In response to Etan G (not the Jewish rapper, as far as I know.)

Again, here is another rant-y discombobulated nighttime post since I am tired but I feel like I have what to say.

I just read Mr. G’s posting (I think it was Etan but I’m too tired to check now. Still, you can read his posting HERE.

This triggered a series of thoughts in my head about what could possibly be the reason for all this mistaken focus. (Maybe I believe it? Maybe I’m used to playing the Give the Benefit of the Doubt Game? I’m not sure.)

This is what I’ve got.
He’s right that there is a lot of focus on narishkeit instead of in important areas, there are a few things I’d like to mention.

Gedolim don’t get appointed generally speaking (except in chassidic dynasties and stuff) so it ends up being more of an organic process. This means that:

A – Gedolim are ‘elected’ by the people and therefore to a certain extent reflect, to some degree, the BETTER side of general society.

B – Gedolim don’t necessarily know what’s out there. They very often have a very limited idea of what is out there because they are busy being holy. I don’t mean this in an obnoxious way, very often the only way to get holy is to shut out all the idiocy around you. So they may know that there is idiocy, but not always know how deep it goes.

It therefore makes sense that the rabbanim in question would think that they are building upon a foundation that they think is at least partially there and that just simply ISN’T. If you read Mesilat Yesharim, for example, the Ramchal discusses all these different levels, or steps, and these rabbonim think we as a community are further along than we actually are. What I’m trying to say is that, perhaps society is seeped in externality so when they try to have a relationship with Hashem it is through external means. (This is the BETTER side of society that I was referring to, the side that is interested in a relationship with Hashem.) So they go and find rabbanim to represent their community, rabbanim who are going to place focus on EXTERNAL stuff.

These rabbanim are then coming from one of two places.
1 – They think everyone is doing better than they actually are, so they are trying to build upon it
2 – They know how low we have fallen and they are trying to get our hearts to follow our actions…and maybe since we aren’t commanded to keep these chumrahs, we don’t have the same kind of yetzer harah against them, and their logic is that we practice making sacrafices for Hashem when its easier and it will build us to be able to sacrifice for Hashem where it REALLY counts.

THAT, and I heard from a fairly reliable source that people often make things up and then pass them of as the comments of the g’dolei hador. And the gedolim aren’t current-events saavy enough to pick up on it and beat them down.

In the end, gdedolim are people and therefore imperfect. It’s important to remember that we are in galut and Hashem has put us in this generation for a reason. We need to learn from it and change the world by changing ourselves and thereby setting an example. And part of this means not focusing on the faults of our generations leaders (as mocking Torah scholars is a big no-no…BTW not something I am accusing YOU of at all, just bringing up an issue that sadly is far too common) but instead on steering things towards the better.

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9 Responses to In response to Etan G (not the Jewish rapper, as far as I know.)

  1. OOPS!!!! I meant RAFI G…I’m so sorry.

  2. miriam says:

    hi. i got to your blog from live in Israel’s blog. would you mind seeing my take on this topic? Thanks so much.

  3. Rafi G says:

    no problem. Etan G is a pretty good rapper and I have no qualms about being mistaken for him.. dont ask him though if he minds!

    Your post is the exact reason I did not just write rabbonim but also askanim. I was even going to leave off the rabbonim completely and only blame the askanim, but at the end of the day how naive can the rabbonim be all the time.. they do have some responsibility….

  4. LOL…must admit I wasn’t familiar with the term and I glossed over it due to the late hour but now that I’ve done a little google research, you are correct. Dumb people can lead others astray of they are convincing enough. Same with control freaks.

    As for taking responsibility, it’s like this. People who are raised in American culture, for example, generally will absorb what they are told, as well as what they see, because they trust the people around them to varying degrees. This is true even though the culture is almost completely ludicrous and destroys the very fiber of our humanity. (I am not a drama queen, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.) And yet most people buy into it, if not entirely than to a great degree.

    I have a brain and I was one of those people. Ok, I didn’t buy it hook, line and sinker, I fought it along the way, but I am pretty much still a very strong product of that society. Along the way I was blessed enough, fortunate enough, and…something enough, to get a glimpse of another world that wasn’t quite so WRONG, for lack of a better word.

    The thing is that not everybody has that chance. Some people go through life never knowing that they could have had something better and screwed their heads on straighter.

    I truly believe that the majority of the gedolim have proven themselves to be righeous, and if not that than at least beinonim. Going under that assumption, at the very least we are obligated to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Today at a blood drive there was a boy who showed up, tried to give blood, and couldn’t in the end. Weird Israeli blood donation rules. And he was REALLY upset, but the way I see it, his being upset was without reason. If we have emunah, then we should know that while our hishtadlut is necessary and has value based on how it affects us, it has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome. That is entirely in Hashem’s hands.

    So he still got his mitzvah, because he tried. Really hard. He did everything he could, and he gets his credit. And the fact that they wouldn’t take his blood is NOT going to impact whether someone else gets blood or not. Those who are supposed to have it will, and those who are not supposed to have it won’t. Because Hashem runs the world and that’s the way it goes.

    SO my point is that it is our job to do our best to combat the craziness. Same goes for the gedolim (who I will not include in ‘us’.) But it’s not for us to judge if others are doing enough, only if we ourselves are doing enough. We can’t control other people’s actions anyway, we can only set a fine example.

    And so I have nothing more to say (for now. Watch, in another 1o seconds or something I’ll be back.)

  5. It’s all my fault… if I made a better techuvah, we wouldn’t have problems for the rabbonim to address.

  6. I dont know where to go with that.

  7. how ’bout coffee bean near Ben Yehudah, say Wednesday afternoon?

  8. You can duke it out with Rami the arab dude. Story to follow in my next post.

  9. Etan G says:

    i don’t mind at all šŸ™‚ all love, g

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