for the Haredim, who are generally subjected to their Rabbis and to pressure from their communities.

    2. The language and style of the debate is much beyond what we know in Australia. You can see that anywhere – from talk-backs to editorials, from Shi’urim at Yeshivot to artworks at museums. Joseph Goebbels and Lenny Riefenstahl could learn some techniques and expressions from the Israeli media, on both sides of the debate. For example this case.

    3. The Haredi leaders refuse to subject their communities members to any obvious obligation of citizens in a state, like mandatory basic curriculum in schools, working as a base for making a living, etc. The current situation is a stack of political arrangement which were born in sin and are in favor of the Haredim, and no Haredi leader will give them up.

    Bottom line – very pessimistic. Either the Haredi demography will win (50% of Jewish first-year kids in primary school in Israel are haredi), or the growing fury, combined with the disengagement from Judaism among secular Israelis, will lead to extreme actions, whether violent or legal.

  • David Schulberg says:

    The Haredi threaten to drag the reputation of Jews and the Jewish People to new depths. What with the large number of sex molestation cases that have cropped in our local community, and the reactionism and cultural dissociation by the Haredi community in Israel, other Jews see them virtually as a fifth column. It is marvellous to see of our really great Jewish thinkers Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks challenging this narrow-minded sect, who have more influence than they should.

  • meir rabi says:

    To err is human, but do we admit we are human?

    The horror is that we use every power available to us to evade truth, all the while trying our utmost to persuade ourselves we mean it only for the best.

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