The world is home to Jews of all types: We have haredim, seculars, national-religious Jews, traditional Jews, and confused Jews. Yet the images of Breslov Hassidim with their eyes covered at the airport may indicate that a new and surprising Jewish stream is growing here – the blind Jews.
Haredi Judaism is a byproduct of the Enlightenment movement – detachment from modern Judaism in order to preserve the old ways. For years, the haredim attempted to distinguish themselves from the other Jews, to dwell alone, yet they understood that they are nonetheless part of the larger family – the family of Judaism. It may be a split, divided family (and too frequently so,) yet nonetheless, it’s family.
However, the process of religious radicalization among parts of the haredi Jewish camp in recent years shows us that something had been undermined in this family.
Radicalization is usually a result of ignorance. When there aren’t enough answers, people fear the questions. In order to avoid them and in a bid not to get entangled, there’s always the option of imagining a world devoid of question marks – to close one’s eyes and sink into a stupor.
This is true for sophisticated academicians, and it’s also true for rabbis and educated Jews. We can understand where the desire to detach oneself from the world stems from, yet Judaism by its very nature is a religion of people. All one needs to do is open the Book of Books to discover urges, sins, bad, and good.
Those who close their eyes neutralize their faith’s connection to reality, and mostly its connection to the other parts of the Jewish people.
The more advanced the world becomes, the more temptations and dangers it presents to those who seek to maintain a religious utopia. However, closing one’s eyes will not turn this world into a better place. At most, it will place an obstacle before those who are able to see.