Sunday, March 13, 2005

Piling on...

I read the snippet of the Matisyahu Solomon speech posted by the Godol Hador and I kept returning to this line:
[The Holocaust victims] died with emunah in their hearts, with as much Torah as they could salvage for themselves and their children. Throughout the camps, a song of emunah was passed around, Zeidim helitzuni. miTorascha lo natasi [Wicked ones have scoffed at me, from Your Torah I have not swerved].
Rabbi Solomon, no doubt, cares about the truth, but he isn't being completely truthful here. A high percentage of Holocaust victims salvaged no Torah for themselves, and sang no songs of emunah as they sat in the death camps. Many came to the camps as atheists, or agnostic; others simply gave up on God as He added and added to their daily burdens.

At the end of the passage, R' Solomon seems awfully certain that he's speaking for the men and woman Hitler killed, when he says, "Without Torah sheBa'al Peh, there can be no Written Torah. This is what our kedoshim expect from us." He also seems very solicitous of their favor.

One wonders: How do the disbelieving victims of Hitler's camp feel about having their memory appropiated in the service of R' Solomon's agenda? Is R' Solomon speaking for them, too? Does he care for their favor? Or, finally, is he only concerned about the feelings and opinions of the frum people Hitler killed?

The concluding rhetorical flourish is offensive. Conservatives, as you know, have the nasty habit of beating up the electorate with the American flag. Only, instead of appealing to patriotism or 9/11 for the sake of bullying us into accepting his argument, the good Rabbi calls upon the ghosts of the Holocaust: "Do what I tell you," he seems to insist, with hardly any shame, "or those dead Jews will be unhappy."

Is that very different from "Do what I tell you or the terrorists win?"