Thursday, January 30, 2014

Much Ado about Nothing

Yair Netnayahu
How many people know that Chabad founder, the Baal Hatanya’s youngest son, Moshe, converted to Christianity? (Chabad denies this. Documents have been found and archived that confirm it – but Chabad claims they have been faked.) Or that Agudah pioneer, Rabbi Moshe Sherer had a brother, Harry Sherer, that was a Reform rabbi? Or that Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach’s son, Dr. Ephraim Shach, rejected his father’s Hashkafa to become a religious Zionist, join the IDF; and eventually earn a Ph.D. from Yeshiva University? The same school that was the home of Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik whose philosophy was deemed heresy by Dr. Shach’s father!

Probably a lot more people than are willing to admit it. And how many people know that there are some prominent Mechanchim and Rosehi Yeshva that have children who have gone OTD (stopped being observant)?  The fact is that there is a virtual explosion of young people from observant families of all stripes (including Charedi families) who are going – and have gone OTD. The problem is so huge that some studies have shown that there are more people leaving observance than there are people becoming observant. While that may be debatable based on how one defines observance, that does not make the actual attrition rate any less palatable.

Which brings me to the latest criticism of Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. It has been alleged that his son, Yair, is dating Sandra Leikanger, a non Jewish Norwegian woman.  This – one might say - does not look good for the leader of a Jewish State. But does it really have any relevance to his job or his position as the leader of the Jewish State? 

I think not.

This is a personal matter between the prime minister and his son. The prime minister is not observant. But I am sure that it would still pain him if his son intermarried. The point is that it is none of anyone’s business what goes on in the private lives of our leaders. It really doesn’t matter what someone’s son does with respect to an individual’s stature or his position of leadership.

Rav  Shach was still considered the Gadol HaDor by Israeli Charedim despite the fact that his son rejected his father’s Hashkafos. The fact that his son became a religious Zionist did not affect Rav Shach one bit. So irrelavent to his leadership was it that it was hardly on anyone’s radar screen what his son was doing. His son became a religious Zionist in spite of is father’s antipathy for Zionism in any form – religious or not! So opposed was Rav Shach to the Jewish State that the following story is told.

Every Yom Ha’atzmaut Rav Shach would say Tachanun in Ponevezh, the Yeshiva where he taught... even though Poenvezh founder and its then Rosh HaYeshiva Rav Yosef Kahaneman and the rest of the Yeshiva did not. And yet Rav Shach’s son saluted the Israeli flag and joined the army.

That anyone is making an issue out of who Yair Netnayahu is dating, as is Shas politcal leader,Aryeh Deri. From JTA:
Deri publicly criticized the prime minister for his son’s choice of romantic involvement, saying on Monday in an interview with the haredi radio station Kol Barama, “Woe is us if it is true.” “I try not to raise personal criticism, but if, heaven forbid, this is true it is no longer a personal matter — it is a symbol of the Jewish people,” he said.
While Deri is right to be concerned about the impact this might have on assimilation,there is absolutely no justification in criticizing Netanyahu for this ultimate form of going OTD by his son (allegedly). Those who are - ought to first look in their own backyard and ask why so many people from observant families are going OTD. And yes, even intermarrying in some cases.

This is a private matter – which if true – is probably very painful for the prime minister despite the fact that he is not observant. Instead of criticizing Netanyahu for something that is not his fault, we ought to be having sympathy for him.

But the Prime Minister denies it, anyway. From JTA: 
Israel’s Channel 10 reported Wednesday that the official told Aryeh Deri in a meeting that Yair Netanyahu, 23, and Sandra Leikanger, 25, who both study at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, only study together and are not dating.
So in the end - this is much ado about nothing.