Monday, July 13, 2009

The Purpose of Public Condemnations

There is one comment by a person who identifies himself as ClooJew that really irked me this morning when I saw it. I started writing a response and it turned out to be lengthier than I intended. But I believe an important point is to be made and deserves to be highlighted as an independent post.

Here is ClooJew’s comment in significant part. The entire comment is available in the comments section of my last post.

This awful statement (Embarrassed to Be a Religious Jew) is the result, lulei demistafina, of the constant attention and amplification that you give these scandals - you become "embarrassed to be a religious Jew." You have proved with this sentiment, more clearly than I ever could, the utter disaster that these sorts of blogs have become. Rather than a source of inspiration and introspection...

My Response

You call yourself ClooJew. I’m not so sure you have a clue.

I don't know whether you are Charedi or not but this typical Charedi reflexive/defensive attitude contributes mightily to the problem. By telling me not to focus on the problem and instead to write inspirational pieces you in essence advocate ignorance and complacency. We must first recognize that there is a problem if we are going to effectively deal with it. There are plenty of others who are currently very good at ignoring the problem and telling themselves and their 'flock' how ‘goodly are our tents’! According to them we are just fine in the Bein Adam L’Chavero or in the Or LaGoyim department.

They must believe this since it is rarely if ever mentioned publicly as a reason for these problems. These problems - they will suggest - stem from an underachievement in Ruchnius. Everything will be just fine if our women only dress more Tznius …or Daven harder …or say more Tehilim …or we check our Mezuzos …or give more Tzedaka to Kupat Ha’ir …or to make sure never to Daven without a black hat!

As for introspection, what do you think I am advocating here?! It is precisely that! …introspection by all of Orthodox Jewry and its rabbinic leaders - suggesting what is wrong and suggesting how to fix it!

Chazal is full of inspirational people - as are many Gedolim of the past. There is a multitude of examples of it – many of which I have described in previous posts. But I am not a Mechanech. It is the Mechanech's job to focus on these stories for their Talmidim. In this they have as a group failed - as these continual stories keep suggesting.

You seem to think if I ignore the problem nobody will notice it. Guess what?! My readership is a small fraction of the Jerusalem Post's readership or Fox News viewers. People are noticing it quite well, thank you! My ignoring it will thus tacitly seem like an endorsement of it. I choose to face it head on and condemn it.

I want anyone who reads this blog to know that there is at least one Orthodox Jew who sees what’s going on and is going to condemn it again and again. And that such behavior is not the Torah’s way.

And the louder and more often I do it, the better chance there will be that someone in a position to do something about it will wake up! Instead of telling me to shut up I would suggest that you write your own public condemnation of it. Are you satisfied with how Orthodox Jewry is looked upon now? And do you really think it’s my fault? I would argue that just the opposite is the case. My constant condemnations are the antidote to the constant Chilul HaShem!

You claim that there is no statistical evidence that the behavior of Chareidi Jews is worse than that of secular society, or, in fact, of Modern Orthodox Jews. Perhaps. But if secular society is the same or worse than religious Jews - it does not create a Chilul HaShem. And that is my issue here.

Are the percentages of non Jews and Modern Orthodox Jews who are guilty of these kinds of things the same as Charedim? I don’t know. What difference does that make? Besides - one story in one paper about a Modern Orthodox woman (which I was not aware of) compared to the dozens of stories in recent times about wayward Charedim would suggest that the numbers of Charedim are far greater.

To claim the media focuses more on Charedim is at best questionable. They focus on the Yarmulke. If someone is wearing one - that’s good enough to make it newsworthy. They don’t distinguish between Hashkafos. They focus on the moral disconnect between the supposed religiosity on the exterior and bad behavior.

But even if you are right and the media focuses more on Charedim because they look more religious - that is in fact the Charedi claim. Equating Modern Orthodox Jewry and Charedim as equally culpable in these crimes by definition proclaims the falsity of that claim.

I have no way of knowing which group is better or worse. But it doesn’t matter. If there are equal numbers - that just means the problem is far worse than I could have ever imagined. And there ought to be a unified effort by the leadership of all segments of Jewry to stand up and do something about it - that will work. Starting with the implementation of a curriculum that focuses on the Bein Adam L’Chavero more than it does on the Bein Adam L’Makom! This is what is needed now. One thing seems to be sure. It is not happening in many a home. That’s probably because many of today’s parents were victims of the same type of faulty education as are their children.