Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Charedi Chilul HaShem

I truly hate to belabor the point. But there is no greater evidence demonstrating a malaise that afflicts much of the Charedi world than some of the comments on a recent post on Matzav.com. As an Orthodox Jew I am literally appalled by them.

Peggy Park was brutally murdered in cold blood by Martin Grossman. Grossman was executed for his crime last week after some agonizing debate over whether he should have been. Whatever one’s position was about that, there should be no debate about the pain Peggy’s mother, Margret, has suffered. Anyone with even an ounce of compassion should understand this.

But there are some people who actually thought it was appropriate to harass Mrs. Park into asking for clemency for her daughter’s murderer. And that harassment was Lifnim MeShuras HaDin! They really went town with this ‘Mitzvah’ - stooping so low as to call her a Nazi! The Chilul HaShem of that is so enormous it makes me shudder! I’m not even sure it can ever be fixed.

Mrs. Miriam Pearlmutter is a neighbor of Mrs. Parks. She probably feels the way I do and is trying to do something about it. She understands the level of pain Mrs. Park must feel and the gross Chilul HaShem that has been caused by the people who harassed them.

She composed a letter that will be sent to Mrs. Parks which is posted on Matzav.com and asks people to sign. It is a well written apology for the truly sick individuals who harassed the Park family. While it doesn’t come anywhere near correcting the wrong done to her, hopefully it will help express the idea that most Orthodox Jews condemn those who harassed her, understand her pain, and truly feel sympathy for what she has gone and is still going through. I urge people to add their names to it before it is sent. Mrs. Pearlmutter’s e-mail is:


I wish I could say that this letter expresses the feelings of all of Orthodox Jewry. But I can’t. There are too many comments at Matzav that tell an entirely different story. I don’t think most Charedim feel that way. But I do believe a very large segment does and the few voices at Matzav represent only a small percentage of the true numbers.

Here are two comments that say it all:

L’ma’ashe she caused retzichah, we do not have to apologize, even mitzad menshlachkait.


the man did tishuva! all he wanted was to live in jale for the rest of his life….and even so this rishanta insisted on his death and went to watch it! many gidolim agreed he should live even though he killed somone….anyways i think

This type of thinking is not just an aberration of a few mindless fools. I think it represents a far greater number of Charedi or Chasdic Jews than anyone is willing to admit. It comes as a result of an indoctrination about Kedushas Am Yisroel versus the Tumas HaGoyim. This is the wrong path to have been followed. And yet there has never been a greater emphasis on it than there has been post Holocaust.

I believe it is done precisely because we in America live in such a wonderful country. We live in unprecedented times of freedom and benevolence toward us. Fear of assimilation under such conditions is greater than ever. Thus Charedi rabbinic leaders harangue their flock so as not to fall prey to it. To help assure against assimilation Goyim are vilified.

For Chasidim the hatred of the Goy is in their blood - seared into their collective memories by centuries of anti Semitic pogroms against their ancestors. They have transferred this attitude to the United States intact. It is reinforced by their leadership and combined with an insular lifestyle that helps preserve it.

Is it any surprise that so many of them come out of the box swinging like this?! Certainly they comprise more than a few mindless fools. There are probably a great deal more than just a few - as those anonymous Matzav commenters indicate.

The reaction to Grossman’s execution serves as a valuable illustration of this type of thinking. In some circles he was actually called martyr. If I understand correctly his funeral was held in Monsey and a Hespid (eulogy) was given by a Chasidic Rebbe who said he died Al Kiddush HaShem- sanctifying the name of the Lord!

Some have even added the letters H’YD after his name. These letters are a Hebrew acronym for ‘May God avenge his blood’! This is usually reserved for those who were killed because they were Jews, like R’ Elchanan Wasserman who was killed during the Holocaust by the Nazis.

This is how they see the Grossman execution: He murdered someone? Not important. He was a Jew killed by an anti-Semitic government! That is all they see!

Make no mistake. This is a Charedi phenomenon. They own it! No Jew of any other stripe thinks that way. Not one! Even most Charedim don’t. But of those that do, all are Charedim or Chasidim. They are some of the same ones who called up Mrs. Park and harassed her.

I would be surprised if Charedi rabbinic leaders did not condemn the kind of commentary going on at Maztav. But that is not enough. It is about time that Charedi rabbinic leaders like those in Agudah face up to it. They have created a monster by constantly haranguing their flock about the evil Goy and his evil ways. What do they expect would happen when they asked people to do what they could to spare Grossman’s life?

In my view it is imperative that we sign Mrs. Pearlmutter’s letter. The names must be piled up. Let Mrs. Park know that the Jewish people are nothing like those Charedi Jews who called her a Nazi.

I would go a step further and ask Agudah, the OU and every other organization who lobbied for clemency for Grossman to - at the very least - sign that letter too. I only wish that they had been the ones who authored it!