Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

There's The Forest And Then There's The Leaves

One of the valid complaints some OTD's have about Torah Judaism is our tendency to obsess over the little things and forget the big picture.  We are so worried about being on time for davening that we'll push people out of our way and into the mud in order to get to shul on time.  We're so worried about developing the right kavannah during prayers that we'll sway and mumble loudly, distracting the guy next to us so he won't have a change to concentrate on his prayers.  We step over the beggar in the street while thinking about a sugya in the Gemara and it never occurs to us to see if the guy needs any help.  Forget the trees.  We can't see the forest for the leaves.
And the latest winner of an award in this area would seem to go to the Vishnitzer Rebbe, if this report is accurate.

According to a Kikar Shabbat report, the Vishnitzer Rebbe from Monsey Shlita may boycott the main Siyum HaShas because “Zionist rabbis” are expected to address the tzibur. This apparently may also lead to other prominent rabbonim and admorim shlita to boycott the event.
Until this announcement, residents of Eretz Yisroel were envious of Jews in North America which was holding one major siyum for all as opposed to in Eretz Yisrael there are siyumim for Ashkenazim, Sephardim, litvish and dati leumi. The rebbe’s announcement however changes all of this.
Invited to address that forum is Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita as well as Rosh Yeshivas HaMekubalim Ahavas Shalom HaRav HaGaon Yaakov Hillel Shlita.

Now let's look at the context.  We are here in the middle of the Three Weeks, the bein hametzarim.  We hear over and over again about the causes of the destruction of our holy Temple (may it be speedily rebuilt) and list loshon horo, sinas chinam and bizui talmidei chachamim prominently as reasons as to why the Har HaBayis is still in the hands of our enemies.
Now I am certain that in matters of personal practice the Vishnitzer Rebbe is an extremely scrupulous inidividual.  I am sure he eats no food that is not mehadrin min mehadrin min mehadrin and that his Shabbos behaviour is 180 degrees different from the rest of the week.  He probably has the finest tefillin around (both Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam) and immerses himself in Torah study from the crack of dawn until late into the night if not longer.
And while he can identify every leaf, he seems to have no clue about the forest that is the totality of Judaism.
Let me focus on Rav Yisrael Meir Lau, shlit"a.  Here is a true Gadol, a man who lived through the lowest and highest points of Jewish history since the destruction of our Temple.  He served as a distinguished Rav and Chief Rav in Israel without compromising his Torah practice or standards despite the criticism it brought him from some in the secular world.  He worked tireless to close  the gaps between different parts of the Orthodox world and unite Torah Jews.  To this day he continues to build bridges and encourage cooperation in our community.  He is a true example of what a Rav should be and can accomplish.
And the Vishnitzer?  How does he dare to criticize such a man?  Exactly what has he accomplished that he can raise his voice in criticism of Rav Lau?  Has he suffered like him?  Has he helped build Eretz Yisrael like him?  Has he opened his heart to all Jews regardless of their backgrounds as long as they approach Torah sincerely?
I have no doubt that the Vishnitzer Rebbe, if he really did release this statement, thinks that he is increasing holiness in the world by refusing to contaminate his heiliger presence with "Zionist rabbis".  But for those of us on the outside, he has done a different valuable service.  He has reminded us that we have to spend less time examine the fine patterns on the edge of the leaves and instead step back and look at the whole forest.  Only in this way can we restore any sense of purpose to Torah Judaism and move our redemption forward.
Of course, he probably doesn't see it that way because there's a really interesting piece of moss on that bark over there...


AztecQueen2000 said...

I thought the point of the Torah was to separate Jews from Gentiles, not separate Jews from other Jews!

SJ said...

Are you kidding me Aztec?

One of the few things orthodox are good at is pushing away other types of jews even other types of orthodox.

JG said...

During Bein HaMetzarim Kamtza and Bar Kamtza are alive and well.
A little bit is Sinas Yisroel and Sinas Chinam goes a long way.
The Vishnitzer Rebbe considers his behavior as a crown to the Torah.
Vai Meh Haya Lonu.

SJ said...

Zeir sham said...

R goen called lau a noef after many scandels in the local press , Plus financial misdoings and plagerism . He betrayed the habad rebbi on shmita.