Long Island, NY - Jewish Star Editorial Calls Out The Two Chasidic Toldos Rebbe's Over Their Support For Vigilantes
Long Island, NY - The smart money says criticism of this weekend’s visit to Lawrence by an anti-Zionist chassidic rebbe from Jerusalem aligned with the Neturei Karta will be dismissed by some as the work of troublemaking bloggers (or perhaps of a muckraking newspaper that’s too modern for its own good).
What chutzpah! defenders of the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe will fume. Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Kohn is an adom gadol — a great man — a tzaddik, a talmid chachom, and a paragon of Yiras Shamayim and gemilas chasodim, too.
Very likely, that’s all true.
It is, however, not at all the point.
The Rebbe’s followers — at least a good number of them — are thugs and criminals who created an unprecedented desecration of G-d’s name with their violent street protests in Jerusalem.
In a few short weeks they managed to undo and turn around — v’nahafoch hu — a general perception of observant Jews as peaceful and genteel. In some cases they even altered our own self-perception; more than a few frum Jews this summer reported feeling discomfort at being seen as kin to the Orthodox hooligans in the news.
Yet, this weekend, in a display of shocking naïveté, the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe is to be feted and honored — and funded — at Cong. Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, even as the Rebbe’s brother, the even more extreme Toldos Aharon Rebbe, is making his own appearances in the New York area.
Make no mistake: there are female members of nearly every shul in this region who would run the real risk of being physically attacked, were they to walk in their everyday street clothes through neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh these rebbes control.
While well-meaning people in the Five Towns are proffering respect and kavod haTorah to someone who looks very different from them but ostensibly observes the same Torah, ask yourself if the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok or the Toldos Aharon communities would be terribly likely to extend the same courtesy in the reverse? Same tefillin, same mikvah, same Shabbos, same kosher. But not to them. Does that make us forgiving or foolish?
There are people in our community who cannot pay their mortgage. Who cannot pay tuition. Families that are in crisis and simply cannot make ends meet. They need and are entitled to our help first, based on the halachic ruling of aniyei ircha kodmim. It’s a shame if the community as a whole hasn’t yet internalized the Torah’s guideline, that charity must begin at home.
For those who say that Israel is local, and that supporting Torah study remains a primary value no matter what, fine — there are plenty of other kollelim and plenty of people in Israel who are more in line with our values.
You want a photo op with someone in Yerushalmi garb? Great. Go to Israel.
But here at home, why don’t we reserve scarce tzedakah dollars for people who don’t hold us in such low regard?
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