Oct 14, 2015

The provocation of being Jewish


sometimes, in the eyes of some people or groups, it is bad to do things that might be considered provocative and upset the non-Jews and maybe even trigger them to violence. Other times one should adamantly insist on acting the right way, insisting on one's right and behave according to proper behavior, even if doing so might upset the non-Jews and trigger violence.

In concept, that some things are more important than other things, some ideals are greater than others, and whether to continue despite creating a provocation or to stop so as to avoid the provocation, makes sense. Some things are greater. Some things are more important than other things.

In practice though, it seems to get played out more in line with any given person's personal bias than using some sort of objective scale of what is important and what is not. What I feel is important I will say is something we should do even if it upsets the non-Jews, while somebody else will say that isn't important enough and it is prohibited to provoke the goyim. That same person might then hold something else of greater importance and say to do it, despite the fact that it too provokes the goyim.

What am I talking about?

The first issue I am referring to is Har Habayit. That is commonly spoken about in the context of what everyone else thinks about Har Habayit. Some of us say that Har Habayit is ours, it is our core, it is our soul, and even if it provokes the non-Jews that we control it and go there, it is important enough that we should do so.

I would even say that even if they completely ban Jews from Har Habayit, we should still control it, and even ban Arabs from there as well. Because it is ours. It is the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and despite a possible provocation, and we should hold on to it tightly, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Other people, and we hear from them often, say that Jews shouldn't go there, Jews should be banned, our association with Har Habayit provokes the Arabs.


I say, and 7 or 8 million other people, say that Jews should be in Eretz Yisrael, despite the fact that the Arabs, and many other non-Jews, don't want us here. Our presence here clearly provokes the goyim - we've been living here for 70 years in relatively unpeaceful conditions, yet we continue to live here.

Even the vast majority of people who say not to go to Har Habayit, relinquish control of Har Habayit to the Arabs, because of the inherent provocation of our association with it, do not say we should abandon Eretz Yisrael and leave it to the Arabs, just because our presence here provokes them. There are some people, not too many but some, who say that as well - Jews should not be in Eretz Yiisrael as it provokes the goyim (among other arguments).

And then we have an issue that seems on the surface to be much more mundane. Some might say it is an issue be of vital importance.

Mynet is reporting that Rav Shternbuch, of the Eida Hachareidis, has said that people should continue to dress like Haredi Jews, with beard, peyos, the traditional Jewish garb of black and white clothing, and not hide the fact that one is a frum Jew.

Why would one want to hide it?

Just like in many parts of Europe today, the visible presence of Jews seems to be provocative.

In Europe, our presence triggers the goyim to attack us. They somehow all lose their minds and culture and civility when they see Jews, and resort to violence to rid France, or wherever, of the Jews. To prevent acts of violence. many Jews in Europe do what they can to hide their presence. They dress more European, wear hats instead of kippot. Some will go bareheaded entirely. They'll trim or remove their beards and make their peyos less conspicuous.

It seems that some in Israel are similarly concerned. Dressing like a frum jew, easily visible, makes one a target for Arabs looking to harm jews. The question was posed that perhaps we should make ourselves less conspicuous - trim our peyos and beards, dress more generically, etc.

Rav Shternbuch said that his rebbe, during World War II, continued to dress in his rabbinic garb, and even grew his peyos extra long, so it would be completely obvious to everyone that he was a frum Jew. He called this a kiddush hashem.

Rav Shternbuch said that dressing in public like a Jew, with beard and peyos, is a public declarationthe Haredi Jewry is still thriving and we are not embarrassed of being Jews but we are proud of it. He even took the opportunity to point out the Jews who go to Har Habayit and say they provoke the goyim to violence and one day will have to pay for that.

Jewish identity is important. We know that the Jews in Egypt did not change three things, three things that made them easily identifiable as Jews; their names, their language and their traditional Jewish garb. I happen to agree with him that we should not be ashamed of our identity and should continue to dress Jewish (though we might differ on which parts of our dress code are part of what is supremely important and which parts are less so). Everyone else should learn to deal with it.

Is a black jacket or an untrimmed beard more important than protecting the sanctity of Har Habayit, the heart of the Jewish Nation? Again, I am not even saying we need to go up on Har Habayit, but we should at least control it and prevent the access of non-Jews as much as possible, especially when they do not behave appropriately up there.

To Rav Shternbuch wearing black jacket and pants and having an untrimmed beard is more important as part of the Jewish identity than Har Habayit is, so Rav Shternbuch paskens that dressing Jewish is a great ideal and should be done even in the face of the threat of being the target of violence, while associating with Har Habayit is bad because of the provocation of violence.

To me Jewish identity is also of great import, but if necessary I do not see it as a big deal to wear a colored shirt and trim the beard a bit, to avoid violence, though I do not say one has to. I see no problem with having untrimmed beards while wearing black and white and making oneself a target (I do not really believe that makes a person a target), but if someone does feel that way, I see nothing wrong with trimming the beard a bit, brushing the peyos behind the ear, and wearing a colored shirt to avoid provoking violence.

To me, Har Habayit protected by Jews (again, without even talking about Jews going there to pray) is far more important to the Jewish nation than a white shirt or some loose beard hairs. Just like living in Eretz Yisrael is important enough that we do so despite the provocation it causes.

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  1. Rafi - you seem to be missing a major point

    We don't control it!

    We signed a peace treaty.

    So post after post you act like we can just take it back, and that it's ours to do with what we like - but it's not!

    Taking it back and doing what we want would mean tearing up a multinational treaty - virtually guarantee a war, and we would be legally wrong - which would mean little support from allies both in war and at the un.

    So please stop spreading wrongful propoganda.

    its just wrong.

  2. where is there a peace treaty giving away the Temple Mount?
    the Arabs are crying about us changing the status quo on temple mount. no status quo has bene changed. accoridng to agreements, Jews are allowed on, Holy sites are protected. Jews are even allowed to pray.
    according t the status quo, jews have always been allowed on temple mount. nothing changed except the jews rights being lessened.

    but thats not what the post is about

  3. Excellent post Rafi. Daniel, I think you have your facts wrong here and Rafi's response is exactly right.

  4. I don't get the question. Someone looks less Jewish if he wears a colored shirt and trims his beard? He still has a beard, he's still wearing a kipa. It isn't as if he's dressing like a city worker who isn't fully identifiable.


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