Friday, January 30, 2015

When Will this Kind of Foolishness Stop?

The bus ad reads: Short clothing equals shortened lives (Ynet)
Ads like this never fail to upset me. I find it inexplicable and inexcusable to say that righteous people were brutally slaughtered because of the deeds of those not so righteous. It goes beyond all decency - and even common sense to say that, let alone pay good money for ads to promote it in public.

And yet that is exactly what happened. From an article in the January 19th edition of Ynet:
A new modesty campaign in Jerusalem is reigniting religious wars in the capital after huge ads reading "Short clothing shortens life" appeared last week on about 20 Egged buses in the city.
The ads included a caption indicating that the campaign's purpose is the "transcendence of the soul of the Har Nof righteous" – the worshippers murdered at a terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue about two months ago...
(The campaign’s initiator said) the disaster at the Har Nof synagogue forced every religious Jew to engage in self-examination, and that he believed the ultra-Orthodox public should be encouraged to be strict about issues like modesty and unity.
"It's clear that those who were murdered did not receive a punishment they deserved," he said. "They were righteous people. They woke up to pray at 6 am. They are public victims, and it happened to them because of us, because of our acts.

As for the protests over the statement that "short clothing shortens life," the advertiser said: "Can anyone say for certain that it's not true?"
If this wasn’t so upsetting I would be laughing my head off at this foolish ‘rhetorical question’. Can anyone say for certain it’s not true? Well of course not. But same question can be asked if I were to assert that forgetting to say Yaleh V’Yovo on Rosh Chodesh caused their deaths. "Can anyone say for certain that it's not true?"

That someone did something foolish in public is bad enough. When a Jew does that, one might be tempted to say that it is a Chilul HaShem (No, I’m not going that far… just tempted). But still, does it not embarrass the Jewish people when the most religious Jews among us make ridiculous claims in such a public manner? What bothers me even more is  the fact that I have not heard any protest from any of the Charedi  leadership about this ad. Is not the lack of protest a tacit endorsement of it? And does that not  make the leadership look just as foolish?

I understand the sensitivity to matters of modesty in dress. This particular community never saw a Chumra in this area they didn’t like. That is fine for them. But to now blame the savage murders of the purest of souls in Har Nof on the hemlines of women not being quite long enough is the height of insensitivity. It is an example of the hubris this community has about knowing the mind of God . They think they know why bad things happen to good people. And I am not so sure the women of this community appreciates the pattern of always being blamed communal tragedy.

Instead of explaining God’s reasons, they have succeeded in making fools of themselves.  They blame our supposed lapses in one particular area for the death of the righteous. They have upset the secular public. And they have embarrassed the Jewish people.

These are the most religious looking Jews among us. It is the religious Jews that most represent what Judaism is supposed to be about. It is their behavior that should be the brightest of lights unto the nations. But once again, instead of bringing light, they bring anger from within and laughter from without. And the Charedi leadership doesn’t seem to care.