We Can’t, Because . . .
In his article “Praying for the Soldiers” (August 15), Rabbi Hoffman highlights, perhaps inadvertently, the chasm that exists between the chareidi and dati leumi and moderate communities.
While outlining the importance of hakaras ha’tov, he offers four reasons why chareidim refuse to recite the Mishebeirach for soldiers (along the way he mentions some very negative comments about Rav Goren, zt’l, a great talmid chacham and hero of the State of Israel).
You see, there is always a “because.” Chareidim (and yeshivish) can’t say the words “Medinat Yisrael” because . . . They can’t countenance an Israeli flag because . . . They can’t attend protest rallies on behalf of Israel because . . . They can’t participate in the Israel Day Parade because . . . They can’t participate in the minute of silence on Yom HaZikaron because . . . They certainly can’t join the IDF because . . . And they can’t say the Mishebeirach or tefillah for the state because . . .
So speaking about hakaras ha’tov without concrete communal action is not enough. If you talk the talk, you must also walk the walk.
Silence Of The Lambs
A police officer shoots a teen in Missouri, and there is instant social-media frenzy, there is newsworthy rioting, and leaders of the community unite and proclaim “Justice! We will not be silent until justice is served.”
A rabbi walking to shul on Shabbos in Florida is murdered in cold blood. What do we hear? Silence. Nothing. A one-minute blurb on local news showing the funeral procession.
So the question once again comes to my mind: Where are our leaders? Why is no one crying out, kicking, yelling, screaming about what is going on in this world? Where is our Al Sharpton?
What is it going to take for us to realize that silence speaks volumes? We were silent in Europe—we are silent now. It took quite a few years for the situation in Europe to go from bad to worse, but the Jews and their leaders had their heads buried in the sand. They were hoping that things would improve and the best approach would be to be silent and lie low. That didn’t work out so well for six million of us, did it? They were led to slaughter like lambs.
The relationship between the world at large and Israel is simply incomprehensible to me. Israel is a land surrounded by enemies, terrorized and victimized. And when we defend ourselves, we are the aggressors according to the world.
Where are our own defenders of truth and justice? Why is there such media bias against Israel? It grieves me as a Jew, as a proud American, and as someone who has a deep-rooted love of Israel to see this. I am deeply troubled by the fact that we are, once again, not defending our right to peacefully exist in this world.
Apparently what we do find so valuable is the ongoing discussion about whether or not saying the prayer for our chayalim in neighborhood shuls is appropriate. This issue brings the rabbis to the forefront of conversation. This gets them off the fence! Ridiculous responses as to why not to say it are beyond my comprehension—like “It’s not our mesorah” or “It has the word Tzahal in it.” How bogus!
Expend your energies, leaders of Am Yisrael, by proclaiming what is right and just. Don’t sit back and be silent, because history will always repeat itself, especially when we learned nothing from it the last time around. And those of us who stand by and are silent are just as guilty.
My father was a survivor of Auschwitz. He suffered immeasurably during the war and after. The best lesson he taught me was to speak out in the name of justice and to always stand up for what you believe in, because then you can stand tall and you make a difference.
I am begging each and every one of us to confront those leaders who are silent and speak up for what you believe to be the truth. There is absolutely nothing un-Orthodox about this. As a nation, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The Gemara in Tractate Sanhedrin says that in the generation in which the son of David will come, the leaders will have the nature of dogs and truth will be missing. What does this mean? The behavior of the leaders will resemble that of dogs. When a dog is walked by its master, it trots ahead and appears to be leading. In reality, however, it is the master who chooses the direction in which to go. When the dog comes to a fork in the road, it stops and waits for its master to direct it. In the pre-messianic era, the leaders will only appear to be leading the nations. So perhaps we are witness to the beginning of the messianic era.
As I view the world around me, I am reminded of the words to a Simon and Garfunkel song: “Fools, I say you do not know, silence like a cancer grows.”
And as for me, personally, I’d rather be a lion than a lamb.
Fruma K. Tannenbaum
Thanks From Prison
I hope all is well with you and your family. There are no words that I can say that could thank you enough for the article you wrote about me (Heard in the Bagel Store, August 1), so I’ll just say—thank you, thank you, thank you. I really hope and believe that only good things can come out of spreading the news that there are frum Jews in prison, that yes, some may have done wrong but are not lost souls.
If any of your readers would like to contact me and ask any questions they can write: Bernard Mutterperl, 09-A-4509, Sullivan Correctional Facility, POB 116, Fallsburg, NY 12733 or you can e-mail me at Sullivanerebbe@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from anyone and will respond to everyone.
All Jews at Sullivan thank you for the great newspaper that you provide on a weekly basis and look forward to reading it for many years to come on the outside. Keep smiling, Hashem loves us all.