Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why not chareidi?

A recent posting on a different blog (Cross-Currents 2/4) posed the question of why the modern orthodox / dati-leuimi world does not join with the chareidim - "Why is it not an option? It seems to me a realistic, pragmatic, option. The haredi option today emphasizes Torah study and family life, but now includes:service in the army in Nahal haredi or other forms of national service if one is not in full-time Torah study; College studies and professional training in numerous haredi programs for higher ed; cultural endeavors that filter out the more degrading aspects of secular culture; and a cautious modus vivendi with a secular Jewish government."
I have no problem with anyone who chooses to identify with as chareidi. However, lets call a spade a spade. If the writer on Cross-Currents is to be believed, you can be chareidi and have a profession, take part in active support of the State, and even enjoy the fruits of "higher" culture. I will let the quotes below speak for themselves:
1) On secular (college) studies, De'iah veDibbur, the "voice of the chareidi world", (an online version of the Yated), Dec 17, 2003 - "Warning against such institutions posing as chareidi yeshivas Maran HaRav Shach zt"l wrote, "All of the talmid's time should be used exclusively for studying the holy Torah and the talmid should not be given any opportunity to study secular studies. And furthermore it is forbidden to found a yeshiva or Torah-based institution by another name and make changes in the study arrangements we have received from our rabbonim, zt"l."
De'iah veDibbur, June 9, 2004, Opinion and Comment - "But just as fire and water don't mix, so too the Torah legacy cannot be integrated with Haskoloh teachings (even if the clearly, explicitly forbidden elements are censored out). This distinction comes to us from Rabbenu Yisroel Salanter…"
Is this the support for college studies and professional training in the chareidi community?
2) On support of the State, from the bio of R' Shach, Yated of Monsey - "The Yeshiva in Tel Aviv had no other outside limudim, there were no secular studies in the Yeshiva, but Rav Schach soon discovered that the Zionistic leanings of the Yeshiva administration made him uncomfortable. Despite the fact that he had no other parnassah and despite much cajoling from the dean of the Yeshiva, Rav Schach decided to give up this sure parnassah and return to Yerushalayim."
See also Igros of Rav Shach, vol 4, #320 regarding the worthlessness of hesder.
My all time favorite, again from De'iah veDibbur (that publication is really a source of endless examples, but it is like shooting fish in a barrell), June 29, 2005, Opinion and Comments - "If the Zionist movement in general has religious significance, it is clearly negative." On July 27 on the same Opinion pages we read, "What are the Values Behind the Objections to the Disengagement? This is a question to which we do not know the answer. However we do know that whatever they are, really, they are not values with which we can identify."
I ask the poster, do you think a dati leumi or modern orthodox shule which celebrates Yom Ha'Atzmut and/or Yom Yerushalayim, that says the mishebeirach for chayalei tzahal, or prays for the State as "reishit tzmichat geulateinu" shares this hashkafa?
Further, from Deiah veDibbur, Jan 18, 2006, "When Maran [Rav Shach] heard the news that Har Habayis had been captured by Israeli soldiers, he burst into bitter tears. While all of Jewry was celebrating the victory and conquest, he was filled with trepidation: "What will be? The secularists will now defile and desecrate the Mokom Hamikdosh!" (Yosef Daas LeHagaon R' Y. Lis zt'l)"
Would any dati-leumi think that a secular jew could cause greater desecration to the Makom Mikdash than the prior situation of "ba'u bah pritzim v'chililuha"?
3) I know Cross-Currents didn’t mention this one, but it is part of the same mix: on women's role in Judaism, De'iah veDibbur, Nov 10, 2004 - "HaRav Shteinman spoke powerfully about the obligation incumbent on the Jewish mother to fully dedicate herself to her children's education in Torah, stressing how in past generations Jewish mothers derived honor from staying home to educate yaldei Yisroel in holiness and purity. The goal of bnos Yisroel is not to be highly educated in secular studies, he said, and even if advanced studies in a certain area are needed, certainly one should strive to limit them as much as possible."
De'iah veDibbur, June 9, 2004, Opinion and Comment - "Our rabbonim taught us that although girls are not required to learn Torah, the goal of studies at Bais Yaakov schools is not the accumulation of general scholastic knowledge within a chareidi framework designed to provide kosher professional training, but to pass on to them emunoh and yiras Shomayim, mussar and good middos, with which to build Torah homes and prepare themselves for lives of Jewish purity." (This one applies to point #1 above as well).
I ask, can a chareidi women and aspire to have a fulfilling career?
So I humbly submit that the choice is yours, but indeed, there is a choice to be made. I don't think anyone can dispute that the Modern Orthodox/Dati movements embrace 1) support of the State of Israel as the beginnings of geulah, which will be achieved (at least partially) through natural means; 2) support of secular culture and studies as contributing something valuable to our personal growth and experiences; 3) support of women taking an active role in society and religious life. I have work to do and get get quotes for everything, but the one ingredient I left out that is no less deserving of comparison is the chareidi vs. modern orthodox /dati attitude toward non-Jews and toward other non-religious movements, but I think my point is clear.
Unless I misread the sample of quotes above (and there are many more of the same), I think I am safe in saying that Chareidim 1) see no value or negative value in the State as a political or religious entity; 2) idealize total dedication to Torah study as the only means of shelimus; 3) see the ideal role of women in the home raising children and tending to housework.
I have the most sincere respect to those who do believe in chareidi hashkafa and live accordingly - R' Shach is certainly a bar samcha! However, don't try to pretend that the attitudes and outlook of chareidi society and leadership is something it is not. Don't sell us on charedi professional studies or cultural endeavors when these ideas are at best tolerated and certainly not part of the ideal. Don't sell us on chareidi "cautious modus vivendi" with a State and at the same time decalre you identify with none of the values of the State and cannot even daven for its soliders. If you have made your choice, at least do us the courtesy of standing up for what you really believe in.

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