Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Emotionally Manipulative Fraudulent Tripe

A new letter is beginning to make the rounds on the internet and, possibly, other media.   The letter is about the recent murder of Leiby Kletzky, purported to be from "Moshela," a handicapped child.  I'm not going to post the entire letter -- it can be read online here or here.

Before we comment on the content of the letter itself, I will start out by saying that I am certain that the letter is a fraud.  There is no way that a child, handicapped or not, wrote this letter.  It's just not the way that a child writes or speaks.  In that respect, it reminds me somewhat of the famous letter of Revital Avraham, which, like this letter, tries to emotionally use a person's death (although, in that case, it was a fictional person's death) to manipulate people emotionally.

The letter basically tries to make the case that Orthodox American Jews are bad Jews.  An entire litany of sins (real and imagined) are laid out for us -- everything from talking during davening to eating sushi and pizza.  Yes, of course, tznius is mentioned as well (has there ever been a tragedy in the past twenty years that wasn't chalked up to a supposed lack of tznius standards?), as well as laxity in kashrus, too much gashmius (materialism) and other items.  He concludes by prophesying about terrible things coming in the next few months and that we must all repent our sins.

The kicker, of course, is that it isn't the killer who is responsible for Leiby Kletzky's death, but us.  As "Moishela" puts it:

Q: Why is it a Kiddush Hashem if he was killed by a Yid?
A: Because it does not matter who killed him. It was the Goyishkeit in ourselves that killed him so that makes it a Kiddush Hashem. A true Yid would never kill a child as this man did, only if he is totally deranged. And even so, a real Yiddishah Neshomah could never be guilty of such cruelty; therefore he died Al Kiddush Hashem. The Goyishkeit in us is what killed him.

Personally, reading letters like this make me sick.   It's one thing to try to advance your own agenda, but it's another thing to use a child's death to do so.  If you want to make the case that Jews need to change their conduct in certain areas, then by all means, make the case for it.  But don't tell me that Lieby Kletzky died because I ate a slice of pizza. There's only so much manipulative tripe I can take, and this letter went well beyond that.  That's not to say that "Moishela" doesn't have some valid points.  I think most of us can agree, for example, that talking and texting during davening is wrong and disrespectful.  He may have some valid point in other parts of his letter as well.  But when he wraps the whole thing up in an emotionally manipulative letter that blames everyone and everything except the actual killer (and lies about the authorship of the letter to boot), then I lose interest in the entire message he's trying to convey.

The Wolf

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Good Old Siddur

There is a small maroon softcover siddur that I keep in my tallis bag and which I use every day.  I bought the siddur from a seforim store back in 1984 or 1985.   The design on the cover and the lettering on the spine have long since faded away.  Some of the pages are a bit faded and a number of the page corners are dog-eared or missing entirely.  The edges of the pages have long since lost their bright white glow and turned a dingy, dull gray.

I have sometimes been asked why I use such an old siddur.  Most people would retire a run-down, well-worn siddur after twenty-five years, especially when the siddur wasn't an inheritance or gift from a special relative, rebbe, friend, etc.  After all, siddurim are not particularly expensive.

As it turns out, there is a reason why I keep this particular siddur and use it daily.  The reason for it can be best explained after you've seen a scan of two pages.

There are eleven pages in the siddur that have scribbles on them in the same red ink.  These scribbles were made by Walter about sixteen years ago when he got a hold of my siddur and a red pen one day when I wasn't looking.  I remember, at the time, being somewhat upset about it, since I had already been using the siddur for a number of years and I happened to like it.

But in the years that have followed, the siddur has grown on me, precisely because my young son scribbled on eleven of the pages.  Those pages have come to have special meaning and significance for me over the years.  I've learned to understand that when I see those pages, I now have something to pray for -- my children.  I see the pages and I'm reminded that I have to pray for their welfare -- their physical welfare, their emotional and spiritual welfare, their social welfare and probably a dozen other welfares as well.  You'd think that a person shouldn't need a reminder to pray for something, but sometimes we show up for davening in the morning bleary-eyed and half-asleep and just "go through the motions" without taking the time to reflect upon what it is that we are asking our Creator for and why we are asking it of Him.  But I have something to help me focus on what's important.  I have some red scribbles on the opening pages of my siddur that has, for the past sixteen years, reminded me of why I need to entreat my Creator.

I may have been upset at the time, but, in retrospect, I realize that I owe a great deal of gratitude to my then-toddler son.  By taking a red pen to my siddur, he has given me a reminder everyday to focus my prayers on the important things in life.

The Wolf