The Roars of Crowds

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12 Responses

  1. another Nathan says:

    I’ve been parts of those big crowds, at sports victory celebrations, political demonstrations, even rock concerts. There is a certain ‘mob mentality,’ a feeling of euphoria, even of righteousness, that your crowd has ‘right’ on its side. So whatever you do as part of the crowd is correct, whether rooting for your team, dancing to the music, or physically assaulting those you don’t like (I didn’t do that part). “Hooray for the team” can turn to “Freedom for Palestine,” and then “kill the Jews.”
    When someone told me of the euphoria they felt in a big shul on Yom Kippur singing along with the congregation, I wondered whether it was simply mob euphoria. The joy at a Daf Yomi siyum (and hopefully in shul) is different from mob euphoria though, because your celebrating your relation to the One above you, rather than your connection to the thousands around you.

  2. Lisme says:

    Reminds me of the Rashi on the pasuk where Moshe tells Yehoshua, “ein kol anos gevurah v’ein kol anos chalusha kol anos anochi shomea.” Moshe rebuked Yehoshua for not knowing the nation well enough to judge its mood merely from the sound of their camp at a distance.The Torah recognizes that judging the nature of the noise a mob of people makes is a skill, and an important one. It’s hard to distinguish between different intents.

  3. Leah says:

    How absolutely beautiful it must have been to be present during the recitation of that shema. To know that so many thousands of yidden were reciting this declaration of faith must have been amazing.
    I can only imagine shemayim standing still for that moment to take in the auditory pleasure…….

  4. Dovid says:

    Another nice piece by Rabbi Shafran. But I’ve always found myself feeling uncomfortable and uneasy every time the Siyum HaShas rolls around. Most people in my circles (YU yeshivishe type) attend the event, and my friends in yeshiva were usually surprised that I had no interest in participating. I think the event strikes me as a bit triumphalist. We have a lot to be proud of, but this doesn’t mean we should have an enormous gathering to announce in such a public way that “Hey, look how great we are.” I believe there are still too many things wrong with Klal Yisrael – including among our own communities, in the frum world – that need to be properly addressed before we can fill stadiums to celebrate ourselves. It’s great that so many people learn Gemara every day, but by no means is Am Yisrael near where we want to be.

    Yankee fans celebrate their team only after it wins the World Series. I’m not sure if we can say that the Torah world has won the “World Series” just yet. We’ve done a great job rebuilding our “team,” but we still have a ways to go before we deserve our own “parade.”

  5. Naftali says:

    Dear Moderators,

    May I suggest these as future topics for Cross Currents:

    How can we reduce discrimination against Baalei Teshuvah
    and their children? When will great Rabbis speak against this?

    How can we reduce discrimination and false negative
    stereotypes against Sephardic Jews>

    Sincerely,
    Naftali

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Religious Jews need appropriately staged big events from time to time to edify us and boost our morale, however imperfect we may still be. Since we are going to triumph, and say so daily (read the prayers!), a little triumphalism is OK by me.

  7. Leah says:

    comment for Dovid:
    Do you think/feel that the Siyum HaShas event is “publically” saying to non-jews “look what we did”, or is the event saying this to the jews? I see it as an excellent thing whether we have come along or to a high place of spiritual acheivment. I definately think it is good especially because it reinforces other jews around that we are positive, that torah is alive and that in spite of our difficulties-yes, even in our own am, we can do something positive. I also do not think it’s an overbearing public hype either.
    I think these positive points outweigh the negative. What do you think?

  8. Jewish Observer says:

    “How can we reduce discrimination against Baalei Teshuvah and their children? When will great Rabbis speak against this?”

    – If anything, I have seen reverse discrimination in this regard. You out to try out my town.

  9. Yossie Abramson says:

    I would also like to add a topic:
    How to reduce discrimination against those who share an opinion different than the mainstream?

  10. Naftali says:

    Jewish Observer: Where is your town?

  11. S. says:

    >When the mass of people at “the Garden” that day recited the evening service, the sound of the first verse of Shma – the Jewish credo declaring G-d’s relationship to the Jewish people and proclaiming His unity – was recited by all present in unison. The sound of tens of thousands of people proclaiming those truths with all of their hearts and souls seemed to shake time and space themselves. But it didn’t spook me. It carried me high on its swell.

    Of course it didn’t spook you. A million Yankees fans wouldn’t have spooked you if you were one of them either. But I bet 20,000 Jews in black loudly proclaiming Shema Yisrael is spooky to plenty of people who cannot sit in such an assembly comfortably.

  12. Albie says:

    Yo, S.!

    I don’t think that the “plenty of people” you imagine would fear fights breaking out. And if they did, they would soon realize that the fear was unfounded.

    The fights in the Yankee crowd were among Yankee fans.

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