The Sounds of Silence


A reader brought to my attention an article on Ynet penned by one Tzipora Gutman entitled “We Haredim Should Stand For Israel’s Fallen Soldiers.” Ms. Gutman, described in the tag line as “the director of the Adi Center in Bnei Brak and an activist in the haredi community,” describes a minor epiphany at which she understood the pain of those who see others failing to observe the moment of silence for the korbanos of Tzahal. She understands full well that many in the haredi world object to the importing of what they see as a distinctly non-Jewish form of observance, since the “moment of silence” idea does not appear to be sourced in anything Jewish. The law – at least Jewish law – therefore does not have anything positive to say about this new ritual. Still, she argues, haredim ought to go along with the practice (as most reportedly do!), because we are encouraged not to make the legal bottom line our standard, but to go lifnim mi-shuras ha-din / beyond the letter of the law.

I respectfully disagree. I don’t see why such participation should be considered beyond the letter of the law. To me (in my present sleep-deprived state, having just returned from a road trip) it seems likely that it is exactly what the law demands – even for those who find the borrowing of a non-Jewish ceremony objectionable.

R. Yosi (Shabbos 118B) prided himself on being agreeable to the requests of other people, even when ill-founded. “I know that I am not a kohen. Yet, if my friends would ask me to ascend the duchan, I would do so.” R. Yosi urges that we try to be as agreeable as possible to the requests of others. A non-kohen standing silently among the kohanim makes less intrinsic sense than observing the moment of silence that is so meaningful to so many in Israel, and requested by them. (The non-kohen’s presence is somewhere on the order of “fighting a war without the French is like going deerhunting without an accordion.”) Why should that not be reason enough?

What am I missing – besides sleep?

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Dovid Shaleesh
1 year 4 months ago


Really? People have a hard time connecting Tisha B’av to the Holocaust? They shouldn’t.

The Holocaust very clearly only happened because of the Churban; because the Jewish state was destroyed and sacked, and we were exiled to live as a hated minority among the nations.

Furthermore, isn’t that part of the entire Zionism ideology?

It is in fact quite shocking that secular Jews do not commemorate Tisha B’av, and the only explanation is that they davka don’t because it is part of our religious tradition. Consider that.

1 year 4 months ago

Its naïve to think a non-religious Jew should use Tisha B’av as a day of commemorating the Holocaust. What, to such a person, does the destruction of the first Temple have anything to do with what happened to his grandparents only 70 years ago? Even many among the most orthodox of families have trouble relating to it. And while it is true the kinnos books now include – towards the end – a few kinnos about the Holocaust, the day is still completely dominated by Eicha and then dirges about the Temple. And while afternoon video programs – itself an innovation no one seems to be complaining about – are fine, the hours in the morning sitting on the floor are nor something Jews will be attracted to.

In short, the only way the day would be more meaningful towards the non-religious would be if it would be completely reoriented, which orthodox Jews would (rightly) oppose also. So, while I agree there is no permanence to modern-day rituals likes Yom Hashoah, it is still something to be encouraged while it lasts. For the non-religious, it is either that, or nothing.

1 year 4 months ago

Raymond: Like Shiva Asar B’Tammuz?

David Z
1 year 4 months ago

@ c-l,c: We can’t bring the Mandate back, whatever its benefits, just like we can’;t force Jordan to take back the West Bank. So now we have a black and white world, whether you like it or not.

Many have said it better, but I’ll add my voice. I can’t see how spending a moment in silence thinking about the fallen is a goyische custom. Seriously? We’re not allowed to take at least a moment think about the debt we owe to others or introspect on our own deeds? This is something that is nowhere encouraged in musar or khasidut? It always has to be a large noisy chaotic t’hilim recitation with no thought given to the meaning of the words? Have we fallen that far? How will hakadosh barukh hu reach down far enough to pick us up? I imagine that in Egypt they could manage to do that and they didn’t even have the tora yet…

@ Menachem Lipkin, I love the shofar analogy! (Which was, ironically, something the British banned.)

1 year 4 months ago

Sorry, but I just do not see a need for standing for a moment of silence on Holocaust Memorial Day, perhaps because I do not see a need for such a holiday in the first place, since we already have Tisha B’av to cover the whole history of our people’s sorrows. Having one such day is depressing enough, without expanding it to another day.