A Guest Post By E. Fink (with a lot of help from @azigra)
What follows is an article written by a New Square insider. A man who is unknown to me but known to the person who gave me this article. It was given to me in Yiddish and since I don't understand a lick of Yiddish, @azigra translated for me. Mistakes in grammar should be attributed to the author and the difficulty in translating from Yiddish to English.
The article illustrates the complicit nature of the general New Square public. After reading this you can see how something like this could happen. He says it is not a "white wash" but actually that is exactly what it is.
My many friends have asked me over the course of the last week, “you’re a writer, why don’t you write an article on your thoughts about the events in New Square last week.” At first I ignored the requests, not because I didn’t want to, but rather since I didn’t know exactly what to say. However, since I kept hearing the same request over and over again, I decided that the time arrived to heed their call and to contribute what I can. Please God, I shall not be mistaken in my language, and I shall not write something against your will.
Introductory remarks: The purpose of this essay is not to white wash what actually happened, every Jewish heart is pained by the events enough that they feel it in their souls. It shall be his will that we will not hear anymore similar events amongst the Jewish nation. The main goal is to strengthen my dear friends, like cold spring water to a thirsty traveler.
I awoke early on Sunday morning, and headed to Shul. While walking down the street, I saw police cars zooming somewhere. It was surprising to this so early at 7am in the morning. When I entered the shul the minyan had already formed and I immediately overheard from them a few facts about what had occurred. I realized that this wasn’t a conversation I wanted to be apart of. I groaned and headed outside to the mikva. Afterwords I went to the next door building which houses the kollel and there too groups gathered to talk about the story.
About an hour later, everyone, both young and old knew and was discussing what happened. The coffee room was packed. I took my coffee and I left the area, since I abide by the rule, "the less one hears, the better of they are here and there." It was difficult for me to listen to the details all day, since I knew the story was sad, but I was curious about the details.
That night I went to my neighbors "vacht nacht' and it was the same story, everyone stood around in groups talking about it. I went to sit by myself in the corner to avoid the discussions, I wanted to sit in peace, but a relative of mine came and sat next to me. He said to me, "what can I say to my children? My son heard the whole thing from his friends. What can I say for him to understand what terrible thing occurred today?" I responded, "I am no Mar bar Rav Ashi, I am also not an expert in education. But i will still tell you my thoughts."
But let me give you a bit of introduction:
I grew up in a different town which was a large Jewish city. And in those times, there was constant news. The loshon hara and politics was spoken about even by the youngest children. The streets were white from all the signs hanging on every wall.
I was a curious child, and I had a good neighbor from a different Hassidic group than my family who I discussed all the politics with daily. It wasnt that hard to keep abreast of everything since the newsstand was right next my window. However, on shabbos my father would always say, "good Jews don't discuss politics." He said this practically every week during the shabbos meal.
It happened once during a holiday meal, we heard loud sounds coming from the street, it was like a parade was going on. my father said, "inside this home we will not bother ourselves with what is happening outside." As a child, he left a strong impression on me, the message even got into my bones. He didn't yell or hit the table, he just said it passionately and with truth.
Now when I think back to those days, I realize my father wasn't a Rosh Yeshiva, he was a simple worker, he had a grocery store, he received an education and went to work. He didn't mix in with discussions. I grew up with this lesson, that not only shouldn't one discuss others, he shouldn't talk about himself either.
On Lag B'omer I held onto my principals and tried to have a good day with my children. I wasn't too heartbroken since I managed to avoid the details. To tell my children about what happened would be very difficult. You have to choose your words carefully, to not just tell them stories but to tell them in a way that they can learn from it, not just to tell over both good and bad things. the main thing is to teach your children what is right and what is wrong.
However, when it comes to a situation where literally everyone knew, it is impossible to hide in a closet for two weeks and completely avoid what's happening. You need to show your children you care, and they should see how upset you are. They should learn from it a lesson, how everyone should think and behave, and to realize how your actions reflect on your entire community, just like every Jew has a responsibility towards the Jewish people in general, a person has a responsibility towards his group.
Another important point, we all only really know a few facts. It is not a good deed to go around and discuss it, over and over and over again, even the side issues which are not loshon hara, since it doesn't accomplish anything. When you see a group in conversations, you should think, 'yes, I am curious, however I won't gain anything by joining in.'
I went to the yeshiva i teach in, and a young man came over to me and asked my thoughts, I said, "Reb Berel, do you recall how I never got involved in political discussions?" He got the clue and that was the end.
Later in the day, i was getting out of my car when another young man stopped me and said, "aren't you a rebbi in Monsey? Did you have a hard day today with the other rabbis (since they know you're from Skver)?" I told him, "actually no, not at all, and that's my answer!" I haven't spoken about it not even once, the rabbis in my yeshiva are very devoted and sincere , and we dont discuss things. We respect all places, both for the good and for the bad. Today in yeshiva it was a day like any other.
I ran into my study partner, he didnt look well, his face didnt even look the same, "I must talk to someone," he told me. And he began to tell me the following:
"Here in Skver there are lectures and torah study. Thousands of young men studying with intensity in poverty, scholars walking all over, they can be found everywhere, home owners coming to learn Sefer Or HaChaim, and other chassidic books, There are so many important charities in New Square, There is an entire grocery store just for the needy. Organizations that cook food for new mothers, guest houses for visitors, But now everyone looks at Skver and Skvere Chassidim as if none of this ever existed. the thousands involved in charity, societies for the loan of money, chairs and tables, needs for weddings, bedding, money for grooms, father son learning, tehillim groups, kaddish groups, people who help with every possible need, visiting elderly and sick people, study halls filled all day everyday, people devoting their shabbos completely to God. Every shabbos everyone arises early and repeats the entire sefer tehillim, without a break, It is a holy community, whose only goal and mission is to do what's pleasing to God. Therefore, the hard question is, why did God allow Skver to take such a public hit and for the entire community to be embarrassed? I am not in heaven, so this makes no sense to me, why we have received such a punishment?"
My dear Jews, I have no answers. When the Jews were on the Nile river and they had nowhere to turn, on one side was water and on the other side was the enemy, everybody asked, "what has God done to us?" the question wasn't "how did we fall into this situation," but rather, "why had god brought us to this situation." Its a wonder, what the Torah gives so many details. What lesson did God want us to take from this story of the river? That when someone in surrounded by enemies, with water on one side and arrows and swords on the other side, and there is no escape, It is at that very time, that we should strengthen ourselves, don't falter, keep standing! Have faith in God and his redemption.
In conclusion, dear Jews, my brothers and sisters, we're not coming to make up stories, or to make this even into a holy thing, and of course not from such a story as this, but rather that we shouldn't focus on this story, but move on into the future, learn a lesson, search our deeds, stop the loshon hara and rechilus, and increase peace between men, but everyone should at least know the basics of what happened.
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