Censorship (Vol. 1, Issue 6)
Already prior to the appearance of the first issue of The Commentator, a serious threat of administration censorship has been suggested by the many rumors current to that effect. Others would have it, that while the word censor, per se, will not be applied, the Administration plans to accomplish the same purpose by appointing a “faculty adviser”. It may be noticed immediately that whereas the duties retain the same destructiveness, the odium is buried under the dignity and scholarliness of the appellation.
Of the various sources that gave birth to these rumors we are not aware. Perhaps fears of such developments are a natural phenomenon that follows the successful publication of a new student organ in any university. And for all ostensible purposes, students anywhere else fearing such reprisals may be justified in view of past experiences by other forward-looking student bodies. However, to even entertain such rumors in Yeshiva College is not only a serious reflection on the characters of the members of the Governing Board, but a most vicious insult to the Administration.
As far as the Governing Board is concerned, The Commentator was founded for the avowed purpose of cementing student opinion towards all undergraduate and institutional problems that directly concern the student body. With a distinct goal in mind, namely, to work for the best interests of Yeshiva in every possible way, The Commentator has faithfully presented to the Administration the reactions of the undergraduates towards all institutional problems vital to them, whether the issues evolved around courses in, the college or the official attitude of the college towards important Jewish problems.
While some college publications maintain literary perfection as their goal regardless of views, The Commentator has always insisted first, on the fundamental necessity of sincerely expressing student opinion. Without such a policy, neither The Commentator nor any other college newspaper has any value to its student body nor to its Administration. Having always spoken sincerely to the Administration, The Commentator means to be no less frank with the student body in evaluating itself as a purely literary investment.
On closer analysis, however, from the Administration’s point of view, the whole matter is preposterous. Yeshiva was founded for one purpose only, to perpetuate and further the teachings of the Torah as handed from G-d, at Sinai, and as reflected in His efforts to develop the Jewish people into an ideal nation, a model for the world.
However, in order to reach the high level of character and spirituality necessary to comprehend and practice these eternal truths, it was imperative that the Jew be raised from the base cowardice and moral degeneration that slavery breeds. Concerning the liberation of the Jews from the yoke of Egypt, Graetz says:
“They were the first to whom the great value of liberty was made known, and since then this priceless treasure, the foundation of human dignity, has been guarded by them as the apple of the eye.”
In the discussions of the Taimud, in the application of principles, in every phase of Jewish life, liberty or freedom of expression was scrupulously upheld.
Nor has any nation fought against oppression more thoroughly and more successfully than the Jew. Throughout the ages, in the darkest periods of medieval despotism and later tyrannies, the religious Jew maintained his ethical values and strength of character.
Rather would he suffer the indescribable tortures of countless inquisition and the most horrible deaths than relinquish his beliefs and the freedom of expression and practice of them.
That Yeshiva, the last sanctuary of Orthodoxy in America, should violate such a fundamental principle of Torah-true Judaism is, as we have said before, preposterous. The supposition that Dr.
Revel, one of the foremost Jewish scholars of the world and universally renowned beacon of Orthodoxy, would ever countenance a policy against which the flower of Jewish genius and character arrayed itself, is not only nonsensical gossip, but vicious and malignant.
Because of our faith in the idealism and sincerity of the Administration, we wish to officially quell in no unmistakable terms all irresponsible tumors concerning censorship of The Commentator. They are totally untrue, whether speaking of outright suppression or control through manipulation of student appropriations. The mere idea must be revolting to any who have sacrificed a fraction as much as has the Administration for Judaism and the perpetuation of its ideals.
We, and those closest to the Administration, are firmly convinced that, as with. all the martyrs of Israel, here also, liberty and freedom of expression, “this priceless treasure, the foundation of human dignity,” will be “guarded by them as the apple of the eye”.