Friday, March 28, 2008

Force & Chumrah

A great post by RafiG, utilizing some points made well by R' Horowitz, in light of the "Burqa lady" being arrested on charges of child abuse and allowing molestation. Excerpts:
Rabbi Horowitz said that anybody who is violently forcing his chumrohs on others, and especially those who are physically assaulting women are prime candidates for being sexual predators, pedophiles and wife beaters. He repeatedly told us that over the course of time, it will become evident to all that a disproportionately high percentage of these thugs are not only abusing the women on the buses, but are committing far worse on those close to them. He said that, in his view, these people have a distorted and perverse obsession with women and sexual matters, as opposed to, lehavdil, true tzadikim, whose minds are preoccupied with torah and avodah. Tzadikim and true Chassidim make chumros – on themselves. And never resort to violence on others.

Yesterday, I spoke with Rabbi Horowitz about the subject and he pointed me to the sefer Kav Ha'Yashar chapter 52. The sefer says, I will summarize it briefly, that "A person who busies himself all day with davening with kavanah, and he walks with his tefillin all day long (an unusual behavior – a super-frum chumrah, as men typically remove their tefilin before leaving shul) - it looks like this person is very pious. You think that he must be a kosher and straight person who deals constantly with the holy work of heaven. But you do not really know what is in his heart. As Shlomo HaMelech wrote (in Koheles) - don't be too righteous or too evil, and Chazal said be wary of the "tzvu'im" (hypocrites) - they look like prushim (people who separate themselves from materialism), but they act like zimri, and then they request reward like Pinchas. Rather you should look for someone who is really a tzaddik" – one who is an honest and decent man.

When I asked Rabbi Horowitz what his guidelines were regarding healthy chumros and those mentioned above, he identified three areas:
  1. The chumroh is within the realm of the Torah and established Mesorah, and not way beyond what Mesorah advocates.
  2. The chumroh is personal and not imposed upon others. When a person is obsessed with forcing (as opposed to appropriately inspiring or encouraging others other people to keep those chumrohs), that is an indication something is wrong.
  3. When the person advocating the chumroh is ready to resort to violence to ensure that others adhere to it, that is a clear indication that something is wrong.
Read the whole thing.

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