When we raise these issues:
- Because they are exceptionally troubling and reflect poorly on, not just Orthodox Jews, but on the Jewish people as a whole, we are:
- Expressing out desire as yet another face of the Jewish community to distance ourselves from these actions;
- Informing the Jewish public about these events and issues so that they will not go unnoticed or be swept under the rug;
- Attempting to call our community to action so that incidents of this nature can be prevented in the future;
- We have the intention of challenging the smug, false piety our many of the Orthodox commentors on Jewschool who brandish the righteousness of Orthodoxy as they condemn their non-Orthodox coreligionists (check out the comments on any post on this site mentioning Reform Judaism or autonomous Jewish movements) for the positions they are imagined to hold;
- We are challenging what seems to be the widely-accepted viewpoint that Orthodoxy is infallible, and that the Orthodox are the “true bearers of the Jewish tradition” who are beyond rebuke.
In doing so, we are decried for “attacking the Orthodox community,” while the issues we’re raising in-and-of themselves often go without being confronted, or are glossed over by apologists.
Take the Ramat Beit Shemesh incident, for example, in which it is alleged that the two Modern Orthodox boys who were attacked had publicly desecrated Shabbat. Their alleged and unproven violation of halakha is cited as a justifiable cause for their attack, while the attackers themselves are excused from their violation of halakha which prohibits a Jew from raising his hand to his fellow Jew, or delivering “justice” without the ruling of a beit din.
In Vayikra 19:18-19, it states, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your fellow. Do not bear that burden. Do not bear a grudge. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.”
It’s also been said that none in this generation are capable of giving proper rebuke, and to give rebuke in a way in which it will not be received is a sin in itself. I’ll admit my own fallability in that department. Will those Orthodox readers of Jewschool who endlessly assail us with hateful remarks acknowledge theirs?
In reading the responses to the original version of this post, it is clear that we have failed to be more specific, and more tactful, when confronting these challenging issues. And for that I apologize and pledge to work harder in the future to be more respectful of the greater Orthodox community whom I do not hold accountable for the actions of these individuals and groups.
In that, however, I believe we bear a collective responsibility towards one another: To hold each other to the highest standards so that we can excel in the eyes of one another, and in the eyes of God. I expect you to hold me to that, as much as you should expect it from me. And, in my struggle to learn to do so more artfully, tactfully, and respectfully, I will continue to hold the greater Jewish community to that challenge as well.