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By October 18, 2017 Read More →

Shlomo Rechnitz: Keep your views on Liberal Orthodoxy and the army in America; They have no relevance in Israel

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As a supporter of Torah institutions, as defined a, ‘Gvir’ I have every respect for R’Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

I also was impressed by his outspoken speech last year, when he berated the Lakewood Yeshiva system for its elitism and the pressure placed on the Yeshivot for not accepting the students they should. In that outstanding speech, Rechnitz was highly critical of those who pressure schools not to accept certain children as students and threaten them with consequences, leaving many children left out in the cold.

However, in the speech he gave at a Simchat Beit Hashoevah last week here in Yerushalayim, in my view, he went too far and made serious mistakes. Click on here to read about it.

On Liberal Orthodoxy:

I do not know the, ‘Liberal Orthodox’ scene in the US.  I myself am certainly not a fan of what is coined,’Open Orthodoxy’. I also think there are fundamental problems with it and its approach to Halachah and the Mesorah (accepted Jewish tradition).

However, in Israel, when we are part of a collection nation, even though, yes, there are, ‘Open Orthodox’  tendencies here, Rechnitz is not in a place to be so critical as he does not live here and doesn’t appreciate the complexity of religious life in Israel and the need to focus on solidarity and togetherness.

Furthermore, to criticize a movement or its leaders is one thing. But, to criticize the people as a whole is something else. To say, “The greatest threat to Klal Yisrael today is a group called ‘Liberal Orthodoxy,’” and that Liberal Orthodoxy is a “new religion” comprised of “fake Jews.” is way too far. A Jew is a Jew if his mother is Jewish.

Why does he need to come to Israel to spread sinat chinam when there is enough tension between the different segments in society? Doesn’t he know the Temples were destroyed because of it?

Who is he referring to in his, ‘Liberal Orthodoxy’? The movements within the, ‘Liberal Orthodox’ camp, I term ‘ Modern’ or ‘Centrist’ Orthodoxy do outstanding work in Israel bridging the gaps between religious and secular and presenting Orthodoxy in a way that is relevant to secular Jews. What are the Charedim in Israel doing in that regard? Is a liberal Orthodox Jew living in Israel, who fights in the army and puts his life on the line, not as worthy as a spoilt charedi kid enjoying the materialism that the American lifestyle offers??

Is he ignoring all the good these, ‘Liberal Orthodox’ movements do in keeping in the fold Jews who otherwise would go outside of Orthodoxy? In Israel, ‘Liberal Orthodox’ movements, reach whole communities of secular Jews who otherwise would have no connection to Judaism.

Also, who is he to say they are, ‘fake Jews’. Again, I myself have serious problems with, ‘Open Orthodoxy’ and know they are causing serious concern in the US, but the story is different here in Israel. Modern and Centrist Orthodox groups here in Israel, are totally committed to Halacha and yet bend over backwards to include Jews on the periphery.

Rechnitz is welcome to say what he likes in the US. He lives there. But, here in Israel he has no right to, as he clearly doesn’t understand the scene here and instead he is throwing around simplistic soundbites and slogans that just create more division.

The Army:

When Chareidim come to Israel from abroad and say things about the Israeli army as Rechnitz did last week, that “Avreichim, bachurim [married and single Talmudic students], lift your heads up! You saved the people of Israel for the past 70 years; they shouldn’t take any more soldiers. We are dealing with Jewish blood here.” it really makes me feel sick for 3 reasons:

  1. Going back to the Tenach, G-d told us to live in Israel in a natural way, when we have to take responsibility for our destiny. The miraculous lifestyle, when we just had to sit and daven was in the wilderness. In Eretz Yisrael, G-d wanted us to live naturally and yes, if necessary fight.
  2. The Charedi sector are increasingly wanting to take part in Israeli society, including the army.
  3. For an America Charedi to come to Israel and not show the ultimate appreciation to the Israeli soldiers who instead of being with their families, spend their Sukkot sitting on the borders enabling Rechnitz and all his friends to enjoy their Sukkot holidays in Israel is an absolute disgrace. Let Rechnitz stay in the US for Sukkot and send his money here, rather than come here and insult our soldiers. No Rechnitz, ‘You saved the people of Israel’ should be directed at the Israeli Army, and not at Yeshiva bochrim.

So, with all due respect to you, Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, continue using your wealth you have been blessed with, to support Jewish education and all the other projects you are involved in. You know, they need you.

But, please be more careful when you come to Israel and not spread even more sinat chinam here and more importantly, don’t you dare insult our soldiers and not show them the hakarot hatov they deserve.





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