Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It's now been over one month since the Lipa concert ban was announced, yet (aside from the meaningless "Hamodia" non-response), no explanations have been forthcoming. This is not surprising, but it is disappointing. It does prove that those who counsel waiting for clarification are either naive or disingenuous.

It also demonstrates that the Chareidi leadership is very out-of-touch with their constituents. I'm still getting a lot of hits from people looking for information about this issue. The leadership's actions have bred a cynicism towards their leadership that will have significant ramifications.

This past week, The Jewish Week published a letter about the concert ban wriiten by Michael Feldstein. His point?
The fact that this person was afraid to identify himself publicly is part of a larger underlying problem: There is a culture of fear that has enveloped the Orthodox community, making it difficult for rabbis and laypeople to speak out against rabbinical leaders for fear of what it might do to their own standing in the community. In effect, these great sages who issue proclamations about banning concerts, books, and other material have hijacked our religion — and they can get away with it because they know that they won’t be questioned about their actions publicly.

Orthodox Judaism does not preach blind acceptance. Until we gain the courage to think independently and come to our own conclusions — with the help, guidance and wisdom of our rabbinic leaders — change will be impossible. And until we are able to sign our names to our beliefs rather than hide behind the cloak of anonymity, these problems unfortunately will continue.
Worth reading!

The Jewish Press published Six "Letters To The Editor" on the topic.

Here are some of the questions raised in these letters:
should Lipa not be given an opportunity to defend himself, as is taught in our Torah? Furthermore, the Shulchan Aruch teaches that it is forbidden to ruin another person’s livelihood.

What about due process, which is also a basic Torah entitlement? Is a person’s reputation to be destroyed by rumor and innuendo?

How long will it take before we as a community insist on accountable leadership?

As for the rabbanim, I ask you: Did you read the kol korei before you signed it? If you didn’t read it, how could you have signed? If you did read it, are you aware that it referred to the performers as coming “miktzeh hamachaneh,” from the fringes of the camp? Whereas artists at such concerts generally come from the heart of the yeshivish and chassidic communities, why does this not constitute motzi shem ra, the spreading of malicious gossip?

Further, the kol korei charges that “in the past, great stumbling blocks have emerged from these performances and many bodies have fallen, slain.” I challenge the rabbanim to produce a list of these casualties. This charge is laughable.
One of the letters is written by a classical composer and one by a female vocalist who gave up her career when she became observant. These letters are well worth reading.

Only one of the six letters supported the ban. That letter was written by Dr. Yaakov Stern who regularly pens missives to the JP derogating those with another point of view. Reading a bunch of his letters reveals a sad world view. Also a lack of basic derech eretz. Wolfish Musings fisks Stern's letter.

Rabbi Eli Teitlebaum, an outspoken critic of the concert ban, and of the people behind it, has died.
Reb Titelbaum was well known to be outspoken on many Jewish issues, and was never shy to state his mind, he recently made headlines on the BIG EVENT concert, in which he criticized the activists who gathered the signatures, by calling them the Taliban's of our generation, and he was very upset the way it was handled.
Rabbi Teitlebaum wrote one of the essays that appeared in HaModia's non-response (linked above) which they published a week after they'd published the ban.

For ease of reference reference, my previous posts on the subject are listed here in chronological order.

"It's A Beautiful Day For A Ban!"
"Anatomy of a Ban"
"Kol Koreh Bamidbar, Ban New Derech Hashem"
"Ban, Baby, Ban!"
"The Silence of the Bans"
"The Times They Are A-Bannin'"
"Of Bans and Men"
"The Lipa Ban -- A Response to Rabbi Adlerstein"
"Lipa in Wonderland - 20 (or so) Ban Questions"
"You've Got (Lipa) Mail"
"A Unified Chareidi Non-Response to the Lipa Ban"
"Think People Are Talkin' Bout Dis?"
"Michenichnas Adar Marbin B'Lipa" - a pre-Purim humor post
"Do These People Deserve Answers?"
"You've Got More (Lipa) Mail - Critical Edition"
"Lipa Letters and Links"
"Zal's Continued Response"

Here's a somewhat related post I wrote two years ago: "Lipa Schmeltzer and Rabbi Nosson Slifkin."

As always, I am happy to give space to opposing views. My invitation to the Chareidi leadership to present their point of view here stands.