Saturday, June 30, 2007
Set The World On Fire
If you’ve been bad
(Lord I bet you’ve had)
You’d better bow your head
And wait for the ricochet
-“Child in time”, Deep Purple (In Rock, 1970)
An article in last week’s New York Times exemplifies the utter ignorance, stupidity, the tendency to lump separate subjects together and stigmatize entire communities with no base whatsoever – this by those who purport to be the world’s most open-minded, progressive, tolerant and knowledgeable people.
Not so. The Times carefully chose to show only a slight glimpse of an enormous regional conflict, and distort even that. Incidentally, Wal-Mart is the single issue that Hassidim and their fiercest opponents agree on. When one takes sides on the sole basis of “Wal-Mart being pure evil” you know that it’s the ghost of Stalin speaking through him, while the one who proclaims that “Hassidim started to move in in droves” to “avoid the hustle and bustle of the city” and because they loved the idyllic hamlet set in a green forest with its “huge properties and gigantic houses” you know it’s the tinek shenishbo in him that talks.
Monsey. Good ol’ Monsey, still unincorporated, a once small hamlet in the once quiet town of Ramapo. When ‘Upstate New York’ meant everything north of the Bronx, there were farms here, large wooded areas, hunting was permitted, there was no ban on discharge of firearms, and there were more deer than men. This was a quiet, beautiful and peaceful town. It is important to note that the area is rather affluent and upscale – many vacation homes, retirees and local well-to-do business owners made up the bulk of the population. No one bothered the first Jews who moved in here over 70 years ago. No one bothered the students of Bais Medresh Elyon when they bought a building that once was an Army fort. And no one said a thing when Jews – MO, Yeshivish, Germans, Spharadim started to flock to the new, not too far and fairly affordable village. (Hassidim only started to appear in the early '80es, when it was a full-fledged Orthodox community.) In fact, the Gentile neighbors were so nice that for the most they just packed their bags, sold their houses for a nice profit, and moved elsewhere without uttering a peep.
Despite my unconcealed dislike of Hassidim, a few things have to be asserted at this point;
First, urban sprawl is a national problem. Many people want out of the city, and as commute became easier, distances shrunk. Nowadays, working as far as sixty miles from home is not unheard of. Second, there is a general trend, among all Americans, to want bigger and fancier houses than ever before. This of course requires larger lots, which are not naturally grown in Harlem. Third, corruption, the worship of the Holy Dollar God is ubiquitous – and breeds corruption, fraud, rift and insanity. Last but not least, Hassidim, just like everyone else, have every single right to live their lives as they see fit, despite what anyone else - myself included, may think of such a lifestyle.
What they do not have a right to do is to defiantly fly in the face of their neighbors and their host nation. They have no right to snicker and smirk in everyone’s face, to buy off politicians, behave like brutes, litter and cause damages everywhere, illegally add 50 to 150 percent of what they got a permit to build, they have no right to defraud the government, shopping in luxurious fur coats and wigs and pay for the fancy food with foodstamps, to fraudulently collect HUD/Sec 8 in houses they own, to sit in the Social Security office with fist-sized diamonds dangling from their ears, and to fraudulently down-zone entire towns. They have no right to fraudulently operate humongous not-for-profit organizations that ransack the taxpayers. They have no right to buy up village and town-owned lands without approval of the other residents, to overbuild them and to declare every other edifice or condo-complex a ‘Yeshiva’ to exempt it from taxes. It is interesting to note that the most brutal and defiant are specifically those who so vehemently proclaim the prohibition on rebelling against the nations. I guess that only applies to Zionists.
It must be mentioned though, that many of the overbuilding and overcrowding’s opponents share the guilt by being silent for so long, and enjoying the flux of business the Orthodox Jews brought with them.
It is beyond the scope of this article to describe all the devastation that Orthodox Jews – mostly Hassidim, but others too, have inflicted on this town. Instead, take a few extra-strength Tylenols, a bowl just in case your stomach isn’t rough enough, go to preserveramapo.org - and be prepared for a nasty surprise. Suffice to mention that whenever the original residents of the town dare voicing the slightest protest, they are immediately accused of anti-Semitism.
Such behavior is simply unjust, wrong, repulsive, criminal, unethical, contrary to halocha and any and all Jewish principles. Even worse is that virtually no one from within the community and our rabbis stand up to this monstrosity. I guess when all sources of water are drained, we’ll just blame it on the preservationists’ anti-Semitism.
I very, very strongly suggest you review the Meshech Chochma’s interpretation of the verse “ואף גם זאת לא מאסתים ולא געלתים וכו'” in parshas Bechukosai. It is first and foremost the responsibility of the Orthodox community and rabbis to stand up to this insane depravity and stop it once and for all.