Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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26 Shevat 5760 - February 2, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Violence in Modern Society

by HaRav Mordechai Shmuel Kroll zt"l

This article deals with a problem that has lately become a burning issue: murder among Jews caused by their alienation from Torah and emunah. Some sixty years ago HaRav Mordechai Shmuel Kroll zt"l, the rav of Kfar Chassidim, discussed this. The following was published at that time in chareidi periodicals and reprinted last year by the family of HaRav Kroll zt'l in Maso Damesek: a compilation of droshos, articles, and thoughts about current problems.

Murders have frequently taken place in our land: in Hertzliah, Haifa, and Tel Aviv. The first were committed under cover of darkness while the last (if only it would be the last) happened at midday in the celebrated city [of Tel Aviv].

These murders shocked the public. Newspapers hastened to denounce the heinous acts and cautioned against the escalating depravity entrenching itself within the settlement.

What is happening is appalling! We are indeed no longer so "spoiled" as to be stunned by acts of murder. Surely the day will come when we find those who defend this occurrence, those who tell us that since we are a "nation" we have the "right" to have "our own murderers" and our own "thieves." Among their disgraceful remarks they will also remember to emphasize that, "We are still better than all other nations."

That is some achievement! We are not lower than they. May the advocates of, "Let us be like all other peoples" rejoice! Their dream has fully materialized. Jews are like all other nations: Just as they have murderers, we too have murderers. What do we lack? Only a country and independence. Well, this will also come, with the hope that the nation will be ready for it.

Each one of us who daily thanks Hashem "for not making me a gentile" and openly makes a brocho, "Who selected us from all the peoples" have difficulties in accepting this unsatisfactory reality of not being worse than all other nations. Although they do not regard this as a shortcoming, it is surely regarded so by us, and it pains us greatly to have to cope with such matters. The last incident was worse in all respects. The main difference is, apart from it being committed publicly in broad daylight contrary to previous murderers, the accused murderer is reported as being a quiet boy. We are not dealing with a "professional murderer" but a boy like all others. He wanted to steal and when he was caught, he murdered. This is intended to teach us something.

Doubtless the newspapers will begin "educating" the populace to spurn the mania of "luxuries" resulting from a desire for an easy, carefree life which is the root of corruption that has become naturalized in the settlement and the land. Afterwards conferences and meetings condemning such acts [of violence] will take place, but inevitably society will return to its customary way of life, until . . . a new occurrence.

"Thunder was only created to straighten the heart's crookedness" (Brochos 59a) -- the heart's crookedness can only be straightened through thunder. Although we should neither relinquish nor find consolation for the loss of any Jewish soul, if "thunder" could truly bring us the suitable goal it would somewhat lighten our shock. However, the problem is that the crookedness has not budged. The "thunder" only quiets it or stills its nerves, but evil remains entrenched, and every once in a while it reappears.

Besides the above mentioned killings, the newspapers report suicides through poisoning and jumping from high buildings. Is it possible to find something in common with all these occurrences?

What is suicide? Is it not murder? It is recklessness and permissiveness provoked by not recognizing life's objective. If someone's own life is unimportant, why should he care about another's? If he imagines his life's goal as owning a "car" and without it life is utterly worthless, why should he not obtain it illegally if he is unable to obtain it lawfully.

If he is caught but can reach his goal by killing his brother who will stop him? Is he afraid of the law? There is a limit to the degree which a person is afraid of punishment. Since his life is unimportant, his fear of dying will not stop him. This happens time and again but we are helpless. We are deteriorating, going from bad to worse.

What has changed? Why were such events unheard of among Jews a generation ago? From where did all these suicides, murders, and theft come? Before we became a modern people, when we were still in golus, why did we not then commit suicide nor murder, but realized life's value and made maximum efforts to remain alive? What is the root of this frivolity that has crept into our camp?

The shield guarding life was that our people were "believers, and the sons of believers," who trusted in Divine Providence. They had faith in a Ruler of the World who oversees each detail and faith in Olam Haboh, the world of reward and punishment. They believed life has a supreme objective that man cannot fathom. They saw Hashem's hand in every unfortunate circumstance and believed from birth that "From Hashem no evil will emerge."

The simple emunah that "the grave will not be an escape for you" (Ovos 4:22) and "If I ascend up into heaven, You are there, if I make my bed in She'ol, behold, You are there" (Tehillim 139:7) was an enormously strong wall that guarded life's purity. We did not need "committees" to protect the honor of Jewish women. Our family life was an example to be imitated, something we prided ourselves on. Beauty, pleasantness, might, and purity were nested in Jewish homes.

But when we lost the simple emunah we lost all this. Who uprooted from this generation the innocence inherited from our fathers? Was it not the new education received? Was it not the new beautiful-ugly literature?

Boys the age of that quiet murderer receive their entire education from school. He was educated there like the tens of thousands of students who are progressively alienating themselves from their true source. Is it possible that the "You shouldn't steal" learned from his teacher who denies Torah and does not steal or murder only because of humanitarian reasons, will be as powerful as the "You shall not steal" written after "I am Hashem your Elokim" that we learn from our Mentors?

We see the extent of the moral values of those who have built the land. At Ein HaShofet, disregarding the mortal danger to them, they chased away those with different outlooks in the middle of the night. They uproot all kedusha, anything spiritual, anything that elevates the soul. Their whole mind and neshomo is utilized for material purposes.

Greed is all important to them. What is so surprising if such incidents recur? Are you, the newspaper reporters, the entire generation of writers, who cram your readers with nonsense and dislodge the faith in the heart and profane all that is sacred for us, so alarmed when you see the fruit of the trees you have planted? "For out of the serpent's root shall come forth a viper" (Yeshaya 14:29). Your education will not build people like R' Chaim, the Chofetz Chaim, since they are not esteemed by you and not mentioned in your literature.

What do young boys and girls see? What do you use to enflame their souls? You tell them about some Polish gentile and non- Jewish individual. This is the youth's aspiration, and in this way a generation that is not Jewish and not gentile is growing up. It is a hybrid without a yesterday or tomorrow, one that walks around proudly and whose desires are unchecked. Should anyone be surprised at the results?

After reaching such a state of affairs do you not see that synthetic rebuke will not help? It is impossible to explain to young boys that theft and murder are not nice and just impractical. As long as he does not have an internal inclination to refrain from it, no reprimanding will help. Articles will neither restrain nor scare them.

Return the Jewish neshomo to the youth! These victims demand from you reporters, writers, and educators, at last to have the might and courage to admit you have sinned to the children's souls. Confess that you are unable to educate a generation to be forthright. Do you want to destroy all of beis Yisroel? Remove from yourselves the task of educating the young. Hand over the education of children to faithful hands who know how to handle it, to those who have been in charge of this for almost two thousand years.

Their pupils proved themselves until you started stealing the children -- the nation's hope -- from these faithful hands and failed. Instead of geonim and tzaddikim, morally superior people, people who deal honestly -- you have raised mentally sick people, unrestrained masses, materialistic individuals, who are ready to do anything forbidden to gain money . . . and having a car is more precious to them than a brother's life.

Have pity on the nation's nefesh! Do not continue to devastate the good in our nation. Look at the products of your education. Return what you have stolen and deliver them to the Torah-true who are experienced in educating them. It is not too late to correct what you have destroyed, and a new generation will arise that will be a honor for Jews and the nations.

Do this promptly, because every day counts.

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