Ever 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)