I sent some questions to Rabbi Avi Shafran regarding the harassment of school girls by ultra-Orthodox extremists in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh. (We have a couple of stories about Beit Shemesh, including an interview with a native of Englewood, coming up in this week’s paper).
My questions [with translations added to my original yeshivish queries]:
Is yelling “prutza” [slut] and “shiksa” at fourth graders Torah-appropriate behavior?
Does it fall under the issur of ona’at dvarim [prohibition against oppressing through words], or do we not expand on the issur [prohibition] as expounded in [the Talmudic tractate of] Baba Metzia?
Have the gedolim [charedi rabbinic leadersihp] condemned the behavior?
Does the principle of shtika k’hoda’ah [silence equals assent] apply to the silence of the haredi rabanim of Beith Shemesh regarding this behavior? If not, why not?
Can we assume that the actions of a community for whom toraso umnaso [their profession is Torah] accord with Torah? If not, wouldn’t that be an argument in favor of the Hirschian principal of Torah im Derech eretz [combining Torah study with secular studies and work]?
Would it be inappropriate for Israel to draft haredim who commit public mischief such as throwing stones at ambulances or harrassing school girls?
Yelling of that sort against anyone of any age is inappropriate behavior.
Although I am not a posek (religious decisor), insulting another person would certainly seem to fall squarely within the definition of ona’at devarim.
You’d have to speak with someone connected to the Gedolim in Israel to find out whether any statements, public or private, have been made by them about the unfortunate happenings.
While, as above, I have no direct knowledge of the happenings or any rabbinic reaction to them, I do not believe that a decision to not condemn behavior necessarily implies tolerance of said behavior.
While I personally consider myself a Hirschian, I don’t judge any community by the misbehavior of individuals belonging to it — and certainly would not consider such misbehavior to characterize an indictment of a time-honored approach to living Jewishly.
I don’t think that indenturing hooligans into army service is an appropriate way of guiding them to living responsibly.
What do you think?