Welcoming The Charedi Spring

The Charedi Spring may have finally arrived. Eight year old Naama Margolese may do for Israel what a Tunisian street vendor did for the Arab world. The wave of revulsion for the behavior of the extremists, if sustained and channeled into focused police work, may release the Israeli public – both secular and charedi – from the tyranny of fanatics whose thuggery and primitivism ran unchecked in Meah Shearim for years.

The price we pay for it is a massive chilul Hashem, as hundreds of millions of people equate Torah with Taliban. The only partial antidote is for the genuine Orthodox world to do what Muslims do not do to their extremists. We must condemn with passion, conviction and without qualification.

As the numbers of Meah Shearim-grown extremists increased, they sought space in other communities. (It was not only a matter of space. They were repudiated by many in their own neighborhood, including the Edah Charedis, which was still unable to rein them in.) Large numbers settled upon the Beit Shemesh area. Their growing enclave in RBS-Bet gradually spread out, to the point that they found themselves in close proximity to existing neighborhoods of dati Leumi and conventional charedim. Ongoing clashes came to a head with the opening of a frum girls’ school on land the extremists coveted in the dati Leumi neighborhood of Scheinfeld. While the dispute has been going on for months, and while violently imposing their requirements on local businesses has taken place for years, the issue exploded upon the national and international scene through a clip from Israel’s Channel Two that has gone viral. Listening to an Anglo girl dressed in long sleeves and a skirt speak about her fears in simply crossing the street and having to run a gauntlet of taunts, curses, and spittle from bearded adults has turned out to be the impetus to galvanize a country – including many charedim – into taking action. Contrasting her angelic demeanor with the ugly rhetoric of one of the tormentors who is particularly honest about their objectives to take over the entire country contributed to the mood of resistance.

Both the Prime Minister and the President spoke about the video. (Netanyahu was particularly gracious. “”We must beware of generalizing an entire population, because the vast majority of the Haredi public combines an adherence to Jewish tradition and a complete respect of the law”). Thousands came to Beit Shemesh to help stand up against the extremists. Groups of Knesset members are scheduling visits. Most remarkably, Haaretz reported that journalists were getting plenty of lip from charedim – but not to complain as usual about unbalanced treatment of their community. Rather, charedim were turning to them in person and by phone to implore them to keep the heat on through their coverage, so that the government will have no choice but to take firm action against the zealots who make life miserable for them as well. Haaretz even had to concede a difference between a minority population of out of control extremists and a “mainstream charedi” population.

To anyone not familiar with the history and dynamics of the charedi communities of Israel – and the century-and-a-half-long kulturkampf that created it, there is nothing in the pictures coming from Israel to differentiate the mobs in Beit Shemesh from those in Pakistan or Iraq. No amount of casuistry will put a dent in the plain truth: the behavior of many people who are seen as frum is a massive chilul Hashem of epic proportions.

Rabbinic and communal organizations are readying statements denouncing the barbarians at the gates of Beit Shemesh. This is necessary and good. It is probably not good enough. The extremists are not the equivalent of the poor, semi-literate unwashed masses in the Muslim suburbs of Paris. They were the recipients of many years of Torah chinuch. They studied, to some degree, the same seforim as the rest of us.

Even after we protest, the world will want to know what makes us more authentic than them. Why are they not the “real” Jews, and we are the reformers? How do we demonstrate that they are the imposters, that their understanding of Yiddishkeit is foreign to its genuine spirit? It is simply insufficient to say that we are right and they are wrong, or that our rabbis and leaders are greater than theirs. We dare not leave the very definition of Yiddishkeit to a he says, she says competition.

It is not enough to unequivocally denounce them. We must explain to the world – and fully and confidently to ourselves – why the extremists are a foreign, sickly weed, not another shitah among many. Where do we find within our mesorah the confidence to see these people as outside of it? We must be able to point not just to a collection of their terrible actions, but to fundamental themes in their lifestyle that make them different – and that we can package simply and reinforce in our children and students.

I have nothing magisterial or even particularly insightful to offer. A few thoughts, however, do come to mind.

How do I reject thee? Let me count the ways…

1) The dignity of everyone possessed of a Tzelem Elokim. We take it seriously; they don’t. You can’t take it seriously and still bring children to tears. You could never smear feces on the property of others. You could never spit at someone, rather than engage in discourse. You would see in all of this a belittling of the tzelem Elokim – the image of G-d vested in Man – not only of the other person, but of yourself. The imposition of one set of standards on others who are not willing (e.g. removing public benches so that women will not sit on them in public) is not only theft of the public, it is a denial of their Tzelem Elokim that allows them to choose their own decisors. Claiming that all other decisors but their own are wrong is a fatal distortion of halachic process.

2) Hakoras HaTov According to Chovos HaLevavos, owning up to the obligation to reciprocate what others have benefited you (even when done for the wrong reasons) is the key to any growth in serving Hashem. Closing their eyes to the benefits they have received from the State – the blood that has been spilled defending them in every war since ’48; the subsidies that feed their children and pay for their medical care – is so profoundly un-Jewish that it should be sufficient cause to call them opponents of Torah. All the mental gymnastics applied by them to prove to themselves that they owe nothing to anyone (i.e., if it weren’t for everyone else’s sins, the Arabs would be our peaceful and loving neighbors) should only prove that they can compound lack of hakoras hatov with distortion of sechel. R. Chaim Shmulevitz zt”l used to ask every year during Neilah that people daven for the soldiers of Tzahal. “Those who don’t understand why are fools.”

3) The simplest one, and the one that works the most for me: The proper way, we are told in Avos, is one that brings honor to Hashem and honor to the one who follows it. It should be simple enough to argue that a lifestyle that brings nothing but contempt upon Torah cannot legitimately be Torah! Discounting the small percentage of Israelis who truly hate Torah, the rest of Israeli society cannot be written off the same way. Where they should see the ahavas Yisrael of the R Aryeh Levin they remember a generation ago, they see nothing in the video clip but unvarnished hatred. Where they should see a lifestyle to admire, they see a community that cannot support itself, covers up its misdeeds, and shows itself entirely unsuitable to face challenges of real life. They react – and indeed often overreact – with contempt. But at least part of their contempt is understandable. It certainly means that the extremists are not bringing honor to anyone.

This alone proves that their way cannot be Torah. Everything else is commentary.

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81 comments to Welcoming The Charedi Spring

  • Jeffrey R. Woolf

    I cannot put into words how much I appreciate and applaud the eloquent courage and religio-moral rectitude expressed by Rabbi Adlerstein in this essay. מילים כדרבונות כיאה לתלמיד חכם הראוי למנותו פרנס על הציבור

  • Nachum Klafter

    Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein for this excellent piece.

    You are always soft on the Mo’etzet (American and Israeli) and the Haredi rabbinic leadership in general, reserving your criticism for the masses. I understand why, but I would like to say what you appear to be only able to hint at:

    The Agudah and other Rabbonim who are finally now condemning this behavior were moved to do so by Shimon Peres, the NY Times. Our rabbinic leadership has failed us. Yesher Koach to Shimon Peres and the NY Times who have given us appropriate mussar.

  • Charlie Hall

    “The extremists are not the equivalent of the poor, semi-literate unwashed masses in the Muslim suburbs of Paris.”

    Correct. I spent a week in Paris this summer. I wore my yarmulke all over the city. Not once did anyone ever harass me. Not even one of the many people I saw wearing distinctively Muslim dress.

    That I can spend a week in a country that has a very serious problem with the lack of assimilation and the lack of respect for the law in its Muslim immigrants, and not be harassed, but a Jewish child can not walk past Jews in religious garb without facing the most vile insults and physical threats is very sad. These Jewish extremists are not the equivalent, they are WORSE than the French Muslims!

  • inagreement

    I agree fully with David Ram-I think he is really the only one who got it right.

  • Charlie Hall

    Rabbi Adlerstein eloquently joins Rabbi Horowitz, the Orthodox Union/Rabbinical Council of America, and the International Rabbinic Fellowship in condemning the violence in Ramat Beit Shemesh and the thugs who perpetrate it. Agudath Israel of America also issued a statement that was somewhat watered down but still came down on the right side.

    But does anyone in Israel care what these largely American rabbis have to say?

    Where are the condemnations of the thuggery by the charedi gedolim of Eretz Yisrael?

    Where are the sanctions with some teeth against the thugs? Neturei Karta was put in Cherem after their leaders hobnobbed with the holocaust-denying President of Iran. And the charedi gedolim spared no effort in their attempts to read R’Slifkin and R’Druckman out of Orthodoxy!

    And where are the statements by the charedi gedolim acknowledging that the Dati Leumi rabbis of Israel contain many gedolim and can be relied upon on all halachic matters including tzniut dress? These are religious girls from religious families who are being harassed!

    Not a single one of the many charedi Jews I know would ever tolerate this behavior; why have the rabbinic leaders taken their time in acting?

  • Rafael Guber

    Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein. Courage is in such short supply today. Thank you for giving some of yours to us and speaking truth to power. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.”

    B’Kovod Rav

    Rafi Guber

    Maybe some of those who put Rav Amsellem in Herem could turn their attention to the plight of this innocent little girl.

  • David Meir

    Like others, I want to thank R. Adlerstein for this. But it’s like Yitz Waxman says – people need to SEE the kiddush Hashem with their own eyes, and statements of condemnation (while always welcome) aren’t going to cut it.

    I’ll also say that all 3 “how do I reject thee” points are also a problem in the “mainstream” charedi world – not just with extremists. 1) “Tzelem Elokim” – non-Jews are regularly scorned, looked down upon and considered inferior (despite their tzelem Elokim), and words like “shiksa” (from sheketz) attest to that. 2) I can say from experience that by no means do mainstream charedim express hakarat hatov for the State of Israel. Mostly the good is simply ignored, but often what you hear is scorn for the evil secular state. And certainly no mainstream charedim in RBS would be caught dead displaying an Israeli flag on Yom Haatzmaut. 3)Things that “bring contempt upon Torah” – how about Torah without derech eretz/livelihood, poverty/drain on the economy, non-payment of taxes, the yeshiva deferment from the army, agunot, keeping women from leadership positions, not showing photos of women in mainstream charedi magazines, etc., etc.

    I agree that the extremists take all these to another level entirely, but I don’t think R. Adlerstein is trying to make the point of “degrees” here.

    In any case, I want to reiterate that the article is definitely “good for the Jews”. Keep it up!

  • cvmay

    DAVID RAM, you have described the issue in its entirety.
    The likes of those leaders who would condemn their own and their actions have passed on (Rav Aryeh Levin, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, Ponevitch Rav, Rav SZ Auerbach ztk”L)

  • Liron Kopinsky

    Simple way to know they are beyond the pale: Deracheha Darchei Noam vCHOL Netivoteha Shalom.

  • S. Malkah Cohen

    To Charlie Hall: The RCA & OU have issued a joint denouncement of this (http://www.ou.org/general_article/rca_ou_joint_statement_regarding_violence_in_beit_shemesh_israel#.Tv0_lmOO5Ow.facebook). Much more is needed, of course. The voice of reason must be backed by “ordinary,” observant Jews consistently taking a firm but peaceful stand on this and related issues. This chillul HaShem (shaming of the Holy Name) cannot stand without creating major rifts in the achdut of Am Yisrael (the one-ness of the people of Israel). Between this, the bus segregations and the terrible power plays made by the Israeli rabbinate on all issues coming before the Batei Din (especially regarding conversions and divorce), I greatly fear that Judaism will soon splinter in a way Yiddishkeit as we know it may not survive. This is a test, folks!

    S. Malkah Cohen

  • L. Oberstein

    One of my little grandchildren told another one of my grandchildren,”you are Chareidi”. This grandchildren ran to his mother and asked what is a chareidi, his mother said someone who has Yirat Shamayim and Learns Torah. The children said that Uncle…,the father of the other grandchild has yirfat shamayim and learns Torah ,so he is chareidi too. He does’nt fathom why a Dati Leumi gan student would hear that chareidim are to be disliked when ,to him, we are all good Jews. I spoke to the father of the first one and he acknowledged that this is what his son is hearing and the child doesn’t even know what it all means. One thing that we pride ourselves on is that all of my children respect each other and eat in each other’s home, spend Shabbos in each others homes,etc. We do not recognize that there are catagories of Jews in our family. I am worried that this will explode in our faces.
    On another note, I just got my weekly edition of Hamodia. Their editorial view is that the poor chareidi majority is being stigmatized because people are out to get Netanyahu and this is a way to bring down his government. There is not the slightest feeling that the general chareidi community has anything whatsoever to do with the problems, it is all sinas chinam against frum Jews. They really don’t get it.

  • Dovid Shlomo

    “Moshe” of the video is not a lunatic.
    He is reasonably intelligent and reasonably articulate.

    Therefore, when you look at “Moshe,” look at him not as some kind of crazed individual, but as the logical product of his educational system and culture.

    And therein lies the problem.
    And therein lies the reason as to why driving away the individual “Moshes” will be about as effective as spitting to the wind.

    To me, what is most significant is not that “Moshe” favors spitting on little girls, but that he is proud to say so on National TV, knowing that the camera is rolling.

    Obviously, this is not a matter of one hot head’s warped perspective, but an outgrowth of the education he has received and (hence) the culture in which he lives.

    Good Luck trying to change it.

    BTW, I wonder where he got the car and where he goes with it.

  • YM

    I would consider myself a member of the charedi community in the US and a supporter of the charedi community in Israel, but I simply don’t recognize any leadership there. About a year ago, I asked a Rav who is based in Israel and travels to the US on a regular basis to help me understand the role of Torah leadership and how Israeli Rabbinical leadership works and he found himself unable to address the issue. I would never condemn a Jew for wanting to make the public space more tzniusdik, but things are out of control when park benches are being ripped out so that women wont sit and talk to each other or when the head of Shas and an MK from Agudas Yisroel have to be assigned bodyguards to protect them from death threats from the out of control elements identified with the charedi community.

    I think most of the charedim in RBS bet would like the police to come and arrest these criminals.

  • PAUL MORTON

    one of your writers referred to ” the plight of the little girl ” . while I have great sympathy for her , this is not just her problem ,bur rather a problem for all Jews whether in Israel or the Diaspora.
    many years ago in a private meeting with Bibi Netanyahu, I asked him, how big a problem is Muslim fundamentalism to Israel ?–his response , not as serious as Jewish fundamentalism . he was correci

    ‘”

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    Where are the condemnations of the thuggery by the charedi gedolim of Eretz Yisrael?

    In the US, the press and the public at large can be excused for failing to differentiate between mainstream Charedim and the spitting thugs, and condemnation from any every Charedi leader there is called for and welcome.

    In Eretz Yisrael the situation is much more complex. The press and some secular politicians are responsible for perpetuating, if not creating, the blanket view of all ultra-Orthodox as cut of the same cloth. Here, virtually every secular Jew rubs elbows and shoulders with mainstream Charedim every single day, and they know very well that every Charedi they know abhors such behavior as much as they do. So just like, for the secular press here, a “Chiloni” doesn’t rape, a criminal rapes, it should be clear that a “Charedi” doesn’t spit, a criminal spits. But there are political dynamics in play (on the state and municipal level) that make it convenient for some to lump all the Charedim together, and it is that game that creates the prima facie impression that Charedim spit. So why should Charedi leaders here play that game?

  • Shlomo

    R’ Adlerstein, you must be kidding me. The gedolim will never condemn this in clear language, which means that a society which follows daas torah cannot take action against it.

  • anonymous

    There are 2 subtle things that truly bothered me about the clip from Channel 2, besides the obvious.
    1. The man who repeats over and over “Ani ben adam bari” – ‘I am a healthy male.’ Meaning, any healthy male has a “healthy” sex drive which makes it difficult for him to control if a woman is not modestly dressed. Unfortunately, the man who repeated this statement was talking not only about women in general, but about the 8 year old girl involved in the spitting incident. This is SICK.
    2. Another chareidi man with long peyos carrying a briefcase responded with ugliness to the reporter as he (the man with the briefcase) was surrounded by young boys. The briefcase is of the type typically carried by cheder teachers in Israel. It appears he is a rebbi at a boys’ school. This is very disturbing, as this person is a role model to the very boys he teaches, and he certainly does not control his ugliness in front of the little boys in the clip.

  • Raymond

    Too bad I came so late in this discussion. But please allow me to say, G-d bless Rabbi Adlerstein, for his uncompromising honesty and integrity. It is people like him who keep me interested in Judaism at all, while the apologists for even the most abysmal behavior of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish world turn me off from that lifestyle like nothing else can.

    One thing I feel like telling those fanatics that are bringing so much shame to our people, is that they need to get a full-time job doing honest work. The Israeli government needs to stop funding them, and they need to join the army like anybody else. As things stand now, they are little more than ungrateful welfare recipients with an unjustified sense of entitlement. Have these people not been made aware of the fact that being members of G-d’s Chosen People, means that we Jews have an extra responsibility to behave in a morally exemplary manner?

  • Yoni Schick

    Agudah’s statement was another exercise in smug apologetics. We need leaders like Rabbi Adlerstein, and many of us from out of town communities to gather together to create an alternative to Agudah. The pained voices of normative Torah-Judaism have been squelched for too long.

  • Tz

    I just moved to RBS-A.

    I agree with #1. Why aren’t the Ashkenazi gedolim taking a strong stand against this? Where are they!!!!!!!!!

    Its really hard to believe in their “daas Torah” given these circumstances.

    The silence is deafening.

  • L. Oberstein

    Yoni Schick assumes that out of town is a major force in Agudah’s constituency. It is growing especially due to the regional representatives who advocate with the legislature and political class. These men are a kiddush Hashem and they help all Jews and do a good job. I think that Agudah’s leaders are looking over their shoulder afraid of being dismissed by the chareidi element that is more Bnai Brak than America and by the very large and growing Chassidish community that has strong rules against gender mixing. The old time Litvishe Roshei Yeshiva are gone and their replacements don’t have the same constituency any more. If the Novominsker would advocate strong secular education in his own yeshiva like he received in Chicago, his school would get a bad reputation. I was told this by someone to whom he told this to. Agudah is the strongest,by far, of all the national Jewish organizations and it is a big tent. We out of towners are a small part of that constituency and aren’t really in the loop.

  • Akiva

    a “Chiloni” doesn’t rape, a criminal rapes, it should be clear that a “Charedi” doesn’t spit, a criminal spits.

    Binyomin, with all due respect, when a criminal spits because he believes it is not only religiously justified but religiously imperative to spit, and when he self identifies his religious perspective as Charedi, and in fact is a member of the Charedi community . . .

    Then yes, a Charedi spits.

    The same way a Muslim engages in terror attacks when the motivation behind them is an interpretation of Islam. Not all Muslims, and not all Charedim – but this wasn’t a man who spit who happened to be a Charedi; this was a man who spit solely because he was a Charedi (again, not saying it’s inherent to the Charedi world-view – just that in this case it was, in fact, motivated by his world view as a Charedi).

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    Akiva,

    You miss one crucial point.

    The mainstream media, worldwide, does not refer to perpetrators of terrorist attacks as “Muslims.” There is, invariably, a modifier, a euphemism or a benign appellation. Because they do not wish to create or perpetuate an impression that terrorists represent Islam.

    Compare and contrast that to reference to “Charedi” spitters, and therein lies all the difference.

  • Dr. E

    To say that the Agudah’s statement on this was “too little too late” would be way too generous. While making a failed attempt to “be relevant”, it demonstrated both a disconnect with and a diversion from the real issues. It showed that some askan felt that they needed to issue some statement or else they would be pushed further into oblivion, and this was cobbled together. The fact remains that while the leaders and the majority of its constituency are likely quite familiar familiar with communities like Har Nof, Geulah, Kiryat Sefer, and Beitar. But, they know very little if any, about places like Scheinfeld, Alon Shvut, Yad Binyamin and Neve Daniel—or its schools and Yeshivos. Lack of information combined with filtered information and buba-meises is never a good thing. This is why the statement went on to stick its semantic foot into its mouth when it framed it as a battle about tzniyus–gone wild. Someone had to tell them that Tzniyus was a part of it, no? I don’t think the Agudah won anyone over with that one, including those among its own ma’aminim who are in touch with reality.

    We see much maneuvering going on in putting this emerging story all together and idetifying the scapegoat. First, it is a fringe group. Now, it is a media conspiracy against the entire Chareidi community. Then again, it might just be the Chareidi community in EY and not the Chareidi community in America. But what about the discomfort that the Chareidi community has had for other Hashkafos, points of view, or standards? This trend is based on an attitude that has been evolving for many years? Even before the recent Beit Shemesh incident, we have heard harsh rhetoric about others at conventions, in the press, in Kol Korehs, and at Shabbos tables (and in recorded shmoozen by charismatic “Mechanchim” to audiences of soon-to-be Kiruv guys, that anyone can hear online). Those in the out-group have been marginalized far more effectively than what has been happening with the Kannoim. Extreme behavior doesn’t just come out of nowhere. Yes, it is really the far end of a continuum of intolerance, but part of the same explicit and implicit continuum of intolerance nonetheless. The onus is really on the mainstream Chareidi community to not only talk the talk, but now also walk the walk in order to show that the extremists are not merely openly expressing what they have really been thinking all along. Let’s hope that the Chareidi community can demonstrate that those engaging in the extreme behavior of Beit Shemesh and elsewhere are not merely their “Shabbos Goyim”.

    Another defense is the counter-claim that these extremists have been provoked. To my knowledge, the concept of free will has not expired in the Creation. When we have 1500 people being mevazeh what until this point is one of the most horrific yet sacred eras of Klal Yisrael, all bets are off. It’s the smoking gun that it’s not about a media conspiracy. You don’t mess with the Shoah, unless of course you are the leader of Iran. What kind of chinuch allows for parents and teachers to pin yellow stars onto 8 year old boys and exploit children who are 65 years removed from that horror? I would hope that there is no Purim supply store that sells these materials. But now, it’s hard to know for sure (and shame to the person who sewed or fashioned these items for this event). If the Shoah can be trivialized and exploited as a means of showing disgust for the evil Zionist regime (who is protecting even this fringe group on a daily basis from being slaughtered by our enemies), then what does that say about the lessons learned from the cataclysmic event– one that did not distinguish between men, women, Chareidim, or non-Chareidim? Was it just another Anti-Semetic pogrom that allows for this costume party? Can there be such ignorance about the Holocaust among anyone who has had a Torah chinuch? I’d be curious to see what the Shoah curriculum looks like not only among the extremists, but among the mainstream Chareidi community as well. (Any Mechanchim out there care to weigh in on what is taught about the Shoah in Yeshivos today?) This recent episode is a historic red line that has been crossed, which is beyond the realm of deficient hakaras hatov.

    So much for the Chareidi Spring. Let’s hear what will be said in the “Chareidi Summer”, if we are still sitting on the floor on Tisha B’Av talking about why Mashiach has not yet arrived.

  • DF

    “The Agudah and other Rabbonim who are finally now condemning this behavior were moved to do so by Shimon Peres, the NY Times. Our rabbinic leadership has failed us. Yesher Koach to Shimon Peres and the NY Times who have given us appropriate mussar.”

    The left wing attacks the religious all the time, and it never resonates with the religious, because the religious consider the source. In this case there was a reaction because everyone himself knew the charedim had gone too far. Do you think anyone in Israel, or even most people under the age of 50 in this country, read the New York Times, much less care what they say? (Ditto for Sgimon Peres – a good man, but frequently wrong, and at the very least no one the religious take seriously.) You are projecting your own thoughts onto the public at large.

  • Younger Light

    K’vod HaRav Adlerstein,

    While I obviously agree with your overall point, I’m not sure that all of your specific ones are fair. I was thinking about Satmar and hakaras ha’tov, though I see you addressed that already. But what also seems too simple is your final point in Torah and pleasantness (tiferes) being related. Although our minds are filled with the dramatic stories of Rav Aryeh Levine and the non-frum store owner, Rav Shlomo Zalman and his cleaning lady, and beautiful related gedolim bein adam la’chaveiro stories, that is not all there is to being a gadol. Surely in the 1920s, when certain Jews stood up for Shabbos and lost their jobs on a weekly basis, their bosses and co-workers did not feel that these people were “tiferes” or honoring G-d’s name, but we view it differently. If a man does not shake a woman’s hand (assuming for now it’s in a case that he should not), she may be offended and be disgusted with the “G-d of Israel,” but he still make a kiddush Hashem in the true meaning of the words.

    If so, although again, I agree that the extremists are wrong, I do believe that it’s oversimplifying to use our taste of what seems honorable for G-d and what doesn’t as a measure of their actions.

    [YA – You are correct. When it comes to indisputable issurim, we do not care how others will reach. Ein chochmah v’ein tevunah, etc. When we deal with behavior that accepted canons of halachic procedure would regard as beyond the normative – and even when there are disputed arguments lehakel (assuming that they are based on real lomdus, and not sophomoric miscalculation) – the mishnah in Avos remains a good yardstick.]

  • Mr. Cohen

    Yitzchok Adlerstein said:
    “Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz ztl used to ask every year during Neilah that people daven for the soldiers of Tzahal.”

    Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl said (in the last year of his life) that we should pray for the soldiers of Israel.
    This remark was made at one of his Thursday night public lectures.

  • Ita

    Could it be that the Chareidi Gedolim aren’t commenting because they don’t know? They probably don’t know because they aren’t being told. I bet you didn’t know that Rav Chaim Kanievsky doesn’t even own a telephone!

    Also, all we are all going by is what we see in the media. The media is hardly an objective place to judge what exactly is going on.

  • Zev Bar

    Dear Rabbi Adlerstein,
    I have lived in Israel for over thiry years, and before that twenty five in the USA.
    There can be no justification for violating any halacha – spitting in another person’s 4 amos being one particularly clear-cut prohibition.
    Having said that, the fact is that spittle (and worse) flies in innocent (and not-so-innocent) people’s faces all the time. It would be impossible to count minor and major infractions perpetrated by ‘meshuganahs’ around our globe. No government, people, no religion, no culture, no country nor continent can say: ‘We have not thought,spoke, or acted improperly.’
    Last month at a golf driving range, a ‘fellow-golfer’ accused me of ‘stealing’ his driving range ball, and cursed me! (I didn’t pilfer the little white ball w/ a red stripe.)
    I stared at him and said: ‘For a golf ball you swear at me?’ He said nothing.
    Spitting at little girls is, Hashem knows, serious. If we collected all of the spittle, we’d probably fill up Lake Tahoe in no time flat.
    But the point is this. It isn’t, according to my most humble opinion, news.
    Not first page, not last page. No page at all.
    Right, I believe, will prevail when people use judicious words and reasoning to settle problems- both real and perceived ones.

  • HW

    I get it that we condemn the violent actions of extreme groups in certain sects. But, I don’t see though why we need to go so far as to assume that these people are “sickly weeds”. And, I don’t see the relevance of saying that they are being ungrateful by closing their eyes to the benefits that they receive from the State. Many of them do actually avoid government funding, paying for medical services, schooling etc., out of their own pockets. Some of them do benefit from the government, but we do not need to condemn them for it more than we need to condemn Chareidim in general.

  • SA

    I have lived in Bet Shemesh for almost twenty years. Rabbi Adlerstein’s words are so important for those of us who live here.
    We need the chizuk! We need to know that someone out there understands how we feel and is concerned! We are grieving for our city, a place in which we invested so much in an effort to build a community of all types of Jews. The behavior recently reported in the press has been going on for YEARS and have been documented. It is nothing new. There have been dozens if not hundreds of incidents of violence and abuse towards not only the dati leumi population but against charedim as well. Our pain is not so much due to the actions of a few ‘terrorists’ who live in our midst but rather the silence of the majority of mainstream charedim who will not protest or speak out. The charedim of Bet Shemesh and elsewhere are experts at protesting,at putting up pashkevilim signed by charedi rabbanim and in general, making their voices heard.

    There are a few reasons why they have not done so in this case: 1. Some in the charedi community are afraid to speak out against such violent, threatening people 2. Others feel that this behavior has nothing to do with them. It doesn’t impact on their lives 3. Some feel that to protest is to admit some connection to these awful people. Just as they would not protest murder by a ‘charedi’ person, they will not protest something which has ‘nothing’ to do with the person’s ‘charediness’. 4. There are those who do not agree with the tactics of the kanaim but agreewith the reasons behind their protest. They will not object to the violent behavior because it might look as though they are disagreeing with the reasons behind the protests. This includes charedim who have themselves been victims of the ‘terrorists’. 5. The last group does not agree with the tactics nor with the issues being protested but is quite happy to see the end result which will be the exodus of dati leumi families from the city. They want Bet Shemesh to be a charedi city are willing to put up with some fuss in order to get this result. Of course these are not distinct groups and some people fall into more than one category.

    This is what we mourn; this is the true Chillul Hashem in my opinion.
    Hashem gave us two chances to live here and rule ourselves. We failed and he sent us into exile.
    Now he has given us a third precious chance. What are we doing with that chance? I firmly believe that we can only stay here if we can manage, somehow, to treat each other with the most basic respect.

    May Hashem redeem us speedily.