Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Racism In Our Community?

One of the Rabbeim in Yeshivas R.Y.E. gave a speech where he decried some racist remarks made on election night as students sat and watched the election results unfold. How can we be racist when we have suffered ourselves so much from racism over the centuries? It is repugnant. As is Donald Trump who has also made racist comments. That is the gist of what he said according to the edited version.

I would like make a number of comments.

First - I really think that Yeshiva boys would better spend their time learning night seder than watching television. Yeshiva boys shouldn't be watching television, in the morning they can find out the results of the election and in the meantime they can learn a daf gemara. 

That bothers ME. 

As far as racism is concerned - I once heard Obama say that he arrived late because of CPT - which stands for Colored Peoples Time [if I am not mistaken]. He added that white folks better not say that. So why is he allowed to make racist remarks and not us? [That was a joke. As was Obama's remark]. 

I want to make a very important distinction. It is true that one hears remarks about people of color from time to time in the frum community and it is clear that many are wary of them. However, in all of my years I have only seen black people treated with the utmost respect by Orthodox Jews. Whether it be the janitor of the shul, the receptionist, the security guard or cop - it doesn't matter. Jews are for the most part, unfailingly polite and courteous. If they are not, it is because they are that way to all people and not only to blacks. Over the centuries-  not only did our enemies in Christian and Muslim lands despise us but they also persecuted and killed us. No Frum Jew - even if he might say behind his back "stupid shva----" or other terms of respect and endearment, would ever think for a second to cause him any harm. So the equation made between some black people jokes people say and what we suffered over the centuries is completely off base.

I am NOT justifying racist remarks but they must be seen in context. Many of these remarks are also not mean spirited but just old fashioned ethnic humor. Many of us make jokes about Jews as well [myself included]. Does that make us Anti-Semitic?

Rav Chaim Vital, Talmid Ha-Ari Hakadosh, said that we should love all people - even Gentiles and that would include blacks [although the mitzva of ואהבת לרעך כמוך applies to Jews only]. So we can go for it without getting all worked up about off-hand remarks that people make. 

Another important point is that we should never forget that we believe that Jews [of whatever color] are different than goyim [of whatever color]. The modern liberal notion of all men being equal is clearly not a Jewish one. Many people accuse our entire faith system of being racist and if by that they mean that we think that we are different and specially chosen by G-d - then they are correct. Many people are so caught up in these post modern notions of equality that they forget about המבדיל בין קודש לחול בין אור לחושך בין ישראל לעמים. We can't change the Torah just because it doesn't conform to the latest editorial in the New York Times. 

As far as Trump is concerned - I am not his lawyer who has to defend him and don't know what he said against blacks. But I DO know that Hillary kissed Yassar Arafat's wife Suha. How can one kiss a human being who wants an entire nation of innocent people to be annhilated because they are of a different religion? She did not only desire their destruction, she was an ezer kinegdo of a man - yemach shmo - who worked hard to achieve it. So to think it despicable to vote for the "Racist Trump" has another side to it as well. 

I like to be balanced if possible:-).