Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Grave Situation

In the furore that has recently gripped us all a small news item in the JC back in October of last year may have been overlooked. Nothing ground breaking, if that's not a metaphor too far, since we're only talking about a tiny little baby of a few days old, born prematurely and which is dead anyway. It's not even relevant to its manner of dying but rather its burial and the inconsequential matter of a mother wishing to discover her baby's burial place. But still I think it's important enough not to have the story buried, if you'll excuse the pun, during this bad news period.

It was the caring and feeling Adath that took charge of the cadaver and interred it out of sight hoping it would remain out of mind. Along comes mum several years later asking the outlandish question of where the dead body is bestowed. Trust our Adath to come up with a humane answer to this apparently insoluble query which may have taxed even the brains of Solomon. And true to character they did not disappoint. According to the news report their reply to the mother's enquiry was "say some Tehillim, light a candle and forget about it". Presumably what they have been telling the fiddled women over the years so they've had a fair amount of time to practise the line.

With wisdom like this being bandied about it makes King Solomon look positively daft. Why bother slicing up a child when all he had to do was hand it to the Adath, whose fees he could well afford, and Houdini like the baby would have vanished forever. King Solomon was the one who, Go- forbid, instituted the eiruv so that could have posed a dilemma but I'm sure Solomon's gold and the £2.6m filling the Adath's coffers would have found common cause. And as to the warring mums, serves them right for reading the JC in the first place. Had they heeded Dovid Frand they would have known that the JC is for Chaim not meisim.

But we're up to Tehilim and let us not digress. Let's face it, since God is omniscient and omnipresent He can hear the Tehilim wherever it is recited and He surely knows where to apply it. So why exactly must parents know the precise burial spot of their child? The Torah itself concealed the grave of Moshe Rabeinu and with the greatest respect to mum and her feelings she cannot in her right mind believe her baby is more important than our greatest prophet. Knowledge is power and we like to keep power to ourselves, thank you very much. If not for the fees generated by the location of different plots none of us would have been told where our loved ones lie and so when the foxes came no one would know whose bones had been carried away. Foxily clever, you must admit.

And as for the argument raised by mum that the US has been more forthcoming to parents of children in their cemeteries, our Grim Reapers had the perfect parry. 'The JC have been making a fuss.' Touché. If the JC were to tell us to eat breakfast we'd starve ourselves and when they dare make allegations against our saintly leaders we flock to them in ever greater numbers. What is worst in Bridge Lane is still far better than the best in Furnival Street and they will not be the ones to dictate to us what decency, compassion and humanity is about.

Never mind haloche which has little to say on the matter. If following our hallowed traditions causes suffering to the odd sensitive mum, it is a price well worth paying. Rachmonus is not what liberal lefties think it to be but rather that which nestles within our minhogim, outmoded and outdated as they may seem to those who lack a toiredike viewpoint. They are the light to our feet and, come to think of it, what lies under our feet too. And this applies whether it is kids buried in a cemetery or kids buried in a school system that decomposes them 110 years early.

In case you think this was just a gratuitous swipe at the school I love to hate do please read on for with a little digging there is a far closer connection between that burial society and that school than initially meets the shovel. I do not mean that the school is a burial ground of sorts, though that too. It does constrain its charges like a grave and clothes conforming to its tznius edicts are not a million miles from shrouds. But I'll accept that that is rather convoluted and forced.
Consider however this . Of the mere three trustees in charge of the Adath Yisroel Burial Society, two of them, when not tending to cemeteries, function in their free time respectively as Chair and Deputy Chair of Governors of, you guessed it, Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School. I have not made this up because try as I may it would be beyond me.

This may well explain why Joe only pops up now and then on his Neither Here Nor There soapbox to dispense his wit and wisdom since he is otherwise diligently engaged in the coveted governorship of the school. It is difficult though to be certain on this last point because as far as parents and children can observe he might as well be interred in one of his bogs and we would hardly know the difference. And as for the Deputy Governor, that goes to a Mr Bibelman. His credentials for the position are unknown though, as I said, having a cemetery or two on your CV may well prepare you for some types of schools.

You just must give it to Pinter. Challenge him on 'his' schools and when he tells you to drop dead those supposedly running the school may even stand to benefit. Not personally of course, but you get my gist. During daytime it’s teens tutoring teens while in the evening they waltz a danse macabre in the revenue-raising wedding hall to the grave-digging tune of burial society apparatchiks.

One can truly say that YHS is where they hatch 'em, match 'em and dispatch 'em. Let others call it what they like, round here we call it a school.