Posts on the topic of "Campus"
My dear friend Harve Linder in Atlanta has done it again: found a deep Torah message in the headline news. The definitive Penn State investigation report was released just as we were reading the Torah portion of Pinchas, creating an amazing juxtaposition.
Recall the scene: A young graduate student walks in and sees an unspeakable incident taking place. What action does he take? Does he shout at the aggressor to stop it? Does he run out seeking help? Does he call either campus or local law enforcement officials? The answer to all these questions is "no."
Instead, he seeks out his leader, the head coach. But the coach himself doesn't know what to do. So nothing comes of it, and no one involved does the right thing for the victim, for future victims, for the university. The end result is that the abuse continues, people lose their jobs, others will go to prison, the university is harmed, and an extraordinary legacy forfeited.
Let's compare this to events in the Torah. An audacious sex crime has taken place, and a young man, Pinchas, witnesses the incident. He is incensed and knows the appropriate response. Yet before acting, he goes to the leader Moses for guidance. But Moses himself does not know what to do. And here our tales substantially diverge: Pinchas does not wait around for an investigation. He does not allow a conspiracy of silence to blanket the incident. No, he acts swiftly, precisely, and in accordance with the law. He stops the act, sends a clear public message, and ensures there are no future victims.
This is not to suggest that the Penn State graduate student should have become a vigilante, circumventing the courts. But he did lack Pinchas' passion and total commitment to doing the right thing. A bit of righteous indignation would have been well-placed, propelling him to cut through the layers of bureaucracy and malaise.
The Torah instructs us to act whenever danger is present: "Do not stand idly by your brother's blood" (Leviticus 19:16). We cannot wait for political posturing, for committee debates, or approval from public opinion. We cannot allow cover-ups and conspiracies of silence to develop. We must consistently do the right thing. Sometimes the proper action is not obvious. Even Moses occasionally forgot. But we have to learn the parameters, consult with our leaders, and act with confidence and determination. Only then will we fulfill our role of tikkun olam, and ensure there are no future victims.
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It's no secret that Alwaleed bin Talal ― the Saudi Prince who insulted Rudy Giuliani with an attempted $10 million check after September 11 ― has donated a whopping $20 million to Harvard.
That may explain in part why Harvard officials have been so reticent to speak out against the "One-State Solution" conference at Harvard, scheduled for March 3-4, 2012.
The "One-State Solution," as anyone familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows, is a code word for the "demographic annihilation of the State of Israel."
Not surprisingly, many of those scheduled to speak at the Harvard conference are on record as opposing the existence of Israel.
Surely, universities are bastions of free speech and tolerance, but this is crossing the line. Harvard is allowing its resources ― including student activity funds, free space on its property, and the credibility of the Harvard logo in promo materials ― to be applied toward the goal of the dissolution of Israel.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard professor Ruth Wisse observes:
And surely Harvard would never allow students to organize a KKK convention or a gay-bashing fest using campus resources.