In recent years, we have grown accustomed to an annual
"secular custom," of trying to catch "chareidim who mock the
symbols of the State of Israel."
This happens at the sounding of the siren on national
memorial days, when the obedience level of the chareidim to
Independence Day is tested. It also happens during the days
following Lag BeOmer. Every year, the media reports
about the actions of a few children, who purportedly have
burned the Israeli flag at a Lag BeOmer bonfire.
The interest of the media, goads these children to repeat
their acts and to "enjoy" the special attention being given
to their bonfire. Hot on their heels, of course, are the
"shocked reactions" of the secular politicians who blame the
"chareidi education system" etc., etc.
Besides the fact that such flag burning is rare and
infrequent, we cannot hide the truth that in the eyes of a
believing Jew, burning the flag isn't the worst sin in the
world, and that every day far more shocking and annoying
things take place.
Burning the flag in front of the media cameras is a childish
and foolish act which is liable to incite the feelings of
secular citizens who are offended by such behavior. It
poisons the atmosphere between the camps and prepares the
ground for the persecution of the overall chareidi
That is enough not to overlook the serious implication of
such rash acts, and to make certain that they don't reoccur.
However, every day, the true flags of the Jewish people and
the values which we have preserved with mesiras
nefesh, and which distinguished the Jewish people from
the nations of the world are publicly trampled, yet no one
utters a peep.
Those who indifferently and apathetically trample the Divine
values and our status as the Chosen Nation, have absolutely
no right to protest when they see a kid adopting the same
principle regarding their symbols. They have no right to be
shocked when a temporary symbol, fashioned by mortals as a
paltry substitute for our eternal heritage, is burned before
The question, of course, is, why do the secular jump on such
actions as if they are of the utmost importance? Why, in such
cases, do they hasten to draw ridiculous conclusions and to
come out with absurd statements such as, "something is rotten
to the core in the chareidi educational system?"
Surely they know that they are referring to a deviant and
inconsequential act, and especially when a superficial
analyses of the sorry situation which prevails in their own
educational system will reveal widespread and more serious
The failure of the educational system of the "progressive"
world finds expression in conferences recently held in Israel
and abroad, when experts discussed with utmost seriousness
means for preventing children from bringing harmful weapons
with them to school.
This disconcerting trend becomes more serious, at a later
age, when violence finds an outlet in murders in broad
daylight. In America, the prototype of secular Israeli
culture, a struggle is being waged against the public's right
to bear arms. With the demonstrable encouragement of the
Clintons, who have transformed the battle against guns into
the crux of their political strategy, they have inundated
Washington with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who
are demanding that the anarchy in the personal arms trade in
America be terminated.
Thousands appeared with pictures and heartrending stories of
relatives who had been shot to death. According to the
estimate of the American government, 235 million guns are
found among the citizens of the United States, nearly a gun
or rifle per citizen. Over 30,000 people meet their deaths a
year as a result of guns, including accidents, and cases of
"Don't be deterred by the political mountain you must cross,"
the American president called out from the White House to
hundreds of mothers whose children had been killed by
gunshot. His wife, who is running for the Senate in New York,
said that the battle against arms is top priority for herself
and her husband.
The anger of the demonstrators was directed mainly at the
National Rifle Association, whose powerful lobby is blocking
efforts to enact laws to install safety locks in rifles,
which would prevent children from using them. The NRA is also
against efforts to insist on background checkups for gun
purchasers, and for the limiting of the sale of guns at
massive weapons fairs.
The lobby sent its own mothers to a small anti-demonstration
under NRA's traditional slogan: "Guns don't kill. People
The truth is that the problem doesn't lie in the procedural
issue of granting licenses to gun owners, but in the sad
reality in which bloodshed has become commonplace.
In the face of these shocking problems, reports about
"chareidi children offending national symbols," should become
peripheral and meaningless, even according to their approach.
Why then do they latch on to such picayune things?
The secular ideologists see the tremendous gaps between their
ethical and moral levels and ours. On the one hand, a
superficial and materialistic generation is growing up, whose
youth scorn every value and are not prepared to devote
themselves to anything which does not offer social or
On the other hand, the chareidi community is raising children
who imbibe their values from the tradition of their fathers,
children who refine their souls by means of the study of
mussar, and engage in questions of character
improvement, concepts which are in no way familiar to the
average secular youth.
There is no need to reach the high levels of Messilas
Yeshorim. Just speaking with a secular high school
graduate about the laws which are so familiar to us--
returning lost items, reimbursing one's fellow for damages,
not to mention the obligations of lifnim meshuras hadin --
is enough to prove that they don't even know what you
are talking about. Instead they regard you as a rarity, an
ancient sort of tzaddik, who dedicates himself to his
fellow's sake to an abnormal degree.
It is no wonder then, that they delight at every chance they
get to "prove" so to speak, that "something's rotten to the
core in the chareidi educational system," as a number of
secular politicians have often claimed.
There is nothing like burning jealousy as opposed to
spiritual wealth and the educational success of one's fellow,
to serve as an impetus to spread false libels, and to incite