Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Emes V’Emunah Blames G-d

I have seen no shortage of posts from the mighty pen keyboard of Rabbi Harry Maryles that I would deem despicable. One of his most recent ones is a contender for the all-time (so far) trophy!

The post was posted on May 4, 2014 and is titled: Who is to Blame for the Divisiveness? He goes on to lead his post with: The chareidim are at fault.

For the record, let me first say that I wouldn’t mind taking the blame. I am more honored than insulted. And I will explain myself presently. What is truly despicable is not only Harry Maryles’s obsessively jaundiced view of chareidim, but also his poisonous approach to sociology and Judaism.

Why does anybody have to be “at fault”???

The minute there are multiple viewpoints on any given construct, those who maintain one viewpoint will preach and behave accordingly and those who have a differing viewpoint will preach and behave accordingly. The differing viewpoints are due to nature and nurture, indoctrination and education. It goes without saying that when the various viewpoints conflict, there will be inevitable divisiveness.  So be it. That’s how the world turns. This is why the Rambam felt that Hilchos Deyos (Laws of Personality Divergence) is the second most important topic to cover in Mishna Torah. Diferent people think differently.

So, why does a self-righteous preacher like Rabbi Harry Maryles need to keep some kind of a scorecard and apportion blame to anybody??

Utterly despicable.

But once he broached the subject, it calls for a bit of discussion.

Harry is basing his post on a recent feature article in Mishpacha magazine which did an analysis on what “They” - the secular/traditional world - think of “us”. Harry says that "anybody who read the article would come to the same conclusion."

Well, I read the article and I did not come to the same conclusion. (Hattip Rambam – Hilchos Deyos!)

You see, the article was missing a number of things that would enable somebody to make such a conclusion. Primarily – while the article displayed figures about what percentages of secular/traditional people have positive opinions or are more accepting of chareidim, it does not display any figures on what the chareidim think they think of us. In other words, it does not tell us if these numbers are higher or lower than what we expected the numbers to be.

Now, many of us, and certainly Rabbi Harry, would assume that most chareidim would expect much more negative results and  so we ought to be surprised. But, who is to say that if the analysis included our expectations, the numbers won’t reflect a more optimistic mindset in the chareidi camp itself? Hey, if we found a pleasant “chiddush” in one area, who says there won’t be a pleasant chiddush in another area?? Thus, how can this assumption be justified?

The second issue is: aside from a lack of data on how we think they think of us, if you want to play a “blame game”, there needs to be a mirror study done about what we think of them.  Perhaps our numbers of being positive or accepting of the secular/traditional chevra will top their numbers of acceptance of us? And, if so, the inevitable conclusion would be that they are to blame!!

So, in addition to the fact that it is pointless folly to blame anybody, we anyway do not have the necessary data to make a scientific conclusion at all.

That’s 2 strikes on Harry for being despicable.

But here comes my final pitch.

Rabbi Harry is shooting the messenger.  If you need to blame Somebody for “divisiveness” at least Harry should be man enough to cut out the middleman and go straight to the Source.

You see, we chareidim are chareidim l’dvar Hashem. We are following a script. The script is clearly written in Parshat Bechukosai (just one more week to go). In this Parsha, HKB”H himself sets up 2 camps and draws line. One is Im Bechukosai Telechu – the One Above camp. The second is V’Im Bechukosai Timasu – the Seven Below camp.

G-d made this division – not any “chareidim”. G-d told every Jew which camp to stand in (Devarim 30:19). The chareidim obey because G-d said so. The non-chareidim do not obey.  I wrote this all very clearly on page 228 of the book that most non-chareidim and especially Rabbi Harry Maryles, would not dare to read. And this is exactly what I wrote:

It is not my desire or intention to make distinctions or categories within observant Judaism. We are all the children of G‑d the Father. He says so Himself, “Sons are you to Hashem your G‑d; you are not to make leagues…” [1] This can be understood not as two distinct statements but as one relational statement - because we are all equally the sons of G‑d the Father, we, therefore, have no business dividing ourselves into separate “leagues”.

But G‑d does designate two camps. He says Im b’chukotai telechu which He calls “et haChaim v’et haTov[2] (the source of life and all that is good) and he says V’im b’chukotai timasu which He calls “et haMavet v’et haRah[3] (the source of death and all that is evil) and he tells us, all of us, where to stand – “u’bechartem b’Chaim![4] (And you shall choose life!) He does not make distinctions between His children, but by our choosing to stand in different places, we segregate ourselves.

The chareidim are not divisive. We do our best to follow G-d’s script and we encourage all other Jews to do the same. We distance ourselves from those who refuse to follow the script because G-d tells us to.

Case in point, observe the ludicrous nonsense in this “Emes V’Emuna” post (edited for brevity):

MK Yaakov Asher says pretty much the same thing. For Charedim, the isolationism is intentional, he says. Charedim dare not be exposed to what he calls ‘ the defilement of Israeli society’! 
The secular interviewees are on the exact opposite track. They want to integrate Charedim into their world and value their contributions. They point to Charedim who have made the jump into the workplace and note that they are among the most reliable and ethical workers and have a very strong work ethic.
So there you have it. I wish it weren’t so.

What Orthodox Rabbi Harry Maryles is doing is bemoaning that chareidim refuse to expose themselves to a Seven Below (V’Im Bechukosai Timasu) lifestyle –despite the fact that the Torah tells us to and admonishes us that we should be ashamed of ourselves owing to the fact that some “secular” (i.e., mechalelei Shabbos and tznius) Jews are actually willing to expose themselves to One Above (Im Bechukosai Telechu).

And this man (Harry Maryles) calls himself a Rabbi and a Torah Jew!!

So when Rabbi Harry blames us for playing up to Im Bechukosai Telechu and not kowtowing to V’Im Bechukosai Timasu he is really blaming the One who made the rules - not the ones who are playing the game. G-d - not we - calls for divisiveness when some (most?) Jews are not playing His game.

So, intrinsically, it’s G-d’s fault. But we chareidim don’t mind taking the blame. We are really taking the credit. But for Rabbi Harry for whom it is a mitzvah to find blame – he is really blaming the One who drew the line.

That’s 3 strikes on Harry.

Utterly despicable!

[1] Deuteronomy 14:1. This verse is being interpreted in accordance to the exegesis of the Talmud in tractate Yevamot 14a.
[2] Deuteronomy 30:15
[3] Ibid.
[4] Deuteronomy 30:19

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