(By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com)
The murders of eleven Jewish people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was a horrific event. All moral people join together in condemning this hateful act. All of us, orthodox and non-orthodox alike, and good gentiles everywhere join in the pain of this tragedy.
The eleven people who were murdered died al kiddush Hashem. They died because they were Jewish.
Unfortunately, there are times when misguided people, even great people, say things that are fundamentally erroneous and inflammatory. This week, one such person, a Rabbi from Great Neck, released a video that went viral immediately.
On that video, the Rabbi stated that the reason why the mass murder had happened was on account of a bris milah that was taking place in that synagogue – a bris milah of the adopted child of two men.
The Rabbi billed the video as his, “State of the Union Address.” Unless this author misunderstood him, he also began to lay claim that he had a bit of “Ruach haKodesh.” Finally, he pointed to the notion of his doctrinal infallibility by the fact that lehavdil, Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita and ybc”l Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman had both walked him to the door.
No one is disagreeing with the fact that proper Shabbos observance is a fundamental of Judaism and that maintaining the sacred nature of marriage and its definition is vital.
SO MUCH WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE
There is so much that is wrong with this picture that it is difficult to know where to start and one is at a loss for words. Nonetheless, the video is so disturbing that one must speak up.
- There is no question that those who perished died because they were Jews. They were eleven precious lives – Kedoshim (See Teshuvas Maharil #99 who calls the kedoshei elyon and writes that one can stand bemechitzasam). They were Hitler yimach shmo’s latest victims. To speak ill of them is horrifying. How dare this Rabbi blame holocaust victims?
- What about the responding police officers? They were heroes who risked life and limb to protect others. Were they too punished because of some “marriage” that occurred years ago? These brave men who engaged the evil neo-Nazi lowlife in gunfire are to be saluted. How dare he vilify them?
- Where is the empathy? Where is the emulating of G-d – the passage in tractate Shabbos – Mah hu rachum af atta rachum – just as He is Merciful, so too must you be merciful? It is all so very absent in this video. Where is the feeling of the pain of the innocent? Where is the sharing of the suffering, of children and grandchildren, and of friends of the victims in this Rabbi’s speech? Where are the tears? Our sages tell us that the Shechina cries when He beholds the tzaar of His nation. And yet there is nothing.
- A Bris Milah has nothing to do with who is bringing the child to receive a bris. We do not condone behavior that is forbidden by the Torah, but when someone wishes to bring a child for a Bris Milah – he or she is to be encouraged. This is no Mitzvah habaa b’Aveira in such a case (See Minchas Chinuch on why “lecha” is needed to disqualify a stolen Sukkah). The Bris Milah is a separate event from anything else.
- Where is the v’ahavta larayacha kamocha – the loving of our fellow man like ourselves? The Chazon Ish zatzal – held that most of the non-observant world are to be considered like a tinok shenishba – a child who was kidnapped and not raised with and thus not privy to the beauties of Torah true Judaism. These Jews are no different. It is wrong to suppress the natural inclinations of our chailek elokah mimaal – of our Divine Portion from Above to empathize with our brethren. In doing this, we are destroying our neshama – our soul, minimizing our schar in Olam Habah, and negating the very important Mitzvah of VeAhavta lerayacha Kamocha.
- It is somewhat presumptuous to give a State of the Union Address – when one is not particularly in charge of any union.
- Great Gedolim have walked many people to the door. It does not give a person a blanket heter of Halachic authority. There were people who fed Klal Yisroel tens of thousands of pounds of treif meat that received a similar honor.
- Ruach haKodesh? Really? Moshe Rabbeinu was chosen to lead Klal Yisroel because of his humility. The Midrash tells us that Har Sinai itself was chosen because it was the smallest mountain in the range.
This is a national tragedy and a tragedy to the entire Jewish people. It can also, Heaven forbid, engender copycat acts. Let’s not forget how school shootings began rachmana litzlan. For several decades there were none. Then there was one. Now, unfortunately, there are many.
No, dear Rabbi. We should empathize.
Deracheha Darchei No’am. The way of Torah is that of pleasantness. The latter part of the verse goes further. It states vechol nesivoseha shalom and all her ways are ways of peace. The video is most inflammatory. The Rabbi should issue an apology.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, the Rov of Aish Kodesh in Woodmere also made a serious Mach’ah about this Rabbi. The audio of his incredible words follow:
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