Sunday, May 11, 2008

Contra Haredim

Rav Benny Lau (of our community) chose the 60th Anniversary as the moment to launch an attack on the Haredi control of the rabbinate.

Most of what he writes is not particularly new, though some of the recent examples of Haredi meddling, most notably their attempt to revoke thousands of conversions not done by them, have indeed been particularly aggravating. Not many people outside the Haredi community would disagree with him.

The weakest part of his argument is that the religious Zionist camp is ever less unified itself. Some parts of it are drifting towards the Haredis, or away from Zionism because a majority of the Zionists disagree with them about the Divine command to control the West Bank; on the other end of their spectrum, a significant minority of their children are leaving the fold as they reach adulthood. It appears, unfortunately, that their own message could use some tinkering or re-evaluation.

Which is too bad, since one of their main ideas: that one can and should be orthodox and fully modern simultaneously, offers a better balance than most of the alternatives.

Meanwhile, my erstwhile teacher Menahem Ben Sasson, currently an important member of Knesset, looks at the issue of the Haredi moves from a more constitutional perspective. His argument, however, is not all that different from Benny Lau's.

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