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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Charedi Community: The Good & The Bad

The following slew of posts pretty much sums up both the good and the bad of today's religious community, particularly in the Yeshivish/Charedi world.

On the one hand, there is Chana's excellent post which essentially tries to describe the Charedi philosophy and notes its positives - an admittedly difficult but mature recognition for Chana considering her past, negative experiences.

On the other, there is the difficulty of balancing theory and practice. Chaim has a post today decrying the fall from the Rabbonim of the last generation to the ones of this generation, in discussing the 90-minute delay of an El-Al flight for the sake of a Rebbe [who apparently sat down and stated "every delay is for the best"]. Wolf has an open letter he either wrote or would like to write to his son's camp Rebbe who told the class that anyone who intermarries will burn in Gehinnom (hell) forever. He had a post last week noting a brochure given in the Bais Ya'acov system in Israel touting exactly the opposite of the post below this, calling chumrahs about riding separately on buses "halacha".

One of the most interesting aspects of this is the commentary some people have on these stories and others. Some of the commenters on VIN about the Rebbe delaying the flight say that the flight only travelled safely because the Rebbe was on it, or that it would have crashed if not for the delay, etc. A friend told me this morning that a friend she went to seminary with felt that the terror attack last week was because of the light rail the city is trying to build (Jerusalem is too holy for such a thing). [Note: The attack started from a construction site that is for the sake of the light rail.]

It is becomingly increasingly difficult to shrug off such actions and opinions as atypical and coming from extremists. More and more often, we see complete abuses of power, disregard for people's incomes, rather off the wall opinions and explanations of events, and ridiculous theories and twisting of stories to fit them into a specific worldview. As my friend said to me this morning, "It's things like that [the light rail comment] that keep me from embracing charedi ideals - I am just really turned off a lot by a lot of the attitude." When I noted that I know plenty who are not like that, as I added "but they seem to be in the minority, and that scares me", my friend said simultaneously "but they seem to be the exception."

It is scary. The problem is not the Charedi outlook per se, but the practice of it - the question is whether this distorted practice is an outgrowth of the outlook and education or not. More importantly, if it is, what can be done about it, and if not, where is the disconnect and what can be done about it.

Oy.

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