Aiding and Abetting a Serious Crime

Aiding and Abetting a Serious Crime

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

I’ve just had a schmooze with a concerned father who also happens to be one of our community’s most experienced educators.  During the discussion he mentioned that in the case of school playground bullies, it is important that the children who witness such acts should be taught to either speak up or at least show their distaste in such a way that the bully realizes that his actions are not at all acceptable or clever. If not, such witnesses are accomplices to the act; moreover, they carry some of the guilt. To my mind, the same is true when we witness any wrong being done to others. When shameful acts of emotional bullying are committed in our presence and we do nothing, whether out of disinterest or fear for oneself, we are accomplices and should be held accountable in some measure.

“You ask about kids at risk? Well, some of them may be born when those first refusal letters dropped on their parent’s doormat”

It’s that special time of the year, the one where most of us are too busy to notice but others are in the throes of such pain that it defies description. It’s amazing, and no small irony, that this traumatic point in the calendar always falls  just before the days of Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur, when the entirety of mankind is being judged and where each of our acts is being closely scrutinized by the Eternal and truthful Judge. Everyone is beseeching our loving Father for a future of promise and success, yet at the same time we are witnessing the forces of fateful decisions that will create hardship, jeopardizing all future generations. The fact that many are silent witnesses to this havoc only makes things worse. We seem to be ducking for cover hoping we won’t be stricken by the seemingly arbitrary way these matters are handled.

For those who have not yet guessed what I am alluding to, allow me to make myself clear. I am referring to the deep scar that is caused when children are not given places in our mosdos. To those who are not yet touched by this particular plague allow me to tell you that there is nothing more demoralizing or counterproductive than having to face the fact that your child is not wanted in any school. Children of five are branded by unknown judges who hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Families are driven to despair, loshon horah stalks their every move, and they are left to fend for themselves despite their total allegiance to our Torah lifestyle. No reason for the rejection of their child is forthcoming, just blanket condemnation.  Thus, a child remains at home while others enjoy what should be the entitlement of all Yiddishe neshomas.

There was a time when I only heard about such harsh decrees, and could only guess at what was going on. Now I am a Rov in a heimisha Beis Medrash and am Boruch Hashem in the thick of things. What I formerly learnt via whispers is now in my face, and the phone calls I receive melt the heart as well as the phone wires. I know of families that are totally crushed by this experience, heimishe people who learn, daven and follow all of our rich heritage. Every Rov tells me the same thing, yet we are told by those “in charge” not to get involved, since they know best.

In the study of sociology there is a dynamic called “the tipping point.” This is the juncture when matters which are neglected or not recognized just build up to such a crescendo that things “tip” over and like a broken dyke, the frustration and hurt overwhelms the walls, and flood everything in sight.

I have written about this vexing problem several times in this column, and it is obvious that it doesn’t seem to make any difference. You may ask why I bother repeatedly. Well, it’s because my Rebbes taught me that seeing other yidden in pain and not at least sharing in their suffering in some way is not an option. Year in year out at the beginning of the school autumn term our community engages in this morbid dance of devastation. The dreaded letters are sent out, coming through the letterboxes as children and their parents are returning from buying new school uniforms. The mother opens the envelope only to find that it won’t be a new uniform their young child will be wearing, but the vacant look of a child with nowhere to go. Where is the justice in this? How can this happen at the same time when we are hearing the crying reverberations of the shofar? Have we lost all sense of what Bnei Rachamim means? Is this the example we want these children to grow up with? Make no mistake, this has a serious impact on the young. They hear the muffled discussions behind closed doors, but they really do understand the message.

In many respects, those who send out these letters, who act against all Daas Torah which decries such actions, are simply oppressors. If we keep silent we are accomplices. You ask about kids at risk? Well, some of them may be born when those first refusal letters dropped on their parent’s doormat.

Some will say that Rubin is over dramatizing the issue. Perhaps you’re right, but I defy you to answer my phone and give hope to those enveloped in this parsha. At this time of the year, we stand together as Klal Yisroel, beseeching Hashem to grant all our people a year of goodness and nachas.

Look around, ask yourself if everyone in our ranks has been given the grace and chesed we ask for ourselves, then tell me I got it wrong.

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