Rav Glickman on “Orthodox Paradox”

What follows is a transcription of a speech given by Rav Glickman, a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Rabbenu Yitzchok Elchonon. Prompted by a question from his audience, Rav Glickman shelved his regular sicha and spoke extemporaneously regarding “Orthodox Paradox.” His comments are framed by the context in which they were delivered, the first day of the week in which Tisha b’Av fell.

How unfortunate it is in this week of communal mourning that a Jew has chosen to express his painful disappointment with the Jewish community in a forum so public as the New York Times Sunday Magazine. It is especially critical that we avoid responding with anything remotely resembling animosity or contempt, no matter how much anger his action or those of his defenders may provoke.I am certain that someone characterized as brilliant understands how inappropriate it is to bring a non-Jewish fiancée to an official celebration of a yeshiva. The entire raison d’etre of such a school is to produce another generation of Jewish children. When someone chooses to end his Jewish line with himself, a yeshiva cannot celebrate his decision. I am very proud that a yeshiva decided to forgo the prestige that his achievements in the secular world might bring them in favor of protecting our collective mission to ensure the Jewish future. As wonderful as his children may be, they are not Jewish. Generations of Jewish life have ended. This is something to be mourned, not celebrated.

Publishing in so prominent a forum proclaims to the Jewish community a hateful message. If you will not recognize me and celebrate me, then I will use my prodigious talents and connections to embarrass you in the most public way I can. This is particularly hurtful to Modern Orthodox Jews who fight a constant battle with themselves and their more skeptical siblings to assert the benefits of engaging with that world. That was, in fact, the only interesting element in this unfortunate article.

References to notorious Orthodox Jews with tenuous connections to Modern Orthodoxy were, like the mention of the legal dimensions of pikuach nefesh, designed to embarrass. I can only conclude that the article constitutes serious chillul Shem Shamayim since it demonstrates the desire to willfully blemish the reputation of the observant community. This is the tragedy of the piece in the NY Times. That we lost a talented young Jew happened years ago. The fact that he struck out at the community in a way so odious is what deepens my sense of mourning on the week of Tisha b’Av.

I have nothing to say about America‘s self-proclaimed rabbi and his instantaneous response to the piece in the Times. His voice is directed as ever to the secular and non-Jewish communities and has little impact on b’nai Torah.

More relevant to us is the danger of chillul ha-Shem. We should be mindful of the far-reaching effects of public remarks, indeed of words in general. The Torah teaches us that words have the ability to destroy the world. Even when an errant son speaks inappropriately, we must not respond with more chillul ha-Shem.

Intermarriage is a scourge for the Jewish community. It has made minor inroads even in the Torah community. I am disappointed that so many Orthodox Jews attend weddings between Jews and non-Jews, even when non-Jewish clergy participate. This is also chillul ha-Shem. It makes the implicit statement to our children that there are ultimately no barriers. It is something Torah-observant Jews need to consider very carefully. Explicit and implicit messages can destroy the world.

The author of the piece in the Times worries that the actions of a disturbed Jew on a Purim many years who once attended a Modern Orthodox yeshiva may disturb his enjoyment of his Purim holiday with his non-Jewish children. I worry that the loss of this Jew to the Jewish future does not disturb ours.

Shiurei Rav Glickman
distributed by the talmidim of Rav Ozer Glickman
Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Rabbenu Yitzchok Elchonon