Mind-reading in the blogosphere


This is a letter that was sent to me privately:

I am not blaming you for what happened in Bet Shemesh. However, the antipathy that is displayed by many teachers cannot be helping the situation. I’ll even say that by the way you try to excuse the situation on Mr. Schick’s blog implies that you do not totally disagree.

Yet I do totally disagree! The entire chareidi community in both Eretz Yisrael and America rejects Yom Atzmaut as a holiday, including virtually all the Litvishe roshei yeshiva and chassidishe rabbeim. This includes the Torah-only stream, the Torah-plus-a trade stream and the Torah-im-Derech-Eretz stream of Orthodoxy. Even Lubavitch doesn’t celebrate Y”A.

There are many people who have a basically positive view of the Jewish State and view it as a sign of amazing Hashgacha Pratis that Jews can again live in E”Y after 2000 years of exile, and yet at the same time have very serious reservations about the secular anti-religious nature of the Israeli government. We don’t see that the Redemption has yet advanced sufficiently to warrant adding a holiday to the Jewish calendar.

It is a big stretch from there to pelting people with eggs. You remind me of those people who look at murderers who kill abortion providers (maybe twenty such criminals in the whole country?) and extrapolate from there that they “must” have committed murder because the entire pro-life movement somehow led them to behave that way and tacitly approves.

Did you know that the Unabomber was a great environmentalist and quoted extensively from Al Gore’s book, Earth in the Balance? Would you say that Al Gore and people like him created a climate of opinion that led directly to the Unabomber’s actions, and that Al Gore approved his actions? Have you called upon Al Gore to repudiate the Unabomber’s actions or else you will just have to assume that he “must” really agree with the Unabomber?

If you want to know the real truth, I have much warmer feelings towards those who celebrate Yom Atzmaut — for whom I have a keen sympathy and fellow-feeling — than I do towards those who throw eggs. And you know what? Practically the whole Agudist wing of Orthodoxy feels the way I do.

One of the astonishing things I’ve discovered in my short career in the blogosphere is how much mind-reading goes on here. And how many assumptions and stereotypes rest on what a paucity of data.

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Eliezer Barzilai
10 years 3 months ago

Although I am a Litvak in the tradition of the Netziv and Slabodkeh and the Ponevezher Rov (i.e. don’t wear a black hat when I go shopping,) my street cred is good. Speaking as a passable chareidi, I say that the egg-pelters are just another gang, like the ones in big cities in America. Call them Biryonim, or kano’im, or zealots, or whatever, but they’re just criminals. Someone recently referred to the people who indiscriminately plaster libelous posters all around Yerusholoyim as “pashkevillians,” and that applies here as well. This rabid rejectionism of whatever is not precisely consistent with one’s own little weltanshauung is a constant theme in our history, and there’s no doubt that it’s an indelible ethnic trait, and we have to live with it. But let’s at least recognize its criminal and destructive nature!
To say that “most chareidim” would agree with this kind of behavior is astonishingly biased, to the point of willful denial or self-evident truths, what used to be called “the big lie.”

10 years 3 months ago

Toby, you wrote:
“I have a yetzer hara to celebrate Yom Atzmaut.”

I think the choice of words- yetzer hara- is a bit offensive.
Celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut is not an aveirah. Hence there is no need to bring in the Evil Inclination.

10 years 3 months ago

“In my experience, no matter how true it is that there is so much more in common between the Chareidi/Yeshivish/Black Hat guy and the Modern Orthodox/Dati Leumi/Zionistic guy, when faced with the choice (as you have portrayed it above), the chareidi guy will always side with his fellow black-hatters, no matter how ugly their actions are (often while excusing and apologizing for them at the same time) rather than claim any affinity towards the MO fellow.”

That’s a lot of baloney.