Rabbi Soloveichik Speaks Out Against “Pashkevil”
In his weekly Shabbat morning sermon (Parshat Bemidbar), Rav Hayim Soloveichik spoke out forcefully against a recent “pashkevil” which was distributed in specific locations last week in Bet Shemesh.
Rav Soloveichik told his congregants that a “pashkevil” (a public written announcement, see previous article) had been published and distributed last week, presumably by individual residents of Bet Shemesh, which was unacceptable in both its content and its anonymity.
Rav Soloveichik noted that this week’s Torah portion starts with the counting of the Children of Israel – and this reflects the fact that every member of
is “chashuv” – important and valuable. What makes us “chashuv” is that we keep Hashem’s Torah (halacha) and we keep to Ruach Hatorah (hashkafa). Israel
Rav Soloveichik said that the recent struggle to retain the local makvaot (ritual baths) under the control of the Municipal Rabbinical Council, is a correct and honorable cause, and the campaign was carefully planned by a committee established for this purpose.
At all times, the tactics approved for promoting this cause were kept in both the framework of halacha, and the “ruach HaTorah” (spirit of the Torah).
The rav said that this pahkevil and its content, which was not approved by the committee, contained an inappropriate threat – which was certainly against the “ruach hatorah”.
Furthermore, Rav Soloveichik explained that, in general, an author’s anonymity may only be used if the truth is required for beneficial purposes, but the personal consequences on the writer can be severe. (Such as a “whistle-blower”)
However, if what is written is of a damaging nature, and the anonymity is solely used by the writer as a shield, then it constitutes “striking a person down from a hiding place” and is prohibited halachikly.
Rav Soloveichik also mentioned his recent conversation with someone who was acquainted with the writer of the pashkevil – who had said, in defense of the pashkevil, that some of the opponents in the struggle of the mikva have been unscrupulous and devious in their tactics – and one must fight fire with fire.
Rav Soloveichik countered that it is irrelevant how one’s opponents do or don’t behave, and one must always strive for Truth & Peace (“v’ha'emes v'hashalom ahavu”).
Rav Soloveichik concluded by wishing the community continuing successes – and that these must always be achieved within halacha and ruach hatorah – and especially in a manner which is respectful to every Jew.