You can quote several words to match them as a full term:
"some text to search"
otherwise, the single words will be understood as distinct search terms.
ANY of the entered words would match

The Rabbi’s Tear

The Rabbi’s Tear

Until very recently, I thought I could no longer be shocked by any news about Israel’s savagery against the trapped people of Gaza – or about my Orthodox Jewish community’s unrelenting support for each and every atrocity.

I had seen the shredded bodies of Palestinian children.

I had seen the bombed-out remains of Gaza’s last functioning hospitals and of the patients who had been killed inside them.

I had seen helpless Gazans murdered in cold blood by Israeli snipers when they tried to collect a bit of drinking water.

I had read about doctors forced to amputate limbs without anesthetic, about mothers unable to save their little ones from bombs or from disease, and about “religious” Israeli Jews deliberately blocking the trucks attempting to deliver a trickle of life-saving supplies into Gaza and literally dancing in the street when they succeeded.

But then I saw something that shook me even more deeply than all of this.

I saw a rabbi wipe a tear from his eye.

The rabbi belonged to the staunchly anti-Zionist religious group called Neturei Karta, and he was speaking to an interviewer about Israeli crimes and about how any genuinely religious Jew must repudiate them. Nothing surprising there. But as he was speaking, the interviewer shared with him a video of some of the recent carnage in which wounded Palestinian children were calling vainly for their murdered parents. And – yes – while taking in that horrible scene, the rabbi dabbed at a tear with the knuckles of one hand.

It was a perfectly natural gesture. And yet it jarred me – and at first I could not understand why.

But then I realized what had troubled me so much about that tear: throughout all the horrors of Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, now nearly five months old, this was the first time that I had ever seen any Orthodox rabbi – or, for that matter, any of my Orthodox Jewish coreligionists – show the slightest sign of emotion over the suffering inflicted on Palestinians by the so-called Jewish State.

Oh, they could work themselves up into a faux passion over things that probably never happened: beheaded Israeli babies, gang-raped Israeli women. But confronted with undeniable evidence of real crimes committed against actual women and babies, every Orthodox rabbi who spoke publicly on the subject instantly shifted into apologist mode.

It was all the fault of Hamas for fighting back. The victims in the videos were probably exaggerating their injuries. War is war. And anyway, they’re only Palestinians, so what’s the big deal? For all the emotion they showed over Gaza’s harrowing human tragedies, the rabbis might have been a bunch of adding machines.

And that’s when they weren’t actively celebrating the slaughter.

Noach Isaac Oelbaum, a prominent New York rabbi, exulted recently to a large audience of Orthodox Jews that:“

the words of Torah are our weapons [against Gaza]. Every [page of Talmud we study] is a missile; every [comment of] Tosfos is a rocket; and every [chapter of Psalms we recite] is a bomb.”

No anti-Semite ever calumniated the Torah more succinctly, but Rabbi Oelbaum wasn’t alone in linking Judaism to crimes against humanity: the United Kingdom’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis made a point of calling for extermination, saying that “Hamas [read: Gaza] cannot be allowed to continue to exist,” while in Israel, Rabbi Meir Mazuz’s public statement that Gazans are “animals” who deserve to be starved to death was so typical of the attitude of Orthodox Jews that it was barely noticed in the press.

Yes, there have been exceptions – Neturei Karta’s rabbis among them – and I honor them all. But apart from such outliers (who can practically be counted on the fingers of one hand), when was the last time you saw an Orthodox Jew show a trace of human emotion at the horrors being visited on helpless Palestinians? Forget about a sense of justice, or even a bit of remorse for having supported their oppressors. I’m talking about even less than that: the minimal evidence of a functioning human heart. Where is it? Orthodox Jews have recently been among the loudest voices insisting that Palestinians are somehow less than fully human, but the evidence of their own public behavior since October 7 suggests that it is “religious” Jews, not Palestinians, who have been so brutalized by a racist ideology that they are incapable of even simulating human feelings.

Nor is this brutality a flash in the pan.

Orthodox Jews have been among the ugliest in their reactions to Sunday’s self-immolation of Aaron Bushnell, an Air Force engineer who set himself aflame in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington as a protest against the U.S. military’s participation in the massacre of Palestinians. “I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” Bushnell said before burning himself to death, calling it “an extreme act of protest” but adding that “compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all.”

The Orthodox-run Yeshiva World News dismissed Bushnell’s death as a product of mental illness, as did any number of Orthodox Jews via social media outlets. One S. Litvin, a Lubavitch rabbi claiming to speak “for Jews & Judaism,” used even more sadistic language, maintaining that Bushnell “killed himself in service to Hamas” and that anyone complaining about conditions in Gaza is guilty of a “Blood Libel.” As far as I can tell, not one Orthodox rabbi had the decency to acknowledge what everyone knows: that Joe Biden could easily have prevented Bushnell’s death by the simple expedient of saying “no” to Israel’s latest crimes against humanity – and that he might have done so if the spokesmen for “religious” Judaism had shown a sliver of moral honesty when it counted most. If it is insane to kill oneself in order to avoid being complicit in genocide, what should we call clergymen who cheerlead for the world’s most heinous crime and then slander a man who gives his life to protest what they should have denounced long ago? Wouldn’t “insanity” be too mild a word?

Of course, the rabbis’ inhumanity isn’t occurring in a vacuum. Earlier this month, Dara Horn, another American mouthpiece of Israeli propaganda, announced in the pages of The Atlantic that U.S. college students who have marched in protest against Israel’s slaughter in Gaza are really Nazis campaigning for the extermination of Jews. One wonders sometimes just how low it is possible for Israel’s apologists to sink – but I suppose when your natural posture is on your belly, licking the blood off IDF boots, you’re well beyond fastidiousness in the lies you’re willing to tell. Or to swallow.

But the question still haunts me: where are our tears – I mean especially those of the Orthodox, the Jews who pride ourselves on the moral exactitude of our religious disciplines – not only for the harrowing of Gaza, but over the proof of failure that stares us in the face from the community’s indifference to this most hideous of crimes?

It is said that during a Jewish holiday when it is customary to share words of Torah during the festive meal, Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin instead looked around the table at his disciples and began to weep. Pressed for an explanation, he said that when a greater rabbi of an earlier time had shared his thoughts, his students had eagerly repeated the master’s teachings to one another as long as they could; but that when he looked into the eyes of his own disciples, he could only think of the words of Isaiah 3:9 – “the look of their countenance testifies against them.”

Rabbi Yisrael wept because he felt that his community was no longer worthy of its religious tradition. And he wept because he realized that if this was so, it followed that he had failed as a teacher.

Where does that leave us? What is wrong with today’s Orthodox Jews that renders us unable to shed a tear under circumstances infinitely darker than those of Rabbi Yisrael?

Why don’t we weep at the sight of a massacre of helpless children by a cruel and racist killing machine that purports to act in our name?

Why don’t we cry over the fact that our indifference to Palestinian suffering – indifference that grows more appalling with every passing day – proves that we have failed even to be human, let alone to be properly Jewish?

Let us not mince words. We Orthodox Jews have allowed traditional Judaism to degenerate to the level of a Nazi cult. And if we can’t cry over that, all I can say is that God may have other ways of bringing us to tears – and that if, one day not long from now, we find ourselves paying a price for our inhumanity, we will not be able to say that we didn’t deserve it.


If you enjoy OffG's content, please help us make our monthly fund-raising goal and keep the site alive.

For other ways to donate, including direct-transfer bank details click HERE.

Read the full article at the original website


Subscribe to The Article Feed

Don’t miss out on the latest articles. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only articles.