Sunday, July 05, 2009


The Standard of Emes

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

There's a lot of discussion in the J-Blogger community over a Cross Currents article deriding J-Bloggers for having the nerve to raise a stink over negative community affairs, thereby usurping the role of our gedolim (Torah leaders). Here's two responses I've written...

When imbalances existed in Jewish society of the past, movements of tens or hundreds of years arose to gradually re-balance society after generations of suffering. The chassidic movement, women’s education, organized yeshiva education – Jewish societal problems solved in lifetimes or multiple lifetimes.

Now perhaps in an age of communication, where information travels between disparate communities in minutes, the klal (the communal whole) is no longer so content to sit and suffer while waiting for a gilgul (reincarnation) before improvement. Similarly, the rabbaim (rabbi's) of France can’t ban the Rambam while the rabbaim of Egypt have him leading their community – as people talk every day between the communities and move between them every few months (a reference to a situation of 800 years ago where the works of the Rambam were being studied in Egypt while being banned as inappropriate for the community in France).

The majority of j-bloggers have no problem with gedolim, though as Serandez wrote, excluding deliberately inflammatory and contrarian J-blogs, whose only objectives seem to be hits and attention. Personally I quality those as the snarky old men in the back of synagogue always complaining the event could have been better.

However, regarding those who surround our gedolim and operate the communal institutions to which their names are lent, sometimes it's different matter. Some shake ups need to occur. Some problems need to be addressed rather than let fester. Our gedolim are wise, some of the community infrastructure however is self serving and almost all of it extremely self protective and defensive.

We all know there's an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears (a reference to our omnipotent G-d) - and the way gedolim are scrutinized throughout their lives there is no question they are the epitome' of the goals of yiddishkeit and clearly aware of this moment by moment. They truly have no fear over the eyes of man. But in this modern age of information availability and instant communication, some of the communal infrastructure and gedolim hangers-on are suddenly being scrutinized also, and sometimes it's not so pretty.

Is that a service or a disservice? Well, in a day and age when we are fed with information and disinformation massively every day and are striving for the truth - finding the glaring opposite in the midst of the kahal (religious community) is a problem that must be dealt with. The option to sweep things under the rug is fading. Perhaps that's a sign of the coming of Olam HaEmet (world of truth) in the zman Moshiach (time of Moshiach).

Personally I recognize that organizations have to be somewhat businesslike to operate, and those operating such are not tzaddikim and gedolim - just people trying to get a job done. Some incredibly dedicated and selfless, some just doing a job. And yes, everyone has a yetzer hara (evil inclination). But damaging the klal (the whole), either as a whole or through persistently hurting others can't be ignored if Torah and Emet (truth) is to survive.

The wisdom and need for our gedolim remains. However, manipulators using their words for their own purposes, criminals hiding under the cover of piousness, and operators using the system for their own ends are not so deserving.


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