VOICES OF MODERATION NEED TO BE HEARD
Guest post by Honestly Frum
This is a lightly edited version of a post that first appeared on July 27,
20112010, in HonestlyFrum.blogspot.com, a blog which is no longer open.
I do not live in the haredi community and I am often asked, and I ask myself, why am I so bothered and why do I blog about things that do not seem to directly affect me? The other, and more frequent, question is “what do I hope to accomplish with my blog?” I am only one (semi) anonymous person screaming from an online soapbox. How can a very limited number of individuals who see the danger and the insanity of what is going on hope to change a system and what kind of changes can we hope for? On shabbos I was reading “The Community,” an article published in 1978 by The Rav (R. Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, ztz”l) He writes,
Lonely man is free; social man is bound by many rules and ordinances. G-d willed man to be free. Man is required, from time to time, to defy the world, to replace the old and obsolete with the new and relevant. Only lonely man is capable of casting off the harness of bondage to society. Who was Abraham? Who was Elijah? Who were the prophets? People who dared rebuke society in order to destroy the status quo and replace it with a new social order. The story of Judaism is not only that of community but also of man alone, confronted by the many. (Melachim I 19: 9-10) “What doest though here Elijah? I have been very zealous for the lord, the God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant; cast down thine alters and slain thy prophets; and I, even I only am left and they seek my life”. In other words: “I am remote from my people, there is complete alienation. I am a lonely individual, I defy the community. I rebel against the nations. The “Levado” [alone] awareness is the root of heroic defiance. Heroism is the central category in practical Judaism. The Torah wanted the Jew to live heroically, to rebuke reproach, condemn whenever society is wrong and unfair.
I do not put myself in a category anywhere near Avraham or Eliyahu, however I do believe that unfortunately there aren’t enough people willing to take a stand for what is right and proper. Because we are few it is too easy to label us trouble makers and marginalize us. I often wonder if I am the crazy one and I am too negative; perhaps if I were to look for the good that is taking place in the frum community I would see things differently. I have tried this and although there is far more good taking place than negatives, unfortunately the extremism is far outweighing the good that is being done. And even, if as some claim, that these kanoim and trouble makers are in the minority (although I believe there are far more people following them at this point), the damage these few are doing, and the fact that no one is willing to stand up to them, makes the situation all the worse and legitimizes the extremism.
I am under no illusions. Unfortunately, we seem to be fighting a losing battle. The numbers are simply against us, however those of us willing to stand up against the extremism must continue to fight on for that which we know to be right. I always come back to the pasuk of “l’maan Tzion lo echeshe u l’maan Yerushalayim lo eshkot“, we must yell and scream, even if only to the wind, in the face of the tyranny that is taking over Orthodox Judaism. Charedi, Dati, Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, who cares? We are supposedly all brothers and connected by a common bond and when one person, or group of people defiles any part of the religion or highjacks it in the name of the torah or newly found chumras we all suffer.
I continue to write about the things I do because it pains me to see the takeover of our religion and the attempt to silence the voices of moderation, or any voice that does not tow the line of the right wing extremists. The future of Orthodoxy is hanging in the balance now and we have to decide are we going to go with the flow over the cliff where they are surely headed (I maintain purposefully) or are we going to hang back and try to bring things back around to some sort of middle ground where we can appreciate and respect each other. I know where I stand and where I want my family to be and for that reason I will do what I need to do and keep calling out the injustices and perversions that are being wreaked on our community and religion until the rest of the community is awoken from its slumber and forced to confront the grim future of Orthodox Judaism.