Whose effigies should we hang?

We pray intently that these so-called religious individuals will be washed away by a flood of righteousness and good will.

May 29, 2017 21:20
3 minute read.
haredim IDF soldiers

Haredi extremists burn haredi IDF soldier in effigy. (photo credit: HAIM GOLDBERG)


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Last fall in Poland a Polish group hung a Jewish woman in effigy. There was a small protest. One hundred years ago in the US state of Georgia a Jew was hung in effigy. His name was Leo Frank and he had already been lynched, in August 1915, but newly arisen Klu Klux Klan continued to hang him.

In 1964 I was a student in Jerusalem in the Israel program of Jewish Theological Seminary of America. On Lag Ba’omer that year our adviser took us to visit Rabbi Amram Blau, one of the founders of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group, in Mea She’arim. One part of the conversation was about the burning of the Israeli flag on Lag Ba’omer by a group of Haredim, ultra-Orthodox Jews.

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To me burning effigies expresses the essence of those who participate. I was appalled by the burning in effigy of the Haredi IDF soldier by Haredim this past Lag Ba’omer. What kind of human beings are these people, fellow Israelis. What motivates them to bring more hatred their way?

They supposedly study in the country’s yeshivot, and are paid to do this. But light their fire and you will see what kind of fire-starters they are – burning effigies is a real specialty of theirs.

The State of Israel has given these black-hatted hyenas the funds to prey not just on the secular but now also on the Haredim themselves. I am familiar with a musmach (ordinated rabbi) of Slobodka, who could be called a Haredi. He carried with him the knowledge imparted to him by the greats of Kovno and Slobodka. His beard was black and then white, like those of the leaders of the Haredim. However, Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor, the Kovno Rav, instructed him that human beings were important and should be honored. His early sermons – this musmach – were tirades against the Reform movement and apikorsim (heretics). Did it help? Probably not.

Then he changed. Still a Haredi, not a Hassid, his sermons were reflections of all Jews as partners in the course of trying to build American Jewry and help it develop. One of his most powerful sermons in the 1930s emphasized that Jewish leadership needed the characteristic of a Joshua, “ish asher ruah bo,” a person in whom there is spirit and who can lead.

This Haredi did not have to burn any object or person in effigy. He helped Jews find the right path in an America filled with seductive causes – seductive faiths. The approach was an appreciation of the human being created in the image of God. He had experienced the burning in effigy of Jews in pogroms in Lithuania and was told all about the Kishinev pogroms. He did not give up, went to US and used his 70 years there to try to educate Jews Jewishly – and especially not to burn their fellow religionists in effigy.

Where are the souls of these Haredim who would “burn, baby, burn?” Why have they chosen an Israeli soldier with sidelocks, one of their own, with whom to disgrace themselves?

Sadly, their leaders urge them on – last week they broke into in IDF camp and beat up soldiers. This is one of the tragedies of this modern age; no one knows where to stop, where to positively stream their efforts.

These Haredim have no idea what “hillul Hashem,” desecration of God’s name, means. They are just a band of black coats using their hands as bludgeons and their brains to conceive acts which will ravage those kindly souls who want to serve the nation. Burning them in effigy is the only answer they can offer.

We pray intently that these so-called religious individuals will be washed away by a flood of righteousness and good will. We mourn that IDF soldier burned in effigy. These provocations will only stop when we work leshem shamayim, for the sake of Heaven, and eradicate these dastardly acts.

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