Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Concerts Revisited

When reading the following, I am tempted to add to the list of sefasayim yishak meshiv devarim nechochim(see end of this post).

On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to meet Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum(as well as Rabbi Motty Katz), and I admire the work that both have done over the years on behalf of the Torah community.

The following is an article from Yeshiva World, which had recently appeared in the Yated:

I still remember when the Pirchei Agudas Yisrael put on a play and concert more than forty years ago in Montauk Junior High School. ( The play was based on the book Family Aguilar. ) There were some who tried to convince the rabbonim to put a ban on it. Since I was the president of Pirchei at the time, Rabbi Moshe Sherer z.l, asked me to go down to the venerable gaon hador, Rabbi Moshe Fienstien z.t.l., to get his halachic opinion. Not only did he not ban it, but he gave it his blessings. He understood only too well the importance of giving the boys a kosher alternative; otherwise they would soon find their pleasures elsewhere. One must be very careful before imposing restrictions. “Restrict everything and everything becomes permitted,” is what my father z.t.l. once said.When some tried to ban the Miami Boys Choir Concert in N.Y. and tried to get Rabbi Pam z.t.l.s’ signature as well as that of the Mirer Rosh Yeshiva to ban it, they both refused to sign(emphasis mine, BH).

A number of years ago, Rabbi Motty Katz of JEP and I organized a Chanuka trip to Washington on the two days that yeshivas give off for Chanuka vacation. .... I received a very nasty letter in the mail from a prominent rosh yeshiva accusing me of causing bitul Torah and admonishing me for organizing the trip. I very respectfully replied that it wasn’t I who was causing any bittul Torah but rather the yeshivas that gave the kids off for two days without providing them with something positive to do. I told him that if he wanted, I would show him where some of his students are hanging out during this time. I never received a reply.....

Note as well, the balancing elements in the article. For example:

Others can decide on their posek whom they wish to follow. But whoever it is, the p’sak must be followed even if it hurts....Yes, there are legitimate concerns that must be addressed in order to make sure that concerts are conducted in a true Yiddish atmosphere and flavor..."

Rabbi Teitelbaum was interviewed about the above essay, this past Motzoie Shabbos, on the Zev Brenner Show. Regarding one concert which was banned in Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Teitelbaum relates:

I went over to the.. agitators behind it-- I met them. They were standing in front of Binyanei Haumah... I especially went; I heard that they banned it, [and] I wanted to find out what's going on-- what happened, is there any legitimate reason [to ban the concerts]?

There were about four people or five standing in front-- I have a picture of them.

Rabbi Teitelbaum:

What is the reason they're banning them?


Don't you see the pritzus(immodesty)?

Rabbi Teitelbaum:

I'm wearing glasses over here. Please point out the priztus, and please come with me… I'd like to see [the priztus]--show it to me!

...There were two separate entrances. If that was called pritzus, then you can't walk out of your house in the street anywhere, especially not in Geulah on Friday. That particular concert, I will be an eidus [witness] there was no pritzus whatsoever…

Rabbi Teitelbaum concluded the radio interview:

You'd need another five hours for me to tell you all the conversations I've had with Gedolim about this[ie, the subject of his essay]. But in any case, I just have one point: stop banning, and start straightening things out! We have problems; straighten them out!

Back to the essay, where Rabbi Teitelbaum concludes:

We definitely need our gedolim to guide us, and if we come to them with sincere requests to teach us to run activities al pi Torah, they would respond wisely and constructively. We should no longer leave the field open to those few agitators and connivers who choose to deprive our young people of positive outlets. For if we close the doors to that which is permitted, they’ll unfortunately, soon find other places to fill the void!

Kudos to Rabbi Teitelbaum for bravely addressing an issue on the minds of many people!

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