Almost there… or not

Although the original plan did not call for this, this post will probably be my first serious non-technical post. I was originally planning on starting with either a halachic post (almost finished, but not quite ready) or a science / Torah post (still needs some work and fact-checking). However, the good people at Mishpacha Magazine chose this week to run this article, and so here’s my rebuttal.

In this week’s issue, R’ Moshe Grylack discusses the reaction of some (ostensibly) Chareidi Jews to the “Pride Parade” that was set to disgrace Yerushalayim. In addition to the reasoned calls for canceling the parade, those of us living here (or those who read/heard/watched the news) were shown violent and vicious protests, including the frequent blocking of traffic, burning of garbage (and 1300NIS garbage cans belonging to the public), and the throwing of rocks and other debris at the police who arrived to restore some semblance of law and order. Not only Yerushalayim residents, but even those living in neighborhoods in Bnei Brak and Bet Shemesh (i.e., RBS-B) were treated to such spectacles.

To this backdrop, R’ Grylack quotes the wise words of an anonymous friend, who’s described as a “Talmid Chacham and prominent educator.” The friend castigates the entire community, stating that,

If bochurim from our yeshivos go out in the street and start committing vandalism for its own, giving vent to all their destructive urges, supposedly for a holy cause, then our yeshivos have failed.

R’ Grylack then suggests that maybe the community as a whole is not responsible, since

…you’re exaggerating in a really extreme way. We all know that those who left the beis medrash to go out and demonstrate are the marginal element.

However, his friend is not so naive:

That’s it exactly! That word, ‘marginal.’ I have come to despise that word lately. It’s an escapist word, a way of shrugging off responsibility. A way of saying ‘shalom alai nafshi.‘ They’re the the marginal element, and we’re all right; it’s not our problem!

He then brings the example of Achan from Sefer Yehoshua to show that kol Yisroel areivim applies to aveiros as well.

Brilliant! honest! Insightful! I was really pleased to see this in a mainstream Chareidi publication, as it’s something that has been said informally for too long, but with no one to acknowledge the problem, it was clear that nothing could be done. When some violent crazies attempted to hold the RBS shopping area hostage by attacking their enemies with eggs, we were continually reassured that these actions represented on a minute percentage, and this was not accepted, etc; except that no one was willing to take responsibility and say, “it’s true, we need to improve.”

Congratulations to Mishpacha for publishing such a call for soul searching.

But wait. For reasons known only to R’ Grylack and his friend, these incisive comments were printed anonymously. Why? If it’s true, what’s there to hide? At the end, R’ Grylack explains that the ran the piece at the request of his friend. Why? Were he to have kept it as a private conversation, would it not merit publication? As my wife so pithily described it, “what a cop out!” Instead of taking a standard, it’s a standard journalists trick of, “so-and-so alleges that ____”

Still, the fact that Mishpacha was willing to publicize this, even if the editor in chief would not say it in his own name, is an incredibly positive step.

I would encourage anyone who can get Mishpacha to purchase it for this editorial, although I have an email pending to Mishpacha requesting permission to reproduce the editorial in it’s entirety.

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