Love the Charedi as Yourself

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayeshev 5774 – translated by R. Blumberg]


Love the Charedim as yourself.

The first reason: Obviously, they too are Jews. Loving your fellow Jew means loving the entire Jewish People and not just those similar to you. You don’t need a Torah source for this. It’s natural. Torah sources serve where the act does not come naturally, but requires in depth analysis and effort.

The second reason: Charedim means Torah: Torah learning, Torah observance, devotion to Torah. When they talk, it’s based on Torah. Even if they err, for example, regarding Zionism, it’s based on Torah. They’re not like the secular, whose starting point is not Torah. So the Charedim are closer to us than are the secular. We and the Charedim share precisely the same goal. Our argument has to do with the means, the path. The secular, however, have a different goal. Obviously, deep in their souls their goal is the same, but they express themselves about a different goal.

Therefore, even though the Charedim oppose Zionism, they still contribute a great deal to it through the vigilance they maintain. One requires a bit of expansive thinking to understand this, but let us avail ourselves of Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook’s words to his disciple, Dr. Moshe Zeidel, who had complaints against the Charedim: “Those innocent Charedim, who in the depths of the purity of their hearts opposed Zionism, are the very same people who refined it and removed a large part of its dross, until they brought it, through their negative actions, to such a level as being worthy to dress it in practical, royal attire, rather than the spirit of the House of Israel just dispersing it.” They, for their part, have “a sort of heartfelt protest based on their sensing the great light of the soul” (Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah 3:156)

Some say that Maran Ha-Rav Kook and Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook loved the secular more than they loved the Charedim. Nonsense! They loved everybody! Rav Tzvi Yehudah said that learning the proper attitude to the secular, whom he defines as “our friends-opponents,” continues: “From here we must learn by a logical process the special value and need of correcting our relationship with parts of our public who are within our camp, and who are equal partners with us in maintaining a vigil on Torah and Mitzvot in the rebirth of Israel and the return to their land. From the nature of those far removed we learn the nature of those close (Le-Netivot Yisrael 2:227).

Therefore, let us not teach the Charedim to love the secular. Let us not teach the Charedim to love the State of Israel or the Israeli army. Rather, let us teach ourselves to love the Charedim.

The third reason: Amongst the Charedim are Torah scholars whom must be related to with reverence and fear. The Talmud in Sanhedrin says that whoever denigrates a Torah scholar is deemed a heretic. The Jerusalem Talmud teaches that it’s like a dome made of stones. If one removes one stone, i.e., if one harms a single Torah scholar, the entire roof falls down. G-d does not forgive those who harm Torah scholars.

Therefore, love your friend as yourself, including the Charedim.

They are classified as your “friend” in every way. As Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto wrote, “The Torah goes ahead and makes a general rule that includes everybody: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This means ‘as yourself,’ without any difference; ‘as yourself, without any differences, without tricks and plots, literally ‘as yourself’”. (Mesillat Yeshaim 11).