Thursday, June 26, 2008

Protest against the Offensive Gay Parade - Kikar Shabbos



Rabbi Moishe Sternbuch told those participating in the right-wing rally that "even the small community gathering here is a deterring force, a few of a few is also good. This is a time of concealed faces. The L-rd must bear protest and welcome our forgiveness." He concluded his speech by saying, "They have no part in Israel and may their names be erased." The crowd then answered, "Amen".



The Yeshiva and the Bridge

In order to be more sensitive and aware of what is going on in the streets of Yerushalayim, I went with my daughter to see the String Bridge - after the official event was over. We walked from Kanfei Nesharim - passing by the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva. The yeshiva is only a stone's throw from the bridge. This is the picture I got of the yeshiva and the bridge.





Gedolim call for protest demonstration - against Offensive Gay Parade - at Kikar Shabbos 4 P.M. today!

Gedolei Torah - call for protest gathering of prayer and repentance against the Chillul HaShem, profanation of the holy Jewish people, desecration of the Holy Land, desecration of the Holy City caused by the Parade of Tumah

This protest gathering of sanctity and prayer will take place at the same time as those who are doing the deeds of Amalek and descrecrate the Holy City.

THURSDAY 23 OF SIVAN
KIKAR SHABBOS 4 P.M.

Bring a sefer Tehilim and drinking water

Signed by:
R' Yosef Shalom Eliashiv
R' Shalom Cohen
R' Yochanon Sofer
R' Shmuel Auerbach
R' Ovadiah Yosef
R' Yitzchok Sheiner
R' Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg
R' Moshe Tzadka

A separate announcement was put out by HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita

Offensive gay parade to close Jerusalem streets on Thursday

Arutz Sheva reports:
Thursday's road-closings will be less festive, though possibly no less disruptive. The police plan to close downtown streets including Agron, King David, and Emek Refaim, from 4-7 PM, to make way for the controversial gay parade. The marchers will gather near Independence Park at 4 PM, will begin parading at 5 PM towards Liberty Bell Park, and will hold a rally there at 6 PM.

Several anti-parade demonstrations are scheduled to be held in the city at around the same time, including one at the main Jaffa-Ben-Yehuda intersection at 4 PM.

Late last week, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the parade, calling it a provocation. The Court refused to cancel the parade, and Supreme Court Justice Ayalah Procaccia even said that it was important that parades such as this "become a normal part of the routine and not arouse storms of protest each year."

Religious Knesset Members had asked that the parade at least be held in a closed area, such as a stadium, in order not to "offend the sensibilities of Jews, Moslems and Christians." Though this solution was implemented two years ago, it will not happen this time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Anonymous claims that I don't have a clue as to what is going on in Yerushalayim

Anonymous commented on my post "Do protests corrupt our society - or strengthen i...":
========================================
I had written:

The Shomer Emunim Rebbe told me that if a person enjoys being a kanoi - he is not allowed to be one. It is not a game for excitement.

Anonymous commented:

Except from my experience on the ground in Yerushalayim, most of the people who protest are the ones who "enjoy" it.

There are very very few who protest who actually don't draw enjoyment/excitement from it.

Put it this way, I would hazard to say (hazard as no statistics, just based on views on the ground) that a larger percentage of people who view themselves kanoim are doing it for the wrong reasons (i.e. enjoyin it) then those who go to co-ed jewish schools (as most simply think its the best school for their children, albiet they might be mistaken).

And this even in small cases, not major ones like have provoked this discussion.

For example, I was waiting with my mother in the outskirts of bnei brak once for a bus. There were some chareidim, but as it was on the outskirts it wasn't really a chareidi area, and a chiloni soldier came with what I assume was his girlfriend. They held each other and kissed. An older woman scolded them harshly. However, it wasn't just scolding, there was an air of superiority, of being happy to scold them, of getting pleasure from it, as well as affirmations from the chareidim around her.

Another example is a someone in the Mir had an issue with his baal dira, that the landlord wanted to kick them out to raise rent. R. Finkel said it was assur what the baal dira was doing. So a friend, who enjoys being a protester/nudnik was the one who stood outside when prospective renters came and told all of them "The Rosh Yeshiva says its assur". I'm not particularly arguing that this is a kanoi case and hence is wrong, I just bring it as an example of enjoying, and that the people who would tend to protest loudly are the ones who gain enjoyment on some level from it. I personally think the RY is well aware of this, and hence why the sign was up in the Mir not to protest (I also tend to think that talmidim in the Mir have the best opportunity to learn middot when compared against the other major chareidi yeshivot).

At the end of the day, I really don't think you are sensitive enough to the facts on the street and what actually happens and how the majority actually feel.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Supreme Court rejects appeal to stop offensive gay parade

YNET writes:

Efrat Weiss

The High Court of Justice rejected Monday afternoon a petition filed by right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel against holding a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

As a result, the parade will take place as scheduled this coming Thursday.
In their ruling the judges said they took the parade's route into consideration, as well as a statement issued by the Open House organization according to which the marchers do not plan on provoking the capital's residents in any way.

The plan to hold the gay parade in Jerusalem has drawn the ire of several religious bodies. A few days ago Shas Chairman Eli Yishai, Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP), the United Torah Judaism party and Israel's chief rabbis demanded that the parade be called off or held in a closed venue.

This year's parade will begin in Jerusalem's Independence Park at 4 pm on June 26, and end in Liberty Bell Park with a ceremony presenting the gay community's call for equal rights, with the hope of promoting love and tolerance in the country's capital.

Mayor Uri Lupolianski recently urged the High Court to accept Ben-Gvir's petition prohibit the gay community from holding the parade in Jerusalem and described it as a "severe provocation".

In a letter to the court the mayor said, "Past experience shows that the parade greatly offends, deliberately and unnecessarily, the feelings of Jews, Muslims and Christians, who view its sheer existence, and the blatant manner in which it takes place, as a desecration of the holy city and of the values with which they were raised."

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, zt"l: Zealotry is necessary - but only if guided by a clear understanding of Torah


Emes L’Yaakov (Bereishis 49:7): ... Look at what I wrote previously in Bereishis (34:5). There I explained that it is certain that that this represents a punishment for Shimon and Levi, nevertheless Yaakov specifically appointed these tribes to these exalted responsibilities of educating the children and supervision of holy food. That is because only Shimon and Levi manifested the kano’as (zealotry) required for these jobs. This was seen by their response to Yaakov concerning the rape of their sister Dinah (Bereishis 34:5): “Is our sister to be a prostitute?” They alone were referred to as the brothers of Dinah because they were willing to sacrifice themselves for her welfare. Thus for these positions to be fulfilled successfully it is necessary to appoint people who have the attribute of kano’as (zealotry) and mesiras nefesh (total devotion) to serve G-d and His Torah. These positions require men who when they see something irregular, will immediately be aroused for the sake of G-d like an inferno and they will serve their position well. Therefore Yaakov specially appointed Shimon and Levi for this work.


However if we look carefully to see whether they in fact did these jobs according to their father’s expectations, we see that only the tribe of Levi actually did the work of education but not the tribe of Shimon. It was only the tribe of Levi that served as a strong barrier against those who arose to nullify the covenant with G-d. In contrast we don’t find that Shimon was involved in this work. The reason for this is clear. Only the tribe of Levi was exempt from working for Pharaoh during all the years of slavery. Thus only the tribe of Levi was able to sit and be immersed in Torah study. Only when kano’as (zealotry) is grounded and defined by Torah parameters - is it successful. That is why when the Leviim saw the terrible chilul HaShem that resulted from the sin of the Golden Calf they immediately expressed their zealotry for G‑d and killed even friends and relatives who were participating in the sin. Similarly when there were Jews in the Wilderness who wanted to return to Egypt, it was the Leviim who were in the vanguard against them. During the entire time that passed from the events concerning Dinah until the Redemption from Egypt they maintained their zealotry - but it was always bounded and guided by their deep knowledge of Torah.


In contrast, while the kano’as of Shimon was also strong it was not guided by Torah and thus did not have proper nature. When did his “kano’as" manifest itself? It was in the events of the worship of Baal Peor. It was Zimri who expressed this “kano’as” against the rule of Torah provided by Moshe. It was used to uproot the attribute of modesty which was then prevelant amongst the Jews. He expressed his zealotry by his open involvement in sexual immorality with the non‑Jewish woman. Therefore it was only the kano’as of Pinchus, from the tribe of Levi ,who was guided by the laws of the Torah who was able to attack Zimri and defeat him and stop the plague that was punishing the Jews. Kano’as which is not guided by halacha does not have the ability to be successful because it ultimately just destroys the kanoi. It is only the gedolim in each generation who have the proper intuition and sensitivity to know and decide when it is necessary to be a kanoi and to protest and when it is best to remain silent. This ability is only acquired by those who have the keys to Torah in their hands.

Religious parties call for offensive gay parade to be moved indoors

Yeshiva World News reports:

June 20, 2008

A letter was sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and the chief of police, calling upon them to move Thursday’s scheduled to’eva parade in Yerushalayim to an indoor venue.

The Shas, National Religious Party, United Torah Judaism and National Union Parties have joined forces in their effort, along with Israel’s chief rabbis, seeking to compel authorities to move the event to an indoor venue to prevent the chilul Hashem associated with such a happening in the streets of Yerushalayim.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

Do protests corrupt our society - or strengthen it?

The following response raises an important issue. I do agree that demonstrations have to be done in a reasonable and dignified way and that there have been responses in the past which were totally unacceptable. However I don't think that if a person protests one issue that of necessity he loses his ability to respond differently in other situations.

There is nothing inherently wrong with protesting - though it does need clear guidelines. Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky (Emes L'Yaakov Bereishis 49:7) - who was never accused of being a fanatic - asserted that the educational system must be in the hands of zealots. As the Chazon Ish has stated, religion which lacks passion is doomed.


The examples of beating up a woman on a bus or pouring acid - are obviously totally unacceptable - but don't mean that protests are invalid. There obviously needs to be an alternative to the extremes of violent protest and the attitude of passively accepting everything.

Do you also disapprove of the civil rights demonstrations in America or the demonstrations of the labor unions which brought about radical improvements of working conditions? What about the demonstrations for freeing Russian Jews? Demonstrations have a needed place in any society - but the question is how to do it to address the concerns you raise. Ignoring offense or injustice leaves you a different person then if you protested. This is a standard point of Chazal. See Ramban to Vayikra (19:17): "You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall chastise your neighbor, and not allow sin on his account." Do you believe in simply turning the other cheek?

However all this is probably a moot point since Rav Sternbuch told me that the police have prohibited counter demonstrations under threat of violent beatings.

=================================
R' Josh Waxman
said...

Aside from concerns I have aired on other posts, one *principle* reason I believe this approach of protest is misguided is as follows: The parade will come and go, whether you protest or not. But the encouragement to protest, and the rhetoric used, trains people to be kannaim. After you train people to react radically in *one* instance, they are more prone to act radically in other situations.

Do you really want your fellow Jews to be kannaim, to be Pinchases, in other situations? Even *if* this present situation merits it, you have to live with these people throughout the rest of the year.

The fellow who beat up the woman for daring to sit on the mehadrin bus -- he *also* was upset that such a terrible thing was being done in his holy Yerushalayim, on his holy mehadrin bus. The fellow who poured acid on that poor girl in Beitar Illit was horrified that a temptress would go about dressed like this in Israel. The same for those who pour bleach on clothing they deem non-tzniusdik. And the chareidim who protested the showing of a nature film on a flight to Uman. And so on and so forth. Perhaps you agree to one or two cases, but I would guess not to all of them.

However, the rhetoric used is equally applicable to all those other cases. And training people to react in this way will lead to an environment in which masses of people are kannaim.

Do you think that this is a positive direction for chareidi Judaism in Israel to take?

Understanding why the offensive gay parade - in challenging G-d and His Torah - is life threatening.

I have posted a number of times already, I, II, III, IV, V VI concerning the fact that most Jews - especially in Jerusalem - are strongly offended by the gay parade which is scheduled this week. Jerusalem is the center of holiness, the heart of the Jewish nation. Because of this holiness, the gay parade was deliberately scheduled in Jerusalem.

They claim that they are enlightened harbinger's of openness and acceptance. That they are offended by what the Torah says about them. They want to correct the hatred and divisiveness that they feel has resulted from the traditional Jewish views - views which have spread to Christianity and Islam. They want to uproot what they claim is the false belief of the Jews and other religions that G-d does not approve of their behavior and in fact views it as an abomination. They have portrayed it as a simple campaign against primitive beliefs which must give way to the superior ideas of the secular Western world. They sincerely want to educate religious Jews in what they view as advanced morality and ethics. They want to show us that peace will result from discarding outdated religious ideas and that if we accept their views -- peace is just around the corner. They sincerely believe that if Jews were just more tolerate and could accept that the Bible mistakenly proscribed their behaviors as deviate - then there would be genuine peace - not only in Israel but in the whole world. They think it is that simple.

Thus the confrontation revolves around a single question. which side is right and which is wrong. There is nothing in the middle. Either the Torah was given by G-d and we must keep it because G-d demands it of us - under threat of severe punishment - or it is an ancient superstition which is an impediment to the happiness of Mankind. Either the Torah is G-d given or it is an outdated superstition. Which is it?

It is important to understand that this is not a simple debate of philosophy, an argument between intellectuals in some ivory tower. We are located in the center of the Middle East. A powder keg that can explode at any second. Beside the traditional Arab enemies with the huge armies - we also face the nuclear threat of Iran. Iran has threatened to annihilate us if we try to defend ourselves. Even without the Bomb - we face daily bombardments from Hamas as well as threats from the Hezbollah and Syria. Please read this assessment in the New York Times. Israel in the Season of Dread. There is no need to be melodramatic and exaggerate. Reality is frightening as it is.

The Torah is very clear that if we don't live lives of purity and holiness - we will be punished and expelled from Israel. As Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita mentiioned to me last Shabbos - Israel has a paradoxical nature - it either encourages the ultimate holiness or the greatest perversion.. The organizers of the offensive parade - think that the idea of G-d telling us what is holy is a joke. Make love not war. Engage in every type of perversion and encourage others - not only to tolerate it - but also to join them.

We are literally clinging by our fingernails to the edge of a cliff. We are this moment literally in a life and death situation. The Torah is called the Tree of Life to those who cling to it. To those who are too weak to hold it tightly - they fall to their deaths. The gemora in Shabbos (55a) relates how the great saints of the Jewish people were condemned to death - not because they sinned. But because they didn't protest the sins of the people. Even though if they had protested it would not have helped. The Torah requires us to protest against every affront to G-d and the holy Torah - or suffer the consequences.

This Thursday there will be a choice for all of us - either to pretend that nothing is happening when the parade marchers openly challenge G-d and His Torah - or to protest in a dignified manner against this spiriutal poison. It is an opportunity for sanctification of holiness in sincere yet urgent protest - or the opposite. The consequences are literally those of life and death.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Missionaries, Messianic Jews & Christian Theology - from Aish HaTorah

Aish HaTorah published:

Evangelizing the Jews: The New Techniques
by Rabbi Tovia Singer

To bring about the Second Coming, fundamentalist Christians believe they must convert the Jews. Having failed in the past, they are now armed with a new arsenal of deceptive techniques.

No Sunday services take place here; this congregation meets only on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. You will never see a cross or an altar; there is an Aaron Hakodesh (holy ark) with a star of David adorning its velvet cover, and a Bimah (stage for prayer services) in the center of the sanctuary. The majority of the men who worship here wear kipot, and their tzitzit hang down the sides of their pants. This congregation's rabbi, among many other functions, reads from the Torah and makes Kiddush every Shabbat. Most of the women are modestly dressed. Joyous shouts of "Shabbat Shalom" and "Baruch Hashem" can be heard as young couples greet each other. The sanctuary pulsates to a modern Israeli musical beat.

If this sounds like a description of a traditional Jewish house of worship, think again. The above is actually a description of any one of the hundreds of Messianic "synagogues" which flourish throughout the world.

Confused? Many are.

Such congregations are designed to appear Jewish, but they are actually fundamentalist Christian churches which use traditional Jewish symbols to lure the most vulnerable of our Jewish people into their ranks. Messianic "rabbis," many of whom are Jewish by birth, are committed to bringing the Jewish people to know Jesus. Their agenda is to make Christianity more palatable to the uneducated Jew, and to the astonishment and horror of the Jewish community, their marketing ploys are proving to be successful.

Twenty-two years ago, twelve Messianic congregations existed in the United States. Today, more than 300 actively attract and recruit Jews who, because they lack a sound Jewish education and support system, are buying the manipulative rhetoric and persuasive techniques of the Hebrew-Christian missionary movement.

Additionally, there are over 600 Christian missions dedicated to converting the Jewish people. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 Hebrew-Christians in North America and Israel. As an exit-counselor who works with families to reclaim their Jewish family members from these churches, I can testify that the cost in terms of Jewish souls is dear.

WHO ARE THESE MISSIONARIES?

In order to understand the dynamics of the missionary problem, we must first understand who exactly these missionaries are.

To the Jewish community, the word "missionary" is a charged word, with a multitude of misconceptions attached to it. Typically, the word "missionary" is associated with those people who stand on street corners, annoyingly and ubiquitously distributing literature that tries to persuade individuals to believe in Jesus.

When we think of missionaries we might think of an organization with members, mailing lists, secretaries, and buildings to which we can point and say, "You see that building on 31st street, between Lexington and Park (New York headquarters of Jews For Jesus)? They are the missionaries."

This is merely one of a variety of misconceptions we have about missionaries and how they operate.

A number of years ago I lectured at a large university campus in Ohio. In my conversation with a dean we began to discuss the work I do. He immediately reassured me that at his university, they did not have a missionary problem. He recalled how years earlier there were indeed missionaries on his campus who distributed pamphlets and misused traditional Jewish symbols for the purpose of evangelizing. "But we don't have that here anymore," he insisted.

"Tell me, are there any fundamentalist born-again Christians on your campus?" I asked.

He quickly snapped, "What? Are you kidding? This is the Midwest! We're packed with them!" I then told him that indeed he had a serious missionary problem on his campus because, in reality, fundamentalist, born-again Christians are dedicated to the idea of bringing every Jew to a belief in Jesus.

Our second mistake is that we tend to view the Christian world as a monolithic group of gentiles who all essentially believe the same thing. In fact, the Christian world -- with hundreds of variant denominations that differ on numerous fundamental theological issues -- is far more diverse than the Jewish world. At a baseball game, it is sometimes difficult to know who the players are without a scorecard. Let's break down the Christian world for a moment so that we know precisely to whom we are referring.

THE COMPLEX CHRISTIAN WORLD

The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest denomination in Christendom. Yet despite its past often-bitter relationship with the Jewish people, today Catholics are for the most part not interested in converting Jews. I need not worry that a Catholic priest is going to evangelize any of my patients at a hospital. If anything, he is one of the people who will show me where I can secure a kosher meal.

Another significant segment of the Christian world, especially in North America, is the Protestant community. For our purposes, we will over generalize and divide the Protestant world into two groups.

One group, the mainline or liberal Protestants (Methodist, Unitarian, etc.), is not at all interested in converting Jews. Liberal leaning Protestant denominations tend to shy away from any form of Jewish evangelism. It is, however, the other highly motivated and vocal segment within the Protestant community -- the fundamentalist, born-again Christians -- who are unyielding in their staunch commitment to convert the Jews.

There are two rules about Jewish evangelism that must always be kept in mind.

  • The first rule is that the Christian who makes the very first critical and successful contact with the Jew is never a professional missionary. It will not be a paid staff member of Jews for Jesus or Chosen People Ministries. Rather, it is almost always a layperson -- perhaps a secretary at the office, a roommate in college or someone on the same swim team -- who makes that initial connection. Only after the lay evangelical Christian has made this preliminary contact will the professional missionaries step in to the conversion process.

Secondly, the Christian layperson who makes that all-important first contact with the Jew is invariably a gentile. It is extremely rare for a "Hebrew-Christian" to successfully make that initial contact with a Jew. The perceived betrayal of the Jewish people by the Hebrew-Christian's apostasy sullies his message in the mind of a Jew. Only after the lay gentile born-again Christian has made that first crucial and successful encounter with a Jew will the Hebrew-Christian missionaries step in to finalize the conversion.

In essence, the central role that Christian missions like Jews for Jesus plays is to act as a clearinghouse and support system for evangelical churches around the world. As a result, these "Jewish missions" spend much of their resources and manpower teaching lay missionaries in gentile churches.

How serious a problem are these Protestant fundamentalist Christians? How many born-again Christians are there in the United States?

Their numbers are not small. According to most estimates, there are well over 50 million Americans who identify themselves as born-again Christians. That is, approximately one in five Americans is part of this army of lay people dedicated to "share" their faith with a Jew. When I spoke in Nashville a number of years ago, an Assemblies of God minister bluntly told me that he would rather convert one Jew than 50,000 gentiles.

WHY THE JEWS?

A question that naturally comes to mind is: Why the Jews? Why are these fundamentalist Christians so consumed with bringing the Jewish people to "know Jesus?" Why has the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, passed numerous resolutions encouraging more than 15 million American members to target and evangelize the Jewish people?

[...]

Why are these at-risk Jews so desperately susceptible to this current missionary assault? Why do evangelicals cull our Jewish youth with relative ease? The answers to these questions will be discussed in Part 2 of this article.

HaRav Elyashiv, shlita asks for protests against offensive gay parade

The Yated Ne'eman reports that HaRav Eliyashiv has called for protests against the parade. Wall posters have also been put up around Yerushalayim calling for protests in his name. An item also appeared in Yeshiva World News.