Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Sivan 5760 - June 7, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
What's Bothering Them?

by N. Ze'evi

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 community.

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 their eyes.

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 problems.

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 negligence.

"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 kill."

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 personal benefit.

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 the masses.

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