Rabbinic double-standards

“That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbour” has long been put out as a maxim to live one’s life by, and is considered by many to be the ‘Golden living of living life ethically.

It has additional importance in Judaism, being attributed with Rabbi Hillel, who uses it as a pithy response to the challenge of explaining the entire Torah whilst standing on one foot.

Unfortunately, it is also one of those statements that people far too often forget to live by.

Rabbi Dweck recently fell foul of this and was embroiled in controversy for his teachings, and for the way that he referred to other Rabbanim.

Whilst there has been lots of backwards and forwards over his teachings (which from my, and many other’s perspective seem unresolved), I believe Rabbi Dweck deserves massive kudos for holding his hands up and apologising soon into the crusade against him (on a side note something that I find both inspiring and something he has made me realise is important for me to learn in life; a real example of how to hold your hands up with grace when you have done something wrong).

However, whilst Rabbanim seem to be off limit to generalised, non-specific attacks, their direct attacks on individual members of the Jewish community seem to be fair game.

One only needs look at examples of how Rabbi Schochet (who is no stranger to loose-lipped comments) gives advice to members of the community writing to him in the Jewish press. I’m not interested in what he says but how he says it.

He, as a United Synagogue Rabbi, denounced a Jew asking for advice as “idiot” and a “hypocrite”, and more recently suggested that someone’s marriage would “be an especially sad time on the Jewish calendar”. Truly unacceptable language to even use against ideological enemies.

Is this really the language a senior representative of the United Synagogue wants to use? Is this part of their plans to increase engagement and declining membership? Or is this how to break trust and alienate people?

For me, this highlights a real hypocrisy in the Jewish community where a UK Rabbi can be censured by a UK Chief Rabbi led process for speaking badly of his fellow Rabbanim, even with a heartfelt apology, and a UK United Synagogue Rabbi can continue to spew such public, unadulterated hatred on people looking to him for advice and guidance.

I wish that this was the extent of UK Orthodox Rabbanim behaving badly — over the past few weeks alone many have pointed to rumours, and substantiated examples, such as Rabbanim that have counted get refusers into their minyanim — and the disgusting personal attacks they launched against their colleague as examples of Orthodox Rabbanim not deserving the leadership positions that they hold.

These are not teenage boys, or internet trolls who have no real standing in the world, but Rabbanim that are meant to be the living embodiment of how to lead a life of respect and Torah values.

This is yet another reason why mainstream Orthodox synagogues in the UK are facing dwindling membership numbers…

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