Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rabbi Mordechai Blau: Tznius Cop

I don’t know what we are coming to in our world. Is this the result of an over-emphasis on Tznius? Are men and women to live so separate from each other… as though we were aliens from different planets?

This seems to be the way we are going based on an article in Ha’artez. What in Heaven’s name ever happened to common sense? It is a world of extremes. On the one extreme you have people succumbing to aberrant Taavos; finding ways to satisfy themselves at the expense of others... and on the other extreme you have a rabbi who heads a group called: “The Sanctity and Education Guard.”

What exactly does Rabbi Blau do? What is his mandate? Simple really. It is to create a class of Jews molded after the Tznius standards of the Taliban.

Of course he would vehemently deny this. But is what he is looking for in Klal Yisroel that different? Lets us examine some of the details of what he has been doing. He is currently involved in “Kashering” concerts for Simchas Beis HaShoeva. But it isn’t just about Tznius. It is about completely controlling every aspect of a public event so that it is molded in the image of a very sepcific Hashkafa. From the article:

“Before providing his imprimatur to any event, Blau checks every detail, personally approving each singer and band, and going into the field to check the arrangements for keeping men and women separate.” “We verify that the public won't be coming to an event that has screaming, or, heaven forfend, idol worship.” “We must make sure that at a Torah-based event, we don't get some John Lennon with a kippah.”

He of course does not mean Avodah Zara but fan worship of a music star. Now I am not a fan of worshiping of Jewish “pop” stars. Far from it. I think it is wasted energy on the part of those who do it. And I discourage it when I detect it.

But is this the wisest use of our Torah resources? …To prevent the occurance of fan adulation of popular Jewish music stars? Do we need to have an organizatuion dedicated to preventing this? Is it really so important to expend all the time end enregy to disabuse young Bnei Torah of such “idol worship”. Not to me it isn’t. It is one thing to discourage it generally but to go to such lengths to prevent it seems like an incredible waste of time which could be better spent on more important projects. Once these young people get older and more mature, this kind of “idol” worship wanes and most of them will turn out just fine as functioning Bnei Torah, even if they were once wild fans of MBD or Shwekey.

But this is not what is so upsetting. The following is:

“(Rabbi)Blau checks whether the performers observe the rules of modesty at all times. If there is any doubt, he asks the musician to sign a document in which he promises never to perform at any event where men and women are not separated "according to rabbinical instructions.”

This is the real clincher for me. When perfectly acceptable satndards of Tznius are dismissed as immodest, it means that new standrads are being set on the unsuspecting masses. Most people in the world of Rabbi Blau think that a concert where there is family style seating is untznius. Which is untrue. It is only untznius for certain people. But if this organization has anything to say about it. It will be the standard for all of Klal Yisroel.

How far does the power of Rabbi Blau and his organization, “The Sanctity and Education Guard” extend? The very popular singer of Jewish music, Ya'akov Shwekey who had been invited to a Simchas Beis Hasho'evah celebration was disinvited after refusing to sign Rabbi Blau's document. Yaakov Shwekey’s music can be heard playing all over the Charedi neighborhoods of Israel. But because he dispalyed the courage of his convictions, he was prevented from performing to a group of people who love listening to his music.

Why can’t these people just get a life? Why do they need to interfere in the lives of others? Why, according to him and those rabbinic leaders whom he represents, must we seek to live like the Taliban? And why should our precious resources be wasted on this nonsense?

If one wants to live like a monk in a moastary, fine. That’s up to the individual. But when one group with a narrow Hashkafa starts touting this standrad as THE Torah standrad, then that is a lie. None the less, that attitude is instilled in all Bnei Torah today because of the indoctrination about the infallibilty of the Gedloim. And this gaurantees that what ever they say, is Halacha l”Moshe MiSinai. That is not Judaism. It is exteremism. And it ought to stop.