Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Scintillating “Reality Show” by the Press

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

“I am not a man of words... I am slow of speech and with a slow tongue” [Shemot 4:10].

Reality Drama

Lately we have been subjected to a “reality show” run by the press, with the well-known stars Bibi (Netanyahu, the Prime Minister) and Noni (Mozes, the publisher of the newspaper Yediot Acharonot). You can call it, “ Bibi, Noni, and Friends.” It can be assumed that until this article is published, this “little brother” will become more and more dramatic, day by day. This “reality” event, almost-true as it is, recorded and staged, will excite the imagination of all those who enjoy shows full of tension caused by clashes and friction. As is so typical of “reality,” they provide perfect background material for analysis and commentators and commentators on the commentators who spend their lives in the “reality bubble.” In the end, the ultimate judge (which, as is well known, is the press itself), prodded by public opinion, will provide a verdict – and decide who if anybody will be cast aside with the cruelty of a gladiator from the public eye. Perhaps they will all be cast aside, sent out of the arena, accompanied by the wild cheers of an excited audience, “couch potatoes” all.

In case I have bewildered you, my readers, with my extremely complex wording, let us go down a step and speak plainly: My “fondness” for the press is well known. The people who sit there see themselves as all-wise, and they are sure that the entire world is fashioned by their actions. They constantly interview each other. Just check the high level of internal interviews in the media: written, broadcast, on screens, and online. That is how new stars are born, and the “reality” existence is created (as opposed to real life). In their world the people are convinced that they mold public opinion, that they alone build and destroy alternate worlds. For example, they are in charge of “reality” shady plans for “keeping a Prime Minster happy” and allowing him to sleep in peace, since after all they are in “complete control.” They set the daily public agenda, based on daily and nightly news broadcasts.

But I, miniscule as I am, am willing to declare that I have no respect for this mythological world, or for the endless stream of “analyses.” Except for the “media elites,” I am sure, for example, that the vast majority of the public have no interest whatsoever in the complex interactions between Gabi Ashkenazi, Boaz Harpaz, and Yoav Galant, which so occupied the media, confused us no end, and gave work to the best “analysts.” Nobody remembers at all whether this affair is over, and what decisions were made. This is of course only one example out of many more.


As far as I am concerned, all of the above is true of the current hullabaloo about Bibi and Noni. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of the public views the material in the same way as the foolish audiences with extra time on their hands who so avidly watch “Big Brother.” This is something of an upgraded version of “This is Your Life.” So Nuni and Bibi said and hinted, “engaged in some horse-stealing,” made secret recordings, traded in public opinion (which they presumably control) and Knesset laws (which they seem to control), and shook hands or put a knife in each other’s backs, whispered in “smooth” language, made advances towards each other in a very ungentlemanly way, threw the “Jinjy” to the dogs, and perhaps even smoked cigars and drank champagne. Well, that is very interesting, full of suspense and super-drama, but it all has absolutely no significance.

We are a democratic country, thank G-d. Public opinion is not the result of coercion, voting in elections does not follow the party line of a newspaper named “Pravda” – just as the pre-election polls in the United States so clearly showed! Our people are healthier than all of the deal-makers who think that they can control the boorish people according to the desires of the media elites.

We can conclude as follows: I propose to the State Attorney and his office, and the police,to ignore this entire affair, which is no more than a “reality show” for simple folks and a “pound of flesh” for the media professionals. The citizens, and even the MK’s, know better than to pay any attention to this matter!

* * * * * *

Moshe, the ultimate leader, had a gift that might be considered anti-media. He was “slow of speech” and had “a slow tongue,” as noted in the quote above. Many commentators, both early and modern, saw this as a lesson to be learned from the one who brought us the Torah – to contradict those who mistakenly claim that the leadership at a time of redemption must have superior oratorical skills.

We also learn from the Midrash that Moshe was not born with this trait (a lack of media skills) but acquired it from the blow of an angel who pushed his hand away from a shiny golden goblet (is this a reference to physical pleasures? – was it filled with whiskey?), and turned him towards a burning coal. This provided a promise of true leadership qualities, not “reality” speech.

(Written after the end of Shabbat, Torah portion of Vayechi.)

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