Dei'ah veDibur - Information & 

A Window into the Chareidi 

20 Kislev 5762 - December 5, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
What is Extreme Jewish Fundamentalism?

The Taliban are an extreme Sunni Muslim sect that has ruled Afghanistan for close to a decade but is now on the way out after running a rogue regime that sheltered Osama Bin Laden and his obsession with worldwide Jihad (holy war) against the West. They tried to implement a society that was forced into observing their somewhat unique version of what a proper Islamic society should be.

The main government agency that was charged with forcing the people to do what the Taliban thought they should do was called the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. A sample of their regulations follows:

If a woman is seen in public in improper dress, her home will be marked, and her husband will receive the proper punishment, and the woman will be threatened on the spot. If such a woman is seen in public or in a vehicle, she will be arrested and jailed from one day to five days.

In case cassette tapes of music or videotapes are discovered in a shop or hotel, the owner of the tapes will be jailed from 1 to 20 days. If the tape is discovered in a shop or hotel the shopkeeper will be jailed from 1 to 20 days and the shop or hotel will be shut from one to five days. The shop or hotel can only be reopened after the shopkeeper gives a written promise that it will not happen again.

A man who shaves or shortens his beard will be jailed for 10 days and punished.

A kite-seller is banned from making and selling kites, and if arrested for making them, his shop will be closed for three days. If he repeats the crime, he will receive 10 days in jail. Those who insist on flying kites will be deprived of education and their homes will be searched.

Whoever flies pigeons, he will be jailed so long that the pigeons disappear from his home.

There were similar regulations about drinking wine and many other activities that are considered crimes by the Taliban Moslems.

These regulations are the products of a group that is profoundly hostile to Western culture. The way they fight it is through threats and intimidation, which led to horrible, destructive acts of violence against the West.

Nothing could be a greater contrast to the ways of the Torah, whose ways are pleasant -- darchei no'am.

It is no secret that the Torah is opposed to prominent parts of what passes for culture in the West today. Yet this opposition does not prevent Torah Jews from participating in modern society as loyal members, possibly even at the highest level as shown by the last U.S. election campaign which featured an observant Jew as the candidate for the vice- presidency.

The ideal and extreme Torah state would spread and perpetuate its values by education and example not by force and terror. When the world is full of daas Hashem no one will want to transgress the Torah.

This is a deeply-held principle and almost axiomatic: physical power is only a reluctantly used auxiliary to the true power of ideas. A Torah extremist is someone like HaRav Shach, zt"l, who was utterly given over to Torah study.

Confronted with a reality in which there is widespread Torah desecration, in the past Chazal abandoned the use of force and disbanded the Beis Din. There is no doubt that it will not be reinstated until force is virtually unnecessary.

May we soon merit the promised situation in which daas Hashem fills the earth as water does the sea.

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