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May 29, 2008

mehadrin buses and National Religious passivity

Rav Yuval Sherlo, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Hesder Yeshiva of Petach Tikva and a rising, though sometimes controversial, star in the National Religious Rabbinate weighed in with interesting thoughts on two topics.

  1. On the topic of the recent geirus controversy - Rav Sherlo wrote a column in which he lays the blame completely on the National Religious public.He wrote that because the National Religious leadership removed itself from the public leadership, by declaring in advance that it would sit in the opposition and not join the Olmert government, it removed itself from being in position to lead rabbinicly. The decision was legitimate, but it has ramifications. By staying in the opposition, it means that its Rabbis would lose out the appointments to the Chief Rabbinate and as city Rabbis. the Haredim win those positions now because their parties are in the right positions.
    Also, the National Religious Rabbinate never held a serious discussion to come up with Halachic methods, that are acceptable lechatchila, for conversions, converts and how to deal with them. What is considered "acceptance of mitzvos", how much follow up there must be, how much ibvestigation must be conducted to reveal deception, and the like. Because they have not determined their positions on these matters, the National Religious public should be looking inward and should blame themselves. Until they came up with their own halachically acceptable decisions and positions, they cannot spend their time blaming others [i.e. the Haredim].

    Rav Sherlo says that the National Religious should leave the Haredim alone, not lay blame at their feet for the situation, not complain about the Haredim. Rather, they should be working to fix the problem. They should be formulating positions and working on their own plans. When the time comes, he says, "We will return and will take the responsibility for those Torah issues, and that will strengthen the Israeli nation in the ways of halacha.

  2. Rav Sherlo was asked for a psak by a female correspondent how she hsould relate to the phenomenon of Mehadrin buses.
    She writes that the bus she takes to work is a mehadrin bus. It is not clear whether Egged has a right to make such a segregation, and the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the situation in the case pending before it. She writes that she personally has a problem with it. Her problem is two-fold:
    1. the idea of it is degrading to her and the extremism involved distrubs her.
    2. She is prone to motion sickness and sitting in the back, nearer to the engine, increases her discomfort.
    So she asks Rav Sherlo what his position on these buses is, does she have to respect the religious extremism of others and sit in the back even though it increases her discomfort, if the back of the bus is full but there are seats available in the front half - can she sit there, and is there a difference for a pregnant or older woman?
    Rav Sherlo responds that he belives there is great importance in keeping the public forum a place that is tzanua, not having immodest advertising signs up for example, and that we should live with tznius. But, Rav Sherlo writes, "I am against the mehadrin buses. These buses are mehadrin in shaming other people. in dealing with tznius in an immodest fashion, and more." Rav Sherlo continues that he thinks "that a person should not do it specifically, just to oppose it, and get on the bus in the front. One does not need to start a war over this, at this point. But if you are doing it not just to oppose - "Davka" - but for a purpose, such as your motion sickness, or when there are no available seats in the back, then you can sit wherever you want. And those who change things, they have the lower hand" .


  1. The original is here:

    R' Sherlo answers about 5-10 questions a day on moreshet.co.il and they are often very good reading. I sometimes read the questions and guess how one should respond, or how he would respond, and then read down to see how he did respond. Sometimes I do the same with other rabbis on the site, though they are not as high profile as R' Sherlo.

  2. "he lays the blame completely on the National Religious public.He wrote that because the National Religious leadership removed itself from the public leadership, by declaring in advance that it would sit in the opposition and not join the Olmert government . . ."

    this is true, but this phenomenon predates the olmert government by quite a few governments. it's been a while since the dati leumi community had the chief rabbinate, education ministry, etc.

  3. B"H

    Not surprised. No sources here, nothing that couldn't be politically motivated,...ie the Rb. Druckman/Rb. Sherman controversy.

    We don't hold according to politics nor feelings....but sources from HaZa"l.

  4. Let us not forget that "Rav" Cherlow equated Avodah Ivrith with Nazism.

    These mamlachtim are single handedly bringing our people down. They worship the state. They interpret halacha according to their state worshiping hashqafah. They hide things of Rav Kook they don't like in the Merkaz HaRav geniza, and "no, it's because people will get confused."

    There are even some, according to Rav Moshe Tzuriel who would have us reinterpret gemaras so that they are totally in line with "their" concept of "avahath hinam."

    Yes, they would have us love the evil person, even though Rav Kook ztz"l {and the Talmud} says the opposite.

    Starting to sound like the Rabbanim miTa'am of Tsarist Russia, no?

    ...or worse.


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