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Nov 15, 2010

making a kiddush hashem rather than an inadvertent chillul hashem

Pirkei Avos tells us that we should always be wary that our actions speak well of us, and do not lead to people to suspect us of wrongdoing.

That means that a person has to think about what he is about to do. A person has too ensure he lives his life making a kiddush hashem rather than an inadvertent chillul hashem.

A writer on Kikar Shabbos describes a story he witnessed firsthand that perfectly reflects the above lesson. He writes that he was standing in line waiting for a bus at the central bus station in Jerusalem. The bus came along, and the passengers began getting on the bus, each person waiting patiently for his or her turn to alight.

Suddenly, two yeshiva boys showed up and cut the whole line pushing their way onto the bus at the front of the line, completely ignoring all the people that had been waiting patiently, each for his own turn..

The writer agrees that it didn't seem like there was any malicious intent. They just went automatically to the front of the line. They did not even notice they were doing anything wrong.

Meanwhile, a woman standing behind the writer tells her 12 year old son who asks why they cut the line, that they did so because they are religious and don't follow the rules - everything is allowed for them.

The writer says he tried to diffuse the situation by offering the woman and her son to get on the bus before him. She thanked him and refused, explaining she was talking about those boys and not him. He confronted the yeshiva boys describing the chillul hashem they had just inadvertently caused. They hemmed and hawed and then disappeared onto the bus.

The lesson he points to, in his article, is that derech eretz kadma l'torah. Personally, I think this is a perfect example of people who just don't think and do things not realizing the impression they leave on others, not just the impression of themselves but the impression they create regarding the whole religious, or haredi, community. If they would think first, and be concerned about always making a good impression, perhaps the general society would not think so poorly of the haredi community.


  1. "People who don't think" also isn't really an excuse. My frei MO elementary school drilled into my from first grade that all of my actions reflect on me, my family and my community. I ALWAYS need to think about how my actions speak for me. At 35, I still take this to heart.

    It doesn't sound like this is a midda that's really ingrained in the charedi community. Correct me if i'm wrong.

  2. It is also due to the amount of "bitul" of others in the Charedi community.

    When another Jew's kashrus,schools,buses,shuls,tzedka,skirt length,kippa color and material,etc aren't "good enough" then everything about them is substandard hence the attitude that "we are better".

    If we are better we deserve to cut in line, receive more benefits, force our ways, etc on the others who aren't like us.

  3. Two things:

    - This type of lack of manners seems to be a general problem in Israeli society, at least as compared to the US. (Though not to Brooklyn.)

    - That said, it does appear to be worse among the more "religious" segments of society. I think this applies in the US too. I'm sure there are many reasons for it, but one of them has to be a sense of entitlement that's being fostered in the system.

  4. I think more than entitlement it's because chinuch nowadays has the wrong emphasis.

    Go to a charedi parenting class, they're telling the girls their job is to raise the next Gadol Hador.

    Everyone is so focused on the end-result of making boys top-top-top in learning that they aren't starting with the fundamental building blocks.

  5. Modern Orthodox of Nofei AvivNovember 16, 2010 12:21 PM

    This is far from a dati leumi vs charedi issue. Even in non charedi modern orthodox "anglo" communities (i.e., Nofei Aviv) there is alot of bad chinuch going. 5th and 6th grade girls bully other girls in the same class telling them no one is coming to their bat mitzvah and "we all got together and we all agree that not one of us are coming to your bat mitzvah. You have no friends...Ha Ha Ha..." This happened to our child and when I asked 2 of the other girls' mothers to speak to their daughters and begged them to tell their daughters to stop tormenting our child and also to invite my daughter to their girls' bat mitzvahs they said "oh dont get involved...they'll work it out..." A third mother (who is some sort of abuse therapist) denied her precious daughter would ever do such a thing. How dare I even say such a thing! Basically, since it wasn't their daughter who was being socially ostracized so they couldn't care less. Meanwhile, my daughter suffered and we were shocked that the other parents of that "caring" community didnt give a hoot. Our daughter was subject to ridicule at school and these girls made additional fun of her because I asked to get her invited. Can you imagine, I begged them to invite our child and they refused and the girls make fun of her. We will never forget what the Nofei Aviv people there did to us and our child. And these are not charedim these are your dati leumi folks.

  6. I think there is another important lesson that is being missed here.

    We need to learn to here tochacha (from whoever says it), take it to heart, and act on it if necessary. This whole story would be different if it ended with the two buchrim hearing the writers admonition, and honestly apologizing for their behavior.


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