Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Haredim vs MO (Loose ends from yesterday)

Yesterday, I took some flack from Happywithhislot (among others) for suggesting that the discord between UO and MO Jews was a one-way street, with most of the revulsion going from right to left.

Upon review, I think I made two mistakes: I went too far, and at the same time, not far enough.

First, the error of commission:
I suggested that all Haredim, including the rank and file, are upset with the Modern Orthodox. That's not true. The "purer" more shelted, hard-core hasidim and yeshivish types are, like my critic, largely "happy with their lot." Most of the animosity among the rank and file come from disgruntled hocker types, who are running away from their upbringing but lack the cojones to make a clean break. Like the fox in Aesop's fable, they disparage the grapes which are out of reach.

Now, the error of ommision
I was too easy on the Haredi leaders, and rabble rousers. Three episodes, illustrate the point.

Just last year we saw two explosions of hate directed at MOs by the right. In Tendler-gate, the madmen of Monsey launched a systematic campaign of desctruction against an MO Rabbi. They distorted his words, told lies about him, published polemics, vandalized his shul, and conducted nightime vigils. Nothing Rabbi Tendler might have done justifies such mistreament; nothing excuses the bad behavior of the Haredi leadership in this case.

Last year also gave us Slifkin-gate, in which all the most important Yehivish Rabbis went to war against a 30-year old scholar and the way of thinking he represented. Slifkin's livlihood was destroyed, and his ideas - along with his character - were trashed and misrepresented in language tinged with hate and intolerance. Most famous was the moment at the Siyum Hashas, when Matisyahu Solomon, a leading Lakewood Rabbi stood in front of 35,000 people and called the Slifkin-supporters "midgets."

Finally we have Elya Shvei, a prominent Rosh Yeshiva from Philidelphia who, in 1998, stood before the annual convention of Agudath Israel and some 3,500 delegates where he villified Rabbi Norman Lamm, calling him a "sonei hashem" and much worse.

Have the MOs ever perpetrated anything remotely similar to these three examples?