Authored by my friend and mentor, Steve Kohn of Raanana, who eloquently articulates here what many are thinking…
A few days before Tisha B’Av and a rabbi seizes the opportunity to demonstrate why the second Temple was destroyed. He makes a statement so outrageous in its outpouring of blind, uncontrollable and unquenchable hate that we are stunned.
But he is not teaching a lesson; he’s repeating the sin that brought about the destruction of the Second Temple. How poetic, how exciting, how dramatic to take one sector of the religious public and cast it aside as being sinful, disreputable and not even really Jewish.
He teaches us that only the European Homburg is a sign of virtuous religious belief. That a knitted kippa is symbolic of sacrilege. That he, acting as G-d’s agent on earth is wise enough to determine the contribution of each of us to our state by the size, fabric and color of our head covering.Or whether we are wearing one.
We can’t write this with hate even though the rabbi’s message is being sent hatefully. When will we learn that we are one people together in this tiny strip of land and that oneness of the people of Israel is all we have to save what we have created after 2,000 years of exile.
Why choose probably the most hated figure in the Torah as a way of describing a section of the population, which, like many Shas members, has combined worshiping G-d traditionally and participating fully in the Third Commonwealth.
Rabbi Cohen’s remarks bring tears to our eyes on the eve of Tisha B’av. Not tears of fury but tears of debilitating sadness that our religious leaders have learned nothing about respecting all Jews. Perhaps we should add to our prayers on Tuesday a sentence or two about how some contemporary rabbis still have not learned the lessons of our exile.
It is G-d who challenges and examines our souls. Surely He is wiser than to think that size and color of a headcovering, even absence of one makes a soul pure or impure.
We suffered for 2,000 years because of this type of thinking. We dare not start behaving the way of our ancestors who brought about our exile.