Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


The rabbis of the Talmud were perceptive and insightful judges of the human character and its failings and foibles. One insightful comment is that when one wishes to discredit someone else, one usually does so by accusing the other of the failing of which the accuser is guilty. In our present society which, in many parts of the world and especially in Europe, and only somewhat less so here in Israel, is essentially secular if not even atheistic, people of religious faith are criticized roundly and constantly for their apparent moral and societal failings.

They are accused of being intolerant, narrow-minded and they are also labeled as bigoted and discriminatory towards others. There is a long list of adjectives that are applied to them, all negative in tone and content and basically repetitive of the main accusation of being intolerant of other opinions and people. In addition, here in Israel, especially during election campaigns such as the one from which we are currently suffering, the bogie-man of religious coercion always surfaces as a demonic issue.
But I believe that any objective observer of our society – if such creatures exist within our society, would say that the accusers are the ones who coerce and force issues upon those with whom they disagree. In fact, as the accusations of religious coercion become shrill and outlandish, it is ever more apparent that the tyranny of society which the secular group so decries, is the very tyranny that they themselves practice on a very regular basis.
The media here in Israel, as is true in most of the Western world, is overwhelmingly biased against religion and conservative social values. There is no greater danger to the freedom of the press that the secular left so champions than the behavior of the media that it controls. Everything that occurs is colored to fit the narrative of the secular left, no matter what the true facts may be. And though there are supposed to be lines of division between the reporting of news pieces and articles of pure opinion, that line has long ago been blurred.
I am reminded of the bitter comment made by Menachem Begin that the only government in the land of Israel that Ha'aretz had a good word to say about was that of the British Mandate. The secular left promises the paradise of peace and prosperity and equality for all, but really it is the great censor of free speech and diverse opinion. It constantly beats the drum of secularism and pillories religion and those who adhere to it.
It is determined to destroy the family structure of Jewish society and to impose its will and worldview on all, if not by persuasion then by the force of legislation, governmental fiat and through control and societal intimidation. It itself is the very tyranny that it proclaims so loudly to oppose. It can truly be said that we have met the enemy and it is us.
There was a time when hypocrisy, though always present in human affairs, was held to be a negative and very detrimental trait. Apparently in our time there is no stigma attached to hypocrisy and it has become the norm in media, politics and general societal values. It is perfectly acceptable to project one's own failings on others, so that the blame for all imperfections in society can be cast upon those with whom the prevailing social culture disagrees.
Our current state of society suffers not from religious coercion but rather from the tyranny of the secular media. Political parties constantly look for scapegoats but dare not ever look in the mirror and assess their true nature and perspective. One would think that after the failed disaster of Soviet society that the secular world would have learned a lesson. Instead, it seems bent on repeating that disaster and again having a system of thought control and unified personal behavior that is intended to eliminate all opposition and all those who believe differently, even if their lifestyle does not negatively impact upon others.
It is the secularists that mount constant provocations purposely intended to elicit a response from the religious section of society. The idea of live and let live is not to be practiced because secularism demands that only its view of the world be accepted. A little more benevolence, tolerance and good judgment, as well as knowledge of the history of the Jewish people and its belief system would be in good order for all concerned.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.