Seculars perceive their very secularism as the peak of human progression, with the nadir being the various forms of religious devotion. However, it only seems as though secularism is the opposite of ultra-Orthodoxy and that seculars are the opposite of haredim. In fact, we are dealing with two new camps that deviated from traditional Judaism and are fed off the same mental position.
“Everything is forbidden” and “everything is allowed” are the same thing, not opposites. Just like miserliness and wastefulness, like the need for control and absence of control, and like paralyzing fear and dangerous boldness; two extremities along the same continuum that wholly miss the golden mean and the path of compromise. And these two extremities not only stem from the same origin, their results are equally bad.
Newly religious Jews and religious ones who become secular are a good example. I already wrote before that the choice to become secular has nothing to do with faith or lack of faith. When some people “find God” or lose it, this only has to do with the human environment (the immediate and broader one) they live in. Hence, there should be no surprise that the haredim or seculars who seek change usually go all the way to the other end of the spectrum and do not stop to look into the alternative. They are only familiar with the edge, and it appears to them that the complete opposite is what they aspire for.
However, they end up at precisely the same place; the end of the spectrum, where “everything is allowed” or “everything is forbidden.” And they stay there because this is what they know, and in fact they haven’t changed anything about themselves and have not really revolutionized their worldview.
Thus, both these groups can expect a rude welcome in the new environment they enter, just like the chill at the place they left behind. The seculars don’t know and are uninterested in being an absorbing and supportive society, and the same is true of the haredim. It only appears to be different among the ultra-Orthodox, yet the haredim treat the newly religious as badly as they treat anyone else.
Seculars are the new haredimThe seculars and haredim are in fact the same sector. Strict limits and the absence of limits is exactly the same thing. The secular focus on self is exactly like the Orthodox fear of the other. The attitude to women is exactly the same (and make no mistake about it, covering a woman like the haredim do is exactly like stripping her, like the seculars do.) The attitude to the State is exactly the same, the attitude to children (having 15 is the same as having one,) the attitude to work (working the whole day is just like not working at all,) etc. The seculars are the new haredim, and vice versa.
In practical terms, this sector balances itself based on several laws. For example, the more radicalized the seculars become in term of openness and recklessness, the more haredim radicalize in terms of isolation and backwardness. Overall, this sector balances itself out.
Both secularism and ultra-Orthodoxy are temporary extremities within the Jewish people, and most of this joint sector will ultimately be absorbed into traditional sane Judaism, which adapts itself to the time and place. Based on all relevant polls, this is the largest and most significant sector in the State of Israel.