Thursday, February 05, 2009

Turning Jews Off

There are some people who must believe that turning people off from Judaism is a Mitzvah. At least that is what it seems like. It may not be their goal. But that is clearly the result of their actions.

Time and again zealous guardians of the faith intrude upon Klal Yisroel in the midst of joyous celebration to force their Hashkafos upon them. So strong are they in their beliefs that they are willing to chase Jews away from Judaism to accomplish their goals. To that end they will disrupt and embarrass other Jews. They feel that their outlook on Jewish life is so important to impress on others - that losing a few Jews in the process is worth the price. It never occurs to them that they may be in error. To them the issue is black and white. A wrong needs to be righted – what ever the price.

So they take action. And that action makes a mockery of Judaism - as it did at a recent wedding. They will stop at nothing to insert themseleves into a scenario they deem inappropriate by their own standards. Even though they have to know it is not the universal Orthodox or even Charedi standard. This seemed to be the case as reported on the Chaptzem Blog. The video there is unclear but there is no doubt about what happened.

This is reminiscent of what happened in Ramat Bet Shemesh a few years ago on Lag Bomer. A religious concert was disrupted by a group of religious zealots and their zealous Rabbi. Only this time it is even worse. On that fateful Lag Bomer the complaint was that it was a mixed – family seating environment. This time mixed seating was not the case. The song that was disrupted was not in any way offensive either. Nevertheless the performer, Lipa Schmeltzer, had his microphone snatched away from him in the midst of a song.

I cannot imagine what the problem was here - even if one is a Kannoi. Lipa was not doing anything wrong. I can only surmise that the objection was to Lipa himself. He was at the center of last year’s controversial concert ban.

As Lipa himself indicated, this is no way to do outreach. I would go a step further and say that this is clearly a way to push people away from Torah. This act was nothing short of rabbinic terrorism. I don’t know who gives any Rabbi - no matter how prominent - the authority to disrupt the simcha of a fellow Jew when there was nothing done that was wrong.

To Lipa’s credit, he was very gracious and granted Mechila. He forgave the public embarrassment he was caused with a full heart. I don’t think I could have been that gracious.

I call upon rabbinic leaders to publicly censure this Rav. They need to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again. There is no room in Judaism for zealous actions like these by misguided zealots. It is harmful to the Klal and serves no good purpose. We cannot allow Torah Judasim to be hi-jacked by terrorists. Enough!