A few days after Gilad Shalit was released from captivity he and his father spent some quality catching up time at the beach. What could more sweet? It warmed the heart to see a young man enjoy our beautiful earth in a way he might have never dreamed he ever would. Here he was tasting the intoxicating elixir of freedom and nothing could make us happier.
There is always someone who wants to rain on every parade.
In this instance, Matzav.com editorialized the story by crafting an insidious headline: Photos: Gilad Shalit Spends First Free Shabbos at the Beach
The implication in the headline could have been interpreted as a negative spin on a very touching moment that was recorded for time immemorial by coincidence. It appeared that Matzav was trying to fault Shalit for spending time at the beach on Shabbos. Matzav would much prefer he be in shul like his more religious counterparts. Reading the headline in this manner was borderline offensive. But Matzav further editorialized the headline by publishing dozens of specific comments that criticized Shalit, sometimes harshly for not having a religious epiphany and becoming religious following his release. Some commenters went so far to take credit for his release and took Shalit’s failure to repent as a slap in the face to them. (Sounds crazy, I know, but read the comments.)
Never mind the fact that they downloaded the photos from Haaretz and then superimposed their Matzav.com watermark on top of the photos. What are they nervous about? Someone is going to steal their stolen photos? So myopic, it is amazing.
At the time, I was offended. But I figured it is not worth writing a post about a few knucklehead commenters on a fringe orthodox website.
But now I read that a Knesset Member from the Shas party recently made similar criticism of Gilad Shalit.
What is with these people?
Do they not understand that many very passionate Jews are not observant in the same way they are? Do they not realize that not being born into that kind of home makes it nearly impossible for one to flip a switch and become orthodox? Do they think that by yelling and screaming these insane complaints about not observing Shabbos as they would like, Gilad Shalit is going to start observing Shabbos the way they would like?!
Further, going to the beach on Shabbos might not even entail a single biblical or even rabbinic prohibition! He may have observed Shabbos after all! But insulting people, making people feel badly, especially people who have suffered for the simple fact that they are a Jew is a severe prohibition. The priorities here are so skewed that it almost seems satirical!
If an MK or a Matzav commenter want to have a conversation with Gilad Shalit and try and impress upon him the importance or the beauty of keeping Shabbos by all means, go right ahead. But to publicly criticize the poor guy for doing as he always did on his first weekend home is so far from how a Jewish person should treat a fellow Jew, let alone a Jewish hero.
It hurts me that my co-religionists have become so insulated and so one track minded that it has become acceptable to speak this way. I am embarrassed and I hope that this is the voice of a few knuckleheads and does not reflect the overall attitude of the orthodox Jewish community.
See also: Rationalist Judaism