Sunday, July 13, 2008

Of Qumran and Bene Brak

Friday's post about the delayed recognition of an American Orthodox conversion generated two types of response.

One, objected that the Jewish Week had misreported and/or distorted the facts of the case. I was wary of that possibility, which is why I wrote in the conditional voice.

The other response (actually, just one comment), took umbrage at my comparison between Qumran and Bene Brak. For purposes of fairness, here is the comment Iin italics) with my reply.

benei brak is not like the essenes. the essenes were one [deviant] sect among many. hareidi judaism are a legitimate part of jewish tradition.

We now know that some of the Essenes were an offshoot of the Saducees and represented a serious portion of Second Temple Judaism. They also had close relations with the Pharisees (e.g. Shammai's predecessor Menachem). More to the point, they withdrew from Jewish Life because they denied fundamental Jewish legitimacy to anyone but themselves.

also, hareidim do not isolate themselves, as did the essenes. generally, they are an important part and contribute substantially to judaism wherever they exist in significant numbers. (satmar bikur cholim and hatzolah are 2 such examples.)

I don't know to which Haredim the commentor is referring, but the leadership and all of the official mouthpieces of the Haredi World are aggressive separatists. This, per se, is their privilege. What I object to is the attempt to foist their standards of Avodas HaShem on the rest of Orthodoxy. Furthermore, the ongoing and vicious delegitimation of our Rashe Yeshiva, Rabbanim and Battei Din is worthy of the strongest condemnation.

Noone can take away the merits of Hareidi Hesed initiatives. However, there are very different winds blowing in that community, which I will not mention for fear of Hillul HaShem.

so far your banner of 'spreading torah and halakhah and yirat shamayim for the greater glory of god' does not seem to be working; rather, the hareidi version is. even though the rz internal discussion is that they are the wave of the future, i believe this to be largely an internal discourse, unrelated to the broader israeli reality.

The RZ world has plenty of faults. However, while they are highly touted, every recent study shows that Hareidi failure to bear in the tax, defense and civil burden, along with the corrupting way it gets funds, are (together with the intolerable way that Hareidi-dominated Rabbinate treats Jon Q. Citizen) are the single largest factor in the negative attitude to Torah that we are trying to fight.

6 comments:

Baruch said...

R' Woolf,

Where can we access these studies?

Chizki said...

"Furthermore, the ongoing and vicious legitimation of our Rashe Yeshiva, Rabbanim and Battei Din...."

I assume you mean delegitimation.

"We now know that some of the Essenes were an offshoot of the Saducees and represented a serious portion of Second Temple Judaism."

I'm not a student of these matters at all, so this is the first time that I've come across this fascinating claim. What's the best (and preferrably internet-accessible) overview of the latest scholarship on the Essenes that deals with these matters?

Chizki said...

"Furthermore, the ongoing and vicious legitimation of our Rashe Yeshiva, Rabbanim and Battei Din...."

Whoops. I meant: I assume you mean delegitimization.

jett said...

The Haredi world likes it's seperation unless of course you're talking about money. In that case, they'll beg for funds from the government, ask for military deferments, and reach out to people they wouldn't talk to on the street for donations to their causes. They're also very corrupt in their official posts as you've already noted. Want to end the seperation? Cut off the money.

Nachum said...

"hareidi judaism are a legitimate part of jewish tradition."

Says who? What part of the Jewish tradition do they represent?

Isaac Balbin said...

Has anyone read the piece by Rav Moshe Lichtenstein on this topic?