Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rabbi LipShutz's Vile Editorial

Rabbi Pinchos Lipshutz
(I want to apologize in advance for the following harsh rhetoric. I do not usually resort to posts like this. But after reading the latest editorial in the Yated, I had no choice. I almost did not write about it because I am afraid my anger would overwhelm my message. But I cannot let this editorial go without comment.)

I recall a few years ago having a discussion about media reportage  of Charedim with a very Charedi fellow who is one of my closest friends. Needless to say, his attitude was very negative. When the subject of the Yated came up, he went into a tirade.

I wondered about that since the Yated is supposed to be the newspaper written by and for Charedim espousing the Charedi point of view on all matters. He could barely contain his anger in condemning that paper. I asked him why he felt that way and if other Charedim agreed He said they abosultely do. “Never believe a word your read in that paper”. Those were his approximate words.

After reading the latest editorial by Rabbi Pinchos Lipshutz, I have to say that I disagree with my friend, although I can understand why he felt that way. In my view his condemnation of that paper was way too mild. If I were to tell you that toilet paper was to be considered holy in comparison to this rag, I would not be exaggerating. 

Rabbi Lipshutz has reached a new low – even for him. The drivel he  wrote about people whose motives are entirely L’Shma is pure Motzi Shem Ra. This is worse than Lashon Hara, which is evil but can nevertheless be truthful. One is not allowed to speak evil about a fellow Jew. Being Motzi Shem Ra is a purposeful lie about an innocent man. It is usually told in order to destroy reputations. You can’t get much lower than that. Especially if you publish these lies in a mass circulation paper. Asking Mechila from all his readers may prove to be an impossibility.

His words should not be thought of as merely misguided, they are evil. It doesn’t matter that he thinks he is saying them as a defender of the faith. Nor does it even matter that he thinks the people and institutions he attacks are wrong.

What matters is that he actually thinks he is being L’Shma… that he is acting like Yehoshua, Moshe’s trusted successor in defending the Gedolim and Daas Torah with such venom. But the only thing he has in common withYehoshua is Yehoshua's overly zealous behavior asking Moshe to kill Eldad and Meidad.  He is in fact acting more like Korach – without Korach stature as a Gadol of his time (until he challenged Moshe’s authority).

Instead of the respectful  attitude one should have when in disagreement with others whose motives are also L’shma, Rabbi Lipshutz has written a screed that can only exacerbate the enmity between Charedim and the rest of the Torah world. And in the process he fuels the kind of zealotry that often harms innocent people and almost always causes a Chilul HaShem. This article is the grand-daddy of this kind of Chilul HaShem.

Rabbi Lipshutz thinks he is speaking on behalf of the Gedolim and Daas Torah. But as my friend so incisively notes, the Yated is worse than garbage in the eyes of even the most right wing Charedim and one should never believe a word they read in it.

I am not even going to bother refuting Rabbi Lipshutz. I have written extensively on these issues recently. I am not going to repeat myself here.

That Rabbi Lipshutz has to ask personal Mechila from each and every person he vilified in his piece, is the grand-daddy of understatements. Not only should he do that, in my view he has to ask Mechila from the very Gedolim he thinks he is representing . And all the Charedim who have been tarred by being associated with him by virtue of being Charedi. What an embarrassment he must be to them.

 In fact I think he needs to ask Mechila from every single Jew who has ever encountered any of his words… for the infamy he has brought to his own people- the Jewish people! In the unlikely scenario that he was actually told to write these words by a rabbinic leader, I would posit that such a leader forfeits any right to be considered as such. He has contributed to a climate of hatred among Klal Yisroel as well as increased exaggeration,  increased lying, increased violent behavior, and increased Chilul HaShem.

The only real Teshuva would be if Rabbi Lipshutz shuts down that publication permanently. There are other Charedi publications out there that easily serve that community’s needs.

Contrast that with the words of Rabbi Berel Wein in his weekly column. I could not have said them better myself. Here is an excerpt: 
The current debate about Charedi society’s participation in the general obligations and tenor of Israeli life is a case in point. Most of the Charedi media and its political representatives and spokesmen have expended their efforts in personally attacking those individuals who have proposed legislative and social changes that will undoubtedly affect Charedi life here in Israel.

Politics in this country is a rough game and religious politics is an even rougher game. The Charedi defense to the message being sent to them – that the rest of Israeli society is unwilling to condone their lack of participation in the defense of the country and in their abstention from the workforce – is to accuse the bearers of this message as being “haters” and “blasphemers.”

Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, Dov Lipman may be the messengers and they bear the brunt of the personal attacks being leveled against them by the Charedi world’s spokesmen. But let us ignore who the messengers are and listen to the message. The current social and economic situation of the Charedi society in Israel is no longer tenable. There is a limit as to how many generations can consecutively be raised in poverty without there being a breakdown in that society.

I am quite certain that there are thousands in the Charedi world who secretly desire that this cycle of poverty, unemployment and dependency be broken. I personally know many Charedim who have expressed this to me. It is time to deal with the message and ignore the messengers completely and finally.
I only wish Rabbi Wein published a newspaper designed for Charedi readership. That  is the message they should be hearing!