Friday, July 22, 2005

armchair quarterbacks of efrat

I subscribe to the email discussion list of my town Efrat. Despite the political moderation which Efrat (and Gush Etzion) is known for, there is often a sense of groupthink, mob mentality on the list. Sometimes I respond to issues brought up, but now temperatures and tempers are rising, and I think I'd prefer to bring up the points here, instead of on the list.

Two things:

  • Rabbi Riskin was attacked publicly for supporting a new fund designed to help the families who are set to be evacuated from Gush Katif later this summer. He was accused of demoralizing the public, admitting defeat, conceding to the enemy, etc. Besides the fact that I would hope that people here could respect opinion different from their own, I think that the approach that says we should avoid thinking about the "day after" because we hope it won't come - isn't very Jewish. We're the most pragmatic religion out there, and that's why we've survived for so long in so many difficult situations.

    I think a good example of this is something that happened recently in our shul. We've been davening there less than a year, and Tisha B'Av is coming up. Should we buy kinot? In principle, it's one of the 13 principles to believe that Mashiach will come daily. (I think that's even more of a core belief than the need to keep any given section of Eretz Yisrael, at least according to the Rambam). Is purchasing kinot before Tisha B'Av admitting defeat? Are we conceding that Mashiach won't come? Of course not. We believe that mashiach will come, but we still prepare for the future, based on what seems most likely to us now.

    (An interesting halachic side - if someone comes to Israel from Chutz L'Aretz for a visit, how can they keep two days of chag? If they believe Mashiach will come before they leave, then they will de facto make aliya and only need to keep one day. So by keeping two days, they're declaring that Mashiach won't come before they leave. I've heard this in the name of a number of rabbis, but never seen it actually printed anywhere.)
  • Today a number of people on the list got angry at the heads of Moetzet Yesha for calling off the march to Gush Katif which ended in Kfar Maimon. "Failed leadership", they decry. This really bugs me. It's one thing to say that Labor leaders like Peres, Rabin, Barak aren't good people despite all they've contributed to the State. They can easily ignore all Sharon has done for the settlements because of his current plan. If any politician strays from the path, no matter how far right they are (Bibi, Rav Benny Elon, Orlev, etc) they are in for a real lashing by the ones who really know on the Efrat list.
    So who's next? Moetzet Yesha. This is weird to me primarily because if these people really wanted to ignore the decisions of the Moetzet Yesha leadership, they could have simply stayed in Kfar Maimon. But at some point will they have the humility to say, that perhaps, just perhaps, if they were in a position of leadership, where they'd need to actually make decisions, they might end up doing something different than they think now? Or does that sound too much like "What you see from here you don't see from there..."?