Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Unlike Father, Unlike Son


Padwa protests

From Halichos Chanoch, by Rav Avrhohom Yonah Schwartz

I once discussed with the Rav [the late Rav Padwa] the principles of protesting against breaches [of religious practice], and he showed me the words of the Trumas Hadeshen that protest should often be avoided.

"Be aware that my soul is shocked by the hostility, strife and battle in your community which is caused mainly by scorn and abuse. I anticipate withdrawing shortly from being involved in these matters because I realise that I lack the strength to clear the paths and remove the obstacles. I am for peace but when I speak they are for war, and this is therefore a voluntary preoccupation and not obligatory and so what is it to me?"

I heard from Rav Heshil Padwa that at the time when his father the Rav lived in Jerusalem there were often demonstrations against chilul shabbos and many of the residents of Botei Broide, where the Rav served as a Dayan, would attend the demonstrations. The Rav, however, did not go. A local resident once complained to the Rav why he does not attend the protests. The Rav replied, there is indeed an obligation to protest but why do Rav Pinchas Epstein and Rav Bengis and other city elders not fulfil this mitzvah. This suggests that they are of the view that the mitzvah [of holding protests] is for people of a lower order. Although I don't consider myself to be on an elevated level I'm also not obliged to publicise myself as belonging to the lower order.

Once there was a demonstration in London against the Israeli government and the Rav refused to attend. This caused an outcry in some circles. I asked the Rav for his reasons and he replied that had he attended journalists and the media would have been aware of his presence and would have asked him questions and since he is not fluent in English he could not answer them properly. And even if his English was good enough he would also not go as he holds a position of authority and every word of his matters. He must therefore be articulate to be able respond appropriately, and no response also carries a responsibility. And so he decided that it would be preferable not to attend.

…vs. this

Padwa Brussels