Category Archives: Archives 5759

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Elul 5759 – Tzaddik V’rah Lo

15 Elul 5759

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky:

How can I explain “ra” in this world, while claiming that Hashem is “kulo tov”? Today someone told me that it is obvious that G-d does not have anything to do with this world, because his 3 year old neighbor was just killed. How can you justify or explain tragedies like that? Also, why is it that there are Torah Jews who seemingly suffer many tragedies, while there are secular Jews who lead pleasant, happy lives?

Thank you!

Faygie Bomzer
Darchei Binah

Dear Faygie,

Great to hear from you, though I would rather it be under happier circumstances.

Let’s analyze the question a few different ways. First of all, there is “ra” in the world because Adom and Chava ate from the Etz HaDaas Tov V’Ra, which effectively mixed Tov and Ra together. But that doesn’t seem to help anybody. So let me sum up a shiur I gave on the subject, which is available wherever Rabbi Orlofsky tapes are sold under the catchy title “Suffering”. [Ed. note: Try Long Island NCSY – (516)371-0500.]

The first point I make is about death. Every death is a tragedy. To attempt to explain away a death, whether of a three year old boy or an eighty year old man, is impossible. Death is bad, that’s why the world was created without it. After the sin of Adom and Chava, death came into the world, but we believe it is a temporary setback that will be repaired by techias Hamaisim. So if you ask me about death, my answer is – it’s terrible and we are waiting to see it removed. As far as the death of a child, the only answer I feel comfortable with is the concept of gilgullim. Not everyone believes in gilgullim, I know in my last life I didn’t either, but that’s mainstream Jewish thought. Sometimes a neshoma has to come down into this world for a very short time to reach it’s perfection. Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote that women who have miscarriages had a soul that was so kadosh it didn’t even have to leave the womb to attain it’s shleymaus and that only very special women are selected to carry a neshoma that kadosh.

As far as suffering in general, we have to clarify three points:

1. IS IT REALLY BAD?

Without belaboring the point, we can all think of instances that we thought were the worst thing that ever happened to us and ended up being something wonderful. There are those who explain what Hashem answered Moshe in Shmos 34 (you can see my back) by explaining this idea. Hashem said you won’t understand events when they’re unfolding, only when they are over.

2. WE NEED PAIN TO GROW

If being a quality person is important, someone who has experienced pain is more likely to be sensitive, empathetic, caring, etc. Hashem will always give us the tools to grow, we might choose not to take advantage of them.

3. SUFFERING CAN BE A WAKE-UP CALL

If a person’s life is off-course, and Hashem wants to send us a message, it is unfortunate but true that we respond better to suffering than to good things. You will seldom see people organizing a Yom Tefilla or calling people to participate in a program for Shmiras HaLashon because they made a lot of money in the stock market. Or because someone is healthy, Baruch Hashem. We find that most people grow and change when they suffer. That’s the second paragraph of the Shema – do the mitzvos and I’ll give you all good things. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try bad things. But I will not let you waste your life doing nothing.

That’s a brief explanation “typing with one finger” as the famous expression goes and like I say I have an hour shiur on this for anyone who wants to take it further. May we all enjoy simchas in our life and grow from them. Let’s try to have the same respect for simchas that we do for tragedy.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

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Elul 5759 – Jews for Jesus

1 Ellul 5759

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky:

I am currently attending college in New York City, and on an almost daily basis find myself confronted by missionaries from Jews for Jesus outside of subway stations and hanging around other busy streetcorners. I am certainly not worried about my own hashkafa, and for the most part, all they do is shove fliers in my face. But nevertheless they get my blood pressure skyrocketing, and I wish that I could somehow negate their work. Once I asked a missionary to give me all of his brochures (so that I could secretly deposit them in the nearest waste receptacle), but he looked appalled and spat out a decisive “NO.” It breaks my heart to think that vulnerable, uneducated Jews are falling prey to these Chot’im U’Machtim. Please advise as to whether I can or should do anything to respond to this threat to our people, or whether I should merely ignore it and just daven that their pamphlets should self-destruct within two seconds of distribution.

Thank you for your time.

Rachel S. Salamon
Bnot Torah Institute 5757

Dear Rachel,

For some reason, nothing interesting ever happens to me. I have never won the lottery, never met a ghost (unlike some of my students) and never confronted a missionary. Never. They never knocked on my door, approached me in the street or called me on the phone. I have never seen them on the street. So anything I say on this subject is hearsay (I hope not heresy).

First of all, the missionaries themselves are not very knowledgeable and certainly not open-minded or intellectually honest. They don’t want a debate – they want to convert people. If you argue with them, you will go in circles. People observing the debate will seldom be impressed by you quoting Matthew or (lihavdil) Issaiah because they don’t know anything about either one and care even less.

From what I understand, the most effective methods involve making them look foolish or stripping off their mask of apparent love. Asking questions like “If I don’t believe in Jesus will I burn in Hell? That doesn’t sound like too much love”. Or “If Hitler accepted Jesus into his heart before he died is Hitler in heaven? And the six million Jews who died saying “Shema Yisroel” are in Hell? Well then I’d rather be in Hell than in Heaven with you and Hitler”. Then there’s “If Christianity teaches love why is there so much violence among Christians? Why don’t you preach to your own people first?”

I heard a story from Rabbi Yossie Abrams when he was learning in yeshiva in Israel. It was during KEY 73, a major movement to convert Jews in 1973. He told how an anti-missionary person had come down to the yeshiva to arm the yeshiva guys in case they confront missionaries. They were supposed to say, “Do you really believe all this New Testament garbage? If they said yes, obviously, they would quote them the verse from the New Testament that said, “If someone asks you for the shirt off your back, give it to him.” Do you really believe that? If so give me your shirt! The fellow said he did this to a missionary once and walked off with all his clothes.

Needless to say, the guys in the yeshiva were inspired and they all went off in search of missionaries. All the guys who set off that day came back to yeshiva with new watches that they had gotten from missionaries. The only one without a watch was poor Rabbi Abrams. So he sat out to find a missionary, but there were none to be found. Finally, he saw a fellow with a sign that read “YOU DON’T NEED MOSES”. Rabbi Abrams checked to make sure the guy had a nice watch, and sat next to this guy on the bus. He finally turned to him and asked “Do you really believe all this New Testament garbage?” The fellow looked at him strangely and replied “No”. “So what’s with the sign?” Rabbi Abrams asked. “It reads YOU DON’T NEED MOSES”. The fellow turned the sign around. The other side said “EGGED TOURS CAN LEAD YOU TO THE PROMISED LAND”. He never got a watch.

Having said all of this, I don’t suggest that average yeshiva guys and seminary girls strike up conversations with missionaries. They are trained to get their point across and they will lie, mislead, make up quotes, claim as proof Rashi’s and gemaras that don’t exist (but sound like they could) and anything else that works. My advice is that this area should be left to the experts and if you meet someone who is involved, get him in contact with a group like “Jews for Judaism”.

And remember – tefilla is the best weapon in our arsenal. Hang in there.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

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Av 5759 – Turned-Off Yeshiva Day School Kids

15 Menachem Av 5759

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky:

I have a brother who is 16. And since I have been away for the year, he has changed so much. he doesn’t go to shul on weekdays, and even shabbos he goes for an hour. and when I ask him why, he says because he doesn’t want to. I had a long discussion with him and he told me that he does not beleive in bechira and that everyone should get the same amount of reward because they are the product of their environment and if Hashem has put them in that place then the way they turn out by the surrounding influence is what Hashem wants. I really don’t know how to answer him because whatever I say he will not accept. He is such a good boy and he basically says that the reason that he is keeping shabbos and kashrut is because that’s what he was brought up with and that he thinks that the Gemara and Mishna are just rabbis who cannot agree on anything. I know he needs yeshiva but I don’t think that he would ever go. He is entering 11th grade this fall. Rabbi Orlofsky, can you please give some advice as to what I should do?

[Name & seminary withheld to protect privacy]

Dear Friend,

I have been getting a lot of people describing similar situations to yours. The real answer is that there is a magaifa raging out there. There are many kids falling by the wayside and many more who are just going through the motions. The people in the field don’t know how to respond to this terrible problem. Let me define what I think is the problem and then attempt solutions.

The biggest problem is that most frum people are not happy. And if they are it’s in spite of their frumkeit not because of it. People do whatever they have to in order to keep from burning in hell (more for some, less for others) and then they go on to do their own thing. In such a situation Judaism becomes an obstacle to work around, not an opportunity for enjoyment. “Okay, okay I know it’s Lashon Hora. Let me just finish what I was saying”. “Nisht Shabbos garet, but are you going out with us tonight?’ “She’s such a frummy, I can’t talk to her”. “You think Hashem really cares if I…”. The list goes on and on.

People who are unhappy being frum (or Jewish for that matter) but are too guilt-ridden to drop out, devise questions and philosophies to justify their contradictory behavior. If I believe G-d gave the Torah, why don’t I follow it? Well, the Rabbis messed it up. Okay, so what did Hashem mean when he said totafos, or tzizzis or anything else. Anyone who has ever studied Gemara knows that the points they argue about are minute – that’s one of the biggest complaints. Why do I have to figure out this crazy case, what difference does it make anyway? So if they are arguing about minute points, they agree on the major ones. So which Mishna did you decide was wrong?

As I mentioned, however, this is not the problem. Your brother doesn’t care what the Gemera says (or the Torah for that matter). The reason he doesn’t go to shul is not because he has embraced the Greek concept of Fate, but rather because he doesn’t like it. It’s boring. I don’t want to and you can’t make me.

What then is the solution? Well the best you can do is be happy. Or as they say in email :) If frum people see other people being frum (FFB’s I mean. They’ve come to accept BT’s do it but they’re not like us) and enjoying it. It freaks them out. They can’t understand it. If you want to inspire them with the beauty of davening, SHOW them that you enjoy davening and find it beautiful. Let them see that you enjoy Shabbos, Torah all that stuff.

It’ll take time. Be patient and understanding. Avoid fighting with him about anything, if possible. Let him see you’re frum and nice. Don’t try to answer his questions. Remember, hakol biyedei Shamayim chutz meYiras Shamayim. Contrary to what your brother thinks, he does have free choice for good or bad. You can do everything right and he can still do what he wants. Finally – pray! Remember that tefilla is very effective and under the right circumstances can even be enjoyable. Hang in there.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

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Av 5759 – Polygamy II

1 Menachem Av 5759

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky:

I liked the answer for marrying many wives, but what about others in Tanach who married more than just ONE additional wife. We know that Shlomo’s marrying many wives caused him to fall into the horrible trap of allowing Avodah Zarah into his home, but what about David?? He had more than a few wives and it doesn’t seem to fall into the pattern of second wives about whom you spoke. When approached by my students about this issue (7th grade day school students learning Shmuel Bet and just having finished the Kinah where David describes his love for Yehonatan as “your love is as wonderous to me as the love of women” which made it hard enough prove to them that David didn’t live in a corrupt 90’s society) – they couldn’t understand how David could have had so many wives and Pilagshim. They always heard stories of David and had cast him in a certain light, but this issue puzzled them. I explained the meaning of love according to the Ramban and Michtav Me’Eliahu, which put them (and myself) at ease, but it still seems unexplainable that David married so many women. I would love to have deeper insight into this issue in order to understand more clearly myself and give it over to others in a more definitive manner. Thank you so much.

R.L.
Darchei Binah 5756


I was reading something you wrote in JemSem about polygamy. You said that Yaakov would’ve divorced Leah had she not been pregnant, but I thought that he figured out who she was right after the chupah. But that is not even my question. If he didn’t mean to marry more than one, and Leah was a mistake, then why did he marry the two maidservants? What was the reason for that?

S.L. Darchei Binah 5756

Dear Everyone,

It’s good to see that Polygamy is an issue that affects so many of you out there. Are you really that worried about your prospects of getting married that you’re willing to explore every avenue?

Be that as it may, let’s deal with these two points.

First, Shlomo HaMelech. He was wrong. He shouldn’t have married more than eighteen wives, as we learn out from Dovid HaMelech. Dovid had six wives and Nosson HaNavi tells him he could have had another two times that. So you see, a thousand is excessive, eighteen on the other hand is reasonable.

The question is, in light of what we discussed about the evils of polygamy, why is a King allowed to have 18 wives? The answer has nothing to do with marriage, it has to do with kingship. The King is not a regular guy. The King is, well, a King! In the Jewish concept that means, as the Rambam explains in Hilchos Melachim, the heart of the Jewish People. That means he has the somewhat difficult job of uniting all the Jewish people. I mean look how long it took Barak to put together a coalition. Imagine that and including all the members of the Knesset!

The Maharal explains that 18 is not really 18 – it’s six plus twelve. Meaning, six is the number that represents this world. Imagine a cube as a three-dimensional model. It has six sides, so this world is represented by six (created in six days for example). I don’t really have to expand on this, this is Maharal 101. Now imagine a metal frame of a cube with removable panels. Although there are six sides, when you remove the panels you are left with a cubical frame. The pieces of the frame will number twelve (feel free to try this at home). The twelve pieces of the frame and the six sides all together equal eighteen. That is the maximum amount that a person sitting in the middle of the cube can possibly relate to at one time. Therefore the King, in the middle of the Jewish People, can maximally relate to eighteen women at one time.

Of course, Shlomo HaMelech, who was the smartest man in the world, managed to relate to 1000. The problem was it was forbidden, so any rationale based on unusual ability is not taken into account.

This explains how it is possible – it doesn’t explain why it is advisable. So let me suggest the following. Why did Shlomo HaMelech marry so many wives? I mean the smartest man in the world wants 1000 mothers-in-law? Besides, when you consider that he died at 52 years old, it means he spent most of his life in Sheva Berachos! How much parve ice cream can a man eat!

The answer of course is that Shlomo had a plan to usher in the Messianic Era. He felt that if he had sons who were descended from the kings of every country that they would have the power to influence the local populations to accept Hashem. Shlomo wasn’t wrong – he just exceeded the limit. But you see that the king got married for reasons far beyond those of mortal men. They had an ability to relate to the maximum number that any human being could and they used it to unite the Jewish people and the Jewish People’s relations with the nations of the world.

Now, what about Biha and Zilpa? The reason Yaakov married them was because Rochel and Leah told him to. The reason they told them to was for the same reason that Sorah told Avraham to marry Hagar and Chana told Elkana to marry Penina. It’s the concept of dispelling the Midas Hadin by doing the ultimate chesed – overcoming your most natural tendencies and giving your husband to another woman. Through this they hoped that Hashem would have rachamim on them and they would have children. And it worked.

Finally, about that idiotic notion that some people try to twist Dovid and Yonason into a homosexual relationship; the disproof is so obvious that these people must be pretty desperate. You see, when Dovid was accused of adultery, Nosom HaNavi comes to him and attacks him publicly and all kinds of terrible punishments follow. But the Torah gives a worse punishment for homosexuality than it does for adultery. If he was guilty of that crime, why didn’t the Navi say anything?

Thanks for hearing from everyone and I hope there will be no Tisha B’Av this year.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

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Tammuz 5759 – Egalitarian Minyan at the Kosel on Shavuos

15 Tammuz 5759

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky:

I need some help. The following is a message from my aunt. What do you thing I should respond to her? Thanks for your input and time.

Letter:
I’m sending a copy of a message my friend forwarded to me from her Rabbi who is on sabbatical in Israel. What are your thoughts?

How could something so beautiful end so ugly?
I looked forward to a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot here in Jerusalem. We study all night and end with a sunrise minyan at the wall. (Shavuot was the first holiday celebrated just weeks after the reunification of Jerusalem, in 196 7. People streamed into town to have their first encounter with the Kotel. Ever since then davening at the Kotel at the vatikim ( sunrise minyan ) has been a part of the celebration, of the birthday of the Torah).

The paper was full of learning options for the evening. I chose to start the evening at the Hartman institute. At 4am I walked with a young Israeli fellow to the Kotel to join the Conservative Minyan. As we entered French square I stopped my walk and did a 360 degree turn. I snapped mental pictures along the way. People were streaming onto Agron street from every corner. It looked a little like the “Night of the Living Dead “. Rows and rows of people following each other in a seemingly endless stream to the old city and the Kotel. The sky was dark but reflected the street and store lights which gave an unreal glow to the event.

As we entered the Jaffa gate it was 4.30 am. We turned right, but many of the throng proceeded straight through the now empty and surprisingly wide Arab market. I was appalled at the singing that was going on. The many religious Jews were happy and joyous and therefore singing happily but in complete disregard for the sleeping natives who lived there. Or maybe I was being naive, and it was specifically because of the sleeping neighbors that they sang so loud going through the Arab market. Noise, disrespect and incitement, would not be strangers this evening.

We went through the Armenian and then the Jewish quarter. As we walked down the stairs and with the big Yeshivot buildings on our right, we turned and for the first time saw the Kotel. What a spectacle! Directly in front of us was the Temple Mount with a minaret lighted up with bright green neon rectangles layered in its upper quarter. The whole area reflected the spotlights and general illumination of the Kotel, and it’s immediate environs. It gave a gas light effect, on the vista. The area in front of the wall was fuller then I had ever seen before. The density was so great that I could think of sardines in a can that had more room. What was even more impressive was that the entire area behind and above the floor level of the wall was packed as well. By the time we and all those behind us would descend , there would be no room at all. Women were filling the hill that is besides and above the woman’s section. They ascended the hill to the point of being next to the fence that leads onto the Temple Mount. Every possible square foot was filled with people.

These were not your usual summer, Friday night tourists, and white-shirted daveners . These were overwhelmingly black hatted, streimeled, Haredim. For a moment it looked like I was at a picnic standing over the spilled honey and watched the golden color turn a kinetic black from all the ants.

I met my Rabbi and asked him to hold my talit as I needed to use the bathroom. It should have taken five minutes to get there and back. It took 15 as I had to fight the crowd every step of the way just to traverse the area. On my return, my Rabbi took me to the place where our minyan was to be. In the darkness (we were farthest away from the light reflecting off the Kotel) I had no idea that we had a special area waiting. The Rabbi was about to take me out of the area and then re-enter the security gates into the cordoned off area. The guards told us to just go in through a little opening in the temporary barrier. We did and it was then that I first realized where we were and what they had done.

The police had established a two layer barrier of steel police barricades. In between was a five foot moat of air and behind the second barrier were the 250 worshipers who had come to pray in an egalitarian minyan on Shavuot in the vicinity of wall. I say “vicinity” since we were near the exit portals above the dung gate, as far away from the worshipers at the wall and still be inside the greater Kotel area.

We would have about 15 more minutes of twilight before the white light in the sky would vanquish the blue black that was still the predominant sky. Nevertheless we were anything but invisible. Already kids and adults surrounded us and stared at what was to them a spectacle. Here were men and women, boys and girls, teens and college students davening together. Many women wore talitiot. Over forty police stood sentry protecting the group behind them.

At first as I looked around and in the still darkness I fantasized the wedding scene from Fiddler on the Roof. There, one boy reached across the barrier and danced with his girlfriend and soon everyone joined together. For a passing moment I fantasized that a few would come across the barrier and join us, bringing down the barriers. Later as the service progressed I noticed that the corner of our outer fence nearest the overflow hill from the ezrat nashim (women’s section) were becoming filled with women staring in at us. Again I fantasized what they might be thinking. They saw and heard women singing and davening together with the men. Perhaps they would articulate why not me too. I would like to be involved this way.”

My fantasizing stopped when the young kids, pre-teen, standing near, decided this was the time to disturb the service. With coordinated shrieks they tried to drown out our davening. We ignored them and they quickly tired. Five or ten minutes later they would muster another attempt and again we ignored them and they stopped There were the occasional yells, heckles, screams, and a particularly obnoxious American young adult, screaming insults and looking for a fight. The police began to pay more attention but little else happened. We finished the book of Ruth, the woman who read a chapter received sarcastic applause. Then hagbah and the beginning of the haftorah and then it hit.

About half an hour earlier I noticed from the back of the courtyard area, at the opposite end from where we were, people were disseminating cases of bottled soda pop. I assumed it was a promotional giveaway by a company to market their pop. I don’t think they ever intended it to be used as grenade-like missiles, but that’s exactly what happened. Out of nowhere and with no warning a full bottle of pop landed in the midst of the group brushing a woman on the side of her face and turning it all red.

We were now on full alert. Would this be a one time event or the beginning of an assault? We didn’t have to wait long to find out. From different directions they started to drop. We never saw from where in the crowd they came, only a high trajectory drop thay we could pick up on the descent. I noticed a woman, a Rabbinical student from Israel, staggering with an ugly 3 inch raised welt on her forehead ,courtesy of a direct hit.

We regrouped and tried to continue. A young woman from Argentina, continued with the Musaf service. She is the daughter of a Conservative Rabbi who was killed in the bombing of the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires a few years ago.

Another bottle landed.

The police now saw a thrower and one officer jumped over the barricade grabbed and then arrested him. The crowd was now rowdy and angry at the police. More bottles in greater frequency descended. We were scared, as we did not know from where the next missile would arrive. Birds in the area suddenly became a distraction as every time they flew by, our peripheral vision picked them up as incoming. We then would have a group reflex ducking.

The Kotel services had ended and so the crowd around us was now thicker, older and angrier. Every incoming that crashed nearby was responded to with a loud cheer by many. The sounds of Haredim, of Rebbes, of anyone, hissing the attackers was nowhere to be heard. The bochers on Aish Hatora’s roof were shooed inside by their Rabbis, but no one protested or chastised the attackers.

I now had a new fantasy. I was a civil rights marcher in Selma or Montgomery being jeered and attacked. I felt vulnerable, afraid, but mostly I was angry and disgusted. I wanted to leap over the barrier and punch someone in the nose. I was queasy in my stomach with the idea that Jews could do this to other Jews.

We expedited the end of the service because police who had been supportive, were now concerned. Before we finished but with my guard down because I thought it was over, a bottle went flying by me. I was sprayed in the face and the back of my neck. My talit was stained. My adrenaline was pumping.

We walked out of the area backwards, anticipating and even catching the many final salvos as the last of the Haredim took their best and final shot. A woman I knew asked me to walk her out of the old city. We took the long and circular road out. I watched every rooftop looking for the yeshiva bocher version of a sniper. Thank God there were none and we exited safely, albeit totally unnerved.

Who were these people and how could they do such a thing?

Later that night I would have to go back to the Kotel. We were having dinner at a friend’s home and were to meet near the Carlebach minyan. I found them , but there were no siddurim so I had to walk across the area to get one.

It was wall-to-wall Haredim. Streimels everywhere, but a concentration of people so intense that if you were even a little claustrophobic you would have had a full fledged attack. As I walked through, I felt anger rising in me, mixed with a strong dose of disgust.

Were these the people who laughed at us? Were these the” missile” launchers? Were these people now davening and shuckling and calling out to their maker the same ones who attacked me and my people?

If they represented Torah true Judaism then you could keep Torah and Judaism. But they aren’t Torah-true. They’re ignorant, fanatic, violent, “Desecrators of the Holy Name”. They are Chilul Hashem practitioners, masquerading behind a costume of piety. In the presence of the wall that is all that stands of a temple destroyed because the Rabbis teach, of hate between brothers, these people would bring down the next temple before it can be built. They would bring down the 3rd Jewish commonwealth just like their zealot ancestors did 2000 years ago.

I could not stay down on the same floor level and daven with them. Anger and hate were polluting me. I walked up to where my wife was standing, above the “holy melee” and standing next to my wife found enough peace to welcome in the Sabbath.

*******************************
Shame on you! You can’t answer a letter like this by now? I understand when you get a really good slimy character, but this one is so transparent.There were over 100,000 people there, according to some reports 100’s of thousands. How many people were throwing bottles? Don’t you think if this crowd wanted to get them they could’ve?

In all the years I’ve heard people describe the beauty and inspiration of thousands upon thousands of Jews streaming to the Kotel on Shavuos night, this is the first time I’ve heard anyone have the unmitigated chutzpah to describe it as “the night of the living dead”. But it makes perfect sense, because to him these people are dead. The millions of Jews in America assimilating and vanishing from the pages of Jewish history are “alive”. The assimilationists, represented by the scene in “Fiddler on the Roof ” that moved him so much, is the beauty of the Jewish people. Jews breaking down fences (What do the Rabbis that he loves to quote say about that?) and breaking out of the old meaningless Judaism is the reason his group numbered 250 as opposed to hundreds of thousands. Who are the walking dead?

But his view was clear before he ever arrived at the wall. All the Jews singing in celebration is discarded as a possibility. It must be a provocation! What do the Rabbi’s say about judging people favorably (or am I being naive to suggest this gentleman cares what the Rabbi’s say?). He arrives at the Western Wall and instead of mourning the minaret that rests upon our holiest spot, he takes in the beauty of it. Has he ever been disturbed on behalf of the Jews who have their sleep interrupted by the wailing from that minaret every morning, or do only Arabs have feelings and rights?

But the best is yet to come. I imagine if a group of Orthodox Jews went up on the Temple Mount to pray and evoked an angry reaction from the Arab worshippers, he would be terribly upset by the provocation and lack of sensitivity and he would be right. But the fact that he and his group of 250 participants were a provocation to hundreds of thousands of Jews had no impact on him. Perhaps they would look to longing and break down the barriers of Jewish law as hundreds of thousands had before, leaving the Kotel with only 250 people next year. The Conservative dream – total assimilation. Just like in Fiddler on the Roof!

But his lack of total sensitivity is not the problem. It’s his constant need to dehumanize fellow Jews. Haven’t we had enough exposure to this kind of tactic in the past fifty years that we shouldn’t be calling people black ants, wall of black, etc.? If it was the Israel day parade would he be complaining about the density of the people? Of course not, because he likes them. He doesn’t like Charedim, hence his inability to be near any of them because a few nuts threw bottles at them. If a person was mugged by a gang of Afro-Americans would he then tar the entire community? Doesn’t he appreciate his hypocrisy in invoking, of all things, the Rabbis’ complaint against senseless hatred in order to senselessly hate?

I wish this kind of thing still got me upset, but unfortunately it just fills me with pity. It’s pathetic Rabbinical figures like this fantasizing that they are marching for civil rights that allow them to sow the seeds of hatred in the Jewish people. I guess it gives them a little respite from the realization that the odds are not very good that their grandchildren will be Jewish.

A few years ago I spoke to the leaders of Hillel on behalf of Aish HaTorah Fellowship programs. A young woman from Harvard from a Reform background was describing her experience. The highlight was her trip to the Kotel on Shavuos. At this the group leaned forward in anticipation. Ah ha! At last! The attack on the egalitarian minyan! She described the power of being with hundreds of thousands of Jews at the Kotel and feeling as one with the Jewish people. I guess she didn’t have the advantage of her Rabbi explaining to her that they weren’t Jews at all, rather ants and zombies. The disappointment in the room was palpable. “But what about the fight at the egalitarian minyan?” they asked. “What fight?” she responded clearly taken aback. “All I saw were Jews praying.”

Too bad this Rabbi missed the experience of Shavuos at the Kotel.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky