Friday, December 15, 2017

A Pleasant Memory and a Confrontation

Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach
My recollections of  Zevhil are quite pleasant. Warm feelings envelop me as I recall my oldest grandson’s Bris there. 

Zevhil is the name of a Chasidic group that about 20  years ago built a building with a dining hall on Shmuel HaNavi street near Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. My son rented the facility for his son’s Bris. One of the first events held there if I recall correctly. 

I was honored with being the Sandek even though my son’s Rosh HaYeshiva at the time, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel was offered it first at my insistence. Rav Nosson Tzvi did not usually attend a Bris of his Yeshiva’s students because of his frailty due to Parkinson’s disease and the sheer number of them that occurred so frequently. Unless he was asked to be a Sandek. Then he felt obligated. 

When my son asked Rav Nosson Tzvi - he responded be asking my son why I (his father) wasn’t asked. My son said because he wanted to have the honor of having the Rosh HaYeshiva. Rav Nosson Tzvi told him to ask me and that he would attend anyway. I was extremely honored by Both Rav Nosson’s Tzvi’s thoughtfulness and the fact that he felt my son worthy of attending the Bris without being the Sandek.

These memories were sparked by the mention of Zevhil in Arutz Sheva. They have absolutely nothing to do with the article. I just wanted to share a pleasant memory. Which is in stark contrast to what happened there a few days ago.

I can’t imagine the anger – even rage!  …it took to stand up to a an octogenarian Charedi leader whose last name has been  synonymous with greatness. But a Charedi man did just that. From Arutz Sheva
Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the leader of the controversial Yerushalmi Faction (Hapeleg Hayerushalmi), was confronted by a haredi man who had previously served in the army Thursday night at a wedding hall in Jerusalem…
Under Rabbi Auerbach’s guidance, the Yerushalmi Faction has launched a series of road-blocking protests in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Shilat Junction near the haredi population center of Modiin Illit, and other locations across the country.
The faction’s hardline has drawn criticism from much of the haredi community, with leading rabbinic figures describing the group as ‘disgusting’“reckless fools”, and even inhuman.
On Thursday, Rabbi Auerbach was confronted by a haredi man as Rabbi Auerbach was leaving the Zevhil event hall in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood in Jerusalem.
According to Behadrei Haredi, the man who confronted Rabbi Auerbach had previously served in the IDF.
As Rabbi Auerbach left the event hall, the man shouted at him, calling him, among other things “a murderer”, and an “evil-doer”.
Students of the 86-year-old rabbi who were present at the scene claim that the man had tried to force his way past the rabbi’s followers to physically assault him.
“This enraged young man wanted to attack the dean of the [Maalot Hatorah Yeshiva] and beat him,” a witness told Behadrei Haredim. “We were able to stop him just before [he was able to do so].” 
I don’t know if Rabbi Auerbach’s followers were embellishing the story or not. I am certainly not in favor of physically attacking 86 year old rabbis. No matter how much I disagree with them. And no matter how much I believe they ought to suffer the consequences of their actions. Especially when their actions result in one Chilul HaShem after another. But physical violence is uncalled for and wrong if indeed that was the attacker’s intent. 

Unfortunately the reverse is not true. Rabbi Aeurbach is not beneath overlooking his Jerusalem faction (Peleg) followers use of physical violence to achieve his ends.

I  completely understand this man’s frustration and the anger he must have felt that pushed him to confront Rabbi Auerbach that way. Assuming their was no violent intent, I don't blame him one bit. The only question is what kind of impact if any will this have on Rabbi Auerbach. My guess is that instead of rethinking his tactics – he will just double down on them.

If I am right about how he will react, Rabbi Auerbach’s intransigence make him a very dangerous man – one that needs to be constantly put in his place as not a great man, but a ‘little man’ with a lot of Torah knowledge but no common sense. Which is why I am glad to see various Charedi leaders calling his followers ‘‘disgusting’“reckless fools”, and even inhuman.’ While they may not have said this directly about Rabbi Auerbach. If you are the leader of this group and – not only condone but - encourage this behavior, then he is ultimate the one most resposible for it and deserves the same condemnation.