It has become apparent that the Asifa scheduled for CitiField in two weeks has become more than just an asifa about the internet and it’s dangers (which are very real). It has become a struggle between the mainstream, overwhelming silent majority of supporters of genuine Torah leaders and the small but vociferous minority of critics and cynics looking to turn Haredi Jewry into yet another cesspool of moral relativism.
I’ll admit that there are valid points to criticize about the Asifa and it’s goals. There is legitimate doubt whether it will accomplish much, indeed if there even is a practical “solution” to the internet problem. But this has been turned into much, much more. Bloggers and others have managed to leverage the natural reluctance of even fine Haredi Jews to having restrictions placed on what they may or may not do into an all out attack on Rabbinical authority. They would like nothing more than for this Asifa to fall flat on it’s face, to publish pictures of an half empty stadium and sleeping participants. Will they then use this as proof that the Internet saga has been approached the wrong way? Not at all. They have much bigger plans then that. A poor response from Haredi Jews will be trumpeted from Blogspot to the AP as a “sign” that rabbinical influence is waning and that people no longer “follow the Rabbis like sheep”.
Which is why you should attend the Asifa even if you disagree with it’s solutions regarding the internet or believe it to be a money-making scheme (a ridiculous assertion without a shred of evidence). If that stadium is not filled to capacity, the hit on the Torah value of Emunas Chachamim (Listening to Torah sages) will be incalculable. It will trickle down to every facet of Haredi life, leading to the same breakdown of societal respect prevalent in the secular world.
Our entire Torah is based on mesorah, traditon, and the bearers of that tradition are our parents and especially our teachers and Rabbis (see the first mishna in Avos). Undercut them and don’t be surprised when your kids no longer listen to you.
I will attend that Asifa. Why? Because my rabbis have asked me to. That’s all I need to know. And I’m proud of it.