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Windows and Doors

Responding to yesterday’s post about the consternation provoked in both the savagely secular and rabidly religious camps, Shoshanna commented:

mazel tov, Rabbi, on finally joining the fray against
the Christophole nudnick (and most recently, as a recent reader post on this blog noted, cyberstalker!) Klinghoffer.
It is long overdue, given the potshots he has taken in the past at you and the thoughtfulness and refined common sense which you stand for.

While I appreciate the blessing and encouragement, I do not want to “join the fray against” anybody, at least not anybody writing on Beliefnet, and especially the day before Tisha B’av. Let’s all remember that many of the day’s terrible events were sparked by people telling the truth, but in harmful ways. That’s actually a really useful definition of Lashon Ha’Rah – best translated as trash-talking.
David has, and I assume will, continue to take shots at me. That’s his problem. It’s only anybody else’s if they busy themselves reading what he writes. And if people do so, then they cannot simply blame him for writing it. If people stopped reading it, he would probably stop writing it, and it certainly would have little significance.
While in philosophy class we can still debate whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if no one is there to hear it, but in the real world, the answer is ‘no, it does not’.


So, while it’s easy to blame the guy with the ax, we have the power to leave the forest being felled. That ability to respond constructively even in the midst of difficult times is another important message of Tisha B’av. We may not have been able to stop the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any of the others who have hurt the Jewish people, but we always have a choice about how to respond.
I beg of you Shoshanna, especially if you value my work and the ethos of this blog, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle instead. Help me build the readership of Windows and Doors, and spread what you describe as my “refined common sense”.
As we enter a dark day for the Jewish people, please recall that sharing gentle Torah and treating all people with as much love and respect as possible really does redeem the world. We don’t need to be weak, but being right should not become an excuse for being rough. After all, isn’t that what you object to the others doing?
Go with your initial response to that kind of anger, Shoshanna. You know the anger, when expressed by others, is wrong, so why indulge it? You will be so much happier if you don’t. We have waited for thousands of years to be able to be both strong and gentle, and now we really can be, let’s make the most of that opportunity.

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