Gideon Aran: Role Of Socializing Agents

All the adults in his environment are placed against him in the role of socializing agents, including his older brothers (even though the age gap may be small), neighbors, fellow worshippers in the synagogue, and even passersby from the community.

Written By Gideon Aran

They are enlisted to examine his body, to castigate, to caution and to blame. Less commonly, positive instructions are issued: “delicate hands are a sign of scholarship”, or, “see how that student gently descends the stairs one by one, quite like the son of a king”.

Brokers of discipline have a key role in the Haredi yeshiva. In recent generations, and mainly in yeshivas affected by the historical “morality movement” (musar, which some of the Lithuanians disdain, though influenced by it), the special role of “supervisor” (mashgi’ach) has been created. He does not deal with frontal Torah teaching, but rather with moral education.

There is the “grand supervisor”, who works on the purity and consistency of the students’ belief, and the “lesser supervisor”, who is responsible for their actual behavior. He is a kind of politruk specializing, among others, in overseeing the Haredi body. The correct body and its comportment are not only seen in the yeshiva world as the mechanical realization of mitzvoth, but also as a derivation of what is known as musar, or religious ethics.

Taken from “Denial Does Not Make The Haredi Body Go Away Ethnography of a Disappearing (?) Jewish Phenomenon”, By Prof. Gideon Aran.

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