Sunday, July 26, 2009

Riots and Reactions

 Yom rishon, 5 Av 5769.


I am very worried.

As people are aware, there is a real problem going on in Yerushalayim right now, in the Hareidi sector.  For anyone who has been studying Torah in a cave, minding his own business, a short recap:

  • Mayor Nir Barkat announced a few weeks ago that a parking lot was going to be opened on Shabbat.
  • Hareidim rioted.
  • Mayor Barkat canceled the opening.  A week later, he announced that a parking lot in an area somewhat farther from the Hareidi community was going to be opened on Shabbat.
  • Hareidim rioted.
  • A pregnant Hareidi mother was arrested while leaving a meeting with a social worker, and placed in a cell for three days without bail.  One of her children who was extremely ill, allegedly at her hands, was taken from the family, put into the hospital, and is improving in health.  It was suspected that she had Münchausen syndrome by proxy.
  • Hareidim rioted.
These are difficult problems.  Possibly catastrophic, if handled badly.  But this is not what I am worried about.

I am worried because otherwise level-headed friends of mine are doing something they NEVER do when it has to do with our camp:  they are believing what they read and hear in the MSM.

I have a lot of questions about the stories I have heard about these incidents; but first let me state a few impressions clearly.

Rioting is bad.  It doesn't help anyone.  It doesn't persuade.  I don't think it changes anyone's mind when the Hareidim do it over events like these, when secular college students do it over increased tuition, when the kipah seruga crowd does it over a razed home in the middle of the night, or when the Arabs do it over their latest bout of hurt feelings about anything.  Rioting doesn't win hearts and minds.  It improves nothing.

It is not possible to force people to keep Shabbat.  Since my earliest awareness of Torah Judaism, it has been clear to me that the maxim about catching flies with honey rather than with vinegar is true.  I have known many people to become Torah observant due to a well-prepared Shabbat meal or a kindness extended by a child from a Torah-observant home.  I have never heard of a single case of a person being screamed at about his hedonistic lifestyle saying: "Gee!  Glad you pointed that out!  Hurry -- get me some tefillin!"

The Jewish people as a whole does not need to feed the wolves of the world press any more choice meat.  When we publicly battle each other, Esav gives us much more world attention than we need.  We give ourselves great big black eyes when we publicly flip out, instead of dealing in reasoned discourse.  This close to the coming of Moshiach, the Satan surely must love when we behave so incredibly divisively.  I can see the headline in the Gehinnom Daily Trumpet:  "Sinat Chinam increases during the Three Weeks!  Jews 0, Hell 49!"

So here are a few of my questions, before I assume that the entire Hareidi world has gone bonkers.
  • Was there any negotiation with the Hareidi leadership prior to the parking lot announcement?
  • Why was a pregnant mother who was assumed to be sick not gently taken to a mental hospital for observation?
  • Was the rav of the alleged child abuser/ill woman approached prior to her arrest by the police?
  • How many people, of which sects, are involved in the riots?
  • What is the response of parents, educators, and rabbis in the various Hareidi communities to their own young people?
  • Why can't my friends and loved ones in the Dati community read Hamodia, Yated Ne'eman, Mishpacha magazine, before they assume that no one in the Hareidi camp is protesting the riots, rather than assuming that the Hareidi world is "ish echad b'lev echad" -- one man with one heart?  Do they have to post signs for us to read, and print articles in our papers, before we will give them the same careful analysis we expect the world to give us?  We, who are the constant victims of the viciously-spewed expressions "settlers" and "obstacles to peace" in the MSM?
  • When will we Jews stop feeding the Satan such lavish meals, made entirely of each other?
This is what the Holy One said to Israel: My children, what do I seek from you?  I seek no more than that you love one another and honor one another; and that you have awe and reverence for one another.
                                          --Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu Rabba, 26:6


Anyone interested in hearing another side, please start here:  Shooting Ourselves in the Foot -- Again, by Jonathan Rosenblum. 

Hat tip to my friend, Sarah Lipman, a techie-dynamo and brilliant eim ha-banim smeicha, buried deep in the Hareidi world.
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