Friday, May 28, 2021

Justice, Justice You Shall Seek

Charedi MK, Ya'akov Litzman (Jerusalem Post)
Is it finally happening? Is there a breach in the wall of unified support by the Charedi populace in Israel of Daas Torah?  Although there seems to be is evidence that it is, I tend to doubt it.

Charedim have not lost respect for the their Rabbinic leaders. Nor should they. But what many Charedim seem to be doing is at least questioning the wisdom of some of their recent decisions. Which is unprecedented. (At least in any public way. Privately this has long been the case among many Charedim.) 

The reason for that is quite simple if one understands the concept of Daas Torah. Which is more or less the following: Who can better express the Torah’s wisdom than the rabbinic leaders that are steeped in its knowledge?! Questioning their decisions is tantamount to questioning God Himself. Doing so publicly is considered near blasphemous! And a major Chilul HaShem. The attitude is best expressed in Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade: ‘Theirs is not to question why.’ ‘Theirs but to do and die!’ 

Has this attitude lost its luster? It might seem that way in light of a coupe of recent events. An increasing number of Charedim are now openly disagreeing with what Charedi politicians are doing in the name of their rabbinic leaders.  

These are the thoughts I had when reading a post by Rabbi Natan Slifkin. The following is what he said in the context of the controversy surrounding a commission of inquiry about the Meron tragedy: 

What's interesting is the charedi MKs, who are presented as emissaries of the Daas Torah of the Gedolim, are out of step with the charedi street. Surveys show that the majority of charedim want a state commission of inquiry. On charedi websites, while some are opposing a state commission, there is no shortage of people blasting the MKs transparent efforts to avoid responsibility (see the comments on the article at this link). And most of the bereaved families appealed for a state commission of inquiry - though, appallingly, they were pressured by associates of charedi MKs to retract this appeal.   

The Meron tragedy has placed the decisions of Charedi politicians in Israel (who ostensibly represent the Daas Torah of their rabbinic leaders) into stark relief! Exposing an attitude of self preservation at the cost of the truth sought be the families of the victims. Some Charedi politicians have all but admitted it (which has probably been  sanctioned by their leaders): 

As noted in a previous post, there was a shocking report about a meeting of United Torah Judaism MKs, in which most of them actively opposed a state commission of inquiry. Some of them claimed that they feared "reformers" would get involved and harm the sanctity of Meron (the exact trivial fears which allegedly motivated them to fight the government takeover to begin with). Others were astonishingly honest in their reasons for opposing such an inquiry. Uri Maklev explained that "there are people we know who will be harmed by it, people in the Ministry for Religious Services, people responsible for the event at Meron." 

 There is also this by Rafi: 

The Attorney General this evening announced and told Minister Yaakov Litzman that he is going to be indicted (dependent on a  disciplinary hearing) for breach of trust and obstruction of justice… 

One of the cases for which Litzman is going to be tried is his involvement in the Malka Leifer case in which he allegedly pressured doctors to change their diagnosis in order to deem her mentally unfit for trial so that she would not be deported (there are other cases as well). 

Innocent until proven guilty is the standard used in most democracies. But there is little doubt that Litzman did this. The evidence is overwhelming. Why did he do it? My guess is that he believed that a Jew accused of even a heinous crime by numerous victims should still not be subject to the judgments of non Jewish courts. Especially when the victims do not have a Chezkas Kashrus since they are no longer observant. The irony of that should not be lost on anyone. Survivors of abuse often lose their faith – having been disappointed in such egregious ways by both their abusers (who are often religious figures themselves; and disappointed by the way religious authorities  reacted to their claims of abuse. Which is often with disbelief or skepticism, and instructions to keep things quiet. 

The question remains as to whether there will be any sort of grass roots rebellion. My guess is that there will not be. That's because- even though rabbinic leaders deserve the respect they get for their high level  of Torah knowledge. But this respect has has morphed into an attitude of infallibility. Those that have the audacity to rebel or say that these leaders may be wrong will be see as outcasts by their peers. No one wants to be considered an outcast. So I fear allt his umbrage will die down and things will get back to normal. 

But at the same time, I hope that justice will in the end prevail. What Litzman did must never allowed to be done again.  And with respect to the Meron tragedy - somehow the truth must come out. It should not be denied or kept secret. Because if the truth is swept under the rug, this will surely happen again.