Monday, June 2, 2008

Current Events: Sociology, Tommy Lapid and the 'Ultra-Orthodox' Response.

Just trying to distinguish--with my title--this more timely (and thus more conventionally blog like) post. I saw the following link on "Life in Israel" blog--which I thought I would share: http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2008/06/more-haredi-reactions-to-death-of-tommy.html
The youtube link records Haredi (or ultra-orthodox; that word again!)reactions to the death of Tommy Lapid--who was best known for his activity in the Shinui Party, a party which according to the left of center newspaper Haaretz, "sought to curb the growing political power of ultra-Orthodox parties" (this is a generous assessment of Lapid's sometimes inflammatory and provocative political behavior). The Israeli YNET reporter went to religious neighborhoods in attempt to elicit reactions after Lapid's death. Even those who don't understand Hebrew can tell from the tone of the questions, and the tone and body language of those interviewed, that YNET was not able to elicit the reactions (that is, extremist) which it sought.

This goes to demonstrate what sometimes seems like a conspiracy between right-wing kanai'im (fanatics) and the left wing media which both want to portray the 'ultra-orthodox' sector as fanatically extreme. But beyond the stereotypes and sociological distinctions (which as I've said before put a wedge between people rather than unite them), there is something like normalcy, and maybe even room for common ground.

I've always felt, by the way, that Lapid's persistent attack on the orthodox was a sign of his own internal connection to Torah--to use a mystical register, the sparks of kedushah or holiness, that were trying to come out. I know others may think differently, though apparently many in the orthodox world against which Lapid fought so vigorously (and sometimes bitterly) felt a connection to him, and genuine sadness at his passing.

5 comments:

Rafi G said...

another interesting thing to note is that originally, when he was brash and in politics, people called him anti-Haredi and anti-religious. Now they are saying he was not so, rather he was anti-religious coercion but not anti-religious.

I guess time away gives one a different perspective than in the heat of battle.

Yaakov A. Mascetti said...

There are so many things which Lapid and Shinui fought for in the parliament that it is a bit reductive to label him, yet again, as anti-religious. I agree with Bill when he says that sociological elements put a wedge between people rather than bringing them together. But, on the other hand, Haredi orthodoxy has found the way to define itself, in a rather stiff and etymological manner, as the bastion of the Right Opinion - which is simply wrong, simply wrong. People like Lapid disagreed. Beyond the narratives of sparks and souls searching for Torah (hmmm), one should appreciate more the work that Lapid did for the Israeli society...

Yaakov A. Mascetti said...

Bill: I've re-read the blog on Lapid and your comments on it too, another time, before I comment again. What I'd also like to point out is the fact that Lapid was rightfully against the phenomenon of religious exploitation of State funds - yeshivas et al. If a lot of these people learn all day, do not pay taxes, do not serve in the army and do not contribute to the economy of the country, then why should the middle class (which btw includes you too Bill) pay for them all? There is a profound and disgusting situation of injustice which seems to be hard to end - Lapid was against it. Does that make him a bad Jew? Does that make him a person who is refusing his inner sparks? Hmmm... It's not only a matter of politics - it is also a matter of social justice. The day haredim, all haredim, will work, respond to drafts, pay taxes, not live on state funded cheques, and so on, that day people like Lapid will have absolutely nothing to say. --

Yaakov A. Mascetti said...

Hello Bill - since I was a bit surprised by this posting of yours, I thought this counter-example, might help in putting things into perspective as far as Yossi Lapid is concerned. Rabbi Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi of Israel, wrote an "hesped" on Ynet - it's reported on Failed Messiah (that guy is really good...): http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2008/06/former-chief-ra.html

Enjoy... as always things are much more complicated than what they seem...

Spinal Muscular Atrophy - Shira Fisher said...

Personally I'm not surprised at all that there hasn't been any harsh criticism of this man at this point especially by the right as at this point it would be a serious offence i.e. Tazria-Metzora: Guard your tongue from evil. Superstitious (just in case it is true) or religious I think Halacha got to the paparazzi.
"this principle is extended from the living to the dead. Immanuel ben Shlomo, 13th century Hebrew poet who lived in Rome, warned: "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" (Do not speak ill of the dead). Clearly, the dead are not able to defend themselves."