Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seven things I hate about Alderstein's new Ami article

Here's the short list of what I find reprehensible about Pope Yitzchak Alderstein's attempt to drive LWO Jews out of Orthodoxy:

(1) The timing(a): Its erev Rosh Hashana. Is this really the best time for Jews to be declaring war on each other? Thanks to Alderstein, readers of Ami magazine are entering Rosh Hashana filled with disgust toward their fellow Jews. Thanks to Alderstein, the blogs and social media are alive with Jewish infighting. And for what? I assure you no one is going to act on his suggestions -- nor should they. All he's done is make us mad at each other.

(2) The timing (b): At a moment when RW fanatics in Bet Shemesh are hurling eggs and words like "whore" at our daughters, Alderstein has invited the Charedi world to scorn a Rabbi for the supposed sin of showing women a surfeit of respect. If he disagrees with the arguments Rabbi Kanefsky made, let him address the arguments directly instead of accusing him of being too enlightened and too pro-women. Its surely in bad taste, and possibly dangerous, to discredit a Jewish defense of female dignity while Jewish goons wearing hats and frock-coats are elsewhere greeting schoolgirls with insults and projectiles.

(3) The bad arguments A preacher who takes up space telling us what God wants is appealing to emotions and likely short on arguments. Here's an example: "Hakodosh Boruch Hu expects our deep concern about wide scale counterfeiting of Torah..." I don't know how Rabbi Alderstein knows this. If he's certain that God expects something, let him prove it. If he's certain that the LWOJs are "counterfeiting Torah" let him prove it. He's done neither. In fact, his article is full of assertions, but devoid of any supporting evidence. We're asked to believe that LWOJ is something sinister and dangerous on nothing but his say so. 

(5) The screaming hypocrisy(a): Which great Rabbi permitted Alderstein to pollute the discourse with this high holiday attack on fellow Jews? Which great Rabbi agrees with his position? Though he thinks the RCA must seek guidance from the great Rabbis, there's no evidence that Alderstein has done this himself.  If the innovations proposed by the LWOJs are as terrible as Alderstein imagines, it should be a simple thing to get the usual collection of rabbinic signatures on a document proclaiming their evils. So why hasn't he done this?

(6) The screaming hypocrisy(b): If you ask Aldersetin about the goons of Bet Shemesh, he'll likely say they're extremists with no support from any great Rabbi. He may also say that its so obvious that what they are doing is wrong, no great Rabbi needs to waste his time saying so. This is also how charedim permit themselves to ignore  occurrences of theft and fraud in their community. "This isn't an indication of what we think or believe," they'll say. "Its just a few bad people behaving badly. Do we need a godol to announce its wrong to steal?"

Oddly enough, Alderstein's article provides the RCA with a similar line of defense. After all, as Alderstein himself confesses, no great MO rabbi endorses them, and for the most part the LWOJs are not great scholars in their own right. If Charedi extremists can be institutionally ignored on the grounds that they are a bunch of boors who do not represent mainstream Charedism, why can't the RCA employ the same logic to excuse LWOJ extremism? Do we really need a godol to say that you're supposed to recite she lo asani isha each morning? And if RW free agents who hate women don't keep Alderstein up at night, why is he bothered by their less violent, more rational, women respecting counterparts on the left?

(7) The screaming hypocrisy(c): Rabbi Alderstein, your charedi house is not in order  Until your sect does something about segulah scams, outrageous pashkevils, and assaults on women you have no right to lecture anyone else. If you're so concerned about corruptions of the Mesorah, fix your own house first. Go after the members of your own community who've twisted the teachings into a force of hatred and an object of scorn by failing to put the various abusers and fraudsters and terrorists and their enablers into herem? Until you do this, you're not a noble defender of tradition. You're a petty sectarian, who is feeding the flames of intolerance.

Words in this color courtesy of @yudel
Words in this color courtesy of @sigh


Search for more information about Ami Magazine at 4torah.com

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