Bracing For the Battle
Let it be a matter of record. Responsible leadership took steps to prevent violence and chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s Name) associated with the protests of Thursday’s scheduled Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. Degel HaTorah told yeshiva students not to take part in the protests. Their contribution should be through prayer and Torah study in the beis medrash. One can only wish that this attitude were adopted by all sectors of the community.
If the Supreme Court does not intervene on Wednesday, the eyes of much of the world will be riveted on the city holy to three monotheistic faiths. The organizers of the parade have long made it clear why they want a parade specifically in Jerusalem. Their march is a declaration that they have triumphed over the old strictures and an archaic morality. The values of personal autonomy and choice, the celebration of alternative sexualities and alternative lifestyles have supplanted outmoded thinking based on myth and superstition. This can be countered only by reminding the world of the dignity and humanity of the world of religion, not by a show of force. The antidote to the preachers of a new morality is to bolster the old. The voice of tradition must be associated with people who are seen as deeper, wiser, and more attractive role models than their competitors.
A display of unfettered anger and violence by religious protesters will make the day of those who hope to insinuate their agenda into the minds of the masses. They wish to convince the world that only small-mindedness and myopia stand in the way of their happiness. Visuals of hordes of over-dressed bearded folks torching garbage dumpsters and smashing street lights will be an added gift to their efforts. A contrasting scene that could do much good would remind people around the globe that the world of religion shares values that not only are foundational to our civilization, but can be used as forces of peace and moderation. In it, Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders would march together, with thousands of peaceful followers in tow, suspending for a few hours the hostilities that divide them, and holding aloft banners affirming that some truths are eternal, and that G-d knows what He is doing.
It is not hard to understand the feelings and anger of those who are preparing to witness a direct assault on the holiness of Jerusalem. We Jews, however, are supposed to be a people committed to following our minds rather than our hearts when the two clash in irreconcilable differences.
All of Israel crowns the head as king over them, meaning they elevate the power of Reason (which discerns His existence in absolute Oneness) over all that is merely sensed and felt…This they merited from the time they descended into the Sea, and were prepared to sacrifice their lives to uphold their belief in Him…Through the episode at the Sea, they ruled over all their emotions and feelings. (Meshech Chochmah, Parshas Bo)
The stakes here are not limited to the pollution of the spirit of Jerusalem for a few hours, but the way millions of people regard the relevance of religion to teach matters of morality.
The stakes are too high to allow the heart to prevail over the mind.