As a follower of YWN I often read the comments posted by readers, which for me are representative of the chareidi community. Judging by many of the comments I boldly assume most of the readers who post their feelings are younger than I, a second generation survivor, that is to say a child of survivors. I also believe most are not living in Israel. This is based on my vibe, not factual data.
For me, prior to landing in Israel 29 years ago my life was in the Washington Heights area of NYC, the area which was a safe haven for the Yekkes, a community of survivors. When growing up both my wife and I used to think that everyone has a number on their hand for that was our reality. As we grew older and met people outside the community we realized this is not so.
We grew up in the shadow of Yasser Arafat, the arch terrorist who brought the world airplane highjackings, the 67’ war, 73 war, First Lebanon war and Islamic terror, which continued to escalate to reach its pinnacle on 9/11.
We vividly recall the tears that streamed down the faces of survivors when Israel was in a perilous situation, for they realize the significance of an accessible Jewish Homeland even while in galus. They were among the fortunate ones who got out, and they carry that hakoras hatov for being counted among the witness who live to tell of the atrocities.
I don’t wish to belabor the point but I would like to share my feelings with you, the readers of YWN around the world. I would classify myself somewhere between chardal (chareidi dati leumi) and chareidi. When I lived on a yishuv in Shomron for 15 years they called me chareidi, and when I was in Har Nof, I was chareidi light.
The point is we do not require labels nor should we be compelled to identify with one ‘camp’ or another. For me, if growing up in the USA and then moving to Eretz Yisrael have taught me anything, it is that those who wish to see Am Yisrael disappear do not discriminate and they blow up buses with any yid on board. Hitler, Arafat, Ahmadinejad and others are equally pleased to murder dati leumi Jews as chareidim and chilonim. My late father z”l taught me at a young age that the Jew haters do not discriminate.
You do not have to be a fan of the Zionist state of Israel to have a modicum of derech eretz, and even hakoras hatov, for the state with all its problems and shortcomings is host to the most Torah study that we have ever known. This is big and that Torah study is not limited to Mir or Ponevezh. The IDF is also a source of pride for the Jewish People, and while it has a very long way to go, its level of kashrus and Torah observance has increased significantly since I served many years ago.
If you do not wish to stand at attention for a memorial siren, fine – but have a bit of compassion for the yid at your side who identifies with this. For him, not standing still is tantamount to spitting on his son’s kever, a son who was blown up by terrorists or fell in the line of battle. We all do things that are not “Jewish” and we do not learn 24/7. We go out to eat, visit the Catskills during the summer, take a hop on an ATV or visit an amusement park during chol hamoed. These are “goyish” too yet no one shouts so grow up and have some respect. I dare say you would stand still on the street if the goyim demanded it, rightfully so, so why not for a fellow Jew? Baruch Hashem an avreich knows enough Torah by heart that he can recite a mishna or Tehillim during that time.
One just needs to visit the Har Herzl military cemetery today, Memorial Day, and then you can look up and thank HaKadosh Baruch Hu if you are among those who do not personally feel the pain, firsthand pain, one of the bereaved families of the over 22,000 soldiers who fell or the thousands of terror victims killed or maimed for life. Not everything that differs from our way has to be treif! This is about kovod, simply respecting another, and during the days between Pesach and Shavuos this is a most appropriate way to go.
I read the genuine concern on the website during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, and saw the chareidi community reciting Tehillim round-the-clock. Well guess what, these are the same soldiers you davened for then but unfortunately, not all of them made it, not all of them returned home, and some came home missing body parts.
My wife and I have some children who served/serving in the IDF and some who prefer the kollel chareidi route. We are fine with both. Last week, of the 13 eligible children and in-law children (eligible referring to their ages), number 10 proudly entered the IDF.
Some are combatants, some officers, some career officers and some not in the front lines; but they have one thing in common with the guys who are learning – they are all doing what they perceive as the most they can do for the Jewish People. I know the critics mean well but if you have to bash the state in an open forum, please at least be considerate enough to move to Eretz Yisrael and do it here, as a member of the country, and do not be brazen enough to continue sitting wherever you may be abroad and with righteous indignation labeling those you perceive as “Zionists” as the biggest problem facing the Jewish People.
Remember, it is easy to love one another after Zaka tends to the bodies from a Number 2 bus but what about when we are not at war!
Respectfully, Yechiel Spira (Israel)
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.