Opinion: Stop With the Chillul Hashem Headlines
By Rabbi Yosef Shubert • Matzav.com
It seems en vogue these days for news outlets to have some sort of headline about “chareidim,” usually followed by an article that paints the frum community in less than a favorable light. What is more disturbing, though, is that the chareidi media has, with a couple of distinct exceptions, fallen into the same trap of reporting all sorts of negative stories. The reports often contain self incriminations as well, decrying how our system is broken and how our lifestyle is in shambles.
A recent example was picked up this past summer by the left-leaning Forward, not known for its adoration of frum Jews. Nathaniel Popper, who has authored scathing articles that paint the frum community in a negative light, wrote an article titled, “Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Begin To Take Responsibility for Arrests and Scandals.” He refers to a “Haredi leader” who was “willing to assign some of the blame for the recent scandal on the Haredi culture,” and then quoted a frum writer who stated that “The fault may partially lie with us and our system of education.”
The experts on the chareidi “system of education” at the time of this past summer’s scandal accused our system of being broken. Those who remain steadfast to the mesorah that has been passed on by the ehrliche Yidden of the previous generation, however, know that the system is not only not broken, but it is as strong as ever. Sure, we have nisyonos and problems, we have issues to rectify and matters to address, but our community has always had its own share of obstacles to deal with and overcome and that hasn’t changed.
More bothersome, however, is when people blame “haredi culture” for the inequities of a small minority.
We have our own people telling the secular press that our system is self destructing and that we are finally recognizing that Judaism is about more than “getting cheap meat and looking out for ourselves.”
And that is an exact quote.
Those who despise us and the way we live no longer need to point out our alleged inequities, for they have self-proclaimed spokesmen and news representatives from within the chareidi and modern Orthodox communities doing the job for them. And they have Jewish websites doing their job each and every day. They don’t need to report about the Meah Shearim mother in a biased manner, because so-called Jewish news sites do the job for them, by either simply distorting the truth or by just reporting what the left-wing and largely anti-religious Israeli press puts out there. There are tens of examples.
We aren’t perfect, and there are those who make mistakes. We all have aspects of our lives that could use improvement and there are those who reside in our communities who ignore the precepts of the Torah. But there always have been such people and we haven’t abandoned ship because of them. Our leaders, both past and current, have never proclaimed our culture to be the cause of scandals or dishonesty. Because it isn’t.
The frum spokesmen and writers who trip over each other to be the first to condemn our community - as a whole - and to voice their so-called “objectivity” do an injustice to all of us. They try to show that while they themselves are part of the ultra-Orthodox community, they understand and confess that our community system of ethics and education is defective. At the same time, writers on Orthodox blogs and websites race to their keyboards to post blaring headlines about the “latest chillul Hashem” to rock the community.
With friends like these, who needs The Forward and Failed Messiah?
The elementary mistake that these and other people make is that rather than gaining the respect of the secular or non-Jewish communities for owning up to a supposedly faulty system, these very religious people and their articles are quoted by outsiders who say, “See? We’ve always said the chareidim are crooks. We’ve always said that they are ethically corrupt and hypocritical. We’ve always said that their black coats and religious dress belie the corruption and deceit that they personify.”
Those in our camp who regularly criticize our way of life rather than distancing our pure and holy system from those who have distanced themselves from it have, in reality, become the spokesmen for those who are waiting in the wings to lambaste the frum community.
It is time to stop with the chillul Hashem headlines. Stop publicizing and quoting every article and analysis that besmirches the frum community. Stop blowing up every story that is reported in the press involving a religious Jew.
Those who continue to do so show that they are not representative of the frum community, but are rabble-rousers who seek to foment additional hatred toward us. And those who patronize these agitators are, in my opinion, no less guilty.
Start standing up for the frum way of life. Start discussing and highlighting how unique and pure our religion is to those who may not be aware.