Sunday, July 21, 2013

Calling someone Amalek - is not a code word for genocide!

Update 7 21 2013: Rav Ovadia Yosef says only politicians were meant 
There have been a lot of hystical comments (click link) regarding Rav Shalom Cohen applying the word "Amalek"   to those who wear a knitted kipa. The common thread is that it was claimed that he was  calling for genocide against the Modern Orthodox - chas v'shalom! These comments reflect a gross misunderstanding [perhaps a deliberate one] of how the term Amalek is used in Orthodox verbal warfare and a very short term memory. [update: RCA and OU condemn Rav Cohen's use of term Amalek as escalation of rhetoric - not as call for genocide]

Everybody agrees with the gemora (Berachos 28a) that there are no specific people who can be identified as Amalek for the mitzva of destroying Amalek. Once you get past that obvious and well known fact, you can understand that the term "Amalek" is used to described attitude or views that certain people have that is viewed as destructive to the Jewish people. It is the attitude or views which are being criticized - NO ONE IS CALLING FOR THE MURDER OR GENOCIDE OF THOSE LABELED AS "AMALEK". Below I cite a number of articles - including those from anti-Semitic publications which insist that use of the term "Amalek" is a code word for genocide - much as those who claim that Rav Cohen's use of the term means genocide. However it is clear that the use not only by Chareidim but by the Modern Orthodox (kipa seruga) and secular Israeli's have the same connotation of referring to ideas or attitudes - not genocide of a particular people!

2006 Rabbi Jack Riemer (Clinton's rabbi)   calls Islam Extremists - but not ordinary Muslims - Amalek. This ignited a storm whether he in fact meant that there should be genocide against all Muslims.


2008 http://www.meforum.org/2564/amalek - After the Mercaz HaRav massacre of 8 student's -  The killer - and by extension the Palestinians - were referred to as Amalek by Rav Shapiro. This was described by the commentator as a dangerous escalation in vocabulary.

2009 Israeli government in reference to Iran. See New York Times and responses - Bibi's advisor explained the Israeli attitude to Iran by saying "Think Amalek" - this ignited a storm as to whether Bibi was calling for genocide against the Iranians. In fact it was clear that Israeli had no such intention and that "Think Amalek" was not meant to convey that understanding. 

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The correct understanding of describing someone as Amalek is that it is referring to traits or attitudes that the person or group has that are destructive to the Jewish peole and thus must be changed - it is not referring to genocide.

Chabad article about killing Amalek - Wiping Out Amalek Today

Rav Moshe Feinstein said in Darash Moshe Remember what Amalek did to you (25:17).
    We must understand why there is still a mitzvah of remembering the act of Amalek today, even though in our present exile we would be forbidden to perform the mitzvah of eradicating him even if we knew for certain which peoples belong to Amalek.

    In my humble opinion, the point of this mitzvah is to remind us now that it is possible for any creature of flesh and blood to become as wicked as Amalek, and like him to deny Hashem's role in the world even though he sees irrefutable evidence of it, as Amalek saw at the Splitting of the Sea and in the other miracles Hashem did for us in the Wilderness. The Sages (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Seitzei 9) compared Amalek to someone who, seeing a bath of boiling water which all others were afraid to touch, nonetheless leaped into it. Despite the fact that he himself was badly scalded, he cooled the bath water to a degree where others could then also take the plunge of bathing in it. Similarly, all the miracles Hashem had done for the Jews did not deter Amalek from attacking them and making it possible for others also to want to wage war against them.

     The lesson we learn is that each of us, however great his spiritual accomplishments, must worry that he himself might be tricked into committing the most serious sins, even those that everyone considers to be most despicable. Just as Amalek fell so low, we must also be afraid that any of us can fall equally low. Not only must each of us distrust his ability to persist in the good practices he has established for himself, he must also be continually on his guard for even the most serious sins, such as theft, murder, adultery, and the like.

73 comments :

  1. Only half-right. Amaleiq isn't a code word meaning "appropriate target of genocide", but of "someone planning genocide of Jews". Like terrorists, the Palestinians in the news, or the gov't of Iran.

    So it is a code word for genocide, just not in the sense you spell out in the article. Still, calling another group of shomerei Shabbos a bunch of genocidal maniacs is pretty divisive. And using terminology that angry will give the hotheads the excuse they seek to ratchet up the violence.

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    1. It is only a code word for genocide in a particular cultural discourse. In Israel, these sorts of drashas are quite common and the listeners know full well that the speaker is not calling for genocide.

      Rav Ovadia does not believe that his own Mizrahi children and grandchildren are literally Amalek.

      What has gone unsaid in this discussion is the deep racism and prejudice that the Sephardic world faced at the hands of the Zionists, Religious Zionists, and Chief Rabbinate. Rav Cohen knows this history very well.

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    2. R' Eidensohn, perhaps since (apparently) you do not wear a Kipa sruga, you may not have felt deeply insulted and threatened by this outrageous comment.
      On this occasion I shall try to constrain my anger, and attempt to show how dangerous the comments were, and with respect, how weak your response is.

      a) Once somebody uses this term, it is on the threshhold of inciting violence, hatred etc. the proof is the violence agasint Haredi soldiers. This was not even called for. Kal v'chomer what some lunatics might do.

      b) Technically speaking, even your apologetic is wrong. The Amalek group is one to be destroyed, whether or not it is permissible today. It is really no different from saying that we can carry out human sacrifice, but not today, only when we have a temple. Both claims are absuird and anti Torah, but you can apply your justification to both.

      c) Cohen did actually say that the kipa sruga must we wiped out. So now you have the same exact situation as Ahmadinejad, and the same apologetics. Ahmadinejad of Iran said that Zionism and the Zionist state must be wipe out.

      d) You bring some pathetic examples, eg of Mercaz Harav massacres. Now remember, the murderer was called Amalek by a rabbi. The victims were the ones with kipa sruga. So who are you comparing Cohen to, the murderer or Rav Shapiro? That is a demonstration of how - on this rare occasion - your thinking is skewed (in defence of a member of the Haredi Brotherhood).

      e) Even RMF's drush is probably just apologetics. Sicne after the holocaust we were publicly speaking about hwo we suffered genocide, it was prudent to downplay a mitzvah which the goyim (and reform) decry as genocide. [on an unspecified occasion I heard a reform or conservative rabbi say that Moses committed war crimes for the war agasint Midian/Moav).

      f) I refer again to the RHS situation, when he speaks about baseball bats. This you protested. Since you do not openly condemn Cohen, then perhaps it is because of bias - MO are open to each and all criticism, but Haredi brotherhood are immune - except in cases where you have a prior interest - which is a) sexual abuse and b) Get MeUsa.

      I therefore submit that Cohen be removed of the title Rav,and that his yeshiva be put in Herem.

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    3. I think you may have missed the irony in RDE's post. Note that all his examples have one thing in common.

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    4. Ephraim, you could not be more wrong. Read on to the comments and RDE's responses.

      This whole discussion is like a lawyer parsing the inflammatory words.

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    5. No Andy, I'm 1000% correct. All the examples cited refer to bona fide Jew haters. What's implicit in the list is that Rabbi Cohen's use of the term for Jews (and Orthodox as well) is beyond the pale.

      RDE was not trying to legitimize Rabbi Cohen's diatribe.

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  2. For a guy who wears a kippah serugah, the difference between understanding what Rav Cohen said as "You're all marked for death!" and "You're a bunch of God-hating scum!" isn't very comforting.

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    1. Sure it is. Acknowledging this is only a use of extreme rhetoric is much less threatening then saying that Shas has ordered all modern orthodox Jews to be exterminated!

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    2. when mickey levi called chareidim parasites, no one, but no one, thought that he meant to exterminate chareidim. that understanding didn't stop anyone in the chareidi world (and let's be fair, huge numbers in the non-chareidi world) from condemning his words.

      one more point: MK levi apologized, on the spot and in the knesset. he didn't explain, he didn't try to commentary his words away, he simply apologized. i don't have to go further.

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  3. It seems to me that there is a more relevant concern here. In my limited knowledge, the epithet "Amalek" has been applied in the past to radical anti-Semites. Applying the term "Amalek" to a group of Jews with whom one disagrees (in particular, Orthodox Jews) is unprecedented. The Gra didn't call Hasidim "Amalek." The Hasidim didn't call Theodor Herzl "Amalek." The Chazon Ish didn't call Ben Gurion "Amalek."

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  4. As "Not Amalek" wrote, the concern is not that some Sha"s-nik is going to come and try to kill me and my family.
    I simply find it extremely distressing to be lumped together (even if only rhetorically) with the worst enemies of the Jewish people.
    Think about it, the example you gave is that Rav Shapira called the terrorists in the Mercaz Harav massacre "Amalek". So now the victims, who wear a kippa seruga are to be equated with the killers??!!??

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  5. Bottom line is Western Cultures mode of communication and the Middle East are at different ends of the spectrum. The Mideast speakers are all 'Media Ready' and go for the Jugular....Westerners sift through words till the appropriate expression is found, are open & ready for dissention, and much more amiable.
    Sort of the difference bt a rated P movie and a rated R movie.

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  6. when someone uses the term amalek, you don't feel the love.

    rav cohen crossed a line. all of your apologetics won't change that. it is simply one more attempt to soften an insult.

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    1. I think our host is saying something more than that... IIUC, RDE acknowledges that R' Cohen is doing something wrong, but:

      1- He didn't cross the line, as the line was crossed a long time ago and has become norm.

      To which I would add: ba'avonoseinu harabim.

      2- Because of #1, we're misunderstanding the implications of the statement. Calling someone Amaleiq has been cheapened already, before this incident. And therefore to we outsiders it sounds worse than it did to his audience.

      Since I am sitting in the East Coast of the US, I can't really argue authoritatively about the culture. Of those claiming to comment from EY (I hate anonymity!), "cvmay" agrees to #2, Chana Rachel and "Not Amalek" do not.

      I would moot #2. At a time when you are trying to control hotheads who are using rabbinic rhetoric as a license to do what hotheads do, this kind of talk is criminally wrong. You can't tell me it's not fuel on the fire when we see numerous counterexamples. His intended audience may well know it's an accepted exaggeration (lashon guzma). But how many times do I pardon people for ignoring the repeated effects of their words on this other audience?

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    2. Rabbi Berger - a very perceptive summary - perhaps you would interested in writing a guest post as to how they can all climb down from the tree?

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    3. Sorry. I think as an outsider, I will only come up with suggestions anyone else could, and not really edifying or necessarily effective. People have to do their own cheshbonos hanefesh. It's too easy for me to sit here continuing to comment on what yenem is doing wrong. In fact, it's a fun distraction from looking in the mirror at things I can actually fix.

      Here, I thought I could help fellow commentors put their reactions in what I think is appropriate scale -- neither overplayed to the point of undeserved fury on the part of those attacked, nor downplayed to the point of insensitivity by those who weren't. That I can have some hope of changing. But getting on your blog with ideas as to how a group of gedolim and the askanim who choose which of their words we hear (chareidi media, politicians, etc...)? What's the point?

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  7. I agree with "Not Amalek". All the examples you list refer to nonJews who hate Jews enough to slaughter them. Not with any stretch of the imagination can you claim that religious Jews who don't agree with the kollel hashkafa are "wicked" people who "deny Hashem's role in the world."

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  8. There are two points being made and primarily by those who live outside of Israel. 1) It is a terrible thing to call another Jew Amalek and 2) it should never be done.

    However it is clear that the leaders of Orthodoxy here in Israel while agreeing with 1) disagree with 2)

    Rav Shlomo Cohen is a major talmid chachom and he used the "A" word in the presence of other great talmidei chachomim - without any dissent.

    So we have a rather simple problem - if the Jewish masses living outside of Israel disagree with the language that gedolim in Israel use in Israel - what should we do? After all in Israel this is not a rare occurence these days. Either we can say that the gedolim here are lacking elementary Jewish values - chav v'shalom or alternatively we can say that the masses really don't understand how terrible the actions of the people they label Amalek are!

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    1. Right, and this is the problem. I don't think for a moment that Rav Cohen is calling for me to be killed. I do think he holds that my connection to the Jewish people is tenuous at best, that I hate God and Torah and that all I do all day long is sit around figuring out how to ruin the Chareidi community. And if silence is agreement then so do Rav Ovadiah and his compatriots!
      As I said above, not very comforting.

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    2. without any dissent.

      ask the rabbanim in the kamtza bar kamtza story how well the "without any dissent" tactic went.

      After all in Israel this is not a rare occurence these days

      you're only making your case worse, rav.

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    3. @DT "Rav Shlomo Cohen is a major talmid chachom and he used the "A" word in the presence of other great talmidei chachomim - without any dissent."

      RDE, you present a false dilemma, either ... or...
      There are other explanations which you discount--

      Perhaps bribes can pervert the words of the Talmidei chachamim - and there is no doubt that the current government plans threaten the financial support that Yeshivas have been receiving and especially shas affiliated institutions.

      Perhaps being a major scholar in itself is not a guarantee of probity in words and actions - as Pirkei avot warns talmidei chachamim to be careful of their words.

      I find it "laughable" for want of a better word, that you are bifurcating - between American Roshei yeshiva, and Israeli ones. In america, the Roshei yeshiva have a "new Tora" according to your esteemed brother. However, in Israel, the Roshei Yeshiva are infallible, so every crime they commit is kosher , by virtue of their (socially constructed) infallibility.

      That RHS, or R' Belsky, and R Kamenetsky are major Talmidei chachamim does not confer them infallibility. But Cohen is suddenly infallible, and he can speak whatever nonsense he likes, and therefore we reshaim must be the problem.

      If you think through your own reasoning , or perhaps PR is a better term, you will hoepfully see how false your alelged logic is.

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    4. When people labeled "gedolim" violate zil qeri bei rav laws I learned from Morah Miriam in preschool, then I must conclude that the gedolim are so disconnected in their ivory tower, they have no idea how to apply "elementary Jewish values" to the reality they're expected to lead the people through. Or to phrase it the way I have been in other fora -- I am forced to agree with R' Aharon Lichtenstein that we haven't had a gadol in this sense since RSZA's petirah.

      Quoting an authorized summary of the sichah "אם דעת אין, מנהיגות מנין?":

      כאשר נכנסת, למשל, לחדרו של ר' שלמה זלמן אויערבך, ולו למשך רבע שעה, לא יכולת לצאת - משם בלי שהרגשת איזו הארה. אכן, לו כל גדולי התורה היו "ר' שלמה זלמנ'ס", לא הייתה לי כל - התנגדות ל"דעת תורה".
      ...
      אני מסופק ביותר האם ניתן להתחשב ב"דעת תורה" של רב ותלמיד חכם, גדול ככל שיהיה, שחסר את היושר והכנות לומר "איני יודע", או כזה שאינו מסוגל להוציא מפיו את המשפט "איני בקי ואיני מצוי בתחום חיים זה".

      אכן, תלמידי חכמים גדולים כר' שלמה זלמן הם לא מן הסחורות המצויות לרוב בשוק. לצערנו - הרב, רבים מאלה המשמיעים כיום "דעת תורה" הם עניים בדעת בתחומים שונים.

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    5. Eddie you are not helping the situation. Can you acknowledge that you misunderstood the original issue. Can you acknowledge that no one is threatening to kill you?

      The issue is rather one of vastly overheated rhetoric. Furthermore I view this as a hashkofa issue rather than halacha - which is why I have had no problem criticizing the top concerning child abuse but this is something else.

      You don't seem to understand that the Israeli establishment is scared of the future and therefore they rattle their spears and shout to avoid appearing frightened. They are also scared that the American chareidim are not more sympathetic.

      It is a complex issue - but screaming murder everytime they say boo is not helpful.It actually makes them think that someone is paying attention to them and taking their words seriously.

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    6. I can only accept that this isn't a threat on my life, or others who are DL, since it came from a Jewish source , rather than Iran or Gaza. It is not so much that I am immediate fear for my life, but that having that kind of label has its implications. If you call someone's matza chometz, or call a group of people mamzerim, that has a lot of implications.
      The recent examples can be compared -
      extremists who are suposedlt "frum" and wear black kippot, attack and beat the hell out of Haredim who under ones, are conscripts in the army.
      Extremists, who are muslim, attack and knife a Haredi, just because he is Jewish.
      This is not the time to be labelling Jews (or better, it never is the time) with such inflammatory terms as Amalek.

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    7. Rabbi Emanuel Feldman (a moderate Charedi) wrote an article against Women of the Wall as a SATIRE. When read, Americans thought it was inappropriate, demeaning to the Rav, and 'tasteless' while Israeli Charedi thought it was super, on target, and excellent. Both groups DISAGREE with W.O.W. yet the language and communication mode was the debatable factor.

      The American Torah Kehilla is increasing 10fold in ISRAEl & bringing their western mode of communication with them and are taken aback by JUGULAR dialogue. (Mideastern manner)

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    8. if the Jewish masses living outside of Israel disagree with the language that gedolim in Israel use in Israel

      again, you can't spin this as a simple problem, that the naive americans don't understand the ruff and tough israelis.

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    9. Can you explain what a talmid chacham is, please? This bloke might know all of shas, rishonim and acharonim etc. but anyone who can call other Jews "Amalek" does not deserve my respect one iota.

      Clearly there is a disconnect between knowledge and wisdom and this is demonstrated on an almost daily basis by our so-called leaders or "gedolim".

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  9. I don't live outside of Eretz Yisrael and I think that it should never be done. More to the point, I think that doing so is unprecedented, as I stated before. The Baal Shem Tov didn't call Shabtai Tzvi "Amalek" and the Chatam Sofer didn't call Moses Mendelsohn "Amalek" and as far as I know the Satmar Rebbe didn't call the Lubavitcher Rebbe "Amalek."

    To say that this must be acceptable because it was said by a talmid chacham in the presence of talmidei chachamim is setting aside logic for appeal to authority--something that Daas Torah has vigorously chosen not to do regarding all of the Lakewood talmidei chachamim and R Belsky in the Kolko sexual abuse scandal.

    I think that making such a comment tears the Orthodox community in two and effectively attempts to put kipah srugah people in cherem.

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  10. Also, in the context of physical attacks on Hareidi soldiers by Hareidi men, attacks that are not being denounced by these same talmidei chachamim, the impression is given that in fact physical attacks on the kipah serugah populace is not so absolutely forbidden.

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  11. I live in Israel.
    In another year, a fourth son (fifth if you count a son-in-law) will go into the army. Some did Hesder, some did pre army mechina.

    I don't appreciate my family being lumped together with terrorists and murderers.

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  12. Amalek for a dayJuly 17, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    When the terrorists murdered Yeshiva students at Mercaz Harav, even the Satmar rebbe said that now "we are all Mercaz Harav".
    Did the satmar rebbe decide to be Amalek for a day?

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  13. This last comment reminded me of something I wrote elsewhere, but is still true:

    Somewhere in olam ha'emes, there are mal'akhim charged with making pilgrimage to the treasure room where they keep the video of the Belzer Rebbe visiting the victims of the bloody attack at Mercaz haRav. They take the gems that are the rebbe's words to fellow benei Torah but of a very different sort to the Creator, and ask Him "Isn't it time?" But now I cry with the thought that they can no longer enter because of the pile of trash we've dumped in the doorway.

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  14. we must say that western-acculturated DL's , with politically correct values and use of language , who have words, like the N word that may never be said , are not used to the hyperbolic , lack-of-filter , Tannaic-style-insult-hurling use of language so common in the jews descended from the arabic Levant...

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    1. it isn't only a case of the naive americans having a wiggy.

      yes it is true that the sefardi rabbis are more "down and dirty" than the litvaks (as MK dahan pointed out in his so unkind response). however the israeli dl establishment also reject r. cohen's words. and the various chareidi talking heads made major efforts to spin this one (not realizing, like RDE, that all the spinning simply made things worse).

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  15. It is only a matter of time before a society at constant war with others turns inward.

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  16. The use of incendiary language such as "Amalek" to label other Jews is an indication of skewed values and hopeless desperation, neither of which a Gadol would have. I am confident that there are great Torah scholars even in our time who are capable of leading us properly, but many or even most may not be known yet to the general Jewish public.

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  17. His name is Shalom Cohen, not Shlomo.

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  18. Recipients and PublicityJuly 17, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    This is all about the next round of (UNANNOUNCED) Knesset elections. The real issue is the fight over the Sefardi voting masses. Many of them have been drawn to the Religious Zionists and they are sitting with Naftali Bennett's Bayit Yehudi in the current Israeli regime. What Rav Yosef, shlita is trying to do is keep them in the fold and fire them up by both using strong language and letting his own rabbis do so as well (they are hurting badly as their prior government funding and resources are slashed mercilessly). The results will be evident in the next elections when SHAS will sweep in with the greatest number of seats in the Knesset it has ever had creating the biggest block of Charedim in history. Bennett and Lapid have mounted too much pressure and degraded and humiliated the SHAS electorate, this is just a foretaste of the bitter political battles to come and and that will continue unabated until the Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett axis is kicked out for good.

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  19. "Either we can say that the gedolim here are lacking elementary Jewish values - chav v'shalom or alternatively we can say that the masses really don't understand how terrible the actions of the people they label Amalek are!"

    I agreee that:

    1) "I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Israeli Chareidim for the violence of their speech. We are talking about people who are being forced to radically change their lives or face starvation, aside from feeling that they are under ideological siege by a powerful majority...Being wrong does not mean they cannot be upset”(R. Mordechai Torczyner)

    2)In past centuries, harsh rabbinic languauge was effective, and some people today respond to it as well. As a Charedi journalist was recently quoted, “it’s part of a particular culture where heated expressions are thrown out with little consideration of their impact”. The question of such languauge is a question of cost-benefit.

    Having said that, what about what R. Kook writes about the masses vs "melumadim"(see below, quoted by Marc Shapiro quoting Shemonah Kevatzim 1:463):

    האנשים הטבעיים שאינם מלומדים, יש להם יתרון בהרבה דברים על המלומדים, בזה שלא נתטשטש אצלם השכל הטבעי והמוסר העצמי על ידי השגיאות העולות מהלימודים, ועל ידי חלישות הכחות וההתקצפות הבאה על ידי העול הלימודי.

    והמלומדים צריכים תמיד לסגל לעצמם כפי האפשרי להם את הכשרון הטבעי של עמי הארץ, בין בהשקפת החיים, בין בהכרת המוסר מצד טעביותו, ואז יתעלו הם בפיתוח שכלם יותר ויותר


    http://seforim.blogspot.com/2010/10/marc-b-shapiro-new-writings-from-r-kook.html

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    1. Mr Grey, thanks for that R Kook, very enlightening. But it is a more psychoanalytical view of the Jewish psyche, one that is more naturalistic and relies on its G-d given intuition, and survival instincts, vs one that learns its ethics, morality, sense of cause and effect etc from seforim alone, and does not interact with the outside world.

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  20. we must say that western-acculturated DL's , with politically correct values and use of language , who have words, like the N word that may never be said , are not used to the hyperbolic , lack-of-filter , Tannaic-style-insult-hurling use of language so common in the jews descended from the arabic Levant...

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  21. Look, bottom line, while I can't speak for Eddie I can definitely say for myself that I don't think Rav Cohen was calling for all out jihad against the Dati Leumi. I don't think that, if I'd have been in that hall, he'd have pointed at me and said "And we can start wiping out Amalek by killing him!"
    But consider: if he'd have stood up and said "Those Religious Zionists are a bunch of sons of whores!" would that have been acceptable for a Talmid Chacham?
    And even if "Amalek" is an accepted code word, well I know social groups where four letter words that start with "f" and "s" are completely socially acceptable. Does that mean these people are cultured? Does that make their speech acceptable to civilized people?
    Finally, if or when some Israeli secular refers publicly to Chareidim as parasites or cockroaches will the response from the Chareidi world be "Well, just like we use Amalek as a code word..." or will it be screams of indignation and outrage?

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  22. @DT "Furthermore I view this as a hashkofa issue rather than halacha - which is why I have had no problem criticizing the top concerning child abuse but this is something else."

    So loshon hara, and motzei shem ra is nto a halachic matetr according to this website? or is it that certain sectors are given diplomatic immunity from these halachot?

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  23. The "heseg" or achievement in this overall discussion, was not so much to prevail on DT to agree with me, rather to get the discussion going and see the opinions of various talkbackers.

    kol tuv, now we have to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash!

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  24. IMO this doesn't make it any better. To think or claim that he called for genocide is pure leitzanus. Come on.

    But the fact that he calls the national religious as enemies of the Jewish people and destructive to the Jewish people is still outrageous and extremely offensive. Its wrong. It doesn't have to be genocide to be wrong.

    Meanwhile it was Shas that enabled the oslo atrocities, so doesn't that make the shas party like amalek? It certainly makes them wrong and guilty but calling them amalek would be going too far. Rational people inherently understand the boundaries of reasonable discourse.

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  25. From Wiki, worth thinking about:
    Dehumanisation (or dehumanization) describes the denial of “humanness” to others and is theorized to take on two forms: animalistic dehumanization, which is employed on a largely intergroup basis, and mechanistic dehumanization, which is employed on a largely interpersonal basis.[1] Dehumanization can occur discursively (e.g., idiomatic language that likens certain human beings to non-human animals, verbal abuse, erasing one's voice from discourse), symbolically (e.g., imagery), or physically (e.g., chattel slavery, physical abuse, refusing eye contact)..............


    Sociologists and historians often view dehumanization as central to some or all types of wars. Governments sometimes represent "enemy" civilians or soldiers as less than human so that voters will be more likely to support a war they may otherwise consider mass murder.[citation needed] Dictatorships use the same process to prevent opposition by citizens. Such efforts often depend on preexisting racist, sectarian or otherwise biased beliefs, which governments play upon through various types of media, presenting "enemies" as barbaric, undeserving of rights, and a threat to the nation. Alternatively, states sometimes present an enemy government or way of life as barbaric and its citizens as childlike and incapable of managing their own affairs. Such arguments have been used as a pretext for colonialism.[citation needed]

    The Holocaust during World War II and the Rwandan Genocide have both been cited as atrocities predicated upon government-organized campaigns of dehumanization, while crimes like lynching (especially in the United States) are often thought of as the result of popular bigotry and government apathy.


    KT
    Joel Rich

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    1. This is a fairly standard exercise in religious teachings as well as political teachings - in case you weren't aware. It is a common factor of all situations where you are called about to do something unpleasant to another person. See the Milgrim experiment - compliance dropped the closer the subject was to the "subject" receiving electric shock.

      Rabbi Rakkefet told me that Rav Soloveitchik was disturbred that he couldn't find a moral basis for saving the lives of goyim on Shabbos but needed to resort to the excuse of aiva. Similar thoughts are found in the writings of the Seridei Aish.

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    2. I dunno what to make of this. RALichtenstein makes a strong argument, much of which is in his father-in-law's name, that mishum eivah is an ideal, not a pragmatism. The term is also used WRT shalom bayis, jealousy over who gets which aliyah, and other contexts where it cannot mean "because otherwise they'll kill us." So, it seems according to RAL, RYBS understood mishum eivah as: Just as Hashem avoids unnecessary eivah, so too we should avoid it.

      (I had earlier thought that this was only true of his take on darkei shalom, but I erred.)

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    3. Could be these contradicting ideas might both be held by Rav Soloveitchik

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  26. ROY says he didn't make any distinctions between the kind of kippa, since it is meaningless - which is correct, kippa has no halachic meaning (see the Gra).

    A few years ago, ROY was almost arrested by the police when he said "arur yossi sarid", before purim.

    However, this is just a damage limitation exercise. I am urging the sephardi community to cut any ties with Porat Yosef, and not to fund such a racist and fascist institution.

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    1. Eddie you are ridiculous. It is not just Porat Yosef you are attacking but the mainstream of the Sefardic Orthodox World. Why not call for a boycott of Rav Ovadiah Yosef while you are at it?

      As I have repeated said - this is the way they speak here in Israel.

      BTW what do you mean that they are fascist? Why not say they are communists or Nazis or Republicans?

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    2. Yes, it is how things are done there in Israel. Along with shoving ahead on the "line" for a bus so that people who were there first end up not being able to board. Or fighting for everything from a repair job to taxes to bank errors.

      Who was it who advised his talmidim that if they feel they are weak in emunah they should move to Israel, but if they find they are week in [other] middos, they should move to the US. (I would have said London, but that's the maaseh.)

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    3. Israel is not for the weak. As I have mentioned a number of times, the Bostoner Rebbe told me that when he told Rav Shach that Americans need a different curriculum than Israelis - Ra Shach told him "If you Americans don't like the way we do things here than go back to America!" It is interesting that the American that succeed here are actually mellowing the culture. Perhaps if Rabbi Berger would come here he could get them to stop calling each other Amalek.

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    4. You overestimate me. I visited for a month, and by the end of the month I was among the worst of them. I don't know how to do assertive without aggressive, and in general I respond poorly to stress. If I moved there, I would end up screaming "Amaleiq" the loudest of all!

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    5. Israel is not for the weak.

      more nonsense. remember when mk levi used the parasite word? the chareidi didn't say "well who cares what that jerk/person/honorable MK said. we know the truth. furthermore we dish it out, so we'll take it". instead the chareidi world screamed.

      what the frum world is demanding is the right to insult, but not be insulted.

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    6. funny video about pushy israelis

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utsvQJ92OPw#at=129

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    7. Ben Waxman wrote

      Israel is not for the weak.

      more nonsense. remember when mk levi used the parasite word? the chareidi didn't say "well who cares what that jerk/person/honorable MK said. we know the truth. furthermore we dish it out, so we'll take it". instead the chareidi world screamed.

      what the frum world is demanding is the right to insult, but not be insulted.
      =================
      Ben you sound like an American! Israeli follow the psychology of the first mishna in Bava Kama. If you concede that the other person has rights you lose - therefore you must maximize your claims and minimize those of your opponents. This is true of both religious and secular Israelis

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    8. Actually, on this point I agree with RDE. Indeed, the same thought came to me before even reading this post. Survival in the general or secular system in Israel is very tough. This has filtered through to the Haredi sector, who have also become very tough.
      Often, Olim (either secular or frum) have much better middos than sabras of vatikim.

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    9. therefore you must maximize your claims

      even according to your shittah, you shouldn't have any problem with the reactions to rabbi cohen's remarks, it is just people maximizing.

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    10. Often, Olim (either secular or frum) have much better middos than sabras of vatikim.

      another remark from the "israel would be great if only there weren't israelis here" school of thought.

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    11. If you concede that the other person has rights you lose

      the mishna isn't encouraging anyone to lie or to distort reality to max his claim. IIRC there is a rambam where he specifically denounces lawyers who play tricks to win.

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  27. The average man on the street isnt a lamdan and doesnt delve into the 'sugya' to determine the exact meaning of words which in the plain sense means what they mean. True that most people wont raise a hand against another person because they arent violent people anyway. But chazal tell us, 'chachomim hizaaru bidivreichem' (leaders should choose their words wisely). But lets not kid ourselves, the unlearned person, or a violent zealot just received permission from leaders to rub out an enemy.

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    1. Henoch your fears are not realistic. Orthodox Israelis do not rub out an enemy though it happened occasionaly in the early days.

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  28. Bottom line:

    If you saw a rabbi eating chicken parmesan as a public rabbinic function during Aseres Yemei Teshuvah even if he lived in a society that viewed chicken more the way we relate to fish than to beef, you still wouldn't consider the guy fully Orthodox. But someone can violate a bein adam lachaveiro deOraisa during the Nine Days, and we can have this dialog?

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    1. Obviously he didn't view it as a violation! And obviously he disagrees with you!

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    2. I already wrote that this is a zil qeri bei rav issue. If a Sanhedrin said it was mutar to call other shomerei Shabbos "Amaleiq" and you listened to them, you would have to bring a chatas -- it's too self-evident to get off the hook by saying that I deferred to their pesaq.

      The question of whether in Israel, people think of poultry the way Americans think of fish might make him a tinoq shenishba, or at least reduce his culpability. And if, indeed, we were speaking of chicken parmesan, a "mere" derabbanan that itself didn't universally catch on for over a century after being proposed, you wouldn't be saying "but Rabbi So-and-so clearly holds that poultry and milk is mutar, and obviously he disagrees with you.

      Onaas devarim is more traif than chicken parmesan.

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  29. > Israel is not for the weak.

    That's not a good thing considering both the Tanach and Tehillim tell us that God favours the weak, humble and contrite, not the arrogant, pushy and insulting. Or was I wrong in understanding the dozens of statements like that?
    We have these things around where I live called trailer parks. People who live in them are generally undereducated, partially illiterate, alcoholic and foul-mouthed. Am I understand that when one is in a trailer park it's okay to be that way because that's just the way things are there?
    An insult is an insult. Vitriol is vitriol. I don't give a damn about the "That's the way it is in Israel" excuse. If it is then you have a BIG problem and have become so used to this idiocy that you don't see how far off the derech even your rabbinic leaders have gone.

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    1. I agree with R. Micha Berger's and MGI's comments re "Israel is not for the weak." I would like to add these observations: (A) Supporting MGI's comment, Amalek is noteworthy for preying on the weak. (B) MGI's comment suggests turning "tinok she-nishba" on its head, i.e., one isn't considered responsible for his aveiros in this department because he grew up among Israeli Chareidim. As MGI says, that won't fly. The importance and power of words (or "the tongue") is very clear from traditional sources. Whatever excuse chilonim may claim based on "rough and tumble" Israeli culture is unavailable to educated religious Jews, who have an obligation to raise the level of discourse, not debase it. (C) Although it is written, "Torah shall go forth from Zion, and the Word of Hashem from Yerushalayim," for now, Zion needs quality control on its Torah exports, and should consider importing better-grade Torah from chutz l'aretz to improve the average quality available.

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  30. "Onaas devarim is more traif than..."

    This needs to be the title of a new article!

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  31. "Onaas devarim is more traif than..."

    This needs to be the title of a new article!

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  32. I find it helpful to focus on the following braita whenever I am in a situation where disagreements are likely to lead to sharp words. It helps me keep my speech under control.


    תנו רבנן: הנעלבין ואינן עולבים, שומעין חרפתן ואין משיבין, עושין מאהבה ושמחין ביסורין, עליהן הכתוב אומר: ואוהביו כצאת השמש בגבורתו.

    I urge everyone on all sides of arguments both on the relationship between the Chareidi community and the rest of Israeli society, and on the talks with the Palestinians to keep it in mind and follow Chazal's recommendation. One can defend one's position without hurling insults.

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  33. Go back where you came fromJuly 22, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    "Ra Shach told him "If you Americans don't like the way we do things here than go back to America!" "

    "You Americans"?

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  34. i know that this post has been discussed ad infinitum, but i am listening now to radio kol b'ramah discussing the knesset vote on the draft. one of the messages being repeated and repeated is "they hate us, why do they hate us, how can they talk this way, yair lapid quotes a pasuk (ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה) how can he talk that way".

    so when i hear you and others trying to spin the amalek word, i say "go ahead, yell amalek, call bennet and lapid antisemites, and then try and explain that these words don't mean what they think they mean".

    but please, don't act shocked when no one buys your explanations.

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