Mario Lemieux and Bnei Akiva  
Mario Lemieux and Bnei Akiva

I recently saw a short movie on You-Tube about the life story of Pittsburgh Penguin hockey player Kevin Stevens. Stevens  was a star on a 1990's team of stars, the greatest being Mario Lemieux. Stevens unfortunately got hooked on drugs. To make matters worse, in the final, seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, he was knocked unconscious, and fell to the ice. His helmet was pushed back on his head, and he landed on his exposed forehead, suffering a horrific skull fracture.

After extensive surgery, he survived and even played hockey again- but became hooked on the opoid pain-killers he took post-op. His play worsened over the next seven years, as drugs took their toll, and he retired as a player. Lemieux, now in the team administration, felt sorry for Kevin, and made him a scout for talent.

However, Stevens couldn't even handle such duties, and he was fired. Soon divorce and poverty were his lot. At the nadir of his life, he was arrested on drug charges- and here is where Mario Lemieux took a stand that makes you proud to be a fellow human being. Lemieux approached the judge with a plea of mercy, based on the extensive head injuries. The judge accepted Mario's arguments, and instead of jailing Stevens, which would have probably finished his life, the judge gave Kevin three years on probation, on condition he stay clean of drugs, and lecture around the country on the evils of drugs.

Stevens not only has lived up to the terms of the probation for the last two and a half years, but Mario returned Kevin to his job as scout for the team. Said Mario: "We Penguins are family, and would do anything to help one of our family".

It would be nice if our fellow Jews were so close.

It happens that Rav Chaim Drukman is under attack for helping out Rav Moti Alon. To put it mildly, I am incensed to read the attacks against Rav (Rabbi) Drukman by two fellow Jews and Bnei Akiva members, and by something called the Freidberg Foundation. To explain this, though, requires the following background information:

תלמיד חכם שסרח אין מבזין אותו-  "a Torah scholar who sins is not to be shamed publicly", says Reish Lakish ( Talmud, Menachot, 99b)- " because, say the Rabbis of the Yeshivah of Rabbi Yishmael, he is sure to do Teshuvah (recreate himself via repentance- Berachot 19a). One would think this also is true of a Talmud chacham (scholar) who didn't sin, but did the right thing - he is not to be shamed.  However,, let's see:

In 1993, Rav Moti Alon was at the height of rabbinic careers in Israel: A weekly radio program on Parshat Hashavua (Torah reading of the week); principal of famous religious boys' high school (Chorev) in Jerusalem; a sought after speaker. In the twinkling of an eye, his career was shattered by reports of sexual misconduct with young male students: not enough evidence for jail time, but enough to lose all of the above positions.

Only one figure took pity on this תלמיד חכם שסרח- Torah scholar who went wrong. Rav Chaim Drukman realized that for a Rabbi who had spent his whole life teaching, and on such a scale, to suddenly be forced to give it all up - this would destroy him. So Rav Drukman gave Rav Alon space in Ohr Etzion Yeshivah in order to give shiurim (classes).

Rav Drukman, however, is not naïve. A longtime MK and Minister, head of the network of Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and Ulpanot, head of the government's Conversion Commission for more than a decade, Rav Drukman has a wealth of practical experience in the human sphere to accompany his scholarship and position as Rosh Yeshivah. Thus Rav Drukman put conditions on his help to Rav Alon - the primary one being, that none of the students at Ohr Etzion's two high schools were allowed to attend the shiurim (classes) given by Rav Alon. To the extent of the community of  Ramat Shapira, home to Ohr Etzion, Rav Alon was supervised.

Who do they think they are, speaking thus to a Rav who has accepted public responsibility for the last 50 years?
Of course, Rav Alon had his own Yeshiva elsewhere. Rav Drukman is not the Shabak, and he's not the KGB; and unfortunately it was there that Rav Alon fell back into his old sin of sexual offense against a male student. This time, as soon as this behavior became known, Rav Drukman and others put an end to all of Rav Alon's public teaching .

However, this appears not to be enough for several holier–than-thous in the Religious Zionist camp. One, who gives major sums to Bnei Akiva but doesn't have the courage to even say who he is, has said that he "is dismayed at (Rav) Drukman's refusal to publicly condemn (Rav) Elon"(Jerusalem Post, Friday, Jan. 11). So much for Resh Lakish's prohibition AGAINST public condemnation; given this Talmudic dictum, Mr. Anonymous won't be getting any condemnations of Rav Alon from Rav Drukman.  Another, a former Bnei Akiva World Chairman, is "boycotting the upcoming world Bnei Akiva conference until he [Rav Drukman] is prepared to accept responsibility for his decision to help Rav Alon and for damages to the victims".

Rav Drukman not accepting responsibility? Who does he think he is, speaking thus to a Rav who has accepted public responsibility for the last 50 years? Rav Drukman did everything possible to police Rav Alon's activities while in Rav Drukman's jurisdiction, and pinning blame on Rav Drukman for the recent offenses is, simply, self-righteous defamation of the Rav.

Now the Freidberg Foundation is halting funds for Rav Drukman's conversion programs "until he apologizes for having backed " Rav Alon. Wonderful: hit those poor Russian immigrants who need conversion, in order to "punish" Rav Drukman for lending a hand to a drowning man - who obviously needs psychiatric care, not condemnations.

The only ones who need soul-searching and apologies are these "leaders" in the Religious Zionist movement. This self-righteous elitism is what doomed Mafdal-Jewish Home in the last, 2015 election, and threatens to do so again. In 2015, Naftali Bennett wanted to bring in soccer star Ochayon onto the candidate list for MK. Who better as a Deputy Minister of Sport- and one capable of attracting thousands of votes? Unfortunately, and blindly, Bennett was attacked for bringing the Sephardi-traditional Jew Ohayon into the Party. Complaints of "he's not religious enough" were enough to force Bennett to oust Ohayon. Typical Mizrachi-Mafdal snobbish hyprocrisy: "We are open to everyone to join us- but not you! Nor you! And certainly not YOU!". It burned them once, and it threatens to do so again.

Mr. Anonymous Donor, Mr. former Bnei Akiva Chairman, and those running the Freidberg Foundation are not fit to carry Mario Lemeiux's skates.

Nor Rav Drukman's Tefillin bag.