I recall sometime in the early 1980s hearing about a new term “palimony.” That was a term used when celebrities lived with each other but did not bother marrying, and then demanded spousal support upon divorce. I remember thinking to myself, What is this world coming to? Can it be that depraved people live sinfully with each other and yet want recognition of marriage when it comes to financial settlements?
That of course, is nothing at all new these days. Then, same-gender attractions became a hot topic of discussion. After that was accepted, same-gender marriage gradually emerged from being a taboo topic to be considered the absolute norm. Liberals and conservatives alike transitioned within a short span from fierce opposition to total acceptability.
Later, we were introduced to the idea of transgenderism. What was thought of as being “odd” developed into the way to think today. He is she. She is he. And non-specified is “they.”
I never understood why the Catholic Church never raised its voice over these issues. In the past, the Church was very outspoken. Someone finally explained to me that the Church had their own issues, which stripped them of their moral currency in expressing themselves. I think he was right.
A few days ago, somebody in the community shared with me an email that a parent in an Orthodox institution (outside of our neighborhood) received from the administration. It opened with this:
“Dear Parent. Your child Sarah (fictitious name) did not wear their mask to school. Please be sure to advise them of school policy…”
The usage of “child” instead of daughter and “their” instead of “her” was not by accident. They, too, have fallen into the trap of the radical left agenda. I’m afraid it may come to a theater near us.
We have been robbed of the shock factor. Simply put, nothing is shocking – even to our own detriment. We have seen radical policies that have brought total chaos in its wake, including murder and robbery. We now have a DA in New York City who wants to decriminalize most crimes, except for the most violent ones. Police will not be able to charge a perpetrator with resisting arrest when caught. “Minor crimes” such as robbery (even at gunpoint) will not be prosecuted if the DA has his way. In other words, if a burglar steals your laptop, which could contain everything precious to you, tough on you. The burglar has his rights. This is total insanity, which, despite a raised voice here and there, will prevail. The rest of the city sleeps through it. They haven’t robbed me, so it’s fine.
Very disturbingly, this apathy has reached parts of the Orthodox community, as well. The recent scandal, involving abuse charges against a popular frum children’s book author and family therapist, drew revulsion, rebuke, and rejection from the overwhelming majority of the frum community in the United States. See last week’s Queens Jewish Link’s discrete coverage on the topic by Sergey Kadinsky. However, some, especially in Israel, chose to hide behind the cover of lashon ha’ra to prevent referring to the incident and to protect the name of the perpetrator while ignoring the plight of his tragic victims.
The Chazal let us know that Gedaliah ben Achikam was killed because he refused to accept the lashon ha’ra that Yishmael ben Netanyah was plotting to assassinate him. As result of that misplaced piety, Gedaliah was killed, and along with him the last remaining embers of Jewish presence in Jerusalem under the persecution of N’vuchadnetzar. We fast in Gedaliah’s memory on the third of Tishrei till this day.
Among many atrocities this author/therapist was documented in beis din to have committed was the cardinal sin of adultery with a married woman. Yet there are those who are not shocked?! There are those who refuse to publish pictures of women in their papers but will give a tzadik-type sendoff to this unrepentant womanizer in their obituary? Not shocking?
We need to use all these episodes as a teaching moment to prevent further destruction of our communities. Lesson number one: Be shocked!
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.