Posted by Rabbi Asher Lopatin
First I want to congratulate you for your fervor and unity in responding to those who are violating Shabbat by driving to Jerusalem on Shabbat and those who are intervening in family life in the Niturei Karta community by taking children to the hospital when they are emaciated and weighing 7 kg at two years old.
But, secondly, I want to tell you that from a Torah True perspective your reactions are the very opposite of what you should be doing. Your commitment to Torah and current events gave you an opportunity for a great Kiddush Hashem, and instead you have distanced thousands – if not millions – from Torah. Didn’t you consider that Chilul Hashem B’farhesia, publicly profaning God’s name, is such a great sin that it outweighed going out on a limb to protect parking lots from cars on Shabbat, or to protect a family that really seems like it was abusing its children? Do you think that there could never be child abuse in your community? And was it not worth bringing an emaciated child – even you agree that he was dangerously emaciated – to one of the world’s leading hospitals for a check-up? Do you agree that doctors’ have a role in our lives in making some physical and psychological determinations?
Rather than resorting to violent riots that have turned off even people sympathetic to your love for Shabbat and the integrity of the family, you should have copied God the way we are supposed to: with love and kindness – midot hachesed – the loving traits of God. Wouldn’t it have been far more effective to have shown up at the parking lot on Shabbat with grape juice and challah rolls and offered people driving into Yerushalayim the ability to celebrate Shabbat just a little? Had you offered them cholent and kugal, don’t you think word would have gotten out that Shabbat is a beautiful thing? After all, these people driving into Jerusalem are choosing to spend Shabbat in the Holy City, not at the beach in Tel Aviv or Ashkelon! We all need to think of how we can reach out to our brothers and sisters even when they are sinning in our eyes, and rather than making them park dangerously all around Jerusalem, endangering pedestrians who are not violating Shabbat, make them realize that you are willing to interrupt your Shabbat to spend some time with them! Maybe the next time some of them would be willing to drive into Jerusalem on Friday night, spend the night in a hotel – even an Arab hotel in the Old City! – and experience a full Shabbat in Jerusalem. Why didn’t you suggest to the city that parking overnight in Jerusalem – from Friday night till Shabbat is over – should be made free, to encourage people to drive in before Shabbat? All these moves would have made Jerusalem, Shabbat and the religious way of life something beautiful, not ugly – God’s name would be glorified, not sullied by the dirty rubbish that you have been throwing at city workers.
Rather than rioting against what seems to be saving of a child’s life – piku’ach nefesh – didn’t you question for a moment what is going on? What are the names of Chareidi organizations that protect children – and spouses – from abuse? The Chareidi community in America has such organizations which serve the entire Jewish community – have you set up yours? I haven’t seen them involved or consulted. No, instead of blaming Hadassah hospital, the doctors and the media of a conspiracy, maybe you should begin a process of coming clean and accepting that domestic abuse occurs in all types of communities – from the most religious to the most secular, Jewish and non-Jewish. And that sometimes the police and the authorities have to be brought in to protect children and spouses. That would be the appropriate response, one that would be a Kiddush Hashem, which would win the respect of Jews and non-Jews for Torah and for Judaism.
My brothers and sisters in the Chareidi community: God’s name is not sanctified by you showing how much political muscle you have to close parking lots, to maintain the ‘status quo’, or to show that you can do whatever you like to your kids without the authorities intervening: that’s not the way to sanctify God’s name, or even your name. The way to Kiddush Hashem is for all of us to place God and God’s kindness above our own agendas, and to show that we are willing to sacrifice even your own serenity on Shabbat, our own control over our families, in order to protect the weak and make God’s name something beautiful and desirable, not something which people cannot run away from fast enough.
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July 17, 2009 | 4:20 am
Posted by Rabbi Hyim Shafner
The Mishna in Berachot (53b) states: “With regard to one who ate a meal and forgot to say the bircat hamazon (grace after meals), Bais Shamai says they must return to their place and say the grace, Bais Hillel says they should say grace in the place they are when they remember.”
The Talmud on this Mishna comments: “We learned in a Berita (an uncannonized Mishna), Bais Hillel said to Bais Shamai, “According to your opinion, if one ate on top of a hill, are you saying they would they have to climb back up to recite the grace after meals?” Replied Bais Shamai to Bais Hillel, “If someone forgot their wallet on top of a hill would they not climb back up for it? If one would return up the hill for their own honor, for the honor of heaven how much more so should they.”
This is an interesting and surprising argument between Bais Shamai and Bais Hillel. Isn’t Bais Shamai right? If we would go back up the hill for ourselves, should we not return to say the grace after meals for God? What is Bais Hillel’s reason for disagreeing with Bais Shami’s opinion?
The following piece of Talmud (Betza 15a) may shed some light: “They say about Shami the elder that all his days he would eat in honor of the Shabbat. If he found a nice animal one day he would say, “This one is to eat for Shabbat.” The next day if he found another one that was better than the first he would put aside the second one to save for Shabbat and eat the first animal. But Hillel the elder had a different path, all of his deeds were for the sake of heaven, as it says in the verse, “Bless god each day.”
Though Hillel and Shami were both great sages they had very different takes on how to live a Jewish life. To elucidate I will rewrite the preceding two arguments in the form of a conversation.
Bais Hillel: You can bench (say grace after meals) wherever you remember.
Bais Shami: No, you must bench where you ate.
BH: That may be better, but I’m sure you don’t really believe that, for, what if someone ate on a hilltop, surely you would not ask the person to schlep back up the mountain to bench?
BS: Wouldn’t you do that for your wallet? So certainly you should for God’s honor; to bench!
BH: Who says this is about honoring God by schlepping? Maybe we honor God by benching well, not after sweating up a mountain (with Yiddish accent)!
BS: Eating is very physical, Shabbat is holy, let us use the holiness of Shabbat to sanctify even the weekday meal.
BH: God is right here, everywhere, in every step, in every meal, not just on Shabbat and not just back up on the mountain top. God must be an inherent part of our everyday lives!
BS: It’s better to go back up the mountain to bench….
BH: No, it’s better to let people bench and have some kavanah and not hock them to climb back up a hill…
BS: Climbing back up a hill is a great religious act since it enables one to bench in the best way. Shouldn’t we make that sacrifice for a mitzvah?
BH: No, benching is a great religious act since by it we thank God for our food. Yom Kippur for instance or giving up one’s life for the sanctification of God’s name, these are acts of sacrifice, benching though is thanking god for our everyday food in our everyday, real lives. God is already a part of that. Its what benching is.
BS: We fundamentally see religion and the way in which it can effect life differently, don’t we?
BH: Yes we do, at least we agree about that.
Both opinions are the word of the Living God, but the halacha (the law, the path) follows Bais Hillel, (Aruvin 13b).