Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trouble in Beit Shemesh


From NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87870417

A small group of ultra-Orthodox extremists has been intimidating fellow Jews who they deem to be not kosher or modest enough, or who don't keep the Sabbath the way they want them to.

Women wearing jeans or pants, Wahlbe says, are a distraction to what he calls "the focused, settled minds" of the Haredim. "When dealing with this issue of Torah, your mind has to be much more settled and can't be jumping around to all sorts of different planets and all sorts of different fantasies and thoughts that might come up on a teenager's head," he says.

Re: Focused, settled minds?

I almost laughed myself into an early heart attack over this one. Focused? Settled? You’ve got to be kidding me! Exactly how ‘focused’ and ‘settled’ can the Charedi mind possibly be if a few wisps of a woman’s uncovered hair and a bare elbow can throw it off its game? Besides, even without non-tznius abiding men and women haunting the streets of Beit Shemesh or Boro Park, the Charedi mind would still be a maze of irrational fears, money concerns, hero worship, guilt trips, inter-Orthodox infighting, jealousy, and denial of scientific reality. That a passing woman wearing blue jeans could somehow divert the God-fearing attentions of any person so completely engrossed with Torah and the above-mentioned day-to-day worries demonstrates either the super-powers of well-fitting denim slacks or, more likely, the manic, overzealous obsession with sexuality that turns all things quite simple into one very complex psychological monster.

Re: A teenager’s head?

Well, Rabbi. What about your head? It is interesting that this ‘rabbi’ deflects the problem from himself and other adult Charedi males, and instead seeks to foist the issue onto ‘teenagers’. This is his underhanded way of saying “Do it for the children!” He speaks as if grown Charedim don’t have sexual desires or thoughts and are quite blind, due to the high level of Yiras Shamayim no doubt, to uncovered women and girls. If you think for a minute that adult Orthodox men don’t check out pretty women, even those dressed according to halacha or local minhag, I have some bad news for you. They do lots more than just look. In any case, for this shmendrik to place the situation on adolescent boys is ridiculous.

Can you say Taliban?

My advice is for the Charedim to go about their business and, at the same time, mind their own business as well. No one is forcing sexual thoughts into their heads. If their educational-moral system isn’t strong enough or their rabbonim not sufficiently effective to stem the tide of these illicit ponderings, then maybe the fault isn’t in the non-orthodox society, but from a deep-rooted psycho-social defect within the Charedi community.

I used to be one of them, but NOT any of those.

Kol Tuv


jennie said...

It is a shame that people like that give a bad name to the whole observant community. Many secular Jews in Israel ( and perhaps out of Israel too) see things like this and perceive it as representative of all observant Jews. The growing influence of Shas and such parties over the last decade or so has had a very negative effect on the difficult and slow moving efforts to bridge the many gaps between secular and observant Jews in Israel. In addition, it seems to me ( although I don't have statistics to back it up) that quite a number of Hozrim b'tshuva go to Shas, perhaps naturally as that is about as far as one can get via that route, I think. In the last few years I have seen quite a bit of newly observant Jews go towards Breslov instead, at least they are more "happy happy joy joy" and much more tolerant than these guys.
What a shame, as if we don't have enough hate and pressure from the outside!

jennie said...

If you think this is bad, google "Bruria keren" or see http://samuraimohel.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/rabbanit-bruria-keren-anorexia-alternative-therapy-and-womens-religion/

it's effen scary


jennie said...