by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Anonymous Commentor - “you cannot be for the torah if you engage in lashon hora...speaking so negatively of the enitre yeshiva system. have you been in every yeshiva? … i told akiva at the start, but he doesn't read these or disagrees: do you see what the initial piece has wrought?!”
There are those who see the holy Jewish communities and declare that in their purity and holiness it is a perfect world (or at least a very good very G-dly one). Any challenge to the perfection is an insult to holiness, an attack on the community, and by extension an attack on the Torah and G-d Himself!
This is understandable. After being under attack basically for the past 2,300 years as a people, and after the Holocaust left the Torah world almost completely destroyed, it’s natural for us to build societal defense mechanisms against challenges.
But since the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel the Torah world has been incredibly blessed and grown tremendously. The community has doubled, doubled again, and again, and again, and again. Both from birthrates and returnees, the religious community has flourished. Today’s big yeshivot are literally 20 times larger than the largest yeshivot of pre-war Europe. The number of yeshivot may be 30 times as many.
Correspondingly, the number of rabbis, not to mention the learning level of the nashim hakedoshim (the holy women), is awesome. While the total Jewish population may only now be equalling pre-war Europe, the percentage of religiously educated Jews is at an all time high in history.
So, in my humble opinion, it’s ok to take a deep breath, take a look around us and say that our communities have some failings that could use improvement. This is not anti-Torah, it literally is the Torah way. The Shulchan Aruch has sections on how to give rebuke. LONG sections on business laws and inter-personal relationship laws. Religious courts for disputes, religious laws for dealing with disputes, and the possibility of investing religious authority with those who can resolve problems.
Religious Jewish communities are filled with incredible amounts of chesed (people helping other people and setting up groups, committees, and organizations to do so), charitable acts and giving, helping the poor, etc. Practically every family, if not literally every family, has some involvement in chesed activities of one sort or another!
But there are failings, cracks, and breeches. People overcome by their evil inclination who fall to financial challenges, power and influence challenges, and/or animalistic challenges (just to name a few). There are schools that are doing a poor job or worse. Even people in authority that no one would call good. This is nothing new, such incidents are discussed directly in the Gemora! (All of the categories I mentioned!)
There was a time when such things could be swept under the carpet. For the good of the community, it was best to ignore them or do our best to quietly deal with them.
But we have a unique challenge in this time. There’s an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and while all is recorded in a book it’s also often recorded on a cell phone and put up on Youtube for everyone to see. When a person is hurt, they’re not obligated by the sanction of the community to keep quiet about it anymore (or not willing to take it when the ‘good of the community’ doesn’t seem to include them). Now they can shout it from the rooftops by email, cell phone, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc, and be heard by a wide audience.
Just a few generations ago, every neshama (soul) was exceedingly valuable as it wasn’t clear if we’d survive, nay even thrive. Today classrooms and shuls are bursting, and loosing a few people here and there is suddenly ok. Now as we’ve upgraded our kashrus, Shabbos observance, learning with Daf Yomi, etc, now we can be equally as picky about our friends, our neighbors, our children’s classmates…we can be picky about our ahavas yisroel.
Here at Mystical Paths we believe in Torah, Hashem, the mesorah, and respect the leaders of the generation. However, we don’t consider them infallible nor do we consider people (all of which have an evil inclination) doing bad things that hurt other people worth ignoring. We see no problems in CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, trying to be BETTER EVERY DAY and make tomorrow one step closer to the best we can achieve in this world.
In this generation, sweeping things under the carpet causes more harm than good. Because someone is sitting under that carpet with a digital camera, MP3 recorder, and a Facebook account.
We will not “maintain the purity of the holy community” by pretending the failings aren’t happening, ignoring them when they occur, or (G-d forbid) BLAMING THE VICTIMS.