Wednesday, 22 February 2012


If you don't live in a hole you know that there has been much ado lately about Chareidim in Israel, spitting on little girls in Beit Shemesh, making women going to the back of the bus, burning down un-tznius stores.  (I'm a little bit late to this but whatever...)

The chareidi warcry about all this is: "It's not us, it's the extremists!"

I think a lot of people miss this point so i'll elaborate on it. Even if most Chareidim disavow the sikrikim  (=Chareidi extremists) - which isn't even necessarily true - this does not address the problem. What people have to realize is that extremists don't exist in a vacuum.

Why do we not find Modern Orthodox people reaching the same levels of extremism? The answer is obvious: Fundamentalism breeds violence. Chareidism (which is obviously not a monolithic thing but we will use the term to characterize Ultra-Orthodox Jews, forgive the stereotype) and its uncompromising ethos allows such behavior to thrive. Although Chareidism may not openly advocate violence like this it prepares the ground for it.

The only difference between sikrikim and more quiet Chareidim is that sikrikim, unlike their more moderate brethren, take Chareidism seriously If Modernity and Secularism and the outside world truly are existential threats to the Jewish people then why be quiet about it? If everyone is out to make the world tamei (impure) then why sit down and let it happen? Grow some balls and bring a stop to it! This is the attitude of these extremists and it directly follows from a Chareidi philosophy that sees secularism as an existential threat.

So people who blame the atrocities on extremists are failing to realize that extremists come from somewhere and in this case they come from communities that see the outside world as evil and threatening.


Puzzled said...

But isn't the difference between many MO today and Chareidim exactly that same difference - that the Chareidim take it seriously?  In particular, many people I've met in MO shuls (back when I practiced) don't seem terribly familiar with The Rav or any other such thing.  They seem to default to the views recorded in Artscroll (actually, at the Jewish Center in NYC, the sermons seemed to be taken word for word from the Artscroll Chumash), which are mostly Chareidi.  So why aren't they Chareidi?  Mostly, I think, because it's too hard.  They want mixed swimming, they want less dress restrictions...but there's no deep belief in MO.

So you're saying most Chareidim don't take things to their logical conclusion either.  Sounds about right, which is why I've always been suspicious of "that's them, not us."

Shiltonhasechel said...

yes except the MO party line doesn't see the outside world as an existential threat 

Jewish Philosopher said...

Atheism causes violence.

GarnelIronheart said...

People can be fanatical without being violent.  Fanatical pacifists will let people kill them without attempting to defend themselves. No violence but fanaticism nonetheless.
I think the main reason the Chareidim "don't get it" is because they have included a "If we have a problem it's someone else's fault" principle to explain all their difficulties.  Poverty?  Not our fault, the seculars don't pay us enough for the learning we do that protects them. Violent Chareidim?  They're just reacting to provocations from the secular work.  Kids going off the derech?  Temptations of the outside world looking to destroy Judaism and Torah.
When you can't see that you're responsible for your problems you can't very well fix them.

sjblogger said...

FOR ALL OTDERS - here is your chance to speak your mind on the issue of divorce. If you don't believe in the orthodox system of divorce, come to the poll on top of my blog and select "Divorce should be a private matter between the man and woman involved, and the woman should be able to issue a divorce also so that both the man and the woman can move on with their lives." Of course if you are an orthodox douscheface, you can feel free to select the other option. ROFLMAO

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