Benzi’s latest “Behind the Flames” column in the Shabbat weekly Matzav HaRuach
We Must Not Get Used to Evil
It is accepted by our Sages that “since a person has committed an offense, a year later he gets a permit for it” (Kiddushin Mem.); when something bad happens, when it’s clear to us that it is bad, the first time, we are shocked and fight against it. The second time, we’re still shocked, but a little less. The third time, the shock barely exists. The fourth time, it’s not even a memory – and we react apathetically to it, shrug our shoulders and go on. This is, in fact, the great danger in routine, or more precisely, in normalization and in granting legitimacy to things previously unacceptable and considered crossing a red line in the past, and which have today become part of our lives’ routine. And this is subsequently the great danger in the “pride” parade.
Last week, as can be recalled, the parade took place in Jerusalem. As in every year, we were there, people from the Lehava organization and Otzma Yehudit, to demonstrate against the parade – which tramples on Jerusalem’s honor, pokes a finger in the eyes of its religious and traditional residents who make up the majority in the city, and carries the colorful flags, which are nothing but black flags, when the abnormal becomes the norm and the normal becomes outcast.
However, this year, too, we were alone there, just as in most of the recent years. I recall that in the first “pride” parades held in Israel’s capital, the sound of shouting was heard, the Charedi public and their rabbis went out as a buffer against the parade, and giant, stormy demonstrations against it took place. The ‘Tzohar’ rabbis, too, called on the public to go out to protest against the parade, writing in a handbill they published that “the holiness of Jerusalem obliges every person for whom Jerusalem is dear in his/her eyes, to come and lawfully express their protest against the desecration of the holy.”
But as the years passed, the parade kept on growing in size while the protest against it, which was also supposed to grow accordingly, continued to fade. The Charedi public came to terms with the existence of the parade and stopped dealing with its existence, while Tzohar rabbis gave in to “political-correctness”, changed their stance, and in 2016 called on the public not to come demonstrate against the parade. And why did all of this happen? Because, as I said, we got used to the evil. The pride parade became permissible in the eyes of many, or at the very least, an event that there’s no need to pay any particular attention to.
And not only that. The desecration of Jerusalem’s honor and the trampling of everything dear to us, that takes place in the “pride” parade every year, has not changed. Quite the opposite – it has only gotten stronger, as I said. The ignoring of it and the apathetic attitude to its existence every year, do not make it legitimate.
We of the Lehava organization will continue calling on the public to come demonstrate against the parade, of course legally, for as long as it continues to take place. It’s important to note that we, too, are familiar with the great distress that many of the members of the LGBTQ community experience, and we extend our hands to help each one of them who wants to be helped. We unequivocally oppose any violence towards the LGBTQ community, and we see the murder of the girl Shira Banki as a despicable act. However, along with this, we will never come to terms with evil or try to normalize it. We will continue demonstrating against pride parades, and we will never reconcile with the reality in which evil is good and good is evil.
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