By Rabbi Moshe Brennan, Director of Chabad of Penn Wynne, PA
After reading the story about the Purim party last week dubbed Arabian Nights as well as some of the many comments posted on the bottom of the article, I would like to share a few thoughts that I think get to the heart of how we as Lubavitchers and Jews should view this incident. We know that the Yetzer Hara is smart, and he knows exactly who he can tempt with what. He is a good salesman. In order to achieve his goal of getting us to do the wrong thing, he will use any method he can to gain a “win.” Many times he will use one victory to gain another, and no one is the wiser.
I think that is the Yetzer Hara’s goal here as well, and for the sake of all of us, I think he needs to be called out. First, he gets a segment of the community to attend a party that by any normative standard is at the very least questionable. But then he gets the remainder of the community to condemn and say the most horrible things about the organizers and attendees, and all in the name of Torah, Yiddishkeit and Rebbe, with the belief that this sort of condemnation is exactly what will bring displays like this — indeed an entire lack of Pritzus in general — to an end.
I humbly suggest that this sort of condemnation is exactly what will make matters worse, not better.
While the Yetzer Hara does his work on the individual, his greater goal is create as much discord as possible, separating and polarizing the community to the greatest possible extent. The gain of one negative party is only a segue toward separating an entire community.
Chasidus teaches that we are all different parts of one body. If that is the case, then when it comes to the Arabian Nights, we are screaming at our hand because it was injured. The only way to heal is for the person as a whole to deal with his injuries; so too we need to focus on healing a fractured part of our community, not severing them from it.
If we want to bring Kedushah and Tahara to Crown Heights and the Chabad community at large, then we should notice that when things like this happen, they can be a wakeup call to each of us to look inward and to make a cheshbon hanefesh about whether we are doing enough in our communities. Are we inviting someone over to learn who might not otherwise get the opportunity? Are we inviting people over for Shabbos meals? Are we doing it enough? Are we doing enough in other areas of Ahavas Yisroel?
I personally know that many of those who we are so quick to condemn would give the shirt off their back to help another Jew. But that is not likely to be discovered by telling people off from a distance.
There truly is little that is more important than Achdus, and therefore it is what the Yetzer Hara wants to make sure does not happen at all costs. Let’s not give the Yetzer Hara the win he really wants. Maybe we should instead spend some real time and energy trying to help others see the value of Yiddishkeit and Chassidishkeit. It’s a part of our own body that is hurting.