Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Real rabbis please stand up

A more ethics-oriented answer to the fanaticism (The anti-whig, The Beit Shemesh Burka: Extreme Tznius (modesty) phenomena would (and should) be based on Jewish ethics teachings. They are mostly ignored by the stricture-obsessed amateurs. They ignorance is exacerbated by the lack of continuous contact with a real rabbi. Most amateurs satisfy their spiritual needs through listening to rhetorical, moving speeches by rabbis who are not really teaching Jewish ethics to families members. Most of Jewish inspirational philosophies and lectures gravitate towards preaching-to-the-choir topics like critique or admiration of the Israeli government, disdain for the Diaspora, and loose-ended, interpret-for-yourself quotes from Talmud.

Chofetz Chaim, R. Moshe Feinstein, R. Grodzinsky, R. Shlomo Zalman Oyerbach, R. Neuwirth, the real gdoilim, have always taught ethics over externalities. Hazon Ish, so frequently stereotyped as the source of strict rulings, was in reality a real practicing ben toyra. During his early years in the Land of Israel he did not look as stereotypically religious as the rest of the locals, who actually asked him if he learned at all. (He answered in our most beloved mama loshn language , "Ven Ich hob tzeit, lern sich," "When I have time, I learn.")

The solutions, however, would never come from Jewish leaders, columnists, media darlings and rabbis who use the terminology of "pulpit", "sermon". etc. The solution is sticking to the close, organic, classic reltionship of rabbis and their immediate surroundings, and steering away from the new and fashionable lecture circuits, rabbinical radio shows, adn political rallies spiced with provoking thoughts from Talmud.

(in response to a friend's sending me To tell or not to tell, that is the question
Mar. 30, 2008)

It's the season for Orthodox scandal. From New York to
Jerusalem, from Beit Shemesh to Melbourne, shocking
tales of adultery and child abuse, infidelity and
incest within the Jewish world are making front-page
headlines. The latest incidents - a well-known cantor
caught in the act of adultery; a mother of eight
beating her two youngest to the point of
hospitalization, with no recovery predicted for the
toddler; a mother of 12, practicer and preacher of an
extreme form of female modesty, allegedly whipping and
humiliating her children, several of whom admitted to
incestuous relationships; the principal of a
prestigious Orthodox Melbourne school dismissed for
sexual molestation - remind us once again that the
Orthodox community is not immune to the plagues of the
larger one.

Is it right and proper - constructive or destructive -
to air this dirty linen in public, to name names, to
splash the story for all to see?...

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