Thursday, December 24, 2009

Crying for Klal

The news in Klal has not been particularly uplifting as of late. No sooner does one scandal appear than another is hot on its tail. Should I be angry? Should I rant and rave at the Chilul Hashem being committed? No, I think instead I will cry. I will let hot tears run freely and hope and pray they will dilute some of the pain I feel.

In Israel, if you ask someone for directions they will tell you "yashar, yashar." Yes Klal, yashar is the direction we all need to follow. So many of the comments elsewhere about the illegal activities of the Spinka Rebbe and of others all begin with "Everyone does this so why pick on these frum Jews." When I was a child and my siblings and I would tell our parents "but everyone is doing this!" our parents would answer "And if they jumped off of a bridge would you jump too?" It's wrong for those people and it's wrong for us too. Two wrongs still don't make a right. The law is the law. If you don't like the law work to have it changed, within legal boundaries.

What is also being offered as commentary is that the money being illegally laundered was being used for a good purpose, was not being used to enrich the Rebbe but for the purpose of supporting the mosdos and community he is the leader of. And this changes things just how? Am I permitted to rob a store if I take the money thus gotten and put it into a tzedaka box?

It would seem that so many people are upset not because an illegal activity took place but because a frum Jew was caught doing something illegal. It's the caught part that bothers them, not the activity itself. And yes, that makes me cry. How is it that our Klal continues to carry with it a European attitude and modus operendi that does not apply here and only brings tzaar to Klal? Why does anyone in Klal still think this way? I refuse to believe that mothers in Klal are telling their children "Thou shalt not steal unless it's from the government."

As to the Tropper scandal, yes, the tears are falling again. Not for Rabbi Tropper but for the rest of us. It is the same mentality that refuses to call him what he has shown he is that also allows the molesters in our community to continue to breathe freely, and that leaves our children and ourselves vulnerable to be preyed upon.

We are not a perfect people but we are told that we must continuously strive for that perfection, we must work every day to make ourselves better than the day before. We are told that we must be "a light unto the nations." Each time another scandal breaks it dims our light a little more. And yes, for that I am crying.

No, I'm not a perfect person, nor do I claim to be. No, I don't like some of the laws that I live under. Yes, as a NY resident, I believe I am being taxed to death. And yes, I also full appreciate the freedom that is allowing me to write this and post it for others to see. When I look at what my options are for getting tax relief I don't head for the illegal side of the ledger; I believe that it is against all the principles of Yiddishkeit that I have ever been taught to do so.

So yes, I am crying this morning, not for R. Tropper and the Spinka Rebbe but about them. Whatever their reasons were for their actions. those reasons are irrelevant. What remains is that they did something wrong. And what remains for us is to look at what they did and to swear to ourselves that we will not follow in their footsteps, that we will hold tight to our mesorah of yashrus.


Allen said...

I suppose crying is as good as any other reaction. Ranting or crying, neither one is going to get those who break the law to change their actions. Shouldn't be that way but we Jews have our share of bad apples just like everyone else. That some of these people had good intentions makes no difference--the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

NonymousG said...

I'm angrier than I'm saddened by these events...

Anonymous said...

If you want to be cheered up, go read the stories on VIN today about people beating up women who they think are tznuis -- and then beating up the cops who go to help their victims. Then, for an extra dose, you can read about the rabbis advocating for retroactive revocation of conversions.

Trudy said...

If a Baptist would be caught doing any of this no one would point a finger and say all Baptists are just like this. Let a Jew get caught and suddenly it's all Jews are like this. Not pleasant but a fact of life and just another reason why people in Klal have to be ultra straight in their dealings. They may do something wrong but we all get colored with that brush.

I'm with N. I'm more angry than sad at this point.

Ruth said...

I'm all of it--angry and sad and depressed and frustrated and just plain sick of news that is never good about klal. I wonder if these perpetrator's parents ever think about asking for a full refund for years of yeshiva tuition, because the lessons didn't seem to get through. But then some of these sickos were like that regardless of how much they were taught not to be.

Just once I'd like the answer to the question "what's new" to be nothing.

observer said...

There are some real differences between the Spinka Rebbe and Troper (I can't bring myself to give him the title Rabbi).

1. Motivation does matter. That that tax fraud is proper - it's NOT! But there is a difference between someone who does something wring out of a desperate desire to help the klal, and someone who does something wrong just because "I want".

2. The Spinka Rebbe did admit to wrongdoing in a very public fashion. Je may have had ulterior motives, but the simple fact is that he went public saying in very clear and unambiguous language that "we were wrong, this is not the way we should behave, and we are making changes." And, in fact, it seems that they ARE making changes, which are not going so easily. With Tropergate, NO ONE has admitted to anything, much less making any changes. Not Tropper, not the people who were backing him (and supposedly overseeing his operation), not the menuvalim who set the sting up, not the people who back the money man behind the sting. No admissions and no changes.

Ultimately, the difference is that with Spinka, there may be some real positive change. With Tropper, I don't see it happening. And that's the worst thing of all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another good post, but I am a little perplesed by your reference to a 'European attitude' among certin in Klal,
Are you really referring to an attitude that the real error is to be caught, rather than the actual sin? If so, this is hardly a European attitude, instead its more a reflection of a corrupted moral compass!

ProfK said...

Anon 613,

I should have been clearer with the European attitude reference. What I meant specifically was the pre-WWII attitude that was prevalent in European Jewry. Governments during that time period were hardly friendly to the Jews. In many--most--instances, cheating the government was a matter of staying alive, of holding on to anything that was owned. The cheating was wholesale and yes, getting caught was the problem, not the cheating. I see that attitude in too many people today, despite a wholly different system of governance being in place. The methodology of pre-war Europe is totally out of place in the world we are living in now. Yet, the attitude persists.