The following article by Rabbi Yosef Shubert appears in this week’s American Yated Ne’eman:
I was bowled over by what was written in an Orthodox Jewish publication and cannot help but express some words of protest. I’d prefer to stick to general issues of Torah, hashkafa and other topics, but I have no choice but to make my voice heard in standing up for kavod haTorah.
In an editorial titled “Is This Really A Smart Move?” a Five Towns publication, with dripping sarcasm and sheer disrespect, disgraces the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok and Toldos Aharon Rebbes, making generalizations about them and their chassidim.
Whether one is a chossid is irrelevant when one reads words of revulsion about a chassidic leader – in an Orthodox newspaper no less.
People bought into the contemptuous offensive crusade without bothering to be confounded by the fact that both of the rabbeim are peaceful men, themselves targeted by the very radicals the instigator paired them with in his ravaging onslaught.
I quote a number of excerpts from the editorial:
“The smart money says criticism of this weekend’s visit to Lawrence by an anti-Zionist chassidic rebbe from Jerusalem aligned with the Neturei Karta will be dismissed by some as the work of troublemaking bloggers (or perhaps of a muckraking newspaper that’s too modern for its own good).
“What chutzpah! defenders of the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe will fume. Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Kohn is an adom gadol – a great man – a tzaddik, a talmid chachom, and a paragon of Yiras Shamayim and gemilas chasodim, too.
“Very likely, that’s all true.
“It is, however, not at all the point.
“The Rebbe’s followers – at least a good number of them – are thugs and criminals who created an unprecedented desecration of G-d’s name with their violent street protests in Jerusalem.”
“A good number of them… Thugs and criminals…”
How many? Based on whose evidence?
Does the writer of the article even know? Or is this just conjecture?
The editorial, which basically paints the groups of Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok and Toldos Aharon Rebbes as hooligans and goons, brings not one source.
The article continues:
“In a few short weeks they managed to undo and turn around – v’nahafoch hu – a general perception of observant Jews as peaceful and genteel. In some cases they even altered our own self-perception; more than a few frum Jews this summer reported feeling discomfort at being seen as kin to the Orthodox hooligans in the news.
“Yet, this weekend, in a display of shocking naïveté, the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe is to be feted and honored – and funded – at Cong. Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, even as the Rebbe’s brother, the even more extreme Toldos Aharon Rebbe, is making his own appearances in the New York area.
“Make no mistake: there are female members of nearly every shul in this region who would run the real risk of being physically attacked, were they to walk in their everyday street clothes through neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh these rebbes control.
“While well-meaning people in the Five Towns are proffering respect and kavod haTorah to someone who looks very different from them but ostensibly observes the same Torah, ask yourself if the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok or the Toldos Aharon communities would be terribly likely to extend the same courtesy in the reverse? Same tefillin, same mikvah, same Shabbos, same kosher. But not to them. Does that make us forgiving or foolish?”
The article goes on to make a point about reserving tzedakah dollars for those in need in one’s own communities, but even if that argument has some merit, I was so appalled by the total bizayon haTorah demonstrated by the tone and content of this shameful editorial that I couldn’t digest anymore.
I was also confused: Was the message of the editorial that “the Rebbe’s followers are thugs” or that “charity begins at home”? If the message was the latter, why the utter disrespect for the Rebbe?
And exactly what research did the author conduct before spewing words of slander about these chassidic leaders? How many of the chassidim had he spoken to? Any? Or does he merely rely on hearsay and what he’s read or seen on blogs?
I’m afraid I know the answer.
The answer, in short, is that those who despise Torah and Torah leaders allow the truth to emerge on occasion. They may masquerade as supporters of the Torah community, but from time to time, their true feelings come to the fore, as they did in this case. The rabbeim of Toldos Aharon and Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok were meekly vilified by heirs to the maskilim, who never miss an opportunity to mock ehrliche Yidden and their leaders. Without permitting facts to interfere with allegations, they wave spurious charges, paint caricatures, and feed a pedestrian desire to depress love for fellow Jews.
The truth is that the quotes above need know no response or refutation. The words themselves are so saturated with hate that the intent is clear. Any straight-thinking individual can easily identify what the motive of the writer is.
Has the writer ever been to the home of Toldos Aharon and Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok chassidim?
Well, I have. I have eaten in their homes and conversed with them countless times.
I used to think that such language and tone were reserved for blogs which are devoted to anti-chareidi, anti-frum hate speech, 24/7, or have no moderation to speak of. I guess I was wrong. That a supposedly frum newspaper could actually publish such an editorial is beyond the pale.
This newspaper claims that it “is distinguished from its competitors by its commitment to the highest standards of accuracy, integrity and ethics in its journalistic pursuits. By offering unbiased coverage and thorough treatment of sensitive and critical issues, the paper acts as an impetus to effect positive change,” it states.
Ethics? Integrity? Accuracy? Unbiased?
Perhaps the newspaper should rewrite its charter to truly reflect the nature of the publication and dispense with the “positive change” that it claims to be effecting.