Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Time Has Come To Speak Up

Rabbi Horowitz has written a column about the recent conviction of Elhanan Buzaglo. Buzaglo, who was working one of the "modesty patrols" in Israel, was paid $2,000 to beat up a 31-year old divorcee who, it was felt by some members of the community, did not live up to their ideals of tznius. After agreeing to a plea bargain, Buzaglo will be in jail for four years.

In his column, Rabbi Horowitz suggests that we have reached the point where we can no longer be silent. If we are going to address the problem of abuse and violence in our community, we have to first confront it, stand up in public and denounce it, and demand of our leaders (both religious and secular) that it has to end.

As he writes:

The time has come for us to speak out, telling our children and students in unequivocal terms, “These people are criminals and sinners – and do not represent us!” Our publications should begin reporting these incidents in the news sections of our papers, condemn them in our editorials, and call upon the police to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

We should stop using politically correct terms like “misguided youths” to describe cowards who beat women for sitting in the “wrong” sections of buses and physically assault peaceful citizens who do not dress according to their standards – observant or otherwise. “Misguided youth” implies that they engaged in a prank, like a water fight, or that they went overboard in pursuit on a noble goal. There is nothing noble about these acts – or the terrorist mentality that glorifies them.


We must clearly and unequivocally condemn the violence each time it happens in the strongest language. Halachic (Judaic law) rulings ought to be issued, that those who commit violence against innocent people are rodfim (individuals who present a real and present danger to others) and one is obligated by our Torah to defend the victim and report the criminals to the police.

I am posting this column on my website (www.rabbihorowitz.com ) and I respectfully call upon charedim worldwide to post a comment at the bottom of the column with your name and email address and the city where you live supporting the sentiments expressed here.

I *strongly* urge you to go to Rabbi Horowitz's site and sign - preferably with your real name and city, but if not, at least go and lend your support in the thread. As Rabbi Horowitz concluded:

If enough Torah-observant individuals stand up, distance ourselves from these criminals, and demand action from our elected officials, we might affect changes which will restore honor to G-d’s name and end these acts of terror that plague us.

Amen, V'Ken Y'hi Ratzon...

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

Rabbi Horowitz definitely gets credit for bravely speaking up and taking a stand on this issue. He rightfully condemns those who are quiet on the issue, saying "remaining silent in the face of violent and lawless acts perpetrated by individuals purporting to represent Torah values is the greatest chillul Hashem of all." And he doesn't mince words when bravely pointing to the chareidi MK's, demanding that they, as representatives and leaders of the chareidi community, take decisive action, and demonstrate real torah leadership.

But it's plainly obvious that he continues to avoid pointing the finger where it really should be aimed. What about the gedolim?! How come they haven't spoken up and taken a stand? To ask for action from a chareidi MK is a joke! Everyone knows that no one in the chareidi public really cares too much what they say or do. The real people who the chareidi street looks up to are the gedolim, and R' Horowitz still is too chicken to point that out. Shouldn’t the problem of remaining silent in the face of this travesty also apply to them? If, as he says, "remaining silent... is the greatest chillul Hashem of all", why haven't we heard from the gedolim, who have an even greater responsibility to avoid such chillul hashem than the MK's do? In fact, the chareidi MK's all say about themselves that their policies and statements are all reflections of the wishes of the gedolei hador, so if he is placing responsibility on them, then it should also be placed on those who they are representing.

Mikeinmidwood said...

Rabi Horrowitz is da bomb. If this gets through then it will be about time

Jeff Eyges said...

I agree with Heydot. The gedolim are the leaders of Hareidi society, and they decline to speak out publicly against these acts, yet Horowitz doesn't address this.
Horowitz himself posted the first comment below the article, in which he says, "As the host of this site, I respectfully ask you not to use this forum and thread to write things that are disrespectful to our gedolim shlita. Feel free to disagree with my writing in your comments, but please be restrained in your comments as far as our rabbonim and gedolim are concerned."

I suppose it's courageous in a way, as pressure to conform is so strong that any criticism of their society can be seen as an attack, and may lead to repercussions.

Interestingly, Benzion Twerski also left a comment comparing this situation to that of child abuse within the Hareidi community. He decries the "the animalistic and barbaric reactions", but also says, "The challenge in completing this is that the system that is being developed by halacha abiding Jews must comply with requirements of the Shulchan Aruch. Just because the molester is a monster (I’m being mild here), doesn’t give anyone the green light to jump up with guns blaring and create havoc."

Change will not come from within the community; it has to be imposed from without. Only pressure and sanction from secular authorities, along with removal of financial subsidies from governmental and Jewish philanthropic agencies, will have any effect. Given the current economic climate and the situation with Madoff, the latter seems increasingly likely.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what Horowitz is doing is powerful in a different way than demanding action from the "Gedolim." In a sense, he's letting the people empower themselves on this issue, so change can start moving from the bottom up. No?