Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not a Tzadik

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, (Arutz Sheva)
Once again I am thoroughly disgusted by the way a man that was clearly a Gadol in Torah by any standard has been treated in a right wing newspaper. That Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, ZTL was a Gadol in Torah can easily be gleaned in the obituary written in Hamodia.* It was in fact a fairly nice obituary as these things go.

Far better than the one written by another right wing publication, the now defunct Jewish Observer (JO),who wrote about his father in law and mentor, Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, ZTL when he died. An obituary that has never been retracted by the JO’s publishers, Agudath Israel of America. But as nice as Hamodia’s obituary was, they did do one thing that the JO did. They left out the letter T from the honorific, ZTL usually given to great rabbinic figures posthumously. (ZTL is the acronym for the Hebrew ‘Zecher Tzadik L’Vracha – loosely translated to mean ‘may the memory of this righteous man be blessed’)

Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (YU Torah)
It might not seem like much of a slight considering the actual words they published. But as was the case with Rav Soloveitchik, there is a very strong message of disapproval in leaving out the letter T in ZTL. This was no accidental slight. This was deliberate. They knew what they were doing.  It implies that Rav Lichtenstein did not rise to the level of greatness that people with far less accomplishment in Torah get.

Right wing publications grant this honorific to every rabbinic figure on the face of the earth when they pass. No matter how great or how small. Whether prominent or obscure. They were Tzadikim when they died.

But not Rav Soloveitchik. And not Rav Lichtenstein. They were not Tzadikim at all. Not righteous enough to be granted that appellation. No letter T for you guys. You may have known a lot of Torah. You may have inspired tens of thousands of Jews with your, brilliance, your Torah knowledge; your secular knowledge; your ability to seamlessly integrate them both – each shedding light on the other; your erudition; your kindness and humility… Yes, you may have had all those qualities, but a Tzadik you are not!

Why did Hamodia treat these two giants of Torah this way? Because they did not follow the party line. If one does not follow the ‘Torah Only’ approach, one cannot possibly be a Tzadik.  After all God doesn’t like people who are not Charedi. He doesn’t like people who support religious Zionism. Or people that believe that serving in the IDF is a Mitzvah. Or people that advocate praying for the safety of the soldier protecting his people.  God’s people.

God does not view with favor anyone that studies or advocates studying secular subjects either. At best God tolerates them as Jews that are Krum… Jews that veered off the Charedi path having known better.  There is no way God would be pleased with the corruption of the Torah true values we Charedim hold dear.  How in good conscience could we ever call such a person a Tzadik?

Satmar Rebbe, (JAZ)
God prefers we call Tzadikim those that curse the State Israel and call for its dismantling  . People who have referred to Gedolei Olam like Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook, ZTL with words reserved for Haman HaRasha (the Hitler of his era). You know… people like the Satmar Rebbe. He was a Tzadik. I am sure they never omit the letter T when they write about him!

What makes this particular omission particularly egregious for me is that Hamodia is generally a lot more moderate than those I call extremist Charedim. As in those who recently harassed a Charedi solider calling him a Nazi. They are usually on the right side of these kinds of issues. So that when moderate Charedim read an article like this, they see it as the moderate viewpoint.  

Now I don’t know how many of them will even notice this omission. But for those that do, the message is clear: Remember - even thought the obituary is a relatively decent one, he is still not one of us. And certainly not a Tzadik. 

 This is disgusting and I strongly protest it! 

It appears that the link no longer works. It worked before. They must have taken down the obit. I hope they correct it and put it back up.

** I guess not.