Monday, December 28, 2009

Another anti-Blogging Message from an anti-Blogging Rabbi

One of the local Jewish newspapers printed an ill-advised and unoriginal jeremiad against Jewish bloggers. All the familiar and poorly reasoned complaints were included: We're anonymous, we're too critical, we slay sacred cows by criticizing people and issues that can't or shouldn't be criticized, etc. These discontents and others are aptly addressed and defeated in the following guest post, submitted by THE DARK KNIGHT

A quick fisk of this: by "The Dark Knight".
“There are a minority of Yidden who live for others, whether it’s delivery for Tomchei Shabbos, giving up their Shabbos and yom tov menuchah to go on Hatzalah calls, or even dedicating the little free time that they have to work for their shul or local yeshiva.”
I'm glad we can begin with a point of agreement. Like you, I deeply appreciate those Jews who work to improve the world. (A quibble: Wouldn't it be nice if  living“for others” weren’t implicitly restricted to the less than 1% of  humanity who are Jewish (or was he only including Orthodox Jews?))
“There are people who do care about the general community and are indeed passionate about their beliefs and feelings, but rather than becoming “doers,” they are satisfied to just become “bloggers.” “
This is something of a point. Bloggers share opinions, make arguments and raise awareness, but we don’t take to the streets. No J-blogger led hafganos have occurred. Generally, I believe this is for the best, although there may be exceptions. It is indeed to our shame that while the great Jewish doers mustered thousands of people to burn dumpsters in protest of a parking lot, we simply sat at our computers typing to protest the rabbinic child molesters in our community.

But, is this really what troubles R’ Ginzberg? Is he really sad that bloggers blog instead of doing something more concrete? Of course not. On the contrary, if we were more forceful in translating our beliefs into action, it would only upset him further. It’s isn't our inaction that motivates him to lift his pen in protest (like... um.. a blogger, ironically). It is the beliefs themselves which trouble him. If a mashgiach were to give a blogger-like schmooze criticizing popular culture, no doubt R’ Ginzberg would have a positive response. He knows he can’t defend rabbis who fornicate with their charges, abet child molesters, cheat the government, or insist all life on the planet was destroyed five thousand years ago. So instead he acts out with baseless ad hominem attacks on "bloggers" as whole. (Gil Student and Josh Waxman are bloggers, too, btw. Do they deserve to be tarred this way?)
“Now we have the new group of bloggers, who have spent valuable time with hundreds of blogs and comments on whether [Rubashkin] deserves or doesn’t deserve this terrible fate.
How terrible! People are actually beginning to think for themselves! People are asking and arguing the following excellent question: Should we reflexively protect someone committing bank fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering just because he’s an Orthodox Jew. Such a travesty!
“Several years ago, I tried to convince [a close friend] to join me at that year’s Agudah convention, where I felt his acumen and concern for the community at large would make him a perfect candidate to benefit from and provide guidance to the convention."
Interesting change of direction, R' Greenberg!  Speaking to people on a blog = unholy blogger. Speaking to people at an Agudah convention = holy doer. It seems the distinction has nothing to do with action versus inaction, rather it has to do with agreeing with R’ Ginzberg versus disagreeing with him.
 “[At the convention] Difficult and painful subjects were discussed publicly”
Yes, they were and thanks to the bloggers. Without bloggers your painful subjects would still be “swept under the carpet.” which is where they were kept for dozens of years. It was bloggers, not your so-called "doers" who alerted the Jewish community about these difficult and painful subjects.
“…and important solutions and ideas were presented and implemented.”
Really? Or perhaps, since it was a convention, the solutions were just presented and not yet implemented. Kind of like a blog.

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