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Severe Violations of Halacha

carBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman for The Five Towns Jewish Times


It is a point of fact that we in the Chareidi community do not readily like to admit.  There are times in history when complete D’oraisah Mitzvos are entirely ignored.  Here are three examples:

  • In America in the 1940’s the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jewish women who lived here did not cover their hair.
  • In the late 1980’s the overwhelming majority of Yeshivish orthodox Jews were not strictly observant of the prohibition of eating bugs in vegetables.
  • And in Me’ah She’arim last week at about twelve in the afternoon, a large percentage of onlookers did not strictly observe four very important Torah mitzvos.

This third example is most egregious.

The newspaper reports  about the incident are horrifying:  “Following an in-home visit with one of his IDF soldiers, the platoon commander was surrounded by a group of dozens of ultra-Orthodox individuals who began threatening him and pelting him and his car with eggs, stones, bags of water and soiled diapers. His car sustained significant damage.

The officer also said that several female residents threatened to kill him if he did not leave immediately.

The commander’s mother, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, claimed her son barely made it out of the neighborhood alive.  She said, that her son told her,“they had murder in their eyes..” Nobody in the crowd tried to protect him… He escaped by the skin of his teeth.”

Let’s take it as a given that those who are attacking a fellow Jew are beyond the pale and are in violation of attempting to violate one of the aseres hadibros of lo sirtzach – do not murder.”  Nonetheless, they must be reigned in and  they must be reigned in now.  We in the Chareidi community must stand up and not merely condemn this clear violation of Torah and humanity, but we must demand that we find the individuals involved in this travesty and fulfill the dictum of uviarta hara mikirbecha – removing the evil from our midst.  It is not acceptable to allow such an attack to go unpunished.

But furthermore, just like all other aspects of Torah we must educate ourselves  about some very basic Torah Mitzvos.


Lo Saamod Al Dam Rayacha

There is a negative Mitzvah of not standing idly by your brother’s blood as well.  This is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (CM 426:1) and in the Rambam.  We have to explain situations where this might come up and give specific examples as well.  We must do so in order to ensure that we do not stand idly by our brother’s blood.

Lo Suchal l’hisalaym

There is yet another negative commandment associated with the positive commandment of Hashavas Aveida, and that is the verse in Dvarim (22:3), “You cannot shut your eyes to it.”  This verse comes directly after the Mitzvah of Hashavas Aveidah.  The Netziv (HeEmek Sheailah) refers to this Mitzvah as well.  We must teach this Mitzvah too in order to make sure that we are always ready to uphold it.

V’Chai Achicha Imach

The Sheiltos (Sheilta #37), based upon the Gemorah in Bava Metziah 62a,  understands these words to indicate an obligation to save others with you.  The Netziv in his He’Emek She’ailah understands it as a full-fledged obligation according to all opinions. He writes that he must exert every effort to save his friend’s life – until it becomes Pikuach Nefesh for himself.

V’Ahavta l’Rayacha Kamocha

The Ramban, Toras haAdam Shaar HaSakana (p42-43) understands the verse of “And love thy neighbor as yourself” as a directive to save him from danger as well.  Although he discusses the issue of medical danger, it is clear that this is an example, and it would apply to danger from physical enemies as well. Even without the Ramban, however, it is clear that defending and protecting someone from danger is a fulfillment of this Mitzvah.


One might think that these Mitzvos are simple matters and do not need to be modelled or explained, but they do.  The evidence here points to the great need.  To say nothing of the massive Chilul Shaim Shamayim that has transpired here.

What we need here are two things:

The first is an unequivocal statement condemning this time of violence by the respected leaders of the Chareidi communities.  Everyone has the right to express their halachic and political opinion as to what can undermine Klal Yisroel and what represents an existential threat to Torah and to Klal Yisroel.  However, when that rhetoric causes some to exceed the boundaries of halacha and engage in what constitutes possible Shfichas Damim there is a responsibility to speak out.  Specifically, and with the greatest of Kavod,  the Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Yoel, the Satmar Rebbe of Williamsburg, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe, the Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe, the Dushinsky Rebbe, and the Gavad Eidah and HaCharedis HaRav Weiss have all spoken out against Chareidim entering the IDF.  But when the meshugayim begin interpreting this as a green light for shfichas damim there is a halachic obligation to speak out against this too.   It should not just be relegated to the litvisha Gedolim of Klal Yisroel and to their papers to condemn it.  They must do so themselves.

What we also need here some organization  that will create literature that concentrates on these Mitzvos and upon educating the youth of the Chareidi communities including Meah She’arim with practical applications of these Mitzvos with both religious and irreligious people who differ from the way we may look.  The Mosdos and the Rebbeim should be paid to implement these program, and there should be oversight to ensure that they are being taught.

These Mitzvos must be observed just as the Mitzvos of proper hair covering, and staying away from bugs must be observed.  No one has the right to flaunt halacha and these are clear-cut halachic issues.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

Originally published at

29 Responses

  1. Well said.
    What could we, who would not behave this way, do? Rabbi Hoffman suggests education. It worked for checking for bugs.But we need help from Rabbanim!!!!!

  2. Yes, we start with these Mitzvohs Bein Odom L’chaveiro. But then we start saying, “That there are exceptions”. For instance it does not include an Eino Yehudi, even though he and his family are extremely fine people; than we say that it doesn’t include a Mumar, Etc, Etc.
    So the whole thing gets washed away.

  3. Nice job Reb Yair, to connect this evil & horrendous behavior to ‘Halacha l’maisa’. EXCEPT YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME!!

    Just as the Rebbes have spoken out against IDF in the fiercest words & at times with hateful rhetoric….. they are not ( or not wanting/caring/concerned) connecting the dots between words and actions. How ludicrous!

  4. “The officer also said that several female residents threatened to kill him if he did not leave immediately”


    Azoi redt min ah baas yisroel???

    Who would want to be married to such a B–ch?! Only EVIL cursed children could come from such a “Mother”!
    But then again, they would NEVER drink Tropicana OJ.

  5. According to you threatening to kill is worse then actual killing. Because a few years ago when a 85 year old orthodox Jew walked by a store that was selling/renting all kind of movie cd’s in meah sh’orim the non frum owner killed him. You did not write any article about it. Is it because the killer was not frum and one killed was from meah she’orim ultra orthodox?

  6. All points are true, and I agree it’s totally asur what they did.

    I would expect r Hoffman to right the same articles when Judaism is attached as well.

    And the media to make a big deal as well when police or the IDF beat up a frum protester.

  7. To Yira,
    That’s what חזל calls ליצנא אחת דוחה מאה תוחכות . You think you could say what ever you want don’t forget there is a god who created the world!! only on a letz does it say גרש לץ . Avraham sent away Yishmael because he was a letz!

  8. It seems to me an idea is for US to educate our own at home, shul, school and OUR media the Proper Behavior. And if we see it to speak out at the time as well. Hopefully the others will see. With different people being under different ‘Rebbes’ or Sects that seems to be the best we can do. Not only is it Prohibited to assault and endanger a frum ISraeli soldier, it is a Chilul Hashem that they dare show DISRESPECT to those that put their lives on the line to defend Millions of Jews in Our Holy Inherited Land. If Zevulun Comes Before Yissachar because Zebulun enables Yissachar to learn Torah by Financially supporting him. Surely one would think Israeli soldiers that protect the lives of many thousands that learn Torah deserve great Respect from us. The army also seems to go out of its way, MORE THAN ANY OTHER IN THE WORLD, to accommodate Torah study, kashrus and Yomim Tovim and more.

  9. And before others quickly respond with such clichés as “the learners are supporting the soldiers”. That is true, and the Soldiers are supporting the learners. For otherwise why should Zevulun be mentioned before Yissachar – isn’t Yissachar “really” supporting Zevulun with his learning? Why did Yehoshua fight Amalek with an army and not open up a Kolel (or Chasidic Mossad)

  10. This is an old problem….these people,are not interested in Halacha. It’s about control. They’ll do anything for that. they’ll do anything to anyone who’s not exactly like them.

  11. 1. There were very few Orthodox Jews in America before the arrival the the holocaust refugees (based on number of people asking for special accomodations from the military in both world wars). The typical orthodox shul (meaning with separate seating) often lacked a minyan of Shomer Shabbos. It was only when the hareidim arrived en masse that things began to improve. Those who struggled to stay frum before WWII did so in an extremely hostile environment (remember the first laws prohbiting discriminaton against Sabbath observers weren’t passed until 1964). It also should be noted that a fully and properly dressed American woman in that period always wore a hat it public.

    2. People were always strict on not eating bugs. The question is how small they have to be. If you set the standard as observable with mechanical means, all vegetables have bugs.

    3. Since the IDF has a stated policy of destroying the hareidi community, the response to a soldier in uniform, especially an officer, is to be expected. A declaration of war was issued by the IDF against the hareidim, even if there is a semi-truce to allow the Kenesset to reconsider. The pro-zionist frum parties are working for a compromise, but if they fail, one can expect serious violence once the IDF starts systematic “aktions” to round up yeshiva students and close down non-zionist institutions (as is mandated under the current, yet to be implemented, statute).

  12. This is much more than a thorn in our side – it’s a spear: a long, a particularly wide and sharp one. They attack the Rav Shternbuchs of our time and eveb threaten the greatest if they dare speak out! We need a מלך to eradicate this aggressive cancerous mutations from among us! They listen to no one. They may even come from Baltimore and listen to Rev Wright only they’re dressed in our garb snd speak our language.
    This is a sad story repeated over and over again.
    Additionally, they desert the teachings of our הייליגער תורה and its תלמידי חכמים and distort their teachings!
    תורה תורה

  13. On covering the hair:
    The Rambam says it is a d’oraisa and he is a minority opinion. Most Rishonim disagree.
    The mechaber clearly does not paskin like the Rambam and the Rama does not disagree with the mechaber.

  14. Who is Yair Hoffman? No, seriously. I’ve honestly never heard of him until a few months ago on this forum. He is obviously better than me (although I’m probably much older) since his ideas and opinions are always published while mine (and other simple and less affluent Jews) must pass the censors. [Rest of comment deleted]

    Moderators Note: For starters, his name is Rabbi Yair Hoffman….and your name is? “MazelKGH”…oh that’s right. Your a wimp, and he isn’t.

  15. @mayerfruend….your comment couldn’t of been more irrational…what kind of comparison is that? because one person who’s not frum acted out compared to a group of individuals and more that actually agree with them…..sometimes it’s better just to keep quit…this is one of those times….and while I may not totally agree with rabbi Hoffman halacha examples…his point remains the same.

  16. to #14
    The army did not actually declare war on the Hareidim. Lapid, an anti-military leftist declared war on the hareidim. The army tried to resist the orders to draft the Bochurim and claimed that the budget cuts that Lapid imposed on them prevented them from drafting Hareidim. But as a democracy, the military must follow the orders of the elected officials.

    As the IDF are risking their lives trying to protect the Israeli citizens (including the Bochurim), it is understandable why their families would consider you ungrateful and primitive when you use terms like “Aktion” to describe their job.(especially considering that they are preventing the Islamic State Of Palestine from committing any “Aktion”s against you)

  17. I don’t understand why Rabbi Hoffman only goes back to the 1980’s to say that people weren’t careful about bugs. The problem can be said to go all way back to the time of Moshe Rabbeinu.
    The people didn’t have micron filters, special dishwashing liquids, 30x magnifying glasses, etc. etc. Based on today’s political correct standards, for the past 3,000 years people were constantly transgressing thousands of d’oraisos. So why only go back to the 1980’s? Lets do this right!

    PS: R’ Moshe Feinstein was asked years ago about the copepods in the water question and he said that there no issur here and no reason to be machmir.

  18. All these rioters were also in Torah violation of “Lo Sisgodadu” by not observing Yom ha’Atazmaut and failing to be Makir Tov for all the Chessed the Medina is doing by welcoming all Jews into Israel with open arms.

  19. Rabbi Hoffamn I’m not sure where eating bugs and covering hair comes into this article, but thank you for the rest of the article.

  20. Silentmoishe, I’m surprised at your claim that Rav Moshe was asked about copepods. To the best of my knowledge, the presence of copepods in NYC water was discovered by the frum world only a few years ago, long after Rav Moshe’s passing. Could you provide evidence to back your claim?

  21. I live in all Charedi community. We have soldiers pass through in uniform now and again, pray in the shul, in uniform, and no one bother’s – and some of the soldiers are Charedi themselves. I think painting a single picture of a certain Jewish group as definitive of the entire group is something the Chofetz Chaim spoke against and now I understand why.

  22. While I cannot speak to the detailed politic of religious associations and the government programs from my chair in America: I can say that ahavas chinam will bring moshiach and is the fastest way to Tzidkus?

    While Hashem is the source of all, the instrument of defense is the IDF and Torah study and Mitzvoth. That means this soldier is one of many protecting us all with his life! He has the mitzvah of living in Eretz. The “protesters” described (taken as reported) would be better upholding the Torah side of the situation and be too busy learning or conducting acts of kindness then to have even been there.

  23. One who gives his life in defense of jewish people is considered a worthy for ‘Korban.’ That is for those who have the correct intentions. For the rest, their sad misguided potential, as R` Berel Soloveitchik put it, was/is `pigul`

    Yair Hoffman grew up in Toronto and presently resides in Far rockaway

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