Thursday, March 31, 2011

Assuming God’s Motives

Here we go again. Yet another religious figure telling us that he knows the mind of God. This time it is Rabbi David Twersky, leader of the Rachmastrivka Chasidic dynasty (pictured here is their Purim Tish). I never heard of them but apparently they are a very large Chasidic group. Here is what he said according to Ynet:

"The Japanese don’t understand why they keep on receiving blow after blow, and it never ends. If they want it to stop, they must release the two guys jailed in their prison immediately, and then experience salvation"

I’m glad there is someone here that can explain why God does the things he does. Maybe he can finally tell me why 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust (or any of the myriad other tragedies Jews suffer until this day – individually or as a group). And does this mean that the US is in for a disaster of equal proportion for imprisoning Sholom Rubashkin?

How people like this are seen as rabbinic leaders completely escapes me.

But this pales in comparison to a song making the rounds now on YouTube. As of this writing there have been over 26,000 hits.

It features two popular Jewish singers, Shloime Daskal and Avraham Fried. The song is a plea to help those young Chasidic Jews who are on trial in Japan for trying to smuggle illegal drugs (ecstasy) into that country. Although one can quibble about their innocence or guilt; or whether they were simply unknowing drug mules (they claim to have been duped) - I can understand the desire on the part of many of our brethren to try spare them from a very harsh prison term. Japan has no sense of humor about illegal drugs. But this video is not the way to do it. It is instead a very cruel use of a tragic event.

By the time the video reaches its conclusion we see images of the tsunami sweeping across the Japanese plain. The words sung during those images imply that the reason thousands of innocent people died in its wake is because these young Chasidic Jews are in their captivity.
I love Avraham Fried’s music and have many of his albums. He is a true talent with few peers in my view. But I’m sorry. How could he and his singing cohort do something like this? How stupid! How is this song going to help those accused young smugglers?

What’s worse - how on earth can we be telling the world in a YouTube video that thousands of innocent people died because their country put two suspected smugglers who are Jewish on trial? How is that even remotely helpful? How do the producers of - and performers in - that video know that this disaster is connected to a legal trial in country that abides by the rule of law. The rule of law is one of the Shiva Mitzvos Bnei Noach – the 7 Noahide laws of mankind.

Two young Chasidim are accused of a serious crime. They were found with evidence of it and are on trial. If they are found not guilty they will be released. That is not being in captivity. This is not some blood libel made up by an anti Semitic regime ala Czarist Russia. This is a fair trial by a civilized country with strict laws about drug smuggling.

I realize that many people think these young Chasidim have been railroaded by Japanese authorities and that the evidence of their innocence is overwhelming. Perhaps. But I truly doubt that the Japanese intent is simply to persecute Jews. There are plenty of Jews in that country living free. Jews from all over the world are free to come and go as they please – for business or pleasure.

And let us not forget that Japan was instrumental in the transfer of Mir Yeshiva students to China at the height of World War II – at a time they were aligned with the Axis and at war with the United States!

Let us also not forget the result of an earlier trial where another one of those young Chasidim was convicted. Israel asked for and was granted permission to transfer him to Israel to serve out his sentence there. Shortly thereafter he was pardoned by President Shimon Peres and released. To the best of my knowledge Japan did not even comment upon what they must have seen as a perversion of justice.

For this they deserve an earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear disaster?! Really?! Is this a Godly message to a country whose government mistreats a Jew? If that’s true what about Germany’s ‘Final Solution’ to annihilate all of European Jewry 60 years ago?

They had no trial. They simply had a meeting of their top leadership (the Wannsee Conference) to find the most efficient way to do that. Which was by building gas chambers and ovens in their death camps. Where was Germany’s tsunami?! They certainly should have incurred God’s wrath enough to have a similar message.

It’s not like the Jews had it good up until the Wannsee Conference. They were already being systematically murdered and tortured long before those gas chambers and crematoria were built. Just not as efficiently. Was Germany’s situation then secondary to that of the two young Chasidim on trial in Japan now?

I can’t imagine the reaction of the Japanese people upon seeing this video. The fact that it is on YouTube makes it very likely that many of them will. All one has to do is Google Japan and Tsunami and one will get this video in the list of responses. And how long will it take for Japanese officials to have the Yiddish lyrics translated?

Sometimes I really wonder about our vaunted Jewish intelligence.