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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Boro Park Chillul Hashem

You don't need me to write about what went on in Boro Park yesterday. It's all over the J-Blogosphere. Chaim is keeping tabs on it here. All I can say is that I'm disgusted and upset, but unfortunately not that surprised.

It seems to be part of a growing trend that I'm noticing amongst Jews. For lack of a better title, I'll call it "the Heck with it" trend. If it works for them, then it'll work for us. If they riot, why shouldn't we? If they attack the police, why shouldn't we? If they are racist, or rude or cheat on their taxes, why shouldn't we? If they get violent over cartoons, why shouldn't we?

Well, why shouldn't we?

Because we're supposed to be different, that's why. We're supposed to be better than them. We pride ourselves on being a "light unto the nations." What kind of crappy light were we being yesterday in Boro Park? Burning magazines over a traffic stop?? I don't want to go into the details of the case, but the person arrested was doing something illegal and probably dangerous to boot, and it's probably better that he's off the road. Did the police manhandle him? Quite possibly, and that's justification for a community sponsored discussion with the authorities, or maybe a peaceful little demonstration. But rioting like animals? Why shouldn't we?

Is it our turn to be as base as the rest of the world? Are we tired of holding ourselves up to higher standards? Do we need to "let off steam" as Tom Wolfe put it in the Bonfire of the Vanities?

Have we learned nothing from this Torah that we hold so dear? What, exactly, is the POINT??

There's a line in a favorite TV show of mine, where the leader of the surviors of his persecuted race discusses their survival in a cataclysmic war, and he says, "we never asked ourselves why we deserved to survive." And later on, a member of the enemy race answers him: "Maybe you didn't deserve to survive."

Do we deserve to survive? What makes us special anymore?

We need to remember who we are and what is our purpose on this world.


DAG said...

Or as I said....it seems Al Sharpton is doing some consultation.

Eli said...

We live in a wonderful world...

SephardiLady said...

I cannot get over the fact that this happened a week before Pesach, which is one of the most celebrate holidays by the Jews in America.

To see this happen a week before Pesach is even more devestating that if it would have happened a month or two ago.

And to have to hear about how the perpetrators were just a bunch of "bored teenagers" home from their Yeshivas for "Passover Break" adds insult to injury.

If this is what the community has to show for a pure Torah education (no secular, no vocational), it certainly is not even a light onto other already frum Jews.

Yes, it wasn't everyone in BP rioting. Yes, it might have only been 1% of the community. But, but all of the klal is connected and certainly affected.

I'm crying inside two days later.

I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. said...

Psychotoddler, I hope you don't mind that I singled you out in my post on people's responses to the riot.

Maybe I'm reading you the wrong way, but have you seen anyone saying, why shouldn't we riot? I have yet to hear a Jewish advocacy group encourage rioting as a means of protest. Not just that, but I think it's insulting to Judaism to imply that the the riot stemmed from Jewish way of thinking. This was an isolated event that was carried out without regard for propriety, civility, chilul hashem... all the things which Judaism and chassidism preach and demand. It's very upsetting for me to see you say, "Have we learnt nothing from the Torah?" and "What makes us special anymore?" when in fact only a few hoodlums learnt nothing and aren't special.

Feel free to criticize me on my blog anytime by the way :)

PsychoToddler said...

IH: I'm assuming the people who did the actual rioting and burning of property and assault on the Police were the ones who at least were thinking this way.

However, those who wish to rationalize what they did are thinking this way as well. I know that it wasn't a community sanctioned "day of rage" or whatever. But post-facto, if you think what they did was reasonable, then I am going to have to take issue with your way of thinking.

I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for clearing this up on my blog--no, I do not think any of this was reasonable. My beef was with something else.