From my archives- Chanukah is coming up and I think this old post from 2009 is still timely. Enjoy!
Rabossai, Because of our great sins we are in exile. We are too far from hashem and too close to each other in Otisville Correctional Institution. Some say nisht geferlich because there are separate litvish and chasidish minyanim. But what good does it do to have a chasidish minyan when fights break out every time someone shouts yechi. But a yid has to rejoice and bring simchah into the world. Yes, yavanim brought avodah zorah into the har habayis, but we triumphed and expelled them. Nowadays we are also afflicted by our new Greeks who endanger the spiritual health of our people by driving Jews into jails. I want to talk about the three sins that cause this terrible situation: lashon horah (gossip), mesirah (informing), and neglect of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives). If every yid in the world would follow these Jewish principals this tragic situation would end.
You have to be machmir about mesirah . Before you even approach a rav for permission to snitch, ask yourself, how would it feel if a rav gave someone else a heter to be moser on you. Remember Hillel about not doing to others what you would not want done to you.
Loshon horah is where so many problems start. If you are debating what to say and when to say it and in front of whom to say it, it is already too late. Just say no to loshon horah. If a problem does not exist you don’t have to waste a rav’s time to ask such questions. Too many people have become liberal and say things like I know we have a problem and we will deal with it. These Agudah chachamim think they are helping. They figure if we say we are having meetings the pressure will ease up and that will buy them some more time. Why doesn’t Agudath Israel realize that eventually people will notice that nothing is happening? This creates unrealistic expectations and eventually people behave like Americans and start demanding action.
If a problem happens don’t start debating on the blogs. Just say nothing happened. Nothing! Gornisht! One chosheveh yid started with a shmooze about who didn’t invite who to a wedding. Now everyone in Boro Park is scratching their head about who he was talking about. This led to other questions. You can start a nuclear explosion by messing with one atom. Simple. Just say No! I didn’t see, I didn’t hear, I don’t know. If you start asking questions of a Rabbi you will end up answering questions from a policeman.
Finally, I want to talk about pidyon shvuyim. Some children think this is about pirates with eyepatches taking Jews for ransom. Boruch hashem this does not happen much. If Somali shkotzim capture Jews, the vershtunkene Zionist shkotzim with their Druze shabbos goyim solve it. Bizmaneiunu, pidyon shvuyim often rquires askanim to help out those who were osek bitinokim. It isn’t a fancy thing with a ransom. It is shmearachts to goyishe prosecutors. It is also doing toyvahs to help yiden go to eretz yisroel without having to waste time in a courthouse in the goyish section of Brooklyn. It is the great work of pleading with yiden not to violate mesirah. And lo oleynu, it is dealing with lawyers and coaching molesters on how to claim they did tshuvah so the families don’t have to worry any more. It is hard work. Sometimes the askanim have to coach the same molesters on the same shpiel over and over, year after year.
The chusheveh askanim who do the work of pidyon shvuyim have the chochmah to be roeh es hanoylaid, to see and fix a problem before it starts. They have the misfortune to meet with goyish politicians and they get forced to have their pictures taken with them. Then, these precious shtadlanim have to violate their offices by filling up their walls with pictures when they would much rather have bookcases full of seforim. Then we all have to be embarrassed for our leaders who have their pictures in the newspaper with a goy or a goyish Jew wearing a cheap satin yarmulke with a shpitz. Askanim must promise votes and deliver them. They have to threaten the lowlifes who take our money and then won’t even stay bought. Those politicians have no ethics.
Askanus for pidyon shvuyim is a hard task. Some of them have to live off the small percentage of the tzedakah that is mamash their pidyon plus whatever they can get for their mosdos in contracts. These askanim are oseh niflaos. Our askanim are our modern Hasmoneans. They overcome armies of prosecutors. Then with only a little shemen everyone’s palm is greased.
I know that these askanim are not perfect. But on Chanukah, even a yid like me in golus in Otisville has to extend hakaros hatov to a great askan, a great anav who gives me hope. If he could persuade a President of the United States to pardon some Skverer shvuyim I have great hopes that I, of a much more important dynasty will be saved. Skver is nothing compared to me. They have 1200 votes. My chevrah kadishah in Queens can deliver 1,600 votes and my Chicago chevrah kadishah has another 150 votes (50 neshomos x 3 times at the polls). Boruch hashem my chevrah are complete maminim in techiyas hameisim.
Remember my fellow yiden, don’t ask and don’t tell, don’t talk and don’t explain but support those who dedicate themselves to pidyon shvuyim. Have a happy Chanukah with your families. When you light your menoras have a special kavanah for us but don’t, G-d forbid, share it out loud. A silent tongue is a guarded tongue. Happy Chanukah!