Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rav Yuval does it again! Violent tendencies and Religious alcohol abuse in the Rel-Zionist Community.

Rav Yuval Sherlo, once again demonstrates himself as one of the most courageous and clear-thinking Rabbis in Israel today.

In a recent article (link, and slightly skewed and tabloidified here in English) Rav Yuval warns about the potential to violent acts in the Religious-Zionist community here in Israel. His article comes after a frightening series of murders in Israel over recent weeks. Rav Yuval warns us that the religious community is not immune. Let me summarise a few points:

First, he stresses that just because we are religious , we are not unaffected by these problems. Just as the religious community has had to admit that it too has domestic violence, and a drug problem, so too, we may never assume that it is the secular - "them" - who are tainted by these social ills, and imagine that we are somehow insulated from them.

He then highlights a few areas of caution:

1. Violent language: Israeli popular language doesn't specialise in tact and subtlety. It is frequently crude and inflammatory. Violent speech creates an environment of violence.

2. Violent movies. In the religious world , parents prefer their sons watch violent action movies to the "other option", i.e. sexually explicit content. The result being that Religious youth watch a great deal of violent TV. Does this not have an effect?

3. Rav Sherlo warns about alcohol abuse in the religious community, especially under the guise of Hassidic tisches and the like. The rising Hasidic trends in the Religious-Zionist community, have lent a legitimacy to drinking in Yeshivot etc. He cautions that this drinking can lead to violent behaviour.

4. Political Violence. That there is an increasing legitimisation of political violence, whether in Mea Shearim, or other places (link). Rav Yuval warns that this violence will spin out of control.

Rav Sherlo's messages are vital and timely. I feel that the Religious Zionist community in which I live is far too carefree in these areas (link) and I frequently feel that that there is a thin line to violence and lawlessness that can be easily crossed. Just today, it sounds like there was a murder between Yeshiva students in Netanya (link). Maybe his words have come just in time. If only people would absorb his wisdom.

Unfortunately, not enough people will heed Rav Sherlo. He is seen as too moderate, Left-wing, and the like. But I am glad that there is someone that shares my concerns. He is one of our most farsighted, eloquent, thoughtful, and balanced leaders. I hope his influence continues to grow.

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