Thursday, July 16, 2009

More on the Jerusalem Riots

All of the JBlogging world seems to be talking about the Jerusalem riots (including Life in IsraelThe Muqata, Emes Ve-Emunah, Gruntig – take a look at the video, and Dov Bear), so I thought that I should add some further reflections.

These points are related mainly to the recent riots of the child abuse case. Some of these points may apply to other riots, such as the Parking Lot demonstrations, however some are less relevant when talking about the Shabbat riots.

  • First and foremost it is important to emphasize again that there is never any justification for the massive Chillul HaShem, destruction of property, disregard for the law (and disregard for “Daas Torah”) and most importantly the threat to human life.
    These demonstrations are immoral, illegal, against Torah and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This is irrespective of whether the woman in the child abuse case is innocent or guilty, or whether she has been deliberately mistreated because of her religious lifestyle.
  • It is important to remember that the rioters do not represent the Charedi community, or even the Mea Sharim. They don’t even represent the Eida Charedit which has come out against the riots.
    The rioters seem to be mainly younger people who are out looking for trouble and don’t really need an excuse. Such people can be found in any community – there have been many acts of vandalism by young adults in Modi’in, or look at what goes on at university campuses where young people are making bad judgements all the time.
    The situation is worse here as many of the rioters are American Yeshiva students living here without parental supervision and their schools seem unable (or unwilling) to provide the supervision and discipline that they require,.
    What is worrying in this case is that the Charedi community hasn’t been vocal enough in it’s condemnation of these events (and a few individuals have even tried to justify it).
    I hope that the rioters are arrested quickly and made to pay for their damages. I would also hope that they are expelled from their Yeshivot and reprimanded within their own community.
  • I think that this episode has exposed the lie of “Daas Torah”. When I was in Yeshiva I found the concept of “Daas Torah” very attractive – that ultimately almost everything that we do should be influenced by Halacha and that there are people with enough Torah knowledge to guide us based on clear Halachic guidelines.
    Lately I’ve realised that such a concept does not really exist. Almost all statements made in the name of the “Gedolim” were not really said by them, or at least not initiated by them (they may have signed on to a call by someone else).
    In this particular case it has gone even further, According to the “Daas Torah Blog” Rav Sternbuch, head of the Eida Charedit came out strongly against the riots, but didn’t bother publishing his opinion as he realises that nobody listens to him anyway.
    To me this is the final proof that what is being sold as “Daas Torah” has no connection whatsoever with what “The Gedolim” think or say – it is just a group of extremists who enjoy making trouble.
    I think one of the biggest problems facing the Torah-observant community today (and that includes the Religious Zionist community) is a lack of strong leadership.
  • As I said, the rioters don’t represent the Charedi community. It is important that we all tone down our language and attitude. I have heard and read many comments describing the situation as a war between the “Charredim” and the “Zionists” (look at the language used in comments on the Jerusalem Post or any of the blogs listed above). This is not a war, nor should it mark the beginning of one. This is just a case of some naughty children without sufficient supervision of guidance. Yes there is a serious problem, but talk of fighting each other will make the situation worse, not better.
    The perpetrators should be arrested and punished, the Charedi world should not be seen as the enemy, sor should they regard the police of “The Zionists” as their. This is particularly true in this period leading up to Tesha B’Av. (We have enough problems with Jews cooperating with our real enemies, but that’s for a separate post)

I hope and pray that the police are able to work together with community leaders to quickly put an end to this terrible situation, and hopefully this will serve as a wake up call for the Yeshivot and community leaders to increase supervision and leadership of their followers and teach them that זה לא דרכה של תורה, this isn’t the way of Torah

Shabbat Shalom, and I mean may this Shabbat really see Shalom/Peace in Jerusalem

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