Monday, March 07, 2011

Yaakov Horowitz’s Campaign – And Why We Need to do More

Cross Currents's RYA has a new post up,"Yaakov Horowitz’s Campaign – And Why We Ought To Support It", calling on us to support RYH's campaign to stand with the victims of accused sex-offender Meir Dascalowitz. That fact that something as ordinary and self-evident as supporting victims is still a big deal is disturbing, but the fact that Cross Currents and Reb Yanky seem content to stop there is frightening.

Supporting victims is wonderful and needed, but the thugs won't back down until they are confronted with direct action. Jim Crow wasn't broken by the men who merely stood with victims, but by the men who made it plain that injustices had become the status quo. Nowadays, our laws, thank God, do not support thuggery, so breaking the power of the thugs is simply a matter of legal investigation and prosecution. Also, nothing in the Torah should be construed to mean such investigations and prosecutions are trief or otherwise dangerous to what people call the Torah way of life. So what exactly is the hold up? Why does the Jewish community still genuflect in front of thugs, and their enablers? Why are they given titles and honors? Why are community leaders shy about calling them out in public (paging Avi Safran)  Why aren't they publicizing  what they know about misdeeds committed by insiders and bold names? Why are we always afraid of offending people who deserve to be offended?

I'm also talking to myself, by the way. I don't have the clout, or the charisma, or the facts and information that some people do, so my potential contribution is limited, but I confess to being a milquetoast, too. I guess we all need to support each other so that together we can find the courage to confront the thugs, and weather the consequences. We need a Martin Luthor King, to be sure, but we also need Greensboro sit-ins and Montgomery bus boycotts. How do we light the match?

After reading RYA's Cross Currents article, I exploded via email to a confidant. Here is what I wrote (with some edits)

Sorry but RYA's article, aside from the very nice things he said about RYH, is a joke. First, it's a reasoning fallacy to presume something the Netziv said about the paroches is also a sociological lesson for us. Sure, its a nice derasha, but that doesn't make it true. RYA would have more credibility if he didn't try to shoehorn his points into something unrelated. Second, the distinction RYA laboriously makes between the Torah and the system is a distinction most of us learned to make in high school. Only the slow and the stupid think the two are inseparable. Unfortunately, the slow and the stupid still hold too much power. And until their power is broken, and their error is corrected, no progress will be made. 

What it comes down to is this: The silly surfeit of concern for the honor of the inanimate Torah, and for the aged and inanimate gedolim serves to protect the system. Caution helps the thugs, not the Torah.  As RYA suggests, but seems not to understand, the Torah can take care of itself. Lives are being ruined not by the Torah but by the way people have chosen to interpret it and apply it, and by the silence of people who know better. Those interpretations and applications are what must be attacked head on by peopled talented enough to make others understand that there is nothing sacrosanct about a particular set of interpretations and applications. 

As I've written before, Orthodox Jewish culture could change into something no one would recognize as Orthodox Judaism and still be a thousand percent Torah true. Nothing about our beloved culture is holy or indispensable, or deserving of being preserved if it is the cause of human suffering. All of it can be jettisoned, reformed, repaired, improved with no danger at all to the Torah. 

The failure of our leaders to realize and act on that is one of the tragedies of our time

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