Variations on a Theme by Dr. Schick
Without weighing in on the main question posed by Dr. Schick (Oct. 28), I will offer one observation, and pose another question.
Dr Schick’s concern about airing dirty linen in public is – unfortunately – much ado about nothing. The linen is already hanging from the tallest masts.
There are simply no secrets left. The “bird of the sky” that will inevitably “carry the sound” (Koheles 10:20) has sprouted digital wings. In the age of the internet, everything that is ever uttered becomes a matter of public record, and is never forgotten. It would behoove us all to keep in mind that our conduct is being scrutinized not only by the Ribbono Shel Olam, but by lots of human critics, poised to use every misadventure against us. It is ironic that Satmar, which often uses the notion of not “inciting the nations” against us as a central tenet in its anti-Zionism, often does not seem to understand this.
A Sukkos visitor drove the point home when he asked whether I knew that I was featured prominently on some anti-Semitic websites. I actually had known that a few cites quoted some rather innocuous statements I had made in a few papers. Most of them dealt with the general parameters of Jewish Law, but were used by antisemites to “prove” that we were on our way to imposing a Jewish sharia on the good citizens of the USA. He went on to say that these same sites actively monitor both Yated and Hamodia, ferreting out material that is disparaging of non-Jews! The last thing that most readers of these papers expect is that people outside our community – and hostile to it – maintain an avid interest in what we are writing, saying, and thinking. We should be forewarned.
Besides being a world-class talmid chacham, Rabbi Dovid Bleich is one of the most prolific writers of English language halacha on the planet. I asked him a few years ago what he thought about people dealing with rather sensitive and potentially damaging areas of halacha in published form, where the wrong people could seize them to their own advantage. He replied that they might as well be dealt with responsibly, since absolutely nothing was hidden any longer from our critics.
My question is a simple one. I could not help but notice the contrast between the NY Post story on Satmar, and the Baltimore coverage of the passing of Rabbi Naftoli Neuberger, z”l. The media’s examination of the life and contribution of the latter was a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s Name) of the first order. Are people like Rabbi Neuberger sui generis, or are there factors that create one’s propensity towards kiddush Hashem rather than its opposite?