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Friday, August 24, 2007


Respecting our Sages and Their Teachings

We live in a world of amazing technology, computers, television, fax machines, Internet etc. – something our fathers could only dream of. Yes, technology can be used for the good, and much can be accomplished. The Chabad.org and Torah.org websites are fine examples of a tremendous dissemination of Torah that can be done on the Internet. So are some of the Jewish blogs, like that of my good friend, A Simple Jew.

But the blogosphere, which is subject to absolutely no control, can also be a tremendous source of harm. One does not have to look very far to find so-called “jewish*” blogs that denigrate Hashem, His Torah and His Sages. And unfortunately, some of these “jewish” bloggers have contributed to this, while getting much of their information from secular, anti-religious websites.

[*As an observant Jew, I am aware that this word is normally capitalized. I use the lower case, here and below, to emphasize that what is sometimes called “jewish” is not really so Jewish.]

Most, if not all of us, are familiar with the Halachos of Lashon Hara, how one’s speech can cause harm to others, and even if the truth is spoken, it may be prohibited by the Torah. But for a brief review of the seriousness of the matter, I bring the following, from Judaism 101:

The Harm Done by Speech
The harm done by speech is even worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially: money lost can be repaid, but the harm done by speech can never be repaired. For this reason, some sources indicate that there is no forgiveness for lashon hara (disparaging speech). This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates the seriousness of improper speech. A Chassidic tale vividly illustrates the danger of improper speech: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."


A few short weeks ago, the leading Chareidi Rabbis here in Eretz Yisrael issued a “kol koreh,” a proclamation, stating that one should not attend public music concerts if men and women are present in the audience. Among those who signed were the Gerer Rebbe, the Belzer Rebbe, Rav Elyashiv and Rav Shteinman. Admittedly, at first glance, this was an extreme declaration. But instead of trying to understand what our great Sages were aiming at, several “jewish bloggers” went into a tirade how these Chareidi Rabbanim are the next “Taliban,” are “completely out of control”, and other such extreme Lashon Hara that I dare not repeat here.

When I commented on one of these blogs, and tried to present other points of view, the blogger accused me of “hijacking” his posts, and my comments were summarily deleted. Now if I were some kind of computer hacker who could break into blogs, edit or delete his posts, etc. I would understand why I would be called a “hijacker.” But to present a differing point of view, which readers are free to ignore; or to show a different point of view by means of a link, which readers are free NOT to click, is hijacking?

At present, I am bogged down by a very busy work schedule. I will try to find the time to post an appropriate response on this issue, with my understanding of what the Rabbanim were aiming at, hopefully before the New Year. However, one does not need to look too hard or deep to see what is wrong in the so-called “jewish music” world of today.

Several of the recent posts in the blogosphere attest to this.
Who Took the Jewish out of Jewish Music
Only Ugliness & Impurity
And yes, even some voices in Chabad-Lubavitch are in accord with the Gedolei Yisrael:
The Stench Emanating from Concerts – NOTE: This is in Hebrew, and hasn’t been translated. Here’s a brief translation of the opening sub-header:
“Even without the psak of the Rabbanim, whoever is concerned with the chinuch of his children will do everything to refrain from attending these performances.” Rav David Meir Druckman about the Concerts [Arvei Shira] controversy.

Is it really such a wonder that our Gedolim have found it necessary to put a stop to these concerts?

Recently, some of these “jewish bloggers” who had previously adored him, began to scrutinize the baal teshuva reggae-rap singer Matisyahu. When I tried to point out to one of them that some of the reasons for the Kol Koreh of the Israeli Rabbanim were not so different to what he finds objectionable about Matis, he couldn’t accept it. Okay, this blogger, doesn’t live in Israel, he doesn’t really know what goes on here.

But you cannot just reject some of the greatest Chassidic Rebbes, and leading poskim and Talmidei Chachamim of our time, without first investigating thoroughly. And no, reading Ha’aretz, Ynet, Ma’ariv, The Jerusalem Post and even Arutz-7 over the Internet will NOT give you a full picture of life here. You need many years here to understand. Until then, please do not denigrate our Sages!

If someone doesn't understand what a Gadol says, first of all think if your opinion makes sense according to the Torah. For this you need to be quite knowledgeable. If you still think you're right than ask a Rov to explain the Gadols position so you can understand. You have a right to ask so you can understand, but not to just criticize. For people to come out on the internet or in conversations saying "I know better" is ridiculous, because what credential do these people have? The attitude of them is to bash right away.

However, I don't blame the singers for performing, because supposedly they stood to loose a lot of money if they canceled and their poskim told them to carry on.

But this constant "I know better than every Gadol" attitude is just absolutely ridiculous, besides the outright loshon hora and motzei shem rah. Unfortunately, many “frum” sites have become the greatest meeting places for lashon hora. We’re supposed to be improving in this area not getting worse.
well said :)
I really want to be dan l'kaf zechus. But they forbade Bentzion Shenker, one of the meshorsei Bakodesh of real Jewish music.
Yehupitz, I don't know where you get your info from, but as someone who is close to both R. BZ Shenker & the people who were organizing the concert, I happen to know that your info was wrong.
To the best of my understanding, there was a big mixup amongst the people ordering tickets to that concert, who were asking for tickets to the [later cancelled] MBD concert which was the same week. Because of that, R. Shenker himself asked that the concert be cancelled. An evening of tribute to him, however, was held in a Shul in Bnei Brak, at which the Modzitzer Rebbe Shlita himself made an appearance.
This concert issue is a total mess. Fighting leshem shamaim without proper approach can turn into fighting against good.
in order to treat an illness you must first explore what is causing that illness, only then can you cure it. Just forbidding the patient from going near the symptoms isn't a cure.

Today's Gedolim mean well, but in generations past they understood this basic concept better.
Anon Sun 7:07 pm -- I surely wouldn't want you to be MY doctor! Adreraba, if you leave the symptoms untouched while looking for the "root cause", the patient might die in the interim! And do you really know that the Gedolim are NOT trying to get to the root causes? Perhaps things have gotten so far out of hand that they felt it just had to be stopped! In any cause, who are we to judge them?
And one more point. Most of what is called "jewish music" today pales in comparison to authentic, real Jewish Music that was more prevalent in years past. Let's be fair!
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