I was following the coverage of yesterday's decision to grant Shaul Spitzer, the young man convicted of assault in the arson attempt against Aaron Rottenberg. As I watched the coverage, I found my utterly appalled and disgusted.
What disgusted and appalled me was not the fact that Spitzer was granted youthful offender status and will likely be released very soon. I may disagree with the decision, but it's something that I would just call a mistake. Perhaps Spitzer conned the judge into believing that he's been reformed. Heck, maybe he actually was reformed and will be a model citizen from here on in. All that's really beside the point.
What really bothers me, above all else, are the morals and values that have been displayed by the New Square community throughout this entire affair from the very beginning.
This began when Rottenberg decided to help form a minyan at a nearby nursing home, to help an resident there to say kaddish. This ran afoul of the rule in New Square that everyone had to daven at the Rebbe's shul (or someplace approved by him). As a result, Rottenberg became an outcast in the community. He was harassed and his property vandalized, so much to the point where he had video cameras installed around his property and had household members continually monitoring them.
All this culminated in the early morning hours of May 22, 2011 when Spitzer attempted to firebomb the Rottenberg home and was only prevented from doing so when Rottenberg himself came out and physically stopped him. In the ensuing scuffle, Rottenberg was severely burned. Spitzer was arrested, convicted and imprisoned. From the start, the New Square community has rallied around Spitzer and supported him. After yesterday's court decision, they danced victoriously in New Square, celebrating Spitzer release and return to the community.
This whole episode has underscored to me, just how immoral the community of New Square has become. This is a community that felt that it's perfectly justified to harass and terrorize a man and his family for the "sin" of helping someone say kaddish. This is a community that would probably throw someone out for the sin of having unfiltered internet, a television or an unapproved newspaper or book, but someone who commits arson and attempts to murder a family in their sleep is welcome back not only with open arms, but with singing, dancing and celebration.
New Square purports to be a community where they hold to the traditional values of the Torah, keep its commandments and follow the traditions of our Sages. But that's all a lie. There's no commandment in the Torah to harass someone for davening in a different shul. There is no tradition from our Sages to sneak up on a family and attempt to burn them in their sleep. There is no custom to celebrate when someone who attempts murder is released from jail. So, no... this is not a community based on the Torah.
This is a community based on the values of control and conformity. The entire community is beholden to the word of the Rebbe and everyone must conform to that, in speech, in language, in dress and in comportment. No one may deviate in any respect without the approval of the Rebbe -- regardless of whether or not the Torah permits (and perhaps requires) it. And no act, if done for the Rebbe or the community, is bad -- even if it goes against everything the Torah stands for.