May 16, 2010

Yes We Can! (Mikva RBS)

Rav Nir Vargon said the following on Shabbos in shul as a summary of lessons learned from the mikva struggle.

NOTE: He spoke in Hebrew and I, with his permission, have translated his words to English. Any mistakes and inaccuracies are mine alone and I apologize for them in advance.

Yes We can!

This is not a victory speech. And we cannot enter into euphoria. There are still extremist elements in Bet Shemesh, and I stress that I am not referring to the Haredi community and not to its Rabbonim, who do everything to take control here in RBS A with unlimited control. As of today, these powerful extremist elements are expecting to obtain a significant grip in RBS A by controlling the public mikva on Lachish, and who knows to where it will spread next. Therefore, the Action Committee has decided not to stop in the struggle.

On the other hand, I wanted to share with you the three main achievements of our struggle until now. First, at the beginning of the struggle, when the head of the Moetza HaDatit was replaced, the extremists wanted to take control over the two mikvas saying “the mizrochnikim will not fight for the mikvas”, and today it is clear to the mayor and to the extremists that they will not get more than the one mikva.

Second, even when the discussion was regarding one mikva until this past Tuesday, the mikva on Dolev which is closer to us would be transferred to Haredi control, and our wives would have to walk to the mikva further away that is older located on Lachish, and this week it was agreed that the mikva on Dolev that is closer to us will remain under the supervision of the Rabbanut.

Third, at the beginning of the struggle, we heard testimony by women who were treated in a shameful manner in the Haredi side of the public mikva, when they did not act in accordance with the stricter demands, and beginning this week the Haredi side is also officially under the supervision of Rav Biton with a letter hanging in the Dolev mikva by Rav Davidovitz in which he commits even in the Haredi side to allow every woman to immerse herself according to her minhag, as Rav Ovadya Yosef obligated him to do, and as is befitting to be in practice in any public mikva.

The conclusion I wish for us to learn from this is that next time we feel that they are trying to restrict our lives in RBS A:

Instead of saying “We have lost hope”,

Instead of sinking into despair due to politics and demographics,

Instead of thinking about a nice apartment in a comfortable place, about beautiful schools and large shuls with developed communities,

We will say to ourselves, “yes we can!” (pardon the lack of originality)

We can manage a struggle for our needs, our rights and our beliefs

We can manage a struggle even against a majority in City Council, and against threats by the mayor,

And most importantly: We can continue to live our lives here, to educate our children here, according to our religious and nationalist beliefs, for many more years.


  1. That derasha makes me feel very uncomfortable. It is one thing for the rabbonim to try to prevent the charedim from taking over the mikvaot, but to publicy speak like this, as if, we are proud that we can fight...
    I don't think that R. Soloveichik would ever speak like that.

  2. We need to realise one thing in all the euphoria of the outcome, which has satisfied the Dati Leumi population of the Dolev area - mainly. Yes, I support the conclusion of this fight. However it is important to realise that the result only satisfies the Dati Leumi of the Dolev area. There are still Dati Leumi in Lachish, Sorek, and Nachshon, who believed that the mikva in Lachish would also be run by the Moatza Datit, and only now realise, that they have to go all the way to Dolev on a permanent basis now. However, I do understand that numbers count, and that most of the Dati Leumi is in Dolev area. I just wanted to let you know, that there are people like myself still "flying the flag" - literally, in the Lachish area, and it cannot be considered totally Chareidi.

  3. "the extremists wanted to take control over the two mikvas saying “the mizrochnikim will not fight for the mikvas”,"

    This is a straw man.
    As far as I can see, someone on the DL side made this up as they have made up similar ridiculous accusations in the past(LA stealing children) to rile up their public.
    The only side trying to change the status quo and get both sides is the DL side.
    I have heard many of them saying they want both.

  4. On the contrary anon I liked that speech very much. It states much more clearly some of what has been coming out of the dati leumi community as garbled information and as a result much more hateful.

    (1) The "fight" was against extremist interests to "take over" RBS A.

    (2) Rav Vargon explicitly specifies that the extremists are not the majority of Charedim in RBS A, not the shuls we talk about.

  5. No Extremists Here?May 16, 2010 6:55 PM

    "Rav Vargon explicitly specifies that the extremists are not the majority of Charedim in RBS A, not the shuls we talk about."

    With all respect to Rav Vargon, who is relatively new on the RBS scene, places like Beis Tefilla and the Gra are led by wolves in sheep's clothing.

  6. Anonymous: "I have heard many of them [DL] saying they want both."

    Could that be, perhaps, sir, because the Moetzet Hadatit *PAID* for both?!

    It has always been an absolute chutzpah for the private Chareidi rabbonim to take away public property, paid for by the Moetza Hadatit.

    The fact that they have gotten away with this behavior in the past, and seem to have got away with it again now on Lachish, does not take away from the chutzpah of it.

    Add to this the incompetence (actually, abusiveness), which is now public knowledge, that they have practiced in managing the right side of the mikva - and these people should be NEVER be permitted to hold any positions of public responsibility in the future.

  7. "Add to this the incompetence (actually, abusiveness), which is now public knowledge...."

    The issue of a bad mikvah lady has been blown way out of proportion. It's an embarrassment to the Charedi management that it wasn't stopped immediately, but it has been stopped.

    What makes us not realize the problem has been dealt with, is that no announcement was made from the Charedi Rabbanim - I think they would have been better off "coming clean" and making some statement. Even something vague like "the supervision and procedures have been newly reviewed with all Charedi-trained staff to prevent future misunderstandings" would imply they dealt with something.

    But I'll bet the Charedi reason for not acknowledging there was a problem to fix, would be something like it's not tznius to talk about the mikvah.

  8. What the good people of RBSA don't realize is that the mikve "issue" is not really THE issue at all.

    It is the issue of control and power.

    There are elements in our community that must have control and power over all aspects of life.

    The mikve is just one of those aspects.

    As is kashrus, schools, tzedaka funds and youth groups.

    When the rabbanut runs the mikve that means that these people don't have total power.

    When a school opens with a different hashkafa (ie limudei chol or bagriyut for girls) this symbolizes a lack of total control on chinuch.

    A tzedaka organization that has different rabbonim at it's healm poses a risk to the monopoly of certain "powers that be".

    Rabbanut hechsherim (and even more "mehadrin" ones) are belittled.
    The thoughtful approach would be to say...what a wonderful commun ity that offers viable choices to it's members.

    What we see instead is a concerted effort to take over the mikve, prevent the success of the schools and deligitimize the "other" organizations and kashrus supervisions.

    I can't believe that any of this is rooted in Torah philosophy.

  9. Something very wrong is going on in our communities.

    It is time the Rabbonim took responsibility. Have they forgotten that the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed due to sinat hinam (baseless hatred)?

  10. Rivka I disagree. The people get the leaders they earn. And on top of that the leaders can only lead where the people will be led.

    It's up to us.

  11. I agree, this is not really about the mikvah, but about power games and who is going to run this neighbourhood. It won't be long before there is another 'issue', and then another, until the DL throw up our hands in defeat and leave the area. Just like the non-religious have done already.
    This is a pattern already being seen in numerous towns across Israel where haredim move in and then take over everything. Don't believe that it is actually about the mikveh.

  12. rw,

    100% on the mark.

    The only way to counter this is to stay here and support the shuls,schools, organizations and businesses that are open to and respect everyone!


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