Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jonathan Rosenblum’s Public Apology

Jonathan Rosenblum
I erred. Big time.

These are the opening words of Jonathan Rosenblum’s apology in Cross Currents to Rabbi Dov Lipman.

(For those who question why I use the honorific ‘Rabbi’ for Dov Lipman and not Jonathan Rosenblum – it has nothing to do with prejudice. I remain a fan of Jonathan’s. It is simply the fact that Jonathan told me that he is not a rabbi and does not have Semicha. Rabbi Lipman does and I usually apply a title to anyone who has earned it.)

This apology is something I predicted would happen. I can tell from his words that he meant it and that he is embarrassed by his error. Here is more of that apology:
I had no business to make any assumptions, and certainly not to publish them, without clarifying the situation. For a Torah Jew, “We regret the error” is insufficient.
I apologize to Rabbi Lipman and Mrs. Wolfson for wrongly characterizing their actions as provocative, and for not having done adequate research.
THAT HALACHIC AND JOURNALISTIC failure was a double patch in panim [smack in the face], resulting not only in a loss of credibility but serving to distract attention from the very real issues that divide me and Rabbi Lipman…
This is the mark of a true Mentch. As I have said, Jonathan is a man of great integrity. That he still continues to disagree with him is a measure of that integrity. It shows that he has not veered from his core Charedi beliefs. This should not be held against him… no matter how much we may disagree with him.

That said, I am left with the feeling that even after this apology, Jonathan seems to still have a degree of animosity towards Rabbi Lipman - without ever having met him. He continues to attack him for joining a political party ‘committed to legalizing homosexual marriage’; questions whether he consulted ‘Daas Torah’ about joining such a party; questions his motives;  questions what the Halachic basis is for some of his controversial opinions and he rhetorically asked what he has accomplished for Judaism so far as a member of Yesh Atid… while indicating the damage his party and their political decisions have done to the very causes he supports.

Even as these are fair questions asked by Jonathan from the Charedi side - I believe that Rabbi Lipman can provide good answers for them. Not that Jonathan will change his mind. But at least he will come to learn that that Rabbi Lipman is motivated by the highest ideals of Judaism.

Just to answer a couple of those ‘questions’.

It is true that (as Jonathan contends) that the push for drafting and Charedim has caused a backlash by Charedi zealots against Charedim who have joined the military in Charedi units. Until now they had been more or less accepted by their Charedi communities. Now they are taunted.

But the real responsibility for this does not belong to Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, or Dov Lipman. It is being caused by the vile rhetoric about it from some of their rabbinic leaders, their politicians, and their media. They are the ones responsible for fomenting the backlash in my view.

What has Rabbi Lipman accomplished? I will quote from something sent to me by Menachem Lipkin. It was from Rabbi Lipman’s office about an e-mail sent to him from a secular Jew:
1) “True Story: I met on Friday afternoon with two successful young Israeli entrepreneurs — both secular IDC graduates and IDF special forces veterans. The issue of them having a meeting on Saturday (as they were leaving NYC Sunday morning) came up — and one said that he would not meet on Shabbat.

He explained that he usually would have done so, as religion to him was personified by the haredi who did not share his values and with whom he did not identify at all. Then, he explained, Yesh Atid came along, with the Rabbi Dov Lipman — and showed him that he could embrace Judaism…that it was now owned and controlled by those with whom he disagreed so profoundly.”
2) Yesh Atid started the weekly Bet Midrash for MK’s – the first in the history of the Knesset. Every Tuesday at 3:00p.m. religious and secular MK’s study a section of Torah together and Dov is a regular contributor.
3) After a speech in a Jerusalem bar a girl raised her hand and said to Dov – “I just want you to know that you make me want to be more Jewish.”
4) Dov speaks a few times a week to secular students visiting the Knesset and each time he emphasizes the value of Torah study and he emphasizes the message of secular people respecting religious and vice versa.
5) After speaking in a bar in Tel Aviv, the young college students said that they never met someone chareidi who respected them and Dov explained that most chareidim would not force their ways on them. The outgrowth of that event was a Knesset taskforce for dialogue between chareidim and chilonim which Dov chairs.
It is very obvious to me - as it should be to any fair minded individual - that Dov Lipman is L’Shma.  Despite my previous post about politicians who fall short of their stated ideals (to put it mildly), there are some idealistic politicians out there that are not corrupted by power. Rabbi Lipman is one of those.

That Jonathan Rosenblum does not yet see that is in part a function of his Charedi Hashkafos – but probably more so because he has not met him.

The opportunity now exists for that to be remedied. Both men have been invited to address the RCA convention. My hope is that they will sit down with each other and have a fruitful conversation where Jonathan can learn the truth about Rabbi Lipman’s motives. And that he will be able to respect him enough to disagree with him respectfully.

I believe that Rabbi Lipman is generous of heart and will hopefully accept the apology. Let these two good men sit down and make peace so that the goals of change they both advocate can be worked on together – even if done from different perspectives.

I agree with those who say that this apology should have been published in the Yated. It is my impression that the Yated refused to publish this apology. (Big surprise!) One cannot blame Jonathan for that.

But one can blame the Yated for sheer arrogance of using a falsehood to bolster its position. I sometimes wonder if the editor and  publisher is truly a Shomer Torah U'Mitzvos. M'Davr Sheker Tirchok. I guess he doesn't believe in that Mitzvah. He is a chameleon! He picks and chooses which Mitzvos to observe, just like the Reform Movement - while looking and sounding as Charedi as possible.