Why the Antipathy?

This piece was originally written as a response to Rabbi Landesman’s of last night, but I think my point is important enough to be worth posting separately. I believe he has conflated two entirely different things — “why we are viewed with such antipathy,” and the many real deficiencies in the observant community.

One thing I can tell you with certainty: we are not viewed with antipathy because of our failures; we are viewed with antipathy because of our successes. How do I know? Simple: 25 years ago, today’s problems were barely on the radar, yet the antipathy was much the same. If anything has changed, it is that the Chinuch Atzmai schools are blossoming, attracting ever more non-religious Israeli families to “abandon” the secular system. It is that the Rabbi of the Western Wall is now able to preserve Jewish practice at our holiest site. It is that the number of those serving the Jewish people in the halls of a yeshiva rather than on a military base increases every year, rather than dying on the vine as the Zionists expected (Despite the Charedi Nachal units, with their apparently very positive history of discipline and performance).

In the late 1980s, an Orthodox woman was arrested in an horrific story of child abuse. The New York Times coverage detailed, in all of its facts, how much more difficult it is for an Orthodox family to hide abuse: the amount of time our children spend in each others’ homes; that Orthodox “enclaves,” are, by definition, places where we all live within walking distance of each other; the level to which the community, to borrow Hillary Clinton’s phrase, raises the child, with school administration, teaching staff, and other parents all “keeping an eye out” for every child. Obviously this did not mean then, and does not mean now, that it doesn’t happen — but these facts conspire to make it more difficult to hide. Yet the New York Times headline and opening paragraph referred to the “hidden phenomenon” of abuse in the Orthodox community, as if it were a common scourge that we were simply failing to publicize.

In the intervening 25 years, nothing has changed: the size of our community has skyrocketed, the financial pressures have, if anything, intensified, and as for the appalling phenomenon of child abuse, well, you’d have to ask a therapist, but the empirical evidence is that it remains blessedly rare. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the abusive family which dominated headlines last year dressed with an outlandish level of coverings — I would say, in order to hide what was really going on.

Let me emphasize rather than deny that we have no hard numbers on this. But neither does the NY Times or Jerusalem Post. These stories and their insinuations do not make good press for their accuracy. They are convenient “proofs” that “observant Jewish life is really no better than ours.”

Healthy self-criticism is always a good thing. But it has to be healthy; false, unreasonable, even hysterical “self-criticism” does no one any good. Rabbi Landesman dismissed carte blanche the idea that our lives are “better” as “statistically unproven assertions.” Obviously, he has not met the South African sociologist who conducted a detailed study of the Orthodox community in that country, and upon its completion proceeded to convert to Judaism. It is not a myth, it is not a guess.

When the Teshuvah movement began, it was dismissed as insecure and drugged-up young people falling into a Jewish ashram. As we all know, this was not entirely inaccurate! But those were followed by successful students, couples, families — people who returned to observant life in environments of greatest success. Jonathan Rosenblum was at Yale. I was at Princeton (and can name you another dozen). Uri Zohar was at the height of his career. We did not go blindly into a cult.

Does our system have its flaws? As per Eytan Kobre’s piece of this morning, welcome to the human race. We will never be flawless, and must always strive to be. But it is ridiculous to imagine that the real and serious deficiencies in our educational system are a cause of antipathy, when that system remains head and shoulders above any alternative. I now recall that I was in an “experimental” combined second and third grade as a child. The teacher was so ill that she routinely fell asleep at her desk. The whole class knew it and saw it, and our parents heard it every week, yet the situation persisted for the entire year — and beyond, for at least one more. To claim we’re a touch above is hardly “self-deception,” and to insinuate that nothing is being done to expand the variety of options is simply false.

On the contrary, if we magnify and imagine the flaws and make everything much worse than it is, if we actually imagine that the antipathy of the secular media is genuinely our fault, then hopelessness is the result. We will only work to dismantle Judaism in much the same way that the Israeli left, having concluded that European antipathy is the fault of the Jews, works to dismantle the Jewish State. Productive Mussar (reflection and self-improvement) is that which starts from a posture of belief in ourselves and what we can accomplish. As one of the Baalei Mussar once taught, first look at, and bask in, a Mitzvah you did today — then spend time thinking about and working on all the many things you are doing wrong. And there is no question that there are countless things we could be doing better.

My inspiration, in coming up with a vision of a “group blog” of Orthodox Rabbis and writers, was to provide an alternative perspective on today’s events, on what people are reading in the general and (secular) Jewish media. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need to address the issues of today’s Orthodox community and see what we can do better; not every venue can tackle every subject, nor do I claim the expertise to be a relevant voice. I look at today’s news, see the anti-Orthodox spin, and share it with others in the hope that they will recognize a second side, often more accurate, to the story. My secular training focused upon rhetoric and computers, not sociology, psychiatry, or even education. I could also write about the latest Voice-over-IP codecs and devices, least-cost-routing, and SIP trunking, and be much more qualified to do so. But those, too, are not my intent when writing for Cross-Currents.

With regards to the quote from Meir Porush, there are only two alternatives: he was misquoted, or he was wrong. And as our detractors so love to point out, Porush is little more than a mouthpiece for the directives received from our Gedolim. Is there any Gadol, “filtered” or otherwise, who has said it is appropriate for a Sephardi Jew to abandon his or her Mesorah in favor of the Ashkenazic one, or vice-versa? I think, at the very least, there is ample reason to think that Rabbi Porush was misquoted, and forgive me if I am in error in thinking Rabbi Landesman’s last sentence was intended to dismiss that out of hand.

Can a reporter “quote” you as having said the exact opposite of what you actually told him or her? Well, I was quoted in the Baltimore Sun just two days ago as saying that a foster-parenting company’s restriction could “lead to extreme cases such as an observant Jewish child being placed only with an observant Jewish family.” What I had actually said was that, of course, placing an observant Jewish child with an observant Jewish family is the ideal, ditto a Muslim with a Muslim and a Southern Baptist with a Southern Baptist. I had said, rather, that to disqualify a parent because she had no pork in the home would open a “Pandora’s box” denying placements with not only Muslims, but vegetarians, those with a child with peanut allergies, etc. etc.

In the end, Rabbi Landesman’s response is notable primarily for what it does not say. In lieu of a tentative apology to the residents of Emanuel, he pats me gently on the head for my “good journalism” and immediately pulls out a quote that is indeed likely a misquotation and, even if correct, entirely at odds with reality.

And concerning the “numerous apologists” and rampant triumphalism, that concerning which I actually challenged Rabbi Landesman numerous times? Not a word. And I think that tells us all we need to know.

[I am sure this piece will, itself, be touted by some as an example of that very triumphalism. But what is undeniable is that I remain aware of our many blemishes, that all is not a bed of roses, throughout.]

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32 comments to Why the Antipathy?

  • S.

    >The teacher was so ill that she routinely fell asleep at her desk. The whole class knew it and saw it, and our parents heard it every week, yet the situation persisted for the entire year — and beyond, for at least one more.

    What is that supposed to prove? You think many of us can’t tell equally appalling stories about deficient rabbeim? Why not try this one on for size: the rebbe paid more attention to his business than he did to the bochurim, showing up maybe three times a week and leaving immediately after shiur. Evidently he did this for about 20 years, until he was finally fired (a good 6 or 7 years after I had him). This, too, proves nothing.

  • Garnel Ironheart

    25 years ago…

    Chareidim were attacking bus stops across Israel because of “immodest” ads – the attacks consisted of throwing garbage cans full of flaming materals at those adds, immolating the whole structure.

    Chareidi parties were blackmailing the Israeli government into giving them lots of moneys for their yeshivos in return for votes to support the coalition.

    Cars were being stoned on Shabbos along Bar Ilan street and acros the French Hill
    neighbourhood.

    Everyone, but everyone had a story about a Chareidi rabbi who had ripped either them or a friend off for financial gain. And Israelis still fled to Cyprus to get married when the Rabbinate raised objections.

    And that’s just off the top of my memory.

    The difference today is the tumah-dik internet. If a Chareidi businessman stole $50 million in 1980’s dollars, it might have made some local papers around where it happened but it would have remained unknown to the greater Jewish world. Today with blogs and internet news services everyone finds out. But do you really think anything has changed?

    No, the antipathy isn’t because of your success. What success? Your ability to jam more batlanim into kollel? Your ability to get Israel to pay more money to your unsustainable society?

  • Yaakov Menken

    Twenty-five years ago, bus structures were “immolated” at sites miles away from any Charedi community, and Charedim were blamed.

    The bus company deliberately placed bathing-suit ads in Meah Shearim, residents spray-painted over the offensive imagery, and the secularists decided the community, not the company, was the problem.

    Everyone in the coalition demanded money for their pet projects and called it politics as usual, but money for the future of Jewish children was called “blackmail” and “coercion”.

    Teddy Kollek deliberately routed major roadways with Shabbos traffic next to Geulah in order to prevent Orthodox families from moving into Gush 80, and lost. He tried again with Route 1 out to Ramot, and before that fight was over, I was no longer a resident of Jerusalem to learn what came of it.

    Just off the top of his memory, Garnel has banked on Teddy Kollek, Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid to deliver the Jewish future.

    They were ranting about kollel and “unsustainable society” then, and they rant about it now — and today, by comparison, there’s a lot of truth to that. Twenty-five years from now there will probably be a larger percentage of the Charedim employed vs. studying, unless Moshiach arrives first. But only in that latter case will they finally stop railing against success.

  • FV YId

    There is indeed a link between the “antipathy” we are viewed with and the deficiencies within our own community. We’ve been blessed with fantastically widespread Torah learning in our generation and if all the Jews who know so much Torah lived the knowledge no secular force could hide it.

    I occasionally have the privilege of meeting people whose Torah knowledge has palpably seeped into their every action. I’ve also had the truly incalculable privilege of learning from a real Adam Gadol and ba’al mussar. While these people are quiet, they are not hard to spot when you meet them and they’re a clear proof of the power of Torah. I am far, far away from these men and I daven every day that I can grow towards their example.

    The problem is that although Torah can and should clearly change those who learn it, this seems to be the case for very, very few Jews despite the blessing of widespread learning in our generation.

    The bottom line is this – there seems to be very little relationship between the amount of Torah a Jew of our generation knows and how righteously he acts in his day to day life. No one “group” of Jews has a monopoly on this problem, it seems to cross all borders in the frum world. This is not true of everyone thankfully, but the exceptions are far too few.

    We must expect the criticism and attacks and double standards. Of course secular Jews and goyim will judge us more harshly and point out our flaws. We should welcome this! We have the Torah, how can we not be better! And if we are not isn’t that a chillul Hashem beyond measure?

    The amount of Torah learning in our generation is truly a blessing. If we made that knowledge part of ourselves and acted on it no smear, no unfair story, no double standard could hide that.

  • Chareidi Leumi

    >it is ridiculous to imagine that the real and serious deficiencies in our educational system are a cause of antipathy, when that system remains head and shoulders above any alternative.

    Are you serious? The vast majority of Israelis obviously do not believe that it is “head and shoulders above any alternative” since they choose the alternatives. I have one child in the local Mamlachti Torani school, another in a Mamlachti Dati school, and yet another in a Hareidi school that is not part of Chinuch Atzma’i but functions within the Mamlachti Dati system. These choices are superior in almost every way to the local Heder Chinuch Atzma’i choices. My sons are learning Torah at an appropriate level for their age and also getting the tools to think critically and giving the secular studies curriculum to be able to support their families in the future. My daughter is studying Humach, Navi, and Mishna at a serious textual level instead of being fed endless reptitions of tzaddik stories and kollel wife conditioning cources as is the wont of the local beis yakov.

    No, the fact that the majority of Israelis, which includes the dati leumi, masorti, and shas supporters have a large degree of antipathi for Ashkenazi Chareidim is not for nothing and is not based on jealosy. It is based of serious flaws in this society coupled with a complete lack of self-awareness that exists in this community

  • ChanaRachel

    I think other orthodox, but non-haredi, jews (at least here in Israel) may feel antipathy towards hareidim, not because of hareidi “success”, but because of the [perceived] effects of hareidi decisions upon the rest of us. Thus, I sometime wonder my my sons have to serve more time in the army (they would also prefer to spend that time in their yeshivot), why I won’t have a safe underground medical facility in Ashkelon any time soon, why I must sit in the back of the bus if I need to travel to Bar Ilan University, and why I have to pay more taxes to support a hareidi hashkafa that I don’t share. If “success” means that the hareidi world can get away with doing whatever they want without being concerned as to how this impacts their fellow Jew, then it should not be surprising that this behavior inspires antipathy.

  • dovid landesman

    R. Menken has repeatedly challenged me to apologize for my criticism of the parents in Emanuel. I ask their mechilah if they found my posting to be disparaging of them; this was not my intent at any point and I thought I was being clear. I used Emanuel as an example of discrimination in the chareidi world and until I can ascertain whether or not it pertains to what is transpiring in Emanuel – by speaking to the people involved and reviewing the court documents – I have no reason to assume that the truth is not as portrayed by your correspondent in that city.
    I would also suggest that this specific topic be dropped at this time because there is obviously no toelet in pursuing it publicly. First of all, I am unwilling to publicly make any statement that might be construed or taken out of context as gedolim bashing. Furthermore, R. Menken [as well as Eytan Kobre] and I seem to be preaching to our respective choirs; again not my intent. What I sought was to motivate people to introspection; a midda that I feel is more important than attacking [do you – Eytan Kobre – really think that I should be labeled as a McCarthy wannabe]. Regretably, I do not sense from these postings that my message was understood – as my talmidim would say: “my bad”.
    Nevertheless, R. Menken continues to make comments and statemments that, b’lashon ham’ata, trouble me for what I read into them.
    1] “as for the appalling phenomenon of child abuse, well, you’d have to ask a therapist, but the empirical evidence is that it remains blessedly rare.”
    Although I went to a public college rather than to one of the Ivies, I seem to remember that the word “empirical” has something to do with statistically provable. Hypotheses are not usually described in those terms nor are they worth very much as evidence. I have asked a prominent mental health professional – with chareidi credentials – who maintains that the incidence of abuse in the chareidi world is no less than in the general population. [I do not have permission to publicize the name of the person but suffice to say that this person serves as the head of the Jewish Family Service in one of the largest Jewish communities in the US.]
    2] “I don’t think it’s coincidence that the abusive family which dominated headlines last year dressed with an outlandish level of coverings — I would say, in order to hide what was really going on.”
    I assume that R. Menken is referring to the case of the Munchausen mother. Correct me if I am wrong, but the inference that I see in this statement is that you accept the characterization publicized widely in the chareidi world of the doctors at Hadassah as being complicit or guilty of malpractice – otherwise why would you describe the press coverage as being outlandish? May I ask on what you base this kind of accusation? Might it not, perhaps, be out of reluctance to believe that a chareidi family can be as dysfunctional as a chiloni unit? Given the riots [and I was there] in Meah Shearim, perhaps by fringe elements [although the numbers involved would seem to belie this], would you expect positive coverage in the secular press? Pashkivilim on the walls of Meah Shearim [perhaps the most widely circulated media in our community] compared doctors in Hadassah to Mengele y”s, yet not a peep was heard from the leadership of the community and you still question the antipathy of the media?
    3] “If anything has changed, it is that the Chinuch Atzmai schools are blossoming, attracting ever more non-religious Israeli families to “abandon” the secular system.”
    Given your repeated challenges that statements be reflective of what is truly happening, might I humbly suggest that you support this contention with some hard data [I would prefer that it not be numbers released by Mercaz Chinuch Ha-Atzmai; having worked with them through the years I suspect that they learned math from the American government officials who used to announce the body counts in Vietnam].
    4]”If anything has changed … it is that those serving the Jewish people in the halls of a yeshiva rather than on a military base increases every year”
    Here you have touched on an issue which, in my humble opinion, is the real basis for the chareidi/chiloni divide in EY. It is an issue that I think most Americans simply don’t understand – whether they live in the US or in American ghettos in Israel. Simply put, chilonim look at bnei yeshiva vacationing or on the streets in the middle of the day or participating in demonstrations and ask themselves, “mi yeymar d’damo sumki tfei” – why does my son have to serve and their son gets to stay at home? To answer that there are many draft evaders in the country or that the majority of bnei yeshiva learn with great hasmadah simply doesn’t answer the question to a mother or father whose son is endangering his life daily so that Berele can learn a few hours a day. Moreover, to point to the Nachal Chareidi as evidence that the issue is being dealt with is to ignore the fact that R. Aron Leib has been attacked in the chareidi world for his support of the organization. The chiloni press has a field day when an initiative by R. Simchah Kook and the Bostoner Rebbe to have a ben yeshiva learn and recite Tehillim for chayalim [a la the arrangement made by Moshe as brought in Chumash Bamidbar] is publicly condemned by prominent rabbanim in Bnei Brak.
    Does one not get a sense of triumphalism when the chareidi media [Yated and Hamodia] studiously avoid any mention that R. Uri Lopiliansky was arrested and is being interrogated for his role in the Holyland scandal while at the same time mentioning Olmert and the other suspects? Either you mention no-one because of lashon ha-ra constraints or you mention everyone, I would think. It should be pointed out that Lopiliansky is not suspected of taking money for himself – and anyone who knows Uri and the way he lives would be utterly surprised by contrary evidence – but rather of accepting donations to Yad Sarah which is also a sort of bribery.
    Perhaps triumphalism was the wrong word to use in decsribing the tone of some of the postings on this blog. If all you understood from my post was that I was using your forum as an outlet for my own chareidi bashing, I guess I need to go back to school to learn how to be more unequivocal.

  • Yaakov Menken

    I appreciate Rabbi Landesman’s response, because I think we can reach a modicum of agreement. Let me address his numbered points in turn before the underlying issue.

    1] While I can’t challenge Rabbi Landesman’s personal recollection, one of the dictionary definitions of “empirical” is “depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, esp. as in medicine.” It is that which we see before us. I was speaking about physical violence, and believe the therapist to whom Rabbi Landesman spoke was speaking of another kind. Even if the therapist were correct, and, given the jaded view one often gets in “the trenches,” one could reasonably conclude otherwise, the composition of the Charedi community is such that the most common types of perpetrators can affect roughly 4 times as many victims.

    2] Rabbi Landesman is very much mistaken. I was not talking about the Munchausen case, and “dressed with an outlandish level of coverings” was anything but a reference to press coverage. Did Rabbi Landesman honestly express an expectation that “the leadership”, e.g. the Gedolim, should spend their time responding to what people put up on a wall? The only legitimate criticism was of the police, for treating a gravely mentally ill woman as if she was a butcher. That case, too, by the way, was not conventional physical abuse, and was of the sort that can be hidden from others, even doctors. I was, instead, talking about the case of physical abuse that made major headlines, and involved a woman who insisted on burqa-level coverings for herself and her family.

    3] Requesting hard data and then ruling out the only known source of that data… let’s move on. Without Baalei Teshuvah, our schools are exploding purely due to the birth rate, and I’m not aware of anyone tracking school enrollment by religiosity of parent.

    4] Absolutely true. “We are not viewed with antipathy because of our failures; we are viewed with antipathy because of our successes,” and the number of students learning in yeshiva leads the success list. Either we follow our Gedolim, or we do not; our critics cannot have it both ways. Is there a voice among yeshivishe Gedolim who has countered R. Aron Leib’s support? We’re talking about the yeshivos here, and the head of the yeshivos being pro-Nachal Charedi… of what relevance is opposition from outside the yeshivos? There is no question the Gedolim are looking for methods to ensure those who are serious are able to stay in Yeshiva while opening up alternatives for those who are not — and for ways to demonstrate support, as the initiative you mentioned only demonstrates. I remember one particular story regarding the Steipler Rav praying an hour early regarding an IAF mission that was suddenly moved up an hour; the Gedolim praying for the IDF is hardly rare.

    If there were no learning-only yeshivos, then the complaint would be about hesder — 18 months in the Army rather than three or four years is also “not fair.” And it won’t be fair. Those who do not appreciate what yeshiva learning does to protect Israel have not been swayed by open miracles — I was there during the Gulf War. The Army was helpless and Tefillos were not. They won’t be swayed by anything short of the wholesale induction of yeshiva students as soldiers, which would destroy Torah in Israel.

    The bottom line is this: a call for healthy introspection is always worthwhile. Cross-Currents, however, is not Mishpacha, with a readership appropriate for internal self-improvement. Here, as Rabbi Landesman has already seen, a host of voices from outside our community, who do not share our values and our priorities, will happily cheer him on — not to effect the improvements he seeks, but to pursue agendas we would both call destructive.

    Cross-Currents is, as many of us have said, an opportunity to present our side, unfiltered, to a general audience. We say what we wish to say, not limited by what a secular or liberal Jewish reporter or editor decides their audience wants to hear. To do so, we must be honest and realistic, but we do not need to tackle every internal problem or issue. To equate response to a media attack with “triumphalism” is simply wrong. The claim that writers “portray our world as a bed of roses” certainly does not accurately depict any of the articles I have read here, and I am pleased that so many requests for specifics on that issue were met with silence.

    The community needs Rabbi Landesman and others working for real change and real improvement, in the right forums and before the right audience. I am very glad that this debate was aired on Cross-Currents, and wish Rabbi Landesman much success finding those right forums for that specific task.

  • dr. bill

    antipathy, at least from my perpsective, goes back to the JO article about 17 years ago. while there were always shrilled voices in various commnities, RSZA and RMF ztl drew respect for their tolerance of multiple legitimate POVs. Now RSZA ztl is republished with missing sections and the eighth volume of Igrot Moshe is called Igrot Moshe Dovid, etc.

    when shrilled voices in the late 60’s attacked a centrist institution, RMF wrote a brief letter never published that was intended to be shown to the attacking chareidi icon. it stopped the attacks in their track. the letter will be published in due time. was there any such letter when the doctors of hadassah were vilified last summer? i wonder?

  • mb

    “the Gedolim praying for the IDF is hardly rare.”

    R.Moshe Sternbuch publicly stated during the Lebanon war that he would never pray for the IDF even now as it would indicate recognition of the State.

    “They won’t be swayed by anything short of the wholesale induction of yeshiva students as soldiers, which would destroy Torah in Israel”

    There is no shred of evidence that this hackneyed thought is correct. In Tzarist Russia, yes.The more Orthodox Jews get involved in State institutions including the military, the more influence they would wield and will have a positive affect om the IDF without a corresponding loss to Torah.( The comment about going after Hesder Yeshivot has no merit whatsoever. The vast majority of secular Israelis have the greatest respect for them.)

    “Those who do not appreciate what yeshiva learning does to protect Israel have not been swayed by open miracles — I was there during the Gulf War.”

    One can make many claims why Israel was so fortunate during that dreadful period or any of the miracles, including the founding of the State.

  • simairkodesh

    As one in the boondocks in the holiest city in the world… there is another read on “Why Antipathy?”
    First of all, believe it or not, most chilonim can not distinguish if someone is Charedei, Chardali, Torani, American Yeshivish, Torah Nationalist, etc. (except for NK, Ahrele Chasidim) — the media and secular communties do not understand or see a difference between one or another. Secondly, since they lump all Strongly Observant Jews as one, their dislike and hostility is that these ‘Torah Jews’ are taking over the country, becoming increasingly strong in the army, establishing companies and raking in huge profits. The jealousy is apparent with the success of the Shuvu Schools and Black kippos professionals walking the halls of the hospitals. This is a lens that you are not counting on in your article, Rabbi Menken.

  • Ori

    Simairkodesh: Secondly, since they lump all Strongly Observant Jews as one, their dislike and hostility is that these ‘Torah Jews’ are taking over the country.

    Ori: I’m pretty sure this is the main factor. In a couple of generations, Israel would probably be Charedi. Secular Israelis are afraid of that prospect. The fear itself is rational, but the resulting behaviors often aren’t.

  • dovid

    “We’re talking about the yeshivos here, and the head of the yeshivos being pro-Nachal Charedi… of what relevance is opposition from outside the yeshivos?”

    “opposition from outside the yeshivos?” Actually, there is strong opposition within the yeshivishe velt itself to the prospect of their sons serving in Nachal Charedi. Yeshivishe families dread sending their sons to this program, notwithstanding the fact that some of their sons are not cut to learn Gemara, or to learn for long hours in the beis midrash. Furthermore, many families with sons serving in Nachal Charedi are very bashful about it. They, as well as their circles regard it as evidence of their sons’ and their own failure. BTW, in Nachal Charedi’s 10-year + history, only 2,500 charedim passed through its program, which is way below the number of those who didn’t do well in Gemara (This is not based on empirical evidence. It’s only a hunch.)

  • dovid

    “R.Moshe Sternbuch publicly stated during the Lebanon war that he would never pray for the IDF even now as it would indicate recognition of the State.”

    Rav Shach, zecher tzaddik livracha, cried and sobbed at the news of two helicopters that collided killing I think 73 soldiers.

    Rabbi Yisroel Zeev Gustman, xecher tzaddik livracha, a dayan in the Bais Din of Reb Chaim Ozer in Vilna, said of the soldiers that fell defending Eretz Israel: “They are all holy.” Someone asked him: “Even the non-religious soldiers?” He answered: “Every single one of them.”

  • simairkodesh

    ‘Yeshivishe families dread sending their sons to this program’

    AND why exactly? Is it the shame that my son is in the army? Is it the shame that my son is NOT learning? Is it the shame that my son is participating in a state-regulated program? or is it THAT I DO NOT WANT MY SON TO BE INJURED OR gd forbid KILLED?

  • dovid

    Simairkodesh,

    Every mainstream yeshivishe parent dreams his/her sons will grow up to become talmidei chachamim. To achieve that goal, their sons must learn for long hours every day. The curriculum’s emphasis is on gemarah and its early and more recent commentators. The language is succinct and often not so clear to our 21st century mind. In short, it’s a taxing regimen that requires a sharp mind, single-mindedness, and endurance, in addition to good rebbes, and encouraging environment. Furthermore, our intellectual and physical prowess has declined considerably since the gemarah was compiled due to what we call yeridat hadorot. Not everyone is cut for it. While both in America and Eretz Israel a talmid chacham enjoys the respect and recognition that he so abundantly deserves, America is more tolerant and accommodating regarding those who didn’t make it, and finds it going into business or into the professions as second best. Such an option is not held in esteem in Eretz Israel. Of course, army service is an additional hurdle in Eretz Israel that a talmid chacham is spared from. Therefore, such parents regard their sons being inducted into the IDF as evidence of failure. It doesn’t appear to me that the first they associate army service with is getting injured or killed but the fact that their son didn’t make it in the only field they value.

  • simairkodesh

    dovid, not sure I agree with you.

    Is the same shame felt when a son opens a makolet? mobile phone or pizza store? or perhaps takes Computer or accounting courses in some of the new Charedei vocational programs? (Instead of becoming a Talmid Chacham) IOW is the same dread and failure felt for going into business or professions as second best as if going to the army???!!

  • DovInBeitShemesh

    I find it striking that noone wants to discuss thrown rocks, burned garbage cans, riots, destruction of property, riots against hospitals, denials and defense of child abuse, rocks thrown at busses, violence against non-chareidi children, violence against non-extremest chareidim, 5 people a day knocking on a door for tzedaka out of which 4 would have been prevented had the father worked, destruction of property of cars with flags on them, violence against women not wearing stockings, etc.

    These are the things that cause antipathy.

    I have said hundreds of times that these things are clearly being done by 1-2% of the chareidi population. But they’re all being done in the name of chareidi Jews, and they’re causing antipathy among many, even among those who in the USA or England were themselves affiliated with chareidi institutions. And these are the things that are not being addressed, and are being denied or minimized.

  • Ori

    Simairkodesh: or is it THAT I DO NOT WANT MY SON TO BE INJURED OR gd forbid KILLED?

    Ori: I don’t want that either, so I don’t live in a country that requires conscription to survive. Israel, unfortunately, does.

  • dovid

    simairkodesh,

    I am not sure what your question is now. Whether various ways of earning a living are perceived differently for those who didn’t become roshei yeshiva, dayanim, roshei chaburos, or magidei shiur? I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s personal. I am aware of first-rate learners who were forced by the economic realities to acquire degrees in accounting, or law and deliberately chose to hold low-stress, 9-to-5 type of jobs working for the government in order to continue their learning before and after working hours, learn with their children, etc. I would like to assure you the yeshivishe world is not as cynical as may think.

    “IOW is the same dread and failure felt for going into business or professions as second best as if going to the army???!!”

    I already answered this question (April 18th, 2010 at 10:42 pm). In case this issue resonated in a more personal way with you, I did my sadir between 1976-78, most of it in Bir Themade in central Sinai, and did miluim afterwards. I was a paramedic. I had a mother like most of us and a sick father who was dying like some of us. I trust you won’t hold it against me that the years of my army service were rather uneventful except towards the end (Mivtza Litani).

  • Yaakov Menken

    DovInBeitShemesh makes a valid point, but I still believe him to be mistaken at an underlying level. These phenomena, first of all — understand that as published by the media, a demonstration of 20,000 people in which 200 — or even 20 — throw rocks is a demonstration of 20,000 rock-throwers. If you had 20,000 or even 5,000 throwing rocks, the resulting mountain of stone would block the entire entrance to the Karta parking lot, and then some.

    There are well over one million Charedim, probably 1.2 million. Thus to believe that 1% of the Charedi population is involved in any of the above is to accept dubious media reports as fact.

    Further, to say that these cause the antipathy is to say that without them, the antipathy would not be there. We know that while without question these things intensify the antipathy, they are not the root cause.

    I also neglected to point to the article I wrote about the terrible Munchausen case referenced by Rabbi Landesman. It references a number of the issues we have discussed here, including internal soul-searching vs. external bashing, and the media’s role.

  • cvmay

    When it comes to accuracy within the Israeli world, I lean my cards with those who live there (resident of Emanuel, D. Landsman, Charedei Leumi and others) rather than the out-of-country American writers.
    Over a decade ago, my family lived in Har Nof for a sabbatical year with four children/teens in Charedei schools, another in Chorev Boys and two in ganim. At registration for Beis Yakov/Chadarim we skipped over the info about the Chorev son, so as to not cause confusion/questions and eventual denial of admission. The attitudes, cultural temperament, lack of diversity, holier than thou mantra could not be understood by those not part of the daily system.
    We experienced an election year (quite a drama) when the SHAS PARTY gained fortitude, power becoming a strong player in the Knesset game of chess. Living on Rechov Hakablan a few doors from Aryeh Deri added to the excitement. The Sephardim were returning their ‘lost crown’ and shamed existence to sparkling stardom. If we analyze the upstart of the SHAS party and suggestion of Maran Shach zt”l to lean support to its creation, you will see that one of the reasons was to eradicate discrimination/prejudice to the Sephardi kehilla.

  • Micah Segelman

    The bottom line is this: a call for healthy introspection is always worthwhile. Cross-Currents, however, is not Mishpacha, with a readership appropriate for internal self-improvement. . . .
    . . .a host of voices from outside our community, who do not share our values and our priorities, will happily cheer him on — not to effect the improvements he seeks, but to pursue agendas we would both call destructive. . .
    . . .Cross-Currents is, as many of us have said, an opportunity to present our side, unfiltered, to a general audience. We say what we wish to say, not limited by what a secular or liberal Jewish reporter or editor decides their audience wants to hear

    R Menken seems to be saying that Cross Currents should be used primarily for countering the unjustified negative press our community receives – a much needed “hasbara” effort – and not for internal criticism.

    I believe it should be for both and that CC has been successful in doing both of these things. A truly honest “hasbara” effort (the only kind that is effective) requires an honest appraisal of issues which necessitates occasional self criticism.

    The honest dialogue which CC features is healthy and I don’t believe provides ammunition for our antagonists. On the contrary it demonstrates the difference between constructive discourse and “charedi bashing.”

  • Izzy

    I would seem that the case referenced by Dovid Landesman in his point #2, and by Yaakov Menken in his reponse, was the Elior Chen case. If Yaakov Menken truly believes that abuse transpired in that case, why did the gedolim come out in support of Elior Chen?

    [YA – Because the wrong people got to them and fed them lies. R. Chaim Kanievski immediately backed down when faced with the real story.]

  • Izzy

    I had hoped that R’Chaim Kanievski had issued the initial statement based on false information, but the case highlights an issue that I and many have with public statements/psaks by gedolim. It has gotten to the point where unless I personally witness the statement being made, and the information on which the statements/psaks are based being given over, there is no reason not to doubt the veracity of any such publicly issued statements. This has been proven many times the past few years. I think this is one of the major issues facing Charedi Jewry (which would qualify under both Yaakov Menken’s and Natan Slfkin’s definitions!), and I am interested in hearing what some proposed solutions from some if the contributers to this blog.

    As an aside, how/in what forum did R’ Chaim Kanievsky issue his retraction of his initial statement? I could not find it online.

  • Garnel Ironheart

    I would be more impressed with the successful growth and development of the Chareidi community in Israel if it wasn’t overwhelmingly funded by the secular State that so many of them openly despise and do everything they can not to pay taxes to.
    One wonders what kind of shape these 1.2 million Chareidi would be in under a regime that didn’t funnel money to them in return for almost nothing.

  • Bob Miller

    I saw the this editor’s note above from Rabbi Adlerstein:
    “[YA – Because the wrong people got to them and fed them lies. R. Chaim Kanievski immediately backed down when faced with the real story.]”

    Access or non-access to Gedolim seems to be a real problem based on this and other descriptions I’ve read. Since the Torah communities depend on Gedolim for halachic decisions, and since the quality of a decision (psak) depends on accurate communications to and from the decisor (posek), what is being done now to eliminate barriers to accurate communication? Evidently, it’s not always possible for the decisor, even a renowned Gadol, to intuit how good his inputs are.

    Moreover, it has become difficult for the Orthodox public to intuit how accurate the many broadsides, ads, and articles about decisions are. That public often hears about denials that a purported signatory to a decision or declaration actually signed it, and often lacks the means to authenticate either the document or the denial.

  • DovInBeitShemesh

    R’ Yaakov Menken, with all due respect, my statements come from personal observation and also from discussion with those within the chareidi world in question here in Israel.

    Do the math in Ramat Beit Shemesh and you get to 1-2%.
    Do the math in the neighborhoods near the Intel riots and you get to 1-2%
    Do the math with Neturei Karta membership, and you get to 1-2%

    I used to give dozens of rides to chareidi hitchhikers going between the kirya chareidit and ramat beit shemesh alef, and would ask before they got in the car whether they were for or against rock throwers. 1-2% declined to ride with me.

    Now, I do agree that there are chareidi constituencies that include no kanayim, such as the Sefardi or old-time Poale Agudat Yisrael types. Neighborhoods full of only Gerers or Brezlovers will include no kannayim. Same with largely Anglo chareidi areas.

    But if the question is “why the antipathy,” it’s not media distortion that angers residents of Beit Shemesh or residents of the north side of Jerusalem, or workers at Intel, or doctors at Shaarei Tzedek, or Jerusalem-area social workers, or chiloni tinokos she’nishbu who drive near Mea Shearim or Ramat Beit Shemesh or Bnei Brak. It’s not media distortion that angers parents of killed Israeli soldiers when their children died to defend a group that spits on their defenders.

    To go back to R’ Landsman’s point that started this discussion: There’s no question that there’s media distortion, just like there’s media distortion of everything. But that doesn’t mean that problems don’t exist or need to be addressed.

  • another Nathan

    This is the most horrible thing I’ve read in Cross-Currents: “It is that the number of those serving the Jewish people in the halls of a yeshiva rather than on a military base increases every year, rather than dying on the vine as the Zionists expected.” Can you clarify? I presume you’re not gloating that people are avoiding military service.

  • cvmay

    Percentages are easily misconstrued and/or interpreted as a person desires.
    Outside of the Alon Moreh Jewish community there is an Arab village called Rujeib. The population of Rujeib is approximately 4000 people, on a normal day – between 4 to 5 young men throw stones at passing cars. Percentage wise this comes to.01. Would it be accurate to say that this minute percentage of the residents of West Bank communities throw stones at Jewish cars/people/passengers. Are you comfortable with this conclusion? If so, how many residents agree or support these rock throwers? When asked close to 90 percentage said they support this action…….

  • cvmay

    Post of cvmay was not meant to compare chas vshalom Charedeim to Arabs, rather to observe how percentages are utilized to benefit any group.

  • Chareidi Leumi

    quote from today’s high court session:

    השופטים היקשו וטענו כי נראה שהחלוקה אינה לפי צפייה בטלוויזיה, אלא לפי מוצא עדתי, ועו”ד הולצר השיב: “אני מוכן להמר שלבנות המגמה הזו (הספרדית) יש טלוויזיה בבית, ולאלה (האשכנזית) – לא”. על כך השיב השופט מלצר: “אלה סממנים של גזענות, כשמהמרים על מה שלא יודעים”.

    So it is by default assumed that a girl from a sefardi background watches TV. How is that assumption not racist?