Do you see light or darkness?

I saw this page on Matzav. There is a nice video there that is worth watching.

Soldiers in Israel’s Navy who set sail last week on a mission to stop an alleged Iranian weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists celebrated Shabbos together by singing Shalom Aleichem and then making Kiddush and having a seudah.

“As Shabbat began last week, these soldiers had already set sail to stop Iran’s weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists. In the middle of the sea, they all sang ‘Shalom Aleichem’ – a Shabbat song meaning ‘peace be upon you,’” the IDF said. “Days later, their successful mission brought peace upon the entire nation of Israel.”

The members of elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 gathered below deck to sing together. The soldiers, who mostly wore yarmulkas, put their arms around each other’s shoulders and swayed back and forth as they prayed. After the song was over, one soldier stepped forward and made Kiddush.

Days later, the unit successfully intercepted the arms shipment in the Red Sea. The boat, named KLOSC, was headed to Sudan, 1,500 miles from Israel.

One of the weapons captured, the M-302 missile, is made in Syria and is based on Iranian technology, Israel’s Walla reported. IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, oversaw the operation and gave the order to Major General Ram Rothberg, head of the Israeli Navy, to seize the KLOSC, the IDF said earlier this week.

What upset me were the comments section. The various commentators bemoaned the possibility that the video was taken on Shabbos, the last comment though captured how I felt. I didn’t even remotely think for one minute that it was taken on Shabbos. It looked pretty light to me, and it was entirely possible one person hadn’t been mekabel shabbos and took the video because he was so proud of the scene.

While these guys put their lives on the line, the bobbins who aren’t allowed to read the internet can only see darkness and sin. Their eyes are dim, they cannot see let alone imagine light. If they think that for one minute these guys are working on the basis of

כוחי ועוצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה

then this video is an Open Psak that they are wrong, wronger, and wrongest, but all they feel is that they are wronged. Even הכרת הטוב doesn’t enter their vernacular.

1. Comment from Shabbos?
Time March 9, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Wasn’t this video likely taken by a Yid on Shabbos?

2. Comment from anonymous
Time March 9, 2014 at 12:51 PM

who took the picture on shabbos???? nice

3. Comment from shayla
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:04 PM

They videoed on Shabbos?!
Are you allowed to watch something that came through Chillul Shabbos?!

4. Comment from shvigger
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:06 PM

This video makes me so sad.

5. Comment from Shomer Sha-bbos
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Why do you publicize a video made with chilul Shabb-os?

6. Comment from Radzhiner Chassid
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:28 PM

A video created on Shabboss is Maaseh Shabbos & shouldn’t be shown on a Frum Site! Also am I seeing things? Is the MeKadesh Hashabbos really NOT wearing a yarmulke?

7. Comment from mussar mensch
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM

What a kavod L’shamayim!

8. Comment from WOW
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

I agree with all above (going on shabbos for pikuach nefesh etc), except for the guy doing the videoing!

9. Comment from niceguy
Time March 9, 2014 at 2:06 PM

was chilul Shabbos involved in taking this video?

10. Comment from omg
Time March 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Interesting…and heartwarming. Not too often do you get to see Shabbos videos!

11. Comment from Really!!
Time March 9, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Just a bit puzzled!
Who took the footage?
Are we enjoying something that came about through chilul shabbos?

12. Comment from joe
Time March 9, 2014 at 3:39 PM

beautiful. Who took the video?

13. Comment from Pintala yid
Time March 9, 2014 at 3:53 PM

We are an amazing people!

14. Comment from ChaimA
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The story is beautiful.
The video, however, may represent chillul Shabbos. Why would I want to watch it?

15. Comment from Observer
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Takeh, very nice. The Shaile is, who took the video on Shabbos?

16. Comment from Anonymous
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:28 PM

I’d like to point out this video was taken on Shabbos!

17. Comment from Mama
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM

I’m glad they sang Shalom Aleichem, but did they have to be michalel Shabbos by filming it?

18. Comment from Yakov
Time March 9, 2014 at 5:48 PM

so beautiful

19. Comment from mig
Time March 9, 2014 at 7:10 PM

to commenters 1 to 4:

Even though they filmed it, they are still considered tinokim venishba and their effort to recognize Shabbos gave Hashem tremendous nochas. In addition, no matter what anyone thinks about the IDF, they are holy people because they are putting their lives on the line to keep EY safe from our enemies with G-d’s help.

20. Comment from The Glass is Half Full
Time March 9, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Yasher Koach to Commentors no 1 & 5 who see the beauty in other Jews and ignoring the chisronos; 2-4 have what to work on; we all have warts and pimples!!!.. . I daven for the day that the Jewish world will be filled with more people like 1 & 5..

21. Comment from Ezra
Time March 9, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Maybe it was a Druze soldier who took video.

22. Comment from michali
Time March 9, 2014 at 10:26 PM

To all you cynics, take a chill pill. Instead of knocking them, see the good in their actions. Try to emulate the Berditchever Rebbe who saw only the good in each Jewish neshoma.

May the IDF continue to watch over Eretz HaKodesh with strength.

An honourable protest

Whatever ones views may be in regards to the new laws requiring Yeshivah students to enlist in the IDF, it seems to me that those who protested in a manner which was a kiddush hashem.

[Hat tip also to MD] See here

Leave Haredi enlistees alone!

Picture the scene. Terrorists are at loose in an area of Israel. The Army is conducting searches, door-to-door. The door of an apartment opens and some of the soldiers have dangling payos and scraggly beards. They are frum; they are Haredim who chose to enlist. The owners of the apartment themselves are Haredim. Would they protest? Would they tell the soldiers to go to the Beis Hamedrash instead, and leave it to the “chiloni” or “druze” enlistees to conduct the search and/or protect the apartment block from an incursion? I’d hope not. Why must they conclude that anyone with Peyos is רך הלבב? I’d say the opposite, these are גיבורי חיל.

Ah, but that’s at a time when people are thinking clearly. They can feel the palpable danger around them. In fact, I’ll bet they actually feel proud that Frum soldiers are performing a Kiddush Hashem by acting to protect the lives of their fellow Yidden.

What happens before that? These soldiers can’t just jump out of a Ketzos HaShulchan, with little to no training and assume an important protective or attacking role. There is training. It takes years. The training has been catered to be sensitive towards Haredi requirements. Haredim want the outcome, the protection, but they don’t want the training? Who learns a Ketzos before knowing Shulchan Aruch and the Gemora behind it? Do you introduce R’ Chaim Naeh to year three students? No, of course not. There is a period of preparation. In Torah it does take longer, but in the military, you also need an acceptable period of training, unless Haredim want to see keystone cops, so to speak, acting on their behalf?

I see this current period as one of re-alignment. It is no different to the current phenomenon of frum kids who are doing University courses on-line. Yes, University was not allowed for various reasons, but you can now do a program on-line if you can’t or won’t go to University and are not going to be a business person (IDB=In Dad’s Business). Not everyone is cut out, let alone has the acumen to become a Dayan, or Magid Shiur, or Rav of a Kehilla, let alone a great Melamed. How many people have we seen cause a Chillul Hashem, despite their long years in Yeshivos, because innately, they are simply not leaders suited to their jobs, and should be pursuing a different style of work, albeit remaining an ehrliche yid.

The shoemaker, R’ Yochanan HaSandler, wasn’t considered any less a giant because he was engaged in Olom Hazeh in an honourable way. We are meant to follow such Tanoim. He was R’ Akiva’s student, no less, and a contemporary of Rashbi.

This is why I find reports such as this one, utterly repugnant. Will Haredi incitement and pressure  solve any problems? Will that create more Torah more love between Jew and Jew? Just leave these boys alone. חנוך על פי דרכו is ever so critical and perhaps our failure to do so is part of why some leave the fold? Respect them!

I don’t see an Israeli government specifying that students study Spinoza or Amos Oz. They are specifying  studying the basics, and the basics  constitute a study of the Borei Olom and his Beriah. That’s what Science and Math are.

As Rav Kook said: on its own the basic sciences etc are just that. However, when coupled with Kodesh, they transform Kodesh to Kodesh Kodoshim, because they complete and enhance our understanding of the world. You wouldn’t make a Birkas HaTorah on them alone, but when coupled with  Kodesh, they lift Kodesh to Kodesh Kodoshim. I believe this idea is expressed by many in different ways. Mekubalim would probably refer to it as breaking down klipos, but I’m an ignoramus in the field of Kabbalah and Chassidus.

In a State, yes, it is a State, despite the reticense of so many to utter such a word,  you need garbage collectors, and police officer and nurses, as well as accountants and doctors and social workers, journalists with ethics, and psychologists. Especially when you are surrounded on all four sides by people who are literally an embodiment of

עומדים עלינו לכלותינו

It is only the foolish person who doesn’t learn from history (wasn’t yesterday Chaf Sivan?) who thinks they can hide under a rock or in a cave like Rashbi and make Yahadus thrive.

I have every confidence that Torah learning will continue to grow in quality levels and in measure. Those who want to fund institutions that won’t enforce the three R’s, go right ahead. It’s your right. I inclined to help a place that actually realises that it “lives in this world” both BeGashmius and BeRuchnius.

This should happen once a month

I applaud R’ Metzger for this initiative, although, I believe that this was originally the journey undertaken by Rav Kook ז’ל in 1913. Bridging gaps is efficacious; spitting and sending to the back of the bus, breeds resentment. Just to name drop, R’ Metzger sat a few rows behind me at Kerem B’Yavneh, although he was in fifth year, as I recall.

The story is told of how Rav Kook, upon one of his visits to an anti-religious kibbutz, was approached by one of the leaders who greeted him as follows: “With all due respect Rabbi, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince us to be religious. It’s not that we don’t know what Torah is, most of us were raised in observant homes. We know Torah, rabbis, mitzvot and we don’t like them!” Rav Kook questioned,”Why?” The kibbutznik replied: “We simply can’t stand your old-fashioned, meaningless, outdated rituals!” Exclaimed Rav Kook, “I agree”. “What?”, asked the surprised rebel. Explained the Rav, “I also hate the “religion” that you describe. But the dynamic, idealistic and deep Torah is so beautiful that anyone who is exposed to it cannot but love it!”.

Responses to Zealotry

Some definitions:

Extremist:  a person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, especially in being politically radical

Fanatic: refers to persons showing more than ordinary support for, adherence to, or interest in a cause, point of view, or activity.

Zealot: stresses vigorous, aggressive support for or opposition to a plan or ideal and suggests a combative stance.

Taking stance that is “not the norm” can be viewed as extremist. In a community of meat-eaters, a vegetarian who is uncompromising may be seen as adhering to an extremist view. Once a community comprises more vegetarians, they cease to be called fanatics. Their behaviour becomes an acceptable norm, albeit of a minority view. In either case, some vegetarians are more vocal than others. We accept the views of someone who is passionate about their vegetarianism. We don’t have a problem with the existence of vegetarian-only restaurants. There are lines, though. Where does society draw those lines?

  • It would be unacceptable to enter a vegetarian restaurant and demand to eat meat.
  • It would be unacceptable to enter a meat restaurant and demand that they cease serving meat.

Why is it unacceptable? Simply because we recognise the right of free choice: an inalienable right; a God-given right. Free choice is the basis of our existence as humans and is the eco-system through which we are able to rise or fall.

Kosher-style restaurants or take-aways are not kosher. It is forbidden by Halacha to eat food prepared in such establishments. Yet, some people on the fringe, do so. You find yourself in an environment where Kosher-style is presented to you. The food is unacceptable and yet your host insists that you partake. They cannot understand what is wrong. There is no pork. It’s supposedly a kosher fish with side salad. What can be wrong with the dressing? You decline. Your host may well be upset, yet you may not be in a position to adequately explain why you cannot take part. Your host may not be in a position to understand or accept your stance. It would be wrong for your host to become angry. Equally, it would be wrong for you to show anger towards your host. There is a gap between your views and theirs. You may also both be somewhat fanatical in your views. You may not understand each other. You may both even be somewhat fanatical in not accepting or understanding the rationale; but there is still a line. This line is the glue which keeps society together. When that line is crossed, we are in danger of falling apart as a unit. The line is crossed when someone is a zealot. You become a zealot when you take an aggressive or combative stance.

Sometimes, in rare cases, a Jew is commanded to sacrifice their life and not compromise their ideals. This is קידוש ה, the sanctification of God’s name that is wrought through death. It is a form of passive aggression. We aspire, though, to live. In regards sanctifying God’s name through living our lives, the Talmud in Yoma quotes a verse and interprets it as follows:

ואהבת את ה’ אלוקיך you shall love Hashem, your God. [This means]

שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך that the name of Heaven [God] should become beloved through your hands [actions]

Ultimately, your actions need to be ones which cause the name of God to remain/become beloved through the mode of your adherence to Torah and Mitzvos. The Talmud then provides some examples:

  • Your business dealings should be honest and upright
  • You should adhere to righteous Jews and learn from their ways and their Torah
  • You should speak with pleasantness

This list is not exhaustive. Clearly, there are many other things that have the potential to both sully or exalt respect for the practice of Judaism. The resultant potential love of Heaven is induced thereby.

The greater test is to stay an honourable, practicing and believing Jew during one’s life. As incredible as Isaac’s preparedness to allow himself to be sacrificed by his father, Abraham, the test for Abraham, who would have had to live with what he did for the rest of his life, was greater. The test to go on living is usually protracted and far more stressful. Similarly,causing God’s name and Judaism to be loved by one’s actions is greater and more challenging through the mode of one’s life and the way one lives.

I am convinced the events of the last few weeks involving a section of the ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist, community in Israel have caused the name of God and the image of Judaism to be severely tarnished. Halachically,

  • one does not spit at little girls (or anyone for that matter)
  • one does not ask a woman to move to the back of the bus, whether she is dressed according to one’s own acceptable levels of modesty or not.
  • one does not throw stones at people who are not keeping Shabbos
  • one does not yell at people who don’t adhere to a certain standard of dress, even in one’s own backyard
  • one does not compare Jews to Nazis—ever.
  • one does not use the holocaust in an abhorrent pantomime to advance an agenda

To be sure, the anti-Zionist zealots, comprising so-called Sikrikim, Neturei Karta, Toldos Aaron and the others believe that they are “defending” God’s honour. They are, of course, wrong. Their behaviour is nothing short of odious and against Halacha. These zealots  do not act alone. They receive the silent, or “behind closed doors” blessings of their Rabbinic leaders. They will not listen to anyone; we are all Treyf. In their mind, they have a complete mortgage on the truth.

What can we do?

  • We must recognise that there is a sizeable number of “black hats” and “thick stocking” style people, who are also disgusted by this thuggish minority of misguided individuals.
  • We must ask our own Rabbis, yes, each and every one of them, to explicitly make a statement in writing and in sermons to their congregations rejecting the ideology of the zealots as outside the pale of normative Judaism. Statements should be without prevarication. There is no need to speak about anything else. For example, the statement by the RCA is sensibly crafted, whereas the one from the Aguda is disingenuous.
  • There is a group in our own community, constituting a section of Adass Israel Congregation, who fully agree with the philosophy of the zealots. A few days ago, I was accosted in the street, next door to my parents’ house, by a brain-washed boy , who yelled at the top of his lungs “Zionists are Pigs” (in Yiddish). Do not forget that this group of zealots are in our midst. Pockets exist in most Jewish communities around the world.
  • When asking for a statement/response from your Rabbi, it is important to not only include members of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria or the Organisation of Rabbis of Australia. One should also approach the Rabbis of Adass, Beth HaTalmud and other non-affiliated congregations and ask specific questions with no wriggle room. In particular, ask if it is ever appropriate to demand that a woman “move to the back of the bus” even if she is on one of those bus lines where such an pseudo-mechitza is implemented.
  • When a collector comes to your door, ask them the same question. If you don’t like their answers, give them less and someone else more.
  • Avoid apologetics. There is absolutely no justification for this disgraceful anti-halachic behaviour.

Let me end with a story about a true sage, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל. In his neighbourhood of Sha’arei Chesed a lady persisted in driving through the otherwise empty streets on Shabbos. Surrounded by the “holy” ones, he was asked, “Surely you have a Torah obligation to protest against this desecration of Shabbos?”. R’ Shlomo Zalman responded that indeed he did have a responsibility to express his dislike for what was occurring. He advised them, however, that throwing stones, or surrounding/blocking the car and/or yelling “Shabbos” achieved nothing. It only served to further aggravate the situation. “So in what way are you protesting?” they asked. R” Shlomo Zalman was quiet. Over the next few weeks, rather than accosting the women who drove through the neighbourhood, they observed R’ Shlomo Zalman as he walked in the street after Shule and came face to face with the car. A look of genuine pain was seen on his face. The lady noticed this look from R’ Shlomo Zalman’s face over the next few weeks, and apparently decided that she didn’t want to cause any angst to this old and pious man. If you are respectful to people, they will also respect you. Don’t cross lines.

We Jews who also try to keep Halacha to the best of our ability must vehemently reject and ostracise this group of unsound zealots and let them know that we are not with them in any shape or form, and that their corrupt version of Judaism is simply an invalid aberration.

Enough is Enough.