From the COLlive Inbox:
The following commentary is intended for satirical purposes ONLY; please do not include it in your commentary on the Machzor. Although I’m very serious and passionate about this matter, it does NOT constitute an actual interpretation of the real story.
For so many years I couldn’t help but wonder: why do we need to go through the whole story of the Asara Harugei Malchus every Yom Kippur? I know about the need we have to “remind” Hashem of the great sacrifices our forbearers made and to maximize our merit points before Hashem. But really, doesn’t He have a much better memory than us? And besides, can’t we just mention the “headlines” to suffice? Why all the gruesome details?
Over the past few years I’ve developed a kind of cynical interpretation which speaks to me and I’m certain will resonate with many of you. Perhaps you too would have been most apprehensive to entertain such a wild, and perhaps heretical sounding, opinion. But, unfortunately, after experiencing what most of us parents of school aged children go through, I believe that your thinking too will lean a little more liberally towards my “P’shat.”
And so, my opinion is that we are really addressing OURSELVES and our dear community leaders in describing what occurred back then to those 10 holy martyrs. On this Holy day of reckoning we make it a point to describe the ills of our society and the difficulties that unjustly plague us.
Perhaps, the story of Rabbi Akiva is a metaphor for our times. We ARE “Akeiv,” the heels. We are not only the generation of Moshiach (Ikvesa D’Meshicha) but sadly compared to previous generations of Yidden and Chassidim we are the heels, the lowest there has been.
Most of us saw the Rebbe and perhaps aspire to live his legacy. But for real, we know the bitter truth: it’s after Gimmel Tammuz and the feelings we exhibit to one another (especially in certain areas, as will be discussed further) could not be described to be any greater that the extent of feeling that an “Akeiv” has, as described in Chassidus.
In short, we (the regular people) are the Akivas (living in the shadow of our dear Rabbi – The Rebbe OBM). The “Romans” are the so called “leaders”, the people in charge. I borrow this from the Hebrew word “room” – those who “stand” above. Those who are the ones who are charged with “looking out” for our society and its infrastructure. Those who so eloquently claim to be “doing for the people.”
We have this enormous love for Torah. Like Rabbi Akiva, we don’t make any Cheshbonois and we choose to follow the ways of The Torah, regardless of the grim reality and difficulties this may result in, b’Gashmiyus. The Rebbe encouraged to have large families; this IS the Torah way and so we do.
When sending our 6, 7, 8 or 9, 10 children (simultaneously) to receive a Torah education and moreover a Chassidishe inspired education, OF COURSE we realize the realities of life. Yes, teachers must get paid, the lights have to be on, someone’s got to clean the floors, etc. After all, we do want a quality education for our children – no corners cut. We ARE ready and willing to make sacrifices, to do whatever it takes, for the sake of Torah.
However, do the “Romans” need to actually skin us alive? And after being brutally treated, we are still expected to sit at a school dinner and “B’Ahava” applaud the great work the “Romans” are doing (on the Cheshbon of poor families).
I understand that it takes an enormous amount of money to facilitate a good education – but why the brutality? Is this the way it was done before Gimmel Tammuz? Are there not capable people who can go out there and solicit the needed funds? The Rebbe maintained (and expressed it publicly) that there’s enough money out there to educate each and every Jewish child.
Look, I understand that “it’s not your problem” that I need to send my child to learn Torah. But then again, IT IS YOUR PROBLEM! At least according to the Rebbe. If you feel you can’t do it, step aside. Maybe there’s someone else out there who’s willing to do what so many Shluchim do on a daily basis: go out there and make it happen!
Of course, I will grant you, you are doing a pretty good job: after all, salaries ARE getting paid, the kids are learning in a healthy environment… but at what cost? At whose expense?
Is it right that a member of Anash is charged BESIDES the allotted tuition? What exactly is a “Registration Fee?” Why is the “Book Fee” over $250 PER CHILD?! Are the kids going to Harvard or Yale?
After finishing with all these “hard costs” you’d think that it’s all over; now we can lick the wounds, try to survive on whatever is left… Dream on. Now you need to pay for B’nos, graduation, dance, extra curricular activities… and the list doesn’t end.
This does not include the monies one needs to shell out for uniforms, school supplies and in some Moisdois, the daily lunches and snacks. And remember, we’re not talking about “the American family” of 2 children. We are discussing OUR families. Many of us are sending 6 children or more to school at the same time!
Shluchim, too face the same situation, with many of them unable to afford the high tuitions of Yeshivas around the world, not only in Crown Heights. A friend of mine was told, coldly and shockingly, that his children are not welcome in school (some even run by so called “friends”), solely because they are Shluchim who are battling just to survive financially.
Oh, I’d be remiss if I omitted the good heartedness of the great Hanhalos. Of course they give discounts and “scholarships” to the underprivileged. After all, they are sensitive and considerate. BUT “we can only reduce from the price of tuition,” NOT the registration and book fee (which can equal over $500 per child, times that by 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.).
I think you get the point. The story of Rabbi Akiva gets played over and over again. Perhaps the only difference is that as time progresses and we get further and further away from that sad day of Gimmel Tammuz – the situation becomes worse and worse.
It’s time to listen to the story, not just as a story from the past. Rather as a reality of the now.
L’chadidusa D’milsa, perhaps we can add the following: Rabbi Akiva was a Ben Geirim – “Ah Tzu’gekummener”. Maybe this can apply especially to the many Baalei Teshuva who made tremendous sacrifices to live a Torah way and to have large families (which they certainly would not have done in their previous life) – only to encounter these ridiculous and unnecessary challenges.
Wishing all a K’siva Vachasima Tova and lots of Nachas from your children.
A concerned parent, member of Anash.