The web is my main source of information. My daily material runs the gamut from American and world politics to the news and views of my local Jewish community. In the seven years since I first started using the internet as my primary information source, I have NEVER seen such a strong focus on the Haredi community. From Bet Shemesh through Tal, Deborah Feldman and Pearl Perry Reich we have been in the news all over the world, and not in a good way. Much of what has been spread is a cholent (stew) of lies, half-truths and distortions with almost no decent attempts to set the record straight or at least provide a balanced view of complex communities and issues.
In fact, I spent some time on Google recently searching for blogs dedicated to presenting/defending the Haredi point of view and came up with squat. I’m sure there are some out there but they pale in comparison to the number and power of the Haredi-bashers.
Now some of this may be easily understood: Haredim don’t really mix with the “outside world”, so the internet is their opponents’ home turf. I even debated whether starting this blog was a worthwhile pursuit (see below for more, Post-Asifa). Judging by the venom and hatred spewed daily by the usual suspects, might this not be a case of “a mitzvah not to say what won’t be listened too”?
But It’s not so simple. There are many, many Haredim who do read the internet (whether we should or not is a topic for another time) and cannot help but be overwhelmed by the sheer negativity directed at them, even from so-called “Frum” (religious) websites
Then there are many innocent bystanders, Jews and non-Jews, who believe what they read on the internet (and send money to Nigerian princes), and absent any readily available countervailing views, assume the consensus they encounter to be true. That they may be seeing one side of the story never enters their mind.
Therefore, this blog. I will use this space to highlight the tremendous amount of good that goes in in Haredi society, while taking on some of the criticisms (and the critics) that have gained currency out there. For those who need controversy to get their blood boiling, yes there will be plenty of that too. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander so let some of the “hockers” (critics) feel a taste of their own medicine.
Haredi society is not perfect nor can it be, for as we all know to be human is to err. However, the vitriol and intolerance directed its’ way is almost unparallelled in the modern Western and Jewish world. I say almost because there is one similar situation that comes to mind: that of Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Haredim are the Jewish world’s Israelis. We are held to a double standard, and are often condemned by the worst practitioners of the evil they decry. This must be fought in every way possible.
To all those who are sick and tired of the smears and the lies and want to lend a hand, contact me and get involved, the more the better!
Why I Continue To Blog After The Internet Asifa:
I’ve been asked why I continue to blog, being that the Internet has now been deemed off limits for any purpose not for business or unessential. The answer is very simple (and self-explanatory, except for those seeking to censor the lone dissenting voice online): providing some semblance of a response to the constant Haredi-bashing IS essential. The internet was not deemed Treif no matter what, just that it be used for essential purposes only, which I am.
It is no different than Haredi spokesmen who appear on TV and radio to represent the Haredi community. The Talmud (Bava Kamma 83a) discusses those who were exempted from various takanos in order to further specific goals. It is my hope and prayer that Hashem will help me accomplish some good with this endeavor. It is nobody’s business whom my “heter” comes from. Suffice it to say I don’t make these decisions alone. Also, it should be obvious that answering the daily flood of blog posts attacking Haredim is not my idea of fun. I am here to counteract the unceasing negativity by shining the light on what is good and worthy in our community, as well as the overwhelming hypocrisy of our critics. In all other areas I have ceased using the Internet (except for business) and the minute I am told otherwise, or that it is determined that I am wasting my time, I am out of here.
I don’t expect this (or any) explanation to satisfy those who seek to silence me. For them, dissent is toxic. It is for those genuinely looking to reconcile my blogging with my stated beliefs to whom I address my remarks and who, I’m sure, will be judge me L’kaf Zechus, even if this explanation falls short, in their opinion.