Redressing the Charedi imbalance

I received a link to a video which explicates the positive acts performed by Charedim (hat tip Moshe)

It’s important to not fall into the trap that sees all or even most Charedim as lazy parasites who spit on little girls. We all know that it only takes one group of extremists to tar many others. In Melbourne, although our own Adass community has many more extreme Neturei Karta, Toldos Aharon extremists than 30 years ago, one has to say that there are exemplary icons who are more visible and who also contribute to a positive image for Charedim. Icons like Izzy Herzog ז’ל come to mind immediately. I know from many people, including my Uncle, that Izzy was magnanimous with his Chesed. He didn’t check to see if the recipient was ‘truly‘ frum before he interacted with them in exactly the same way that he would react with members of his own community. The Charedi volunteers from Hatzola are an incredible group of people. I know some of them personally after having performed at their children’s weddings. They are Mentchen in the true sense of the word and still stand poles apart from the growing extremist fringe that questions every Eruv string and Animal Sinew, but won’t bother saying “good morning” if they see you in the street because you might infect them. So while we should be positive and proud of the special Chesed acts performed in our own Charedi community, we should not be afraid to voice our opinions.

Last night, in a matter of ten minutes, two young men came to our house. One was a Vizhnitzer Sofer Stam, who needed help with his children, and the other was the son of the Stropkova Rebbe who was collecting for a Kollel for “off the derech” types. I could have just pulled out my wallet and given them something, but I was in somewhat of a fiesty mood. After ascertaining that they weren’t Satmar, I asked them about their attitudes to the Sikrikim. Both condemned them as a Chillul Hashem. I suggested to the Sofer that he find a new gig so that he doesn’t have to feel so bad as to have to knock on people’s doors for a crust. I felt sorry for him. What can he do? A Melamed? He’s a prisoner of his system. Mind you, he had “married off” three kids, and looked a lot younger than me (no smart comments please).

The second guy said that his father the Stropkova davka lived in Kiryat Moshe because he wanted to live amongst a range of “normal” people. I asked him why a Kollel was appropriate for “shvacher” people? Perhaps they should be taught a trade. I asked him what intervention was in place for people like this when they were in Cheder. At any rate, I gave them both. I felt I did the right thing. If you travel out to Australia, I’ll tell you what I think of the extremists who are associated with your dress code.

Who runs the Edah Charedis?

The news out of Israel is that the Av Beis Din of the Edah, together with some of his fellow Dayanim issued a letter requesting that their community daven for a Refuah Shelema for the critically ill R’ Elyashiv. R’ Elyashiv is described by non Chassidic Ashkenazim as the “Posek HaDor”. However, R’ Elyashiv is seen by the Neturei Karta and their ilk as tainted on account of his previous employment and relationship with the Rabanut.

The Beis Din of the Edah Charedis took the sensible view that when a man of this stature and learning is critically ill, one should cast aside any aspersions and genuinely pray for his recovery. The “Askanim” or Committee of the Edah, like Askanim in many groups have their own agenda. They parade and market allegiance to “Daas Torah” but they pick and choose when they listen to their own Daas Torah. This is a very dangerous situation and further marginalises the importance of Rabbis in our world.

Daas Torah is a new invention: an outgrowth of the chassidification of Jewry post Holocaust. Ironically, Daas Torah isn’t under threat from those who don’t subscribe to that weltanshaung. Rather, it is being undermined by the very people who created and now misuse it like a political football to further their own often sinister agendas.

Where is the outrage and condemnation?

Hats off to Rabbi Telsner on Shabbos. In his Drosha at the Chabad Yeshivah Shule in Melbourne, he briefly vent his spleen regarding the Chillul Hashem being perpetrated in parts of Israel by the offshoots, weeds and seeds of the Eda Charedis. Rabbi Telsner’s point was that any “Chassidim” in those groups were not. They didn’t have or display the approach of the Baal Shem Tov on loving each Jew irrespective of the questionable activities those Jews were involved in. R’ Teslner added that the zealots couldn’t be learning Chassidus, and if they claimed that they were, nothing was internalised. Rabbi Telsner was scathing. He said that “all they seem to do is a Chilul Hashem and then they come Schnorring to our doors”. He’s right.

What is the reaction in Adass or Beis HaTalmud? Did Rabbis Beck or Wurzburger have anything to say about these issues? If not, why not? If yes, was it to a cloistered private circle or was it a public comment. If anyone knows, please do inform us. I’m sure many in the community would like to know where these organisations stand on this massive Chillul Hashem malaise.