Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dumpster-burning and Other Pious Pursuits שריפת אשפתונים

In the wake of a baby asphyxiating, I can’t help but wonder whether the physicians “decided that no autopsy was needed” (since when do physicians decide this? Isn’t it up to the coroner?) just to silence the protesters who broke through security. Creepy shades of the Israel Vales case.

What astounds me is that in not one account of this affair that I read, did a reporter actually ask the dumpster-burning community’s spokespeople 1) ON WHAT GROUNDS they were protesting, other than the fact that they were embarrassed by or simply took umbrage with the fact that a member of their community was under arrest by the police, an organ of the “heretic state”; and 2) How they justify destroying property and endangering the public as a means of protest.

It’s as if it’s “understood that they’re a bunch of *meshuginehs*”; therefore the normal rules don’t even apply in their case. I’m not sure whom I’m more outraged at: the dumpster-burners, or the press who reports it, yet doesn’t question it.

It also reminded me of a brit milah [circumcision ceremony] I attended years ago. The parents were chozrei b’tshuva [“born-again” Orthodox]. After a few remarks, the father addressed the guests [I’m paraphrasing -- it’s vague in my memory, but it did happen]: “A member of our community ran into a bit of trouble in the States. He’s being held in a California detention facility. We’re certain he’s innocent―he was no doubt framed [this I distinctly recall being said]― therefore he qualifies as an asir tsiyon [Prisoner of Zion -- an actual halachic status wherein it is incumbent upon one’s fellow Jews to work for one's release. In other words, think Natan Scharansky, Ron Arad, Gilad Shalit, etc.], but he has no legal representation. This unfortunate fellow needs your donations…”

The height of chutzpa: This guy is soliciting his simcha guests for donations on behalf of some unnamed individual who “ran into a bit of trouble”? Is “languishing” in a California prison without representation? Referring to this anonymous loser as an asir tsiyon? It's an insult to the actual *asirei tziyon*. And we’re supposed to just mindlessly pony up money because he’s a (presumably mitzva-observant) Jew?

I want to note that both this solicitor and his wife are college-educated individuals. I have no quarrel with their decision to become Torah-observant, but does observing the Torah mean you check in your brains at the door? And then my kids ask me what my gripe is with the ultra-Orthodox…

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