Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ignoring a Ban

There are two possibilities.

Either everyone who attended the Avrahm Fried concert in Israel is going to burn in hell... especially the Chotie U’Macchtei entertainers including Avraham Fried himslef... and they just don’t care.

Or the Charedi world is finally beginning to recognize that not every pronouncement coming out of Israeli rabbinic leadership is Halacha L’Moshe M’Sinai. Personally I think it is the latter. At least I hope it is. Maybe the pendulum is finally beginning to swing back to normalcy. I don’t know.

What a wonderful sight it is to see these Charedim thinking for themselves on an issue like this. As the photos at rebelwithacause demonstrate, fifteen thousand people showed up at this concert. Most of them Charedim.

How can that be? Aren’t they worried about Shiduchim? What about the socializing that supposedly takes place even at separate seating concerts like this? Should we not be concerned? The Rabbinic leaders were! That was one of the things they worried about in explaining the ‘Psak Halacha’ forbidding concerts.

None of that seemed to matter to these concert goers. Thank God. I’m sure a good time was had by all. And I’m equally sure that the vast majority of them did not socialize at all with the opposite sex. (Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that... but that is another subject). Nor did they do anything lese wrong even by Charedi standards. If there was a small minority who did, I’m sure it was not the first time and even if it was, it wasn’t the concert that made them do it.

The Ha’aretz article wants to attribute this phenomenon to the waning influence of Chasidic Rebbes. That may be in part true. But I think the issue is far larger than that. The Kol Koreh issued with respect to concerts was very clear. It was written as a Psak Halacha. Not as advice or suggestion. And it was signed by the biggest names in Israel including Lithuanian Roshei Yeshivos and Poskim. And it included one of the most respected Chasidic Rebbes in Judaism, the Gerrer Rebbe.

‘Psak Halacha’ was ignored en masse!

Of course the usual suspects will come out and say ; ‘woe is me’... the end of the world is near. Or they will figure out some sort of apologetics. Or they will simply say these aren’t the real Charedim. But I don’t think such arguments will cut it anymore. The emperor has been exposed. And I think it’s time he put some clothes on before people start ignoring him completely.

Will this truly be the catalyst for change? I don’t know. This could just be an anomaly or a one time event. We will have to wait and see what the rabbinic response to this will be, if any. But in my view this is the story of the week, perhaps even of the century. It depends what happens next.