Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz: In Every Generation

(Thursday, September 11th, 2008)

lipschutz1.jpgIn this week’s parsha, we learn the positive commandment to constantly remember what Amaleik did to us when we left Mitzrayim. “Asher karchah baderech” is commonly explained to mean that Ameleik, by flaunting their contempt for the Jewish people, dispelled the “shock and awe” that suffused the world when details of the miraculous redemption of the Jews reached the surrounding nations.

Amaleik watered down that reaction by brazenly attacking the weary Jews, showing the nations of the world that there was no need to fear people who had so recently been a slave population. For all time, the Torah exhorts us, we are to keep alive the memory of the evil Amaleikim who, out of sheer wickedness, set out to destroy a fledging nation who had never done them any harm. In so doing, they encouraged other nations to treat the Jews with enmity and belligerence.  

Since our earliest encounter with the degenerate Amaleikim, they and their descendants throughout the ages have sought to instigate crisis and disaster for the Jewish people. Whether through actual warmongering or outrageous scandals, they have tried to undermine the Jewish nation and to poison our image in the eyes of the world.  In every generation, malicious individuals with the defining streak of cruelty that exemplifies the murderous Amaleik have exacted a tremendous human toll from our people.

Amaleik sometimes manifests a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome whereby he appears to want to co-exist benignly with us, but behind the scenes works devilishly to wreak havoc by    portraying us as devious bloodsuckers who take advantage of the weak in our zeal to amass fantastic wealth and rule the world.

Thankfully, in our generation, we have been spared the most venomous and powerful manifestation of Amaleik that, in previous times, decimated the Jewish people. But we have suffered acutely in other ways at the hands of this evil nemesis. We have been humiliated and vilified in the court of public opinion. A cursory reading of the current events in today’s newspapers will give ample evidence of the damage done by the Amaleiks of our time. 

Consider how the media has taken on the cause of the unions in their battle against the Rubashkins of Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa.

Anyone who takes the trouble to visit the far-off plant, tour it and interview its employees will find a state-of-the art, modern, safe, clean facility we should all be proud of.

This week, charges were brought against the company for allegedly hiring under-age workers. Let us not be hasty to rush to judgment. Wait until the accused have a chance to defend themselves in a court of law. All the other charges bandied about in the media are mere allegations based on hearsay and don’t deserve to be treated as fact.

That hasn’t stopped the leading media in this country from forming a figurative lynch mob and going after Agriprocessors with the obvious intent of destroying the company. They slam it with all kinds of false allegations, as if it were a cattle- and man-killing jungle of the early 1900s.

Blatant lies are passed around as truths often enough that even many of our own people believe them. Amaleik perceives that he can’t destroy us, so he slanders us instead, telling the world that we don’t know how to treat animals or people. He says that we are mean, vicious and heartless, and he gets all the papers to print this rubbish.

He plants perverse ideas in the minds of hate-driven people who then peddle their wild allegations to mainstream media outlets which, in turn, publish them in their papers as authenticated facts. 

Last week, the nation’s “newspaper of record” ran a story headlined, “Kosher Plant Accused of Inhumane Slaughter.” Who accused them? Read on and find out that it was none other than PETA, the group of misfits who parade around the world ludicrously arguing that man is no different than animal and, therefore, both species are entitled to the same rights.

It is only when you get to the fifth paragraph that you find out that the accusation is bogus. The plant, in fact, was found by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be “in full compliance with humane slaughter regulations.”

The sensational headline was intended not to inform, but to aid and abet the smear campaign against kosher slaughter. 

Decency and integrity would have dictated that the story be dropped. Or, had the editors felt that there was a great need for the public to know of the allegations against an already beleaguered kosher plant, they should have at least formatted the story in a way that would leave no doubt that the USDA gave the plant a clean bill of health despite the charges of a radical left-wing vegetarian group.

But if you are doing the work of the enemies of the Jewish people, why worry over a lapse of journalistic integrity?

Amaleik appears in so many different guises. When a Jewish university maintains on its payroll a person who openly lives an immoral lifestyle and the institution’s president tells the New York Post that he is “proud of my university and all my faculty,” is that not an expression of “asher karchah”? Such a person is conferring legitimacy on behavior the Torah considers abhorrent.

When its rabbinic faculty sits on the sidelines and does not act vociferously and publicly to project and protect Torah values, are they not reinforcing the moral decline which is eating away at the fabric of the Am Kadosh?

Lately, Amaleik has worn another mask – that of a Jewish reporter and a Jewish news service that continuously distribute libelous reports about Agriprocessors, displaying no sensitivity for the truth. Jewish news groups routinely dispatch articles disparaging religious Jews and halacha, and no one calls them on it.

Some have questioned why I have taken such a strong stand on behalf of the Rubashkins. I believe that the proper course of action is to defend ehrliche Yidden who have been wrongfully accused and maligned. But more than that, it is my perception that the Amaleikim hounding them are targeting not only the Rubashkins. They are targeting you and me and our ability to eat kosher meat in this country.

Equal opportunity destroyers, they fear they are running out of material with which to bash the Lubavitcher Rubashkins, and are therefore taking aim at the Satmar Alle Packing Company.

And they don’t just write against shechitah. They have other pet topics as well. Take yeshivos, for example. They never tire of proclaiming that our yeshivos are dirty, sloppy and intellectually-lacking, and foster no interest in history, community or architecture.

A recent article against the Waterbury Yeshiva in the local Connecticut paper reports: “Leaders of the Hillside Neighborhood Association say the sect has failed to bring enough Jewish families into the neighborhood, has allowed its properties to deteriorate and has failed to maintain the once-grand Benedict-Miller house…Empty buildings owned by the yeshiva pepper the neighborhood. Several are falling into disrepair.”

According to the article, religious Jews are “a sect,” an offshoot branch of Judaism marked by a goofy and unkempt appearance. Yet with all this, they still complain that there aren’t enough of us in their midst! Though the paper, the Republican American, in its September 7th article about the 300-student educational institution, tries to cast the yeshiva as a bunch of weirdoes running a decrepit school, it does quote Waterbury’s mayor as saying that, “We feel comfortable that the yeshiva has held their end of the bargain.”

And so it goes in the world of the objective media.

The same unions which turned countless American factory communities into ghost towns now seek to do to shechitah what they did to the auto manufacturers and knitting mills that used to dot this country.

On Labor Day, the New York Times published a long article on the latest major union battle taking place in New York City. It pertained to no more than 20 workers for a certain company in Brooklyn. Guess which company that was? Agriprocessors. That is the level to which they stoop to vilify religious Jews and our way of life.

Examples abound of the attempts to minimize our accomplishments and cause our neighbors and those less observant to scorn us and to deride our accomplishments in this country.

I received an op-ed called “The Three Most Important American Jews.” It piqued my interest. I thought that if it was sent to the Yated, perhaps it contained a message for me. The author was kind enough to write that the article appeared in last Thursday’s Jerusalem Post, but he was making it available to other newspapers.

To commemorate the 354th anniversary of the arrival of the first boatload of Jews to America, the author “surveyed several dozen leading American Jewish historians about who they think would qualify as the three most important figures in American Jewish history.” 

Your answer would likely include Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l, the Satmar Rebbe zt”l, Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz zt”l, or some other men of similar caliber. According to this survey, however, you would be wrong.

The winners are:
1. Louis Brandeis. “He was the first Jew appointed to the Supreme Court, the personification of the American-Jewish synthesis.”
2. Mordecai Kaplan. “The key figure in the Americanization of Judaism.
Kaplan’s idea [was] that Judaism is an ‘evolving religious civilization.’ Reform Judaism adopted Kaplan’s saying that halacha should have ‘a vote but not a veto.’”
3. Isaac Mayer Wise. “Put Reform Judaism on the map in the United States. He was one of the earliest American rabbis to push for family pews in the synagogue, a mixed choir, and counting women in the minyan. He wrote a new prayer book entitled Minhag America, with the goal of uniting all American congregations.”

So there you have it. What is the purpose of such articles if not to enshrine those who severed their connection with Torah-true Judaism in the rush to the melting pot? By implication, the article denigrates the accomplishments of Jews who have remained loyal to their traditions and built communities and infrastructure to maintain authentic Jewish life in the face of so many obstacles and roadblocks.

Mainstream media ignores us as if we don’t exist until they find an opportunity to mock us.

But we need not grow despondent. We need to remember the root of it all and why it is happening. We need to recognize the insidious wiles of Amaleik and know that Hashem will rescue us from them if we remain loyal to his commandments.

We need to greet everyone who we meet with kindness and civility. We must display proper patriotic symbols and behave honestly in all our financial interactions. That way, when our neighbors read scandalous charges about us in their local papers and hear ludicrous allegations on the local news, they will know that these charges that tar all Jews with the same brush are far from the truth. They will say, “Well, I have a religious Jewish friend and he’s dignified, upstanding, scrupulous and cordial. These accusations can’t be true.”

This is why the pesukim are there in the Torah for all time. For even when we are not able to identify precisely who Amaleik is, we are to be on the lookout for those who follow in his ways, seeking to badmouth and undermine us. We are to remain undaunted and counter their base tactics with dignity and refined conduct befitting bnei Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov.


14 Comments

  1. zalmy says:

    thank you, rabbi lipschutz, for bringing a much needed torah perspective to these matters!

  2. zamilenger says:

    Rabbi, excellent!

    But while you’re at it, what about the O.U.’s lynching of Agri/Rubashkin alongside those “Amaleikim” ?

  3. Yosef Blau says:

    Rashi, in this week’s parsha, points out that Jews having dishonest weights and measures leads to Amalek attacking us.

  4. Lakewood2000 says:

    A beautiful article. Kudos to R’ Lipschitz for expressing the thoughts of so many so eloquently. Yasher Koach.

  5. Mottel1 says:

    Rabbi Lipshutz’s commentary is a solid backdrop to those who let the liberal media and their fellow travelers influence our outlook on the Agriprocessors situation. PETA, like the Nazis before them, never found a shechita it did like. Similarly, the New York Times, makes editorial use of regular news columns by placement as well as headline type as well as size of article. Their bias against Yiddishkeit is legend. The union has followed in the tradition of unions before them, use every tool, including lies and deceit, to accomplish their goal (Agriproccesors is a non-union shop). Sadly, the “OU” has gotten involved in a situation it shouldn’t have…but there is a story here. The fact is that outside of New York City…MOST “OU” congregations are CONSERVADOX. The “OU” leadership has been pressured to ALSO have “ETHICAL KASHRUS”.

  6. jent1150 says:

    YES,CANTORS UNIVERSITY..WONT INSULT THE WORD YESHIVAH..

  7. Lawman says:

    I have read the op-ed piece (“In Every Generation”) posted on today’s (9/11/08) The Yeshiva World website, by the esteemed and always erudite Rav Pinchos Lipschutz and find myself in wholehearted agreement with most of the points he makes.
    Certainly, Amalek of Biblical times, and descendants of that cursed nation today, find ways that are new, imaginative, and wicked to bring us, the Jewish people, down. Yes, the New York Times and other media secular and, unfortunately, “Jewish” alike have made it open season on the Agriprocessor/Rubashkin company and the Rubashkin family, as well as kashrus, shechita, and practices related to both.

    I, too, agree that the frum community must rally around the Rubashkin family and demand that they be treated fairly, equally, and in accordance with the laws of this country.

    But, we, the frum community, must also warn the Rubashkins that if they are guilty as charged in the current charges being brought against them; that if they know – and they do – that the smoke surrounding this witch hunt stems from a fire they did not merely negligently overlook but actually helped stoke; then they need to come clean and not allow kashrus and other kashrus institutions to be dragged along with them.

    I have no idea what the truth is. Neither does R’ Lipschutz. Only the Rubashkins do. We need to protect them but they have a reciprocal duty to protect us as well.

  8. yosse says:

    it is very good that you like to listen to rabbi lipschutz, but stop and think , he has his own agenda.
    this is the same rabbi lipschuts who in his own newspaper will show pictures of Rabbis who fight all day amongst themselves and the bes din after many years still can’t decide who is right in this fight.
    yet rabbi lipschutz feels to sell newspapers we will put pictures of these rabbis showing them honour yet they have such bad behavour.

  9. brooklynbubby says:

    I appreciate the comments of Rabbi Lipschutz. his allusion to YU is not necessarily on mark, tho. Yeshiva University has a number of schools, such as the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Cardozo Law School, etc. l’havdil, RIETS (the Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary) is a separate school from the college & from the grad schools. If one menuval is on the faculty of another school at YU, is Rabbi Lipschutz insinuating that the rabbonim at the yeshiva (another school) must quit their positions in protest? Will this one instructor have any influence at all on their twenty-plus year-old students?

    Where is Rabbi Lipschutz on all the child molestations that have been borne out in the yeshivos? those victims are not 20 years old. they may be 5, or 9, or 12 years old. they may be your son or grandson r’l. many of these precious neshamos/karbanos are scarred for life. some have r’l committed suicide. a number of them have gone off the derech. the only way Mondrowitz was sentenced was thru the testimony of his Italian victims & their parents. how about Rabbi L. making a strong statement, at least something like “The evidence may not be conclusive, but if it is, I believe the purpetrators must be brought to justice.”

  10. proudjew says:

    Jews are always right, everyone else is wrong. That makes sense.

  11. WolfishMusings says:

    Amaleik appears in so many different guises. When a Jewish university maintains on its payroll a person who openly lives an immoral lifestyle and the institution’s president tells the New York Post that he is “proud of my university and all my faculty,” is that not an expression of “asher karchah”? Such a person is conferring legitimacy on behavior the Torah considers abhorrent.

    For heaven’s sake, maintaining someone on your payroll and stating that you are proud of them (in terms of their professional conduct) is not an endorsement of everything that they do.

    My high school, an extremely frum right-wing yeshiva, had Christians who taught us history, math and science. If you asked the principal, I’m sure he would have said that he was proud of the way his staff teaches. And yet, they maintained an idolatrous lifestyle. Or is my high school also in the geder of Amalek for conferring legitimacy on behavior that the Torah calls idolatrous?

    The Wolf

  12. JeremyJolley says:

    We don’t need Amalek to humiliate and vilify us in the court of public opinion when we keep doing it to ourselves. While there is plenty of anti-semitism in the media, I doubt that much of the accusations against Agriprocessors is without merit. The Rubashkins have done this to themselves. Even worse is people who blindly support these criminals. Instead of defending them, we should be criticizing them and calling this what it really is- a chilul Hashem.

    No wonder historians believe that the most influential American Jews are Reform leaders. If the behavior of the Rubashkins and the opinion of this article is an example of orthodox beliefs, I would not be too proud of it.

    So who needs Amalek? We’re doing just fine embarrassing ourselves!

  13. are you kidding says:

    who is he kidding

    did he do any research before he wrote this article. This is not an attack on shcita the people who exposed rubashkin for animal cruelty where frum Jews, working with PETA. The same person who condemned rubashkin Shcita methods, praised many other Jewish Kosher slaughterhouses for their human methods.

    Plus Rubashkin’s has a legacy of and a few conviction of cheating workers in his others business not to mention bank fraud and sitting in twviza (jail)for 19 months. And being fined 600,000 for environmental issues.

    There is a time when to raise the flag of antisemitism, but one is not. It is simple the government saying enough with this corrupted company.

  14. proudjew says:

    The argument that this is the Unions is riddiculous. The company is facing closure, of what financial advantage is it to the union to have the plant close? Its to admit the Rubashkin family has made poor business decisions and will need to suffer the consequences

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