Murderers, Nazis, Traitors, Wise Men and Noise:
Reflections on the Rabin Assassination

This essay, following in the wake of the Rabin assassination, analyzes the loud rhetoric of those who portray their opponents on Israeli security issues as murderers and Nazis. Reasonable people disagree on these issues and yet the loudmouths are sure that their opponents are evil people arrogantly leading the Jewish state to destruction. Some bluster only as a means of feeling their own self-importance but others take the rhetoric all too literally. Even with regard to the first group, bullying speech from the mouths of Orthodox Jews, including rabbis, constitutes a desecration of the Divine name.

Rabbi Carmy mentions that repentance includes both acknowledging the sin and recognizing that the sin was not worth it. Does hate filled rhetoric and the violence that follows truly help the Jewish people? Does it not remind us of the atmosphere that led up to the destruction of the Second Temple?

Our community should not timidly avoid self-examination; we should realize that we have not adequately taught the significance of natural morality, as championed by Rav Kook, and internalize the fact that those who disagree with us may still be decent people. We should think critically about our language both as speakers and as listeners. This mandates rejecting the loudmouth who attempts to intimidate the opposition while spouting meaningless rhetoric. As Onkelos explains: language is central to humanity’s role in this world. To the degree that our discourse becomes more soft-spoken and thoughtful, we will fulfill that role more successfully.

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(© 1995, Yeshiva College Commentator.)

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