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Blurry Glasses Reveal Hate of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

August 9, 2012 3:41 pm 19 comments

Chassidic man praying. Photo: Pop Chassid.

Recently, some articles have come out reporting that some Hareidi or “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews in Mea Shearim, the most religious area of Jerusalem, have started selling glasses that blur their owners’ vision. The goal, apparently, is to help men who might be tempted by women dressed immodestly on the street from looking and seeing what they shouldn’t.

Since the report was released, website after website, and blog after blog, has picked up this story. Almost all with a certain mocking tone. Many with angry under and overtones. Many sarcastic.

The super-crazy-frummy-religious-folk are frequently the target of media skepticism and attacks. But what separates this parade of attacks is that usually the hatred and anger is hidden behind a guise of worrying about others’ welfare. For example, the very real issue of sex scandals rocking the United States’ ultra-orthodox community, and the gangs of Jews policing modesty in that same community of Mea Shearim, are topics frequently discussed and criticized in popular culture. Usually, these stories are capitalized on to attack the wider religious Jewish community.

But now, people who, no matter how ridiculous their methods, have chosen a path that hurts no one (except perhaps themselves), are being attacked. Mocked. Virtually spat on.

Why? Not for any good reason. They’re not hurting anyone. G-d knows, it was probably one dude’s idea in a shop that some journalist heard about. But even if it’s more widespread than that, who cares?

Even more importantly, why do we find it so amusing? Why is the fact that men are so aware of their fallibility that they have gone out of their way to respect women suddenly seen as a bad thing?

Here in New York City, women are constantly subjected to cat calls, whistles, and much much worse, by men who have no such qualms.

And now, in Jerusalem there are a group of men who have chosen to disable themselves so that they would never do that to a woman.

Instead of some thoughtful introspection about our society, the blogosphere has chosen a different path: attacking those who are different. Attacking a group of people who can’t stand up for themselves because they don’t have a PR team, and a bunch of people calling journalists to complain.

But what we all need to focus on here is not what we may be confused by, but what within ourselves is allowing us to allow such unfiltered hate to seep through. Instead of looking at the differences between people with respect and warmth, or at least indifferent tolerance, these people are being pushed around. Sometimes when I read these articles, I have an image of people throughout history pushing Jews around and pointing out their silly side curls and beards, and I wonder if there’s any difference.

So, all you promoters of tolerance, can you answer this? Why is it okay to hate these people because they lead a different life than yours? And what is it that you find quite so objectionable and worthy of hate, mocking, and anger?

Until anyone can answer these questions without resorting to dirty attacks of an entire people, I can only assume that hatred against ultra-orthodox Jews has become mainstream.

19 Comments

  • All this non-stop hatred for the Jews, how can i possibly be anything other than jealousy? I can only feel sad for all the intolerant haters, they must have very sad and empty lives …

  • ULTRA ORTHODOX JEWS ARE A BUNCH OF WHACKOS!

  • stds dont discriminate

  • NO ONE points out that so-called “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews are VERY MUCH UNDER-REPRESENTED among the criminals and the jail populations ALL OVER THE WORLD, including Israel, since they – as a group, for heterogeneous as they can be – lead much more HONEST AND CLEAN lives than ANY OTHER GROUP, and their women are the most respected and are at the center of THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT FOR THEM, that is family life. Which of course can’t be understood by people who think that two sodomites or two lesbians can constitute a family, marry and even adopt children.
    The PATHOLOGICAL extra attention that is given to anything they do which is NOT SHARED NOR UNDERSTOOD by the rest of the world, is just ONE OF THE MANIFESTATION OF THE MILLENNIAL HATRED FOR THE JEWS, which has been internalized also by many Jews, ESPECIALLY those further from Torah-true Judaism.
    THE BIGGEST ARMY-EVADING GROUP IN ISRAEL ARE NOT THE CHAREDI YOUTH BUT THE SECULAR YOUTH LIVING BETWEEN TEL AVIV AND HAIFA, as Army data confirm!
    The Army, then, admits that it would NOT KNOW HOW TO ENLIST ALL THE CHAREDI YOUTH according to its own laws and regulations!
    Stop hating those you don’t know nor understand, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE YOUR NEIGHBORS. GO AND LEARN!
    That said, I AM NOT PART AT ALL OF THE BLACK-CLAD CROWD and I even think that Torah FORBIDS Jews from wearing black, since it is the custom of idol-worshippers, as taught AND PRACTICED by the Tannaim, by Rishonim (no less than Rabbenu Bachye), and Acharonim (no less than the Ben Ish Chai).

    • What are you talking about? How do secular youth evade army service? It is not optional for the secular population as it is for the cowards-in-black.

  • Can you really blame non-haredi Jews from harboring some ill-will towards their more “pious” bretheren? Perhaps when haredi mothers begin to experience the trauma of crying at their children’s IDF funerals, they will garner some more respect from those who have been making the ultimate sacrifice for decades.

    And to Mr Gershon, who likes to speak about “shame”…..I think most Israelis and Jews in the diaspora have a much different view of “shame”. Its those who cower in fear and use their “religion” to avoid their duty who should be ashamed.

  • Karsten Bannier

    They need to disable themselves ???? I would think showing respect for women,no matter what religion one practices,should be a normal thing. Are these fruma’s so tempted that they have to be forced not to see a womans beauty…do they think this gift of sight from Hashem is only meant for studying Talmud ???

    • Excellent point, Karsten – I tend to agree wholeheartedly! Of course, if these “ultra orthodox” are so weak in the flesh (and, apparently, with eyes that see too much!!), they need to grow up, sit down and have a heart-to-heart with themselves – and G-d!! We try to instill this discipline in our children – why haven’t grown-up men learned it by now? So, is the bar mitzvah NOT a passage to “manhood,” but only to an infantile frame of mind?

      Of course, the supreme irony in all this is that most of these schlubs look pretty UNSEXY themselves – and their appearance is not helped much by the foliage they have on their faces & heads and the black clothing they wear to cover-up! In a word, women – observant and not – are not much tempted by how the men look in public! (Lol…)

  • The glasses are to me a symptom of a sickness within the religious world. Dealing with urges is the nature of the regime of mitzvot. One is supposed to live within this world and yet do the mitzvot. Its easy to adhere to the taryaq in a cave. It is supremely hard to do in the world. Would that the people focused on tzineus focus on fair and ethical business practice. That alone would make this less ridiculous.

  • HERMAN GERSHON

    HATRED, MOCKERY AND DERISION OF THE SO-CALLED “ULTRA-ORTHODOX” (WHICH IS SINACH CHINUM PLAIN AND SIMPLE) CAN ONLY BE ATTRIBUTED TO A SUBCONSCIOUS GUILT FEELING.
    WE HATE THEM BECAUSE OF THEIR JEWISHNESS THAT SURPASSES OUR OWN. THEY OUTDO US IN THEIR OBSERVANCE AND PUT US TO SHAME. SO WE MUST HATE THEM AND PUT THEM DOWN IN ORDER TO SATISFY OUR EGOS.

  • I respect the author’s message, but I think he misinterprets the aim of the product. I do not feel that Chareidi men would do something like this out of Torah-mandated respect for women, but rather out of paranoia regarding their own sexuality which, while aiming to protect them from sexual thoughts and urges, preoccupies them with it to such an extent that they become incapable of seeing women except in a sexual context. The women in these neighborhoods would not be dressed in anything except the most modest attire (short of a burqa or other dehumanization) anyway, nor would they be acting immodestly. The idea that the men need fences and boundaries on top of that, that they simply cannot react to a woman in any context except in a sexual way, is frankly both frightening and sad. I agree that we should not pour derision on them for a story which may or may not be true, and it’s true that what they do in their communities is their business. I even respect them for their commitment to modesty, such as it. But I think what people object to is that such a degree of hyper-sexualization is neither modest nor respectful to women, and is in fact a gross distortion of the standards of behavior Torah expects. Whether this particular story is true or not is not the point, it’s the whole approach that’s disturbing.

  • Why would it anger people? Because it is coming out at the exact same time as articles stating that ultra orthodox men are spitting on women, throwing things at them, and not respecting the laws on buses. Because I don’t believe that the glasses are about respecting women – I think it is to wipe them away. As if they don’t exist. I find it embarrassing as a Jewish person. I exist and I’m not going anywhere EVEN if you cant see me.

  • “Mankind’s value is like a Divine orchestra. Each is a note. Man loving his neighbor produces melody.
    Not loving is discord” Rabbi Happpyman

  • Oh my gosh who, cares what anyone does. Not anyones business, Such Yenty’s. Are we going to start a progrom against eachother? I went to Lubavtich Yeshiva with Men like them. Taught me to be a loving , kind , compassionate, woman, I went on to marry a non Jew. Did a lot of bad things in mylife but never talked bad about the way people dressed or prayed . Always respected my fellow man. Especially my own kind. Shame on anyone who dosen’t like the way they dress. Take it up with Hashem when you see him.

  • Rather, it’s nothing more than blatant self-hate and a sense of inadequacy and feeling unable to control a situation.

    G-d gives man choice. These ultra-orthodox men don’t have to look. In Brooklyn, Monsey, New York, Chicago, etc. and in other places around the world, these men walk with their faces to the ground. This is their choice. No one is making them do it.

    Only a clever businessman who hates the ultra-orthdox would make glasses such as these available to line his pockets.

    I’m not sure the ultra-orthodox have money for this novelty.

    I remember as a kid the ultra-orthdox men walked with their heads down and the younger men would turn after we passed them and raise the brims of their hats to look at us (yeshiva girls going to school in the mornings).

    I’ve even been asked to move over at a counter so an ultra orthodox man could sit and order his lunch and I’ve been asked to sit skrunched up in a sharut for the same reason. I moved over at the lunch counter but refused to change my front seat.

    No, this is self-hate gotten out of hand.

    The only way to change things is to change them from within.

  • I disagree that someone wearing these glasses is not hurting anyone. It is DIS-respectful to women. It is dehumanizing and degrading. It is telling women, I can only see you as an object of lust, therefore I won’t look at you at all. You are not a person.

    Respect for women means treating them as fellow human beings, not sex objects.

    If someone can’t grasp that they need professional help, not blurry glasses.

    I only agree that the bloggers should not be attacking charedim for this ridiculous product. I think most of them have more intelligence than to purchase it.

  • Arthur Normanson

    It is not completely true that they are not hurting anyone. They are creating a sense of normalcy for a bizarre stringency that they have taken upon themselves. It becomes one link in a chain of discriminatory thought. We need to block our vision to keep from seeing women means that women are not to be seen. It is not hard to imagine this leading up to the exclusion of women from various places, or perhaps forcing women to wear burqas with mesh panels over their eyes so that no part of them will be visible.

  • There is no evidence that this invention was designed with the benefit of women in mind, and to imply so is naive, at best. Blurring the eyes so as not to look at women and thereby experience unwanted sexual thoughts is as objectifying as deliberately ogling those same women; in both instances women are reduced to purely sexual objects, which is far from respectful. There can be no end to the extreme tzanua trend because its goal (preventing men from becoming sexually aroused outside of the “proper” time and place) is simply unattainable. Unwanted sexual thoughts cannot be avoided… not even by the blind, as we well know. Do you doubt that men in places where women wear the burqua experience sexual thoughts and urges? Furthermore, to imply that glancing at “immodestly” dressed women actually causes one to take such actions as cat calling and whistling sounds suspiciously like blaming the victim.

  • Bull. Has nothing to do with respecting women. Rather, it’s a continuation of a cultural–not religious–paradigm that makes women into the “other”: beings unto themselves to be avoided at all costs so that one won’t sacrifice one’s [mens’] purported eventual eternal reward. Nobody hates these people per se. They just hate that they have turned what might be what one calls “respect” into an outright mockery. And that people who have no idea what religion is really about might begin to believe that this stuff is actually required. That is deserving of opprobrium, to say the least.

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