Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rallies II

Most Rabbis don’t endorse these rallies at all. Of the handful that did, some (such as Rav Henoch Lebowitz) regretted the endorsement when they heard what the rally was "really" going to be. So there definitely was misinformation fed to the esteemed rabbis, which means you have to know what exactly they believed they were endorsing. Ask them if they endorsed Booing Paul Wolfowitz off the stage, or if they endorsed their Talmidim standing there with the half naked men and women.

Also, Rav Shach ZTL writes in his letters that the concept of Hisgaros B'Umos - not demanding things of the nations - is "unknown even to many great torah scholars and Tzadikim".

Beyond that, you'd have to ask them what their rationale was. I can't speak for other people, and I do not want to put words in their mouth.

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Without your particular rally nobody suddenly finds themselves in mortal danger. Nobody will say that without that rally, we do not need a miracle but with that rally now we are safe.

If your rally is so powerful, why only one? Why not another, every month? Or week? If it's really sofek nefashos, why not demand that everyone take off from work, come from all over the world, and why only for a few hours? Wouldn't it make a bigger impact if we were there every day?? And how about emails? Why aren't we demanding that everyone take off from work and school to send emails all day to Washington - that’s hishtadlus too, right? And if it's safek nefashos you should do it on Shabbos as well!

Who decided that specifically this rally and that time and place fulfills the requirements of safek nefashos - and that more rallies aren't still required for safek nefashos? If so, when? Where? How?

Please. Obviously nobody can claim that any individual hishtadlus such as this is required as safek nefashos. We hope it does something, but halachicly nobody is going to obligated to violate Shabbos to come to this rally, and not having the rally would not suddenly mean we now need a miracle (but thank g-d for the rally! Now we don’t need a miracle anymore?!??!)

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Gays are enemies of G-d (i.e. those who flaunt their gayness), and we do not join with G-d's enemies to rally against our other enemies.

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It's hard for me to explain why those Rabbis encouraged the rally since I was one of those who didn't see their reasoning from the get go. But "kshaim sh'ain pirtzufayhem shavos kach ain deoseihem shavos". This is not a sheailah that you can look into the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and see black on white. It involves trusting different people who tell you different things about what’s going to happen if they don’t have the rally or if they do etc etc. It involves not only understanding of right and wrong but applying it in the situation, in which you have to relay on information of parties with various vested interests.

There were a small number of esteemed rabbonim who said it’s OK to go to the rally, and perhaps even encouraged it. I know Rav Henoch Lebowitz at first backed it then found out more information about what the rally really was, and then retracted his support. One of the posters on the boards said their Rosh Yeshiva was there, and when he saw the Pritzus commented that he could see why someone would not allow people to go because of it. It could be some rabbis were equally under-informed or misinformed. Or it could be they felt it was going to help save Jewish lives. What you have to do is ask them now, after the rally happened, if they would still back it now that they know all the information.

If they still do, they're entitled to their opinion, some of those who were listed as backing the rally (such as Rav Zelik Epstein and Rav Feivel Cohen) are very big rabbanim. But I still side with those who were against.

Avi Shafran is a PR guy. That's his official position. He's neither the representative nor the messenger of Daas Torah in the world. That includes the Agudah's Daas Torah (things he has said have in the past been retracted and castigated by the Agudah itself).

Opposition to the rally was based on the following factors:

1) All such rallies constitute hisgarus b'umos - confrontation against the goyim. To demand things from the Goyim is against the Torah. The Jewish way is to plead, ask, and bow our heads. We make no demands in Golus. Rav Shach writes that to tell the Goyim "Jerusalem is ours!" for instance, is a violation of Hisgarus B'Umos. We have no right in Golus to demand anything of the nations. So to run around with signs and demands about what we say must be done, is only going to backfire against us, as Chazal have said.

2) The rally was open-ended as far as what it was rallying for. For the policies of the Israeli government? For the occupation? For the right to do whatever? Or what? Not everything Israel does should we support. You can't rally if they refuse to tell you what you are rallying for - you don’t want to support the wrong thing.

3) The rally was interdenominational, meaning, it recognized Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionists rabbis as "rabbis", even giving them the honor of leading the masses in saying Tehillim. Such recognition is not acceptable regardless of the cause. If the chief rabbi of NAMBLA (an organized organization for child molesters - I'm not kidding) who was a child molester himself and preached the holiness of molesting children were to be honored with leading the Tehillim, nobody would have gone. What Reform rabbis represent is similarly reprehensible, and we should have no part of it.

4) The pritzus at the rally was unacceptable. Pritzus causes the deaths of Jews, never mind is halachicly forbidden, so who is to say that the rally did more good than bad in heaven?

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I didn't go to the rally. First, I hold I can do more here with Torah and Tefilah. Second, nobody revealed what was going to be said at the rally, who was going to speak, and what exactly they were going to tell Washington that they support. To support Israel, of course, but in what? Not to make a Palestinian State? Not to give back any land? To throw the Arabs out of Israel? To make more settlements? What? Would there be non-Orthodox rabbis speaking? What will they say?

I tried to find out, but nobody seemed to know what exactly the rally was going to support. It wasn't organized by Torah organizations but rather secular ones, so who knows what the agenda was? How in the world can I go to a rally where I don’t know whether they will be rallying for something good or not?

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It is arrogant to think that only YOU have the right to decide what Klall Yisroel should do, and that whoever disagrees with you is guilty of divisiveness. The reality is, those who did not go to the rally held the rally was not the right thing to do. So in the interest of Achdus, you could have not gone to the rally, and then nobody would be divided. Right?

It's amazing how people think that they have a right to tell other people what they should think believe and do.

And I never said that we should not do Histadlus. And of course we should do whatever possible to protect the lives of Yidden in Eretz Yisroel, and France, and all over the world. But NOT everything all our "brothers and sisters" in Eretz Yisroel are doing should we support - I am sure you do not agree with everything that the government is does, or every idea that is espoused in the Knesset - and nobody revealed which acts or ideas the rally was going to support - plus, there are different ways to show support. Not everyone has to agree that your way is the right one or the best one.

You can't expect to make a rally, not tell anyone what you are rallying about, what the speakers are going to say, or even who they will be (Orthodox? Conservative? Reform? Kahanist? Left? Right? What?), and then accuse them of divisiveness when they don't go.

Divisiveness, rather, comes because people have the mistaken misguided idea unity means everyone has to think and do as you do.

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Who can say that sight of the rally was worth it? Perhaps the time they would have spent learning or saying Tehillim would have been more valuable than seeing this sight?

The determination of what is worth our time, and how we can best spend that time must be made by Torah criteria, not by our own emotions.

Incidentally, the Agudah's position on the rally was neutrality - neither for nor against. But the Agudah is an organization, not a person. When you say "The Agudah" did this or that, you have to know who in the Agudah you are talking about. If the laypeople in the Agudah come out for or against something, it means nothing - they are no more Torah authorities than any other Baalei Batim anywhere. If the Rabbonim come out for or against something, then it is because those people are Rabbonim that their opinion carried weight. And so, other Rabbonim of qualified stature may agree or disagree. Jews follow Rabbonim, regardless of their organizational affiliation.

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Who arranged the rally is a mystery - a dozen people or posters said a dozen different things. One poster on these boards said it was the OU. Whoever it was, they were purposely left unpublicized in order to get "all denominations" of Jewry to support the rally.

In any case, Orthodox Conservative and Reform "rabbis" all were invited to come, to bring their congregations, and even to lead. Had they invited a Jewish Nazi or child molester to lead the Tehillim everyone would have walked out. Achdus with such people is not proper. And although it is true that the congregants of the Reform rabbis are innocent victims of their teachings, the rabbis themselves are the molesters of their congregations. And it's worse than if he were a criminal, because here it is his crime that actually makes him a rabbi! It’s like as if there were a group of Jews who believe it is a religious duty to molest children. Would you attend a rally where those kind of "rabbis" were asked to participate, with their congregations, and even to lead services?

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