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The Nauseating Violence in Eretz Yisroel
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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7/1/09

Dear Readers:

The visual images and media descriptions of young men who dress like my children and yours throwing dirty diapers and rocks at police officers and burning garbage bins are vile and disgusting – in my humble opinion, a far greater chilul Shabbos than all the secular Jews driving in Yerushalayim.

Maybe it is just me, but throwing stones to prevent the desecration of Shabbos is about as logical as a librarian yelling, “STOP TALKING” into a powerful megaphone at the top of her lungs whenever someone whispers in the library. Or like a group of vegetarians celebrating their accomplishments by hosting a communal barbecue.

The demonstrations were purportedly called by our gedolim shlit’a in Eretz Yisroel. The large and beautiful Friday Night group Kabbolas Shabbos may have been initiated by them. However, the overall campaign to make these hafganos are unquestionably planned, prepared and led by “askanim” not gedolim.

If I may give an analogy, a sefer written by a gadol is just that – 100% the work of the gadol who wrote it. But if I write a sefer and get a haskama (letter of recommendation) from a gadol, that is a very different kettle of fish. All the more so if I were to only show the gadol the first 50 pages, and then add another 150 pages that he never saw.

I don’t for one moment believe that our aged and overburdened gedolei hador shlit’a are being informed by the askonim who plan these demonstrations, what the “last 150 pages” look like – the disgusting images of burning garbage cans and pitched battles with the police that are broadcast worldwide in real time.

Honestly, I don’t think the process by which these demonstrations are planned is led by the gedolim at all. Please carefully read this column in the Jerusalem Post, titled “The quiet organizer behind the new haredi riots vows: We won't surrender.”

I had the great ze’chus of working for and with Rabbi Moshe Sherer zt’l for the last few months of his life when we started Project YES. So I am very familiar with the correct way to approach da’as Torah. Each and every time we had a question, Rabbi Sherer, who after 50 years of leading the Agudah, had the full confidence and respect of the gedolim, humbly asked for advice and then began planning.

This does not remotely resemble the manner in which the 36-year-old Mr. Yoel Kraus conducts “behind-the-scenes deal-brokering that brings leading rabbis into its fold on various issues.” Read how the process works in Mr. Kraus’ own works, quoted in the Jerusalem Post column, "Let's say we want to stage a protest," Kraus says. "I contact people and get the word out, while the pashkivlim [wall posters used for announcements] also play an important role." Notice the words “we want to stage a protest,” and not “When our gedolim ask me to organize a protest. These are not semantics, but cut to the very core of how these things evolve. I think a more accurate term for Mr. Krause would be “The Charedi Warlord” not “The Quiet Organizer.”

I suggest that all askanim take a hiatus of at least one full generation where we stop protesting about other people’s sins and start looking inward. Maybe Mr. Krause should worry more about the hundreds of our sons and daughters who are in Israeli clubs on Friday night smoking pot, than worrying about secular Jews parking their cars on Shabbos. Maybe Mr. Krause should worry more about the pedophiles in our community who are violating children, more than those outside our community who are violating Shabbos.

Those of us who have any positions of influence in our communities must speak up loud and clear and call this behavior what it is -- a disgraceful Chillul Hashem and a distortion of Torah values -- in the loudest and most unequivocal terms. I am convinced that those of us who don’t, will have to give din v'cheshbon for not having done so.

Our two sons are grown and married, baruch Hashem, but if I had a post-high school bachur, I would strongly question if it is wise to send him into an environment where such horrifying behavior is allowed to go on, unless I had personal assurance that his Roshei Yeshiva would not only forbid his talmidim from participating in these riots, but condemn them in the strongest terms.

I was actually in the middle of an article on this very subject, when a chaver in Eretz Yisroel emailed to me a letter written by a middle-aged chassidish woman who lives in Eretz Yisroel. The letter was posted on the popular website, “Yeshiva World,” and I reprint it here in its entirety with the editor’s permission.

It pretty much speaks for itself. But it is far from pretty.

Yakov

The following letter was submitted to YWN, and was written by a Chasidish woman who resides next to Kikar Shabbos. This unedited letter (posted in its entirety) should be an eye-opener to all parents who have Bochrim learning in Eretz Yisroel. NOTE: Quite a few “innocent” American Bochrim have been arrested in recent days for “innocently” standing by a Hafganah.

Dear YWN,

I write this with pain, not with any political agenda.

Some of you may know about the protests that are going on in Yerushalayim about the parking lot that is open on shabbos. What you may not know, and what you must know if your son is learning in the Holy Land, is what is happening on the streets.

On Shabbos the Eidah Chareidis had a kabbolas shabbos on Bar Ilan to protest the chillul shabbos.

On the Thursday before that, the garbage bin outside my house was torched at about 7:30. The bochrim who set it on fire, and a crowd of close to 100, sang ‘bar yochai’ for a few minutes, and then left, the fun was over. While this clearly had nothing to do with shabbos, after all, the mayor does not live on my street, and was an act of destruction, I had to live with the smoke for the next several hours. The bochrim had their fun, but we, who live on the block were inhaling black smoke, and couldn’t call the fire dept. because it is a ‘chillul hashem’. I saw a man of about 60 going back and forth with his little girl, carrying pails of water to extinguish the flames. (He had to walk half a block and go up steps, refill water, come back…) He did this, at least for two hours. There are those that burn, and those that are left to put out the flames.

We did our best to help, but when we thought the fire was out, 3 hours after it started, a spark caught again and the whole bin was in flames again. I called my rebbitzin and got permission to call the fire department. I woke up the next morning with pain in my heart and a scratchy throat, that is all. My rebbitzin told me of men and women who had to be hospitalized because they’re allergic to smoke or because of excessive smoke inhalation. I got off lucky.

On Sunday, I was walking to my sister who lives on a quiet street. Two garbage bins were burning on her street, and a group of about 15 bochrim stood around, some threw in garbage, the other just laughed and cheered. Again, the rabbonim organized a mechoa on Shabbos, not on Sunday. And they said, even when they asked people to come to the protests, that one shouldn’t burn garbage.

Last night, Monday, I heard screaming and yelling from the street. I washed my dishes. At one point, at about 10:30, I heard something heavy being dragged. I looked out and saw a group of bochrim rolling out the garbage bin from our street, to the kikar a block away. Smoke was already rising at the kikar, from other garbage bins apparently. Other bochrim were rolling more garbage bins from other blocks, some of them metal, some plastic. It stabbed my heart, I was just standing there and shaking. I watched two bochrim carrying cardboard to kindle the flames. Like many of the rest, they were wearing hats and jackets and like a very large percentage, they were speaking English. My husband yelled down to one of them, ‘what are you doing here?’ They laughed. A bochur that lives next door to us pleaded with the ones that were pulling out our garbage. They ignored him.

For the next few hours, we kept hearing animalistic screaming from the street. We decided, my husband and I, that we couldn’t do anything anyways so we would just remain inside. We went to bed with difficulty. Just as the sounds would peter out, we heard inhuman screaming again. We heard things being thrown, and metal clattering against the street. I would later see that these brave warriors were pulling barricades that protect pedestrians on the narrow sidewalks, out of the cement.

At about 1:30, I was still unable to fall asleep. Suddenly our air-conditioner, which was on to block out the noise of the street, not to keep us cool, went off and our apartment went dark. It turns out that the electricity of the entire area, including even the street lamps, was blown, perhaps because of the fire. The screaming on the street increased. I got dressed and went out to the porch.

On the kikar a block away, the bochrim were very proud that they blew the electricity of all the families living in what I believe was a two to three block radius. After a few minutes of triumphant screaming, they began singing to the tune of Carlebach, ‘Ani avdecha ben amasecha…’

The irony was so painful, I cried loudly, on the porch. My husband, satmar geshtimt, chassid of the Eidah, didn’t try to stop me.

I could go on. There were horrible sights and sounds that night, finally petering out at 2:30.

The reason I am posting, my questions are:

1)What were these bochrim thinking??

2)Where was the tzelem elokim when I heard words and sounds that should not come out of any human being’s vocal chords, especially not that of yeshivaleit? Where was the basic compassion / thought for the neighbors? Where was any sort of restraint when barricades, which are extremely important by our narrow sidewalks for safety, were wrenched out with a lot of effort? How did they have the heart to watch a small old man carrying his garbage three blocks away because that was the first place the bin was still there?

3)R’ Avraham Yehoshua of Brisk said this week when one of his bochrim were arrested, “vos tut a bochur bei a mechoa?” - what is a bochur doing by a protest? (He was talking about a real mechoa, organized by the gedolim, and he is no Zionist.) What indeed? Even if he is ‘just’ watching, why risk arrest, make a great chillul hashem, be mechazek those that are being mazik, if he doesn’t have to ? If he cares about shabbos, how about being mekabel shabbos early, as we have began doing, for Yerusahalayim? None of the rabbonim said bochrim should go, and in general, all men should not go unless told to do so by their morah d’asra. There is too much of your own humanity at risk.

4)Where are you parents? Let me ask that again. Where are you parents? Do you realize the implication of no supervision in your son’s yeshiva? A choshuve bochur next door, the one who tried to stop the garbage bin from being rolled out, told my husband this morning, “Who’s in charge that I make it to shachris on time? I slept late because of what happened here, who’s worrying that I daven?” Do you realize your sons could be mazik tens of people and no one will do anything? Do you realize that if your sons drink or smoke or watch inappropriate videos, or meet with the other gender, (we have bochrim over for shabbos seudos and there are a lot of bochrim diros in our neighborhood - believe me, I’ve seen too much…) no one is stopping them? This is a much broader issue than just what happened last night. Do you know what your sons are doing? I know he is the best boy in the universe, but who’s to say he doesn’t have unfiltered Internet in his dirah? Who is to say he didn’t get caught up with a crowd and that he didn’t scream like a maniac in middle of a city, in middle of the night? Who is to say that he didn’t join a group of likewise English speakers, to do the holy act of pulling out barricades from the sidewalk? Who is to say that he makes it on time for shachris? Who is accountable for him? He himself? - “Al taamin b’atzmecha” these bochrim need higher supervision.

We decided we’re going to do something. My husband is coming home late for lunch because he is meeting with the mashgiach of Mir and Chevron. I am calling the Gaved of the Eidah, with the blessings of my Rebbe, and going to post what I saw wherever I can.

I didn’t take pictures last night, because I was so disgusted. It’s like an embarrassing episode that you’d rather erase from your mind. Now I regret it, I would have shown the pictures to the mashgichim of these yeshivos, shown them what their bochrim were doing. If five bochrim were kicked out of yeshiva, I bet all of these shenanigans would stop immediately.

Please don’t respond with stories about shabbos and pride marches and the gedolim of previous generations. This has got nothing to do with it.

If you’re a mother, know where your son is. If you’re a friend, make sure you never justify the unjustifiable. If you’re a fellow Jew, daven for these bochrim, but never commend their actions. Daven for peace in Yerushalayim, and never stand up for those who value fun (Midnight Mir party! I heard one of the bochrim scream last night) over self respect, over basic mentschlichkeit, over Kiddush HaShem.

Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim.

Recommended Reading:

The Pierced Teen and I "A"

Before the Next Time

My Grandfather and I "A"



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