Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Kavod HaTorah?

There is an editorial in that has really pressed my hot button. It was written by Rabbi Yosef Shubert. And I cannot recall anything recently that was so off base. Here in part is what he said:

I have no choice but to make my voice heard in standing up for kavod haTorah. The Jewish Star is not very Jewish at all.

In an editorial titled “Is this really a smart move?” the newspaper, with dripping sarcasm and sheer disrespect, disgraces the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok and Toldos Aharon Rebbes, making unfounded generalizations about them and their chassidim.

Now make no mistake. I am not a chossid and I have never been one. I am as Litvish as they come, having grown up in a strictly Litvishe home which takes great pride in its Lithuanian heritage. But background and lineage are irrelevant when one reads words of revulsion about a chassidic leader - in an Orthodox newspaper no less.

Here is my response:

Rabbi Shubert:

You apparently have no elderly relatives in Meah Shearim who had to suffer the health hazards caused by the burning dumpsters during the many riots called for by these two Admorim. Their tepid condemnations of violence such as this were nothing more than a wink and a nod to go ahead with these protests. This - despite the fact that almost every time they are held innocent people get hurt. Or spat upon.

Rabbi Shubert. You also must know how the world of Chasidic Rebbes works. If they really wanted to stop the violence they could do so in a New York minute! Their strong word is iron-clad law to their Chasidim. Any renegade Chasidim who would then try it would suffer severe sanctions by their own people.

Do you really believe we ought to be supporting people whose Chasidim do such harm – not to mention the extreme Chilul HaShem they cause? If they really meant what they said about condemning the violence they would at the very least stop these useless protests. But they believe they are serving the greater good with them. I’m sure they regret the harm caused - but they must feel it’s worth it. They keep calling for more of them all the time (....with the perfunctory warnings about keeping them peaceful - of course).

These Rebbes may be very kind and caring leaders of their own community – even Tzadikim as the Jewish Star indicated. They may have had a very generous attitude toward you during your many visits. But when it comes to their issues –well the best description of how they think can be seen in an interview of Yoilish Kraus (pictured - from VIN) - an unofficial ‘general’ of the Edah HaCharedis (of which I believe these Rebbes are members) in the war against Chilul Shabbos (and other issues) in Jeruslaem. It was published in VIN a few months ago.

If they want money for their charities here, they ought to take Mr. Kraus along for the sake of full disclosure. Let him speak to the public they seek money from so they can see what they really represent.

As for innocent poor people that really need Tzedaka to feed the hungry mouths of their children, I recommend R’ Dovid Cohen (not the American Posek) and R' Chaim Goldberg’s Tzedaka organization (featured in a recent edition of Mishpacha Magazine). They give every penny donated to them to the truly needy of Jerusalem. Very often in the form of food packages.

I know some very Charedi Rabbanim - both Chasidim and Litvishe (as you describe yourself) who strongly disagree with your assessment here. I really think your concept of Kavod HaTorah needs some refinement.