Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Anointed Ones

I recently came across the following rant which was written by a well known rabbi in Hebrew and has been translated:

1) Very few people in our time observe the Shabbos as carefully as they should, for they are not sufficiently knowledgeable of the many intricate laws of the Shabbos, nor are these laws taught by the rabbis as widely as they should be.
2) Many people party late into the evening on Saturday night and thereby sleep late the next morning and miss saying the Shema in its proper time.
3) The diversion of schoolchildren from their Torah studies is commonplace, and even among older students much time is wasted with vacations and excursions.
4) The distinction between people of lesser and greater staure is blurred by the many lesser scholars who seek appointments to the highest rabbinical positions even though they lack the proper level of scholarship.
5) The common people seek to live up to the standards of the wealthy in their manner of dress and the lavishness of their homes, which often leads them to steal from one another.
6) In the main communities, criticism of misdeeds is no longer heard and it is thought a greater virtue to be concerned for people's honor than to criticize their wrongdoing.
7) The shaming of talmidei chachamim and the refusal to accept their criticism are everyday occurrences.
8)Financial dealings are not conducted with honesty, with all manner of cheating, charging of interest and theft taking place. The problem is so widespread to the point that people no longer think that it is prohibited to withhold money that belongs to others.
9)It is proper for every person who fears G-d to take these points to heart, and whoever has it within his power to protest these matters should certainly do so.

The above rant was written some 400 years ago by the Maharsha(assist by Artscroll in the translation). Some of the points could very well be mistaken for a UOJ rant in 2008. I came across it while I was learning the sugya in Maseches Shabbos, 119b. There the amoraim discuss what were the causes of the destruction of the Temple. The Maharsha was noting that the same issues that plagued our people during the destruction were still prevalent during the 16th century and are as prevalent today.

The gemara there discusses the passuk in Tehilim 105:15, and Divrei Hayamim 16:22- "Al Tigu Bimshichai Uvinviai Al Tareu-Do not touch my anointed ones and to my prophets do no harm." We read this passuk in our morning prayers daily in Hodu. Who are the anointed ones that the passuk is referring to? The gemara tells us that the anointed ones are the schoolchildren, where it was common practice to anoint them with perfumes. The passuk is commanding us without mincing any words: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY TINOKOS SHEL BEIS RABBAN! KEEP YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF THE CHILDREN!! IS THERE ANY MORE DIRECT MESSAGE TO THE WOULD BE SEXUAL PREDATORS OUT THERE? IS THERE ANY STRONGER MESSAGE TO THE ENABLERS AND THOSE THAT WISH TO COVER UP FOR THE MOLESTERS? COULD THERE BE A MORE DIRECT MESSAGE TO US THAT WE CANNOT STAND BY IDLY ANYMORE WHILE PURE AND INNOCENT NESHAMOS ARE BEING DESTROYED??

Yet, there is denial, apathy and resistance in the Jewish community when it comes to dealing forcefully with this plague. Why? Perhaps it has to do with the rest of the passuk-"And to my prophets do no harm." The gemara there states that "prophets" is a reference to Torah scholars. Therefore, since it is assur to harm or to demean Torah scholars, many refrain from speaking out against the molesters, where unfortunately many have the title of "rabbi" and dress accordingly, and against their enablers, who maintain powerful rabbinical leadership positions in the community. The term that properly describes those that choose to remain silent is "chassid shoteh". Can the passuk possibly be referring to child molesters and enablers when it states "do not harm my prophets?" Are such people hashem's prophets or are they his enemies? Just because they dress like scholars with long beards, walk the walk and talk the talk, does that give them membership in the exclusive club of talmidei chachamim that are referred to in the Gemara? Or are they what the Gemara describes when it states "Where there is Chillul Hashem, no honor is imparted to a rabbi?" My friends, these are not rabbis, these are the lowest scum of the earth, considering the lives that they've destroyed and the massive chillul hashem that they have caused.

Another reason for the apathy is the passuk in Parashas Kedoshim which states "Lo Telech Rachil Be'amecha- do not be a gossipmonger among your people." This prohibition certainly should not be taken lightly. However, many people think that it extends to violent criminals such as sexual predators and therefore, they will not publicize the names of child molesters, nor report them to the police. Again they ignore the other part of the passuk, "Lo Taamod Al Dam Reecha-do not stand aside while your fellow's blood is shed." The halacha is very clear that one who poses a threat to the general community has a din of rodef. The Shulchan Aruch and the Rema in Choshen Mishpat 338:7 state unequivocally that all means necessary may be employed to stop a rodef (pursuer), including turning him into the authorities. For those that follow Ephraim Wachsman's rule that posskim from previous generations should be ignored, Rav Elyashiv reiterates this point and states that a child molester has a din of rodef. Therefore, anyone who refuses to turn in a child molester because of messira or lashon hara is also a chassid shoteh.

Yet another reason for the apathy and the denial is caused by the spinmeisters hired by the Agudath Israel of America. This organization has teamed up with the Catholic Church and State Assembly leader Sheldon Silver to thwart all efforts at enacting legislation that would protect yeshiva children. These measures, such as mandatory reporting, mandatory background checks and fingerprinting of potential employees and the establishment of a sex offender registry, would at least afford our children the same protection currently enjoyed by public school children. However, this axis of evil has conspired to make sure that these laws do not pass. Instead, the Agudah constantly has its resident spokesperson and spinmeister, Avi Shafran write articles and blogs which try to minimize the problem of child molestation in our community. Some of his noteworthy comments which are a direct slap in the face of the thousands of victims are "why should we comment about an old employee (Kolko)", and that the victims are spinning "tawdry tales" which have only "anectodal evidence." Shafran recently weighed in on the Rubashkin scandal, perhaps the biggest kashrus scandal in history, and joined fellow spinmeister Menachem Lubinsky in trying to defend the Rubashkins and their fraudulent business. Shafran's job is similar to what Amalek did when the Jewish people left Egypt. It says that Amalek cooled things off(karcha) when the nations were afraid of the Jews, by figuratively jumping into the hot water. Similarly, Shafran ran to defend the enablers after the NY Magazine article two years ago when the whole community was up in arms about the Kolko affair. The comparison may sound a bit harsh, but the effect that his words and the Aguda's actions has had to undermine the efforts to protect our children and to seek vengeance for the victims is undeniable.

On Yom Kippur we pray to Hashem several times in the prayers "Asseh L'Maan Tinokos Shel Bais Rabban" - Do for the sake of the schoolchildren (that are pure and innocent). The question is what have WE done for the sake of the schoolchildren-the anointed ones?

Posted by steve


"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

An amazing gedank!

Keep them coming!

LVF said...

Steve, How did I miss Your Shabbos Hagodel Drosha? This was great!!

Anonymous said...

Who is the rov who originally wrote this?

Ahavah said...

Well said!

Rodefemes said...

Superb essay, leaving no room for rebuttal.

Rodefemes said...

Superb essay, leaving no room for rebuttal.

steve said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I truly believe that the silent majority of the Jewish community has come around and is in agreement with us. All this is thanks to UOJ who started a revolution a few years ago. We need to continue fighting against the vocal minority with our words and with political pressure. I feel like this group is a kehilla of well meaning intellectuals and I am proud to be a member. Another great idea from UOJ.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Great work. Keep on submitting!