Lately what has happened in Israel has distressed me on many levels. We have this split between - not only religious and the secular, commonly known in Israel as the Dati and the Hiloni, but between various levels of religious observance among the Haredi communities or I should say some members of the Haredi community who have sought to embarrass their more learned and civilised peers and elders by behaving in an unorthodox trashy manner, and the Modern Orthodox stream of Judaism.
It pains me deeply on a very personal level, that I should and indeed any Jew should have to see such scenes take place in Israel - the land of the Jews - our holy state. How much blood has been shed for the state by men and women in the IDF and by others who settled the land and are still settling the land today and we are tearing at the fabric of the state. This has got to stop. Israel and Israelis need to come together and bond as a family and reflect on on individual differences and opinions and agree to disagree on some matters.
I am not calling for Haredi members to forgo their high standards of modesty or tzniut or glatt kosher or anything else. BUT as a Jew I am asking them to look at their practice of Ahavat Israel and their fellow Jew. On a personal level I keep kashrut that may be more difficult to observe than many want to keep, but by the same token, others may be far more strict, on some matters. Are we to become autocratic dictators of what is Judaism and only one opinion matters and that opinion must be law? What is the Talmud based on? Mishna and gemora - and how many opinions are expressed? Are not things debated? Have Jews become stupid that we have to brawl like our cousins down the road in Aza and use their methods to intimidate and bully and cow others into submitting to what we believe it the right way to do things. To use such methods that have been used here in the following links makes me what to weep tears of blood.This sort of behaviour allows the Hitlers and our little buddy with the ratty beard and mad eyes in Iran to win media allies and the ultra orthodox (and Israel ultimately) to lose them. It does nothing to promote Torah Judaism or its values and it is the biggest hillel Hashem (desecration of G-D's name) to behave in such a manner and call yourself an observant Jew. If you do such things as depicted in the following articles, I would prefer to hear about you taking off your kapote, cutting off your peyot, eating treif, and desecrating the Shabbes and yom tovim but still treating your fellow human beings with respect than to hear about observant Yidden behaving in such a wild undisciplined and frankly despicable manner. That sort of behaviour is not the way gentlemen and scholars, especially Torah scholars should behave or are expected to behave.
You hurt every Jew in the land of Israel with your behaviour and every Jew outside of Israel and outside of Yiddishkeit with your behaviour. I wish I could write this in Yiddish and Hebrew because this sort of behaviour has to stop if we are to stand united against the biggest threat we are to face as a nation. We have to start thinking with our kophs and not let our emotional rages over turn our commonsense.
Many years, I was on a kibbutz in Israel in 1986 up in the Galil. Very difficult year and I kept putting off a decision right to the end until I decided to follow what I knew I had to do ultimately for the sake of a future generation. Now I remember being quite horrified by many of the things that went on on the kibbutz because it was a very secular kibbutz and I arrived in Israel without a clear understanding of the differences between secular or hiloni Jews and the religious Jews. I naively (and it makes me smile rather sadly and much more wisely now) believed 'I am in Israel. The land of the Jews after 2000 years and we all love each other.' Got that. We ALL LOVE EACH OTHER. Oh boy, did I need an education on that one. I got it. And I am still getting it.
The first Shabbat I was in the kibbutz these guys and I won't name them because they could become ba'ala Tzuva and I would embarass them about their past behaviour, they did a skit which was highly uncomplimentary about the Ultra Orthodox in Me'ar Sharim burning down bus shelters because of pictures of women in scanty clothing being plastered on them. My reasoning was, OK, if the pictures are immodest, we should not have them there, and frankly I agreed with the Ultra Orthodox because I for many years I had found myself being quite disturbed by the trashing of women through their sexualisation in the media and advertising. When I expressed my dismay to my then boyfriend, he shrugged and said something like its all 'shteyot' or nonsense. When I expressed an opinion later to another member of the kibbutz, I met with a quite strident tirade about 'parasites' 'not serving in the army', 'in for a free ride' and freeloading, it went on. I gave that lady who was housemate a wide berth after that. I lit Shabbes candles and she almost had a fit and wanted me out of the house. She told me that her family in Haifa made a point of never ever lighting Shabbes candles because of the holocaust and I told her that because of the holocaust you should - just to give one to Hitler in his eye and any other anti semite.
Then when they bought in a soft core porn movie for the kibbutz members to watch in the Heder Ochel I was more than shocked. I was embarrassed and more than that, some members had their children present. I walked out with a girl and I will mention her name, Anita Steiner. Anita and I went up to her Kibbutz house and had a coffee and a chat. My ex boyfriend also did not watch and I was very proud of him over that. He was and still is probably a very decent guy. His wife is a lucky woman and should continue to be so. I had good taste in ex boyfriends when I was not frum and bad taste in husbands - that is most likely the reasons I am divorced now. I used to believe that a good woman can make a bad man good and a bad woman can make a good man go bad. But now I think that the bad man has to have a thread of decency and respect for himself as to want to be good and to try to be good. An honestly bad person will never take up fully with a good person. If a person is a criminal and loves criminal behaviour too much, they will avoid all attempts to turn them to a better more Torah true life style. They will enjoy the excitement and the cheap thrills of their wild and un G-D like behaviour and they won't want to be Torah Jews or even just plain good people. They will enjoy the duplicity of their lifestyle and deception is exciting and a way to get thrills for them. Why do people not do the right thing? Because they are being naughty and it gives them some secret childish pleasure to deceive others and to think they are getting away with something. That is the way children think. The next level which is a little more sophisticated, is for them to think that they are getting away with it and that no one knows. They then try to justify their behaviour to themselves and to others. Now these guys in Beit Shemesh are obviously thinking "Hey we are Torah observant Jews and we are in the right. We keep kosher, Shabbes, Yom Tovim, halacha and we are right, always right.' Wrong. You are not right. You have disrespected your fellow Jews and you have furthermore created a massive HILLEL HASHEM. All your Torah learning and all your study is for nothing if you can behave in such a manner towards your fellow Jew in the Land of Israel and to children. Is this the way that Torah Jews behave? Is this what you want to show the world? How educated and civilised religious Jews behave? The names of the sages - the tanaim, the amarim, the Torah and all it stands for have been desecrated. This is what makes me most sad. That you abuse children, young sweet innocent children who look up to you. Is this the way you educate and what will their perceptions of the ultra orthodox Jewish world be in the future if this is the way the Ultra Orthodox Jews behave in the street. Not all of them, but you know how one or two bad apples can tarnish the whole barrel's image, especially if they are on top and as observant Jews you are on top of the Jewish world or meant to be and you need to live up to that image and do not tarnish it.
I have probably gone on too much and who will read this rant, but I feel good having said my piece of peace and if one person reaches out to the other and understands and creates peace than this blog will have achieved what I want. It starts with one small move, a hand shake between men and a nod of acknowledgement between women and taking small children across the dangerous road and leading them on to the pathways of peace for the future generations. We will have to learn to tread more softly and together. We want Moishiach now. Not tomorrow but right this minute. He is needed. Now more than ever.