Editorial: Yes, We Are The Am Hanivchar. The Paradoxical Double Standard

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ywe2.jpgEver since I was a young boy in Cheder, my Rebbiem always instilled in me a specific fact. We are the Am Hanivchar. You can walk into any Cheder or Jewish day school and ask any child what happened when Hashem offered the Torah to the other nations. They will tell you that they asked, “Hashem, we would love to accept the Torah, but first can you tell us what’s in the Torah? Hashem responded with a specific commandment and they would say “Oh no, that one is too hard to keep. We can’t accept this.” This repeated itself over and over until Hakadosh Baruch Hu approached us, the Jewish Nation. We automatically accepted and said in unison, “Na’aseh V’nishma”.   At that moment we became the Am Hanvichar-the chosen people. As the chosen people we have an obligation to act as the chosen people, because yes, we are the exalted nation and yes we are after all the nation that embraced Hashem and the Torah as a way of life.

This invariably sets us up for a very paradoxical double standard. We are always looked upon with what may seem a double standard, but I humbly think that it’s how we are supposed to be looked at. I mean, after all we are the “chosen people” and we do have a higher moral standard then the rest of the world.

These past few weeks have been very difficult for Klal Yisroel.  Whether it’s what’s going on in Eretz Yisrael with the mother that is suspected of torturing her child R”L or if it’s with the terrible riots that are going on in Eretz Yisrael due to the parking lots, or with what happened last week , it is indeed a very sad period. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is all going on during the three weeks and that it culminated (hopefully at the start of the nine days.

Reading press reports these past couple weeks, a lot is being made of a double standard that is applied to Frum Yidden. It is precisely this type of double standard that I am writing about. Let’s take the example of the mother in Yerushlayim. While we don’t for sure know what happened behind closed doors, this syndrome that she ALLEGEDLY has does exist within the frum community. We have to be foolish to think that we are immune from these diseases. The result of her arrest has been heavy duty demonstrations taking place in Yerushalayim and a lot of maneuvering behind the scenes on her behalf which we see now are paying off. But if you look at all the secular reports, what do we see? They are only reporting the demonstrations and how the American bochrim are to blame and the crazy chareidim and so on and so forth. It is understandably frustrating and upsetting. While a lot of people would point to this as an example of the double standard that they are only reporting the “riots” and are attempting to portray us in a bad light. I would like to say I agree with you but we deserve it. Before I continue, I would like to contrast this example of “Jewish” riots to other riots worldwide. In Iran as we all know, the reform minded citizens have been protesting the election results. We also know that they have been met with severe resistance from the government to put it lightly. The media has been so sympathetic to the rioters there and so encouraging, it just highlights the double standard. This is not just limited to Iran. I’m sure we can easily think of riots somewhere the media is on the side of the rioters.

Now, back to Yerushalayim. I would like to dispel the double standard. In Yerushalayim, why are they only reporting the riots? Perhaps it’s because we are not expected to have violent riots. Maybe that’s the larger story. The media has put us on a pedestal and are saying, “look at what they are doing”. They are right!!! In Iran nothing is expected, but in our case we are the Am Hanivchar and having violent riots in the streets is not what is expected of us, therefore they are quick to point it out. I am very confident that if we had no demonstrations and only askonim working on her behalf, or if we didn’t demonstrate the parking lots and instead went to the lots and said “Good Shabbos” and invited one of the people we saw parking for a Shabbos meal, that would NOT BE reported because that is what is expected of us!  If it’s right or wrong, that is what people think of us. They look at us to see a moral standard and behavior that is not like the rest of the world.

Last week, with arrest of many people in the Jewish world and politicians alike, the same can be said. The media was quick to point out that it was politicians and Rabbis that were arrested. Much of the TV reports and even the print media were centered around the “Rabbis” involved. Some even said it might have been “Jew Baiting”. It was neither. It was another case of us falling off our pedestal. If it were just politicians, it would not be such a big story because it happens all the time, all the more so in NJ. We all know certain aspects of the governement are very corrupt. The big story was the religious twist that there were Rabbis that were charged with various crimes. Whether they are Rabbis or not is completely irrelevant. Rabbis and the Jewish nation are held in much higher regard than NJ State politicians, or anyone else for that matter, and rightfully so. It should come as no surprise that the morning after the corruption arrests, the front pages of all the area newspapers had a picture of frum Yidden in handcuffs with FBI agents holding their tallis bags, rather than the politicians being led away in cuffs. It is because of this, politicians being arrested for corruption, isn’t front page news anymore, but frum Yidden being arrested is. This is because politicians are expected to be corrupt, frum Yidden aren’t.

Look at the amazing work that the Agudah does on behalf of Klal Yisrael. You will never hear negative reports about them, or the legislative leaders that work for them.  Reb Moshe Sher made sure that the organization is steeped in emes, and made sure not to say one thing and do otherwise. There is never any real positive news in the secular media about them because they do what is expected. We are the Chosen nation, and we have a much higher moral standard than the rest of the people that got arrested. In a way it’s reporters pointing it out to the world to see. Whether what they did was right or wrong, or whether how the F.B.I got the information was kosher or not, at the end of the day, they were caught on tape doing all sorts of things. I say thank you to the media for sending Klal Yisrael a wake up call. If it’s wrong, it is wrong period. Let us not forget: Yes, we are the Am Hanivchar. Let us not abuse it!

I would like to suggest that our response to these allegations should not be to take to the blogs and start calling people Nazis, other Jews none the less.  Or in other cases to try to justify crime by shooting down how it became known. We try to justify violence or “peaceful” demonstration, but we can only wonder how quick it will be for the media to grab those comments and exploit them. This type of response directly affects all Jews in America and abroad. It is well known that philanthropists are weary to give money to Yeshivas when they see places with their names on the building, on TV for fighting with police. Or when Not For Profits in Israel are having the IRS paying extra attention to them and their donors, and making things harder because a few in Israel are under investigation for years.

I would like to conclude with a Vort I heard this week at the Chabad in Teaneck from Rabbi Simon. When the Alter Rebbe was in jail charged with treason for giving money to then, Palastine, the prison guards would always taunt him. They once asked, “when Adam HaRishon was in shamayim, why did Hashem call out “Aiyeka?” (where are you)?” They went on to ask, “Did Hashem really have to ask? Is it possible to hide from Him?” He responded with a beautiful and very powerful  answer.  Hashem was not literally asking “where are you Adam?” The Rebbe explains he was talking all of us, the future doros. Aiyeka Klal Yisrael??!! Where are you my children? I gave everything to you and this is what you do? Where are you? Come back to the right path!! Raboisai, this is, I believe, our moment where Hakadosh Baruch Hu is screaming in pain “AIYEKA!!” If there is a silver lining to all of this, I think it is this: Let us be able to stand together and tell Hashem “WE ARE HERE!!” Yes we strayed, but we are here. If we are able to stand and answer to Hashem that we are right here, then this is all worth it. We should not lose focus, but realize that we are on a higher level and we should be proud and carry ourselves like we are. In that zechus, may we be zoche to dance this year on Tisha B’Av at the Beis Hamikdash with ganz klal Yisrael and we should only know of simcha!

(Dovid Lobl – YWN)




14 COMMENTS

  1. your thought is well taken , however i beg to disagree with you
    you say the following Look at the amazing work that the Agudah does on behalf of Kial Yisrael. You will never hear negative reports about them, or the legislative leaders that work for them. Reb Moshe Sher made sure that the organization is steeped in emes, and made sure not to say one thing and do otherwise. There is never any real positive news in the secular media about them because they do what is expected. We are the Chosen nation, and we have a much higher moral standard than the rest of the people that got arrested. In a way it’s reporters pointing it out to the world to see. Whether what they did was right or wrong, or whether how the F.B.I got the information was kosher or not, at the end of the day, they were caught on tape doing all sorts of things. I say thank you to the media for sending Klal Yisrael a wake up call. If it’s wrong, it is wrong period. Let us not forget: Yes, we are the Am Hanivchar. Let us not abuse it!
    maybe the agudah should look in the mirror and realize that they are not doing enough and that is why they are not in the limelight .
    one knows that in any type of business the more sales you make will give you more chances for more headaches , but you realize the extra headaches come with the larger amount of sales.

    let us give an example as to what the agudah
    should really be doing for parents so that we should not run in to these problems.
    when it comes to the tuition crisis’s out there , what has the agudah done . they have done nothing. in the past i have spoken to rabbi bloom about the tuition problem . he asked me what should we do i answered him that all the yeshivas in the new york city should not open in September and that all the kids should register in the public school system . when all these Jewish kids come to register in the public school system , there will be such an uproar at 110-Livingston street , because they will not know were to put all these new registered kids that the board of education will find a way to give the yeshivas money to help the parents with there tuition problems.
    the answer i was given was as follows , it is embarrassing for the newish people if it comes out that we can’t educate our own kids . in my humble opinion it is a bigger problem that mothers have to go to work not and be there for there kids when they come after school . after a hard days work it is very difficult to be a parent.
    i have spoken to politicians about this problem and they have told me off the record , register all the kids in the public school system and you will see the money come forth.
    i purposely left out who i spoke to in the agudah office and which politician i have spoken to concerning this important matter.

  2. #2 I understand that you feel that may be the right thing to do but the fact that Aguda disagrees with you does not mean they aren’t doing enough. If the reply would of been they aren’t interested in solving the tution crisis you’d have a point, but that wasn’t their issue but rather they disagree with your solution.

  3. #3, why is Satan a “yemach shemo”? The satan is a malach of Hashem and does nothing outside of Hashem’s will. It’s a difficult situation we’re in, and even if the satan is behind it, I fail to see why his name deserves a “yemach shemo.”

  4. #4 the bottom line is nothing is being done by the agudah concerning this problom . it is very easy to diagree , however they still don’t have a better solution to this problom. please remember wives and the mother belong in the house , not outside the house .

  5. Double standard? Frum Jews have set for themselves a higher standard. When any of us say that other Jews are not religious enough, when they have lax kashrut standards, when we are more careful about following the Torah, we have set a higher standard or ourselves. When we fall from the higher standard we set for ourselves, we have further to go. So, when a yeshiva student tried to drive over an attendant collecting money in a parking garage, when a frum woman is caught on camera removing a feeding tube, when religious leaders are charged with criminal acts we should not say they did no wrong. We can’t say they did something, not for themselves, but for a higher good, we should remember thata sukkah made with stolen skach is not kosher. Simply by being frum they have said that they adhere to a higher standard.

  6. “when a frum woman is caught on camera removing a feeding tube…”

    Why are charedim always guilty unless proven innocent? WHY? Where is הוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות? Does it only apply to Hadassah?

  7. You guys are disgusting for writing
    An article against our own people
    Its not enough that the new york post
    And other newspaper are saying lies
    About the stories we need are own people
    To talk about ourselves .I thought this was a religious
    Website now we realized that you
    Are the same as as everybody else .

  8. I haven’t read the comments but the article was beautiful and very time-appropriate. the ending was especially inspirating. thank you!

  9. This article is childish
    First – the author claims a double standard – but brings no proof at all -just his whining. Well known people get scrutinized more -not only rabbanim, but celebrities, politicans etc.
    Second – In Iran they protested PEACFULLY agaisnt a totalitarian regime -you compare that with Jewish criminals who cause >1,000,000 shekel in damage and destruction of public property ! These are criminals who should go to jail and they are a busha for us all. Anyone who thinks its proper to ‘protest’ things by burning tires, or by attacking policemen is seriously perverse

  10. I too believe the Agudah is failing Klal yisroel. They claim to represent the Frum perspective in Chinuch yet sit and DO NOTHING while schools are collapsing and Rebbeim and Mechanchim are not being paid.

    They have been pushing for years their school vouchers…WHAT A JOKE! It hasn’t happened, won’t EVER happen under Obama’s administration and has failed miserably in just about every city they have tried to get it passed.

    This is a problem they have been warned about and they have done absolutely NOTHING to help out Klal Yisroel. Their lack of Leadership has been shameful. By the way this is not the fault of the Roshei Yeshivos. They, for the most part, are not to blame. Issues are presented to them in such a manner that their response is usually a foregone conclusion. The administrative staff of the Agudah is failing Klal Yisroel and will have much to answer for as children and parents continue to suffer.

  11. Our problem seems to stem from the fact that some “frum” Jews think that bein adam l’Makom is what counts and bein adam l’chavairo is less important. Much of that is becaus of the world we live in, but much is a lack in the chinuch both at home and in school. When I was in Yeshiva of Brooklyn, a million years ago, Rabbi Manus Mendel zt”l would often lecture the girls on how to behave in public. We were tought how a Jew should act. I don’t think you find this anymore.

    While not a fan of Aguda, I will say in their defence that a lot of what they do they WANT to keep out of the lime light.

    #6, Yosse, by saying that wives and mothers belong in the house are you trying to bring down the kollel system? Kollel cannot exsist if the woman are at home.