Monday, June 16, 2008

The askanim of tomorrow

A Guest Post by Rafi G.

I had the opportunity to spend this past Shabbos in the Holy City of Jerusalem. I was in one of the most Haredi neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and I had an epiphany.

My wife and I took our kids to the local park on Shabbos afternoon. This park is an amazing little park. The slides and swings installed there are better than in most parks. There are slides of various sizes, including the most exciting being about 20 feet high with a nice incline. Some include twists and turns. This park is very exciting for the kids, and the number of kids playing there attests to that.

So we take our kids to the park and they get all excited. They go up the structure housing the slide (the ladders up were inside the structure so we could not really see what was going on there). They quickly come back down complaining the line is too long and htere are these kids up there telling everyone who can go down and who cannot.

Sitting there for a few minutes, we saw some other kids come out crying to their mothers, or just upset in general as they went to play on other items.

Eventually we figured out that there were these kids who have taken over the park and they run the show. They decide who can go down which slide. Kind of like a low class mafia. The main kid is about 11 or 12 and about 250 pounds. He put the fear of God into all the kids and his assistants were therefore able to work effectively.

They were basically a bunch of bullies who found little kids to pick on. They would let one down and not the other.

Reflecting back on that later that evening, I told my wife that we had just seen the future askanim of the Haredi world. These are the kids who will grow up and become askanim, telling us which bus we can ride on, where on the bus we can and cannot sit, what day we can go shopping in which store and any other form of control the askanim take.

When askanim take control of a situation, people say they must be doing it l'shem shamayim, with pure intentions, because they are gaining nothing from it. On the off occassion, someone might actually be gaining something, like possibly after the big sheitel (from India) issue when people created hechshers and alternative sheitel companies. but in most situations probably nobody is gaining financially from the bans and takanos.

What is gained, and for some reason people tend to discount this, is that these people enjoy cotrolling others, telling them what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

The askanim, for the most part, are just bullies who other people are afraid to stand up to.

Yes, there are some good askanim who do good for Klal Yisrael.

Most askanim though are just bullies who look for ways to control others. That Shabbos afternoon in the park, I saw the future askanim of Klal Yisrael.

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