Monday, August 17, 2009

"Haredi Leaders Have Spoken Out On Scandal"?

Rabbi David Zweibel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, wrote an opinion piece in the August 12 Jewish Week insisting that there has been a measrued and appropriate response to the apparent plethora of legal scandals in the Haredi community.

This was my response, as a letter to the editor.

I can't tell whether Rabbi David Zweibel, Esq. ("Haredi Leaders Have Spoken Out On Scandal") is still operating as if he was in a courtroom, but his argument regarding the salience of the Haredi response to scandal falls on two of his claims:

First, the ostensible "soul-searching articles in the Haredi press" lack credibility when some of these same organs denounce certain government informants as "malshinim" [slanderers] and "mosrim" ["informers"], and gleefully pounce on swirling rumors [since debunked] about the father of one said "moser" disowning him and sitting shiva for him. The wagon-circling mentality tends to override any impression that these people have truly taken responsibility for their actions.

Second, and more jarring, is Rabbi Zweibel's touting his "privilege" to chair a program of a symposium on "[]Doing the stirght and good" which opened with...a mea culpa from a MALEFACTOR who PLEADED GUILTY? Is that not like inviting the arsonist to help put out the fire? Is this ADMITTED malefactor a rabinnic community leader? If so, are his halachic pronouncements STILL considered "daas Torah"? Two analogs, however loose, come to mind: Jimmy Swaggart's televised "I Have Sinned"...or, even worse, the possibility that one day someone will convene a child-abuse symposium and have Rabbi Yehuda Kolko open the proceedings [wait, he wasn't convicted of the more serious charges, and wasn't labeled a sex offender...never mind...]

Rabbi Zweibel expresses surprise that "[T]he Jewish Week [gave] this event no coverage." He should be thankful; the perception given will not be the one he hoped for. I'm sure Rabbi Zweibel is even more familiar than I am with Talmudic discussions delineating various levels of Chillul Hashem [profanation of G-d's name]. I have no doubt that, unlike me, he can immediately locate and quote the sugya that offers definition of Chilu Hashem as an action that elicits the thought "Woe to he who has learned Torah."

1 comment:

Moshe said...

There is no doubt a significant segment of the community that sees no need for a cheshbon hanefesh on any level, so to direct your criticism at the segment that is engaging in a cheshbon hanefesh, however flawed it may be, seems a little harsh.