The Midnight Ride of the Naval Birshut ha Torahs

Mercifully, this op-ed will be short.  One not should speak in anger.  I will rather quote a great Torah leader.  His peot were pretty long, trust me.

I live in the neighborhood of Geulah in Jerusalem near Mea Shearim. One thing I can tell you, I have seen my share of my demonstrations in my time here, but I have never been awoken by one in the middle of the night.  This happened on Motzei Shabbos, 20-21 January 2018.  From 12 midnight until about three in the morning, until I heard the thud, thud of tear gas canisters, thank God.  But, my sleep was disturbed, even with the windows shut. I’m glad I live in a walled compound!

What it was about, I don’t know.  Frankly, I don’t care.  I don’t understand, and my sleep-deprived brain does not want to.  There is nothing about it in the papers or online.  I don’t know if that is censorship, boredom (frankly, a demonstration in this place is as frequent as passing gas), or if it is because Vice President Pence is coming to town.  Hopefully, the coverage will be only on the back page.

Frankly, I’m glad we won’t need to be embarrassed while Pence is here by a group of people who need to be kept in the Biblical Zoo.  The news media says that there would be ample police protection.  Thanks to them, I got to sleep and the neighborhood wasn’t burned down.  We have enough to be embarrassed about and enough problems to deal with.

I guess I can point a finger.  After all, you rioters woke me up several times.  Who knows, perhaps you forgot the weekend passes from the zookeeper in your pockets so you can return to the primate house?  Whatever the self-appointed reason, I am not going to yell at you.  I’m not going to blame an entire group of people.  I am not going to talk about the reprehensible “leaders,” who don’t need the free publicity anyway.  Certainly, I could blame it upon your parents, who obviously didn’t teach you any derech eretz.  Rather, let me remind you of a great piece of mussar I learned while in yeshiva at Machon Meir (yes, Dati Leumi actually learn Torah as well).

You will see this mussar in my title.  The great RAMBAN dropped the term “naval birshut ha Torah,” or a person who thinks that they are good and blameless because they perform mitzvot, ignoring the horrible averot that they do, usually publicly.  I guess since you started campfires in dumpsters and pushed them into the streets, that makes it public.  Unfortunately, you have no menschlikeit or derech eretz.  If a twinge of guilt pings your soul, you are the odd Yid out.

Why did the RAMBAN pound this concept so often?  Unfortunately, when I bring it up with the self anointed, they don’t seem to have read it (or much nach either).  What happens, my navals, is that you portray a lack of fear of heaven.  Unfortunately, to those around you, it also means to them  that there is no heaven, or a heavenly being in charge of the universe.  Get it? Got it? That would be good!

Simple, but profound.

Please, think of this when you hear that 10% of all haredi young people are defecting and becoming stam hilonim.  Or, have a few renegade leaders doomed an entire generation of youth to assimilation because of their short-sighted stupidity?  Who am I to call certain unnamed leaders stupid?  Not me, but the RAMBAN.  Please, don’t say no one told you so.  I am just repeating the RAMBAN’s words. Now, please, go and stop doing thou!

About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.