Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kanoim Pogim Bo

I have seen the light. An editorial in Ami Magazine by editor and publisher Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter (whose marketing genius never fails to amaze me – here we are talking about Ami again) has made me realize that  Kanaus - zealotry in the form of vigilantism is a Torah value. That if one’s heightened sense of religious values are not being respected by the rest of society, or even by a single individual one may take the law into their own hands. (As long as they don’t go too far he says – whatever that means.)

As proof of this he uses an incident in the Torah itself described at the end of last week’s Parsha. Pinchas, Aharon’s grandson literally skewered Zimri and Cosby Bas Tzur in the genitalia in the midst of their public act of indecency.

Rabbi Frankfurter  then proceeds to tell us that zealotry had been around continuously for a long time throughout Jewish history. As an illustration of this he then describes a true story about Chaim Zvi Schneershon, the great grandson of Rav Shneur Zalman Of Liadi  - the first Lubavitcher Rebbe.  A story he read in a recently published book by historian Jonathan Sarna.

Long story short - Chaim Zvi and some of his family had immigrated to Israel. After living there awhile he proposed an idea to establish an agricultural colony in Tiveria (Tiberius) for purposes of encouging Aliyah in a way that would not have to rely on charity for support.

The religious community of Tiveria considered this a threat to their way of life and a breach to the sanctity of their city. In order to stop this breach they took matters into their own hands. First they put him in Cherem (excommunicated him). They spread vicious rumors about him; pelted him with rocks; and robbed him of his worldly possessions. They then stripped him naked, tied him to the back of a donkey, and paraded him through the streets and outside the city walls.

Well… these are MY role models! I guess the extremists of Meah Shearim and Bet Shemesh aren’t so bad after all. Burning a dumpster? Spitting at a reporter? Calling an 8 year old a whore? That’s nothing compared to what the Kanoim of Tiberius did.

So I take it all back. These extremists were just modern day Pinchases.  I can’t even call them extremists anymore. They are downright humanitarians compared the Kanoim of Tiveria. Those giants of history knew how to deal with their problems. They knew how to teach Kavod HaTorah. There is no way that the Kedusha of their town was going to be destroyed by this new interloper with foreign ideas. Who did he think he was? Moshiach?!

So I apologize to all the learned men of Meah Shearim and Bet Shemesh. I have learned my lesson well. I now support you and will no longer criticize you. I will instead follow in your footsteps. I now understand what Kanoim Pogim Bo really means.

I will no longer be of ‘those bloggers!’  You know - the ones Rabbi Frankfurter compares to the ‘common folk and ignoramuses’ who jeered Pinchas.

Nooooo! I will be among the Kanaim of Meah Shearim and Bet Shemesh who believe they are emulating Pinchas. I can’t wait until I see the next 8 year old Mizrachi girl.

Thank you, Rabbi Frankfurter for setting me straight.