Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Lipa Ban - Is Anybody Really Listening?

Like so many bans before it, the Lipa Concert ban has got all the bloggers flared up. You know the drill: centrist/leftist Jew rips the gedolim and the kanoim, and chareidi commenter ("I'm only on here because my rosh yeshiva said I should!") tries valiantly to defend the gedolim, all the while calling the blogger a kofer, aprikores, mevazeh talmid chacham, racist, sexist, and homophobe.

I'll leave the discussion of who's right, who's wrong, etc. to those blogs. My reaction to this controversy - when it comes down to it, does anybody really care? Is anybody really going to change their ways and cancel their tickets because of this pronouncement? Does anybody still care?

I believe that very few people take these pronouncements seriously anymore.

After all, the turning point for most people was the wedding takanos. The rabbis who signed said they weren't going to show up to the weddings that violated the takanos. Yet the richies kept making their weddings in the Sheraton Meadowlands and Brooklyn Marriott with all the trimmings, in clear defiance of the takanos. And guess what? The roshei yeshiva still showed up! I don't know of a single rich guy who switched his daughter's wedding from Ateres Avrohom to Ateres Shlomo because of those ads in the Jewish Observer. And I never heard of one rabbi boycott a wedding that violated the takanos. And I'm SURE we would've heard about an incident like that.

The whole wedding takanos fiasco taught us not to worry about these "kol korei"s. You could defy them and live to talk about it.

Sure, some chareidim tried to save face for the rabbis - "yeah, they didn't mean for it to be taken seriously, it was just meant so that the people making smaller weddings wouldn't be embarrassed, so that they could just say they were following the takanos..." - aside from the disturbing thought that some gedolim were playing the same political games as Hillary and Obama, the message was - don't take what we say at face value! Don't take us THAT seriously! And if that kol korei was about politics and quasi-hidden agendas, who's to say that the other ones are any different?

At the end of the day, the wedding takanos was a PR disaster for the Agudah and the Moetzes. And it's only gone downhill from there, with Slifkin, Kolko, etc. Even the Indian shaitels - a bunch of women wore snoods for a day, a horrible comedy album was inspired, and then life went back to normal.

- Plus, who were the Gedolim trying to target here? The MO and chareidi-lites are unaffected by this ban. As for the chareidim, many of them aren't going to concerts; Reb Laizer Ginsburg and others have been ripping concerts for years. Furthermore, most chareidim have their own rav/ rosh yeshiva that they speak to for their shailos. So why should they listen to an ad in the Hamodia, if they have their own authorities with whom to discuss the issue?

(Lawrence Kaplan has a terrific essay about how the concept of "daas torah" only came to life following WWII, after the destruction of European Jewry. In a future post, I plan on giving my take as to where "daas torah" is headed today. And most people having their own rabbeim is a big part of that.)

In fact, I have a chareidi uncle who has a bunch of rabbeim with whom he discusses shailos and other issues. And he recently borrowed one of my books, one that was heavily banned a few years back. So clearly, he's not taking that ban seriously. My Lakewood cousins, on the other hand.... well let's just say, my uncle better be hiding that book in a safe place, if he knows what's good for him.

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