A Note to Cross-Current Readers

On a number of occasions my attention has been drawn to the fact that some of my essays posted on Cross-Currents have elicited in their comments sections negative remarks about, portrayals of, or insinuations concerning various groups of Jews. This pains me, primarily because I believe such sentiments prolong our golus, and secondarily because I feel complicit in them.

Halacha proscribes saying something positive about another person in front of someone who dislikes that person and who may then feel compelled to voice a negative feeling about him or her. The nature of a website is such that those who read its content will always include some who are ill-disposed to this or that individual, group of people, type of person, organization or movement. If an essay of mine that lauds someone or something causes others to feel a need to point out, blatantly or subtly, negative things about that someone or something, I am culpable.

I realize that there are guidelines for comments to Cross-Currents postings (they can be found at http://www.cross-currents.com/comments_and_tips/ ), but, for whatever reason, I have found that some comments my offerings have elicited have fallen short, sometimes far short, of what I was raised and educated to believe is Jewishly proper speech or writing.

As indicated at their ends, my weekly essays are written as part of Am Echad Resources syndication service, and are primarily intended for individual and newspaper subscribers to that service. When Rabbis Adlerstein and Menken asked me if I would be one of Cross-Currents’ regular contributors I was rightly honored and explained that although I would not be able to write expressly for the site I would happily make my weekly AER essay available to it, if that was acceptable. They graciously accepted and I have been posting the pieces pretty much weekly for several years now.

I value the feedback I receive, whether personally from editors and individual AER subscribers or publicly from many of the comment-posters on Cross-Currents – particularly the responses that take thoughtful, polite and constructive issue with something I have written. But there have also been comments posted over the years that strike me as mean-spirited; others that evidence anger or ad hominem scorn; and others still that misstate facts or state incomplete facts in ways that cause ill-will toward other Jews.

Had I the time to, in a timely manner, vet comments submitted to my essays and clear those that meet the standards I believe to be proper, I would do so. But unfortunately, I don’t feel I can undertake that new responsibility. And so I have decided to disallow comments altogether to my postings.

That decision may discomfit readers, not only those who seek to wax negative but those who have valuable and constructive thoughts to add. I apologize for that but ask all Cross-Current readers to please understand that I don’t mean to isolate myself from comment of any sort to what I write. Anyone who wishes to respond to me about anything I have written can, as always they could, write me personally at shafran@agudathisrael.org . Although I can’t promise to respond to every communication, I will certainly try to do so.

May this Tisha B’Av be the first that we celebrate as a joyous holiday.

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