Ask the Rabbi

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Chareidim and Israel


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Iyyar 22, 5782
Would you consider yourself to be Chareidi? What makes someone Chareidi? Why are some dati people so opposed to chareidim and why, in general, are chareidim anti the modern State of Israel? Thank you
In a nutshell, the term "Haredi/m" literally means "The Fearful" or "Quakers", those who educate through fear and quaking, as opposed to R. Kook who puts the stress on loving God, and identifying (!) with the mitzvot out of a positive choice, rather than through fear of punishment in this world or the next (which especially doesn't work if the average person today doesn't even believe in hell...). Rav Kook says that the quaking educational approach today can "boomerang" and "turn people off" rather than "turning them on" to Judaism. In a democratic world where most Jews aren't religious, we have no choice but to "compete" by attracting people to God and His Torah through the beauty and positive aspects, and not through scaring them. Even our awe of God today, should be for His unbelievable greatness and great traits ("merciful, kind, patient etc.") and not a more childish lower level of fear of punishment, which often brings to a resentment (even sub-consciously), rather than respect and love of Torah. The entire Tanach barely mentions heaven or hell, for that's not what is supposed to motivate us, but rather the ideological desire to be Godly as a nation and as individuals. In addition, Rav Kook once explained the difference between his religious-Zionist ideology and Chabad/Lubavitch, in that "we are out to build a Nation", not just a religion of individuals. Similarly, we believe it basic to believe that God runs history, and we must thank Him and participate in the Gathering of the Exiles and the Jewish State which He lovingly granted us, including celebrating Yom HaAtzma'ut and Yom Yerushalayim. The recent history of Zionism proves that even after the Holocaust, the God of Israel is still around and that we are still the Chosen People, through whom God chooses to appear to the world. Whoever doesn't relate to all this, is unfortunately neglecting the greatest proof of God in the modern world, and that's truly unfortunate and not beneficial educationally. Similarly, we believe that God has given us modernity & technology to be used properly, in the context of living in a Jewish State, where we have the "home court advantage", and need not "fear" or quake from assimilation, but rather utilize God's modernism in a Jewish context, the way it was meant. For more elaboration and your other questions, see my answer on the topic here
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