When Protests Are Not Bittul Torah

When Rabbi Meir Kahane started the Jewish Defense League in 1968 he held countless rallies for the freedom of Soviet Jewry. I was just a young boy but I attended many of those rallies with my older brother and sister. We simply could not stay in the comfort of our home while millions of Jews were languishing in misery. Rabbi Kahane noticed that these rallies were almost never attended by the Yeshiva world and he asked many of the Rabbonim why they stayed away. The answer he got was always the same: “Bittul Torah”. The Rabbonim felt that the boys should sit and learn and not attend any kind of protests that wasted time away from their Torah learning. Rabbi Kahane told me that he really believed them and even agreed with them because – as we all know: Talmud Torah comes before everything else.

Well, it all changed on September 6, 1970 when Rav Yitzchak Hutner, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin, was hijacked on a plane (together with his family) and taken to Jordan. All of a sudden, the Yeshiva world poured out into the streets. There were protests and rallies and cries to free Rav Hutner. For 3 weeks, Rav Hutner was in a living hell until, finally, he and all the hostages were released and freed. Rabbi Kahane told me that he learned an important lesson at that time. Why did these same Rabbonim not have a problem with “Bittul Torah” NOW??? Simple… because it was one of them! Immediately after Rav Hutner returned to Brooklyn, the protests from this chevra stopped. Why not scream for Yosef Mendelovich, Ida Nudel or Anatoly Sharansky? Bittul Torah…

Shmuel Sackett, an except

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.