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May 14, 2008

ignorant but simple

This week's edition of the local BS rag "Chadash" (which was only distributed on Monday and not last Friday) ran an editorial with which I take umbrage.

He describes an incident in which the lines at the cash registers of the local supermarket "Aleph" were extremely long, consisting almost completely of Haredi consumers. One of the people standing in line looked very different, in his dress and appearance. While he had on a small kipa, in Bet Shemesh that means nothing (I guess because it is a very masorati, or traditional, city), and this fellow was standing in the very long line, very out of place.

The editor continues, One of the Haredi shoppers approached this fellow in wonderment. he asked this fellow why he was shopping there. We are Haredi and therefore will not go to the supermarket across the way, but why do you prefer to stand here in this long line rather than go to the supermarket (Shefa Shuk) which is fairly empty, and get out quicker?

The fellow simply answered that he saw Shefa was fairly empty and Aleph was very busy. He assumed that meant the prices at Aleph were much better, so that is where he chose to go in.

The Haredi fellow responded that the reason we are not shopping at Shefa is not related to the prices offered, rather because the Rabbonim have recommended not shopping there because of the chillul shabbos of the owner.

The fellow simply responded that if that is the case, then he is happy he decided to shop in Aleph because he too is shomer shabbos.

On its own it is a nice story that shows the temimusdike attitude of some people and how sometimes some things are so obvious, we only mess it up because we start making accountings and suggesting why it does apply or does not, is this the right or wrong approach, will it help or not etc.

It is good mussar that sometimes we just should accept certain things, if the Rabbonim make a decision, and not try to justify or argue or understand. Don't involve philosophy. If a person opens a store, and he is mechalel shabbos, people who keep shabbos should not be shopping there. Just do what is right. These are points the editor goes on to make in the editorial.

What disturbed me is when the editor then said, "There we see a simple Jew, like the person in our story, who does not understand much, I don't think he even knows that there is a book in existence called "Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchoso", but he understands that he cannot support someone who is mechalel shabbos."

Just because he is not Haredi and has a small kipa on his head means he knows nothing about keeping shabbos? The fellow said he is shomer shabbos, so why do they think he knows nothing about shabbos - just because he was not dressed Haredi? His kippa size? His simplicity?
maybe he uses a different book for the laws of Shabbos and not Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchoso - does that mean he knows nothing, as the editor implies?

If you are not Haredi you are ignorant and simple?


  1. honeslty, does this surpise you? There is a very large superiority complex that hareidi people exhibit. And i see it more and more with those who close themselves off to society. Hareidim i meet who do not work with chilonim, or who have no chiloni relative, etc, are insufferably narrow minded and egotistical about religion.
    You really enjoy reading the "Chadash"?

  2. "enjoy"? no but it provides great material!

  3. Rafi-

    I agree with your sentiments totally.
    After making aliyah I approached a certain local tzedaka organization here in town to volunteer. I was a little apprehensive as I am more "dati leumi" looking than most of the people invloved.

    I was asked if I could be a monthly collector for my shul or building. That wasn't the type of volunteering I had in mind.Although I was a little uncomfortable with the idea I agreed at first.
    Each and every time that I met/spoke with the people in the organization I felt that I was being treated like a child. As if I didn't understand their "way of doing things", their lifestyle.

    I stopped after a short while as I felt that I was only being used and not really part of the group.

    In my relativley short time in Israel I get this feeling from many in the Charedi world.

    From your post at least I know that I'm not alone.

  4. my general experience in dealing with chareidim in london is that i'm assumed, as a kippa sruga wearer, to be somewhat ignorant. e.g one morning when learning from my mini-gemara on the train, i received looks of disbelief from a fellow who turned out to be a gateshead kollel yungerman. sometimes i prefer to pleasantly surprise people, than if it was the other way around.

  5. right religion - its not only "less frum looking" people - for lack of a better term. i look very much the chareidi part and when i asked if i could get involved and help, they asked me for help cpllecting money. maybe i know people in america. i said iwant to help in other ways, not collecting money, they said they dont need me.

    while i hear what you are saying, i dont think the example you used is quite correct.

    OTOH - there are plenty of people who are "shomer shabbos" that dont know much about shmiras shabbos. Many MO YI style people (thats where i grew up) dont know about the sefer SSK, nor do they know much about the 39 melachos other than you cant drive or watch tv unless a goy or clock turns it on. Its not such a wonder that a chareidi is surprised by someone who doesnt look like he cares too much about yahadus would care so much about shopping in alef or shefa. I agree that its a nice thing and its ignorance at its best. But not as far fetched as you are imagining

  6. Anon,

    I have heard that Lema'an Achai, although run by a Charedi guy is more open to both whom they help and whom they let help.

    Do you know if this is true?

  7. It only took 6 comments.
    Is that a record?

  8. Although I live in RBS A, i do not know anything about LA. I live on the chareidi part of RBS A and they dont have anything to do with our neighborhood. Atleast nothing on the public scene.

    I have heard positive things on the one hand, and i have heard that not everyone is happy with it. Guess thats the case with everything in the world :) There are plenty of people that can sing its praises - and many of them are frequent readers here, and many have in fact wrote about the great things LA does.
    What i must say that i am 100% sure is that they (like all tzedakahs) are pretty lenient in terms of who they get money from.

  9. IF you don't have the facts about LA then don't spew!
    LA will help anyone that needs it in RBSa.
    As their latest campaign ads say-they see only 2 types of Jews; those who can give help and those that need help.

  10. Dear Anon (of 1:44),

    I was asked to post an "official" response to your comments about Lema'an Achai.

    Lema'an Achai serves the entire Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef community both geographically and demographically.

    There are families assisted by Lema'an Achai on practically every street in the Rama from one end to the other.

    Lema'an Achai is a community organization and assists the poor regardless of their level of observance. Being that a large percentage of the populace is Charedi the majority of Lema'an Achai's families are as well. But we don't judge a poor person by his/her "cover" (or lack there of). We help them based on their needs and personal situation.

    You stated that

    "I live on the chareidi part of RBS A and they dont have anything to do with our neighborhood. At least nothing on the public scene"

    I don't know on which street you live but I can assure you that we do in fact have alot to do with your neighborhood.

    The public "scene" might include our posters or other material in shuls or other buildings.

    Unfortunately although our services and finacial help are welcomed in all areas our public presence is not.

    Perhaps that is why you perceive that we don't have what to do with your neighborhood.

    The fact that there are people who are happy with as well as those who are not is expected. As Lincoln said..."you can't please all of the people...."

    We're not here to please. Lema'an Achai aims to help and serve those in need with professionals and volunteers of the highest caliber helping on the highest levels.

    I invite you and anyone else reading this blog to come and see what Lema'an Achai is all about. Call our office at 999-1553 and let's set up a time to meet, discuss Lema'an Achai and answer questions you might have.

    Better yet, volunteer! Join us in making Ramat Bet Shemesh an even better place for all of its residents.

    Kol Tuv,
    Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal
    Executive Director


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