Rabbi Chizner’s Comment on Paris

“At the heart of the terrorist act that so many people came out to protest in Paris is an important moral dilemma: when to criticize others and when to remain silent. 

I wonder, had the Charlie Hebdo editors known beforehand what the consequences of publishing a cartoon mocking the Islamic prophet would be, would they still have published it?  I imagine the answer is yes.   After all, the Muslim extremist community has made it repeatedly known that they will take violent action against those who print distorted images of their prophet.    

Our American values instill within us a strong sense of the freedom of speech.  Personally, I bristle at the thought of anyone telling me I cannot print something.  Do you feel the same way?   But that is not the question here.  The question is, should we print everything? 

Our Jewish values instill us with an even stronger sense of weighing the consequences of our actions.  Just because something is our legal right does not always make it the right choice. 

One of my favorite pieces of wisdom from the Talmud comes from Yevamot 65b, in which it teaches that we should criticize when it will be effective, and not criticize when it will be ineffective.  To put this dilemma in another way, criticizing terrorists is ineffective and dangerous. 

That being said, we must offer criticism to the ones who can hear it!    

It is our obligation to speak to the non-terrorists of the world, which is the vast majority of people, and make certain that they stand up for human rights anywhere they are violated and every time they are violated.  It is all well and good that so many came out for this act of terrorism in Paris, but where was the world support when these same terrorists massacred Jews in a synagogue in Jerusalem in November?  It was all well and good that so many stood up for free speech, but where was the public outcry against anti-Semitism in Paris?

 I am curious to know what you think.”

 Rabbi Todd Chizner

Temple Judea of Manhasset

333 Searingtown Rd.

Manhasset, NY 11030

(516) 621 – 8049