I would like to point out a strong difference between The Commentator and The Observer this year.
This difference is demonstrated in the respective Purim issues of the two publications.
There is a famous Gemara, Eruvin 65b, which states that one can judge a man b'koso, b'kiso and b'kaaso. And I would add one more thing- by his sense of what is appropriate, by his sense of what is amusing and humorous. In a way, this is the very quality that is being measured in all three situations noted in the Gemara- whether or not the man acts in an appropriate fashion when he is confronted with the request to give charity, when he is in his cups, or when he is angry. And this is a quality measured when one is placed in a position of responsibility as well.
I happened to be at YU tonight, and seeing as there were none available on the Beren campus, I picked up a copy of The Commentator's Purim issue, namely The Instigator. But I believe that it deserves a different and more appropriate name, mainly, The Humiliator.
I was appalled by the majority of the articles, but most disgusted by one entitled "Stern Students Are Hilarious, Don't You Think?"
A Stern student had written a letter to the editor in the most recent issue of The Observer. Her views, to put it kindly, are somewhat extreme. She believes that women do not focus enough upon dating and getting married, and that the women at Stern ought to care more about this. However, the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer clarified that the girl in question wanted her letter published exactly as it was, and that is precisely what she did. The girl signed her name to the letter.
And yes, while it is perfectly understandable that some might disagree with this girl's views, or giggle about them in private, it is beyond amazing that someone decided that a good idea for the Purim issue of The Commentator would be...to rip apart her letter unmercifully, destroying it piece by piece, mocking her pitilessly, humiliating her in front of the entire Yeshiva University community. Because we all know her name. Since she had signed it to the letter, you see.
And so I come across this "Purim" article that concludes:
"Wow. We couldn't have done it any better. To the entire student body of Stern College- we would like to thank you. This article toes the fine line between disgust and comedy. We can't tell whether to laugh or cry, so we'll do the only thing we know how to do, as self respecting me- we shall cry."
Are you laughing at this? Because I'm not laughing.
I think this is disgusting.
I find it amazing that a paper that claims the moral highground, has no problem expressing the opinion that IBC is not a valid Yeshiva program, lauds the "true" Yeshiva scholars, viciously lambastes those who went on certain CJF trips in order to try to improve the world and laments YU accepting supposedly lesser students with lower SAT scores thinks it is okay to publish an article that humiliates a person in front of the entire school. And yes, the girl's name was not included in the article itself, that is true. But we had all read her name in The Observer issue published beforehand (which was cited in the article.)
Where is your sensitivity? Where is your mercy? Must you destroy a person for the sake of your low attempts at humor? Would you like to be destroyed in front of the whole school?
It is fascinating that a paper which was involved in publishing the recent book Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik managed to forget so simple a tenet of the Rav's philosophy:
"The Halakhah equated the act of publicly embarrassing a person with murder. Why? Because humiliation is tantamount to destroying an existential community and driving the individual into solitude. It is not enough for the charitable person to extend help to the needy. He must do more than that; he must try to restore to the dependant person a sense of dignity and worth. That is why we have developed special sensitivy regarding orphans and widows, since these persons are extremely sensistive and lose their self-confidence at the slightest provocation. The Bible warned us against afflicting an orphan and widow."
~Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "The Community," Tradition, Vol. 17, No. 2, p. 16.
Ah yes. But these are our true Torah scholars, the ones who publish The Instigator. They're the ones who would never participate in CJF trips where people wore pillowcases on their heads, or be part of IBC, or receive less than a 1400 on their SATs.
But they would humiliate a person publicly, and have the callousness to treat that as a joke.
Torah like this is not true Torah. An apology is in order, and those who work for The Humiliator ought to rethink their attempt at holding the moral highground. If for no other reason, this Purim issue utterly destroys their credibility. A true scholar would have the sensitivity to refrain from attacking another person in public, from destroying her, from hurting her. How can she dare show her face now?
You did this. This is what you have wrought. But at least one good thing has come of this. For I believe that many of us now recognize that "we have allowed the wrong student to take [a] leadership role and misrepresent us to the broader Jewish community."
That's a worthwhile realization.