Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lights Within The Darkness

לרפואת הרב יצחק בן ברכה 
והרב אברהם יוסף בן ר' משה חיים 

I received a email written by a certain American rabbi highlighting the horrific sinas chinam that is going on here in Israel. 

One story he told was how Charedi kids tormented a kippah wearing soldier who was in their neighborhood davening. The soldier said that he sees the same hatred in their eyes that he sees in the eyes of Arab children in Chevron where he goes to Yeshiva. 

Another about how there was a demonstration [I think anti-army] and when a car tried to get by one of the Charedi demonstrators spit twice in the face of a [Charedi] woman in the car.  

That was the gist of the two stories. He told them much more in detail but I can't look there and make sure I got it right because it is too painful to read. 

Of course there is sinas chinam and it is distressing. VERY, VERY distressing. But I would like to give perspective [no defense of any wrongdoers - just perspective]. 

I have been living here since 1987. That is a long time:-). הודו לה' כי טוב!!! I have seen thousands upon thousands of soldiers walking in the same vicinity as Charedim and never once were any of them taunted or disrespected in any way, shape or form. Every day it happens many thousands of times that Charedi people see soldiers and don't mistreat them in any way nor does it even occur to them to do so. So this first story is about the exception [which seems to becoming more prevalent] and not the rule. I live in a Charedi neighborhood and I have never heard a bad word about soldiers nor of course would anyone here hurt them in any way, G-d forbid.

It goes without saying that I have never witnessed angry teenagers spitting on innocent pregnant women in cars. The spitting incident was very much the exception and not the rule. It is a חילול השם and makes everyone look bad but is nevertheless not standard behavior. I don't know any kid who would ever do such a thing. 

Now to the sinas chinam. It is a problem. There are extreme factions in Klal Yisrael who spread disdain, animosity and hostility toward other Jews who make the major error of not thinking like them. Terrible. 

But as a wanna be talmid of the Rav ztz"l it is incumbent upon me to find the "light" within the darkness. 

Here goes: What is all of this hatred about? These days - mostly the army. In larger numbers Charedim are gong to the army and on order to combat this there are demonstrations, street blockings, signs denouncing rabbonim [including Rav Shteinman!!] who approve of certain boys going to the army [i.e. those already off the derech] a lot of very harsh rhetoric etc.

What is at the root of this? A fear that the walls that the Charedim built up in order to protect themselves against secular influences are falling. And they are right. The walls are falling as more and more Charedi men enter the work force [and not only as maggidei shiur and mashgichim ruchaniim but in hi-tech, real estate, business etc. etc.], more Charedi men go to university, more Charedi men go to the army and of course the Internet which opens up the world to anyone with a little machine and fingers.  

Is there anything positive in this concern? OF COURSE!! Is it justified?? OF COURSE. Are they trying to protect our tradition that we have die for? OF COURSE. Does it strengthen these people to be more Jewish and less secular? OF COURSE. On some level they need to feel hostile in order to bolster their beliefs.

Are their methods always justified? Of course not. Are their opinions always correct? Quite possibly not. Does it hurt when people who wear tzitzis and a black hat act like pigs? Very much. 

But this hatred they have for those whom they see as endangering the Jewish people and our tradition has SOME ELEMENT of light and kedusha. It is not about money or kavod or tyvos or anything material. It is all about conserving the spirit. Being on one "team" and against the "other team" allows one to sharpen distinctions and understand what he stands for and what he would die for. 

If they would ask me I would suggest other, more peaceful methods. I would remind them that just because their Rav [whom they have every right to follow] thinks one way that doesn't negate the fact that other rabbonim think otherwise and they deserve respect.   

But we must try to see the good in all of this. 

Even when people from Williamsburg protest in front of the UN against the State of Israel which sickens us all has a bright side. They view the State of Israel as being an agent of the powers of evil in this world and they are demonstrating against evil. Are they wrong? I think so and you think so but what is at the ROOT of their demonstrations? In their mind are they going against Hashem or for Him? Are they davening three times a day and learning Torah for the same reason they are demonstrating? Yes. The reason is that they think that it is the will of G-d. We can still be nauseated but at least have a broader perspective. 

Now let us look at a shtikel in the Oros that expresses this idea:

I am not going to translate and explain but there are big "Oros" in this passage. Please try to read and understand it.. If you can't - find someone who does.