web analytics
May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


We Are Going in the Wrong Direction

For some, guilt by association is actual guilt. For these people, who you know and with whom you associate determine your credibility.
Wrong way

The war over MK Rabbi Dov Lipman is rising to a crescendo. The mouthpiece of the Ultra-Orthodox American establishment is the Yated Ne’eman. The Yated and its Matzav.com website are leading the charge to discredit and demonize Lipman in every way possible. Meanwhile, the Centrist Orthodox Americans are watching from the sidelines as they watch a potential hero go to zero. The Modern Orthodox Jewish community is becoming enraged as they see their values trudged upon by their charedi brothers and sisters.

It’s a mess.

Two important voices from the moderate camp have invited Lipman to speak. The RCA Convention will be headlined by Lipman and the BAYT Shul in Toronto is featuring Lipman as a Scholar in Residence the last week in June.

For these grievous sins, Lipman, the RCA, and BAYT have come under a severe assault of attacks from the Yated and Matzav. Articles calling for boycotts of these fine institutions, articles condemning the the decision makers and rabbinic leadership of both institutions, and of course articles enumerating the horrible sins of Lipman as ammunition for their war appear regularly in their pages.

The thrust of their arguments against Lipman focus on isolated incidents, out of context quotes, but most of all guilt by association.

I think this is a very important point. There are pundits who “connect the dots” to spin conspiracy tales on a daily basis. People believe it. Others just disqualify the opinions or ideas of others because they have a second cousin who gave money to someone else who has a nephew in Al Qaeda. People seem to be okay with this too. For some, guilt by association is actual guilt. For these people, who you know and with whom you associate determine your credibility.

Obviously, this parlor game is ridiculous. If you search long enough you can connect any two people in the world. Guilt by association is terrible way to make a point. Assuming that the two people are associated, there is no evidence that they agree on anything. They could hate each other. Or they could agree on one thing and completely disagree on another. It’s pure scare tactics and dishonesty to impugn people because of loose ties or even strong ties that they may have with others who might be different or even dangerous.

The same exact thing is happening now in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish media.

Lipman is in the same party as Yair Lapid? And Lapid’s father, Tommy, was virulently anti-orthodox? Lipman must also be anti-orthodox! The RCA asked Lipman to speak? The RCA must agree with everything Yair Lapid says too! BAYT invited Lipman for Shabbos? BAYT is clearly anti-Torah.

These are the arguments being made.

The non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t play this game. They would prefer to hear challenging ideas and thought provoking conversation than disqualify any dissenters by way of guilt by association. Does the RCA agree with every single thing Lipman says? Probably not. No two people agree on everything! Does BAYT co-sign every single thing Lipman has ever done? Of course not. But both institutions pride themselves on appealing to a broad spectrum of orthodox Jews and care passionately about matters of great communal importance. Thus, Lipman is a great candidate for a talk in both places.

But the uber-charedi world it doesn’t work like that. Unless someone is 100% kosher, they can’t get to the table. No matter how salient their points may be, they don’t have the opportunity to be heard. Worse, when two people are associated, and person A says or does something controversial, everyone runs to person B and asks if person B “holds of” what person A did. It’s ridiculous! People can disagree. People can have different opinions. Why is it even expected that if person B associates with person A they would agree with everything person A does? It makes no sense.

This is the best way to seek and destroy any dissent or debate. There is no room for dissent or debate when as soon as someone dissents or debates all that person’s associates are impugned and they are forced to distance themselves from the dissenter or debater. Nothing could be more chilling.

The other way is to analyze ideas, not people. Rambam writes “Hear truth from whoever says it.” These are wise words. The source of an idea is only secondary to the content of the idea. Great people can say stupid things and stupid people can say great things. It’s terribly insecure and unwise to automatically eliminate so many voices simply because they are guilty by association.

I believe that this is the primary issue that is at play here. Since Lipman is straddling two worlds, he is by definition persona non grata in the Ultra-Orthodox world. One can’t be for Torah and also cavort with people who are not for Torah. Therefore he is automatically wrong and all the rules of fair play and honesty are no longer relevant. He is a threat who must be stopped. He is not a voice that must be answered. This is the only explanation for the completely disingenuous and false attacks against Lipman.

It’s an old argument within orthodox Judaism. For some time now there has been resistance against fostering debate and conversation amongst people with differing views and perspectives. Worse, it has long been established that orthodox Rabbis may not sit on organizations with non-orthodox Jews lest it be perceived as endorsement of non-orthodox values. I don’t think it’s a great tactic, nor do I think it’s wise in the long run. Writing for Tradition Magazine, Rabbi Shubert Spero addressed this issue in 1966 and we can see how things have changed since then. Rabbi Spero was writing about engaging non-orthodox Jews. Engaging orthodox Jews wasn’t an issue in 1966.

Look where we are today. We still don’t participate with non-orthodox Jews. In fact the Yated recently addressed this very issue, going so far as to compare Reform Jews in the mid-20th century with the Women of the Wall and MK Lipman. The Yated takes for granted that it would be prohibited to work together with Reform Jews, the additional point was that this rule would also apply to WoW and Lipman. In 1966 Rabbi Spero was hopeful that orthodox Jews could participate with non-orthodox Jews. Here we stand in 2013 and orthodox Jews cannot participate with orthodox Jews who associate with non-orthodox Jews! It seems to me we are going in the wrong direction.

What will it take to change the tenor of discourse in the orthodox Jewish community? I don’t know. Maybe an Asifa. An achdus Asifa.

Visit Fink or Swim.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “We Are Going in the Wrong Direction”

  1. Eric Leibman says:

    Simply, you are known by the company you keep. And if you spend your time with people who stink of rotting herring, the smell rubs off on you. Lipman has chosen to cast his lot with people whose loathing for the Yeshivah world is the most poorly kept secret in the Jewish world. A party that has helped engineer massive cuts to programs for Yeshivah families that will entail tremendous and unnecessary suffering, as any proposed cuts could have been accomplished gradually over a prolonged period of time. It is done out of aggressive malice, pure and simple, and Lipman shares the blame and helps make it happen.

  2. Eric Leibman says:

    "Worse, it has long been established that orthodox Rabbis may not sit on organizations with non-orthodox Jews lest it be perceived as endorsement of non-orthodox values. I don’t think it’s a great tactic, nor do I think it’s wise in the long run." Excuse me, but wasn't it Rabbi Dovid Feinstein (and I'll bet Rav Ahron Kotler of Lakewood) who had some hand in promulgating the ban on sitting on boards of joint organizations with reform and so on? If I am correct, then are you openly criticizing Rav Feinstein and Rav Kotler and pitting your opinion against theirs as if it were on the same level?

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Court Sentences Olmert to 8 Months in Jail for Talansky Scandal
Latest Blogs Stories
Audience at Israel Day Concert

The warnings came true: Among the 1000 released terrorists, many returned to terror activity

Rabbi Levinger (zt"l)

Torah is to be lived. Rabbi Moshe Levinger was a completely living Torah, the Torah of Eretz Yisrael

Tadmor - Yerushalmi

“Said Rabbi Yochanan: Happy are those who see the fall of Tadmor…” (Talmud Yerushalmi)

Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi is looking to come home to the Likud he abandoned a few years ago.

Why has Prime Minister Netanyahu given Erdan & Hanegbi insultingly low-level cabinet appointments?

Without Israel, the Jewish People are scattered nomads lacking Torah’s true national grandeur&power

Will it get better/worse for Bibi or does the wily Bibi know/plan something that will shock us all?

Dr. Vernon Smith, 2002 Economics Nobel Prize winner, on predicting housing markets & economic issues

100% of the ‘First Responders’ helping those Arab school girls were Jewish and they didn’t hesitate!

Women equalizing with men in all areas of Judaism is anathema to the very idea of male/female roles.

Bibi endorsing the “2 State Solution” endangers Israel, moving the policy Center-Right from far Left

Dear Opposition Members… You seem confused… Let me clear it up for you… You lost.

A tribute to Jerusalem by its finest troubador, David Herman.

Do the food giants really care about our health? Are consumers now eating healthier food?

If other pleasures exceed the joy we feel for Jerusalem, then something is wrong with our Judaism.

There will be peace when we listen to G-d and do want he tells us to do – all for our very own good.

We will celebrate and thank the L-rd for our blessings, determined to truly liberate our Holy sites

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

People act not because they think it’s right; they do what they do because it’s what they want to do

Dusk in the early morning hours seen from Mt Meron, Northern Israel. March 26, 2014.

What do we do when we want to be mad at God but we also want God to make it all better? Indeed, what do we do?

Rambam would also allow charity from a mumar as long as the person maintains basic belief in God and Judaism.

There is no song that tells the story of freedom like Shir HaShirim.

It is unfair to judge a 52 year old man with the glasses of a person who lives in a different world.

Adegbile was not making a moral statement by representing a man convicted of killing a cop.

Women learning Torah is becoming increasingly permissive, but women wearing tefillin is becoming increasingly stringent.

When the “offensive” statements in our Talmud were stated, no one thought they were offensive.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fink-or-swim/we-are-going-in-the-wrong-direction/2013/06/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: