Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Responding To The Lipa Diss

Rabbi Josh Waxman posts his thoughts on "The Incident with Lipa at the Wedding." His approach is to urge people to consider Rabbi Schorr's possible perspective.

To comment on some of his points...
2) Even so, this is Rabbi Schorr. He does not lose his semicha just because he does something you (commenters, bloggers) disagree with. Even if it is something I disagree with. ;) Don't go stripping people of their semicha when they take an unpopular position. This is the attitude of the closed-minded. And I have been on the receiving end of this tactic on more than one occasion, when putting forth an established halachic position that others felt was not machmir enough.
I agree with this one. I think some people have cognitive dissonance with regard to the notion that a Rabbi can do something wrong. This is an unfortunate outgrowth of the relatively recent notion of 'Da'as Torah" as rabbinic infallibility. I try to always refer to Rabbis by their title in my posts, even when I strongly disagree with them.
3) Chazal often derive things from the fact that someone acted in a certain way ולא מיחו בידן חכמים. Here, Rabbi Schorr felt that certain actions were not appropriate, and he publicly acted to show his disapproval and that he opposed. There is an assumption that rabbis will do so. And where they do not, shetika kehodaah. Here, there is an element of kanaaut, but there is something to this anyway.
This is irrelevant, unless one can identify a legitimate complaint. In this case, as I'll show, Rabbi Waxman has not identified one.
4) If, as the commenter at Life of Rubin notes, the father of the bride, who is close with Rabbi Schorr, asked Lipa to stop singing, that absolutely is relevant.
As I understand it, the kallah's father asked Lipa to switch songs, which he did, from "Hentelach" to the chassidic "Amar Rabbi Akiva." So this point is not relevant, with regard to Rabbi Schorr's outburst.
5) By Avodah Zara, I would guess that Rabbi Schorr meant the idolizing of musical personalities. Lipa was there as a guest. But he was apparently mobbed by admirers and asked to perform his popular tunes. This idolization over e.g. rabbinic leaders and over the focus on the chassan and kallah may be problematic.
I don't think this is what Rabbi Schorr meant. I think he was referring to the music. Readers of my recent review series of Rabbi Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" will know that one of the bases for Rabbi Luft's criticism of charedi pop music is his assertion that it's all rooted in idol-worshipping voodoo music. (Readers of my review series will also know that Rabbi Luft's characterization is factually wrong, racist, and based on ziyuf haTorah, but I digress...)

Regardless, if Rabbi Waxman's suggestion is correct, it still would not justify Rabbi Schorr's response. Appropriate kannaus is in response to actual sin. Here, even if someone has an issue with people's response to a singer, the singer has not committed a sin, and there is no halachik justification for publicly shaming him.
6) We have a tradition of much more forceful opposition to public displays we feel are not correct. Think of the Jews pelting the Sadduccee with esrogim.
True, but this is in response to sin. Not random drive-by kannaus, as it were.
7) At the same time, there is an issue of making a public confrontation, thus embarrassing the other person. See Sanhedrin 101b about how Yeravam merited the kingdom for rebuking Shlomo haMelech in public, but was punished because he rebuked him in public.
That's precisely the problem here.
8) However, the nature of the "offense" (and I use air quotes deliberately here) is one in public. If the only time to stand up to someone is when they insist on performing in public, as they are acting, then it has to be in public.
There is no reason why this issue can't be addressed privately first. Especially since there is no crime.
9) Forgiving Rabbi Schorr for this disgrace does not (necessarily) make him the better man. It is also an ingenious tactic. Because Lipa comes off as one who is not taking offense, even as he insists on his conduct. This is a way of winning. Also, he casts the conduct of the other as something which needs forgiving, rather than just an opposing viewpoint. And the crowd eats it up. Perhaps because of the conduct of the previous ban, which undermined the role of rabbinic authority, particularly for those who would ban music, the public sides with the singers and does not grant any fleeting thought to the possible legitimacy of those who would ban Jewish pop-music.
Perhaps Rabbi Waxman is unaware that Rabbi Schorr is one of the people behind last year's ban. In other words, the public siding with Lipa here is a direct result of their knowledge of Rabbi Schorr's anti-halachik behavior in that episode too.

10) Baruch Hashem, I am not in Lipa's position. I do not have thousands of adoring fans, nor his musical talent. And at the same time I am not the focus of any controversy. And if I were being attacked in this way, knowing myself, I probably would not respond with such poise and respect. My intent here is not to attack Lipa. Rather, to question some of the assumptions of the other people taking sides.
Sometimes, people need to take sides. The argument to be dan lekaf zechus has often been used to perpetuate avlos. In this case, the burden is on Rabbi Schorr to provide an explanation or an apology. Personally, I think he owes Lipa an apology. But, if he feels his actions were halachikly justified, he has an obligation to explain them. At the moment, the outcome of his actions has been a tremendous chillul Hashem.

Meanwhile, the Life-Of-Rubin Blog posts THIS IS AN OPEN LETTER TO RABBI AVROHOM SCHORR. This approach won't work either. Lecturing kannaim about Loshon Hora???

Chaptzem Blog's approach might work, but is a tad disrespectful. Sometimes, though, disrespect of this sort does help because the kannai being mocked gets embarrassed.

The reality is that I think the solution to this issue needs to come from the responsible rabbinic leadership, who through public words and actions, make clear that such behavior is anti-halachik. Sadly, these leaders have been MIA, not just on this topic, but on many public controversies.

We are taught that shtika is like hoda'a. The fact that it doesn't say shtika is hoda'a demonstrates that even in cases where the silent person does not agree, it's as if he does, because his silence results in the inevitable outcome of that which he disagrees with. In this case, by being silent, these leaders both enable Rabbi Schorr and other kannaim, and ensure that their agenda is carried out.

It's past time for the rabbinic leadership to step up to the plate.