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  • תמונת הסופר/תMartin van den Bergh

Extremism spreads contempt

Like many people I was horrified at the end of Yom Kippur by the news of the events at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv when extremist leftists attacked those who were praying in an area which separated men and women with a dividing panel called a Mechitza. Orthodox Judaism, which subscribes to Jewish law called Halacha, requires that men and women pray separately. And a group of activists provided for this despite a court ruling which had been obtained by a left wing group which opposed any attempt to provide an Orthodox setting for prayer, even on the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. They contended that if people wanted to pray in such a setting they should go to an Orthodox synagogue.

While the extreme leftists may have had a point, there is no excuse for them or some of them to have interrupted the prayers of those who wished to pray outside and in the way that enabled them to pray with intent and devotion. Just as it would have contemptable if there had been people would have prevented those who did not want to pray or who wanted to spend Yom Kippur in a different way from the religious norm. I think at the heart of the matter is intolerance of others or the way of others. And those who call themselves tolerant, only seem to be tolerant if the other behaves in the same way as them.

Alas, I have encountered this attitude many times. I have always tried to be tolerant of others, but there are others who are not tolerant of me or the way I live my life. Many years ago one such encounter was with a very close family member. After the incident, which was resolved, I said to the close family member, I chose to live my life as an Orthodox Jew and have done so for many years, while being tolerant of other family members who live another way of life. Therefore, I should not be expected to change my way of life.

Alas, this also comes down to the fact that extremism breeds contempt and conflict, whether it comes from the left or right side of the spectrum. Therefore, I have always tried to steer a middle and moderate course. While this may not be fashionable today, I still believe that this the right way, and as Maimonides says -- it is the golden path. And, I believe that this leads to the respect of others, no matter who or what they are/.

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