Yated and Haaretz Agree

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Along with other members of my family, I was at the massive Tefila and Tehillim gathering at the Kotel prior to the painful commencement of the withdrawal from Gaza. The event was extraordinary because it brought together perhaps 250,000 or even more religious Jews from all sectors. This was not a political event. Thus, I was surprised to read in the latest Yated Ne’eman (the U.S. edition) that the gathering was “futile” and “fruitless.” Such language which echoes the slant taken by Haaretz and other secularists is shocking when it comes from a newspaper that is rooted in the yeshiva world.

When we daven or say tehillim, even when the focus is on a particular individual or set of circumstances, what we are doing is strengthening our emunah, thereby bringing us closer to G-D and to an acceptance of what He has decreed. The person on whose behalf we are praying or the circumstance that we have in mind serves no more than as the instrumentality for the strengthening of our belief, in much the same way that when we give tzedakah to a poor person, the recipient is no more than the instrumentality for perfecting ourselves by accepting limitations and discipline in how we use the resources that we have been blessed with.

Tehillim and Tefila are never futile. We all understand this in the frequent situation when a sick person on whose behalf we are praying passes away. We do not say that our prayers were fruitless or futile. Accordingly, Yated’s characterization which as I have noted parallels the sneering characterization from the secularists is shocking and unacceptable. It is an affront to those who participated in the great gathering, it is an affront to hashkafa and it is an affront to all Torah observant Jews.

The newspaper compounded its wrongdoing when after a close relative of mine sent an email questioning its usage, the editor responded that the gathering at the Kotel was a political event. This, too, parallels what Haaretz and the secularists have said.

I trust that Yated which so often speaks about Da’as Torah did not consult with respected rabbinical leaders when it used such unfortunate language. It is interesting and telling how Da’as Torah is a selective obligation.

In addition to the affront generated by such language, what Yated has done – and this sadly is too characteristic of the recent behavior of some in the yeshiva world – is to further alienate some religious Jews from our heritage. How else might they look at their solemn participation being described in such an unfortunate way?

I have repeatedly pleaded with people in our community to get out of the business of richuk kerovim. Yet, we seem incapable of pulling back. Consider two letters published in each of the two most recent issues of Yated castigating someone in shul on Shabbos who committed the terrible sin of “wearing an orange T-shirt that was plainly seen since he was not wearing a tie.” Here is a fellow coming to shul, doubtlessly keeping Shabbos and other mitzvos and who feels that he must “tell people about the disengagement and that he is against it.” Has he committed a sin? Of course not. But Yated published two letters making such a fellow feel like dirt. Yes, we are in the business of richuk kerovim.

Many years ago I heard Shlomo Wolbe, ztl, at a Torah Umesorah convention saying that he looked carefully in the Shulchan Aruch and he could not find a requirement to wear a white shirt on Shabbos. This giant understood what too many of us do not.

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14 Responses

  1. Simon says:

    In regards to your Yated comments,

    The problem that you mention is a much larger one than the Yated. While the Yated has at times published articles lacking in sensitivity and perhaps showing a bias towards those not affiliated with the right-wing of the Agudist camp, as well as others (Sephardic Jews in Israel), it is merely reflective of frum society at large today. The problem is on both sides of the aisle. One need only look around to find animosity towards “black-hatters” in the Modern-Orthodox world.
    This Bias is compounded if not caused by the confusion now taking place in both camps. Recently, Hamodia published an editorial encouraging us to rid the secret Zionism from our hearts. Regardless of their view, they deserve credit for outing the biggest secret in American Yeshivish Orthodoxy, we aren’t really anti-zionist, in spite of being taught to the contrary. The Modern-Orthodox world is also undergoing some serious soul-searching in regards to the direction of its Yeshivos and its ideology towards Israel.

    In truth, we have much more in common than we do differences, and more in common than we realize. Most regular Jews fit somewhere right in the middle, but for some reason, we tend to focus on those differences more and more. maybe its because we feel confident enough in our own strength and capability that we feel we no longer need others who disagree, that would be sad indeed.

  2. Edvallace says:

    Mr Shick,

    Knowing the subject of which you speak [I too, read the Yated occassionally] your words make everything you write suspect in my eyes. You have mischaracterized everything that was written in the Yated [which is far from a perfect paper] and painted it in the most negative light possible.

    The Yated did not make a blanket statement calling the gathering pointless and fruitless. The editors and writers there all agree that teffilah is valuable, no matter what. They were commenting on the political value of the POLITICAL RALLY and noted that from a political standpoint it was fruitless. That’s it. Don’t read any more into it. That’s a far cry from anything you’ll ever read in the Haaretz.

    The letter writer to the Yated decrying the orange outfit was making a simple point that you may or may not agree with [and Yated printed dissenting letters the next week – but that doesn’t satisfy you, does it?] – He pointed out that there is an age-old traditional way to protest and changing one’s Shabbos attire is probably not the way to go. He also pointed out that he wondered why this fellow didn’t feel the need to protest other tragedies [i.e. grave desecrations] that deserve equal attention. That’s all he was saying. He didn’t mention the persons name or his location.

    It was a letter to the editor expressing one mans opinion. Surely, in your broadly tolerant world, there’s room for that in a newspaper. If you really gave a hoot about stopping Richuk Krovim, I’d suggest you learn to look at your fellow Jews with a bit more favor and stop writing slanderous articles about them. Your negative slant is not only not helpful, it is outright Lashon Harrah and does nothing to advance your wonderful cause.

  3. Joshua says:

    JM,
    I once who heard quoted from a prominent Rosh Hayeshivah what is the difference between the secular press and so called frum press is that the Loshon Harah in the frum is holy losh harah but never the less loshon Horah. I should do the same as you and quit receiving certain newspapers.

  4. Bernie Goldman says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Schick, I believe he has severely misjudged Yated and its editor. Of course, Yated believes in the power of prayer and what it accomplishes even when the answer is no. Please, you really think Yated agrees with Haaretz in negating tefila? If you think that the words ‘futile’ and ‘fruitless’ were not the best choice of words, you have a right to your opinion. Maybe Yated could have used different words. But we all know what they meant. That is not in question. To accuse Yated of a hashkafah that it obviously does not subscribe to is not productive. And yes, let’s be honest, it was a tefila gathering at the Kotel but it was also meant as a political rally against disengagement. Nothing wrong with having a political rally. But in terms of the rally aspect, it was fruitless and futile, in the end.

    You engage in the same richuk kerovim by making a mountain out of a molehill.

  5. JM says:

    It is clear from so many places in the Torah that hashem wants our prayers. In this case, prayer was the form of much of our hishtadlus (human effort). If hashem wants to say “no”, then no it is.

    Furthermore, I am suspicious of Orthodox Journalism – I have successfully given up on buying “a popular weekly newspaper” to read over Shabbes and I feel so much better for it. I think that some of the publishers of the frum newspapers think that they are exempt from the halachos of Loshon Hara (slandering or embarrasing other individuals) or worse, they think that they are doing some sort of public good that overrides the laws of LH.

  6. Shalom says:

    I attended the Tefilla and what Mr. Schick means by saying that it was not a political event is that there was no mention of the disengagement just of the evil decrees that have befallen the Jewish People. I think that whatever your view of the disengagement this was and is and ‘Eis Tzarah’ for Klal Yisroel. We have a rift in our country and within our people whether or not the disengagement could have been overturned. I have been to the Kotel on many occasions never have I witnessed so many tears by so many people. If any Torah Jew can call them futile and fruitless than he has uprooted the concept of Tefilla.

  7. Romach says:

    Toby,

    Can you provide the context which Yated used the words that same they were for nothing? If they meant that it didn’t stop the disengagement, perhaps it was poor usage, but ultimately correct.

  8. Daniel Weltman says:

    It is a sad day when the means (black hat, suit, white shirt, etc.) many of us use as agents to help us reach our goal (growth in spirituality) become the ends. We must keep our eyes open, and not miss the forest for the trees.

  9. The Hedyot says:

    How ironic! The mass demonstration that the chareidi community performed at the central bus station a few years ago wasn’t for political reasons? I guess that according to the Yated the prayers that were said then were also futile and fruitless.

  10. Toby Katz says:

    I myself would never have settled in Gaza, do not consider the withdrawl to be halachically assur, but wear orange in solidarity with the pain felt by those who built beautiful communities with tremendous mesirus nefesh and are now being driven into exile from their homes.

    Having seen pictures of the massive tefilla gathering at the Kosel and environs I absolutely cannot agree with the Yated that all those tefillos were for nothing. Does G-d hear the prayer of a Jew? Yes.

  11. Tzvee says:

    The act of gathering at a particular time and place to protest is by definition a political act. If music is played, that is a musical performance in support of a political act. If speeches are delivered, they are spoken in support of a political act. It is disingenuous to say that if prayers are recited, they are not recited in support of the political act that motivates the event. It is exactly such displaced rhetoric that drives people away from religion.

  12. ben meir says:

    I believe your observations could equally apply to your fellow contributor in his article for Mishpacha magazine. I was surprised by how short-sighted and ill advised he was in his assertion that there is very little likelihood of any new found mutual respect between the Charedim and the NRP. Mr. Rosenblum usually has a better barometer and is more in tune with the national mood.
    OK, that was my “smoel doche”, now for “y’min mekarev”. The gedolim did take a position; they allowed the UTJ to remain in the gov’t. There is a rising rumbling on the “Jewish street”, and it usually goes something like this, “why didn’t the gedolim come out and say it is wrong, and why didn’t they say anything?” The answer as Mr. Rosenblum points out is they did pasken and that psak is consistent with the gedolim’s historical outlook on Eretz Yisroel. I suspect that the average Charedi is not comfortable with this psak, but we/they accept it none the less.

  13. Bob Miller says:

    What does the writer accomplish by airing this opinion in specifically this forum?

  14. Romach says:

    That Yated and Ha’aretz can agree on something should not be shocking, though it is surprising. But as the old saying goes, if Yated and Ha’aretz both agree…

    I fail to see how you can call the Kotel rally a non-political event. Had it been non-political why did it only occur right before the disengagement? Why not a rally of 250k people three months ago? That rabbonim participated, that it was primarily a religious event, does not preclude it being political. Look at the political statements that many rabbonim make (R. Ovadiah Yosef as one example). Or, since a rav made it, is the statement automatically apolitical? That everyone has gone out of their way to say it wasn’t political actually makes it a more political event.

    Not having read the Yated article, I can’t comment on the usage of the words “fruitless” and “futile.” I will assume, however, that you have not taken them out of context, and that they are being used in the same manner as used by Ha’aretz. (it would have been helpful if you provided a quote)

    Ha’aretz probably meant it as not having had an effect on the Disengagement, in other words, that it occured. While we don’t know what would have occured absent the rally (cs”v bloodshed), it still did occur. From that perspective, futile and fruitless is correct, even if you disagree and say the word usage was a bit strong. I would be shocked if Yated had said tefillah was worthless and futile. To paraphrase the father of Nachson Waxman, “sometimes Hashem just says no.”

    I agree with you 100% on the last part of richuk krovim. On that we have a lot (not) to do.