Do you think it’s important to give the Haredi fanatics a different name and not call them “Haredim” or “ultra-Orthodox?” Those names imply they are extra observant and pious, which clearly they are not. Wouldn’t this also help differentiate between the fanatics and more moderate Haredim?
In theory I agree with your sentiments. In fact, the chareidi press is referring to them as "kana'im" (fanatics) and "sikrikim" (after the Sacarii fanatics of the late Second Temple period). However, "a rose by any other name..." Our opinion here won't have much of an impact on this small group that is giving the majority of chareidim a bad name. The best any of us can do--and must do!--is to express our opinions clearly and loudly in order to educate others to understand what we believe Judaism and Torah really stand for.
Well, one person’s fanatic is another person’s heretic. It seems to me that the worst possible response to the current wave of publicized attacks on women and etc. is to start an official name calling policy. (Though, to be fair, there is a group of Haredim who call themselves “sikrikon” which denoted fanatics in the second Temple area and is etymologically derived from sicarii which means assassin.) The current campaign against the disappearance of women from public spaces in Jerusalem and its suburbs is a good thing, and there is no excuse for spitting at and intimidating young girls a they go to school.
However, before designating official nomenclature of derogation it would behoove us all to look through a wider lens and ask ourselves why we are focusing our ire at the Haredim. Are the Haredim the only community that denies women equal roles in religious public spaces? Are the Haredim the only group that uses violence? Should we no longer call the settlers in the Palestinian territories (who regularly use violence against their Palestinian neighbors) “Zionists” and instead call them, perhaps, sicarii? Should we stop using the term Orthodox (which originally was deployed as a derogatory term) and instead substitute the term Religious Segregationists? Well, you see where this is going. I suggest we allow everybody to refer to themselves as they wish, and judge everyone based on their actions. As the gemara says: One who calls his fellow a name has no share in the world to come.
I do not know when the term “haredi” came to describe those in Israel – and in various parts of the Diaspora – who are most scrupulous about their Jewish observance, and demand that other Jews observe the same way.There is the hubris connected with the term that suggests that if anyone observes Judaism in ways different from a haredi person, they are less Jewish, or not Jewish at all.
If I would estimate, by my various visits to Israel, when this term came into use, I would guess that this term grew into common usage among the Israeli population after the Six Day War, when religious Zionists were seized by a great enthusiasm for settling in and holding onto occupied territories.It is often a derogatory term when used, obviously, outside of the Orthodox community.
As background:The word “haredi” comes from the Hebrew bible; Brown-Driver-Briggs’ “Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament” defines the verb “h-r-d” as “trembling,” “being terrified,” or “being startled.”It somehow morphed to mean ‘ultra Orthodox,’ or ‘ultra observant.’In this respect, it is quite close to the Hebrew root “y-r-a,” or “fear/revere.”
I disagree with the premise of your question, that there is difference between a “fanatic” and “more moderate Haredim.”I think the phrase ‘moderate haredi’ is an oxymoron; that is, someone who is called haredi, or uses that term about himself, is already far beyond the border of ‘moderate,’ and has gone to fanatic.I would say that, at least in English, the word “ultra Orthodox” is different from haredi.“Ultra Orthodox” implies a state of person observance; “haredi” implies someone who has not only adopted a strict Orthodox life for himself, but has gone to the extreme of cutting off from his life any non-Orthodox person or practice.In other words, ‘haredi’ is the most extreme of individual, advocating for nothing less from his life.
To sum up, I think the terms “haredi” and “ultra Orthodox” can be used to describe different levels of religious zeal, the former nationalistic and exclusivist, the latter personal and not being pushed upon others.
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