Tuesday, July 07, 2009

They Will Be Held Accountable

In the comment thread to yesterday's post, Off The Derech took me to task (unfairly, IMHO) for excusing Lakewood residents for some particularly nasty letters that have come out of the community in the last week. While I thought I was being fair and even-handed there, I will admit to OTD that I do sometimes try to give people the benefit of the doubt, even if it's not entirely deserved.*

Last year, I posted about people in Jerusalem who throw stones at cars on Shabbos, or take extreme measures to enforce tznius rules and the like. I really wanted to believe that their hearts are in the right place and that it's only their actions that are misguided. I really did want to believe that. And so I posted that the people who engaged in these actions were causing far more harm than good. By throwing stones at cars on Shabbos, they weren't encouraging even one person to keep Shabbos -- on the contrary, they were further pushing people further away from Shmiras Shabbos.

A number of my commentators on that post made the point that the people involved in these activities aren't interested in kiruv, but rather in "reinforcing" their own position. I suppose, deep down, I knew they were right, despite my desire for it to be otherwise. And yet, perhaps naively, I held out hope that perhaps my commentators were wrong.

Well, at this point, I'm no longer willing to let myself be played the fool for them. I've read about the protests that have occured, sometimes violently, over the last two weeks in Jerusalem - and I'm convinced. Sad to say, I'm have to finally admit to myself that the people who are protesting Chillul Shabbos in Jerusalem, by and large, do not really care one whit about Shmiras Shabbos.

If they truly cared about Shmiras Shabbos, they would take the appropriate actions to see to it that Shabbos was kept by as many people as possible. If they truly cared whether or not people outside their own little community kept Shabbos, they would engage in outreach and show people who drive on Shabbos the beauty of Shabbos. If national Shmiras Shabbos was truly their goal they would try to make a *positive* example.

Instead, however, they are doing the opposite. By protesting in a violent manner, they are (knowingly, IMHO) pushing people further away from Shmiras Shabbos. By engaging in the destruction of property, they are telling unaffiliated people that those who keep Shabbos are hooligans -- and very few people want to join a gang of hooligans.

I'm a *very* patient person -- sometimes to a fault. I also try to give people the benefit of the dobut -- again, sometimes to a fault. But at this point, I feel that my patience has been stretched beyond it's limit. There comes a point when I have to believe that people are acting disingenuously -- when their stated goals are different than their true goals. At this point I can no longer believe that those who claim to care about Chillul Shabbos actually do so -- because they are ultimately causing more Chillul Shabbos by their actions.

I always believed (and still do) that our goal was to encourage observance of the mitzvos. I believe that HaShem wants us to bring people *to* His service, not push them away. Unless someone can logically show me that the protestors believe that their actions will cause non-observant Jews to become observant (and do so convincingly) I'm forced to conclude that furthering observance among the non-observant is not their goal.

If people truly cared about Shabbos, they would protest in the way that Rabbi Yosef Haim Zonnenfeld used to protest. One time he heard about a store that was opened on Shabbos. So, what did he do? Did he gather his students to throw rocks at the store window? Did he begin to act violently? Did he threaten the store owner? No. What he did was to grab a chair and head down to the store with a Tehillim. He sat at the entrance to the store and began to recite tehillim. Eventually, the store owner came to understand the importance of keeping the store closed on Shabbos. Rabbi Zonnenfeld knew the proper goal -- to get someone to willingly keep Shabbos -- and he chose the appropriate actions to accomplish that goal. At one time I believed that those were also the goals of the people who protest in Jerusalem -- but I no longer believe so.

It's taught in Judaism that there are three days of Judgement. There is Rosh HaShannah, when we are judged for our actions over the previous year. Then there is the day of death, when we are judged for our actions over the course of our lifetime. Then there is the final Day of Judgement. One can rightfully ask, what's the point of the final Day of Judgement? It's not as if the person did anything different between the time of his death and the final Day of Judgement. He didn't do any additional mitzvos nor did he commit any additional aveiros. So, what's the point of the judgement?

I heard an answer (and sadly, I don't remember whose answer it was) that on the final Day of Judgement, we aren't judged only for our actions, but for any effect our behavior had on history. A rebbe may only teach one generation of children, but if those children grow up and raise Torah-observant families and part of the reason is because of that rebbe, and further generations keep the Torah and observe the mitzvos because of the actions of that rebbe, then he gets the benefit of that in the final Day of Judgement.

Sad to say, but I believe that when the final Day of Judgement comes around, not only are the violent protestors going to be held accountable for their own actions, but also for the fact that they pushed people (and, potentially, their children, children's children and so on down the generations) away from Shabbos observance (and Torah observance in general). At some point, they *will* be held accountable for the Chillul Shabbos that they have caused and will be causing for years and generations.

The Wolf


* And, yes, OTD, that goes for everyone, not just frum people.

13 comments:

tesyaa said...

Didn't realize you were British -- the spelling "judgement" is the British spelling, not the American.

Off the Derech said...

I appreciate this post. You were willing to criticize without any sort of excuse whatsoever. I do appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

>I believe that HaShem wants us to bring people *to* His service, not push them away.<

He has a strange way of doing that, seeing that the words "Mos Umos" appear over and over with reference to anyone violating the Shabbos...

ZachM said...

Anon,
I believe your post was a complete non-sequitor. Those words are directed mainly to scare and deter, as can be seen from the ridiculous circumstances it would take to incur the death penalty. And anyway, this deterrent could easily take someone who would otherwise have violated the Shabbat, make him think twice, and prevent him from doing so. Then, since he did not violate the Shabbat, he has not set a precedent in his own mind for continued violation of the commandments (which, admit it, we all do to some extent) and may, in fact, enable this would be violator to return to God in heart as well as action.

Ari said...

I think Anon 1:28 put his finger on why these mobs feel as if rioting and destroying is justified. They probably feel as if the Torah gives them permission to enforce the death pernalty, as illustrated by the fellow who was executed as a result of performing work on Shabbos.

Of course, their reasoning is flawed for a variety of reasons, chief among them:

- we don't have a sanhedrin these days

- the "violators" may be unaware or unsure if their actions constitute melacha

- they are missing an opportunity to show Shabbos' beauty to others

- they, themselves, are performing melacha and aveiros of their own

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

If they truly cared about Shmiras Shabbos, they would take the appropriate actions to see to it that Shabbos was kept by as many people as possible. If they truly cared whether or not people outside their own little community kept Shabbos, they would engage in outreach and show people who drive on Shabbos the beauty of Shabbos. If national Shmiras Shabbos was truly their goal they would try to make a *positive* example...

...There comes a point when I have to believe that people are acting disingenuously -- when their stated goals are different than their true goals. At this point I can no longer believe that those who claim to care about Chillul Shabbos actually do so -- because they are ultimately causing more Chillul Shabbos by their actions.
"

I think you have (once again) completely missed the boat here, Wolf.

Where did you get the impression that these protests are to promote general Shemiras Shabbos and protest general chillul Shabbos?
I thought the protesters were very explicit: The sanctity of Jerusalem as a city of kedusha is the object of preservation. Not Shemiras Shabbos per se.
PUBLIC MUNICIPAL desecrations of kedushas Shabbos in Jerusalem are percieved to reduce the "Shabbos sanctity" of the city overall.
Their stated goal is to halt the municipality's involment in Chillul Shabbos because it is the municipality of the holy city of Jerusalem.
There is nothing disingenuous about this whatsoever.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Just a little tip for future intelligent discussions on the topic of demonstrations:

I've come to realize that this is true generally with ALL Chareidi protests in Israel. It's never to promote understanding and spread observance to the secular public. (Which is indeed tragic)
It's always explicitly to preserve the sanctity of the location/neighborhood/city/niftar that is being desecrated by the policies of secular scientists/doctors/gay organizations/businesses/government/municipality.

Anonymous said...

>Those words are directed mainly to scare and deter, as can be seen from the ridiculous circumstances it would take to incur the death penalty.<

Ridiculous circumstances? Tzelafchad gathered some twigs up and, next thing you know, he's history.

ZachM said...

Tzelfachad met those ridiculous circumstances INTENTIONALLY. He meant to set an example and he did. Yes, his transgression was seemingly minor, but he did it in front of two witnesses and with a warning. It would take a death wish, which Tzelfachad had, rightly or wrongly, to incur the death penalty.

Menachem Lipkin said...

I thought the protesters were very explicit: The sanctity of Jerusalem as a city of kedusha is the object of preservation. Not Shemiras Shabbos per se.
PUBLIC MUNICIPAL desecrations of kedushas Shabbos in Jerusalem are percieved to reduce the "Shabbos sanctity" of the city overall.
Their stated goal is to halt the municipality's involment in Chillul Shabbos because it is the municipality of the holy city of Jerusalem.
There is nothing disingenuous about this whatsoever.


In a vacuum, maybe. But everything about this is disingenuous. For starters Mayor Lopianski also opened at least one municipal lot during his administration. Yet, there was nobody protesting the sanctity of Shabbos. Could it have anything to do with the fact that Lopianski is Chareidi? Of course not, cause that would be disingenuous.

Then, of course, there's the actual claim that opening the lot, for free with a non-Jewish attendant, somehow violates Shabbos. Maybe it's a fine point for poskim to argue, but it's certainly not clear cut. (The Chareidi members of the city council initially sanctioned it.) One could even make the argument that opening the lot reduces chilul Shabbos by enabling drivers to spend less time driving around looking for spots.

You also ignore the fact that this was done as a public safety measure. Because of the lack of parking lots people were parking illegally and blocking roads making it hard for emergency vehicles to pass. One could argue that this is an issue of pikuach nefesh and would certainly override any minor rabbinic issues involved in opening the lot.

No, this has nothing to do with the sanctity of Shabbos and everything to do with an attempt to get revenge on the non-Chareidi mayor and the Chareidim who helped elect him.

In other words, it's very disingenuous.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

If I'm not mistaken, The Eidah HaChareidis is a major force in organizing these protests. This organization does not allow its members to vote in ANY election and had no horse in the mayorship race of Jerusalem. So this cannot be about revenge.

But let me not confuse you with the facts. You think it's disingenuous, so it must be.

cipher said...

It would take a death wish, which Tzelfachad had, rightly or wrongly, to incur the death penalty.

LOL! Yeah, right. He was just askin' for it! He had it coming!

Wolf, I'm continually amazed that you're continually amazed. As I said to you a few weeks ago, you grew up in that world, or on its fringes, and you've written about the suffering you experienced - yet, at midlife, you're still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that this is who they are.

The frum world has been commandeered by the Hareidim. They're in the process of collapse, and, when they go, they'll take the rest of Orthodoxy with them - and, collectively, it'll be your own damn fault.

ZachM said...

"LOL! Yeah, right. He was just askin' for it! He had it coming!"

I think you misunderstood my Tzelafchad comment. It is well documented that his intentions were holy--only to serve as an example that the death penalty will, in fact, be carried out, even upon the greatest of the Jews--if misguided.

And i absolutely don't argue your point that the Chareidim are effectively fighting to drag Judaism down, i was just disputing your point that the actual precepts of Judaism condone such action