Monday, March 9, 2009

Will Not Kneel and Will Not Bow - Part II: Yefes in the Tents of "Shame"

Yefes in the Tents of "Shame"

There is an interesting discussion going on over at Emes Ve-Emunah. The discussion revolves around an entity that I had never heard about until I tuned into blogs: the Orthoprax.

If you are not sure what that is, you are not alone. Last I checked there were 76 comments posted to the initial piece many of which are debating the proper usage of the term. So after reading the post and perusing the comments, I for one, am still plenty confused. But the confusion does not start here.

We Jews are so-o-o creative! We always like making up new discriptive terms (see my post about chareidim and wings). Reform, Conservative, Traditional. Those are pretty easy to understand because they are in plain English. But here's a really hard one one: Orthodox.
Where did this term come from?

The Greeks, for Heaven's sake. It came from the GREEKS! (As does the term Hypocrite).

So what does it mean? Well, it's Greek to me.

Our sages were not very fond of the Greeks. The first step of Hellenization was when we translated the Torah into Greek. This is one reason why we fast on the 10th of Teves. The next step is when we refer to our hashkafas in Greek terms. First there is Orthodox. Then there is Heterodox and Conservadox. (These last 2 are just one plain pair-a-dox) and now there is Orthoprax.

But getting back to the term Orthodox, I think I have finally figured out what it means. It means: keeping the Torah like a Greek. How so? Consider the following about an "Orthodox" Jewish female NCAA basketball player at the University of Toledo. This comes from a recent Jerusalem Post article entitled Holy Toledo:

Shafir is not only a leader on the team, but she has become a role model in the Jewish community as the first female Orthodox Jewish athlete in the NCAA Division I competition, the top level of American collegiate athletics.

"One thing that we figured was to get in touch with a rabbi in town to find out what was most important. We then spoke to her uncle and father, who gave us a list of what Shafir would need. This included access to kosher food, a T-shirt under her jersey, not riding in a motorized vehicle on Shabbat and not practicing on Saturdays," says Cullop. "The list was not long, and we knew she would observe the holidays. Luckily the calendar works out in our favor. They were more concerned with school and appreciative of everyone finding solutions."

The Rockets have postponed all of their Saturday afternoon practices to Saturday evenings after sunset. However, Rabbi Chaim Bogonski and Shafir worked out a deal four years ago allowing her to play games on Shabbat. When Shafir was on the Israeli National Junior Team, she was the only Orthodox player. Bogonski ruled that since practice was work and games were fun, it was acceptable to take part in games that fell on Shabbat. This was important, since a majority of the games for Toledo are on Saturday afternoons.

So this is Orthodox? An Israeli girl coming to Chu"l to play basketball in public on Shabbos!? Oh yes, she is acting under complete Daas Torah a la Rabbi Chaim Bogonski. And, certainly, she wears a tee-shirt under her tank top and from the waste down she wears gym shorts just like the Kohen in the Bais HaMikdash! And she is a role model because she is an "Orthodox" Jewish athlete?

This may be Orthodox but it is Greek Orthodox. Antiochus would be proud. But I have my doubts about Mattisyahu (NOT the rapper!!!).

This is kneeling and bowing!

In a book entitled Where Heaven Touches Earth by Rabbi Dovid Rosoff, in the Glossary on page 611 he has the following entry: Chareidi: Orthodox.

I don't think so.

If this is Orthodox, then please do not call me Orthodox. In any case, I don't speak Greek.

What's a better term? Well, Yeshaya didn't speak Greek either. Not to us, at least. And he has a term for the Jews who do the right thing. You know what he calls them?


He actually coined the term. He certainly must have been referring to somebody. He had a term for Orthoprax, too. But not in Greek. You know what he calls them? He calls them מִצְוַת אֲנָשִׁים מְלֻמָּדָה (Yeshaya 29:13) - those who perform mitzvos by rote.

So the Orthoprax are actually nothing new. They've been around for quite some time. Just like the chareidim.

G-d fearing Jews don't need to act like Greeks. And we do not need Greek terms to describe ourselves. We do not need to bring Yefes into the tents of "Shame". And we are forbidden to kneel and bow.

For us, there are many old Biblical or Talmudic terms in Hebrew. Terms like tzaddikim, yesharim, anavim, yereyim, chassidim, kedoshim, perushim, chaveirim, chareidim or...just plain Yehudim. Like Mordechai HaYehudi. I'll take any one of them.

The bearers of any of these terms have one thing in common. They will not kneel and they will not bow. They will not send their daughters from Eretz Yisrael to Eretz HaAmim to play basketball on Shabbos in front of men wearing shorts and T-shirts.

לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשֹׂן וִיקָר


Anonymous said...

I'll tell you another term that's the same:


Yechezkel feels the need to take everyone shomer Torah u'mitzvos and call them by a new name, instead of just calling them religious Jews.

And there are as many examples of true blue chareidim that are just as thrilling as Yechezkel's off-the-wall examples of so-called "orthodox" Jews.

Like the chareidi teens who beat up three religious girls walking through their neighborhood. The girls were walking davka on the other side of the street from boys, and were tzanua, and yet were beaten up because they weren't chareidi. What wonderful chareidi zeal the boys were showing when they beat the girls down and kicked them while they were on the ground! (Heard directly from someone who was there)

Like the chareidi residents who sent threatening letters to dati leumi residents across the street from them threatening violence because the chareidim could see TV sets inside the dati leumi apartments when they were looking into their windows. Forget that it's assur to look into someone else's windows. Forget ma tovu ohalecha Yisroel. Forget al chet shchatanu lefanecha bechozek yad. Don't like what you see when you're looking into someone else's windows? Threaten them! What great chareidi zeal! (I saw the letter myself, and I talked personaly to the Rav who worked to calm down both sides.)

I think that Yechezkel's time would be better served by stopping all the divisive names and stopping defending groups that do blatantly assur things, and just promote Torah.

Ari said...

Just who is bowing down to whom, my friend? The university is not only bending over forwards, but backwards as well, to accommodate the Shabbos observance of this young woman. (Yes, yes... i know Achashveirosh's seudah was certified kosher, too . . . but that was a premeditated "outreach" strategy, not a respectful capitulation)

Now, it may not be a Shabbos observance or level of tznius that you or I would consider l'chatchila, but it is shmiras shabbos and tznius at a level that those Jews not exposed to frumkeit might learn from.

You may not write in Greek, but you are making your chidushim more accessible by writing (partially, anyway) in English, and on the Internet, nuch. Likewise, she is making frumkeit for accessible to future frume yidden the way in which she knows how.

Seriously, and with all due respect, don't you have something better to do than throwing spitballs at an observant Jew whose level of frumkeit is not up to snuff?

Anonymous said...

From the news, a wonderful example of Chareidi logic and action. See comments at the end.

Hareidi Strips Naked in Protest of 'Public' Hametz Sales

by Yehudah Lev Kay

( Hareidi-religious yeshiva student Aryeh Yerushalmi stripped nearly naked in a supermarket in Tel Aviv on Sunday to protest the sale of hametz (bread and other leavened grain products) in the store during Passover. Yerushalmi, who did the same thing last year in a supermarket in Bat Yam, claims the law is on his side and dares the police to try and prosecute him.

Yerushalmi, who is 28 and lives in Bat Yam, arrived at the Tiv Taam supermarket in the Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood of Tel Aviv on Sunday. He proceeded to the bread section and began removing his clothing, leaving only a sock to cover his private parts. Several customers thought the scene was rather amusing, but the store manager and security guard asked the nudist to leave. Police, whom Yerushalmi claims he himself called, arrived on the scene and arrested Yerushalmi, after which he agreed to put his clothes back on.

As Yerushalmi said after last year’s incident, if hametz can be legally sold in a store during Passover, then he can lawfully disrobe there as well. As he explained, the 1986 Hametz Law forbids the sale of bread products in a “public” area on Passover. The law was never enforced until 2008, when then-Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski directed police to bring a case against four Jerusalem stores caught selling hametz during the holiday. In the ensuing court case, judge Tamar Ben-Tzaban ruled that the inside of a store does not constitute a public place. Only the sale of hametz outside the store would be considered a violation of the law against selling hametz publicly, the judge stated.

Yerushalmi took on the mission of showing the fallacy of the judge’s argument, using the law banning a person from performing an indecent act in a public place. According to the judge's reasoning, "public" places do not include the inside of the supermarket - and therefore he should be allowed to disrobe there as well.

Last year, police released Yerushalmi without charging him. Yerushalmi claims that he wanted to go to court, but the police preferred not to give the case too much publicity.

This year, Yerushalmi was brought before the Tel Aviv district court. The police prosecutor explained to the presiding judge that the suspect had disrobed in public after which a civilian called the police to arrest him. Yerushalmi interjected and said, “The civilian who called was me. I wanted to limit my demonstration to a short period of time.” The judge asked Yerushalmi if he plans on repeating his performance again, to which Yerushalmi replied that he would “think about it,” after which the judge chose to place Yerushalmi under house arrest for a week.

-------end of article------

Now for comments:

Yechezkel will say, of course, that this guy may think he's chareidi, but anyone who would strip in public is not chareidi in the true sense of the word, meaning the way that Yechezkel means.

If that's the case, that not everyone who says they're chareidi is actually chareidi, then there's nothing wrong with the same being true for "orthodox jews" or "religious jews" or "dati jews" or any other category.

Now, I happen to like Yechezkel's claim that people like this are not in fact chareidi. But then you need to stop blaming orthodox jews for actions of anyone claiming to be orthodox.