Sleep Must Be Kept To A Minimum

Like eating, sleep must be kept to a minimum: only as much as is needed for regaining the strength to carry on a life of Torah and mitzvoth. As well as the effort to supervise sleep, Haredim aim to keep it as short as possible, be that by getting up at dawn or sometimes even in the middle of the night, and through exercises in waking up quickly.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Prof. Gideon AranIn Haredi folklore stories are told of rabbis who can make do with a cup of tea and two biscuits a day, and one hour’s sleep a night. Torah students boast about and compete over sleepless nights devoted to studying Gemara. In addition there is the weekly “guard”: Thursday’s studies carry on all through the night until sunrise the following day.
When Haredim experience tiredness, they feel that they are spoiling themselves and being tested by bodily temptations.

They react aggressively to napping during study, and laud a legendary rabbi who never “dozed off” in the Bet Midrash. A yeshiva education includes various techniques for overcoming fatigue. An ascetic cult has developed, which includes self-torture aimed at preserving attentiveness, despite long hours of study. Throwing a glass of cold water over one’s head does not cause a stir among onlookers.

In small study houses in Haredi neighborhoods I saw persistent students who, when their eyelids began to droop in the early hours of the morning, would pound their fists or head on the table to the point of acute pain so as to prevent dropping off. It is told of a certain rabbi that at times like that he would stamp on his own toes until he drew blood.

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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Coupling and Love

A widespread way of treating certain aspects of the body among Haredim is to refrain from mentioning them, as if they had no existence in reality. During adolescence, when the sexual body is being discovered, giving rise to questions and insecurities, there is a conspicuous and lamentable lack of explanations and support.

Written By Professor Gideon Aran 

Precisely when the potential for crisis is at its peak, there is virtually no established recognition among the Haredim whatsoever. The age of bodily awakening rapidly becomes the age of bodily denial. Ignorance and mystery are formed around the body and sex, which can have grave consequences, such as emotional trauma caused by what is experienced as failure at a crucial bodily test – losing one’s virginity on one’s wedding night. Continue reading

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Gideon Aran: On religion and violence

“The rise of ISIL and the so-called Islamic State in 2014 has given prominence to discussions of religious violence in the media, with much emphasis placed on questions of the relationship between Islam and violence.”

Gideon Aran was publish an Article at Contending Modernities – A blog about Catholic, Muslim and Secular interaction in the modern world.

Read the full Article:

Gideon Aran

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Professor Gideon Aran : Serious Violation Of “Wasting Your Seed”

This is a Kabbalistic term for the serious violation of “wasting your seed” through masturbation or intercourse for reasons of pleasure rather than reproduction.

Written By Professor Gideon Aran 

גדעון באוניברסיטהThe widespread use among Haredim of terms with an affinity to such an exalted and central concept as the covenant to refer to bodily-sexual behavior that is considered deviant is telling. Against this background, the attempt to make invisible a phenomenon, which presumably takes place within the community, is particularly notable. The denial of bodily matters through semantic, rhetorical and other means does not allow for an open discussion or even elementary clarification of the subjects that, according to all indications, are bothersome to Haredim, both as individuals and as a collective. Continue reading

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Prof. Gideon Aran: career as Haredi recruits

The CO of the battalion and many of its officers – some of whom began their career as Haredi recruits – wear skull caps and beards. The majority of the soldiers sport side locks. Three daily prayer and observance of Sabbath and all other holy days are mandatory by martial law.

Written By Gideon Aran

downloadNeedless to mention women soldiers are conspicuously absent in the camp.The ideal is to live up to the biblical principle “Let your camp be holy” ( Deut. 23:15). Accordingly, meticulous observance of kashrut is compulsory, while neglect to keep fasts is a disciplinary offence.

There is an ongoing campaign against the use of obscene language and a long list of halakhic prohibitions are backed by military sanctions. On the positive side, pep talks by rabbis precede departure for dangerous operational activity and thanksgiving prayers are held at a successful completion of a mission. Continue reading

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Professor Gideon Aran: The Haredi Modesty

The Haredi Modesty Squad is a self-organized group that has earned certain recognition a posteriori, usually expressed through a silent, sometimes unwilling, acquiescence on the part of rabbinical authorities. These are small units, quasi-gangs, of young Haredi activists who patrol Haredi neighborhoods, employing threats and sometimes physical force.

Written By Professor Gideon Aran 


Their victims are located through informers or through observations that zero-in on signs of non-conformism like a greased hair, a back-tilted cap, standing in a nonchalant pose in front of a kiosk, and ogling girls. A classical object of their “treatment” is one who dares to keep company with a member of the opposite sex outside of the framework of marital relations. Continue reading

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Haredim Violence – Response To “Provocation”

Though the Haredim emphasize that their violence comes in response to “provocation” from the outside, the logic of their violence is rarely reactive. Their aggressive activities have their own rhythm reflecting their communal and religious needs.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

The violent episodes are of a cultic nature. Their aim is not only to emphasize the group’s borders, but also to close ranks, to reconfirm their religious tenets, to recharge with new energy their study and faith, and, of course, to provide an outlet for tensions accumulating in the Torah world. Some of the offensive activities of the Haredim are intended to serve competition for leadership, political power struggles and economic interests between rival sub-groups. Continue reading

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