Rush Limbaugh at Yeshiva Bubble


Explaining the confluence between Haredi Jewish society and Trumpism, this piece here in Mishpacha indicates that in the tightly enclosed bubble of the Haredi yeshivot and culture, with limited access to secular newspapers, at least for this author and others like him, Rush Limbaugh represented “the real world” refined by the intellectualism and strict ideality of the Haredi-halakhic system. The confluence has less to do with the content being learned (in Talmud and commentaries) than with modern-Haredi paideic nomos, the isolating form of the bubble that is 24/7 institutional study. It’s a view of this-world from the other-world. 

Friends Shaul Magid and Joshua Shanes have been on this beat, seeking to draw the lines that connect Haredi Jews to all things MAGA and now all things QAnon. For Shaul here, there is a hot apocalyptic core fusing them together. But I’m not seeing that per se, and maybe this line of analysis is too metaphysical. A secular analysis makes more sense. I am thinking that class-based resentment against liberal-secular elites, including Jewish secular elites, might be more to the point in trying to explain this Haredi slide to the hard political right. Owning the libs and Haredi world-maintenance have nothing to do messianism.

We see it in Israel and the U.S. and in London re: the Cornanavirus pandemic, the resistance of Haredi Jews and conservative Americans to public health protocols, the refusal to comply with a secular regulatory system. Metaphysical analysis and its long historical arc omit the human-all-too-human face that connects Haredi social thought and American conservativism. That face is the corrosive cynicism vis-a-vis the secular world, the spirit of contempt for secular law and for the civic norms that shape the larger good over against the super-conservativism of the enclave social form. The “real world” is dog eat dog. 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Rush Limbaugh at Yeshiva Bubble

  1. dmf says:

    I think feeling like the chosen people on the right side of History has a lot to do with these movements across the various rightwingnut religions and their inflating sense of victimhood and their brutish contempt for the rest of us the simple dichotomy of metaphysics or life-styling/habits seems off to me the contexts we construct make the abstractions we might employ via language use what they are/do.

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