Tisha BAv: We have a RIGHT to know...

Right now there are two major news stories within the Jewish world. One is in the United States, where forty-four people were arrested for money laundering, and one of them for illegally selling body parts. Out of these forty-four people, several of them were rabbis.

Here in Jerusalem, a week and a half ago, a religious mother was arrested for possibly having a mental disorder which resulted in her allegedly pulling out the feeding tube of her young child who was in the hospital with an ‘unknown’ illness. Despite the protest of welfare agents, the police took this woman, who is expecting, shackled her and threw her into prison. This treatment sparked protests within the Mea Shaarim/Geula neighborhoods. The ‘undesirables’ of the community turned that protest into violence, destroying street signs, traffic lights, garbage cans, and even attacking city workers.

I don’t know what’s going on in the US and the case there. However, I know a little of what’s going on here in Israel. There are three things that are well known, two of which, people outside of Israel can’t wrap their minds around, since it’s not so common in most civilized countries.

1) The police are corrupt. That’s not new. They have their ‘tactical’ police, known as the Yassam, who, for the most part, are trained animals. They hit and beat people without discrimination, even when there is no violence around. Anybody who has seen the videos and photos from Amona know what I’m talking about (which I’m sure none of you have heard of, since why would the Jewish press in the US give bad light to the State). For them to beat and arrest somebody who is blocks away from any situation is well-known. Happened to a friend of mine and nearly happened to me years ago.

2) The hospitals here are corrupt. Malpractice is standard and history of illegal experiments in hospitals are more common than known. I’ve seen the lack of proper care first hand and know too many people who have been victim to poor practice and non-caring staff. A good friend of mine had to use “protexia” to get their newborn out, since the doctors were not working with each other, and doing the same tests over and over again. Hospitals will be more than happy to put the blame on poor treatment to protect their hides. Of course, not all departments in all hospitals are like this. However, it’s common enough that hospitals cannot be trusted when they are embroiled in a public fight like this.

3) The rioters and media. Often the media/blogs has made the rioters out to be the regular Ultra-Orthodox guy in the street, or a certain group of Jews, as if every frum person out there is rioting. The truth is it is a hundred people at most doing the damage. And they are generally not your standard “Ultra Orthodox” man. The average age is 15-21. They consist of people who dress in Ultra-Orthodox clothes, but whose parents could care less about educating them properly, so they turn out like animals. The rioters also consist of Shabbabniks, teenagers who used to be religious, but are now on the streets causing all sorts of mayhem, yet still dress in black and white. And of course, the rioters consist of non-religious people trying to get in the fun. Naturally, it was barely reported in the media. My friend saw a non-religious man push a burning dumpster in the middle of the street, only to have two religious men roll it back off.

By the way, did anybody hear about the Shabbos night protest that was held on Bar Ilan Street several weeks ago? In response to the City opening a government parking lot on Shabbos, several leading rabbis called for Shabbos night davening by the street to protest. Thousands of people came, and from what an eye-witness said, it was an amazing site. There were no violent protests and no incidences. Hence, the media never reported it.

With these three things in mind, there is one thing we know for certain: NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON. The media is portraying one thing, the hospital is saying another, the defense is saying another, the police are saying another, and the rioters are causing lots of damage. The media thinks they know what’s going on (though the story changes several times) and I’m sure bloggers are having a hayday with this. People are talking about it left, right, and center, since its great gossip, and it makes us feel better than “them”, whoever “them” might be.

In America, there is a concept of “the people have a right to know”. That’s nonsense in Judaism. We have a concept of not speaking Loshon Horah and causing more hatred in the world. I detailed the above information to make a point: None of the parties involved can be trusted. There are many contradictions in everybody’s stories, and all parties have their own interests at heart. We do not have the right to say, “Well, since the hospital/police/defense/media/blogger says this, it must be true”. No. It’s not. Chances are it’s not true, and it’s forbidden by halacha to believe them.

We are only days away from Tisha B’Av. The media and blogs are working for the Yetzer Horah overtime to fan the flames of hatred. The media, because it’s their job to; and the blogs, because they have a need to feel good about themselves and they have no better way to use their time in a constructive manner.

Are the rabbis guilty? Is this mother guilty? Is she mentally sick? Did the hospitals royally mess up and are trying to pin it on her? I don’t know. It doesn’t affect my life and by me yacking about it all day long isn’t going to change a thing. I have myself and my family to worry about.

If you really want to prepare yourselves for Tisha B’Av, put down the paper, close off your internet, and repeat to yourselves several times, “I don’t know the truth of the matter, nor is it any of my business”. Focus on the fact that we are still in exile, there are people out there are doing their best to continue to fan the flames of hatred, and we are trying our best to stay away from it.

I hope that IF we do have Tisha B’Av this year, it should be meaningful and the last one we should experience in Exile.