It is all our fault, they tell us. Listen to Sever Plotsker,
a well-known leftist journalist: "Chareidi Jewry lost the
Shabbos because it tried to force shemiras Shabbos
through power and not via the spirit onto all citizens of
Israel. . . . If the religious-chareidi leadership only had
the sense to work through darchei noam, with
convincing and compromise, shemiras Shabbos would be
much more widespread that it is today, but the leadership
chose to use its political clout to impose a dati-chareidi
lifestyle onto Israel. . . . Thus it lost, and caused heavy
damage to the Jewish religion."
Plotsker is only one of many who are so "concerned" for the
religion of Israel that they have even taken time out from
bashing it to counsel us on how they think we should and
should have worked to preserve it.
There is no doubt that we can and should do more to advance
the cause of kovod malchus Shomayim, and it is
something that we are particularly sensitive to in these days
of Elul. We certainly have to start with ourselves and our
own community, and to concentrate on the tried and true
principles of Torah and avodas Hashem as we are taught
by our Torah leaders.
But trying to pin the blame on us for the state of the street
in Israel is ridiculous. It ignores the raw and brutal power
that was used to secularize hundreds of thousands of
immigrants, most from Arab countries, starting with Yemenite
and Moroccan immigrants of the fifties and continuing with
Yemenite and Russian immigrants of the nineties. Parents were
refused work unless they sent their children to secular
schools. The social and emotional pressures of the army
separated many from their traditions.
It would certainly have been easier for us to withdraw into
our own communities and let the secular street fend for
itself. Yet gedolei Yisroel said throughout that we
must no abandon our brethren and should do what we can to
ensure that the public space of the State of Israel remains
as Jewish as possible. Under their guidance and leadership we
try to preserve a public spirit of Shabbos, to minimize the
presence of treif foods, and to guard the boundaries of
family life and personal status.
In all these cases it is laughable, or else shows a tragic
ignorance, to term this an imposition of the chareidi
lifestyle. There was a time when the spirit of Shabbos was a
common heritage among all the Jewish people. Even if they did
not go to shul and study Torah, at least even secular
Jews did not want to spend their Shabbos on shopping sprees.
But all that is only a minimal sort of Jewish spirit and very
far from the religious lifestyle, and completely lacks the
true content of a Torah life.
It is no secret that the early leaders of the State fully
expected religious Judaism to wither away, playing no social
role except possibly as a tourist attraction. Instead
religious Jewry grew and flourished -- and so far managed to
preserve not only itself but to broadcast a forceful message
which, when it is allowed to be received, finds responsive
listeners among all social groups in Israel.
It is very clear that if not for the efforts of the religious
community, there would be no need for the "secular
revolution" that the prime minister is championing in his
latest attempt to survive politically. And as we prepare for
the yomim noraim we must not forget our brethren who
need a serious introduction to the beauty of our common