Somewhat On The Lighter Side

letter-447577_1280

But not really.

A Yemenite friend walked into my office. I hadn’t seen him since the current crisis began. We traded notes, and quickly found that we agreed on all essential points: discrimination is rampant; the Court’s incarceration of the parents is unconscionable and a horrific exercise in the powers of the most activist court in the world; whatever we felt about restrictive admissions policies in schools (where we differed), once the Court decided to order parents where to send their children, the community had no choice but to resist.

Then, we both found something else we agreed upon. It was tragic that every group we know of, both in Israel and the US, lost an opportunity to undo the image of a hundred thousand “marchers for apartheid” that has been imprinted in the minds of hundreds of millions of viewers. So many people and organizations had the chance of appending a line at the end of their statements to the effect that, “We march because the actions of the court in this case affect us at our core. We do not minimize the real problem of discrimination that has plagued many sectors of this country, including our own, for decades. We ask everyone to probe a bit deeper to get at the root causes of this prejudice, and commit themselves to work for its eradication.”

My friend, always chipper, concluded with an anecdote that is funny only because we understand how true and common it is.

Mr. Mahpoud walks into the Beit HaMishpat, and asks for the forms to legally change his name. “What are you changing it to?” asks the clerk. “Goldberg,” says Mahpoud. The clerk smiles knowingly. He’s seen this before.

Two weeks later, Mahpoud/Goldberg is back on the same line. He asks for the same form. “I want to change my name to Rabinowitz,” he says.

“What’s wrong with the name ‘Goldberg?’ asks the clerk.

“Nothing. But every time I use it, they ask me for my previous name.”

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11 Responses

  1. dovid 2 says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein: “I hope he didn’t really say it [that learning Shulchan Aruch and Rema as evidence of no discrimination]. If he did, and is not repudiated by others, then thinkgs are not only is as you say, but they would suggest to the greater Israeli public that haredim are mindless automatons, who follow blindly, and whose years of learning cannot produce any critical thinking.”

    Why don’t you carry your thought to its conclusion? If he really did say it, then all the pronouncements in the name of Rabbi Elyashiv are actually his spin and as such not to be trusted since (a) he filters the news that reach Rabbi Elyashiv from the outside world, bearing his interpretation of those events, and (b) he filters Rabbi Elyashiv’s rulings that reach us.

    [YA – Not everything comes through him. There are other gatekeepers as well, at least one of them substantially better. But yes, I accept your basic premise, as do virtually all the people I know who rely upon R Elyahsiv’s guidance. Moreover, so does R Elyashiv himself , who has instructed people not to believe anything they hear in his name unless they hear it from him personally. At least that is what they say he said :-) ]

  2. dr. bill says:

    Yehoshua Friedman, I am not sure how i showed up in your dream!! as long as your are creating scenarios out of whole cloth, perhaps it was God telling chareidim that their antics defying a court will not even be tolerated by a DL. Besides, do you think it requires a man with Ben Gurion’s political skills, to cause a rift. When the sides do not work together it is because of fundamentally different hashkafot; it does not get any simpler than that. It is demeaning of leaders on both sides to assume that their disagreements are somehow created by a (sinister) third party. Halevi it was that simple!!

  3. Sammy Finkelman says:

    As maybe should have been expected, the Supreme Court never really wanted to jail anyone, andthey just issued their decree because they expected people to comply, but
    when its bluff was called, it backed down.

    The protesters won. The only condition now is that the people who sued have to agree that what is happening is in full compliance with court’s decision. In that way the court saves face – also perhaps, pressure on the people who brought the lawsuit may also have played a role, as did politics.

    A compromise was reached. For the remaining 3 days of the school term, all students will study together special shiurim devoted to Ahavas Yisroel, and they’ll figure out something by August 25th when school resumes.

  4. Sarah says:

    Chareidi Leumi, the chareidim were not silent regarding Supreme Court discrimination. Who initiated the 250,000 strong demonstration a number of years ago against the Supreme Court’s overreaching?

  5. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Dr. Bill,
    The judge being DL was made to order for the divide and conquer strategy of the secular elite which goes back to Ben-Gurion. They probably picked Levi to judge on that case because they were pretty sure he would rule in their favor despite his positions on other issues. Moshe Unna z”l, former religious kibbutzik and Knesset member, wrote a memoir in which he detailed how BG systematically played DL against Hareidi so that at all cost they would not work together against him. He was a master of pressing all the buttons and taught his disciples well.

  6. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi, thanks for the reference, but i suspect i understand the sugya and was being cute. I also appreciate that a system with no constitution, driven by once’s sense of justice, and constrained only by precedent can get a bit unruly. Right or wrong, it is not wise to provoke the court, particularly in such circumstance. It is not just the case per se, but what i am told is that the honor of the court is being upheld. and to be cute again, similar to what some call meta-halakha or harisas hadas – a very different but important das/social contract. I find that on matters of law and strictly defined halakha, passions hardly run as deep as on extra-legal, meta-halakhic (in your vocabulary), or religious, non-halakhic (in prof. katz’s ztl vocabulary) issues.

    the powder kegs around stipends, army service and school curriculums, the latter two having made some limited progress, are likley to suffer because of this issue. I think the (chareidI) reactions were driven by fear in these areas and the chareidi position was severely undermined in the minds of the Israeli public as a result.

    on a personal level, the judge is DL and his most recent position on a yet more important matter, makes the vicious personal attacks all the more painful. cohesion and integration was never really obtainable in the intermediate term; now i suspect both sides care even less. welcome to the three weeks.

  7. Ori says:

    Dr. Bill: However, in the court’s view it was dealing with people who were disrespectful of its authority and disingenuous in their pro-forma attempts to comply. Makin ve’onshin shelo min hadin, at least in spirit is more than applicable.

    Ori: Except that we’re not talking about a king here, or a Halachic court that is taking the place of a king in a Jewish society that has limited autonomy. We’re talking about an institute of a democratic society. In a free society, no government institute is omnipotent.

  8. saulking says:

    ‘no constitution’
    Are we aware that fighting against a constitution in Israel is a strident battle of the Charedei parties?

  9. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Makin ve’onshin shelo min hadin, at least in spirit is more than applicable. The court was just being machmir in teaching a civics lesson.
    Perish the thought that a secular court should have legally embraced extra-legal powers! At least those that are granted to a legitimate beis din are delimited by a huge sugya in the rishonim and teshuvos of the acharonim. (Start with Choshem Mishpat Siman 2 and work backwards.) Israel’ legal system suffers from the worst of all worlds: no constitution, and an activist court. The sky is the limit for them, and they were shooting for the stratosphere on this one.

    I do agree, however, that I have seen absolutely nothing in the haredi press to indicate that anyone there understands what we do accept on this side of the Atlantic: that a society must strive for cohesion and integration, or it will remain riven by dissent.

    When the office of the chareidi leader can speak of the SA and Rema as evidence of no discrimination, does not the judge’s actions pale in comparison. That is what Torah learning teaches??? Lomdus in support of krumkeit!
    I could not agree more. I hope he didn’t really say it. If he did, and is not repudiated by others, then thinkgs are not only is as you say, but they would suggest to the greater Israeli public that haredim are mindless automatons, who follow blindly, and whose years of learning cannot produce any critical thinking.

  10. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi, i suspect Israel enjoys or suffers from an activist court. I would even acknowledge that the court went beyond the letter of the law in its treatment of the parents. However, in the court’s view it was dealing with people who were disrespectful of its authority and disingenuous in their pro-forma attempts to comply. Makin ve’onshin shelo min hadin, at least in spirit is more than applicable. The court was just being machmir in teaching a civics lesson.

    One of my secular friends in Israel mentioned the “shtick” on stipends, curriculum, etc. that has always been tolerated. She succinctly said that this is a very small first step in not just tightening rules but making sure current rules are not flaunted.

    Regardless of the details, the vigorous defense tends to disregard both the discrimination and the feeling of being above the law that justifies less than reasonable levels of compliance. Both demean Kevod Shamayim. When the office of the chareidi leader can speak of the SA and Rema as evidence of no discrimination, does not the judge’s actions pale in comparison. That is what Torah learning teaches??? Lomdus in support of krumkeit! where are charedi leaders in not condeming such behavior? It is not just what you condemn, but your choice of what not to address. I would like to see the more obvious abuses openly acknowledged not just by you but some of your colleagues. You might question the judge’s judgement, I question theirs.

  11. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >We march because the actions of the court in this case affect us at our core<

    This is true – and unfortunately why such a statement would also have come up empty. Israel has had an activist court for years. When they came after arutz sheva, when they banned political parties, when they overturned perfectly legitimate bills one after the other – the Hareidim were silent. People are not marching because they have an anti-activist ideology regarding jurisprudence or because this issue offends their democratic sensibility regarding separation of powers or parental autonomy in general. People are marching because it affects THEIR community. No community that reacts only in its own best interest and ridicules the troubles of other groups and communities can possibly hope for wide sympathy. Unlike some of the suggestions I have seen in the comments that the bad PR the hareidim get is because of media bias or an elite secular ashkenazi conspiracy, those who live in Israel on the outside of the Hareidi community know that this is simply not true. Of course there is media bias and of course there are anti-religious ideologues here in Israel – but the bad PR the community gets is very much earned in dozens of daily interactions, in the actions of the hareidi political askanim, in the statements of a rabbinic leadership their either does not know or does not care how their rhetoric is perceived outside of the wall of the community and in a complete shunning of any form of universalist ideology that has things to say regarding the treatment of other groups or about political ideology. Until this is changed, and I am not sure it can change without an internal community Hareidi war, no blurb will help restore the public perception of Hareidim nor the damage that this perception does to our Holy Torah.