Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Offensive Rebranding of "Hardal" (Chardal - חרד"ל)

The term "Hardal" (חרד"ל) is Hebrew initials for Charedi Dati Leumi (חרדי דתי לאומי), and is used to describe an ever growing sub-group in the Religious Zionist movement that has embraced certain characteristics of the Haredi community: the rejection or minimum necessity of non Torah studies; empowering Rabbis as the all encompassing communal leaders; living in closed communities and rejecting the "torah Ve'avodah" belief. They are still seen as being a part of the Dati-Leumi group as they continue to see a religious significance to the state and usually still serve in the army.

Over the weekend I noticed not one, but two different articles which were using the term "Torani" instead of Chardal - both by self professed members of the Chardal community. It can be surmised from the fact that in both cases the author felt compelled to explain the term by adding in brackets "Chardal", that this is a new term - or at least one that has yet to catch on. 

I understand why the Hardalnicks would want to rebrand themselves.Haredim are not popular in any part of the society - not even the Religious Zionist. Even more so, associating them with Haredim has the implicit undertone that they are no longer part of the RZ movement - a movement that rather than trying to disassociate themselves from they are increasingly trying to influence and even lead. 

However, if Hardal was offensive to "Hardalnickim" the new term they are using "Torani" (Literally "those of the Torah") is even more offensive for those of us who consider ourselves true Religious Zionists. Torani implies that the rest of us are somehow less religious than they are  - that somehow they are closer to the Torah. The Religious Zionist movement is sensitive to these arguments - its exactly the attitude we can't stand from the Haredi community. It is that adoption of a superior smugness, coupled with a disregard for the religious world of others, that makes the term Torani even closer to the image of Haredim that Hardalnickim are trying to avoid. 

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