Does Judaism = Elitism? Are Some Yidden Holier Than Others?

21

By: Rav Yitzchok Fingerer

It is not a pleasant or easy subject to broach. However, no matter the controversy, I feel that it must be tackled and  addressed. I will not prevaricate or mince words but cut to the chase. There is a deleterious phenomenon that seems to have hijacked our mosdos and Hashkofas HaChaim over the past few decades. I refer to a supercilious and pompous attitude that many espouse that some members of Klal Yisroel are better or holier than others.  

Is Yiddishkeit an elitist and exclusionary religion? Should Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs be hypervigilant and super-selective when screening and scrutinizing prospective talmidim and talmidos? Should Kehillos and communities be built and predicated on such a stance?  

Although there is a concept of preferential hierarchy and selectivity for Jewish civilization with regard to royalty (Malchus Beis Dovid and Moshiach) and service in the Beis HaMikdash (Kohanim and Leviim), the Torah in no way endorses or sanctions a caste system. With the exception of division of scarce resources and triage in severely extenuating circumstances, as delineated in Maseches Horayos, every Jew is mandated to love, respect and care for his fellow Jew, regardless of lineage, pedigree, knowledge or social status. The Mishna (Avos 4:17) teaches that there are three crowns. While two of the crowns (Malchus, kingship, and Kehunah, priesthood) are hereditary, the crown of Torah is acquired through hard work, toil, and character refinement. Every person is equally entitled to aspire to greatness in Torah. Any Jew, from any background, can become the Gadol Hador.

Living mutually exclusive of our fellow Yidden is very perilous to our survival as a people.   

Purim is coming. We’re all aware of that fact that Haman and Achashverosh plotted a mass extinction of Klal Yisroel. It was the first attempted large scale genocide against our people. What precipitated this? Why were we so vulnerable to being almost decimated?

Rav Yonoson Eibushetz zt”l and the Vilna Gaon zt”l explain that while we were exiled in Persia we stood separate and apart from each other. There were different factions and sects of Klal Yisroel that did not respect one another. We weren’t inclusive, tolerant or unified.

The panacea for the Yidden of Persia was Esther’s immortal charge to Mordechai, “Lech Kenos Es Kol Hayehudim– Go gather all the Jews together.” In other words, they should be unified and stop discriminating. Let the Jews know that to Haman a Jew was a Jew. Haman, like Hitler, thousands of years later, didn’t discriminate between Jews. Neither should the Jews discriminate against each other. They need to stand in solidarity and respect one another, despite their differences.  

Today, Persia, as embodied by modern day Iran is poised to strike again. We need to stop being insular and start looking beyond our bubble. We need to get our act together and start really caring and sharing with others who don’t necessarily fit our mold.

The Chofetz Chayim, zt”l, in his sefer Chomas Hadas published in the 1920s, brings a powerful example of Areivus. After 120 years, a person goes up to Shamayim and is asked why he didn’t keep Shabbos. He protests that he did keep Shabbos faithfully throughout his entire life, meticulously observing both the letter and spirit of its laws. But the heavenly Beis Din challenges him, questioning him about people who did not keep Shabbos. Did he reach out to them and try to draw them near to observance of Shabbos and the ways of Torah? If not, he is judged as having failed to keep Shabbos. I believe that the Chofetz Chayim conclusively and patently disproves and repudiates the myth that one can live in one’s own “daled amos” or that one’s ruchniyus supersedes the general needs of Klal Yisroel. This is precisely why it is so critical to either reach out to our fellow Yidden, Kerovim and Rechokim in need of chizuk, or to be a Zevulun and support the organizations that do.  

Our communities are teeming with Jews on the fringe, who have no affiliation or connection to Yiddishkeit. We need to try harder to be mekarev Yidden and increase Ahavas Yisroel. You may just end up saving lives.  

Rav Yitzchok Fingerer is the Morah D’Asra of BJX Beis HaMedrash and Kiruv Centers (www.helpbjx.com). He may be reached at info@bjxcenter.com. He is the author of Strengthen Your Emunah (Feldheim).   

 

21 COMMENTS

  1. He’s talking to the wall. All these self righteous holier than thou group will never succumb to the truth. Until another Haman arrives on the scene and only then will they include all those that were shut out If their club because then they will be in the same boat. Sort of like what happened in Nazi Germany. The Nazis didn’t care which school , or shul their victims davened or went to. They didn’t care which chasidus you belonged to, they didn’t care if they killed a FFB or a BT. A Jew was a Jew no matter his affiliation. Why we can’t come together when not in a time of crisis is beyond me

    • your ignorance is so evident…see rashi noach, mes shabbos etc.
      of course not every one is equal. isnt wasnt igros moshe divrei yoel, etc etc holier than n me n you?!!

  2. Great article. Purim make it.

    Give our generations credit more. Hashem teaches.

    Shabbas dig is hard. Keep an eye on their kosher. Number one first move to declare you will keep Torah.

    Never eat abomination and not ever are you elite to encourage others to keep kosher. It is very much just jewish.

    Grow Israel. Purim cites.

  3. Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs do not have to be super-selective in regards to the level of knowledge but DEFINITELY regarding the ruchniyus of the child. Children below the ruchniyus level of yeshivos or schools can have a very detrimental effect on other students. Not all parents have the strength and know-how to be watchful over their children who attach themselves to bad apples and end up getting ruined. These bad apples should therefore please find themselves another yeshiva/school. It’s the yeshivos/schools responsibility that their students remain with the ruchniyus level they entered (or stronger).

    Yeshivos/school are not mechuyev to be mekarev every single Jew. Kiruv should be done privately, in their own time and in their own home by those who know how. Students do not have to get ruined by bad apples.

    • Rabban Gamaliel had issued a proclamation: “A disciple, who is not inwardly the same as outwardly, will not be allowed to enter the House of Study.”

      R. Eleazar b. ‘Azariah reversed that decision

      they removed the security guards from the door, and permission was granted for all the disciples to enter

      That day many benches had to be added. R. Johanan said : Abba Jose b. Dostai and the Rabbis differ as to the number; one declaring four hundred benches were added, the other declaring it was seven hundred.
      This [vast addition] depressed Rabban Gamaliel who said, “Perhaps, God forbid, I have withheld Torah from Israel !” He was shown a dream to relieve his mind. Even after being deposed as leader, Rabban Gamaliel did not stop coming to the Beit Midrash.

    • Rabban Gamaliel had issued a proclamation: “A disciple, who is not inwardly the same as outwardly, will not be allowed to enter the House of Study.”

      R. Eleazar b. ‘Azariah reversed that decision

      they removed the security guards from the door, and permission was granted for all the disciples to enter

      That day many benches had to be added. R. Johanan said : Abba Jose b. Dostai and the Rabbis differ as to the number; one declaring four hundred benches were added, the other declaring it was seven hundred.
      This [vast addition] depressed Rabban Gamaliel who said, “Perhaps, God forbid, I have withheld Torah from Israel !” He was shown a dream to relieve his mind. Even after being deposed as leader, Rabban Gamaliel did not stop coming to the Beit Midrash.

  4. Actually in today’s Chofetz Chaim’s lesson from the Daily Companion (13 Adar) he writes: “While peace is the greatest of blessings, nevertheless, for the “sake of the House of Hashem,” we seek not peace but rather tov, what is good and correct. There are times when we must stand up for what is right and speak out against those whose behavior threatens our moral fabric. In this way, we will ensure that the “House of Hashem” remains intact.”

  5. I don’t think the Rav is saying that schools can’t have certain ruchniyus standards that they expect parents to follow or that a kid who has tzniyus issues or chalilah is a sakunah to other kids should be accepted. The Rav seems to be saying that things are out of control and we are becoming too elitist and destroying ourselves! Who am I to agree but I think this is EMES!!!

  6. Was it the Yeshivish who started this nonsense of thinking they are better and holier? Or the Hungarian Chaddisish? Who caused this corruption??? America wasn’t like this 40 years ago! Out of town communities have one school where everyone coexists. Rov Fingerer hit the nail on the head!

    • Your comment is not correct. Religious Jews in out of town communities that have only 1 school are basically all the same in ruchniyus. Larger cities with more than 1 school have different types of religious Jews residing there. Even 40 years ago, Brooklyn had more than 1 school and parents selected the school fitting their life style.

      • and explain why one yeshiva will sabotage the chances of a kid getting into another yeshiva?
        why is their so many kids being left with no yeshiva to go to? why is it that the jewish community rallied for rabashkin and bats their eyes at helping kids without Yeshivas? fitting a school? do you know how someone is gonna turn out? let’s say you throw out a potential Rabbi Akiva?? if the student can be considered like a “spiritual pursuer” so can a Rosh Yeshivah.
        is a child a commodity to be done with as they please to do whatever for the name of a institution?

  7. I feel excluded by most people just a 22 year old with a messed up life, I guess getting bullied in 11th and12th by other religious jews didn’t Farwell for me…

  8. I know of a case of someone whose parents were Russian immigrants that really didn’t know better and they tried to enroll him in a yeshiva and started to keep Shabbos, meaning go to shul, make Kiddush but also watch TV, the school they applied to said we don’t want a boy with a tv negatively influencing our boys and said no, as did the other 2 schools they applied to he went to public school. The boy really wanted to be a Yid, at 8 he said I was called a zhid now I want to know what it means to live it. long story short he went to public school and is now married to a shiksa but don’t worry they had a chupa with the requisite rabbi and priest. BJX and Birthright is too late in the game for most American Yidden by 22 most of them are in relationships with Goyim.

  9. I believe that “Anonymous” referring to Yiddishe children as”bad apples” is an example of what Rabbi Fingerer is objecting to.

  10. It’s a sensitive situation. You want unity but you can’t have unity with every Jew because everyone is on a different level. We certainly cant unify with the reform or open orthodox heretics despite them being jews. If we are serious daveners we can’t belong to a Shul that has talking during davening. Like supermarkets. Fancy rich people shop at fancy stores and poorer people at poorer stores. You can’t mix sfardim and chassidim and Yeshivash in one school. Their speech and minhogim vary. Yes we need unity but that doesn’t mean everyone is lump into one chicken coup. Every person is different even within every level group despite dressing the same. There are smart and not so smart,there are those with leadeship qualities and others who are followers and so on with financial status.

  11. Rabban Gamaliel had issued a proclamation: “A disciple, who is not inwardly the same as outwardly, will not be allowed to enter the House of Study.”

    R. Eleazar b. ‘Azariah reversed that decision

    they removed the security guards from the door, and permission was granted for all the disciples to enter

    That day many benches had to be added. R. Johanan said : Abba Jose b. Dostai and the Rabbis differ as to the number; one declaring four hundred benches were added, the other declaring it was seven hundred.
    This [vast addition] depressed Rabban Gamaliel who said, “Perhaps, God forbid, I have withheld Torah from Israel !” He was shown a dream to relieve his mind. Even after being deposed as leader, Rabban Gamaliel did not stop coming to the Beit Midrash.

  12. Let them be forewarned

    The tzeddukim
    Maskilim

    In every dor or so
    The self satisfied upper caste considered themselves to the real Jews relatively to the masses
    The outerwear just keep changing

Leave a Reply to Askan Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here