Truth Above Agenda

Menachem Grylak of Mishpacha magazine is as partisan as selling copy to millions of other partisans demands him to be. Nonetheless, he once wrote an article which speaks the truth. His actual examples are weaker than the general principle (not to mention hypocritical!), so I reproduce the article here with these omitted. The original is here, of course.


No Place for Agendas

Rabbi Moshe Grylak | Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We have 613 mitzvos, but what happens to the other 612 when one of them is turned into an agenda? When there is one inflexible principle to which all other principles must adjust? None of the factions in the various religious camps are immune to this enslavement


Before I begin, I beg my readers not to take what I am about to write as a political position paper. Please, don’t accuse me of being either a ______ or a __________. And most of all, don’t jump to the conclusion that, chas v’chalilah, I am against ___. All I want to do is to shed light on a certain weakness that, in my humble opinion, is shared by all the various groups in the Torah-observant camp.

Every man and his agenda…

There is a message here that transcends political and religious borders and applies to all of us.

This episode highlights one of the problems that plague almost every sector of religious and chareidi Jewry today. In this case it happens to be the national-religious camp that demonstrates the symptoms, but that is only because it was triggered by the Knesset vote on an issue close to their hearts. The truth is that it applies equally to all of us.

We have 613 mitzvos, and none of them should be turned into an agenda, a chief mitzvah to which all the rest of the mitzvos are subordinate — one inflexible principle to which all the others must adjust.

In the case at hand, it seems that in some circles the mitzvah of _____ has become the supreme mitzvah that all other mitzvos must serve. Unbending adherence to his principle has led Jews astray in ways that I don’t wish to address now, because that is not the purpose of this article. I will confine my focus to the angry reaction against the chareidi MK’s following the vote.

My words might very well upset some of my readers, but I ask of them to look at the problem itself, at what happens when one of the Torah’s mitzvos is turned into an agenda and the rest of the mitzvos are made subordinate to that one mitzvah. If they suit the agenda, then they’re fine. If not, then tweak them a bit, update them, or come up with a thousand arguments to permit circumventing the halachah.

The angry reaction against the chareidi MKs was really a way of saying, “So what if the halachah forbids ____. This is _____ we’re talking about!” It’s all very well to love the mitzvah of _____, but the halachah says ____, including ______. The psak halachah here makes this idea very clear: there is no room in the Torah for agendas. All the factors must be weighed correctly; every mitzvah that comes into play has something to say on the issue.

Yes, the mitzvah of _____ is very important. I wish that a million _____ But in such a manner that the halachah is made to bend and stretch like rubber in order to permit ____? Never!

Let me reassure my brethren in the ____ camp, who dedicatedly sacrifice themselves for the sake of ____, that I am not singling them out for attack. This kind of anomaly is seen in nearly every part of our chareidi camp, as well. Everyone chooses a different agenda, but the attitude is the same — the whole Torah is made subordinate to one mitzvah. For some, extreme modesty in dress is the top agenda, and splashing bleach on women whose attire may be modest, but not quite up to their standards, destroying property in clothing stores, or in a few cases, even direct assault, is permitted in service of the supreme mitzvah. If you ask them where they obtained their heter for striking a fellow Jew, damaging his property, or publicly embarrassing him, what is their answer? Don’t be ridiculous — this is a sacred matter of tzniyus we’re talking about!

I could go on to show how every subgroup within the chareidi camp is similarly enslaved to its own agenda. Let everyone do some homework, some local research, and put some thought into it, and you’ll see how the same system operates everywhere.

Rav _____, by means of this recent psak, has reminded us all that there is a Torah, one Torah. And if our Torah prohibits ___, then no agenda, not even the agenda of a great and precious mitzvah, can override the halachah.

I have written about this vital principle myself several times, such as here.

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