Tisha B’Av, Intermarriage & Slippery Slopes
11 b Menahem-Av
Formerly Orthodox Professor Noah Feldman, writing in the New York Times Magazine , “Orthodox Paradox,” July 22 two days before Tisha B’Av, complains that the Jewish Day School he attended (Maimonides of Boston) does not accept with equanimity his marriage to a non-Jew.
R Shmuley Boteah defends his friend, Noah Feldman, in his Jerusalem Post oped “Stop Ostracizing the Intermarried” .(There are 224 talkbacks so far!)
An astute comment was made on Feldman’s NYTimes piece by a friend of ours who is an Orthodox rabbi, a Harvard graduate who lives deep in the haredi city of Bene Brak, is a professor of Greek and Classics at Bar Ilan, teaches daf yomi, and keeps abreast of current issues. Our friend himself is a person who embodies and personifies the ability to live in several worlds that Feldman describes as the goal of his Maimonides’ education. Apropos Tisha B’Av and commenting on Feldman’s piece, he quoted Midrash Rabba on Eicha, Ptichta 22.
At first they used to worship idols in secret places, as it is stated, ‘Then said He to them, hast thou seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark?’ Because they were not restrained by the authorities from doing this, they next practised it upon the rooftoops… Because they were not restrained by the authorities from doing this, they next practised it… in the gardens….upon the moutaintops…. at the cross-roads….… Because they were not restrained by the authorities from doing this, they next practised it in public squares….. To what extreme did this go? Until they intoduced it into the Holy of Holies
The baaley hamidrash knew something about slippery slopes.
Feldman also seems to understand slippery slopes when …. it doesn’t involve himself. Feldman describes (and rightfully condemns) the actions of Dr Baruch Goldstein who massacred Muslims in Hebron Purim 5754 (1994). Feldman writes about Goldstein’s purported (not verified) discrimination againt Arabs before the massacre that “his actions were not met by universal condemnation.” From this I understand that Feldman is not clueless about the phenomenon of a slippery slope. If Feldman’s actions (and I am obviously not comparing Feldman’s actions to Goldstein’s) are not met with condemnation, why shouldn’t every Jew intermarry without having to forfeit standing in the Jewish community?
I have sent the [alumni director] several updates about my life for inclusion in the Mazal tov section of the [Maimonides] newsletter. I sent him news of my marriage [to a non-Jew, SLS]. When our son was born, I asked him to report that happy event. The most recent news was the birth of our daughter this winter. Nothing doing. None of my reports made it into print
The Maimonides School authorities also know something about slippery slopes.