The Sounds of Silence
A reader brought to my attention an article on Ynet penned by one Tzipora Gutman entitled “We Haredim Should Stand For Israel’s Fallen Soldiers.” Ms. Gutman, described in the tag line as “the director of the Adi Center in Bnei Brak and an activist in the haredi community,” describes a minor epiphany at which she understood the pain of those who see others failing to observe the moment of silence for the korbanos of Tzahal. She understands full well that many in the haredi world object to the importing of what they see as a distinctly non-Jewish form of observance, since the “moment of silence” idea does not appear to be sourced in anything Jewish. The law – at least Jewish law – therefore does not have anything positive to say about this new ritual. Still, she argues, haredim ought to go along with the practice (as most reportedly do!), because we are encouraged not to make the legal bottom line our standard, but to go lifnim mi-shuras ha-din / beyond the letter of the law.
I respectfully disagree. I don’t see why such participation should be considered beyond the letter of the law. To me (in my present sleep-deprived state, having just returned from a road trip) it seems likely that it is exactly what the law demands – even for those who find the borrowing of a non-Jewish ceremony objectionable.
R. Yosi (Shabbos 118B) prided himself on being agreeable to the requests of other people, even when ill-founded. “I know that I am not a kohen. Yet, if my friends would ask me to ascend the duchan, I would do so.” R. Yosi urges that we try to be as agreeable as possible to the requests of others. A non-kohen standing silently among the kohanim makes less intrinsic sense than observing the moment of silence that is so meaningful to so many in Israel, and requested by them. (The non-kohen’s presence is somewhere on the order of “fighting a war without the French is like going deerhunting without an accordion.”) Why should that not be reason enough?
What am I missing – besides sleep?