Monday, August 25, 2008
חסיד (או חרדי) בלי דת
YNet examines Leil Shabbos in a pub in Israel.
There are those that say that the fact that Charedism/Chassidus has seen such a boom in the post WW2 world means little. It's all about the culture, they say, there's very little G-d in anything most people do, it's just that people are sooo afraid of what others will say that they stay in their own little worlds, often miserable and unsatisfied. The proof - they say - is in the fact that you see people doing very little in the realm of Torah and Mitzvos, yet they hold on to trivial things like certain aspects of dress for dear life, often to the extent of near Mesiras Nefesh. I'm not even speaking of elements of dress that could be confused as Inyonei Kedusha, just things picked up in our travels across Europe over the centuries. The above article seems to give credence to that cynical argument; namely that in today's world it's mostly cultural, and we shouldn't get so excited about the boom of yiddishkeit in Israel and the Diaspora. If Schneur has taught us one thing here over the years it's the fact that decades of accomplishment can be scoffed at in an instant, and statistics - real stats - can be discredited in the bat of an eyelash.
The article speaks of a group of boys and girls from chassidishe yeshivos and schools get together on Leil Shabbos in somebody's apartment and discuss the events of the week. These are Chozrim B'Sheylah, the antithesis to Chozrim B'Tshuvah if you will. They make Kiddush, eat gefilte fish, sing zemiros and have a grand ol' Jewish time, each doing his thing just like they did it where he grew up. The Belzer makes kiddush like they do in Belz. The Vizhnitzer sings zemiros with a vareme Vizhnitzer niggun, and so on. They talk about who got married and who got engaged, and whatever else is going on back in Bnei Beraq. When they're done they head out to a local pub to do what people do in pubs and bars. They seem to have it all; they have the trappings of a shabbos complete with Koh Ribon and Koh Echsof, and they have a Friday night like the rest of the world knows how to have, complete with all-nighters. Kind of like Chulent here, but in a more "in-your-face" kind of way. Friday night.
So here we have the first signs of a new generation. A generation where the culture is firm, yet that's all there is. And they hold on to what they've been taught with commendable devotion, nusach and all. Of course we can't learn a lesson from the behavior of those on the fringe, can we? The foundation is strong, we tell ourselves, just look at the number of Shtreimlach and Kapotes and Black Hats, and how they're growing by leaps and bounds! But any real introspection will tell you that the trappings are there but not much else. When was the last time you saw an average, simple man crying on Yom Kippur or any other davenen for that matter? When was the last time that were it not for a major tragedy that you saw people express any emotion during a Tefilloh or a Mitzvah? Yes, people are more acceptive of others, and they don't have the silly, deep-seeded disdain for foreigners and anybody not from their circles they used to have in the old days, but what did we gain in the trade?