The Curse of Violent Extremism – from the 10th of Tevet to Bet Shemesh

01 Jan

I want to address the terrible scenes we have seen in Israel this past week – indeed these past years. Horrifying scenes of violence, of extremism. The nauseating sight of grown men, extremists, shouting, hitting, spitting at and chasing school girls. And all of the other problems that we have become so used to – of violence, and extremism, from a small (very small) section of the Ultra Orthodox community.

I want to make a few things clear.

First of all, I have huge sympathies, and personally identify with, what is known as the “Charedi world”. Thank G-d, I find myself quite able to live without labels, but I am just as at home – sometimes more at home – in what we might call right wing orthodoxy, than many other parts of the Orthodox world.

Secondly, more to the point, I have tremendous sympathy for the Charedi world and its feeling of being embattled and attacked. The Ultra Orthodox community has tremendous pluses to it, and is often the victim of terrible prejudice.

I was once in the car of a Kol Yisrael reporter. He was someone I had made the acquaintance of when I was a student leader in the UK. This was well over 20 years ago, but we were driving through the streets of Jerusalem, through an Ultra Orthodox area one Friday morning. As we were stuck in traffic and surrounded by black coated, hatted, bearded men, he began gripping the steering wheel with immense pressure and he started saying “these people – ani soneh otam, I detest them…” over and over again. I was appalled.

A few years later, when I was the rabbi at Cambridge University, a well known secular Israeli politician came to address the students. At question time, I asked about the issues of religious and secular politics. He addressed the issue for a few moments, and concluded by saying “… and as for the Charedim, I don’t hate them, they just have to remember that it’s our country not theirs.”

So I understand that, with all of the recent negative publicity (especially as many have used recent events as an opportunity to attack the entire Charedi community), what many Charedim are feeling. They are feeling what we feel when we see Israel or Jews being attacked by the media – angry, outraged, discriminated against, and with a tendency to circle the wagons.

I understand. But I don’t agree.

Because I don’t believe that the Orthodox world can say “these people are nothing to do with us”.

It’s not credible any longer.

The recent events concern the opening of Orot, a Dati Leumi (Modern Orthodox) girls school in Bet Shemesh. Bet Shemesh used to be a poor, mainly Sephardic town in Israel. Over the years it has greatly expanded, attracting many Anglo immigrants, to the town itself and to the surrounding area of Ramat Bet Shemesh. Parts of the new neighborhoods are designated Charedi, and many people from Jerusalem, some of them members of extreme, anti-zionist Chasidic sects have moved to Bet Shemesh. And they have sought to impose their standards and way of life on the surrounding neighborhoods.

For years now we have been reading about violence by members of this community – attacking a Yom Haatzamaut (Independence Day) concert in a park, pelting eggs at the participants, threatening people with violence, and so on.

The new school is situated not in, but close to, a Charedi neighborhood. When it opened in September violent demonstrations began. These have continued, on and off, through this week, which have seen young girls afraid to walk to school. There have been shouts of “pritzus” (immodesty) and “prostitute” at girls.

The Modern Orthodox community – many of them olim (immigrants), many of them people like us, who have followed the dream of going to live in Israel to live religious lives – has, quite simply, had enough of this. The issue has now attracted major media attention, not just in Israel, but also throughout the world.

It is a Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) of major proportions.

Much hostility has been addressed at the fanatics, but some also at of the wider Charedi population.

But that is a problem that the leaders of that community have to address. Yes, of course, it is true that, at least in America, rabbinic organizations, including the Ultra-Orthodox Agudah have condemned these violent thugs – not to do so is unthinkable. We are talking about the worst sort of violence, in the name of religion, directed at little girls. It’s inexcusable.

But press releases in America – and in Israel, where, sadly, it has been more muted – don’t begin to address the real problem.

These people are fanatics, they are extremists, criminals – call them what you like – but they are a product of Orthodox Judaism and we have to take ownership of the problem. As well as the fact that parts of the Orthodox world are spinning out of control – growing more extreme, more insane, day by day.

It’s happening in the Modern Orthodox, religious Zionist community in Israel, with the so-called “price tag attacks” on mosques and army bases, and it’s happening in the Charedi community with more and more violent demonstrations, more and more attempts to coerce people into following a way of life that they do not want to.

When did violence become acceptable in Judaism?

When did the admirable concern for Halachic high personal standards become an excuse for intolerance of others?

When did the concept (as my friend Rabbi Adlerstein of Los Angeles so eloquently puts it) that every human being was created in the image of G-d, the concept of ahavas yisrael (love of Israel) and the concept of bein adam lachavero (mitzvahs of interpersonal relationships) all get forgotten?

Years ago a spokesman for Agudas Yisrael created a fury when he wrote that Reform Jews are, of course, part of the Jewish people, Reform Judaism is not Judaism. Well let’s ask a question. The Rambam says that the Jewish people are defined, marked as being rachmanim, bayshanim, and gomlei chassadim (merciful, humble and kind. What then of these people? It may not be acceptable to call them non-Jews. But will the Agudah please say what they said about Reform, i.e., that these extreme sects of Chasidim are not practicing a recognizable form of Judaism.

And while they are at it, can we please address the wider issue – that these extremisms are growing and infecting the wider orthodox world?

A few weeks ago, in a terrible tragedy in Brooklyn, a Chasidic man was hit by a car and killed on a Friday night.

Days later, posters went up around his neighborhood, Williamsburg, entitled “michaleleh mot yamot”, those who desecrate it will die, announcing that the victim died (and deserved to die) because he used the local Eruv to carry on the sabbath.

Please, can we hear a statement that this is not a legitimate Jewish movement?

And that the people that dressed their children up in concentration camp clothes and claiming they are the victims of a new Holocaust (a sight that sickens us to the core) are not part of Orthodoxy?

These weeks, the rabbinic leadership of the Orthodox world has rushed to distance itself from these attacks. (I suppose we have to be grateful to the New York Times for ensuring that something was said.) However, the main response is that these people are but a tiny bunch of fanatics who represent no one.

But that is inadequate, because they have supporters.

In every online article or blog about these incidents, a significant percentage of people will write in support of the extremists, saying things like  – “these Modern Orthodox girls dress like sluts – they have it coming to them.” Or “if they want to dress like this – let them move to Tel Aviv” – forgetting that Bet Shemesh is not a Charedi town and this school is not in a Charedi neighborhood. Why should they move?

Moreover, it’s not enough simply to disassociate from just the demonstrators. The violence may be limited – but what leads to the violence – a rising tide of extremism –  is taking over the Jewish world.

When did separate seating on buses become an obsession?

Decades ago, Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote a teshuva (answer) about how there is no problem whatsoever in men and women travelling together in a subway car.

What changed?

When did the laws of modesty (which are important laws) mean that you cannot print a picture of women in a newspaper? (It recently emerged that the Jerusalem municipality had adopted a policy of not printing pictures of women in any advertisements for fear of offending the Ultra-Orthodox community.)

Jewish life in this day is undergoing a tragic disfigurement – more extreme, more strict. All sense of moderation, of tradition, is being pushed out.

Chumras, stringencies, are supposed to be just that – stringencies that you take on as an individual, not something to be pushed onto other people.

If your interpretation of the laws of modesty mean that you don’t want to sit on a bus with a women, then get off and walk.

Don’t push an entire gender to the back – and don’t impose that with threats of violence and spitting (as has been happening recently).

There is a beautiful story about the late great Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Issur Zalman Meltzer. One day, he was walking home with some of his students. As he climbed the steps to his front door, he stopped suddenly, turned around, and began strolling up and down outside of his house. The Rabbi was famous for never wasting time so his puzzled students asked him why he wasn’t entering his house?

He explained: “As I walked up the steps, I heard my maid singing. The prohibition of Kol Isha (voice of a woman) applies to me, not to her. She is allowed to sing, but I am not allowed to listen. If I walked into the house she would immediately stop singing out fo respect for me. But she loves to sing, so I will wait here a while until she finishes work.’’ 

That’s a true understanding of the laws of modesty.

But, as well as extremism, there is a root of intolerance and superiority that enables, and tolerates, this violence. It’s not just the few hundred protesters who think that the Orot School isn’t really Orthodox, that the Dati Leumi community isn’t really religious. There are yeshivot in Israel (where our own children study) where rebbeim say about the secular Israelis, Zionists, Modern Orthodox Jews, that we are the “Eirev Rav” – Non-Jews.

The fact is that the Orthodox world is being overtaken by extremism. And that the leaders of that world are reluctant, or unable, to speak up.

But speak up they must. For too much is at stake.

First of all, we are all, all of us, horribly threatened by this violence and extremism. We may not think of ourselves as anything like these people – but others do.

A member of the shul – and I mean no disrespect when I say he probably wouldn’t define himself as Ultra- Orthodox – called me the other day. As he had been calling round friends and relatives to wish them a happy year ahead, many of his cousins – secular, barely affiliated Jews – had asked him how he could possibly justify these goings on in Bet Shemesh, and how could he practice such a religion?

We are all tarnished by this. And Israel and Judaism are weakened by this.

We used to be able to say: Judaism is not like Islam, and Israel is not like Afghanistan, and there is no Jewish Taliban. When we cannot say that any longer, we are all incredibly weakened.

So what must be done?

First of all, we must ask for those who proclaim themselves the leaders of the religious world, here and in Israel, to condemn this. The rabbis, the roshei yeshiva, the rebbes.

Condemnation is not a press release.

A few weeks ago Rabbi Riskin wrote a powerful op-ed piece in Haaretz condemning the extremists in the settler movement who had attacked an army base. He wrote “You did not throw stones at me, and still you have mortally wounded me.” Let one Rebbe, one Gadol, write such an article, in Haaretz.

People will say: “It’s beneath their dignity”. But the Gemara tells us: Kol makom she’yesh chilul Hashem, ein cholkin kavod l’rav – there is no kavod (honor) when chilul Hashem is in question.

For decades, we in the Modern Orthodox world have been challenged: “where are your Gedolim, where are your leaders? After all, we Ultra Orthodox do nothing without our Torah leaders.”

Now is the time for leadership.

Let the greatest Rabbis in the Jewish world go to Bet Shemesh. Let each walk a little second grader to school. Let their rebbetzins hold a girl’s hand and say, “Come my dear, don’t be afraid, I will walk you to school.” Let them, our Gedolim, our Torah giants, look in the face of the Chasidim yelling “Nazi” at little girls and Jewish policemen and tell them to be silent.

Show your love for kal yisarel! (The people of Israel)

That’s condemnation – not a press release – but tochacha, rebuke.

But that’s not all we need.

Let the voice of moderation be heard again. Anyone who has ever studied one page of Talmud knows about the value of debate, diversity, disagreement, respect – “Elu v’elu“, “these and these” are the words of the living G-d.

And let them clarify the difference between halacha and extremism.

And for all the rebuke (much of it deserved) at modern innovations that depart from accepted traditions, which has been directed at Modern Orthodoxy, let us now hear a word against the craziness of modern chumras, unknown in previous generations, that are just as new, just as damaging.

Let us hear again Torah leaders, like the Gedolim of recent generations – the Rav Moshe Feinsteins, the Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbachs – who hated extremism and insisted that Judaism was a perfectly normal, peace loving religion. Let’s hear those voices again.

And lastly, we demand action, of the most draconian kind. Because the future of Israel is at stake.

When all is said and done, we are one people. Secular and modern Jews have a deal with the Ultra Orthodox world. I’ts unstated but we sense it. It’s the basis of the status quo arrangement between the Chazon Ish and David Be-Gurion:

You are our shaliach (representative). We help pay your way – taxes in Israel, charity dollars in the US. And you keep Israel spiritual. (Should there be others models? Perhaps, yes – but that’s the way it works.) And that’s the reason for the army exemption. That Torah is pure, and it’s a shemirah, it protects all of us. As a nation we have a collective interest in people devoting themselves to Torah. I firmly believe that.

But theres a limit.

Because this violent extremism is not part of the deal.

And silence isn’t part of the deal.

If the religious world is serious about stopping this extremism, then let the religious parties in Israel (who are seemingly obsessed with power and money) let them make a kiddush Hashem (honor of Hashem).

Let them write a bill, and lobby to pass it, that says that every single violent demonstrator, every single person who intimidates, spits, shouts at little girls, who yells “Nazi” at soldiers should be sent to the army.

Not because to serve in the army is a punishment – quite the opposite – and not because the army necessarily wants these thugs, but rather to make it clear that they are not considered part of the frum (religious) world. They don’t have the privilege of being considered Torah scholars. That all of the arrangements between secular and charedi societies simply don’t apply to these groups who have placed themselves beyond the pale.

Because, if we love the Torah, and we believe in its purity (and we do) then we have to protect it – all of us – from the insanity of extremism.

This coming week will see Asarah B’tevet (10th of Tevet), one of the fast days for the Temple, the day the siege of Jerusalem began.

Rav Baruch Simons writes of an ancient tradition: The 10th of Tevet commemorates the first tragedy of sinas chinam (baseless hatred) to affect the Jewish people – the sale of Yosef (Joseph) which happened on that day. From that day to this, the Jewish people will never be whole, never repaired. The Moshiach (Messiah) cannot possibly come while we are plagued by hatred.

May the Ribono Shel Olam (Hashem) give us, and our leaders, courage to eradicate the hatred and evil that is threatening to destroy the country we love, and the religion we hold dear. May we merit to see the coming of the Moshiach, bimheyra biyameynu (soon, in our lifetime).


142 responses to “The Curse of Violent Extremism – from the 10th of Tevet to Bet Shemesh

  1. Shy Yellin

    January 1, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Thank you Rabbi, you expressed the thoughts of so many of us.

  2. Larry Kobrin

    January 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Beautifully expressed and directly meaningful for those now traveling in Israel where the newspapers continue to be filled with comments and reports of these events every day.
    Larry Kobrin

  3. A Samson

    January 2, 2012 at 3:05 am

    What if the local Bet Shemesh Rabbical leaders don’t condemn? What should happen to them? Should they go to the army too (or is that reserved for the spitters)?

  4. Menachem Lipkin

    January 2, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Wow. I live in Sheinfeld (Bet Shemesh) near “ground zero” and have been involved in dealing with our issues on nearly a daily basis, All I can say that you’ve hit so many nails on the head that you should be a carpenter!

    Most people in the states really don’t get the issues or the big picture. You captured it almost completely. I’ll do my best to spread this around.

    Thank you.

  5. Dov

    January 2, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Thanks for the great article.

    To add a story, I was told by a student of Rav Gifter at Telz in Cleveland that Rav Gifter (who did not drive) was often given rides around town by neighborhood women who saw him walking and wanted to help the Rav. Some students asked him why he didn’t sit in the back, to avoid any hint of immodesty, and he said that even if he would be more comfortable not sitting so close, the prohibition of insulting these women was more important than his own feelings about modesty.

    Lastly, if any readers abroad think that this article is out of proportion, take a look at videos of the extremism in action. Here’s just one of them:

  6. ylb

    January 2, 2012 at 5:37 am

    This is excellent.

    I think you had good intentions in the following lines, but that you need to clarify that the army is a place where all groups belong. Going to the army doesn’t remove a person from the frum world.

    “Not because to serve in the army is a punishment – quite the opposite – and not because the army necessarily wants these thugs, but rather to make it clear that they are not considered part of the frum (religious) world. They don’t have the privilege of being considered Torah scholars.”

    -RBS A Resident

  7. Etana Hecht

    January 2, 2012 at 6:18 am

    This was probably the single most powerful, accurate and all encompassing article out of the hundreds that have been published this past week. Thank you so much for your words of reason and support for those of us living through this here in Bet Shemesh.

  8. Yitz Waxman

    January 2, 2012 at 6:58 am


  9. Elie

    January 2, 2012 at 7:27 am

    As our sages say “Strive to be a Man in a place where there are no Men”. Thank you for doing your part. Assuming its not disrespectful maybe when someone has a private audience with some of these gedolim (happens every day) and instead of just getting a bracha they can try to get a direct understanding from them (without “filters”) about this situation

  10. Adam

    January 2, 2012 at 8:02 am

    “Years ago a spokesman for Agudas Yisrael created a fury when he wrote that Reform Jews are, of course, part of the Jewish people, Reform Judaism is not Judaism. Well let’s ask a question. The Rambam says that the Jewish people are defined, marked as being rachmanim, bayshanim, and gomlei chassadim (merciful, humble and kind. What then of these people? It may not be acceptable to call them non-Jews. But will the Agudah please say what they said about Reform, i.e., that these extreme sects of Chasidim are not practicing a recognizable form of Judaism.”

    This was a spokesman for Agudas Harabbanim – he is not affiliated with Agudas Yisrael. He is also not a mentally stable person. Ask anyone who knows him. He was a low level employee when Rav Moshe Feinstein headed that organization and somehow got the keys to the building after Rav Feinstein died and then totally cracked up.

    The source of the Rambam on rachmanim, bayshanim, gomlei chasadim is a Gemara Kiddushin. The Yam shel Shlomo writes on that Gemara that in the yerida of the generations, someone can have only one of the signs and still be Jewish. And the point of the Gemara is that there are Jews that have none of the three signs because they descend from the Erev Rav or other non-Jewish imposters.

  11. Kira Sirote

    January 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Well said, except for the line about the army. I understand the point that the contract is then void, but the IDF is not a jail. One has to be accepted to get into the IDF. These people would not get in. Moreover, forced conscription of Chareidim (including Sirkrikim) would cause a tremendous backlash, as the memory of forced conscription into the Czarist army is still fresh. Can I suggest a simpler solution to those who act like hooligans, regardless of their dress, politics, and religious affiliation: prison.

  12. David Sher

    January 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Rabbi, this wonderful response encapsulates everything that I feel about this crisis. The extremism is antithetical to everything I know in my heart about what Judaism is supposed to be. The severity of the Law is tempered by our requirement treat our neighbor as ourselves as espoused by Prophets and Sages throughout our long and great tradition.

  13. Rachel Ann

    January 2, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I agree with most of what you said except I feel 1)MO/DL have a different derech, no less valid than Charedim. 2)Every man capable of fighting should be in the army. Defending Israel from enemies is a Torah law.

    But overall very beautiful.

    • Ita

      January 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Except when the army is willingly going to prosecute those religious soldiers for walking out of ceremonies due to Kol Isha..

  14. Formerly Modern

    January 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

    You make some good points, undermined by many bad ones.

    I, too, am appalled at the behavior of this tiny ragtag assortment of individuals but even more so by community leaders who, one way or another, try to tar larger sectors of Jewish society with their behavior. You do so, despite your tepid, unpersuasive lip-service to the contrary.

    How about you address the numerous problems in your own machaneh and stop pretending that the “orthodox” appellation gives you any association with charedi Judaism?

    How would you react to charedi leaders publicly – from the pulpit and in publications – denouncing your community and saddling you, the OU, the RCA, YU, etc., with the responsibility for taking public action against the assimilationist mindset that leads to “half-Shabbos” texting youth and singles mikvas on the UWS?

    Would LSS congregants take kindly – or even accept for a moment as reasonable – outsiders clamoring at them that they and their chinuch and their lifestyle and their hashkofos and their blind support for Zionism are responsible for violent and destructive “tag machir” wackos? And that they should denounce their own belief system because some individuals have gone astray?

    Speaking of which: are you really asking when violence became an acceptable way to promote a “Jewish” agenda? Are you kidding? Ever hear of Efrat? Ever hear of the State of Israel? Zionism? Yours is a Judaism founded on glamorizing power and the wages of violence and do not think it hasn’t had a corrosive impact on charedim in Eretz Yisroel, despite their desperate attempts to resist the culture.

    And you yourself – your call for the “most draconian” measures (to protect the State, I note, not for the sake of Judaism or Kiddush Shem Shomayim) – what is that, if not violent extremism? Perhaps you should articulate exactly what draconian measures you have in mind.

    You seem to think someone owes you some sort of excuse or apology – and you seem to have decided that it is Gedolei Torah. Here is the thing, however: you and your community reject them – accordingly, they are not answerable to you and they are well aware that addressing you is a waste of breath.

    A beautiful gesture to counter the sinas chinom would be to stop moralizing on the account of others and demanding that others change (notice the resemblance to spitting on innocents because their difference offends you?). Be honest – you in reality are not seeking their betterment so much using them as straw men from your very modern pulpit and in your very modern blog. Use those platforms instead to focus on the good of the charedi world and teach your already prejudiced and hostile audience about true ahavas yisroel.

    Look inward, rabbi, and let charedim do likewise. We are each and every one of us responsible for remaining in golus. Every community has room for improvement. Pointing fingers of blame at other Jews only makes it worse and prolongs our national agony and disgrace.

    PS – You seem to have confused Agudath Israel with Igud Horabbonim on the Reform Judaism issue. (I think an apology to Agudah is in order.)

    • Ari

      January 2, 2012 at 10:37 am

      I just have to say that your response is exactly the problem we are facing today. Here we are asking / demanding that Rabbonim speak out against this tremendous act of Sinas Chinam and violation of Bein adam L’chaveiro and here you are attacking this suggestion. This is the mistake that the Jews of Bayis sheni made. They had the Torah, Mitzvos, and Yiras Shamayim but they were silent when it came to acts of Sinas chinam and violation of bein adom l’chaveiro. Yes the Torah Gedollim have an achrayos to speak out against sinas chinam the same way the speak out against everything else. They are not holier than the Jews of Bayis Sheni. You obviously missed the point of the article. Their behavior is a bezayon for all of Klal Yisrael and the Gedollim should must not be quite about it! What a Chilul Hashem!! Shame on you!

      • Formerly Modern

        January 2, 2012 at 11:00 am

        What right does the LSS community have to demand? Since when does LSS listen to or follow anything the Gedolim do or don’t do/say or don’t say? Many would see LSS’ entire way of life as a bezayon – should they issue public condemnations of LSS?

        It is you who miss the point. The problem is Jews pointing condemnatory fingers at other “types” of Jews.

        Nobody – nobody – is defending the behavior of the Sikrikim, which is indeed a Chilul Hashem. They neither have nor claim to have the backing of Gedolei Torah.

        Criticizing the reaction of charedi leadership is a disgraceful attempt to associate and smear charedi Jews with the behavior of outcasts of the charedi system. That is the sinas chinom.

      • David Sher

        January 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm

        LSS has the right of every religious group of good conscience to speak out against self righteous kanaim in our midst. Formerly Modern is wrong when he tries the tired method of accusing the accuser. The self righteousness is palpable in the comment itself! LSS is too low a venue to comment on the “holy” charedim? No, rather the other way around.

      • Formerly Modern

        January 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm

        David Sher – funny that you can’t see that I am the one speaking out against the attacks of a self-righteous kanai. Nobody is beneath or above criticism, for something he actually did. Attacks against charedis and charedism using the excuse of a handful of extremists who are not part of the overall community is loathesome – or, if I will be dan lekaf zchus, simply the result of ill-informed prejudice. I haven’t criticized Rabbi Robinson for criticizing the wrongdoers; my criticism is that he publicly criticizes those who have done nothing wrong in what seems a transparent holier-than-thou Modern Orthodox ploy. And that prejudice certainly found echoes throughout the comments.

      • nopeanutz

        January 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        The gedolim and Agudah (and also the OU and RCA) have only condemned the violence. This is not a chiddush. What they have criminally ignored was the radicalization itself, and the sacrilegious violation of the mitzvah of “lo tosifu.”
        What needs to be condemned from these leaders is segregated, sidewalks, buses and schools. Not violence. If we had a safeyk that the Rabbonim condoned violence, then we have bigger problems.

  15. Mo Sabghir (@mochange)

    January 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

    There are a number of famous story’s of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach involving riding the bus.
    Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was once sitting with someone on a crowded city bus when a woman got onto the bus and couldn’t find a place to sit. Rav Shlomo Zalman turned to the younger person sitting next to him and told him that either he should get up and give her his seat, or Rav Shlomo Zalman will give up his seat. The younger fellow got up and Rav Shlomo Zalman sat next to the women without any hesitation.
    He always traveled by bus from his home to the yeshiva. Once a non-tzenuah woman sat next to him. A minute or two later he rang the bell and got off the bus. He then got the next bus (or walked) to the yeshiva. When asked about this he said that he could not sit next to the woman the way she was dressed. On the other hand, to get up and stand in the aisle would be an obvious embarrassment to the woman. So his only choice was to pretend he was getting off anyway.
    Interestingly Rav Shlomo Zalman once commented to someone (in accordance with the gemara Eruvin 18b) that it is far better to sit next to a woman that sit behind a women. (V’Aleihu Lo Yibol 2:EH:9),
    The lessons to be learned are obvious from a Gadol who exemplified public behavior.

  16. Alan

    January 2, 2012 at 9:58 am

    You had my full support until you talked about sending the thugs to the army to signal that they aren’t religious. That idea insults the men and women who serve in Tzahal – “Orthodox” or not. The army is a place from “frum” people… just ask my friends from Hesder yeshivot… or visit the graves of some of them who didn’t return from the battlefield.

    I am going to share your piece because it is so complelling, but I urge you to rethink that sentiment. Prison is a great place to prove to the community that one isn’t a religious Jew.

    • Lynne

      January 2, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Alan, I think the author’s point about putting these violators in the army wasn’t that frum people aren’t in the IDF. I think he meant that such a violator is not really religious and so doesn’t deserve the learning-in-yeshiva exemption from army service. It would help if the author reworded his thought, though.

  17. Adam

    January 2, 2012 at 11:26 am

    “Formerly Modern” is also incorrect. It was not Iggud Harabbanim either. The attack on Reform was from a lone nut at Agudas Harabbanim. The nut has the keys to the place but doesn’t do much beyond holding an attention grabbing press conference once a decade. All kinds of rabbis are coming in there daily to conduct dinei Torah because it was the organization of Rav Moshe Feinstein and before him Rav Lazer Silver. They are not going to forfeit the real estate because that nut has rights to the keys.

    I would also tell “Formerly Modern” that this is not the time to take the modern orthodox to task. Maybe everyone on the Right AND Left can put aside differences to stop the common enemy which are the fanatics that defintely do not listen to the rabbis. You may not know the following. Most of the violence is coming from Neturei Karta. The remainder is coming from a rogue faction within the Edah Charedis that has been trying to hijack the entire organization. The rogue faction is led by only one of the several dayanim. Several moderates in the Edah have been pushed out or marginalized in the last two years. Rav Elyashev has warned this dayan in the past that if he does not stop inciting violence against Intel Corp’s operations in Israel, he will send all the yeshiva bachurim in the country to protest outside his house. Rav Elyashev is not well these days. They have been saying Tehillim for him to recover.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Yes – my mistake – I meant Agudas Horabbonim and your description is accurate.

      I have no interest in taking MO to task; I’ve never launched a macho’oh on MO or publicly called on their leadership to apologize/distance itself from behaviors of individuals or even large segments – I merely am responding to one MO leader’s startlingly breezy willingness to take charedim to task without self-reflection that each sector has its own issues…and that his aggressiveness is more akin to a problem than a solution.

  18. Dov

    January 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Formerly Modern is missing the whole point, that in fact the secular media is getting – this is not a problem with chareidim in general, it’s a problem of at most 1% of the chareidi population, who are nuts. The secular press is not putting this on all chareidim, and the article above also does not. But in the same vein there’s no need for chareidi people to feel defensive about things that are said about these nuts. The Eida has come out against them as has Rav Ovadia as have many others. Chareidim on the street here are against them.

    See how nuts they are:
    This guy is at this moment sitting in jail for attacking someone:

    The short guy here goes to Ramala and Toldos Aharon people consider him nuts:

    When chareidim apologize for these folks, they’re no longer “chareidim le’dvar Hashem.”

    • Formerly Modern

      January 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      No, Dov, you are missing my point. Some are making the distinciton while others are not – the point is that this kind of posturing by LSS’ rabbi obscures the fact that these are oisvarfs, not representatives.

  19. marc landau

    January 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Would be interesting to hear Rabbi Robinson’s responses to the comments above

  20. Rabbi Peter Stein

    January 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you for this piece. It is a good start. But there is a larger issue here that you haven’t really addressed: how the Orthodox world of all stripes relates to the non-Orthodox religious streams in the Jewish world. You wrote:

    “But, as well as extremism, there is a root of intolerance and superiority that enables, and tolerates, this violence. It’s not just the few hundred protesters who think that the Orot School isn’t really Orthodox, that the Dati Leumi community isn’t really religious. There are yeshivot in Israel (where our own children study) where rebbeim say about the secular Israelis, Zionists, Modern Orthodox Jews, that we are the “Eirev Rav” – Non-Jews.”

    But you mention nothing here about the way the Conservative and Reform movements are treated in Israel (and the Diaspora). Almost the entire Orthodox world, with the exception of a small group of liberal YCT types, delegitimizes these movements in exactly the same that the Charedim delegitimize the Modern Orthodox. Perhaps if the Modern Orthodox world wishes to stop being delegitmized by those who perceive them as too liberal, its leaders should urge their followers to stop doing the same thing to other Jews, and start fighting for a Jewish state where every Jew has the freedom to practice Judaism as they see fit, with no coercion and equal opportunity for all streams’ followers, rabbis, schools and synagogues.

    How about it?

    • Moishe3rd

      January 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Your comparisons are skewed.
      The Reform movement (the Haskalah – the “Enlightenment”) is the only religious offshoot on the planet that was created in order to “be less religious.”
      All others sects and divisions of common world religions were created because the founders of those sects believed either had a “revelation” or simply believed that the earlier practitioners were “doing it wrong.”
      The Reform movement was created and maintained – to “not be so Jewish.” Conservative; Reconstructionist; etc., are all offspring of this Reform movement.

      You may believe that Orthodox Jews are “intolerant” of these new Jewish movements but – what religion ever “tolerated” a branch that repudiated its religious practices; its religious Law; all religious traditions; and, in many cases, the very idea that G-d exists?

      • Formerly Modern

        January 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        Moishe3rd – there are Christians and Muslims (and no doubt Buddhists and Jains and Sikhs and many others) who would rebut your case. Virtually every religion has reform movements and it is hard to tell many of them apart based on your criterion.

        And may of the same arguments can be leveled at MO, as well – certainly at many leaders and laypeople who call themselves MO.

  21. Adam

    January 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    The Reform rabbi who is named after the Apostle Peter has a point. At the rate the Reform are going there is no need to delegitimize anyone. The entire Reform movement will soon have either returned as orthodox practitioners of the faith or will be lost forever to intermarriage.

    Despite his attempt to score propaganda points, this is a discussion about stopping violence, not the old debate about non-orthodox recognition in Israel that he wants to rehash.

    • Alan

      January 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Don’t you see that the condescending tone of your comment contributes to more of the sinas chinam? People of good faith can disagree – whether it’s about recognition of non-Orthodox Judaism in Israel or anything else — without being disagreeable. R. Norman Lamm said that years ago and he is still right. This is a time to turn toward one another, not away.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      We’re off and running on tangents now, but Adam, my friend, take a look at the Jewish world. MO is just another waystation between assimilation and charedi. Every “stream” besides charedi is dying from attrition. Charedim are growing by leaps and bounds – not just due to birth rates, but due to BTs and MO kids “flipping out”. The Reform rabbi’s point is no more or less valid or silly than Rabbi Robinson’s idea that the fight is because charedim of one sort or another don’t perceive Orot to be “orthodox” – the label “orthodox” has zero halachic or hashkafic content – and hiding behind it is just as silly as hoisting it up a flagpole.

      I do wonder whether the Reform rabbi would extend his argument to include “Messianic” Jews, Jews for J, etc. I suspect that (despite his unfortunate name) he actually would discriminate against them.

      It also is hard to feel sympathy for a representative of a movement that actively uses the legal instrumentalities of the state to try to disfigure basic, normative Jewish principles – like defining who is a Jew and what is required to become one and the status of marriage and family – all the while knowing that such behavior splits the Jews into more and more irreconcileable tribes and obliterates any possibility of national unity.

      Finally, can people just stop the nonsense that the guys on the right deligitimize everyone to the left of them? There is sufficient propaganda emanating from the left against the authenticity of charedim and charedism to make this a universal ploy.

  22. Donny Fein

    January 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I live in RBS-A and see everyday what goes on here. I have read every article on this issue over the last few months and I have always been bothered by the fact that they were all missing the point. The writer always had an agenda of their own…not of klal Yisrael. This article was written with amazing precision. Every letter is pure emes. Thank you for writing it. Now, other than fb and other social media outlets how can we get this to those who have no access. This must be read by all. I am sending it to my local RBS Rav personally. I think we all should.

  23. Moishe3rd

    January 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    @Rabbi Peter Stein:

    Your comparisons are skewed.
    The Reform movement (the Haskalah – the “Enlightenment”) is the only religious offshoot on the planet that was created in order to “be less religious.”
    All others sects and divisions of common world religions were created because the founders of those sects believed either had a “revelation” or simply believed that the earlier practitioners were “doing it wrong.”
    The Reform movement was created and maintained – to “not be so Jewish.” Conservative; Reconstructionist; etc., are all offspring of this Reform movement.

    You may believe that Orthodox Jews are “intolerant” of these new Jewish movements but – what religion ever “tolerated” a branch that repudiated its religious practices; its religious Law; all religious traditions; and, in many cases, the very idea that G-d exists?

  24. Moishe3rd

    January 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    @Rabbi Peter Stein:

    Your comparisons are skewed.
    The Reform movement (the Haskalah – the “Enlightenment”) is the only religious offshoot on the planet that was created in order to “be less religious.”
    All others sects and divisions of common world religions were created because the founders of those sects believed either had a “revelation” or simply believed that the earlier practitioners were “doing it wrong.”
    The Reform movement was created and maintained – to “not be so Jewish.” Conservative; Reconstructionist; etc., are all offspring of this Reform movement.

    You may believe that Orthodox Jews are “intolerant” of these new Jewish movements but – what religion ever “tolerated” a branch that repudiated its religious practices; its religious Law; all religious traditions; and, in many cases, the very idea that G-d exists?

    That being said – these ‘violent extremists” are not “Chareidi.” They are not “Ultra-Orthodox.” They are not even “Orthodox” Jews. No matter what name they want to call themselves.

  25. Shaul Robinson

    January 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Many thanks to all for their points, comments, feedback and points of view. While I occasionally invite comments on Shabbat morning in shul after my drasha, this process of feedback and debate is new to me and will take a little while to get used to!
    I’ll try and get my good friends who volunteer their time to run this blog to introduce a format where it is clearer which comment people are responding to.
    For the moment I just wanted to clarify one or two things. First of all I conflated / got confused in my mind some statements of the Aguda and other organizations that needs to be corrected. Id be happy for Aguda to apply the same language to these extreme groups as they do to parts of Judaism to their left – failure/ illegitimate / ‘lies’ etc…

    to my mind on the more substantive point re the Army. I want to state emphatically that I meant, chas v’shalom no disrespect to the Army. It is not a punishment to serve in the army, it is the highest kavod. I firmly believe that. My point was, as Lynne points out above, purely that under the arrangement that the State recognizes the importance of Torah study and gives a patur (exemption) from the army, that surely should not apply to these groups who so violate the very concept of mutual responsibility behind that agreement.

    Saying that allows me to clarify what was perhaps the main point that I was trying to get across. There is, when all is said people in the Modern Orthodox community have tremendous admiration and respect for the gedolim and for charedi Judaism. There may be huge differences between the communities, but speaking personally, the thought that the Torah leaders of Kala Yisrael may have more in sympathy with those throwing stones (and dressing in concentration camp costumes r’l) than they do with the rights of the parents of the Orot School is more than I could possibly stand. And so I appeal, with all my heart, for a loud and clear statement that can make this chilul Hashem go away

    best wishes

    Shaul Robinson

    • Formerly Modern

      January 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      LOL! It’s comical to see you verbally genuflect and immediately walk back any possible misconception about your intent when it comes to the IDF (“eilu elohecha Yisrael!”) and then reassert your chutzpahdik demands on Torah leaders.

      I grew up MO, I am with MO people every day of my life – there is far more disregard, scorn, contempt and abuse than “tremendous admiration and respect for the gedolim and for charedi Judaism”.

      Rabbi Robinson: The charedi camp is fully aware of your community’s views – and the MO are certainly aware of their own views on charedim. Pease stop posturing.

  26. Bernie Waltzer

    January 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    If the ultra orthodox want to live in their own world, then let the form a ghetto with tall walls and leave the rest of the world to carry on. Maybe if the state stopped supporting them with charity they would not be so aggressive?

    • Formerly Modern

      January 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Many of the ones you resent most do refuse to take a shekel from the Medinah.

      But I agree that it is troublng that they feel so comfortable acting out – it means that they themselves are being corrupted by Zionism – by the feeling of being lords and masters of their territory, which is a result of being treated well by the State. If they, too, forget that they, like all Jews everywhere, remain in golus, they may as well give in to the replacement theology Zionism they’ve struggled valiantly against.

  27. Shmuel

    January 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    You missed one point, why do secular Israelis have to financially support religious people? It seems to me that Rabbis and their talmidim forget that they are not priests – as, for exemple, christianity regards its leaders. Rabbis are nothing but teachers, they do not represent Hashem on earth, period.
    Want to study Torah? That’s your choice and you – or your followers – should carry the burden, not the State of Israel.
    You see, if a secular jewish Israeli does not pay taxes he is arrested, that part of the reason for those taxes is supporting Charedim is outrageous. Seculars and hard working modern orthodox have the moral high ground, charedim should thank every and each day and not the other way around.

    • Ita

      January 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      Shmuel, do you really think that 700 shekel for a kollel man is what is making the taxes of the secular israeli? Lest you forget that in Modern Orthodox homes there are also one income families except it is the woman that is not working. For a world that everybody seems to think belittles women we are a group of people who see women as super capable of handling the whole world on her shoulders. We ladies work and support our husbands. Most of the taxes are not for the Chareidi world but to support the Arabs who hate us so much in the West Bank. They get free electricity, water and the like while the rest of us Israelis are working hard to pay for our basic necessities.
      Modern Orthodox are not the only ones who work . There are quite a few Chareidim who work as well. We ladies work real hard , sometimes harder than the men .

  28. Rabbi Peter Stein

    January 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    @Adam and Formerly Modern
    First, I am NOT Rabbi Peter Stein, the rabbi of the Reform shul in Cranston, RI, so please do not confuse us. I was ordained at JTS.

    Second, I purport to represent no one but myself. I am not here to defend a movement or score points or rehash any worn propaganda. My point was simply that everyone is subject to delegitimization by those further to the right than them, and if you play that game at all, you will sooner or later find yourself sitting out in the cold, too. Just look what is happening to the rabbinical courts in Israel. Do you really think that Modern Orthodox rabbis have a place in the rabbinical courts in the future? How about Modern Orthodox conversions? They don’t go very far in Israel. It’s a pretty slippery slope.

    @ Formerly Modern – You do raise a good point that there are lines to be drawn. I do not think belief in Jesus in any of its forms – Jews for J, Messianics Jews. etc. – has any place in Judaism. And I think we can have an intelligent discussion about how that would play out in the State of Israel. But I would also hope that one would not make a serious comparison to Jews in non-Orthodox streams and followers of Jesus. The range of beliefs within the Jewish world – including the Modern Orthodox world – is actually quite diverse. Excluding all those who do not hold right-wing theological beliefs from what you consider legitimate Jewish discourse would not be wise, and, frankly, would exclude many of the Modern Orthodox Jews I know.

    @ Adam – I can only assume from your tone that your unnecessary comment about my name (“Apostle Peter”) is an attempt try to delegitimize me, since you know absolutely nothing about me or what I believe, including the fact that I am not a Reform Rabbi. This actually demonstrates exactly the kind of delegitimization and sinat chinam that we need to be avoiding. At least I use my actual name. Would you care to share yours?

    • Formerly Modern

      January 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      First of all, Peter, you can avoid confusion about whether you speak as an individual or for a community/movement by dropping the “rabbi” thing. Most of my friends and peers have smicha. Unless we are using it for a specific and appropriate purpose (pulpit rabbi, torah educator, etc.), we don’t tend to flaunt or even acknowledge that we have the rabbi title.

      Second, I am totally serious: why is belief that Jew X was the Messiah and that he is destined to return somehow worse or less Jewish than those streams which reject the divinity of Torah? I am not defending the former belief – it is heresy. But it seems less offensive a heresy than denying the whole thing…than denying the historicity of the Torah’s account…than denying Kriyas Yam Suf…

      And, unlike you, I don’t see this in any way as a discussion about including or excluding Jews – because, unlke you, I have no dogma/belief/creed/theology litmus test. A Jew is a Jew. Period. What he believes is between him and G-d. It is, however, a discussion of whether certain beliefs are out of the basic bounds of Judaism. Guess what: rejection of Torah miSinai is out of the basic bounds of Judaism.

      • marc landau

        January 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm

        Gentlemen, the tone is getting a little heated/out of control. We all appreciate a lively debate and forthright views are welcome. But let’s please keep the comments respectful. As a people, this whole episode has put us under a very public microscope and we don’t look great. This blog will be widely read. Nuff said.

      • Eric

        January 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

        Yes – I’m sure you can find problems in every sect…in every person as well. I’m sure the author knows this. I am not one for labels but the bottom line is that these extremists are part of the overall “Charedi” community and therefore it should be the Charedi community that puts a stop to this. You yourself have labaled “Charedim”, “Modern Orthodox”, etc. and have stated that each sect has its own problems. If this is the case (and it is), then this problem (which you acknowledged – spitting on little girls, etc.) should be taken care of by THEIR community. Otherwise, if it comes from a different group, it will look even worse and flat out Sinat Chinam. What does the all-knowledgeable Formerly Modern advise in this case then? For everyone to keep quiet?

      • Formerly Modern

        January 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

        Eric –

        I am saying that it does not advance the cause of justice or peace or achdus or ahavas yisroel or halacha or any other desirable outcome for a Modern Orthodox pulpit rabbi in New York to use the Internet to inveigh against Charedi manhigim and Gedolei Torah in Eretz Yisroel.

        Feel free to criticize the wrongdoers, who should indeed be prosecuted legally and ostracized socially…but don’t feel free to find excuses to rabble-rouse against another stream of Jews in order to cultivate a feeling of your own superiority.

      • Eric

        January 4, 2012 at 3:54 am

        I think it’s pretty obvious what you have been trying to say. However, did you know these extremists acts have been carried out over the past 4 years? And why do you think that is? Because the Charedi people in their community, who these extremists relate with, have stayed silent. Why did the Holocaust happen? Because people stayed silent. Why does anything bad happen? Because people stay silent. Did you know that in our community of Beit Shemesh we have received letters from these extremists telling us to close our shades because they do not want to see our TVs and that if we don’t that they are “not responsible for what happens to our homes”? Over the past 4 years, we made it known to the entire Charedi community in Beit Shemesh of what was going on and what happened? Nothing. People stayed silent. Now there is national media coverage and finally the right thing is being done. Unfortunately there is no other solution. Your large words and hours upon hours of brainstorming won’t find another solution – this much I can GUARANTEE. The only way is for Charedi Rabbonim to speak out against this – the ones that these extremists actually consider Jews. And believe me, we have tried tirelessly to get them to speak out against these wrongdoers and they haven’t…until they were put in the national (and international) spotlight. Unfortunately, you have completely missed the point of this article and have added a twist to it. If you think the Rabbi here is trying to, quote, “rabble-rouse against another stream of Jews in order to cultivate a feeling of your own superiority” then there is something seriously wrong with you my friend. I implore you to show me just ONE example in this article of him doing so.

      • Formerly Modern

        January 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

        Eric, the examples you ask for abound. Rabbi Robinson denigrates charedi focus on chumros and on tznius and suggests that Modern Orthodoxy’s priorities and bein odom lechaveiro are superior to that of charedim.

        Beyond that, of course, the proof of the rabble rousing is in the roused rabble. Look at the anti-charedi invective of those who laud Rabbi Robinson’s position – look at the calls for expelling charedim, forcing their reeducation, forcibly ending their culture, blaming them for all manner of societal ills, denying their legitimacy. Classic scapegoating.

        Indeed, Rabbi Robinson “proves” that a broader universe of charedim support the wrongdoers because they support in blog post comments the criticisms of insufficient tznius. If so, then Rabbi Robinson cannot avoid that his own arguments are linked to the gross anti-charedism of the commenters who have written in to congratulate him.

        I am well aware of how long this has been going on and in great detail. It does not change the simple fact that there is not a single charedi godol whose statement would change what you complain about because these people are no more connected to charedi society than they are to dati leumi society.

        If you are not being protected, it is the fault of the State for not cracking down on criminals.

        But it is a separate and egregious offense to try to blame the charedi world for these people.

  29. Z

    January 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    The article is wonderful- well said and very important. There is one part that I have significant trouble identifying with, and, while it is a side point, I think it needs to be addressed. You write:
    “You are our shaliach (representative). We help pay your way – taxes in Israel, charity dollars in the US. And you keep Israel spiritual. (Should there be others models? Perhaps, yes – but that’s the way it works.) And that’s the reason for the army exemption. That Torah is pure, and it’s a shemirah, it protects all of us. As a nation we have a collective interest in people devoting themselves to Torah. I firmly believe that.”
    As someone who is typically labeled as “National-Religious” I find this offensive. I firmly believe that the significant majority of Jews should be able to thrive combining work, army service and Torah study/good deeds. I believe that this is the best way to “keep Israel spiritual.”
    Furthermore, there is a large and healthy population in Israel that is attempting to combine material contribution to the State and the Jewish people with spiritual contribution, as Rabbi Yishmael advises in the Talmud. Are you belittling the Shemirah of this Torah? Is their work and army service somehow making it impure?
    I understand what you firmly believe. I firmly believe that Torah is at its purest when combined with work and action. I firmly believe that the collective interest that the nation has in people devoting themselves to Torah should be reserved for a select few who are truly willing to devote themselves to Torah- both learning and teaching. I also firmly believe that when parts of the population resent the people their taxes are supporting, its probably no longer a “collective interest,” and it may be doing more harm than good.
    The army exemption was something done in extreme circumstances, after the destruction of the Holocaust, and the “status quo” you speak of was only a few thousand people, which does not even compare to today. There was no other time in Jewish history when an entire community of Jews sent all their young men to yeshivah until they were middle-aged. Somehow a bedieved situation has been sanctified until it is not only lechatchilah, it is really the only viable option. How is this unprecedented path the only way to “keep Israel spiritual?”

    • Shaul

      January 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      Z i dont at all disagree with you, and thats what i meant by ‘should there be other models’ my point was to try and avoid a debate about army v kollel, but simply say that what Ben Gurion accepted and is stated by chazal (ironically as neturei karta = Torah scholars being guardians of the city’ creates obligations, and can be seen as part of a consensus in Am Yisrael when these obligations are met

      • Z

        January 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm

        Thank you Rabbi for your clarification. I see you wrote that you are more used to speaking to groups than writing a blog. I have a blog of my own and find that I constantly have to re-explain myself. It seems that when things are written down and people can read them over and over it is much easier for things to be misconstrued, and points we attempt to make through humor, irony, hyperbole and similar devices (such as your army comment) can be lost. When writing, we must choose our words carefully. I, too, did not mean to get into an “army vs. kollel” debate.
        I agree with your point than if one believes they are serving the Jewish people through their Torah study, and in this way justifies accepting material support, one must fulfill certain obligations. If that is the only point you were trying to make, and if you did not wish to say that the kollel lifestyle is one that should be encouraged for a large population and regarded as one of the highest standards, then perhaps you may want to rephrase that section, to clarify your position.
        (In general the section seemed to glorify the Kollel lifestyle, making it seem that it was the most authentically Jewish and that all Jewish people should appreciate the way they keep everyone else “spiritual.” In particular, if you want to know what sparked my misunderstanding, you wrote: “should there be other models” and then wrote “perhaps yes” which seemed to me you deemed this to be the best model, and then proceeded to write “but that’s the way it works:- which I understood to mean that’s how it worked on a metaphysical level and not within the political-economic reality.)
        As an admittedly critical reader, it sounded to me like you were saying that it is their Torah alone that keeps spirituality alive in the Jewish people. If this is not what you meant, perhaps you can reword it slightly?
        As I said before, I really admire this post. It is just this section (and the section about the army) that gives me pause. If this is your belief, you are not alone, and I do not claim it is not legitimate. However, I do think that it alienates a large portion of the population, and in such a wonderful post which I already see being spread by many people I know, it might be worthwhile to be a but more politically correct, and avoid what many view as fractious ideas, or what could be interpreted as belittling, even though it is clear to me (now) that is not what you meant.
        Thank you again for this post. I hope people take your words to heart, that most are not as critical as I am, and they accept your piece in the spirit of peace and understanding in which it was clearly offered.

  30. Howard Sterling

    January 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Rabbi Robinson is right on as usual and I am please how many people of all stripes have agreed.
    My addition: When wee go to Israel we should go to the Orot School to express solidarity and provide a shield for the little girls. And we should urge our friends and Rabbis in Israel to do the same.

  31. Eliyahu M

    January 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I think this was a very eloquent analysis of the horrible situation. The suggestion of requiring army service for the extremists is an interesting idea — let them channel their energy towards correcting Israel in a legitimate way. Let the commanders work into real men — real Jews,

  32. Bernie Horowitz

    January 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful and precious post on extremism. As I said about you to the contact list to whom I sent the link, “I would like to live in the Jewish world he conjures up.” Your images of gedolim and their rebbitzens walking with and consoling the Orot girls stay with me.

    You mention that R. Adlerstein is a good friend. What a large step it would be if you could get HIM to sign on to your proposals and use his Cross Currents pulpit to do so. He wrote beautifully condemning the violence and the spitting. But that’s about as far as he went. It’s just not enough to be against the violence as you have so eloquently written. Who isn’t against spitting on women and 9-year old girls but the most extreme fringe? Ha-aretz? Not likely. Cross Currents would be a good start.

  33. Bernie Horowitz

    January 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    “Let them write a bill, and lobby to pass it, that says that every single violent demonstrator, every single person who intimidates, spits, shouts at little girls, who yells “Nazi” at soldiers should be sent to the army.”

    Today, Shmarya Rosenberg posted a 1963 letter from Ben Gurion to PM Levi Eshkol, advocating the same thing and regretting the agreement he made in 1948 because of rioting by religious fanatics.

  34. Él-Ad

    January 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I share the greatest respect for Tzahal as well.

    I thought the Rav Robinson’s suggestion about putting the offenders in the Army followed in the awesome tradition of the laws of the Eved Ivri, the Hebrew Servant.

    When applied ideally, an Eved Ivri was someone who after transgressing was indentured for a time to a sage of the highest moral fiber. The laws were that the ‘master’ had to treat the Eved as one would treat an honored guest! Long story short, the idea was to apprentice the Eved to learn how to live and to behave properly and to give them an opportunity to be treated properly themselves (what incredible wisdom!)

    A stint in the Army – perhaps even seeing action and being defended or having one’s life saved by a less religious soldier or a soldier of the opposite gender – could forever change a person’s perspective. It would also bring the person out of their insular world: one of the problems that has been identified is that in their ‘world’ they think they are normal and we are not.

    After their service they would be in a position to serve as an incredible ambassador for Ahavat Yisrael and Achdut, unity and love of their fellow Israeli.

    We know that prison – while perhaps more suitable to the ‘crime’ – would have little chance of accomplishing the true reform an Army stint could potentially provide.

    Thank you Rav Robinson. HaShem Yevarech Otcha vYeeshmerecha. Chazak uBaruch!

  35. Formerly Modern

    January 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    With all respect to Marc Landau, I appreciate that you want to keep the tenor of the discussion civil and I’m endeavoring to do that (not diplomatic, perhaps, but civil). But my starting point is that Rabbi Robinson’s post on this subject is itself an inappropriate salvo – a misdirected attack against charedi leadership and charedim.

    You should not expect comments to be limited to self-congratulatory adulation of MO readers who feel that they’ve been invited to pile on to the anti-charedi media orgy.

  36. Dr. Estelle Schutzman

    January 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    As a professor of sociology
    at CUNY i teach religion one week as part of the curriculum,
    I always make the same point, religion can be a wonderful aspect of a person,but it is most important to not assume that you are right in your belief and the others are wrong.In other words, it is most important not to denigrate beliefs and practices of others,I then invite questions from the class on any aspect of Judaism.I usually feel very satisfied with this class.Therefore Rabbi Robinsons article was very meaningful to me.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 3, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Why is a Modern Orthodox rabbi’s attack against Charedim something you laud? Based on your stated value system the appropriate message should be one which helps diminish friction, not one which fomented hostility. Or does your tolerance for sincerely held beliefs exclude Charedim…?

      • Yitz Waxman

        January 3, 2012 at 9:59 am

        Why is a Modern Orthodox rabbi’s attack against Charedim something you laud

        Seems to me that the writer took great pains not to “attack”, but rather to offer constructive criticism. Take it how you like, but if you consider this piece to be an attack, then it would seem that you resent any criticism in any form against the Haredim or their leaders.

      • Yitz Waxman

        January 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

        does your tolerance for sincerely held beliefs exclude Charedim

        No one gives carte blanche to all beliefs, regardless of how sincerely said beliefs are held. The beliefs of the zealots are as sickening as they are sincere. Those who refrain from protesting against the zealots are likewise subject to criticism.

      • Formerly Modern

        January 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm

        Yitz – the attack is Rabbi Robinson’s words directed at anyone other than the perps – in this case Gedolei Torah who have no link whatsoever with the spitters.


        Rabbi Robinson’s article was a broadside attack against charedim and charedi leadership – that is what is objectionable.

      • David B

        January 6, 2012 at 8:58 am

        @ Formerly Modern,

        The “sincerely held beliefs” of some Charedim are not Torah. They may sincerely believe it is acceptable to spit on a little girl, but they are wrong, period, and all their mitzvot and religion is worthless. Likewise, the charedi leadership are complicit. What’s happened in Bet Shemesh is the product of a long-term growth in extremist views and behavior that the gedolim have allowed to develop unchecked.

        Our prophets and sages were never afraid to speak out against injustice and evil, and I see Rav Robinson’s excellent piece as continuing in this tradition.

  37. Bernie Horowitz

    January 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I neglected to supply the link to Ben Gurion’s letter to PM Levi Eshkol that I mentioned above. Here is the link.

  38. Emilya Burd

    January 2, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    THere are two issues:
    1. I believe the media makes a bigger deal out of this–it was ALWAYS there. I remember trips to Jerusalem and the like.
    2. It’s gotten more extreme as a response to Israeli society becoming more secular over the years–THEY NEED TO ACCEPT THAT. THey need to live in a society as modern beings, and understand they’re part of the state.
    3. The busses issue also raises an intersting legal issue in Israel–more on that later.
    4. In short, it’s a serious issue—and the thing that worries me is the media is not asking the right questions, and Israelis are not asking or having the right conversation they should about it.
    5. The holocaust images absolutely sickened me.

    –Israeli living in the States

  39. Shira

    January 3, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I think all those Charedim should be set out of Israel. They don’t deserve to live there and they should take their kippot off because they do not deserve to be called Jews.
    I grew up in Europe, where there are just as many extremists from the chareidi world. I was called a shiksa, and a goy because I was modern-orthodox.
    They held themselves above others yet they went against everything the Torah teaches us. They are not worthy of Israel and should be silenced and locked up.
    No one else deserves to get hurt for their insanity, and it needs to stop now!

    • Formerly Modern

      January 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Such beautiful ahavas Yisroel you’ve engendered, Rabbi Robinson!

  40. GoldenJerusalem

    January 3, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Amazing words – shame they came from NY and not in the local community.
    I think that it is about all of us – we are all part of the dialogue and must avoid making it always the other side’s fault. The possibility of chilul Hashem is very real even (or especially) when protesting one’s real rights in the face of non Torah (but charedi looking) people.
    The DL community in Israel needs to look inwards – we have their own oppress women stick going on at the moment, and the deafening silence on cutting down olive trees (clear issur dorayta there) and other price tag acts is shocking.
    Let’s all remember -deracheha darchei noam
    Thank you Rabbi

  41. Becky

    January 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I agree with almost everything you wrote Rabbi, I just have one issue concerning the agreement between Ben Gurion and The Chazon Ish. I Don’t know much about world history and I’m no expert on Israeli politics or law, but as an Israeli citizen I strongly oppose the exemption of the entire charedi community from army service and tax payments. It boils my blood that an entire community has somehow gotten away with living off of other people’s money and blood. Excuse me but there is something fundamentally wrong with this entire set up. It is one thing to sponsor one, two, or even a group of individuals for Tora study in Israel (or abroad). Individuals who have been interviewd and tested in order to make sure that they qualify for this type of lifestyle of studying Tora all day long. People like that most probably wouldn’t even be Israeli citizens since there would be no need for them to make aliyah. That would be fine, acceptable. The situation we have today is so far from fine and acceptable. An entire community is allowed to excused themselves from taxes and army service because of their so called Tora studying. How can so many people possibly qualify for such a thing? Without even undergoing any kind of testing or interviewing? Why do they get this sponsorship for free? Just because they wear black and white, call themselves ‘charedi’ and are enrolled in a yeshiva of some sort? I don’t believe that all those yeshiva bachurim are truly sitting and learning all day long their entire lives, the way the Chazon Ish probably did. I don’t believe it, and I’ll go one step further and say that this ‘free’ lifestyle the charedi community has, teaches them that taking what you can from others in the name of “Tora” is totally ok.
    So, the reason why there are bad feelings generated towards the chardi community is not just because of misrepresentation in the media. These feelings run deep. They are based on a very true and painful reality in which a community of Jews has been permitted to live off of the rest of Israeli society in the name of their “holiness”.

  42. marc landau

    January 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Formerly Modern: there is nothing respectful about your comments (nor are they “civil” as you suggest, or in any way “engengering of ahavas Yisroel”). You seem to enjoy causing aggravation and showing a complete lack of respect to the Rabbi and many of the commentators here. And you hide behind your “Formerly Modern” label. Why dont you step out of the shadows and be counted? Quite sure you wont – I’d be embarrassed espousing your views too.

  43. Formerly Modern

    January 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

    So you think that this forum is better off as an echo chamber for a bunch of people who think just like you and Rabbi Robinson. Well, that’s consistent with the intolerance underlying the initial blog post and the “solutions” offered in the comments.

    Let’s be clear: I am responding to an untoward and wholly inappropriate attack by a religious leader, in the name of Judaism, against an entire sector of sincerely held, authentic Judaism. I indeed have zero respect for his positions here.

    But what I find uniquely revealing is that you find my comments so distasteful: have I called for the wholesale forced conversion, re-education or expulsion from Eretz Yisroel of an entire Jewish sector? I certainly have not – and yet many of the commenters are calling for precisely that. Yet you find those comments acceptable and my objections offensive?

    It is precisely this intolerance masquerading as Jewish concern that I find so offensive and it is why, as I said earlier, the arguments here are so reminiscent of the obnoxious Sikrikim.

    My message may not be pleasant, but it is intended to educate not to aggravate.

    • marc landau

      January 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

      quite predictable and as I thought – remaining anonymous. how can spitting at young girls ever be equated with “sincerely held, authentic Judaism”? do me a favour. accept that that Charedi community has some bad eggs and they need to deal with them. and if they don’t, a solution needs to be imposed. the army idea is one, expulsion is another. Prison is a third. if they can’t behave like human beings in a civilised society, removal/re-education is quite legitimate.

      • Formerly Modern

        January 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm

        But I am not equating spitting at girls with anything authentic. Have you actually read what I wrote? I am taking issue with Rabbi Robinson – and with you – for somehow linking and holding responsible all charedim and their leaders to/for these nuts.

        They should be allowed to say what they want – but spitting is assault and they should be prosecuted and punished for it. Absolutely.

        But the people who have posted have called for expulsion/re-education for CHAREDIM GENERALLY – get it? Get what’s wrong with that?

        If you can’t understand what I am saying and what the others are saying, that doesn’t make me uncivil.

  44. Henry Keller

    January 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Rabbi Robinson’s article largely reflects the views of all the modern orthodox world and many in the charedi world
    However I am somewhat concerned that I am yet to read or hear of any condemnation by a Rabbi , from either the charedi or modorn orthodox camps, about the eviction of Arab families from their family homes of many decades,in Silwan and Sheik Jarrah.
    These families are not paid any compensation and are replaced by “orthodox ” jews within hours of their eviction
    I would have thought that Rabbis such as Rabbi Robinson, who is clearly concerned about the moral condition of theJewish people,would feel compelled to speak out about this issue.

  45. Joe Q.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    While movements on the Orthodox left may indeed sometimes be critical or dismissive of movements on the Orthodox right, this criticism doesn’t extend to physical or verbal harassment of people on the street, vandalism, or religious coercion of the type recently seen in E”Y. Therein lies the difference.

  46. Yitz Waxman

    January 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    about the eviction of Arab families from their family homes of many decades,in Silwan and Sheik Jarrah

    If you are already convinced that condemnations are called for without a sliver of review of the relevant facts at hand, then it is likely that your views are the matter are tainted by an overriding anti-Israel prejudice and therefore we have no basis for dialogue.

  47. Henry Keller

    January 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Yitz, thank you for your constructive and enlightining comments .
    I have to agree with you , judging by what you have written,particularly your comment about my “overriding anti -israel prejudice” there is no basis for dialogue between us.

  48. Jeremiah Haber

    January 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Formerly Modern, I read and reread Rabbi Robinson’s original post. I think your reading may have been a bit uncharitable, because of your quite-understandable sensitivity towards modern orthodox rabbis lecturing to haredi gedolim. There is nothing new about this; it goes back at least to the nineteenth century, when more acculturated European rabbis criticized more stringent European rabbis, although they didn’t do it publicly or in blogs. And, needless to say, that criticism was met with criticism from the more stringent side. To Rabbi Robinson’s credit, he also urged that religious Zionist rabbinical leaders speak out loud and clear against religious zionist price-tag reprisals, and I heard his dissatisfaction that only Rabbi Riskin has spoken out against it. (My own views of the matter are irrelevant for this debate, but for the record, I believe that the city of Efrat has destroyed the lives of more Palestinians, and stolen more Palestinian land, private and public, than all the price tag reprisals put together. But I don’t expect many religious Zionists to agree with that, and , as I said, the point is irrelevant for this debate. And I find no problem congratulating Rabbi Riskin on a piece that represents a moral position, albeit from the perspective of an enlightened colonialist convinced of his right to the land.) I don’t find it offensive that Rabbi Robinson calls on gedolim to speak out, but I also don’t find it productive, except to explain to his congregants, and to his crowd, that this is the sort of thing that he/they would like gedolim to speak out against. No gadol will take offense, nor will he pay attention to, or even be aware of Rabbi Robinson. He is speaking to his own community, not to you.

    But I agree with you that there should be a lot more self-criticism within the various tribes of Israel — although how public this should be is a question to be considered. Frankly, I find much more self-criticism within the non-haredi community than in the haredi community, and much more self-criticism in the haredi community in the US than in its counterpart in Israel. Of course, there are haredim and there are haredim.

    What I found problematic with Rabbi Robinson’s blog post, if I understand him correctly, is that he lumps various phenomena together under the title of religious extremism, which he views from a modern orthodox perspective. I don’t think it is profitable to use the incidents in Beit Shemesh as an occasion to rail against “religious extremism” in general. Are we talking about extremism in kashrut observance, segregation of the sexes, building outposts on Palestinian private land? Are we talking about segregation of the sexes in the state religious schools, or the Noam schools, in ways that did not happen in the previous generations? The issue is not the anti-Zionism of the haredim. — which is perfectly respectable, and antedates the widespread and ambivalent acceptance of Zioniism among the modern orthodox — but the violence associated with some of the Yom ha-Atzmaut observances. Unless Rabbi Robinson wants to claim that anti-Zionism leads to such violence, which I hope he doesn’t, I don’t see the relevance of that label to the problem.

    There are various explanations for this extremism, but the one that accounts for the difference between Israeli haredi and non-Israeli haredi behavior is obvious to me, at any rate — in Israel, there is no Eimat ha-Goyyim, even among those haredim who profess to see little difference between hilonim and goyyim. I would also say this is true for extreme religious Zionists, who simply feel that they can get away with more because the medinah is nominally Jewish, and the assumption is that Jews won’t treat Jews the way the goyym treat Jews. Jews in Boro Park will not insist on their right to have segregated buses, and according to federal law, a woman can sit where she wants. Call this a gezeras ha-malkhus, if you like, but it attempts to keep people of all religions in line with certain societal values, like equality in the public sphere. You won’t find haredim in Boro Park protesting in concentration camp garb and yellow stars. I suppose that we should be thankful for a Jewish state which allows them to feel so confident .

    • Formerly Modern

      January 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      “You won’t find haredim in Boro Park protesting in concentration camp garb and yellow stars.”

      (Not so) funny you should mention that – I spent Shabbos in Boro Park not so long ago and on my friend’s block saw a huge – huge – black on white sign attached to a private home condemning as Gehenom-bound mechalelei Shabbos bepharhessia anyone who held by the BP eruv. I asked my friend what the deal is and he said “Oh, them. It’s a family that moved here from Meah Shearim.”

      I agree with most of what you wrote except really in one essential place: I don’t see Rabbi Robinsons caveats as reasons to excuse his attack – they are merely window dressing. You are correct that in the old days there was correspondence, not public accusations before the eyes of the world. I conclude that, there is, apparently no eimas hagoyim on the Internet, either, the most public of all fora.

  49. Shmuel

    January 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Sadly, the comments on the above article are a better indication of how Jewish sects view each other than the article itself. Let us all assume that we are emotionally tied to the sect that we belong to. Let us further agree that we strongly believe our way is how G-d would want us to live in the 21st century. Lastly, let us all agree that G-d despises Sinas Chinam more than any other sin in the Torah. If all of these assumptions are correct, then we are left with only one alternative- love each Jew no matter what he/she believes. Just about every comment takes a position to the right or to the left and than either blasts the other side or takes a few subtle jabs.
    In the end, the unfortunate truth is that not one comment on this page will change anyone’s opinion because everyone is too stubborn (am kshei oref) to disassociate the emotional outrage towards the opposite sects to the fact that the person writing are our bothers and sisters.
    According to many commentators, the Brothers held Yosef to be Chayiv Misah for being a Moser on issues that demanded capital punishment. According to that view, how could the brothers be held responsible for what happened?
    An interesting answer I recently heard, which is relevant to my points above, is that the brothers may have had a case against Yosef but didnt use the same effort to find him innocent as they did to find him guilty because of their hatred towards him. If this applies to the Shivtei Kah how much more so does this apply to you and I?
    May we all merit to use our strengths to come closer to G-d and to love each other despite our differences.

  50. Dovid Kornreich

    January 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    The main charge here is one that I’ve read on other blogs and newspapers and it is two fold:
    1) Chareidi society somehow engenders extremism and these incidents are its bitter fruit.
    2) A neglect by the Chareidi leadership to publicly condemn the extreme acts is a form of acquiescence by silence.

    The response to the first charge is that your average chareidi individual living in, let’s say Bayit Vegan or Har Nof, shares very little of the *cultural* values and norms of Mea She’arim chareidim. Chareidim are an extremely factionalized and subdivided group and the divisions are deep and operate on many different levels that outsiders simply have no appreciation of.
    True, on political issues vis-a-vis non-Chareidim and especially the non-religious, most Chareidim seem to rally together as a unified group to oppose a common threat. But socially, there is vary little meaningful contact between Mea Shea’rim Charedim (and their RBS offshoots) and the rest of the Chareidi population.
    SO you can’t credibly say that “Chareidi society” engenders violence, extremism, intolerance etc.

    The response to the second charge is a direct corollary to the first. For a Litvish Godol embedded in mainstream Chareidi Society to come publicly against Mea She’arim Chareidim is almost as non- meaningful to the extremists themselves as the Agudas Yisroel of America’s statement of condemnation.
    If I understand Rabbi Shaul Robinson correctly, the point of having Chareidi Gedolim come out against the extremism is to send a social message that such behavior is not acceptable in Chareidi society. You will be socially ostracized for such behavior.
    But this assumes that Mainstream Chareidi gedolim wield significant social influence over the Mea She’arim Chareidim and that this society will pay attention to any disapproval they register.
    This assumption is simply false. And it imposes an illegitimate burden on the Chareidi gedolim to deal with this problem.
    We hear all the time how Mea She’arim extremists use threats, intimidation, and even violence towards mainstream Chareidi Gedolim who have taken moderate stances on public issues which they consider unacceptable religious compromises. They live in their own sub-society with their own version of religious authority/vigilanteeism and dismissive social attitudes vis-a-vis the rule of secular Israeli law over their community and their actions.

    As many chareidim have said time and time again, this is not an “internal Chareidi” problem which can be resolved internally. It is a legal problem of wanton lawlessness on the part of the extremists (in the name of religion) and it requires the law enforcement apparatus of the Israeli police and courts to bring it to a halt.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      What David K. said.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Agav, forget Har Nof and Bayit Vegan, I wouldn’t even saddle mainstream Meah Shearim with these guys …

  51. Renee

    January 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Wow. I’m reading this in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m so saddened by what I’m reading. I will identify myself for the purposes of this discussion as “Yeshivish modern” (capital Y for Yeshivish, little m for modern). Look at what these nasty…I hesitate to call them Ultra-Orthodox, because they don’t resemble any chareidim that I know…individuals have succeeded in doing. They have succeeded in causing a rift among holy Jews, instead of bringing us together to combat this sinas chinam that these Sikrikim (is that the right term?) are liberally distributing against our fellow Jews. They make me sick, and the fact that they are making us turn against each other is also making me sick. This will not be the legacy that I will pass on to my daughter. My legacy is one of ahavas Yisrael. This is what I will pass on to her. I hope that is what you all will pass on to your children.

  52. Dovid Kornreich

    January 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Rabbi Robinson, care to respond?

  53. Ann

    January 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you Rabbi Robinson for addressing this very sad development amongst Jews. I think it took a certain kind of courage to do so and I appreciate that. I feel very supportive of your comments for not only did you talk about the problem, you also offered solutions/actions to be taken to deal with it. Like many of the other responders, I felt sick reading about what was happening in the NY Times. It’s terrible enough to think one observant Jew would turn against another observant Jew in such a vitriolic manner. Not only did I feel ashamed and sick to my stomach to learn of these events because of the hateful essence of what they reveal from one Jew to another: but also, to realize the damage done to Clal Israel is so tragic and shameful..Truly a Chilul Hashem ..Don’t we as a nation have enough and enough enemies in the world to worry about? I wonder if these Charedim would feel differently if a soldier from one of these “less observant” families actually saved the life of their son or daughter because of their commitment to protect and serve all Jews. Do you think they ( the Charedim ) would find them so disgusting?
    My suggestion would be for you to share your comments with leading Rabbis in Israel and the US, perhaps even a leading Israeli newpaper so Clal Israel sees that at least there are other voices in the religious world condemning this horrid behavior.
    I was especially proud to be a member of LSS when you shared your comments with us.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      What “certain kind of courage” does it actually take for the rabbi of Lincoln Square to be critical of Israeli charedim?

  54. Lo Bashamayim Hee

    January 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Formerly Modern – You do what many Chareidi apologists do, which is try to claim as only “a few nuts” those who are spitting on little school girls and using images of the horrors of the Holocaust to claim they are being persecuted. If you have “a few nuts” in your midst that are doing things that you find truly horrific, you or your leaders deal with them, by ousting them from the community, or by all Chareidi leaders getting together to both publically condemn, and take steps to marginalize and undermine this group of what you claim are “a few nuts”.

    The fact is, it is not a few, it is hundreds if not thousands of people who are acting in this way. And the concept of “Shtika K’hodaya” applies here. If the majority of Chareidim are not demonstrating against these “few nuts” who are doing reprehensible things that affect and horrify all of world Jewery, then they are considered to be complicit in their agreement with what is being done.

    I am horrified by what these people are doing. They are spitting on the memories of my own relatives who were killed in the Holocaust. And as someone who lives in the Chareidi world, when I hear ongoing declarations being made by Gedolim – both Israeli and American – about the evils of concerts, the internet, womens sheitels (wigs), cellphones, college education, etc, I wonder and at this point demand, that the Gedolim who are supposedly leading my community both in Israel and America declare in big loud public declarations TO THEIR KEHILOS (congregations and communities) that abhorrent actions being committed in the name of my specific Chareidi religious beliefs, are evil and disgusting and anti-halacha actions, with absolutely no halachic or Torah excuse offered for them.

    If Rav Elyashiv and Rav Kanievsky and Rav Shteinman (Gedolim in Israel) can loudly and publically ban specific English books which they can’t read, and computers which they never used, and women’s shaitels in America being too long, and cellphones with internet, then they can ban those reprehensible actions which are taking place in their own back yard.

    And if Chassidish Rebbes in Israel can ban the myriad things they ban with huge public declarations, then they can ban the actions of those in their midst who are hurting all Jews.

    You take issue with Chareidi leaders – Gedolim – being criticized by a Modern Othodox rabbi. How dare he criticize those leaders if he truly respects them and believes in their greatness. He should rather stick to criticizing his own group and fix the problems in his own camp. But then you go on to point out that you see no differentiation between Chareidi Jews and Modern Orthodox Jews – to you a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. But if you truly believe that, then it is legitimate for one Jew to criticize another Jew, and one Jewish leader to criticize another Jewish leader.

    Additionally, there is no Rav (rabbi) or Gadol (big or popular rabbi), no matter how widely respected he is, who is above being questioned. Judaism is not Christianity. We do not have a pope. Your assertion of how dare Rabbi Robinson criticize the Gedolim is unfounded in traditional Judaism which you claim to represent. Open any Gemara (Talmud) and you will see that all rabbis and even non-rabbis are questioning and criticizing each other with no issue taken that one is in a different Jewish club.

    Now that these events and issues have become publicized worldwide, this is no longer only a Chareidi problem. Jews around the world of every stripe are affected by this problem and have a right to make demands of and criticize the Chareidi Gedolim’s clearly ineffective way of dealing with (or failing to deal with) what is happening in their camp. The fact that the hole in the bottom of the ship is being drilled only under the Chareidi section doesn’t matter if the ship of worldwide Judaism is taking on water and being threatened to drown. Not to mention the Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) against the G-d of BOTH Chareidim and the Modern Orthodox – which incidentally is a D’Oraiysa (the highest form of a commandment stately clearly and directly in the Torah).

  55. Formerly Modern

    January 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    That the anti-charedi leaders in Modern Orthodoxy and elsewhere and the all too receptive media have so twisted your view of charedim is more than sufficient proof of my point. Your “facts” are simply prejudice and propaganda – sinas chinom, plain and simple. And I don’t buy for a millisecond that you are part of the charedi world; your words amply prove that as well.

    What extraordinary irony that someone could actually contend that world opinion of Judaism is suffering due to charedim. Have you perhaps noticed how reviled Jews are as a result of Zionism and Israel?

    Indeed, there is Chilul Hashem here. First by the sick individual who assaulted an innocent young girl, then by political exploiters and the media and now by Rabbi Robinson and you and others who publicly condemned an entire sector of G-d-fearing Jews based on the act of one man.

    • Lo Bashamayim Hee

      January 4, 2012 at 1:16 am

      Your not believing that I am Chareidi does not change my affiliation. Nor has any “anti-charedi leaders in Modern Orthodoxy and elsewhere and the all too receptive media” “twisted my view of charedim”. If anyone has “twisted my view of Charedim” it is Charedim themselves, among whom I live and am counted. If my words betrayed anything, it is my deep disappointment in Charedi leaders who I believed to be representative of Torah, who I have continually witnessed over and over again by their actions and inactions, to not be acting upon the Torahs values I believed they valued above all. While I remain Charedi, I have become disillusioned with Charedi leadership on every level, and am also deeply disappointed by the acceptance on the part of large blocks of Charedi society of values which I see as contrary and anathema to Torah.

      “…Rabbi Robinson and you and others who publicly condemned an entire sector of G-d-fearing Jews based on the act of one man.”

      Initially you claimed that the groups of Charedim who are screaming “prostitute” at young girls every day as they walk to school, and those who gather in large groups calling Israeli soldiers and fellow Jews “Nazis” and dressing their kids in Holocaust uniforms, were a just a small group of “nuts”. Now you’ve boiled it down to “the act of one man”. And you tell me “Your ‘facts’ are simply prejudice and propaganda”. Um, I think you’ve got it wrong, my fellow misguided Jew. Yours are the words of propaganda and untruths.

      There is no “one man” who on his own, walked over to a young school girl and spit on her while screaming “prostitute” and other harassing names. There is ample video evidence of large groups of Charedi men yelling “prostitute” and other disgusting things to 6, 7 and 8 year-old girls on their way to and from school. There were several Charedi men spitting at them, but only one who got singled out. Additionally, there are many, many more Charedim in addition to those who have done these things, who have been defending the actions of those who committed these disgusting behaviors. And there are even more who simply refuse to condemn their disgusting behaviors. And that is the problem; not a lone man who spit and yelled at a young school girl.

      And to quote Rabbi Natan Slifkin, who lives near the Orot school where the screaming and spitting at young school girls has been taking place since September: “At every level in charedi society, there is a certain degree of intolerance towards non-charedim, which is never protested by those to their left in charedi society.” (Quoted from the following link:

      I find Rabbi Slifkin’s insights into the situation particularly interesting and unique as not only has he witnessed the entire controversy unfold from his window in Ramat Beit Shemesh, he has also been a part of both the Charedi world and the Dati Leumi world. His blog has numerous posts on the issues.

      • Formerly Modern

        January 4, 2012 at 8:50 am

        It’s highly amusing and revealing that you would quote Slifkin – a man who has now made it part of his life’s work to denigrate and defame the same charedi leadership whom Rabbi Robinson attacks.

        If you consider him a charedi then it isn’t surprising that you also call youself charedi.

        You’ll pardon the charedi world if they disagree with you both.

      • Ita

        January 8, 2012 at 2:51 am

        Rabbi Slifkin is by no means objective. He is virulently anti Chareidi due to the fact that his books were banned as heresy. After all , only HE is right and men who are steeped in Torah just don’t know what they are talking about. Had he gone over his books with Gedolim before publishing his books it would have never happened.

        He now feels his mission is to denigrate the entire chareidi community. He is no better than ynet or Gideon Levy of Haaretz..

        So far we have yet to see FACTS. Even in the video on Channel two we only see the mother and child.On youtube we don’t see the children in the videos. For an objective viewer we have absolutely no clue as to what is really going on.

        Some would say that what is going on in Beit Shemesh is a political move to get rid of the Chareidi Mayor. It should also be said that the previous Mayor (who was not Chareidi) davka put the school there to stave off the Chareidi population.

        So while I do think that it is horrific for grown men to chant pritsa and shiksa to these girls.. one has to wonder if all of the incidents are highly exaggerated. I just read in the Beit Shemesh paper called the Chadash that the FORMER City Council member Ilan Gal -Dor (Mafdal) said that his own daughter goes to the Orot School and has never seen any Chareidi spit ,throw or even yell.

  56. Shaul Robinson

    January 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Many thanks to all for engaging in what has been a very illuminating discussion. Obviously, to the person or people who feel that no comment at all is relevant from outside the Charedi community, I disagree, and there is little point in pursuing that discussion.

    My vision of the orthodox world is really a continuum, that is why as i said in my remarks that some of the comment by the charedi community on innovations in the modern community is not necessarily illegitimate – there is after all one Torah, one Shulchan Aruch and those who are loyal to it are bound together in ways too numerous to count.

    I remember Rabbi Riskin came to London once and caused a furor when he remarked that modern orthodox jews share much more in common with chasidim in meah shearim than they do with secular kibutznikim (he wasnt making this comment to be divisive, it was relevant to the discussion at hand). Many disagreed with him but of course he was correct.
    and in that light re the comments of whether there is anything the charedi leadership can do or not – I believe that for better or worse there is a continuum – as I say (t least until the outrage of the concentration camp costumes) there were many people speaking up in support of the bet shemesh protesters – and that the leadership of every community should ensure that the fire of extremism does not spread.
    it is my opinion that the orthodox world is changing in many ways, and that many of them – an increased obsession with tznius and enforcing separation between the genders, a descent into superstition and gullibility and less tolerance with those outside the camp, to name a few, are negative trends that I don’t think many gedolim of previous generations would have approved of. that in sum is my position.

    i will try and add more comments later on – many many thanks to all for joining in the conversation.
    with respect


  57. Formerly Modern

    January 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    • Ita

      January 8, 2012 at 2:53 am

      Nobody will condemn it because it’s not the Chareidim doing it… and some sick people on the commenting there are saying that those Chareidi kids are getting a taste of their own medicine!! what nerve!!

  58. Formerly Modern

    January 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Rabbi Robinson, I think there is a fundamental disconnect which is leading to the friction.

    “Orthodox” is a meaningless designation. It has never had religious import and, if it ever did, it has lost any cultural and sociological meaning long ago. Your congregation, lifestyle, priorities, etc., are as alien and unrecognizeable to charedim in Yerushalaim and Beit Shemesh as any Reform or Conservative rabbi/congregation’s…and vice versa.

    Charedim have their cultural touchpoints and Jewish identity and so do you. You obviously are free to denigrate their halachic and hashkafic concerns as “obsessions” but don’t expect it to be welcomed any more than you would welcome a charedi rov taking to the airwaves to condemn your lifestyle and obsessions and fraudulently linking it to the grotesque and egregious behavior of one – or even a few – contemptible individuals. I certainly can’t see why you would imagine it is reasonable to invoke your “orthodoxy” as justification for trying to lay blame on others merely because you also happen to consider them “orthodox”. Are you saying it is okay for you, but not for a Reform or Conservative or even an unaffiliated Jew? Why? What is the morality of that position? What is the Jewish logic?

    Our lifestyles, cultures, “obsessions”, hashkofos, etc., divide us. There is no “orthodox continuum” – as one longtime YU rebbe observed to me, “the YU world is hermetically sealed off from the Torah world; there is no point of contact, despite what they prefer to imagine.” I believe that is the case. We use similar words, but have utterly unreconcileable worldviews and identities.

    So, while “orthodoxy” is simply a fiction, and focusing on it is doomed to create factions and frictions, it is not a hopeless situation.

    What unifies us is that the deeper and essential truth which is that we are Jews. And there really is no prefix or modifier that means anything in the face of that reality. Kol Yisroel areivim zeh bazeh.

    I think that focusing on that essential truth and disregarding the misleading labels would only help.

  59. Formerly Modern

    January 3, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    So, seriously, Rabbi Robinson: how do you feel about a charedi rov calling on you in writing and from the pulpit (luckily for you, he won’t resort to the Internet) to condemn this miscreant because LSS congregants dress like secular people so davka the LSS community must be held accountable, lest their refusal to take responsibility for this mushchas be deemed their consent and tolerance for such behavior?

    Offensive, no?

    And yet isn’t your association of all charedim and their leaders with the jerk in Bet Shemesh who spit at a girl actually responsible for engendering charedi hatred? As unlikely as the case may be, isn’t there a stronger case that you might bear some responsiblity for this guy’s attack on a charedi girl?

    Don’t you see how unfair it is to do what you have done?

  60. marc landau

    January 4, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Formerly Modern: You decline to identify yourself. Your prerogative of course, although you will understand that this detracts from the efficacy of your points and your credibility as someone who is prepared to stand up and be counted for what you believe in.

    I completely disagree with your premise, which I believe to be wholly misconstrued (however stubbornly and resolutely you keep coming back on this) that this whole blog is an attack on the charedi community as a whole. It isnt. You need to take a deep breath and take that point in.

    It is an attack on the leadership of the Charedi community for not stepping in to condemn and ostracise appallingly bad behaviour, which suggests such bad behaviour is condoned.

    No community is perfect. The Jewish people, split into so many fractious sects and groups, needs to be able to look to/ask/demand of both their leaders and the leaders of other communities, to do the “right thing”. That’s all.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Marc: The individuals who have done the acts you condemn are not associated in any way with the subjects of Rabbi Robinson’s criticisms. The act of trying to connect them is offensive.

      • Eric

        January 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

        1,000,000% incorrect! Who are you? Are you even familiar with the situation or do you just use big vocabulary words to cover up for your misguided BELIEFS (not facts)? I live in Beit Shemesh and have received tens of letters from these extremists with the signatures of mainstream Rabbis and Gedolei Hador. While they are not out protesting (because they are clearly paid to do so…by whom is a different debate), they are standing out on the street and in fact are quite easy to talk to. I have had several conversations with at least 20 different of these extremists – ALL who quoted Gedolei Hador to justify what they are doing (the same Rabbis that are followed by Modern Orthodox, Dati Leumi and Charedim). Moreover, is my other point invalid about them being part of Eida Charedit and Shas, and them collaborating together? Absolutely not. You are either blind, stupid, ignorant or just trying to have an argument for the sake of arguing. When you receive letters and speak with them on a personal basis (not on what you THINK) then come back and talk.

      • Formerly Modern

        January 4, 2012 at 9:20 am

        Eric, we obviously live on different planets.

        1. Just because I would invoke an authority whom I think you follow in order to argue a case to you does not mean that I accept that authority.

        2. Please provide examples of “Rabbis that are followed by Modern Orthodox, Dati Leumi and Charedim.” I can’t think of even one.

        3. I can’t comment or react to whatever point you think you are making about Eidah Charedis and Shas because it is unintelligible to me. If you think it is important enough, feel free to try to explain it.

      • Eric

        January 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

        1) You clearly misunderstood what I said. Again, as I stated and I quote: “ALL who quoted Gedolei Hador to justify what they are doing”. Please note: “…to justify what they are doing”. I asked them what is their Halachic reasoning for believing this is OK. They gave me quotes of various Rabbis that they believe in (Rabbis who are accepted on a whole by Modern Orthodox, Dati Leumi and Charedim – I will get to them in a minute). If you believe in something, you will quote the Rabbi that YOU believe in behind it (via Kal Vachomer, metaphor, etc.). The Rabbis always say that when the nations ask us what right we have to Eretz Yisrael that we reply we have the Torah. Now – why in the world would we do that since we can’t possible expect the Goyim to understand? Because it doesn’t matter what they think. OUR reasoning (the Torah) is good enough and they don’t need to fully understand. So too, with these extremists, they have used the Rabbis that THEY believe in to satisfy/justify their actions. They couldn’t care less what I think…and many of the Rabbis that they quoted happened to be “mainstream” Charedi Rabbis.

        2) Just a few of the names they used were R. Soloveichik, R. Elyashiv, R. Moshe Landau and R. Feinstein. I am SURE I am missing a few others, but ALL of these Rabbis have what in common? They are/were considered Charedi.

        3) My point was that these extremists are in fact part of the Charedi community (whether you like it or not) because they are part of political and organizational groups such as Eida Charedit and Shas. ANd you can’t even say “well these extremists are forcing their way into these groups” because that is not the case. MANY times these extremists are brought in to these groups by mainstream Charedim so we see here a two way relationship. Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. Don’t try and feneigle your way out of this one…

  61. Yitz Waxman

    January 4, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Here is an attempt to summarize oppossing view points, with acceptance of the reality that said view points will continue to remain in opposition. IOW, anyone that is expecting the opposition to concede anything has only himself to blame for his frustrations born out of naiviete.

    (A) The critique (call it attack if you like) on mainstream Haredi leadership –
    Responsible critics such as Rabbi Robinson acknowledge that acts of harassment, including spitting and the loud use of contemptible epithets, are restricted to small numbers of zealots. Nonetheless, the mainstream peaceful Haredi population share too much common ground with the zealots to claim that they have nothing to do with one another. Therefore, Haredi leaders, both political and religious (a.k.a. “Gedolim”) leaders have a responsibility to distance themselves from the zealots using whatever reasonable means are available, including clear condemnations.

    (B) The objectors to the critique (call it the counter-attack if you like) say:
    While the zealots are indeed contemptible, they indeed have nothing to do with the mainstream peaceful Haredi population and their leadership. Therefore, attempts to connect the groups are themselves contemptible attempts to rouse hatred against innocent parties.

    Again, I don’t think that anyone is about to jump from camp (A) to camp (B), or vice versa. If there are shades of grey that I have over-looked, then I’d be glad to hear about them.

    • Eric

      January 4, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Yitz – very good analysis. However, point “B” couldn’t be more incorrect. As much as the objectors will claim that these zealots have nothing to do with mainstream Charedi population, that simply isn’t true. These zealots frequently quote many of the Gedolei Hador (who are considered mainstream Charedi) when citing Halacha. These zealots are (and have been) a part of the mainstream Charedi political and organizational groups (Eida Charedit, Shas, etc.) for years upon years (with mainstream acknowledgment and acceptance – by the way, that acceptance doesn’t matter that the reason for the acceptance was not to cause strife. Acceptance is still acceptance regardless of the reasoning(s) behind it). I can go on and on but the point is that point “B” is clearly not true. Trying to defend it as truth shows naivety and (I’d go as far to say) stupidity (not on your part; just as a generalization).

      • Formerly Modern

        January 4, 2012 at 8:44 am

        Eric what you say simply is false. They routinely attack the Charedi Gedolim and reject them as being inauthentic in the same way they reject any other type of Jew other than themselves.

      • Yitz Waxman

        January 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

        point “B” couldn’t be more incorrect … simply isn’t true

        You can keep screaming to the heaven’s all you want, but our friend here as amply demonstrated that this is a passionately held viewpoint.

  62. Mord Maman (@MordMaman)

    January 4, 2012 at 10:06 am

    yeah, wicked, a really long article on the situation on Bet Shemesh, with baffling conclusions.
    Btw the Gedolim, aren’t going to read this, nor will their Gabbaim.
    Preaching to the choir mate.

    • Lo Bashamayim Hee

      January 4, 2012 at 11:42 am

      Well then, maybe someone will be able to tip off their guards, and let them know that the masses are starving for effective leadership, and are about to storm the Bastille.

      • Yitz Waxman

        January 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

        Well then, maybe someone will be able to tip off their guards, and let them know that the masses are starving for effective leadership, and are about to storm the Bastille.

        Bravo. I get the feeling that discontent is indeed penetrating the Haredi public. To what extent I really don’t know, but time will tell.

  63. Hannah

    January 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thank you very much for this, at last an orthodox Rabbi who has raised his voice. Here in Germany there is deafening silence by the rabbinates and that can only be interpreted as consent!!

    I do have one issue: why should all the haredim be exempted from army service and a significant minority (I understand 30-40%) be supported by taxes? If I recall correctly, it is written that every Thora scholar should also ensure that he earns his own livelihood. Rambam was also an excellent physician.

  64. Robert Lederman

    January 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Rabbi Robinson
    A passionate summary of a sad situation. However, the idea that one should send a violent demonstrator to the army to emphasize that they are not considerd part of the Torah world shows a great insensitivity to the hundreds of yehsiva bochurim who are great masmidim but feel they cannot excuse themselves from their duty to serve in Tzahal .

    My son is good friends with Rav Mohe’s zt”l great grandson who made a siyum on Shas before starting his army duty. Such stories are not published, but they are not as rare as people think.
    I am altogether suprised by this comment.
    Please clarify.

    Best wishes
    Robert Lederman

    • Shaul

      January 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Rob great to hear from you
      i actuall did clarify that above and did definitely not mean the way you took it,,,heres what i wrote above:

      to my mind on the more substantive point re the Army. I want to state emphatically that I meant, chas v’shalom no disrespect to the Army. It is not a punishment to serve in the army, it is the highest kavod. I firmly believe that. My point was, as Lynne points out above, purely that under the arrangement that the State recognizes the importance of Torah study and gives a patur (exemption) from the army, that surely should not apply to these groups who so violate the very concept of mutual responsibility behind that agreement. ie you can agree or disagree with the mass exemption, but the charedi world should not extend this patur to tehse low lives if theya re serious about disowning them

      best regards

  65. Lo Bashamayim Hee

    January 4, 2012 at 11:49 am

    It’s highly amusing and revealing that you would quote Slifkin – a man who has now made it part of his life’s work to denigrate and defame the same charedi leadership whom Rabbi Robinson attacks.
    If you consider him a charedi then it isn’t surprising that you also call youself charedi.
    You’ll pardon the charedi world if they disagree with you both.

    Formerly Modern – First of all, I quoted Rabbi Slifkin as someone who has front row seats to the situation, who has lived in both worlds, and who wrote a good insight about the situation. Your issuing blatantly false attacks against him as a counter argument is, to borrow your word, “revealing” that you have no other good argument.

    Secondly, I didn’t say that I consider Rabbi Slifkin Chareidi. Nor does it matter what I consider him. But your insistence that it doesn’t matter what category someone belongs to, and then attacking what I or Rabbi Slifkin say due to your claims that we are “not Chareidi” is inconsistent.

    For the record, Rabbi Slifkin considers himself “Post Chareidi” which he talks about in the following article.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks. I’ve read his post-charedi article before. My point is that Slifkin is not an unbiased observer but a combatant who denigrates charedi leadership. You call that false; I say people can read what he writes and judge for themselves. I’m confident in my characterization.

      • Lo Bashamayim Hee

        January 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm

        “…a combatant who denigrates…”

        I strongly disagree with your attacks on Rabbi Slifkin.

        But those words would seem to apply to someone else who has been acting that way in his comments on this blog post.

  66. Formerly Modern

    January 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Despite Rabbi Robinson’s high-minded blog title, here is LSS’s tweet promoting it:

    “When little girls in #BetShemesh are spat on by Ultra Orthodox Jews where is the condemnation

    It is just an attack by a Modern Orthodox Jew on “Ultra Orthodox Jews” – how can it possibly be defended?

    An attacking anti-Semite or a truly reflective Jew would say:
    “When little girls in #BetShemesh are spat on by Jews where is the condemnation”?

    An attacking Arab or a truly reflective Israeli would say:
    “When little girls in #BetShemesh are spat on by Israelis where is the condemnation”?

    A attacking feminist or her whipped pathetic husband would say:
    “When little girls in #BetShemesh are spat on by men where is the condemnation”?

    Etc. All those characterizations can be defended – but they reveal an agenda that may or may not have to do with concern for little girls or legitimate anxiety over the values of ones own group.

    If we cared about the little girl – and about ahavas chinom – we would choose the first:
    “When little girls in #BetShemesh are spat on by Jews where is the condemnation”? And we would immediately recognize that this is a crazy outlier and not a normative part of our culture.

    But this was said as an attack by a non-charedi, not a truly reflective charedi. That is why it is wrong. And the fact that so many willingly accept that this is somehow acceptable in charedi culture reveals the prejudice you have.

    • Lo Bashamayim Hee

      January 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      I find it amusingly ironic that you have been calling Rabbi Robinson “prejudice”, when it is clear to all, except perhaps yourself, that you’ve demonstrated more than your fair share of prejudice on this blog.

      And your preaching about “ahavas chinom” – that’s just the icing on the cake!

      • Formerly Modern

        January 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm

        I concede that I’m not very tolerant of people who publicly attack and defame Jews. And, like Rabbi Robinson demands (although he points in the wrong direction) , my conscience prohibits silence in the face of such attacks.

      • Ita

        January 8, 2012 at 3:01 am

        Um, no, anybody who is trying to be objective can see that this blog post is far from objective.

  67. danielcitron

    January 5, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Referenced your piece here Just a few of my thoughts

  68. marc landau

    January 5, 2012 at 6:04 am

    On 10 Teves, a little tolerance may put you in a better place. We would all share in such a zechoos!

  69. Shaul Robinson

    January 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Sorry to disappoint those who adamantly refuse to acknowledge tah teh charedi world needs to condemn this barbarity but thank G-d more and more Charedi Leaders are speaking out in clear and couragoues ways against the scourge of the extremists and their sick antics – today’s Hamodia and also this incredible statement from the head of ponovezh yeshiva – dont blame the secular community, look inward and solve the problem…
    actually, since the last Ponvezh yeshiva fundrasiing dinner in new york honored a prominent Modern Orthodox Rabbi, at least to one commentator here that must mean that they arent charedi at all.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 5, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Riiiiight. You do realize that he compared what you did in this blog to Bar Kamtza going to the Romans, right?

      Read what he is saying – he isn’t in any way excusing or justifying your behavior. He is saying over the famous RYSalanter vort that when Yiddin do bad things, we shouldn’t focus on the miscreants, we should consider our own shortcomings. (“If someone talks lashon hara in the beis medrash in Kovno, Jews will be mechallel Shabbos in Paris.”) It is an incredible testament to the highmindedness and holiness of charedi gedolim – and it is even a tayna on me for speaking out – but it doesn’t in any way absolve the miscreants – i.e., those who take advantage to publicly point fingers at charedim and their leaders (you).

      Face it – what a charedi leader says to charedim is appropriate tochochoh; what you say is an attack from the outside. You would be appalled if charedi leaders started calling you out from the pulpit and in the public sphere for the myriad things LSS does that they think objectionable.

      You did wrong. And the terrible things people have written about charedim in support of your act demonstrates that.

      PS: Charedi Yeshivas also honor gentiles from time to time and certainly Jews who aren’t shomrei Torah umitzvos, so what you suggest on that front is just nonsensical.

    • Ita

      January 8, 2012 at 3:02 am

      I guess you don’t know that Rav Elyashiv is not well . I guess you don’t know that Rav Kanievksy has no phone.

  70. nopeanutz

    January 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

    We are taking for granted that Sinas Chinam means hatred between different ideological types of Jews. haredi- reform-conservative- mo- etc….
    This would be a huge mistake.
    We cannot overlook that Sinas chinam also refers to baseless hatred and lack of consideration for Jewish women by Jewish men; Jewish children by Jewish adults; White Jews for Brown Jews and Sefardic Jews for Ashkenazic Jews as well.
    It has to be a vertical ahavas chinam in addition to a horizontal one. This insanity in RBS is as much rooted in vertical discrimination as in horizontal.

    • Formerly Modern

      January 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      Sinas chinom means the unjustified hate of any Jew for any Jew.

  71. Renee

    January 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    We should all be very, very conscious of how we engage in debate today, 10 Teves. I’d like to share how Atlanta is responding to this. During mincha for the fast day, the rabbis of all the Orthodox shuls– the largest shul in town (let’s call it chareidi-leaning-ish), a suburban shul (likewise chareidi-leaning-ish), the main Chabad shul, the Modern Orthodox shul, and the Sefardi shul, are all davening and speaking at each others’ shuls. They have decided to do this as a statement to the Atlanta community (and hopefully to the world at large) that sinas chinam is not okay. Now, I realize that we’re not so “on the radar” as NYC, but I would hope that this story gets out and people see that what the Sikrikim are trying to do– denigrate other Torah-observant Jews– is not acceptable.

  72. rainbowtallitbaby

    January 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Yes- the modern Orthodox world needs to own and condem this. But it won’t be as easy as you might think. The couragous voices you call for will not come forward ( beyond your own brave voice and a few others) . And there IS a connection between saying Reform Jews aren’t Jews and Beit Shemesh. The modren Orthodox need realize that their failure to condemn that type of statement many times in the past that means they have to work all the harder to not be tarrred with the same brush as the Charadim. There is a price to the past silence.

  73. Formerly Modern

    January 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Looking at it again, it really is incredible, the difference between the Ponevezhe Rosh Yeshiva’s approach and the one I’ve been railing against here.

    Not only don’t the Sikrikim follow him, he is an outsider to them. They reject him. He is alien to them as the rest of us here are.

    Yet he did not call on anyone to condemn anyone. He called on HIS OWN followers to examine and improve themselves.

    That is incredible ahavas chinom, ahavas Yisroel. It is the act of a manhig, a prince. Because I am machshiv him, my challenge now is to live up to it.

    So: I do believe what I am saying is emes l’amito and yet I apologize for venting my frustration. In the beginning I thought it would open eyes. When I realized that it wouldn’t, I should have stopped immediately. I see that there is little benefit to continuing and all it does is continue to create friction.

    I am sorry to those whose feelings I hurt. I am sorry for increasing anger. I am sorry for resorting to sarcasm.

    I hope that you will forgive me. That you will consider that I do see this as an attack on Jews and that I am reacting from pain – in no small part because I am surrounded by attacks against charedim all the time.

    And I hope that with an end to the combat you might also reconsider that there may be truth worth contemplating in what I have said from the beginning but am only truly listening to myself about now: that at times like these the only valuable goal is to turn inwards and try to improve, rather than to find ways to blame and make demands on others.

    • marc landau

      January 6, 2012 at 4:45 am

      Formerly Modern: Nice way to finish up before Shabbat. It’s been a healthy debate and you have expressed your views forthrightly and steadfastly (at times, language you used could easily have been interpreted as being disrespectful (both to Rabbi R and many of the commenters) but I for one dont believe you came at this with malintent – you genuinely believe in your position and that is fair enough). I’m sure you appreciate the sentiments in the Rabbi’s piece resonate strongly with a broad spectrum of orthodox Jewry way beyond LSS around the world. Wising you (and all readers) Shabbat SHALOM.

    • Eric

      January 6, 2012 at 5:47 am

      Formerly Modern: how can you claim that these Sikrikim don’t follow such and such Rabbi(s)? Have you held an actual conversation with them? I have. They follow some of the biggest Charedi names that are commonly accepted among ALL Orthodox Jews (as I have stated in a response to you above). I’d be MORE THAN happy to give you my address/phone number so you can come over; and then we’ll go over and speak with as many as you’d like right across the street from me. Don’t make comments that are your beliefs. You need facts…and I highly suggest you go and look for them first before speaking. And by the way, I’m dead serious about my offer (and I will tape the conversation and put it on YouTube – and you will state that you are known as “Formerly Modern from this blog). It will be fun to educate a person who clearly thinks he is more knowledgeable than most.

      • Ita

        January 8, 2012 at 3:06 am

        Anybody who uses Rabbi Akiva who spat on the Roman woman would would become his wife as an excuse to spit on girls can easily twist the words of Gedolim for their own purposes.. My husband brought their fliar home from shul Friday nite (we live in RBS A) and he found the sign RIPPED off the wall .. so as you see real chareidim do not approve of the sikrikim. Stop your baseless hate.

    • Renee

      January 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Dear Formerly Modern – Thank you so much for your last post in the spirit of Ahavas Yisrael. We all get passionate about these issues, and the debate can get heated. May all of us who have participated in this debate have a Shabbos of Shalom and chizuk.

      To everyone participating in this discussion – be sure to say “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom” to your fellow observant Jew as you pass them on your walk to shul or beis medrash this Shabbos – no matter what kind of kippah, color of shirt, or hat (or not) that you see them wearing. It’s only in this spirit of Ahavas Yisrael that we will, please G-d, merit Mashiach in our day.

      • Ita

        January 8, 2012 at 3:06 am

        Kol Hakavod!! Some sense of reasoning here!! Baruch Hash-m!!

      • Eric

        January 8, 2012 at 5:19 am

        Ita – I am not arguing that point. It is clear that these Sikrikim will twist a Gedolei Hador’s words. There is no baseless hate here. The point, if you happened to read the comments in its entirety, was that these Sikrikim use these Gedolei Hador as reasons for their (wrong)doings. I was merely stating that since this is the case, then these Charedi Rabbis (Gedolei Hador) should in fact come out and walk these little girls to school in order to rebuke these Sikrikim (as the article suggests they do). “Formerly Modern” however was saying it’s baseless hate and not right to include these Rabbonim since the Sikrikim don’t follow these Rabbonim (which is CLEARLY not true if you’ve ever held a conversation with any of these Sikrikim…which he obviously hasn’t) and that they have nothing to do with each other (again which is false – they frequently use quotes from these Rabbonim and are part of political and organizational groups such as Eida Hacharedit and Shas).

      • Renee

        January 8, 2012 at 10:04 am

        I am so sorry to say that, after hearing about what’s happening and how Jews are treating Jews, my high-school daughter has said to me, “Well, after Shana Alef of seminary, I have no plans to stay in Israel if people behave like this.” And even though I defined us as “Yeshivish-modern” solely for the purposes of this discussion (I’m not fond of all the labeling that goes on), I’m afraid that my shaitel would be too pretty, my clothes not chareidi enough despite the fact that I’m halachically covered head to toe, my jewelry too “bling-ey” – I think we’d get those same nasty epithets thrown at us even though we’re not what everyone else calls “Modern Orthodox”. So I understand why my daughter said that. And I want everyone on this board to get the full impact of this. Understand how sad that is.

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