Sharing The Pain
I’ve listened to or read perhaps a dozen Rosh Hashanah or Shabbat Shuvah speeches this year. Almost every one included the theme that this year is different. Focusing on the summer’s war against the Hamas terrorists, several made the point that the war changed the mood of the people of Israel and maybe the Jewish people at large. But many others focused on the unity created during the search for the three children kidnapped and killed by the Palestinian murderers. “Achdus,” they screamed from the pulpit. Unity.
Some, including Rav Moshe Weinberger, took it to another level. One of the themes of the Rosh Hashanah holiday is areivus, responsibility. Each of us has areivus for the entire nation. Some focused on the areivus that the Israeli leadership showed this summer—from the top down. Caring deeply about every child, every soldier.
Others focused on the caring that Jews around the world felt for the families of the three beautiful boys who were taken from us—“Bring back our boys!” was the cry of the summer.
But at the end of the day, the families of the three boys and the soldiers who were killed are suffering. Suffering alone. When the mothers and fathers wake up in the morning, they feel a giant hole that doesn’t leave or disappear. It’s the families who are suffering, especially the parents, wives, and children. Every day, every hour, every minute.
And alone. All alone.
So here’s my idea: this Yom Kippur, during the part of the davening that will be the hardest for the families—Yizkor—each of us will focus on one of the boys—our boys—who were taken from us. I’m not asking you to cry (although you can and probably will). Just think about them. And spend a minute. Share their parents’ pain. Whether you stay in or go out for Yizkor. Think about them. One of them. Feel the pain and feel the areivus of Am Yisrael.
Make this year truly be different.
J. Philip Rosen
A Loud And Clear Message For Quiet
I cannot thank Rabbi Hoffman enough for having the gevurah to finally broach this terrible problem (of loud music at simchas, “Treif Weddings?” in the September 5 issue). My husband and I have been complaining about this for years. Of course, most of the time, we do not complain at all—we just wear earplugs. We get comments for this, sometimes more like sarcastic “digs,” while they continue to gradually lose their hearing. Why? Why is it even necessary to have the music up so high? When we inquire, we receive ignorant, lame answers like, “Well, the young kids like it!” or, “It is not really leibedig unless it is loud!” My husband always said that if music is really good it does not have to be loud to be appreciated. But to no avail.
For our simchos, we tried to get the musician to play at a normal level and it was still plenty leibedig for the normal people.
Let us hope that the rabbi’s article will plant the seed for a major transformation in this area. It would be a shame for so many frum Jews to be walking around with hearing aids at such a young age.
G’mar Chasimah Tovah
The ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera
This letter from Judah Pearl was read publicly at a protest on Monday, September 22, against the Klinghoffer Opera at Lincoln Center.
I echo the silenced voice of my son [Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamists in Pakistan in 2001] . . . and the silenced voices of other victims of terror, including James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and including thousands of men, women, and children who were murdered, maimed, or left heartbroken by the new menace of our generation, a menace that the Met has decided to accept and orchestrate as just another activity of normative civilized society, just another phenomenon worthy of artistic expression.
Civilization has learned to protect itself by codifying right from wrong, separating the holy from the profane, and distinguishing that which deserves the sound of orchestras from that which deserves our unconditional revulsion. The Met has smeared this distinction and thus betrayed their contract with society.
I submit to you that choreographing an operatic drama around criminal pathology is not an artistic prerogative, but a blatant betrayal of public trust. We do not stage operas for rapists and child molesters, and we do not compose symphonies for penetrating the minds of ISIS executioners.
What we are seeing here in New York today is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality, but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of art.
This opera is not about the mentality of deranged terrorists, but about the judgment of our arts directors. The New York Met has squandered humanity’s greatest treasure—our moral compass, our sense of right and wrong, and most sadly, our reverence for music as a noble expression of the human spirit.
We might be able, someday, to forgive the Met for decriminalizing brutal minds, but we will never forgive them for poisoning our music—for turning our best violins and our iconic concert halls into megaphones for excusing evil.