Monday, August 12, 2013


Stupid Zealotry

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

It’s common in ultra-orthodox Judaism to be intense about one’s mitzvot (religious observance).  Generally this is a positive thing, when focused upon Torah and upon good deeds.  The ultra-orthodox Jewish community is renowned for it’s plethora of charity organizations and for helping of our fellows in need – including for example a medical equipment free-lending organization that saves the State of Israel over $1,000,000,000 per year in medical system costs – and is literally a life saver for many people with serious health situations (as is the similar Hatzala pre-ambulance emergency response service).

That’s zealotry for Torah, mitzvos and Hashem done right.

The Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, rarely comes to the ultra-orthodox and says “eat non-kosher” or “don’t keep Shabbos”, or even “don’t go to synagogue”.  The majority of the ultra-orthodox community is simply not open to such.

Ahh, but come along and say “DEFEND A MITZVAH… even to the point of causing damage” or “DEFEND THE RABBI… even causing pain to others” – that tricky message sometimes gets through, because it fits the holy pattern and the unholiness slips through (G-d forbid). 

Today in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, the zealots were overtaken by the Yetzer.  The holy battle is over new home construction and possible ancient grave sites.  Background – Israel has an unusual but very real practical problem.  With continuous human habitation since the dawn of civilization, the land is dotted with ancient archeological sites and ancient grave sites.  Judaism is very particular about respecting grave sites, the modern State is trying to balance respect and building.  These issues often come to head when an existing building is being expanded and such a site is found in the expansion area.  Historically the State has not been particularly good about respecting such sites.

Into this mix jumps the Asara Kadisha, a self formed group for zealously protecting holy sites.  Ramat Avraham is a new neighborhood being built in Ramat Bet Shemesh, and in the process of laying foundations they found a cave that leads to ancient burial niches.  The State archeologists did an investigation and stated what they found, whether these are graves or not and of what type.  The presented their report (not of archeological significance {plenty of this type around}, pre-Canaanite type) and the State permitted continued building.  Because the target neighborhood is to be religious, the builder took the report to the central ultra-orthodox religious authorities in Jerusalem (the Eida Charedis), who rules the State is not lying (they have in the more distant past) and, because of the type, building is allowed in the area.

But it was not a unanimous decision, at least one authority ruled otherwise (possibly because of the State history of lying about these issues in the past).

Enter the Asara Kadisha.  They are going to zealously stop the construction!

So today they turned over garbage dumpsters in the road and lit some plastic ones on fire (in the road) in their neighborhood.  Because nothing says protest like burning down your own neighborhood and smoking out your neighbors with burning garbage.

IMG-20130812-WA0001  IMG-20130812-WA0000IMG-20130812-WA0003 IMG-20130812-WA0002

(Picture #1, Protest Alert Sign pasted around town – “TO WAR!  COME AND SAVE THE GRAVES”)

(Picture #2, low resolution – Smoke pouring out of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, ultra-orthodox neighborhood where the majority of the zealots live {who are only a small minority in that neighborhood – but very influential due to their, ah, forcefullness})

(Picture #3, Beit Shemesh fire department on the way)

(Picture #4, Protest Reason Proof of the (minority) ruling that IT’S GRAVES THAT MUST BE PROTECTED, SO TAKE ACTION!)

Following fire and police response to their damaging their own neighborhood (and stopping bus service for all of Beit Shemesh – as the main road goes through there), they decided to take direct action – they marched across town to the actual construction site and lit the hillside on fire!  Being it’s dry season in Israel, that’s a very big deal which could put significant property and lives in danger.


By the way, you can see how large the group of zealots are above (not very).  To the top left is the construction site.

Stupid zealotry at it’s worst.

-- Photos courtesy of my daughter.  A bit more at YNet.


  1. Nice article Akiva. But this is an example of a few. The many don't know how to be social and decent humans to those who are not as holy as they are. Sad.

  2. Take your own advice Shiloh.


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