Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whose Fault is it, Anyway?

The Buck Stops Here! That was on a sign President Harry Truman kept on his desk in the Oval Office. It was in response to a cliché about passing the buck. The idea being that often responsibility is passed along to others. Harry Truman would have none of that. As President he accepted responsibility for what happened under his watch.

It is with that in mind that I see the head of the Eida haCharedis, Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, and the Toldos Aharon Rebbe to be responsible for any violence that results from the mass protests about things they don’t like. Like the opening of a parking lot on Shabbos in a nearby Jerusalem neighborhood.

According to the Eida’s unofficial spokesman, Shmuel Chaim Pappenheim (pictured) - Rabbi Weiss is the only one of the Eida’s rabbinic leadership who continues to support such protests.

And the following is also illustrative of why these kinds of protests continue. From Ynet:

This past weekend, following intense pressure, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe decided to lead the protestors for several minutes, and this prompted hundreds of his followers to join the demonstration.

"They nagged him constantly, also because of what happened at the slaughterhouse in Mea Shearim last week, and he agreed to go out and protest so as not to humiliate Rabbi Weiss," says Pappenheim.

"But in principle, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe – and many of the Eda Haredit members – doesn't appreciate these things. He understands that the lawlessness and desecration of Shabbat are not worth it."

According to the article there seems to be a consensus among most people that protesting Chilul Shabbos in nearby neighborhoods is counter-productive.

So why do they do it? Shmuel Pappenheim says the following:

Those opposing the protests say the organizers are driven by ulterior motives, such as the desire to impress and please the Eda Haredit's potential donors abroad, who are much more radical than them, or simply young people's boredom during the summer months and long Shabbat, which makes them to look for "action" on the streets.

This means that what really motivates them is money, not ethics. Not even their religious values. They want to appeal to wealthy radicals from Neturei Karta or Satmar overseas! I have no respect for people whose version of spectator sports include watching Jerusalem burn from abroad.

But neither do I have respect for a rabbinic leader in Israel who advocates protests knowing the kind of violence that ultimately results. He ought to know by now that calls for peaceful protests never end up peaceful.

Nor can I respect the leadership of someone who feels pressured to participate in something that in principle he opposes. The buck stops with these leaders. They are the ones that should ultimately be held responsible for any violence, injuries, and Chilul HaShem that results from these protests.