No elected official in the United States today can escape the highly charged issue of police vs. community relations. The president of the United States, Barack Obama , the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and mayors, governors and even congressman throughout the country have this issue high on their agenda. One cannot open a newspaper without some aspect of the issue on the front page, if not as the lead headline.
Avrohom Zilberstein is a Shmittah-observant farmer. At the recent Agudah convention, he introduced himself to Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky as “a poshute Yid.” Reb Shmuel responded, “There is no such thing as a ‘poshute Yid.’ Every Yid, by definition, is very special.”
Gedolei hador have special insight. Let me share with you the story of Avrohom Zilberstein.
It was June 5, 1967. The date was memorable because it was the day that the Six Day War broke out. I accompanied Rav Yaakov Weinberg zt”l, son-in-law of Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt”l, who later became the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, to a meeting with the executive secretary of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. What was the purpose of the meeting? It was to discuss the possibility of Ner Yisroel receiving accreditation from one of the premier accrediting associations in the country.
The executive secretary politely explained the difficulties that the yeshiva would encounter in order to be recognized by his organization. When we walked out of the meeting, Rav Weinberg said something that puzzled me. He remarked, “Listen to what he means, not what he says.”
Hurricane Sandy has certainly left much devastation and destruction. It also generated some controversial commentary, including remarks from individuals who publically stated that the storm was due to the tampering with the holiness of traditional marriage by some states.
Obviously, there are no neviim today and we cannot say with certainty why any natural disaster occurs. As individuals and as communities, however, we must reflect and try to determine where we may have fallen short. Such introspection is proper for each and every person.