In Search of Ahavat Chinam


chareidi A most depressing exercise has been following the Israeli political scene over the past months. For years, there has been a sense of resentment that many Mizrachi/Religious Zionist/Dati Leumi /Modern/Centrist Orthodox Jews towards chareidim. This resentment was noticeable both in their writings and in their personal conduct.

I remember once visiting a relative in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Yerushalayim, where the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva is located. As I was walking up the stairs to my relative’s apartment, I noticed a large, cheery sign on one of the apartment doors: “Mutav lehikashel b’ahavat chinam mibesinat chinam – It is better to be guilty of baseless love than baseless hatred.”

Lately, I have been thinking of this slogan a lot, and although it greatly pains me, I would love to ask my Modern Orthodox brothers: Does being “guilty of baseless love” only apply to those to the left of you?

Is baseless love reserved for Conservative rabbis who Naftali Bennett recognized as equals in the Knesset?

Is baseless love limited to those engaged in “alternative” lifestyles, for whom we must bend ourselves in knots to understand and to empathize with?

Read the full article here.

{ Newscenter}


  1. This article is a grandslam! Thank you for saying what most bnei torah have felt for decades! We luv our brethren. Perhaps they can love us back a little bit

  2. Very true. It seems that its only one sided, lately. Why can’t the left have Ahavat Chinom to those of us on the right?

  3. “Let’s be clear. Chareidim, like all Orthodox communities, have plenty of problems. Chareidim have much that needs improvement, and many of those issues have been tackled in these pages and in the pages of other chareidi publications.”

    Really? I must have missed those articles on Matzav

    Stop whining – everybody gets criticized.

  4. Excuse me! How dare you?! How can you compare Artscrol’s Siddur to our Siddur?

    So what that Artscrol SOLD over 1,000,000 siddurim? We GAVE away a bunch of our siddurim for free!

    AND, ours is morally superior. We had very special people review our Siddur, and we thank them for it right in the begining of the Siddur.

    How dare you. Ach, so full of sinat chinam.

  5. this is not new that we have such hatred between the religous and zionist, its simple because the very idea of zionism was built on the basis of eliminating Torah> if anyone thinks this is not true read the works of Hertzel and bengurion and all of their colleagues that came up with the zionistic ideology. HASHEM YAAZOR.

  6. The only difference between Conservative and Modern Orthodox is that the Conservatives don’t believe that Hashem authored the Torah. They believe that different men and women wrote various parts of the Torah. The MO’s believe that Hashem authored the Torah but some of them are slowly slipping away into Conservative beliefs.

  7. The problem is that people don’t view those with alternative lifestyles or conservative Rabbis as having done anything wrong, and therefore, the love has the ability to be baseless. The consensus is that Hareidim live unacceptable lifestyles and therefore love for them can hardly be considered baseless. I’m not venting my own opinion, I personally support and see the value of those who sit and learn in kollel, it’s just worth it to define the general view.

    If he is a rabbi he wouild know there is not such thing as conservative,
    more properly it is better called sinner teaching sin to ISRAEL.

    “Dont change a letter in my TORAH”

    One cannot change a law to absolve one from transgressing that law.
    We can recognize that each can and does PRACTICE THE LAW as best as each can or knows.


    That is not baseless.
    We fight the missionaries and this glittering world of seductions deceptions and need for money.THE NATION OF YISRAEL DOES NOT NEED *MORE EVIL FROM WITHIN.

  9. If you are trying to show how great Chareidyism is because it staarted great programs of sociaal need within it’s own community and then allowed others to take part in them. That is a great yasher cochachem coming to them. But remember very often it is your own community that created the social need.

    To say that ArtScoll has done so much, let’s see, how many books are published by Mosad HaRav Kook every Year? How many books are published by Yeshivat Har Etziyon every Year? What about Rav Shteinzaltz? Then there is Koren, YU, OU, and Yad Rav Hertzog, Israelite……

    what is most obnoxious is that by patting itself on the back for the chareydi accomplishments, he feels it is the non orthodox who owe a cheshbon hanefesh?!!!!. What is even more obnoxious is that the author assumes that the Modern Orthodox in Israel don’t value Torah the same way or on the same level as Chareydim. Yes Modern Orthodoxy- Zionist believe in SEFER AND SAYIF. They believe in all of clal Yisroel. That is who they learn for, that is who they fight for and that is who they bleed for.

    This is Chutzpah Noirah and the only soul searching that needs to be done is the author and his ilk.

  10. Torah is not a ball game. If you have discretion, use it. Torah remembers that you are a growing soul. You are not reformed in the third degree of usefulness or even uselessness. But the reality is that loving existentially and not with true hope is only a park rangers dream of worth. You have lost the lips of the produce of Torah.

  11. While there is much positive about chareidi life, let’s try to get at a nekuda of the machlokes.

    1) MO appreciate the Chareidi chesed organizations. however Chareidim do not appreciate the chesed the Medina does which is far greater than the Chareidi organizations. This is for two reasons, 1) they are taught a sinah of the medinah in school, 2) they don’t understand the effort it takes to run a hospital and train doctors, or do shmira 2-4 am, etc.

    2) MO have religious shortcomings, but they are personal failings, not shitos. in other words, if a teenager texts on shabbos, it is a yetzer hara, not a shita he has been taught. In addition, nobody is afraid he will harm them physically. However, when a Chareidi acts violent, it is not a yetzer hara, but what he believes is a yetzer tov, because of what he has been taught. People are petrified of what he may do, all in name of religion.

    3) MO never call Chareidi Rabbonim Mr. or JB. They respect them, although they may disagree. Chareidim do not have respect for MO rabbonim.

    4) MO will openly debate two sides of an issue, while chareidim will not be gores any other opinion, only what they have been told is Daas Torah. MO respect Chareidi scholarship and Artscroll gemaras, and have supported financially (like Schottenstein), but Chareidim denigrate MO institutions.

    5) MO shuls do not fight with each other generally. Young Israel of Midwood does not fear YI Flatbush. But Chareidi groups constantly fight with each other.This is because they believe it is lshem shamayim.

    MO is far from perfect, but it is like an ochel neveilos letayovon, vs. ochel neveilos lhachis. We all have yetzer haras, but when we act wrong bshita, it is frightening to the average person.

  12. #17, Barry,

    MO don’t do things “beshitta”? 52% of their high school students drop kashruth and Shabbos within two years of graduation. This is R. Steven Pruzanskys number.

    The ONE thing MO has done is kasher all things beshitta, including hate. Just as you have done. You just claimed that the hate is justified – beshitta.

  13. As an American who doesn’t identify as charedi, I have no resentment of charedim. I wish them well and sometimes support them in concrete ways (though less so in recent years).

    However, I have often thought that if I lived in Israel, I would feel differently.

    Here in the US there hasn’t been a draft for 40 years. The army is all-volunteer, and frankly, neither charedim nor MOs volunteer very much.

    In Israel, the situation is different. There’s a draft, and everyone must serve. Except the charedim, who claim an ever-increasing exemption.

    Often there are wars and other actions, and unfortunately, soldiers die. Since the charedim don’t serve, they don’t bear that risk or burden.

    In the US, we have a First Amendment. I can’t prevent you from worshiping as you wish (free exercise), nor can I force you to support my way of worship (anti-establishment).

    In Israel, religion and state are intertwined. There’s religious coercion in many areas, such as marriage and divorce. Religious power is largely claimed by the charedim, despite their disdain for the state.

    What’s more, government support is given to religious institutions, such as yeshivas. Charedim accept that support but don’t want any duties to be attached to it.

    It seems to me that these are legitimate causes for resentment. Saying that charedim are good people (which is generally true) really doesn’t answer these problems.

    Besides, when charedim make that argument, what non-charedim hear is something like this: “We charedim are so wonderful (and you non-charedim are so bad) that you really should be supporting us even more than you do.” This does little to reduce resentment.

    What might help in reducing resentment would be some acknowledgment and gratitude by charedim for the help they receive and a willingness to entertain reasonable compromises, rather than taking a not-one-inch posture.

  14. This article completely ignores the fact that this unfortunate situation/conflict in which we find ourselves is completely a 2 way thing. By doing so this article becomes just another volley in the one-upsmanship that is prevalent in the very conflict. By condescendingly demanding “soul-searching” from those he disagrees with, but apparently not from those with whom he agrees the author belies his own claims in the last paragraph that this is not an “abrasive polemic.” Deciding what is an abrasive polemic is not the prerogative of a writer, but rather that of those readers about whom he is ostensibly speaking.

    You could literally write the first sentence exactly fakert and it would (also) be completely true:

    “A most depressing exercise has been following the Israeli political scene over the past months. For years, there has been a sense of resentment that many Haredi/Chasidesh Jews have towards Mizrachi/Religious Zionist/Dati Leumi /Modern/Centrist Orthodox Jews . This resentment was noticeable both in their writings and in their personal conduct. ”

    One wonders of a different writer wrote it that way, whether Rabbi Birnbaum would find it to be an abrasive polemic?

    It would be really good and appreciated I am sure by the entire klal including those of us who consider ourselves Charedim and those who do not, if instead of perpetuating this issue which is R”L engulfing us, if instead we could see some conciliatory articles. We need this from all sides and there are plenty of people out there who feel that way, but for some reason we keep seeing derision and condescension.

  15. The article is an understatement

    Those who really understood who he is writing about,realize they are worse than external enemies and are vile insidious to the enth degree

  16. Charedim focus their lives on the end goal,and are always hated akin to whate Paul Johnson wrote in his famous epilogue


    Smell some Coffee

    Read endless ‘mainstream’ modox sites blogs and commenters who can always be reduced to one sentence: Charedim are moving strawmen responsible for every evil
    Just show please, once, something similar on Matzav or similar sites

  17. #22 Sender

    Shas voters work hard(possibly the lowest pay, the longest hours of any sector). Very few are in kollel.

    So it’s not/never was about work..

    Most Shas voters served in the IDF. They have a disproportionate % of combat wounded among their pop. (they were “grunts”).

    So it is not/never was about the army..

    (Offer any secular or d”l Israeli, either 3 year draft and reserves (even with hesder)
    or life as a chareidi/with ascetic yeshiva-kollel.

    To elaborately state the obvious , who now are the shirkers ?)

  18. To paraphrase Churchill I refuse to remain impartial between the fire and the fireman.

    17. Comment from Barry Jacobson

    Turn everything you wrote on it’s head ,upside down

    ‘While there is much positive about chareidi life, ‘

    Try writing that on centrist sites..

    ‘let’s try to get at a nekuda of the machlokes.’

    1)First invent an assertion..

    2,3)Diametrically the opposite (can you turn it MORE )

    4)They are every bit wise to rely on those who have the expertise in life, meaning, and the purpose of it all.(which they actually do much less and more jaundiced then is forever claimed ) Hopefully they are not the slightest fazed.

    The characters who grovel for anyone who pulls rank on them and heed the word of any half-baked “expert” with a post-graduate degree are the last to preach about thinking for oneself.

    5)Sure,really Now.
    Plus,everyone fights to the end for where and what they value..
    which sickeningly and sadly says it all

    While wish otherwise ,we have unequivocal disgust for who they are and what they represent, and for they themselves inasmuch as they project what they umbrella with.

  19. #28, Dear Reb Yid Cohen,

    Unfortunately, I could barely make out heads or tails of what you were saying.

    But lmayseh, I have zero negios against chareidim. I send all my kids to Chareidi schools, and named one of my boys after the Chareidi leader Mike Tress, ZL, because of his unbelievable chesed.

    My only goal is to make shalom in the klal. Both sides need to be makir their chesronos. If you want to teich the machlokes differently, it can be phrased like this: Chareidim believe the purpose of mitzvos and learning is for the sake of the RBSH, while the modern believe it is all only a heichi timtza for chesed and bein adam lachaveiro-that is the ultimate ratzon of the RBSH. Ein kan makom lhaarich.

  20. Barry,

    And that excuses all the hate and enmity??? That’s the topic at hand.

    You tried to twist it. You were answered. So you twist again?

  21. This was an interesting read but frankly I am a bit puzzled: what it this great pouring of enmity for Chareidim that is taking place among American Modern Orthodox Jews? Are we referring to the YU students, many of whom who are increasingly adopting yeshivish mores as their own and are becoming difficult to distinguish from charedim? Or perhaps the parents who are happily sending their children Israeli yeshivot in which their youth often adopt charei mindsets and habits?

    Yes, there is some concern among some sectors of the MO community that the Charedim are winning the demographic battle both through higher childbirth and in ‘converting’ young people to their cause (and why shouldn’t they be concerned that their way of life is being threatened, even if in a benign manner). And yes, there may be a few voices of more extreme negative sentiment. But for the most part, it would seem the MO community is passive or even complicit in the expansion of Haredization.

  22. #33
    ..Which is a prime cause of much of what A.Birnbaum is referring to
    Plus ,They’ve have stopped much of the flow

    R.ari koretzky,

    U.of M. campus kiruv

    ‘I find it ironic when I encounter more whispered suspicion about my kiruv efforts from orthodox students than from secular brethren …

    Many from the Modern Orthodox community feel morally unjustifed imparting their beliefs to others.

    Yet accusations that those in kiruv “brainwash”and “push theiragenda ‘on students so dramatically misrepresents the facts on the
    ground;every experienced mekarev that I know – and I many- respectsthe deep humanity of his students ,encourages balanced,measured and
    emotionally healthy growth ,and promotes honest dialogue about topic that emerges …

    Sadly,…many in the Modern Orthodox community,who in the finest HIRschian tradition could most credibly wage intellectual battle on

    behalf of Torah ideology ,refrain from doing so.Instead they critique kiruv in a manner that belies either their own insecurities of belief,or their .. concern
    that imparting these beliefs to others compromise their intellectual integrity or inappropriately influence others’

    albeit his inability to go up a notch and draw stronger straightforward conclusions

  23. #31,

    There are several blogs which are sponsored by the CJF. These blogs attack Chareidim on a daily basis.
    The CJF was originally (in 2006) a $6,000,000.00 think tank created by Pres RJ to stop “Judaisms shift to the right”.
    These blogs are part of their “solution”.