Of course, there is always the journalistic question of whether this article correctly portrays the truth -- but based upon these facts, the problem is pretty apparent and this article in the Jerusalem Post presents a most powerful challenge. See:
Doesn't the term Chilul Hashem come immediately to mind? Can there be any justification for this behaviour? What, though, really is going on? It would seem that these rioters could not possibly have any connection to Torah; it must be that they are ascribing to some other system that is absent Torah values. Yet, here we have individuals who define themselves as adherents of Torah -- in fact, devout adherents of Torah -- acting in this manner. It is easy to dismiss them, to criticize them -- but that does not get to the root of the issue. The question is: what are they thinking? How could they possibly act in this manner yet declare that they are adherents of Torah? It must be that they actually do not see themselves as violators of Torah but the issue is even more bewildering. They actually see themselves as upholders of the values of Torah and that through this behaviour they are promoting Torah values, that through their behaviour they are actually demonstrating their adherence to Torah values. This is an even greater problem. It is one thing if someone is acting contrary to Torah but knows and admits that he/she is doing so. We may wonder how criminals can still do what they do and, furthermore, still live with themselves -- we may specifically wonder how Bernie Madoff or a religious child molester could live with himself -- but, at least, they are not declaring that what they did was in fact correct and a fulfillment of the values of the religious system. It is quite another matter, though, if someone is acting in this manner -- or cons someone as Madoff did or molests a child -- and not only thinks that he/she is not violating Torah law but actually thinks he/she adhering to it, supporting it, promoting it. This latter situation is, for so many reasons, a greater problem -- and this is sadly what, I believe, we are witnessing here -- and it is to this issue that we must directly respond. Its not enough to yell that they are wrong. We must discover what they are thinking and respond to the problem that allows for this reasoning.
Let's start at the most basic way of looking at this situation. A very sick Neturei Karta child is brought to a hospital, a chiloni hospital. The hospital determines that this child's illness is due to a psychiatric disorder of the mother, the charedi mother. The mother is arrested. The mother also denies the charges. So what does the mother's community say -- must be another example of chiloni oppression of Torah. This assertion obviously can't be true for how could a frum charedi woman be psychologically ill? After all, frum people can't be as the doctors are describing this woman for they are frum, she is frum Such an asssertion may also imply that there is a problem in the community; what is the connection between this psychological illness and her upbringing and environment? Can't be! This is the ideal Torah community. There can't be anything wrong within it. Must be that the chilonim are inventing problems and critiques to thereby attack us. This, I believe is the starting point, the place where all this begins. Its not just Neturei Karta or charedim but, sadly, permeates the whole frum community. We are frum. We are God's chosen. Can't be something wrong with us -- especially if it means that the chiloni person is right or doing something better.
When the Rambam said that one could learn from everyone and anyone, he was making a most powerful statement about education and thought. You don't think simply through adopting a code of behaviour or memorizing a collection of rules. Thinking demands observation and analysis -- with an openness to reconsider one's thoughts. The problem in the frum world, in so many ways, is that we think we know it all and approach existence with a sense of surety. The humility that instructs us to be somewhat unsure of ourselves, of approaching life with caution and consideration is almost a thing of the past. We're right and we'll take on anyone that says we aren't, regardless of the facts. And the more in the minority that your are, the more adament you become. Of course, the fact that one is in the minority should not lead this person to necesarily dimiss himself/herself. One does need the strenght to stand by one's opinion in the face of challenge and adversity. Yet when one is in the minority, one should also be open to questions, to investigate in order to be sure. It a balance, a dialectic that God demands of us. It's time that we demonstrated the thought inherent in the recognition of this reality and not demonstrate to illustrate an allegiance to a simplicity that only shows foolishness.
Bottom line, there was a two year old kid whose very life was at stake. Wouldn't you think that the concerns, even if you want to call it safek sakanot nefashot, a possible life-threatening situation, would, at least, make people think twice before adamently adopting a position? But how can there be a safek? We're frum and they're not. We are the bastions of Torah and their not. But what is this foolish representation of Torah that they are promoting? Its a Torah that says not to think but just to follow your assumed rote viewpoint.
Rabbi Ben Hecht