The Honeymoon is over (part 2)

HaRav Chaim Drukman, who was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, was interviewed regarding his reaction to the boycott I pitputed about yesterday. He was in charge of the Israel Conversion Authority, and was the subject of a now maligned opinion from Rabbi Avraham Sherman regarding his conversions, where Rabbi Sherman had attempted to anul conversions on the basis that the Beth Din members were not “kosher”.

Rav Drukman is a holocaust survivor who was part of the establishment of Gush Emunim. He is known as an Ish HaChesed. As Rav Aviner wrote

By contrast, “if the Torah scholar scrupulously makes sure to greet all people gently, humbly and graciously, and he suffers insult without insulting in return, if he treats others with respect, even those that treat him lightly, and if he radiates integrity in his business dealings… until everyone praises him and loves him and appreciates his deeds, then he has sanctified G-d’s name. Of him it says, ‘You are My servant, Israel in whom I glory’ (Yeshayahu 49:3).”

Indeed, Rav Druckman is amongst those who suffer insult without insulting in return.

He really does get insulted and hurt a great deal. It is impossible to describe just how much, and it really does hurt him, but he never returns an insult.

Such is the humble person under discussion. He is an open saint, but a secret saint as well. In other words, his personality is so open, it radiates so fully, it has such a great influence, that one could think that what we see is all there is. Yet that is not the case. There is to his modesty much more than what we see. Don’t ask me what. I don’t know. Because Rav Chaim is a humble, modest person, who doesn’t often reveal what’s inside of him.

Watch the video interview with Rav Druckman. Turn on the English captions if you can’t understand Ivrit too well. He accurately notes the disdain that Charedim have held Religious Zionists in, as a matter of perpetuity. You see, for Charedim, Rav Druckman isn’t “frum enough”. Period.

The Honeymoon is over

Let’s face it. Charedim have never considered any religious zionists—Mizrachisten) “frum enough”. That’s a generalisation, of course. Notable exceptions, such as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל or indeed his son-in-law, Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg שליט’’א never saw things in black and white (sic). Rav Shlomo Zalman’s son, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, however, is most extreme in his views.

The Charedim were considered “black” (in keeping with their attire) and the religious zionists (with their white crocheted Shabbos Yarmulkes were the white ones). In truth, the right-wing of religious zionists, such as those from Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, are easily “as frum” as the frummest Charedim, across the board, although they didn’t wear the uniform of hats and jackets or follow the dictates of Agudisten or “Daas Torah”. It’s no different in Melbourne.

We have four kollelim:

  1. The Chabad Kollel
  2. The Lakewood Kollel (Litvishe Misnagdim)
  3. The Adass Kollel (various Hungarian and other Chassidim)
  4. The Mizrachi Kollel MiTziyon (Religious Zionists)

The Chabad Kollel is an arm of the general Chabad movement. People learn there for a couple of years and then go into Chinuch, the Rabbinate, or the general work force. It’s not a life time job to sit in Kollel. The Kollel is interested in people outside of Chabad, in the same way that Chabad is interested in anyone (with the exception of farbrente Misnagdim with whom they share no love).

The Lakewood Kollel was split asunder by a massive disagreement between its own constituents which saw one Rosh Kollel go back to the USA and the other remain in his position. Many important Ba’aley Batim left the Lakewood Kollel, never to return. For many of the full timers, it’s a lifetime job, to “sit in Kollel”. The Lakewood Kollel isn’t really interested in Religious Zionists. It is mainly a common ruse to attract such people to attract funding to support their activities. Behind the scenes, religious zionists are not considered “frum enough”. This is no different to any other such institution around the world.  It is not unique to Melbourne.

The Adass Kollel keeps completely to itself. It is made up of people who have retired as well as young and not so young marrieds. It isn’t interested in the wider melbourne jewish world outside of its own hermetically sealed group and it certainly has no time for Religious Zionist types from a Torah perspective.

Kollel Mitziyon, isn’t really a Kollel. It’s a quasi yeshivah and does a good job continuing the type of learning program that those who studied at religious zionist style yeshivas experienced before returning to Australia. It normally imports a Rosh Kollel and Israeli Hesder Bachurim; their Rabonim though are simply not treated with any respect by the other Kollelim or their constituents.

So what honeymoon is over? Has there ever been a marriage? There has been a “quiet peace” between Charedim and Religious Zionists. While the latter learned in Yeshivos and went to the army, the former generally avoid the army at all costs because they see their torah learning as protecting Jews, and many also see it as a full time, life-long vocation.

Until now.

The new style Mizrachi party, Habayit HaYehudi no longer supports a carte blanche arrangement where significant numbers of Charedim are able to avoid going to the army and sit in Kollel for the rest if their lives. The retribution has been swift. Incredibly, joining the anti-semites and anti-zionists of the world, the Charedi parties have decided to no longer support produce from the “settlements” beyond the green line!

I find this disgraceful. That they could give strength to the types of boycotts imposed by both Jewish and non-Jewish anti-semitic anti-zionists is simply breathtaking, but not surprising. They will stop at nothing to make sure that their sole vocation remains Torah study. To put it in other words, it would be akin to the Lakewood and Kollel Beis Yosef deciding that they would no longer use any businesses associated with the Mizrachi (religious zionists), here in Melbourne. Chabad, of course supports settlement activity given that the last Rebbe was staunchly against returning land for peace.

Idle threats aside: I do not understand why the Charedim do not institute a Hesder system like the Mizrachi did so many years ago. Let them have a ten year Hesder program, where they do 3 years of army interspersed with an extra 7 years of Torah study. What would be so bad? But to boycott any place over the green line in the way they are proposing makes me sick in the gut, and convinces me even more that it was only ever a platonic “marriage”, and the honeymoon is now well and truly over.

Frum and the not yet frum: Separate or Join?

A powerful set of questions are raised in an article titled “Maybe the Secular Are Right?” that was published this winter in the Haredi Kikar Hashabbat, Rabbi Bloch (who is the Head of Nachal Charedi, and a Ram and Rosh Kollel) asks: “Why is it so common for Haredi pundits and public figures to pin the motives for secular hatred against Haredim only on the formers’ bad qualities, their emptiness, anti-Semitism and the ignorant man’s hatred for the scholar? And another question we should ask ourselves is whether, sometimes, the value benefits from this conduct or another are worth the consequent heavy price of hilul Hashem (desecration of the Holy Name).

1. We’ve chosen, for understandable educational reasons, to withdraw and live in exclusively Haredi cities and neighborhoods, avoiding as much as possible any social contact with the secular.

This is legitimate and understandable, but as a result they don’t really know us, amd so they naturally view us as bizarre, in our manner of dress, our behavior, and our language. This creates aversion and alienation. Why, then, we are angry at them for treating us this way?

2. We chose, for educational reasons—although some of us really believe it—to teach our children that all secular Israelis are sinners, vacuous, with no values, and corrupt.

This could possibly be a legitimate view, but, then, why are we shocked when the secular, in return, teach their own children that the Haredim are all primitive, with outdated and despicable values?

3. We have chosen, for the sake of the preservation of Torah in Israel, to prevent our sons from participating in carrying the heavy burden of security, and instead tasked them with learning Torah.

Of course we could not give that up, but why are we outraged and offended when the secular, who do not recognize nor understand this need—or rather most of them are familiar with the issue, but argue that there should be quotas—see us as immoral, and some despise us as a result?

4. We chose for our sons who do not belong, by their personal inclination or learning skills to the group of Torah scholars (Yeshiva bums and worse), to also evade enlistment—including into perfectly kosher army units. And when it comes to the individuals who have joined the Haredi Nahal, we do not praise them, but despise them instead, and we certainly show them no gratitude, while the Haredi press ignores them—in the best case.

Why, then, are we outraged when the secular don’t believe our argument, that the purpose of keeping yeshiva students from enlisting, is to maintain Torah study and not simply the Haredim’s unwillingness to bear the burden?

5. We chose to teach our children not to work for a living, and to devote all their time to Torah study. Clear enough, but, then, why are we shocked when the secular—who do not consider Torah study an all encompassing value—feel that we are an economic burden on their necks, as a mere 38% of us take part in the labor force, and they hate us for it.

6. We chose not to teach our children any labor skills, and we condemn those who do pursue a profession. As a result our kolelim include all of those who do not belong among the scholars and still prefer not to work for a living.

Why, then, do we complain when the secular feel, and say so with an increasing volume, that we are parasites, living off of their efforts?

7. We chose (for educational considerations?) not to educate our children to show gratitude to the soldiers who risked their lives and were killed or injured for our sake, too. So we do not mention them in any way by any special day or prayer or special Mishna learning that’s dedicated to their memory. Moreover, not a single Mashgiach or Rosh Yeshiva ever talks about it in a Mussar Schmooze, and you’ll find no mention of it in the Haredi press.

Why, then, are we surprised that the secular feel that we are ungrateful and despicable, and that the reason for our not enlisting is simply because we are parasites, living off the sacrifices of others in society?

8. When extremist, delusional groups behave in ways that besmirch the name of God—e.g. the spitting in Beit Shemesh, dancing during the memorial siren, burning the national flag—our rabbis chose not to condemn them, clearly and consistently ( except for a few faint statements here and there). Why, then, are we explaining away the fact that the secular believe we all support those terrible acts? Why do we insist that their hostility stems from their hatred of the scholars?

9. We’ve opted to allow our public officials and pundits to curse out all the secular all the time. Why, then, when the secular media treat us the same way, are we offended and cry out that they’re persecuting us?

10. The Haredi press will never offer any praise of or express support for secular Israelis who perform good deeds. Why, then, do we jump up and down when we are rewarded equally? And, in fact, while Haredi spokespersons rarely point anything positive about secular society, the secular media often gives positive coverage to Haredi organizations like Yad Sara, Hatzala, Zaka, etc.

11. We would not agree, under any condition, that secular Israelis turn up in our schools to teach our children heresy, and we would have kept them from putting up stands with books of heresy in our areas. Why, then, do we not understand when the secular do not agree that we seduce her children into denying their parents’ heresy?

12. We do not agree—in my view, rightfully so—that secular people move into Haredi neighborhoods. So where do we get the arrogance and audacity to call anti-Semites those secular who don’t agree that Haredim move near their homes, in secular neighborhoods?