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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thugs In Tzitzit

Yesterday's highlights from the Jerusalem Post's Israel section:

Member of 'modesty squad' indicted

Yeshiva students attack Ein Gedi park rangers

In the first instance, self-appointed vigilantes of the ultra Orthodox persuasion broke into a divorced woman's home, apparently at the behest of her ex-husband, and brutally beat her for the "sin" of seeing other men. Her ex-husband complained that she was acting in an "immodest" fashion.

First, let's get something straight. He is her ex-husband. He has no standing here. What he thinks is irrelevant. What she does is NONE of his business.

Second, this really had nothing to do with her alleged behavior. The ex-husband PAID these thugs to beat her. It's really an attenuated form of felony spousal abuse, and the ex-husband should go to prison along with the baseball-bat-wielding thugs.

This isn't about religion. It isn't about modesty. It isn't about community standards. It's about controlling a woman. It's about exerting control on a woman who is not under a man's control because she is out of her father's house, and has escaped her husband's strictures. (Imagine what it must have been like to live with him while married?!) It's about a man's rage that his ex-wife has moved on and is living her life without him. And all those men in Israel who nod their heads and agree that "she had it coming to her" are his guilty accomplices.

In the second instance, a group of B'nei Brak yeshiva students decided to have a bonfire at Ein Gedi in a drought year. The ranger approached them and asked them to put out the fire as it is against regulations. Their response: yelling, shoving the ranger, and throwing rocks at him. When he called for other rangers to help, they were treated to the same physical attacks and verbal abuse.

Why do I suspect alcohol played a prominent role in this outdoor adventure?

In the last couple of weeks, the newspapers' comments sections, letters to the editor, and guest posts have been rife with the pros and cons of giving the haredi school system an "out" from the basic curriculum. Haredim want their children to study everything Jewish and nothing secular (like math, science, history, geography, philosophy, etc.). Their reasoning has been that the study of Torah, Talmud, Rashi, and the works of Jewish sages down the centuries produces studious, ethical, well-reasoning adults who will live their lives in the righteous fear of H"S and with a sense of Ahavat Yisroel.

If today's headlines are the result of such education, I see the haredi school system as a total failure.

I see a system that educates its children to believe that they are entitled to live off the taxes paid by the less stringently religiously educated population, because they believe that they are the elite, and perhaps the only "true" Jews in Israel.

This is turn breeds a human being who believes that he is above the laws of the State and can hence beat, punch, pummel and kick a physically weaker women of the State into submission to whatever demand(s) he makes. It produces yeshiva students who feel that respect for those charged with the protection of State lands have no right to order them to comply with the State's laws in this regard, and that physical violence is an appropriate reaction to being told to obey the law.

I am observant. I am not haredi, but I respect the choice of those who wish to live a haredi lifestyle, just as I respect the choice of those who wish to live a chiloni lifestyle. Their relationship with G-d is their business, not mine.

However, I live in Israel with everyone else here. NO ONE is above the law, and if the haredi community continues to inculcate in its citizenry a disdain for the laws of the state, and a contempt for the non-haredi population that is the majority of this state, then I will support any politician who strips the haredim of their special privileges. Your children WILL serve in the military or National Service, or go to jail, and after jail they will never qualify for child allowances, free health care, or mortgage assistance. (BTW, I think this should be the law now for everyone who doesn't serve, not just haredim.) Your schools will have a secular curriculum in addition to any courses you deem necessary to educate haredi children in Jewish learning, or lose all state funding, and become private schools supported by the parents. Anyone can study at yeshiva as long as he can pay the full tuition the yeshiva charges, because the state will no longer subsidize these yeshivot or pay their teachers' salaries. Haredim will be proportionally represented in the Rabbinute rather than have the exclusive chokehold they have now. Every graduate from a haredi high school will be expected to work for a living and pay taxes like the rest of us. Like Rashi did. Like Rambam did. No free rides.

You are not something special and its high time that you are reminded that you are merely part of Am Yisroel. The kind of behavior highlighted in today's press is the reason so many people have contempt for religious people and observant lifestyles. No one admires a thug or a gangster, but most understand the origins of such people. When you wear a kippah and tzitzit, and act like a thug or a gangster, then you are guilty of chilul H"S.

Shame on you.


Blogger SuperRaizy said...

Very well said!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 7:31:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Thanks---the rant makes me feel better but I wonder how to change things? Voting for Nir Barkat will be my form of protesting the Talibanization of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 4:06:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Baila said...

Scary stuff, how these people behave. The worst is that as always, the behavior of few make everyone suspect. Chareidi Rabbis and people need to publicly condemn this behavior.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 7:19:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Baila--I agree. I'm waiting for a loud and vociferous condemnation of this behavior from the haredi establishment. I may have to wait a long time since I've seen only one oblique reference to these incidents from any haredi rabbi.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 11:43:00 AM GMT+3  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They aren't above the law. Shame they aren't about to hear it from you or anyone else...

Question is- what you going to do if Porush gets elected as Mayor, who has promised to make Lupoliansky's policies look like Haredi-lite?

Don't just vote for Barkat. Make sure Yossi does too, and all his friends...I don't think many locals appreciate just how bad it is getting here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 2:04:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Yossi's already there--and his wife, who is even more anti-haredi than he is. Yossi is masorti but intensely dislikes anyone dictating to him or his family What To Do and How To Live. He tells me all the time that Israelis are like him: they ALL dislike being told what to do. I suspect most of south Jerusalem is for Barkat.

I wonder if Barkat needs campaign help in English?

The polls are encouraging--Barkat is a winner as long as the non-haredi voters don't split over multiple candidates.

What will I do if Porush gets elected? Fight City Hall. I'm NOT leaving town.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 3:07:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Rebecca said...


(Part I)

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you;

But when the leaves hang trembling,

The wind is passing through.

(Part II)

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I;
But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.

~by wow powerleveling

Friday, August 29, 2008 at 3:46:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Rahel Jaskow said...

You're absolutely right. It is not about modesty at all, but about power.

And it is a terrible desecration.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 at 8:23:00 PM GMT+3  

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