Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Proper Place for Criticisms of Jewish Communities


I received the following guest Post from Yosef Hakohen regarding my link to Rabbi Horowitz's article on why frum Jews sometimes go off the Derech:

I have had teachers from both the Chareidei and Modern Orthodox (Religious Zionist) worlds, and I have lived in both worlds. I do not think that the reason Rabbi Horowitz cited is the main cause for people going off the derech, as the Modern Orthodox world also has a serious problem with people going off the derech, and you can't say that it is because their schools do not emphasize English-language skills.

I have spent most of my life trying to build bridges between different groups of Jews. I am therefore troubled by one type of reaction to Rabbi Horowitz's article: someone from the Modern Orthodox world who uses Rabbi Horowitz's comments as an excuse to snidely "put-down" the Chareidi world, which includes Chassidic, Lithuanian Yeshiva, Hirschian, and Sephardic communities. (Yes, the majority of the Hirschian community in Washington Heights has been affiliated with Agudath Israel of America, the leading Chareidi organization.)

One reason for the "put-downs" or "bashing" of Chareidim by some Modern Orthodox Jews is because some Modern Orthodox Jews feel very threatened by the growth and increasing strength of the Chareidi communities. In addition, some are upset that their own children have become Chareidi.

Many of us, however, have greatly benefited from the great teachers within the Chareidi world; moreover, we have greatly benefited from the deep spirituality and warm hospitality of many Chareidim. We should therefore be careful not to fall into the trap of belittling Chareidim.

Thoughtful discussion and criticism within one's own community, like Rabbi Horowitz's article, can be constructive, but it can be destructive when those from another community sieze upon his comments in order to promote their own negative views and stereotypes of the Chareidi world.

Shalom Al Yisrael,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen


I totally agree with Yosef's point. It reminds me of the rich man and the poor man. The rich man always quotes the ma'amar chazal that says that it is better for a man to work a menial job than to beg for money from others, to criticize the poor man for collecting. And the poor man always quotes the ma'amar that one must support poor people to the level that they were accustomed to, even if that was a very wealthy lifestyle, and how much the more so someone like him who was just trying to get by. The rabbi commented that they both had it wrong. The ma'amar about the poor man's conduct was directed at the poor man. And the ma'amar about the rich man's conduct was directed at the rich man. But that they both had it reversed and were both hearing the messages directed at the other. It helped them deflect from looking at and examining their own actions. The same thing certainly applies to those modern orthodox or others who constantly criticize chareidim rather than their own communities. It is atzas yetzer hara.

-Dixie Yid

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1 comment:

Crawling Axe said...

One reason for the "put-downs" or "bashing" of Chareidim by some Modern Orthodox Jews is because some Modern Orthodox Jews feel very threatened by the growth and increasing strength of the Chareidi communities. In addition, some are upset that their own children have become Chareidi.

... and of course, their children are hypnotized by Chareidim, and did not make a willful decision to chose the path in yiddishkeit which makes more sense to them.

I can understand people complaining about their children switching minhagim by joining other groups (understand, not agree). I don’t, however, have any sympathy for MO parents whose children became Chareidi — they made a choice in favor of strong values in yiddishkeit and against compromises.