Friday, March 28, 2008

Ethics, Rhetorics and Exponents

Within the damp, dusty and peeling walls there is a breath of the inspiring air:

Moishe F. is a source of inspiration for me. Moishe hereinbelow poses for a well-travelled, worn-out, and dropped into the dust of the Judean Desert point-and-shoot film camera, with fellow scions of Eastern Europe, Yuri, a dedicated high school teacher, and Itzik, a Toro genius and iluy, who belonged in the Mir or the Hebron Yeshiva.

And this is where many a boraissa and and holocho was scrutinized and expounded and glanced and glossed and unfathomed. Yoav, center, and Daniel Lev, behind him have succeeded in absorbing both the the learning and the ethics from Sinai, I must proudly say:

Sure, the Boraissa from Ketubos is correct, so is another statement that whoever takes 3 steps upon the Holy Land is a Tzaddik, and on and on. One simple thing is important to keep in mind is that we don't poskin by individual excerpts from Gemoro. We have the Great Gemoro Authority comprising of the 3 Torah greats (Rif, Ron, Rambam) that voiced their opinions in no uncertain terms, and the Great Codifier and that is who we go with. Shulkhan Oruch never issues a psak against anyone who seems to fall into an intuitively deduced wrong side with either of the dramatic passages from Gemoro.

Statmenets like these are used nowadays out of context, and, sadly, as a gruesome , or dramatic, at best, rhetoric. Rhetoric is an effective, persuasive form of speech, but most of the time it is incorrect, often intellectually dishonest. It persuades people to nod along.

Tha is, until someone come up with a question. The rhetorically dramatic passages from Gemoro rule over the silent and easily impressed, but they need to know the Ultimate Source of Facts, the Toro, which, significantly different from the arbitrarily judgmental thrust of the rhetorical passages, never uses the Holy Land as an atonement for a rapist, a murderer, an adulterer, a killer, a witch and a warlock, a false prophet, a practicing homosexual - they all are judged, in black and white, in easy-to-read verses, and the Holy Land is never even mildly mentioned as a saving atonement. On the contrary, Toro never recognizes or compromises with these sinners, and explicitly says that nothing of their sort should be found in the land, and in many cases, killed (suffocated), burned (fed molten lead), or stoned (pushed off a cliff unto jagged rocks).

As a silent countercharge to the users of the Boraissos, we would never issue a damning , iddol-worshiiping accusiastion against the Toro Gedoilim who lived outside the Holy Land and yet their decisions serve as the ultimate holocho - rabbis Moshe Feinstein, Chofetz Chaim, Ben Ish Hai, Rashash, Palazzi, Chido. The great posek that did live here, R. Shloimo Zalman Oyerbach, never issued a negative psak regarding of the Diaspora residents. R. Eliashiv, has never done that, either.

They issued psak that dealt with the practical side of Toro. That is what Toro is about. However, the Great Kiryat Moishe University of Rhetorical Hashkofos, whose proud graduates are you and I, seems to de-emphasize the essence of learning, of the relating to one of the hardest things to do - to relate to a fellow Jew on the street, at workplace, in the cafeteria of the University, and in many other small but very important scenarios. The University, though not alone in this, lets the everyday Israeli mentality influence the course of the arbitrary interpretation of the rhetorical hashkofo.

Ignoring my personal experiences that puzzled me there, where crude, arrogant, and even disdainful attitude towards search for better observance ("you don't need to study all that marriage mitzvo details all day long, that's for haredim"), where the beautiful, and equally important statement of utmost rhetorical strength - "Darkey Noam", Toro's Ways are pleasant (who can argue against this?)- are ignored, and the young men discovering themselves in Toro do not grow in pleasant ways, but deepen their scowling, glowering stares, and loud, pushing mannerisms. I would rather use, and always use the example and the experience of a fellow Israeli who was the only example a successful, total self-improvement work at the yeshiva, to the point where he had realized that he does not belong there, and now he lives near me, an exemplary Hassidishe man, a true, Gentle Man, or Mensch of a Jewish gentleman, who impresses me with his patience and common sense in relating to everyday curve balls that life throws at us. I do not have to prompt him to remind me how great it feels to learn Toro without quotes from Toro made of muddled rhetoric.

Sad it is, when the mantras of walking and living on the Holy Land go to the cerebellum of a hyper-idealistic man, and all other ethics go down the drain. No wonder Toro does not recommned women to wear Tzitsis, or men to wear tefillin all day. It is not for some magical reason, but to prevent yihuro. It is one thing for the Diaspora to behave unethically, but it is a glaring, screeching Hillul Hashem for a Holy Land Walking Yihuro specialist to badmouth, backstab and humiliate his fellow coworkers, cheat his employees, and exploit his yarmulko as a passport to get to even higher state of yihuro at his synagogue.

Right now the challenge is not the Jews in Diaspora, the challenge is being nice to them when they come to the Shuk and move slowly in the way of the locals. Remember, the Toiro is about NOT pushing and shoving and glowering and scowling. Gemoro brings another wide-ranging, powerful statement - whoever gets angry is as if worships idols. What other Boraissas do we need?

No comments: