There has been rabbinic pressure on the Lakewood community to do everything they can to help Rabbi Kolko. This has resulted in a campaign to raise money for his defense. It has also prompted one fellow to write text messages urging Lakewood residents to pressure the victim’s father to not testify. The fellow has been arrested and charged with witness tampering!
What a sad turn of events in the Torah world. Lakewood is a tremendous makom Torah (place of Torah). There is no place else like it in America. It’s sheer size testifies to the magnitude of its founder’s success. Rav Aharon Kotler probably never dreamed of such phenomenal growth.
There was a very good reason that he was considered the Gadol HaDor (greatest leader of the generation) by so many religious Jews of his time. The Yeshiva world that we have today can be directly traced to his tenacity in transferring the great Yeshiva world of Europe – destroyed in the Holocaust – to the United States. He created it in that image not veering one iota from his mission of establishing a Yeshiva where Torah was studied full time to the exclusion of all else. So successful was he, that not only has his yeshiva grown to an unimaginable size, entire generations of students are now populating not only Lakewood but many yeshivos just like it – both here and in Israel.
I am in fact very proud of this fact. Despite my strong support for Yeshivos like Yeshiva University and Hebrew Theological College, I strongly believe that there is a place – even a need – for yeshivos like Lakewood.
How sad therefore it is to see things like this happen. Lakewood’s reputation will be tarnished. Furthermore – you can’t have a premiere institution like this make bad decisions and not have it impact on all of observant Jewry.
We are a people whose mandate is Torah observance in all matters. Both between man and God and between man and his fellow man. As such we are required to be a light unto the nations. Not sure how this episode gets us there. I will conclude with the words of Rabbi Eidensohn:
Consequently Lakewood’s image of being the Jews who are truest to Torah will be tarnished. Their moral authority will be severely questioned and they are scared. I don’t expect you to believe any of this but just keep it in mind when the trial is over and the dust settles. There will be no attempt to deliberately besmirch Lakewood – but there will be a clear revelation of the truth. That is what they are afraid of!
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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