Saturday, September 05, 2009

Once More - with Feeling!

I know I have been posting about this a lot lately. But I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this issue to the welfare and future of Klal Yisroel. I hadn’t planned on anymore posts on this subject. But the following thoughts are just too important to overlook.

There is much to say about the horrific, ongoing cycle of violence in Eretz Yisroel that has created the greatest chilul Hashem in my lifetime. (Click here, here, here, and here for columns I wrote earlier this summer.) On a communal level, I fear that we will feel the ripple effects of the events of this summer for years and perhaps decades, as these stains will not wash away so easily.

In these lines, however, I will not discuss the global picture of the aggression, but rather analyze the violence on a micro level and begin to discuss the parenting ramifications of teaching and preaching hate – and sending our impressionable sons into environments where hate and intolerance are taught or winked at. (Time permitting I hope to continue this theme in future full-length columns.)

So here goes.

From my vantage point, I think that the organizers of the protests are beginning to realize that the violence is out of control, and thankfully we are beginning to see calls for moderation. However, they are discovering – like all anarchists, Jewish or otherwise, since the time of the gemara (Gittin 57) when the head of the baryonim himself feared for his life, when contemplating moderating his stance and saving the life of his uncle Reb Yochanan ben Zakai – that hate cannot be turned off like a water spigot.

Once children are taught to rebel against the infrastructure of society and that violence is acceptable or even commendable, all bets are off. Violence and hatred corrupt one’s soul. It is that simple. Things of this nature may start off with a noble goal, but they never, ever, end that way.

Adults in the Meah Shearim community may be able to compartmentalize calling the police “Nazi’s” and referring to Hadassah personnel as “Mengele” – while at the same time cashing government bituach le'umi checks, howling when municipal services are cut off and expecting to be treated respectfully and effectively in the Israeli network of hospitals – but their teenage children cannot and will not.

Adolescents see things in black and white (more on this later), and believe-it-or-not actually do listen to what adults around them are saying. They may not follow our wishes, but they do hear our overt and covert messages.

I keep reading reports in the charedi press that the violence is being conducted by “out-of-control teens.” I beg to differ. The violence is a direct and inevitable result of kids merely taking the hateful rhetoric of the adults around them to the next step.

Parents beware: If you are telling your children that these protests are “a-good-thing-that-is-overdone” or that those who throw rocks and dirty diapers are “people-who-deeply-care-about-Shabbos-and-just-can’t-control-themselves,” or send them to mosdos that are led by individuals who preach this, don’t be surprised when they become radicalized and turn hateful. And don’t be shocked and blame others when you get a call in middle of the night to bail your son out of an Israeli jail after being arrested at a hafganah.

Hate does not have an off button. Nor does revolution.

© 2009 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

Updated ...and republished from here with permission. 9/6/09 9:48 PM CDT