Friday, July 31, 2015

And then there were the events of this past week in Israel… living with more Sinat Hinam on Tu B’Av

As we all decompress from the intensity of Tisha B’Av and the weeks that led up to it, here we sit Erev Shabbat on TU B’AV, the day of thinking about loving relationships and our connections to each other. Instead of finding comfort in thinking about these wonderful relationships in our lives, we are reeling from this past week in Israel – one self identified religious individual stabbed several people at the Gay Pride March in Jerusalem and other self identified religious individuals killed a Palestinian baby as a so-called “payback” action.

So in my last post I addressed that embezzling is clearly against Jewish law. SO IS MURDER AND PURPOSELY ENDANGERING THE LIFE OF ANOTHER. So much so that we are taught that protection of life and saving a person from even the potential of danger trumps so many of our ritual practices. For those who cannot fast for medical reasons, their observance of Tisha B’Av and other fast days is not in any way compromised. If a baby boy born to the most religiously observant family has health complications that preclude having a Brit Milah, you save that baby first! If you are walking on Shabbat and you see a fallen building and there might be a person caught in it to save, you go and try to save them – Jew or non-Jew, of any age!

From where do those who commit such despicable acts of violence get their sense that this action or taking or threatening life is acceptable in any way according to Halacha? Seriously, I would love to try to understand this because it makes no sense – not in terms of Halacha and Jewish observance as I know and live it. As I read the various opinion and reporting pieces about the parade in Jerusalem that was respectful, did not go to any sites that are considered controversial and so forth, I could not help but think of the writings that occurred after Yigal Amir killed Yitzchak Rabin z’l. After the act, Rabbis and leaders were talking about the harm of Sinat Hinam (causeless hatred) and how we have to be careful not to teach this in our synagogues, in our schools and other educational settings as well as homes and larger communities.

Where are the Rabbis and leaders of these communities now? Where is their outrage? What is being taught to their students and their community members? I want to be very clear that I am NOT maligning entire communities; I am respectfully asking WHO and WHERE are the teachers and leaders who are engendering this sense of self-righteous indignation in their charges? It is a fair question. It is a question that Jewish law DEMANDS that we ask as we are taught that students who carry out their teachers’ incorrect or damaging teachings bring shame not only to themselves but to those responsible for such misleading messages.

As a Jewish educator, I have heard too many times “Oh there is no bullying in our wonderful religious Jewish community or school or camp.” And, surprise, there is. I know because I am closely involved and invested in too many lives that were subjected to such bullying, including words, spitting, Lashon Hara, hitting, being thrown to the ground, beaten up and so on. This is NOT a matter of “boys will be boys” or girls will be …. I know families who have moved out of religious communities because of these problems that are not being addressed. It is just wrong and EVERY SYNAGOGUE, SCHOOL, CAMP, ETC. THAT CONSIDERS ITSELF a religious educating institution of Jews of ALL ages MUST convey this message loud and clear and take serious steps regarding corrective actions and discipline!

How many more tragedies will it take before our religious educating institutions will do a true taking of their own accountability seriously (Heshbon HaNefesh, if you will)? Once again, as we go into Shabbat we mourn the deaths and pain of those who are harmed by the hands of those who claim to do so in the name of what they believe. It is time, actually way past time, for their and our community leaders to stand up and unequivocally state that this is wrong and AGAINST Halacha on every level.

Shabbat Shalom and a reflective Tu B’Av to all!

1 comment:

  1. My only response to this tragic event is that, if this event were to happen in the U.S., the attacker may have had an automatic weapon that takes many lives in but a few seconds. Here gun-rights advocates say, "If someone wants to kill, they'll find a way of doing it." Well, an attack with a knife, as terrible and violent as it is, leaves the victims with more likelihood of survival. For that I commend Israel.