Tuesday, February 07, 2012

When Jews Fear 'The Other'

Tu b'Shevat 5772

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, a community leader from the Nachla'ot neighborhood in Jerusalem, wrote the important piece below, which appeared in Ha'Aretz was much nicer, more eloquent, balanced, and more timely than my attempt last month, entitled Haredi Backlash From The Nachla'ot Abuse Cases?

Of course, I just HAD to throw in a comment to Ha'Aretz, which I doubt they will publish. I could not resist the opportunity to call hypocrites (in this case secular Leftists) on their hypocrisy:

Incidentally, to all of you "pluralists," true pluralism means being inclusive of all views, including those with which you do not agree. Pluralism is NOT being inclusive of ONLY those views you find to fall within acceptable parameters. Maybe, just maybe, those parameters are based on cultural bias. Leftists, are you paying attention?

Ha'Aretz: When Jews fear 'The Other'
Could not an authentic and deep faith in God's hand in the world provide us with a more confident sense of balance in regard to other Jews?

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz
, February 5, 2012

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

(Bene Gesserit Litany against fear. From "Dune" by Frank Herbert)

I realize that only my fellow science fiction aficionado’s will be familiar with this classic passage, but fear as the mind-killer is very much a part of all of our lives.

I have no problem balancing on my feet, but place me near a ledge and, logic aside, I will instinctively withdraw - controlled by my fear. This fear may seem to serve me well - I have not fallen off of any cliffs to date - but I honestly wonder where this side of me reflects a larger withdrawal, and may keep me from living life to its fullest. Emerson said, "When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers."

I find it fascinating that we have a significant population in our Land that defines itself as "The Fearful Ones" – haredim. They have embraced withdrawal as a primary social modality, in what they must see as a healthy instinct for self-preservation. If we are to be fair, it is clear that the assault of Western values and culture on the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle is formidable; it is only natural that they should be afraid. But to me it is clear that while they think of themselves as the ones who fear God, it is fear of the world that most defines the haredi path. Could not an authentic and deep faith in God's hand in the world provide them with a more confident sense of balance, and allow them to draw closer to the “Ledge”?

(Click here to read the entire article...)

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