Friday, October 12, 2007

An example of the Agudat Israel's Ethics

The Jewish Observer, house organ of Agudat Israel, has an article on skepticism in the Orthodox world, excerpted by the Admar on his blog, which succinctly argues that Jews who are moving away from Orthodoxy should be approached with love, not criticism.

Why do I say excerpted? Because the Admar dropped a disclaimer (in blue below) from the original article.

The original article said:
A yeshiva student was happily dancing at his former room-mate’s wedding, and pushed his way “to the middle of the circle” to entertain the chosen and kallah (successfully, we should add) with a break-dance (ask your teenager if you don’t know what this is). He was in a great mood, full of simchah, full of love for his fellow Jews,and feeling good about himself, until his Rosh Yeshivah pulled him aside at the chasanah and strongly criticized him for a dance step “from the street.”

(The authors do not, of course, condone a ben Torah break-dancing or engaging in any other behavior derived from secular culture that isn't consistent with Torah value.)

What will the Rosh Yeshiva say after 120 years when he learns that his comment was one of a series of little pushes, and perhaps even “the last straw,” that eventually sent this promising student “out of the circle completely” and out of Torah observance?"
Everyone catch that? The "authors" of course (of course!) think break-dancing is wrong, but they also think the RY was wrong for criticizing the kid.

Sounds like our authors are a bit confused, right?

Only not so fast.

One of them, Mordichai Brecher, has provided this explanation [Click Comment: #6] As an author of the article I would like to respond to the previous comment that R. Horowitz did not delete the comment about breakdancing. In fact, the JO placed it there without consulting me. Breakdancing does not bother me in the least.

So, lets see if I have this straight:

(1) The JO changed the article without the permission of its authors. This is a "terrible breach of editorial ethics." [See neoHaskalah (Click: Comment # 7)]

(2) By committing this breach of ethics, they made two of their contributors look like hypocrites and/or confused fools.

(3) By committing this breach of ethics, they also managed to undermine the article's entire argument. The anecdote about the RY was presented as an example of how a heavy hand can drive Jews away from Orthodoxy. But according to the disclaimer a heavy hand is called for because of course (of course!) no one condones breakdancing! [See Fred's blog]

If Agudat Yisroel has any guts (they don't) a correction must appear in the magazine's next edition.

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