A colleague expressed displeasure with my citing a story about a call to violence by a rabbinic figure. He argued that, at least in America, he has never come across an instance of a legitimate rov calling for violence, and that I should have investigated the story further before publishing it.

He turned out to be correct. Checking with people who were there, it turns out that he did not urge people to burn down the store. He was agitated by what he saw as he approached the nearby shiur, and expressed that concern. He than added that he didn’t know if it was worthwhile going to jail for burning it down. It was also understood by people in the audience that he was expressing his pain, not a real doubt about a possible course of action.

Unlike abuse (and its cover-up), we can perhaps still lay claim to a rabbinate that is violence-free.

You may also like...

7 Responses

  1. L.Oberstein says:

    Yeah.Sure. After Rabin was assasinated by an orthodox student who believed that his rabbis had desired it, there was a rush to re-frame incendiary comments also. Ethics of the Fathers long ago stated “Wise men, be careful of your words”. Rabbi Adlerstein’s comments are on the mark,whether or not this one particular rabbi meant what he said as a call to action. If a wise man of the stature of Rabbi Hershel Shachter can get in trouble for saying something similar about a different set of circumstances, then why let this minor figure off the hook. Is he really greater than Rabbi Shachter? Maybe he is just irresponsible and should think before he talks. Don’t let these people off so lightly.

  2. Gil says:

    I still think that was this rabbi said was EXTREMELY irresponsible. Even mentioning the burning of a store because of its reported lack of tzeni’us is irresponsible because there is always the danger of someone misunderstanding.

  3. Tal Benschar says:

    “After Rabin was assasinated by an orthodox student who believed that his rabbis had desired it”

    This is a blatant falsehood. The assassin stated just the opposite — that he was acting against rabbinic authority, whom he considered too timid.

  4. Raymond says:

    I think the point that Rabbi Adlerstein is making, is not that he agrees with that Rabbi who expressed the sentiment about burning down the store. Rather, Rabbi Adlerstein simply wants to present the case in as accurate a manner as possible.

    Having said that, I am still horrified by that New York Rabbi’s statement, even if it was just an expression of a feeling rather than a direct order. Because he sees unclothed female mannequins in a store, he would like it to be burned down? We are back to the discussion from before, of the value of force in religious Jewish life. If we as a community use force as a way of making people religious, then of what value is that religious life?

    I confess that I do not go to the synagogue every Sabbath, for a variety of reasons not relevant here. But if some religious people would get together, and force me at gunpoint to go to the synagogue, would I be considered suddenly so spiritual if I would then go to the synagogue?

    Some people say that America has too many freedoms. Not only do I not think that America is free enough, but I vastly prefer its libertarian spirit over the violent, oppressive ways of a Saudi Arabia or an Iran under the Ayatollah. I suspect G-d feels as I do, or He would not have given us freedom of choice.

  5. Miriam says:

    Guys – you missed the content of the retraction. The Rabbi didn’t say “someone might want to burn the store down” as Rav Adlerstein originally thought, but rather “I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s appropriate to burn it down, but it sure is offensive.”

    According to your concerns about inattentive misunderstandings, someone shouldn’t mention the concept of food poisoning lest someone overhear the conversation and associate the idea with a restaurant in the vicinity.

    The retraction said that the content of the remark was inaccurate. You are still addressing your comments to incorrect content in the previous post.

  6. Tzafania D says:

    “he has never come across an instance of a legitimate rov calling for violence”

    What about Rabbi Meir Kahane, Hashem Yikom Damo, whose call to violence against Russian diplomats in the 1970’s paved the way for freeing over 250,000 Jews from the (former) Soviet Union?

  7. Raymond says:

    To respond to what Tzafania just said, obviously there are legitimate uses of force. No moral person would object to the Allied forces fighting the nazis, Israel battling their islamofascist enemies, or Menachem Begin leading his fighting forces into bombing the King David Hotel. These are examples of fighting oppressive, violent murderers. For such people, violence is the only solution, for that is the only thing truly rotten people respond to.

    But that is a far cry from a store displaying immodestly dressed mannequins, or a woman wearing tights that does not show lining. Violence is the method of choice as a last resort, against murderers, while day-to-day religious practice, can only be inculcated through the much gentler means called education. And if one cannot get a person to become more religious through education, then one must move on, and teach somebody else who might be more receptive.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This