At this point we all know the deal, concert planned, concert gets big stars to sing, concert advertised, concert banned, everyone gets antsy. Well, unlike The Big Event which was to feature Lipa and Shloime Gertner, this show will go on. Why? In a real brave move, Yaakov Shwekey one of the concert headliners has been promoting the fact this his Rav, Rav Ovadia Yosef, has permitted him to perform. This isn’t a break from anything, because this isn’t the first time Shwekey has been in this situation. Last year he was also set to sing at an Israel show under a ban and R’ Ovadia Yosef told him he can go on then too. I guess because of the Lipa/Big Event ban Shwekey wanted to make a big public show that he had Rabbinic permission. Especially given how The Yeshiva World commenters feel about this subject.
Although as Rafi points out, that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to ban the show anwyay. They are still coming after the show and Shwekey, but because of his letter from Rav Ovadia Yosef he’s untouchable.
Before we even get to MBD, it’s important to take a moment and appreciate what Yaakov Shwekey is doing. He is standing up to the bullies, and given his core fan base, that’s a gutsy move. In this case Shwekey is lucky because his Sephardic angle affords him the opportunity to get approval from a non traditional American “Gadol.” If any of the 32 Rabanim (although when all the politics weeds them out its more like 12-15 Rabanim) who signed that Lipa concert ban complain to Shwekey, he can fall back on an extremely well respected Rav’s word.
From what I hear The Big Event promoters (and Lipa) did try very hard to find a big enough Rab to back them. I think that is one of the things that took so long for them officially cancel it. They were searching for big name Rebbeim to stand up and offer them support. Maybe if it had worked out differently then they could have secured that. I would think that if people are smart, in the future they will go to certain Rebbeim, (the level headed rational ones) and work with them to ensure their backing.
The problem there was that they waited till after they got banned to secure other Rabanim’s permission. At that point no one else wanted to go against the Rabanim that signed the ban.
As for M.B.D., well, this is a more complicated situation. As of a few years ago it seemed that MBD had become much more conservative. He stopped doing mixed seating events and then he did back out of a concert that was banned in Israel. I think that two major things made MBD change his mind about giving in to these concert bans.
1) It was well documented during the Fried/Shwekey concert in Israel that was also banned, that serious physical threats were made against both singers. In fact Fried even hired a personal bodyguard out of fear. 2) The way they went after Lipa, both how the got the ban and how they went after him personally. I think MBD finally realized that these are bullies and if Avremel and Shwekey are going to stand up to them, then he needs to also.
You can really get a good idea of his mindset after reading, what I think is, a groundbreaking blog post by Voz Iz Neias. MBD, along with Fried and Shwekey ought to be commended for standing up for themselves, and even more impressive, standing up for what is right. Kol Hakovod to them, and I hope this continues a trend of artists not allowing themselves to become pawns in what is merely a baseless deflection of blame for kids becoming at risk and of course money politics.
We should all be concerned about the rate that kids are becoming “at risk”, but they aren’t frying out from going to MBD and Lipa concerts, I can promise you that.