A few weeks ago, I had a post about the new eruv in Flatbush. I was curious to see where it would go. Well, today I found out.
Apparently there was a great response by the right-wing religious establishment.
Let me recap what happened. There is a new eruv in Flatbush. Because of an old ruling by Moses Feinstein (who people took quite seriously) there could be no kosher eruv in Flatbush. So now, someone took it upon themselves to produce a booklet explaining why the ruling was mistaken, why Feinstein's logic would be different given the actual facts (which Feinstein apparently got wrong), and why we should accept the new eruv.
Naturally this was going to be controversial. The eruv was controversial in Boro Park, and other parts of New York, but this was really controversial because of the weight that Feinstein carries.
The Right wing leaders felt the need to respond. And respond they did. They put out a three page glossy set of pictures of themselves. I am not making this up. They had a full spread of pictures of 10 people all who looked like a cross between Khomeini and bin Laden with little captions beneath their pictures saying things like "don't descrate the sabbath" and other dumb stuff.
I felt embarassed for my people. Apparenlty they felt that the way to respond to a halachic challenge is to give out pictures of themselves. Mine were not autographed. What kind of bullshit is this? Suddenly Orthodox Jews are too stupid to have a debate about a halacha?
Throughout Jewish history, when there was a halachic or hashkafic issue, each side would put forth their best man and each would write a book. They would battle it out in a real forum where scholars and laypeople would judge a case on its merits. Now the establishment sends out pictures?!?
This is insulting. This is how celebreties win favor, they just put their pictures out there, get on TV and sign some autographs. This is what Orthodox Judaism just became. This is sad and pathetic - proof by abundance of facial hair.
I do not remember who the 10 people on the list were. I remember that Dovid Feinstein, the son of Moses Feinstein was one of them. I've met him one many many years ago, and I know many people who know him fairly well. His father would cry if he knew what his son is making of Orthodox Jews. He is making them a nation of sheep, a nation of uncaring unthinking unreflective people who go for the glossy pictures of bearded people over people who are genuinely concerned for halacha.
This is what das torah is now. Das torah is a big "trust us". Well, I don't. I trust a good psak. I trust a good reason, not a glossy picture.