Wednesday, October 27, 2010

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It’s Easy To Be a Zealot

zealotA commentor wrote (in response to the article on the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the anti-Torah writer for the Algermeiner Journal newpaper)…

“This post raises several thoughts in me. What is most striking is the fact that this was a most anti-Torah yid.

So I ask a question, if the Rebbe could so unconditionally love this Jew, why do we not even love our closest. What of those parents who have children off the derech and send them out because of the shame!!! I really don't get it.

The religious communities across the board have taught us to judge unfavorably, it disturbs me greatly as I have also been a part of this. But if I invite home persons with certain behavior within the community, I am considered wrong.

So in summary does one shun these people or not?!”

It’s easy to be a zealot.  “Shun the evil doers and they’ll go away!”  Build the walls higher and they won’t penetrate!  Don’t think or analyze, plan or prepare.  Just be zealous, act on how you feel!

The Torah describes one and only one act of kosher zealotry in the Torah.  But it describes numerous acts of unkosher zealotry, each ending poorly (and not only for those directly involved).  We derive tens of mitzvos bein odom l’chavero (commandments between man and man) from the Torah but NONE of zealotry.  Rather we have a grandfather clause for zealotry, “if someone did an act because they were overcome with zealotry for Hashem, and indeed the motive is pure that it’s FOR HASHEM, then we can excuse (excuse, not recommend!) his normally illegal act.

Ahavas Yisroel is a clear mitzvah from the Torah.  Every source that describes this mitzvah calls it HARD.  Why?  Loving my family is easy (most of the time).  Loving the guys in shul is ok.  Ah, but loving my neighbor who keeps parking in my way and who’s kids stay up too late at night…that’s hard.  And the sephardi guy in the building next door who likes to sing Torah all night long on Shabbos…annoying.  And the French Jew across the way, the smell of their cooking, ugh.  And that teenager who’s not dressing to standard, grrr.

We have two fast days given to us as gifts from our zealots.  The fall of the walls of Jerusalem, asaray b’teves is blamed (by our gedolim!) on the zealots.  And tzom gedaliyah is a direct action of the zealots.

The kosher zealot is crying about what he’s doing.  He’s NOT filled with righteous indignation and anger at a situation, that’s the Yetzer Hara turning kovod l’Torah into negative traits.  He’s filled with pain and just acts,  l’shem shamayim. 

Today’s zealots are just thugs.  Even if they started for the right reasons and in the right way, those who gather around them are there for the exercise of power.  They intimidate, threaten and prowl, which is exactly what you’re describing.

You’re intimidated from performing an act of Ahavas Yisroel (loving your fellow) in reaching out to your fellow Jew and you wonder if the action is ok?  You’re stopped from performing a mitzvas asay and you wonder if the source is kosher???



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