Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rabbinic Approval of Community Events

The Jewish Community Council of Marine Park is sponsoring an emergency blood drive tonight at K'hal Bnei Torah ("Rabbi Schiffenbauer's shul" -- 3514 Flatlands Avenue -- Google map link) from 6:30 to 11:00 PM tonight.  I urge all those who are eligible to give blood to do so.  I plan to be there myself later on in the evening and drop off a pint of Wolfish blood.  Donating blood is a mitzvah and saves lives.  On top of that, they'll even serve you dinner too.

I found out about this event through a flier that was distributed in various shuls in the neighborhood.  At the bottom of the flyer were printed the following words:

This Blood Drive has the complete support & endorsement of the Vaad Horabbonim of Marine Park.

This is not the first time I've seen this sort of disclaimer for an event.  In fact, I've been seeing them more and more often over the last few years on all sorts of events from children's carnivals to gatherings to discuss serious communal issues.

I'm not going so far as to say that there are no events that shouldn't have rabbinical oversight or endorsement, but one wonders why you would need rabbinical endorsement for something as simple as a blood drive.  Even if you thought there might be a halachic issue with giving blood (I'm certainly not aware of any issues that  have a valid logical basis), that's why we have rabbis to ask questions of, correct?  If I saw a flier for a blood drive and I thought it might be a problem, I would simply call up my local orthodox rabbi and say "Rabbi, there's a blood drive tonight and I'd like to donate but I'm not sure if it's allowed because of reasons X, Y and Z..."  You should not require a rabbinic committee to approve an event or organization that is a mitzvah and providing a benefit to the community.  An ad to raise funds for a charity such as Tomche Shabbos shouldn't need to say something along the lines of "approved by the Vaad Harabbonim of...." That's not to say that organizations shouldn't have a rabbinic adviser to whom they can turn when they have a question -- organizations should have just such an adviser.  But this obsession with getting rabbinic approbation for any event is just another sign of the fact that common people are abdicating their responsibility to use common sense and good judgment.

One wonders where this is all going in the future.  Will my kids be sending out invitations to their sons' bar mitzvahs with the line "Approved by the Vaad harabbonim..." on it?  Or will my future five-year old grandchildren receive an invitation to a friend's birthday party that reads "Come to Chavie's Birthday Party!  Approved by the Vaad Harabonnim!?"

The Wolf


david a. said...

First, i don't want to seem petty, but your use of the word "disclaimer" is incorrect.

I think the premise of your post is wrong. RW Judaism, in all its stripes, has a huge problem of NOT accepting anything as “valuable” or on the negative side as “seriously wrong” if the source of this value is non-jewish. The same goes for donating blood. If “daas torah” really understood the worth of giving blood they would make it a annual or semi-annual requirement.

So don’t diss any endorsement of “good” from any rabbinical authority…it could only add to the good, not detract.

Mighty Garnel Ironeheart said...

There are enough people out there who consult their rabbis about which brand of toilet paper to buy. Certainly there are also enough people out there who are worried that their precious Jewish blood might wind up in unworthy Gentile veins and that this might be a halachic problem. For those people, not the ones who actually think for themselves, this recommendation is very helpful.

Big Dave said...

"There are enough people out there who consult their rabbis about which brand of toilet paper to buy".

Yeah but that is legit for two reasons: 1) It might be the kind you have to tear and that would be wrong wrong wrong. 2) If you consult a rabbi about what goes in your mouth, you should surely discuss what goes in the other end.

tesyaa said...

whoa, I agree with Garnel. Plus, if it gets people to give more blood, it's a good thing. They give out free cookies & juice, so why not a free haskama? :)

Chaim Dovid said...

It was nice to finally see "The Wolf". :)

efrex said...

(1) As a long-time proponent of donating blood, I concur that anything that gets more people to give is a good thing.

(2) My only complaint is that the va'ad has this as a "supported and endorsed" event. To my way of thinking, it is a chiyuv for every eligible person to donate blood as often as possible. What a kiddush hashem if the Jewish community were known for their punctiliousness in saving lives.

Mike S. said...

Perhaps they are intending to pasken whether the parents of the nurses can give blood. There is a real question, that remains controversial to this day, over how to understand the machloket in Perek Hanechnakin (the 10th or 11th perek of Sanhedrin, there is a machloket rishonim about the order) about children drawing parent's blood for constructive purposes (actually, the machloket is in part about whether the summary I offered above is correct)

JRS said...

it's certainly true that a 'rabbinical seal of approval' might in some way get more people to give blood, which is good--- but that seems to be missing the larger point of this post, which was the fast-growing tendency to look for rabbinic approval on the most mundane, common-sense things---a very, very bad thing.
(when we abdicate responsibility for everything requiring independent thought, that's bad.)