Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Incident with Lipa at the Wedding

You can get details, including video of the incident, at (Blog In Dm, Life Of Rubin, Chaptzem, Vos Iz Neias, Emes veEmunah, Wolfish Musings).

My short thoughts on the matter:
  1. Obviously, I am against the banning of music, and of singers. And I think the banners are misguided.

  2. Even so, this is Rabbi Schorr. He does not lose his semicha just because he does something you (commenters, bloggers) disagree with. Even if it is something I disagree with. ;) Don't go stripping people of their semicha when they take an unpopular position. This is the attitude of the closed-minded. And I have been on the receiving end of this tactic on more than one occasion, when putting forth an established halachic position that others felt was not machmir enough.

  3. Chazal often derive things from the fact that someone acted in a certain way ולא מיחו בידן חכמים. Here, Rabbi Schorr felt that certain actions were not appropriate, and he publicly acted to show his disapproval and that he opposed. There is an assumption that rabbis will do so. And where they do not, shetika kehodaah. Here, there is an element of kanaaut, but there is something to this anyway.

  4. If, as the commenter at Life of Rubin notes, the father of the bride, who is close with Rabbi Schorr, asked Lipa to stop singing, that absolutely is relevant.

  5. By Avodah Zara, I would guess that Rabbi Schorr meant the idolizing of musical personalities. Lipa was there as a guest. But he was apparently mobbed by admirers and asked to perform his popular tunes. This idolization over e.g. rabbinic leaders and over the focus on the chassan and kallah may be problematic.

  6. We have a tradition of much more forceful opposition to public displays we feel are not correct. Think of the Jews pelting the Sadduccee with esrogim.

  7. At the same time, there is an issue of making a public confrontation, thus embarrassing the other person. See Sanhedrin 101b about how Yeravam merited the kingdom for rebuking Shlomo haMelech in public, but was punished because he rebuked him in public.

  8. However, the nature of the "offense" (and I use air quotes deliberately here) is one in public. If the only time to stand up to someone is when they insist on performing in public, as they are acting, then it has to be in public.

  9. Forgiving Rabbi Schorr for this disgrace does not (necessarily) make him the better man. It is also an ingenious tactic. Because Lipa comes off as one who is not taking offense, even as he insists on his conduct. This is a way of winning. Also, he casts the conduct of the other as something which needs forgiving, rather than just an opposing viewpoint. And the crowd eats it up. Perhaps because of the conduct of the previous ban, which undermined the role of rabbinic authority, particularly for those who would ban music, the public sides with the singers and does not grant any fleeting thought to the possible legitimacy of those who would ban Jewish pop-music.

  10. Baruch Hashem, I am not in Lipa's position. I do not have thousands of adoring fans, nor his musical talent. And at the same time I am not the focus of any controversy. And if I were being attacked in this way, knowing myself, I probably would not respond with such poise and respect. My intent here is not to attack Lipa. Rather, to question some of the assumptions of the other people taking sides.
Update, Feb 11, 2009: See my follow-up post here.

14 comments:

Kidding said...

You must really Like the Ohr Gedalyaho or Lekach Vihalibov (;

Moshe said...

I''m offended that you claim that you don't have thousands of adoring fans....I think you do, but they are not the mindless zombies that follow Jewish music singers - we are more cultured and refined.

Don't sell yourself short!

Moshe

Jerry said...

Josh-

As someone who seems to have a more objective take on what went on, do you know what Lipa's "offense" was? Was it just that he had too many fans? What's going on here?

joshwaxman said...

Kidding, Moshe:
:)

Jerry:
I don't know that I have a more objective take. I just have my take. And I am not in Schmeltzer's mind or Rabbi Schorr's mind. I was not even present at the incident, and so am relying on reports. So I don't know.

It *might* be, as some are interpreting it, that Rabbi Schorr is against Lipa in general, because he has something against him personally, and so seeing him existing there set him off. (See Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.) It *might* be that he is against Lipa performing in any venue (not just in concert), including an informal instance where he was not the official singer but came as a guest. It *might* be the style of the music he is against. It *might* be -- and this was the possibility I was exploring above, based on the accusation of Avodah Zarah -- the idolization of the person by the people at the event, such that by mobbing Lipa and clamoring for Hantelech they were turning the wedding, which was for the purpose of being mesameach the chassan and kallah, into a concert. It is difficult to get into someone else's mind, especially someone you disagree with. So I don't know.

KT,
Josh

ProfK said...

It should be mentioned that Lipa was also an invited guest, not only R. Schorr. Furthermore, he was asked to sing by one of the mechutanim at the chasoneh, not the mechutan who asked him to stop singing. Clearly the mechutanim could have avoided all this if they had been on the same page.

I would still question whether a wedding, a private simcha, was the right place to "make a point." Certainly farshterring someone else's simcha in the way it was done should not be condoned. If public tochacho was deemed necessary by R. Schorr surely there was a better venue to do so? There are any number of papers who would have published an article written by him. He has the shtender in his own shul. Why pick a wedding for a public confrontation?

Anonymous said...

what about the fatc that Lipa was being mesamaiach choson v'kalla?

joshwaxman said...

to act as devil's advocate:

"If public tochacho was deemed necessary by R. Schorr surely there was a better venue to do so? There are any number of papers who would have published an article written by him."
that is one way of looking at. another way is that he *has* in the past made public pronouncements against it. It is no secret that he is against this sort of thing. But this is acting beshaas maaseh against the public act, to put a stop to it, when all the parties already know his position.

let us imagine another scenario. let us say that there was a rabbi having made several public pronouncements against mixed dancing. and someone decides all of a sudden to start mixed dancing. should it be the case that in every instance of actual implementation, beshaas maaseh, one is not allowed to speak out and protest because it by definition in a public venue? actual actions are decided beshaas maaseh, over and over again, rather than in published pamphlets which are ignored by the people they are directed at. In I Maccabees 2:27, did Matisyahu act at the time of the sacrifice, in public, or did he write an Op Ed a week later?

It should be mentioned that Lipa was also an invited guest, not only R. Schorr.
and Rabbi Schorr did not object to Lipa being invited as a guest, as far as I can understand.

Furthermore, he was asked to sing by one of the mechutanim at the chasoneh, not the mechutan who asked him to stop singing. Clearly the mechutanim could have avoided all this if they had been on the same page.
indeed. which also goes to his credit, that his initial singing was in response to such a request. and he presumably did not know that this would spark a commotion. I am not sure of the time sequence here. Did the other mechutan ask him to stop before, or after, Rabbi Schorr acted? If it is a matter of conflict between in-laws, I would not want to inject myself into it. Especially since there is a band already there playing, shev veAl taaseh might be better. would the one who requested him to sing by insulted by the stopping of it, or is it just a case that he did not think it through and did not realize that this could cause problems? Except of course that there is the (private) insult to be asked specifically to stop playing.

Anonymous:
please comment with your real name, or with a at least a trackable pseudonym. i don't see anything to be embarrassed about in your position. indeed, Lipa *was* doing that. So? From Rabbi Schorr's perspective, and to take an extreme stance within this, what if a belly-dancer were being mesameach chassan veKallah?

Let me add to all this a note I added at the outset. This does not mean that I would necessarily do the same in his position, or that I am in favor of banning types of music, or singers, or concerts.

KT,
Josh

Chaim said...

Josh -

I really think it's dangerous to give people a pass like this. It seems youre just looking to defend Rabbi Schorr.

If Lipa was the entertainment for the entire evening then MAYBE I would see why he got so angry and felt it had to be stopped. I still wouldn't have agreed with him and I still don't see how ruining someones Simcha is such an easy option for someone.

The fact of the matter is that this isn't belly dancing, this isn't treif music. It's the man himself who Rabbi Schorr's opposes and Lipa was only asked to sing for a few minutes, one or two songs.

Rabbi Schorr could have just held his breath, waited till the short cameo was over and avoided all of this.

joshwaxman said...

I am noting giving a pass. I could write a separate post on why I think such music is fine, and why banning it or shouting it down is a bad thing. And practically, it is a bad thing. (Though in the long run, it serves to undermine the position in the eyes of the practicing religious public, and so might be a good thing.)

i am not "just looking to defend Rabbi Schorr." I don't know him, and have posts against religious extremism elsewhere on this blog.

my intent here is to explain that even while we may disagree with these positions and actions with a passion, one still might be erring in adopting specific positions in criticizing it. For example stripping him of his title. Or criticizing him for acting publicly. You and I both agree that there is no comparison to e.g. a belly dancer, but is it the case from Rabbi Schorr's perspective? And one we have that (incorrect) assumption, does everything else follow consistently, or not?

"If Lipa was the entertainment for the entire evening then MAYBE I would see why he got so angry"
I could easily argue the opposite. If he had been hired, then he was the hired and established choice of the baalei simcha, and Rav Schorr was an invited guest. Anything the baal habayis tells you to do... And he would have been simply doing his job, which at the same time would be a mitzvah. In contrast, if just as a guest, and he took upon himself to (this is how Rabbi Schorr might have taken it:) attract attention to himself as a superstar, and perhaps against the desires of some of the baalei simcha, and perhaps shtuch Rabbi Schorr who was prominently present such that Lipa knew he was there (did he get a bracha under the chuppa)? One could argue that that was worse.

Not that I agree he should have done this act of kannaus. But in arguing with those we disagree with, we owe it to ourselves (more that to them) to be honest and see where their positions may have strength.

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

"Even so, this is Rabbi Schorr. He does not lose his semicha just because he does something you (commenters, bloggers) disagree with."

Josh,

I don't think you know Rabbi Schorr well.
Many of those commenting know him from the neighborhood.
A talmid Chochom he might be, however, he is also a big baal Kaas and is prone to violent outburts, like punching his landlord. He is the kind of guy that if you went over to him and said that he is a lowlife, he would puch you in the face.
The man's problem is his lack of
basic midos.

Chaim

Anonymous said...

To clarify:

Not that telling him that he is a lowlife is a shining example of
good midos, however, if you went over to a normal person and said that they wouldn't puch you in the face!

Chaim

Anonymous said...

Josh,

What I am trying to say is that you are giving Rabbi Schorr to much credit by trying to understand his philosophical reasons for his temper outbursts.
Rabbi Schorr has a long history (even before the blog days) of violent and non-violent temper outbursts.
He acts the way he does due to his anger problems and other character deficiencies not due to his philosophical positions. Whether it is about singing or issues with his Landlord. Even if the story of him punching his Landlord in the face is not true, people who know him agree that it is totally within his charachter to do that.

Chaim

Anonymous said...

Just because he has Semichah does not mean he deserves respect. I do not consider him a decent person.

Chaim

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, not everyone is who they pretend to be. The Torah says that anger dispels Torah knowledge and is akin to AVODA ZARAH!

So, let HaShem be the JUDGE here.

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