Israel, Religion

Israel: Two States For Two Peoples?

I am a product of kiruv institutions. I learned in Ohr Somayach yeshivot, I pray in Chaba”d houses, I have friends who work for Aish Discovery and Gateways. I get literature from JEP, JEMM, JAM, and every other monosyllabic organization beginning with J purporting to be the organization that “has brought back so many Jews to Torah”.
In light of this, I don’t even know what to say when I read articles like this.
I understand the sentiment, and I empathize, and can even partially identify. But Uri Orbach’s “Please Don’t Come For Shabbat” piece in YNet today caught me off guard and, in my opinion, is lamentably counterproductive:

Do me a favor, secular friends, don’t come over for Shabbat. I simply can not handle your adorable little Tomer turning off the light in the bathroom…
Please don’t come over on Shabbat. With your never-turned-off cellular phone and the visible pack of cigarettes you clumsily try to hide.
Don’t come visiting on Shabbat, not even if you call in advance. If we happen to invite you – please politely decline. Because it pushes our buttons. We with our “mishigas,” our rules and our old habits. We will ask you to arrive before sundown so you don’t desecrate the most holy day of the week, and after dinner we’ll pretend not to know you drive your car back home. That’s not our business…
Just imagine what having secular guests on Shabbat means. Welcome to hell: lights turned on and off by mistake, toilet paper ripped, text messages flying, toasts popping, yarmulkes falling, kids turning on the TV. Our own children, innocent of the taste of sin, are tempted by a life of atheism…Go explain to the kid in the hip-hopish hairdo why you simply cannot serve pancakes on Saturday morning and why the TV is off limits…
Yes, some of my best friends are secular, but on Shabbat I pretend I don’t have any. I love them, I cherish them but I won’t call them and they don’t call me.
Don’t come on Shabbat, stop by on Sunday, Monday, and bring all of your kids with you. But not on Shabbat. It’s too complicated. One Shabbat – two nations.

One commenter, Reuven from Ra’anana who is no stranger to anyone who reads YNet Talkbacks, puts it quite starkly:

…I still shudder when I think about how far down and how far removed secularism has schlepped the Jews of Israel. We really need do need a two-state solution.

So it’s being said now. Two Israels: one for the religious, one for the secular. While I even fall prey to giving this idea positive lip service (because, let’s face it, from both sides it does seem tempting at times), is it a serious proposition that to divide an already minuscule portion of “Jewish land” among religious and non-religious Jews would be a good thing?
Perhaps we’re a long way from piyus. Perhaps we’re a long way from 100% peaceful coexistence.
But surely we can’t have to build another wall.
Shabbat is complex, and to the religious person, it is too important to have one’s electrical preparations set asunder by toddling Tomer.
But, “two nations”? “Two state solutions” for religious and secular Jews? Such legislation should never even be spoken of. The negative far more than nullifies the positive.

30 thoughts on “Israel: Two States For Two Peoples?

  1. I really want to be horrified by this- it’s the only reasonable reaction. Right?
    But I can’t- I’ve been there and I know where Orbach’s coming from- although to a much lesser extent.
    I know what it’s like to have guests come over and explain that we must let their darling son watch TV- because they’d already promised him he could. I know what it’s like to have my kashrut decisions ridiculed- as I’m bringing a dinner that took all day to prepare out to the table. I’ve had guests bolt in the middle of dinner because they’d gotten a phone call that made them realize they were supposed to have brought their kids to the ex-spouse’s house and staying would compound the ongoing custody battle. I’ve been told that I take Shabbos too seriously, that some pork sausage woud really put the turkey stuffung over the top (ha. ha.)…
    I’m sick of it. Shabbos is my family’s time. If it’s not yours- or you can’t pretend for a few hours- please do stay home.

  2. What an asshole. How about not cuting yourself off from your people? If everyone cut themselves off from non-religious people the only inroad, the means for them to see the beauty of Judaism in action diminishes greatly.
    Sorry you’re so inconvenienced Reb Orbach. Go ahead, build a fortress around your heart and see what good it does you.

  3. the “hell” of torn toilet paper? I thought he was being sarcastic at first.
    I guess I am blessed to have more secular friends who at least make an effort to respect my more observant boundaries.

  4. People attract those who are like them. I respect my secular friends and they respect my religious practices. If you find yourself surrounded by secular assholes, maybe you should look in the mirror.

  5. I wouldn’t identify as either religious or secular by Israeli terms, and I know that most Diaspora Jews would agree. Anyway, I don’t know angry secular folks at all. People in my community, and most communities that I’ve encountered, have a great deal of respect for religious diversity and tolerance.
    The angry secularist, or the angry religious practitioner, are both people who have anger because of some sort of internal disquiet about choices. I view difference as an opportunity to try to pratice respect and to try to learn something where I can about other people. This works for me with respect to my more observant and my less observant friends. (I realize I am courting scorn by using the term observant but it works for me.)
    I do not know if this works for all sects of people but to me it is something to which we should aspire.

  6. This has got to be parody of the “let’s eat babies to solve hunger” variety. I mean Judi’s friends above aren’t friends, they’re -I dunno what that is. but it isn’t freindship if they ridicule how you live while eating your food and staying in your house. Maybe these folks just need a better class of friends. If they’re friends you explain the rules ahead of time and if they can’t abide just stand firm and let them leave. What they do out of your house is their business.
    And if your kids can’t deal with your friends’ secular ways and temptation, well, all *that* says is that you can’t provide a very appealing alternative. Nothing about them, but a lot about you.
    Of course there are rude people everywhere, but being secular doesn’t mean rude, and for that matter, being religious doesn’t exempt one either. This doesn’t seem to me substantially different than a smoker visiting a non-smoker’s house. Explain ahead of time what you expect, and if they can’t live with it, they won’t come. If they come and they can’t live with it, be firm – but kind- but firm. That’s all.
    Sheesh.

  7. Having lived with a shomer shabbos person when not that, I can definitely state this works both ways. I definitely think it’s a good idea on a regular basis on shabbos for frummies to go their way, and for secularists to go theirs.
    Unless, you know — the frummies are religiously shady. Then it doesn’t matter so much.

  8. I am having trouble understanding Israelis nowadays. There are those who don’t like the movement of Judaism that doesn’t match theirs and there are secular Jews who forget what Shabbos is. It’s not one nation, two “states”, it’s more like one nation, many styles. And not one seems to get along with another. I always thought we are ONE Judaism, but it looks like zealots have the majority to me ( as in ” if you aren’t going to worship my way…it’s the highway” zealots).
    My secular friends understand what I do, and don’t do on Shabbos. Some I invite and explain what the do’s and don’ts are and we all have a great time.
    Are there Israelis are who just plain rude? The few I have met in NYC seem to indicate that, but there are also very polite ones, that I know who live in Israel. From what I read in the original article, seems the former are all around. I hope I am wrong.

  9. You’re right, KRG. They weren’t actual friends- they were Jewish neighbors, acquaintances and… family members. To them, Shabbat is a Friday night holiday celebrated occasionally by lighting candles before going out to a movie.
    We enjoy asking people over. The experiences are usually very nice, but the horrible ones stand out. Some secular Jews seem to have an axe to grind with traditional practices and feel the need to enlighten others. I couldn’t care less if my guests drive on holidays or Shabbos- I used to do the same. I have no need to judge- I simply want to enjoy their company and share my table. But they need to remember that no matter what their personal feelings may be about my level of observance, they’re the guests and should behave accordingly.
    I’m not a mean person, really. I am so nice it’s not funny. But I need to balance my desire to host anyone who’d like a Friday night dinner with the sanctity of my personal family life. If a visitor can respect that, they’re welcome anytime. If, instead, they see an invitation as an opprtunity to point out how antiquated and provincial are my customs, they should enjoy their movie, instead.
    Another thing- Orbach’s article, while making a firm point, is obviously tongue-in-cheek. Orbach does not call for literally dividing Israel physically between the religious and the non-. By nations, he is referring to different points of view regarding observance, in case that needed to be said.

  10. “Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, so will be the image you perceive. But should you look upon your fellow and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering – you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.”–the Besht

  11. While Israelis can understand humor, Americans obviously can’t.
    and Y-Love – frumkeit is the best way to stop being nice to your friends and parents, especially if its new-found frumkeit. You have to fight the frunkeit to be nice, not the other way around.
    Having said that – I understand Urbach perfectly. in my house, shabbos is shabbos. Tuesday is a better day than shabbos to come over if you’re going to make a mockery of it.

  12. So Reuven from Ra’anana was also being humorous? Granted, he’s v. opinionated, but I don’t think this was all one big joke played by YNet.
    The style and tone of the article is almost reminiscent of everyone’s favorite election analysis. And Amit, while I can’t disagree with you l’maaseh (what, I’m going to stand an scream that rude frum people don’t exist? I wish I COULD even do that!), you really need to get off it.
    I also fully understand the frustration at having one’s Shabbat atmosphere violated, and I’m often told to speak of Sabbath violation in less graphic terms than I do. Still, though, to say “I will not have you in my house on Shabbat because you are not frum enough” is almost anathema to me, I’d have to be seriously provoked to tell anyone who I considered an invitable friend, “don’t call me.”
    My non-Jewish friends know not to call me on Shabbos, but they still show up — after I invite them 500x and reassure them that “no they will not feel weird”. (And I make it a point that they never do.)
    The main problem I saw above was with KRG and the kids thing. The reality is, cartoons are designed by marketing personnel to be fun and appealing to children. Shul isn’t. If cartoons are on, they have been designed to capture the child’s attention and entertain him. The siddur hasn’t. To say, “you’re not presenting it well enough” just is not a practical excuse in any number of given situations. The most ecstatic Breslov parent is STILL no match for whatever-is-on-the-PS3.

  13. rootlesscostmo– why should toilet paper be beyond the pale of religion?
    on a more practical level, weirdness is highly subjective.

  14. I was reacting more to the fact that the literal written commandments (e.g. resting on Shabbat) and these attenuated, Rabbinically-created minutiae (e.g. toilet paper or not toweling your body off after a shower) are upheld with the same fervor. It’s crazy to me.
    “weirdness is highly subjective.” you got that right.

  15. in Chabad their are a few sayings:
    1. Better a Chassidish Hell than a Litvish Heaven
    2. Love of God without love of your fellow is Idol worhip!
    3. Better to be in hell with friends than Heaven on your own
    4. Israelis are a bunch of freaks (that’s my saying)
    5. Inner peace is the sourse of all blessings
    6. When moshiach comes everyday will be Shabbat
    7. Nothing will change when moshiach comes
    8. Your nation are all holy
    9. A Jew is not just your brother, by he is actually you – and when you judge him you are judging yourself.
    10. If you’re not serving God with joy He doesn’t want your service.
    11. To love a fellow Jew, Just the same as you is the basis of our holy Torah, he may be far from me across the widest sea, but still i’ll always love him just the same, … etc…

  16. Religious and Secular? Give me a break. I’m sure Ohrbach would regard me as secular, but I’m a religious reform Jew. He would call that an oxymoron perhaps.
    And he and I can debate about it, over Shabbos Dinner, at his place, and he will find me a perfectly acceptable guest. Because I know how to DO the Shomer Shabbat thing, and if I don’t I’m not afraid to ask. I know to stay silent between Netillat Yadayim and HaMotzi. And as a Reform Jew, I recognize that I have an obligation to support his choices around observance.
    And as a religious Reform Jew there’s an awful lot I agree with. Like turning off the cell phone on Shabbat. Fercryinoutloud, how can you think to leave it on?!?!? Shabbos is about excusing oneself from the busyness of the world.
    But what is described is willful disrespect. There’s no excuse for it.

  17. Oh, family why didn’t you say so? I know all about that – that’s totally different. yeah, yeah, so your family thinks you’re a nut for not eating shrimp cocktail and has decided that you hate them because you won’t drive to their house on shabbat. Whatever. been there, done that. Get over it. Don’t invite them – they’ll never get over it – unless they do. Your call. My family thinks I keep kosher and shabbat to vex them. Move on.
    And MaxKohanzad: Don’t slam the litvaks, okay, dude?
    Sheesh, next you’ll be hating on the mitnagdim….

  18. RCosmo – while ultimately you are entitled to your opinion, to call these things “minutiae” is quasi-insulting and reflective of your being intellectually standoffish: you, for instance, I’m sure realize that the issue is of course not TP itself but rather the action of tearing A from B, especially along pre-perforated lines.
    Now why should make that into toilet humor?
    (I haven’t seen a pun on here in a WHILE y’all…)

  19. Y-Love – the point is ‘focus’ – and what is more important to the author of this piece.
    Obviously the desecration of the Shabbath ‘tears’ at the author because he is a religious Jew, but the objection to his tone is discussing the focus of his religiousness.
    What is more important? What is his focus?
    Why has his shabbat and the minor desecration of the sabbath in his home take precedence over the expression of ‘Love for ones fellow’.
    I’d like to quote Jesus who is supposed to have said something like ‘let he who is righteous throw the first stone’.
    since actually keeping the sabbath day according to Shulchan Auroch is extremely difficult even for people who have been frum all their lives.
    This is an example of when the Torah observance misses the entire point of what it is meant to be observing – when the Torah becomes a form of Avoida Zora (Idol Worship).
    The minutiae of ritual observance – (and there is such a thing!) have taken precedence over the fundamental teachings of Abraham.
    I’m only left with the words of an old Motown song singing in my head ‘Where is the Love?’

  20. Max, you’re still missing it. There are six other days to love your fellow Jew. We can even play them our old Shirley Bassey CD (or Justin Timberlake or BEPs- whatever). We’ll tear TP with wild abandon. This isn’t about minutiae- it’s about kedusha.

  21. As a reform and non-shomer jew in a relationship with a shomer-shabbes, kosher, 3xdaily-davening jew, I’ll say that respect is definitely the beginning of dealing with any issues raised by differing practices. But we accomodate each other when we can, and figure out what to do when we can’t. I’m just really, really glad that I live inside the eruv, which is something that never would have crossed my mind when I first moved to New York.
    Anyway, I think in relation to guests, it’s necessary to discuss all of this before inviting them over! I’d never ask non-jewish or non-shomer friends to come over for shabbes without first letting them know what that meant. No tv, leave the phone off/at home, and come if you want to really join us for shabbes. If they’d rather go to a movie, so be it – make plans for motzei shabbes.

  22. judi – what does it mean to be holy?
    what is holy?
    how can you be holy?
    how can you become holy?
    What is holiness?
    please, please think about it, for more than just a reactionary second.
    To be holy? (it’s a commandment) ‘You shall be a Holy Nation’.
    How does something become holy?
    how does something else become un-holy?
    Kedusha? what does it mean?
    Separate? Distinct?
    To separate the Shabbos from all other days to make it Holy?
    To separate yourself from all other peoples makes you holy?
    To distinguish yourself from other Jews makes you holy?
    To make Shabbos more important than another Person makes you holy?
    To be filled with anger and quiet disgust for the lack of observance of the holy Shabbos – does that make you holy?
    To make the Shabbath day the source of division, animosity and subtle hate makes you holy?
    Does the actual keeping of Shabbos make you holy?
    or is holiness something you are, something to develop within yourself?
    or is holiness an inner state of peace and complete oneness and union to God, what is aided by the keeping of the commandments?
    or is holiness a thing you strive for while trampling on others to get there?
    is holiness something you get while silently hating your brothers and sisters who reminding you that your world really isn’t as holy as you’d like it to be?
    The commandment says be a Holy Nation,
    not holy individual,
    not a holy shabbat observer,
    a Holy People!
    You are only holy together, while you love one another, while you help and teach one another to serve God with joy, holiness can not be found through separating yourself from the world an especially not separating yourself in heart, soul and body from other Jews – who WANT to come to your home on the Holy Shabbath!
    May the Allmerciful have compassion on all of us in this and may the source of Shabbos (peace) fill our hearts and mind, and may the Holy ONE which is All – help each of us to realise the true nature of reality and the true nature of ourselves which is absolutely divine.
    Amen & women

  23. Here’s what kedusha is not: Kedusha is not about jumping to conclusions about my or other people’s takes on Judaism. You don’t know me- don’t make assumptions about hatred, trampling others or any of the other bs you’ve written in your diatribe. You don’t know me and what you’re assuming couldn’t be more wrong. Frankly, I think you’re just trolling for reasons to be on the offensive and seeing nuances where there are none.
    That said, the kedusha of Shabbos, at least for me, is being able to observe the day with friends, in relative peacefulness. Go to shul, eat lunch, take a nap. Pretty simple. If someone who observes differently wants to join me, great! If I make a point of explaining our way of doing things beforehand and the guest still insists on “being themself” (as has happened), that’s simply not cool. Would you agree?

  24. judi – i was talking about the author of the piece we are all commenting on, not you!
    I’m talking about the implications of the piece – that of, so-called religion ‘v’ being a holy human being.
    if you took what i said personally – then as the chassidic master said to the pupil who complained everyone is treding on his toes
    ‘maybe you spread yourself to fill the entire space of the room?’
    namely that holiness is the ability to let go of yourself, and to admit that you are not the centre of the universe
    much love*
    (see the Rebbe Rashab [the forth lubavitcher rebbe]’s discourse in Rannut called Hechultzu for more on this point) It’s also called ‘On Ahavas Yisrael’
    http://www.amazon.com/Heichaltzu-Yisrael-Shalom-Dovber-Schneersohn/dp/0826604358/sr=8-2/qid=1170806686/ref=sr_1_2/104-6816052-1078341?ie=UTF8&s=books

  25. Judi – NOW i’m talking about you and DO (please) take this personally:
    You said ‘the kedusha of Shabbos …is’
    but it’s quite obvious that you haven’t taken on board anything i’ve said namely:
    “What is holiness?
    please, please think about it, for more than just a reactionary second. ”
    all you’ve done is told me what YOU like about your Shabbos, NOT what HOLINESS is? What is Kedusha?
    come on!
    i could easily say the kedusha of shabbos for me is a lovely chulent! it makes no sense!
    the fact that i like a lovely chulent on a saterday has nothing to do with the idea of Holiness and what it means to me or what it means in reality.
    your lovely shabbos with friends is nice,
    but is that holy? is your lovely shabbos with friends so important to you that you’d stone people that desecrated your holy shabbos lunch or nap?
    You see it’s NOT the holiness of shabbos that you’re upset about /for – but YOU and Your nice little weekly ‘holiday’ with it funny little rules etc…
    What does it mean to be holy? is it something you DO? or something you are?
    serious answers please!

  26. The subject matter is fascinating, but I find your tone condescending and not conducive to any rational discussion. Okay, you got me. I like my “little weekly holiday” and I secretly relish being awoken from my holy naps to stone those who dare desecrate it. Are you happy now that I’ve gone and admitted the truth which you suspected from the start? Bye-bye and good luck with your kiruv.

  27. as u can see i’m a X lubi – i don;t believe in ‘kiruv’ – kiruv loosely means ‘to bring close’ and that is condiscending and dualistic it saying that you are somehow closer to god becusause you keep torah – when in fact every jew is ONE with God and close to the Torah already!
    I’m aruging iwth you ideas not u

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