Commenting on Rabbi Dov Linzer’s recent column in the New York Times called “Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud” (which in my circles, flew around Facebook and other social media with a very positive response), Shafran writes:
"Rabbi Dov Linzer’s business, however, is not bigotry but the promotion of a new vision of Judaism, one that many find redolent of the Conservative movement’s early days. The dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Riverdale in the Bronx, an institution championing 'modern and open Orthodox values'... the opportunity Rabbi Linzer saw was to sully not so much a group of Jews (although he does his share of that too) but rather a concept, that of tznius, or Jewish modesty."
Rabbi Shafran ends his column with the following:
"The emergence of such… interesting writing by Jews in the secular media is, of course, disturbing. (Other adjectives occur as well.) It puts one in mind of what Rashi reminded us recently when we reviewed parshas Shemos, that Moshe Rabbeinu had puzzled over why the Jewish People had languished so long in Egypt—until he discovered the phenomenon of Jews acting contemptibly against other Jews. Then he understood.
If any of us are puzzling over why our current exile is so protracted, well, a glance at some op-ed pages can provide the tragic answer."
Rabbi Shafran is indeed right - we often do act contemptibly against each other, and Rashi was completely accurate in his explanation of the length of our time in slavery. But there's a wider picture here - this didn't end with Mitzrayim. It continued in the desert, with infighting, blaming of the other, pinning it all on the "erev rav". It continues to this very day - Reform. Conservative. Orthodox. Chareidi. Chiloni. Each finding fault with the other, each assigning the blame for our collective problems on the other.
These aren't the other. They are your family. Your brothers and your sisters. Teach your children and your students to find the good in other people, in other Jews who are not exactly like them, teach them to judge people favourably.
We may still be in the proverbial desert. But at least while we're together in the desert, we can be there for each other, learn from each other - no matter how much we may disagree on visions of Yiddishkeit and Torah.