Rafi G wrote a post yesterday about the latest haredim vs. everyone else fight in Beit Shemesh. The proposal has been made to create a shomrei shabbat section in the Beit Shemesh cemetery. This is something that exists in other places as a way for the Orthodox community to define the the line between “us” and “them” in burial and not allow “them” to be buried amongst “us”.
Here the action is opposite. They are the newcomers and they want to make sure that “they” won’t be subjected to being buried amongst “us”.
This has of course caused a small uproar in the local press, though I get the feeling that like most of these issues, it is going way over the heads of the majority of citizens. A columnist – David Louk – wrote an article attacking the proposal on the grounds of its divisiveness and that it is halakhically unnecessary (none of the distinguished rabanim of Beit Shemesh have ever seen the need for it till now). Last week the haredi extremist camp hit back with an equalkly long article explaining that unity is not the be-all and end-all and that the halakha does require it and that they will fight for truth and their rights, etc.
The whole issue is based on a gemara in Sanhedrin 46 that discusses where and how to bury people who have been executed (harugei beit din). They are not buried in their family plots and the gemara raises the issue of not burying resha’im together with tzaddikim. Not only that but different levels of executed resha’im need to be buried separately. From here we get to the halakha in the Shulhan Arukh (Yoreh De-ah kuf-tzadi-tet) that:
אין קוברים רשע אצל צדיק, שנאמר אל תאסוף עם חטאים נפשי. ואפילו רשע חמור אצל רשע קל, אין קוברים. וכן אין קוברין צדיק ובל שכן בינוני וכשר אצל חסיד מופלג.
Incidentally, if this leaves you feeling uncomfortable the Arukh HaShulhan (Yoreh De’ah shin-samekh-bet) says:
ואין קוברין רשע אצל צדיק, אפילו רשע חמור אצל רשע קל. וכן אין קוברין צדיק, וכל שכן בינוני, אצל חסיד מופלג. אבל קוברים בעל תשובה אצל צדיק גמור.
And what of “ameich kulam tzaddikim“? and what of koneh olamo be-shaah achat, and what will be of the tzaddikim nistarim?
The problem is not one of unity but of hillul hashem. It is one of people coming with a message of uncompromising division, judgment and hatred in the name of God and his Torah.
When newcomers come along and start telling people what to do they resent it. When they come in the name of halakha and claim that the local respected rabonim don’t know the right thing to do, they resent it even more. When they come in the name of halakha (she-kol derakheiha darkei no’am) and claim that even their beinonim are too big tzadikim to be buried next to the locals, they get incensed.
And so do I.