For the record - I am proudly jewish, and very pro-Israel. Now that the formalities are out of the way, last week’s disgrace in Beit Shemesh in Israel has really made my blood boil.
You know how to get 3 opinions? Well, put 2 jews in a room. It’s only a joke – not a particularly funny one. It’s ironic and in many respects, (sadly) true. For a race as small in number as the jews, it’s tragic when jews riot, and throw stones at one another to prove a point .
The news from Beit Shemesh is pretty grim. From all the reports I’ve read, it seems some ultra-orthodox fanatics (called “Haredim” in Hebrew) spat on an eight year old modern orthodox girl, Naama Margolis because they deemed her dress to be inappropriate. It’s about as sad as the story that I read a few weeks ago, where the ultra-orthodox jewish man, asked a women to move to the back of the bus they were both riding as he was getting distracted --- and who knows, maybe even sexually aroused. Oh please … give me a break. This is 2012 now --- not the stone age. The women can sit where she wants on the bus, and you can too – and if you don’t like it buddy – get the hell off and take another bus.
Back to the spitting incident --- and if you get offended easily, you may want to stop reading this article now and write me a nasty comment … and I’m OK with that.
Question 1: Was the girl spat on
I’ve been in PR for many years, 16 to be precise and I know not to believe everything I see, read or hear. (There’s a concept of spin, you know). But when all reports I have read confirm the girl was spat on, I must believe it – after all, I have not read anything to the contrary. Spitting has no place in society today. It’s stone-age mentality, at least a millennium past its prime. Saying that spitting is disgusting would be paying this despicable act a compliment.
Question 2: If the girl was spat on, what gives the spitter the right to do something as lowly as that?
The million dollar question. Someone has no right to spit on another – and I don’t care what the circumstances are. It’s like the guy who only beats his wife only when he snorts a pound of coke and then gets a pardon from the law. Beating your wife is wrong, (no less wrong than a wife say, beating her husband) and so is spitting wrong. Period. Perhaps a better way was to chat to Naama’s parents --- better to attract bees with honey than vinegar, no? No report made mention of any goodwill among the different factions. Another point: I’m no Rabbi. Nor am I a Torah Scholar of much accomplishment. But, I have learned a thing or two from my esteemed Rabbi, (Rabbi Michalowicz of Westmount Community Shul) over the years.
First, as Jews, we must be accountable to our G_d and second, being the light unto nations, and with no less than 613 commandments, we must hold ourselves to a higher moral and ethical standard than the other nations.
Animals spit at one another. Jews? No! So-called “religious” jews? Certainly not
Does our G-d say that we should spit on others who irritate us, or even defy the law? I know not!
Does our God, say that we’ll be the light unto nations, by spitting on others who irritate us, or even defy the law? I know not!
This spitting incident only vilifies us, making us even more hated on the world’s stage. Haredim, what are you thinking??? There’s enough anti-semitism without you adding fuel to the fire.
Question 3: If the girl was spat on, and the spitter did have a right to spit on her, did she indeed deserve this
I think Naama’s mom summed it up well … “The exclusion of women from the public sphere makes my blood boil. They (haredim) are trying to take us back to dark eras; this is a grave injustice." And you know what? I agree. Make no mistake, I go to orthodox shul, (where the men and women sit separately) and for the most part follow orthodox doctrines, but the haredim have taken it way too far this time. No-one deserves to be spat on, least of all an eight year old girl. Shame on you haredim.
Want to know what you haredim should have done? Followed an example from Rabbi Finkel, Rosh Yeshiva of the great Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva:
A non-religious Israeli couple was married for 12 years and could not have children. They were distraught and decided to seek counsel from the renowned Rosh Yeshiva. It was a hot summer day and the couple knocked on the door. The woman was wearing her typical summer attire and was not modestly dressed.
Rebbetzin Finkel opened the door and greeted the couple. "How wonderful that you came to meet my husband!" Then she turned to the wife and warmly said, "You know, my husband is a great scholar – he learns all day. When I go in to speak with him, I wear a shawl out of respect. Why don't you come with me and see if I have one for you, too. I think I even have a perfect piece of jewelry to match. And we'll go in together to speak to him." They entered his study and told the rabbi why they had come. Rabbi Finkel had great difficulty talking due to the debilitating effects of Parkinson's. He mustered his strength and said to the woman, "You and I have a lot in common. We both know what suffering is." He began to sob, along with Rebbetzin Finkel. Then the couple started crying. Rabbi Finkel spoke with the couple for a while, offering words of comfort. He then took their names, and vowed to pray for them.
And you know what I’m doing now?? I’m praying that you haredim behave like humans and not like animals.