Interesting article—Working does not contradict Torah

[Hat tip Kracower]

Yehuda Meshi Zahav

ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi Zahav describes sparingly and with restraint the things he and thousands of his volunteers at ZAKA do. ZAKA is a haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) organization that rescues, identifies, and traces Jewish disaster victims in Israel and all over the world under sometimes virtually impossible conditions. Such a mission requires love of one’s fellow man, great empathy, faith, and a belief that good will come of it. It requires Zahav, a man with impeccable curly white payess (sidecurls).

Two months ago, following a four-year struggle, ZAKA won recognition as an official UN consultant and observer. The eventual decision was taken unanimously by a special UN committee composed of representatives of 19 countries, including Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Turkey, China, Russia, Pakistan, Uruguay, Burundi, Greece, the US, and Israel.

“Globes”: Did Iran and Pakistan also vote in favor?

Zahav: “There was no opposition, not even one country. We sent our representative, who met with every one of the committee members. The Iranians asked us if the report that ZAKA treats Jews first and Arabs later at terrorist events was true. We said that they hadn’t read it correctly. We treat the victim first, and then the murderer, regardless of nationality. They realized this, and voted in favor.”

About-face: From extremist haredi operations officer to national hero

Once upon a time, Zahav was the operations officer of the Eda Haredit extremist haredi group. He led demonstrations against Sabbath desecration, burnt Israeli flags, fasted and wore mourning clothes on Israel Independence Day, illegally removed dead bodies from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute to prevent autopsies from being performed and put mice into the pathologists’ rooms, and sneaked onto archeological sites in order to prevent archeological excavations. Since then, however, Zahav has been honored by being asked to light a torch on Mt. Herzl while calling aloud in a clear voice, “For the glory of the state of Israel.” His grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Sheinberger, the mythological leader of the Eda Haredit and a fanatical opponent of the founding of Israel, refused to speak with Zahav for the last four years of his life. For Sheinberger, what Zahav did was a desecration of God’s name.

The change in Zahav began on July 6, 1989, when a terrorist blew up a bus on the 405 route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It happened on a road in front of the Telz-Stone yeshiva (Jewish religious seminary) in Neva Ilan. Zahav and his friends wanted to see what was happening, “and then, when the dismembered bodies were laid out before my eyes, when the sirens were echoing among the smoky fragments of the bus, when the bloodstained clothes were scattered over the area, when entire families were broken and erased in an instant, I realized that the quarrels between us were meaningless. The type of skullcap you wear and the kind of clothes you wear pale in comparison with the real war we’re faced with. The Arab enemy doesn’t distinguish between the blood of a haredi, a secular person, and someone who’s modern Orthodox. We’re all connected. There’s no right or left. Everyone’s pain is the same. That was the moment when I crossed the lines and abandoned the ideology of haredi Judaism,” he later said, just before lighting the torch in honor of the ZAKA volunteers in 2003.

“Since then,” he says today, “I have been repenting. I put my efforts in the right place.” That also includes severe criticism of the leaders of the community he is identified with. “I didn’t see the haredi leaders with the bereaved families,” he said during one of the IDF campaigns in the Gaza Strip. “There were 20,000 people at the funeral, but I didn’t see black clothes there. There might have been haredim here or there, but when we want to, we can fill any place with black clothes.”

….

To read the full article click globes.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on April 27, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

Our own Taliban להבדיל

From Yeshiva World News:

An erev Pesach entertainment event in Jerusalem’s Arena Stadium that was to include Mordechai Ben-David has been canceled. According to a Kikar Shabbos News report, the cancellation follows the intervention of the “Vaad Mishmeres Kodesh & Chinuch”.

The entertainment event “Kumzing – By the Minagnim Orchestra” – was for men only, sponsored in part by the Jerusalem Municipality and was scheduled for Monday evening, 10 Nissan. The chairman of the vaad, Rabbi Mordechai Blau, announced on Sunday, 24 Adar-II that the committee opposes the event which if held, will be going on against the wishes of gedolei yisrael shlita.

Kikar reports as a result of the vaad’s announcement, the event is being canceled.

Rabbi Blau says that the Vaad takes issue with these shows since “gedolei yisrael oppose them”.

No names of any Gedolei Yisroel were named.

Unless there is something disgusting about this concern that I’m not aware of, the biggest enemy we face in our midst are not so much the Rabbonim Muvhakim, but rather the Askant, the Askonim (machars/political apparatchiks), who want to control lives whether it’s in keeping with Torah or indeed their Rav HaMuvhak.

I’m reminded by the admission of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank who related a discussion with Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld.  I will leave out the juicy bits but you can read them here

About six weeks ago, I spoke with Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld, and at one point, I asked him if it is right that he signs himself as the Rav of the Ashkenazim in our Holy City… He answered me that the truth is, he does not sign so, but they made for him a stamp and wrote this on it.

I love this picture (edited by me to look clearer, I don’t know where I got it from), because it represents the truth. Not the world of falsehood that has enveloped our enclaves and askonim. Rav Kook (in the spodik) sitting next to Rav Sonnenfeld. The two behaved properly to each other, even though Rav Sonnenfeld was older and more prone to manipulation by the Hungarian political incursion into Yerusholyaim described by Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.49.23 PM

How many Jews in Melbourne hold these perverted views?

Does the Adass breakaway, “Divrei Emineh”?

Do Satmar and the Neturei Karta in Adass?

How many only disagree in as much as they shouldn’t be saying this (out loud), but actually subscribe to this discredited view of R’ Yoelish of Satmar? Emphasis is mine. Text is from my Mashgiach, Rav Rivlin שליט’’א

The Gemara in Ketubot (111a) derives from the triple mention of the pasuk, “I have bound you in oath, O daughters of Jerusalem” (Shir Hashirim), that Hashem bound Am Yisrael and the nations of the world with three oaths. The first oath is, “shelo yaalu bachoma,” that the Jews should not forcibly, “break through the wall,” and enter Eretz Yisrael. The second is that the Jews should not rebel against the nations. The third is that the nations of the world should not oppress Yisrael too much over the course of the exile. According to R. Zera, there are three additional oaths which relate to the ultimate redemption. The Gemara concludes with the threat that if Israel violates these oaths, their flesh will be made free like wild animals in the field, i.e., Hashem would bring upon them great suffering and physical destruction.

The Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, claims in “Vayoel Moshe” that Hashem brought about the Holocaust because the Zionist movement caused the Jews to violate the “Three Oaths.” Since the Jewish people forcefully went to resettle Eretz Yisrael, Hashem brought upon them massive destruction, as the Gemara warns in its conclusion. Rav Shlomo Aviner compiled thirteen answers to this claim, amongst them the following:

1) Rav Teitelbaum’s claim rests on the fact that there was a “choma,” that the nations of the world prohibited the Jews from settling in the land of Israel. The Avnei Nezer writes that this oath does not apply when the nations give Yisrael permission to return. Following the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Conference, in which the nations of the world determined that the Jewish people have a right to settle the land of Israel, the oaths do not apply. The Midrash hints to this idea, that if Bnei Yisrael have permission to enter the land they do not violate the oaths.

2) Another answer is that once there is a sign from Hashem to return to the land, the oaths no longer apply. In addition to the permission given by the nations, the national reawakening and birth of modern Zionism can be viewed as a sign from Hashem that it is permissible to return to the land. The oaths were not an “issur” (absolute prohibition), but rather national tendencies that Hashem instilled within Klal Yisrael which would cause them to remain unmotivated to return to their land. Also, throughout most of the exile, it was very difficult physically for Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael. Once a wide scale movement with an objective to return to Eretz Yisrael began, and it was physically possible to begin Aliya to Eretz Yisrael, it became clear that the oath was no longer in effect.

3) The Gemara in Sanhedrin (98a) says that when Eretz Yisrael gives forth fruit abundantly, it is a sure sign that the redemption is coming. Eretz Yisrael, in the time of the Zionist movement, began blooming and giving forth fruits unlike any previous time since the destruction of the land. This sign of redemption showed that the oath was no longer in effect.

3) Rav Teichtal, in his work, “Em Habanim Smeicha,” offers another explanation. Although the Jews were sworn not to enter Eretz Yisrael forcefully, the nations of the world were also sworn not to persecute the Jews too much. Over the course of the exile, the Jews were severely persecuted by the gentiles. Because the gentiles violated their oath, the Jews were no longer bound by their oath.

4) According to some opinions, the only way to violate the oath would be if people came to Eretz Yisrael in very large groups. Since the Jews entered the land slowly, and over the course of many years, they did not violate the oath.

5) The author of the “Hafla’ah” maintains that the oaths only apply to those who are in the exile of Bavel, and not in other lands.

6) R’ Chaim Vital explains that the oath only applied for 1000 years, not longer.

7) The Gra writes that the oath applies only to building the Beit Hamikdash, not to entering Eretz Yisrael.

8) Elsewhere in the Gemara there are other, conflicting, sources. Furthermore, the Gemara regarding the “Three Oaths” is aggada, and we do not decide halacha based on aggada. [I add that this isn’t even from Torah and Neviim, but from Kesuvim, the weakest link in determining Halacha]

Based on all of these explanations, there is ample basis to say that the movement to return to Eretz Yisrael was a positive, not a negative, one. In fact, others maintain just the opposite, that the Holocaust was because Jews became entrenched in galut and did not return to Eretz Yisrael. Since we are not living in a generation of prophecy, it is very difficult for us to determine exactly why Hashem brings specific punishments to the world. However, the Gemara does teach us that when we are afflicted with punishment, we should look into our actions, and try to fix our bad deeds. By looking at the Akeida, we may gain some insight regarding the Holocaust.

One of the most famous tests of Avraham was Akeidat Yitzchak. We constantly mention the Akeida in our prayers, and we still reap the benefits of this test. The question is asked, what is so special about this test? Avraham did not even do any great action of sacrifice, because in the end he did not slaughter his son. There were many other tests which Avraham actually fulfilled which are not so commonly mentioned!

Furthermore, Rav Dessler questions the very concept of “zechut Avot” (merit of the Patriarchs). If two criminals violated the same law, one coming from a dysfunctional family and one from a normal background, logic dictates that the one from a normal background should be punished more severely. When we come to Hashem and tell Him that we are descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, this should work against us! Why is there zechut? In fact, Rabbeinu Bachya says that sometimes it is best not to mention zechut avot. After the sin of the spies, Moshe pleaded to Hashem and did not mention that Hashem is “notzer chesed la’alafim,” that He rewards for good deeds for generations to come. Moshe did not want Hashem to say, “If Bnei Yisrael came from such great people, why did they sin?”

Perhaps this insight can explain why we ask Hashem to remember the Akeida, as opposed to other tests of Avraham. Many times Am Yisrael does not live up to the other tests which Avraham was tested with. Through our entire history, however, Am Yisrael lived up to the test of the Akeida, and on many occasions Jews were willing to die “al kiddush Hashem” (in sanctification of G-d’s name).

The Torah introduces the story of the Akeida with the phrase, “It happened after these things.” (Bereishit 22:1) The parsha directly before the Akeida is the story in which Avraham makes a peace-covenant with Avimelech. The Rashbam explains that Avraham was tested with the Akeida because he did not have a sufficiently strong connection with Eretz Yisrael, and was willing to make a pact with Avimelech, thereby forfeiting some of his right to the land. The Tanna D’vei Eliyahu writes that any nation which has a serious conflict with Yisrael, does so only because of the pact which Avraham signed with Avimelech. Hashem always had a two-part covenant with Yisrael: descendants and Eretz Yisrael. Because Avraham was willing to give part of Eretz Yisrael, Hashem said, “I will take the other half of the pact — your son.”

Although we are not prophets, and we cannot determine which punishments correspond to which sins, we must try to learn lessons from events which happen in this world. Today it is clear that our bond to Eretz Yisrael still needs strengthening. If we pray and strengthen our connection to Eretz Yisrael, there will be an end to all of the Akeidot.

For those who want to seriously understand why Satmar and these clowns are dead wrong, read this from the Seforim Blog.

I note they don’t mention Gog and Magog, and the Jewish Redemption where their friends will be beholden to the Beis Hamikdash and Elokus. Politically, they don’t mention that, because they are of course afraid. These are the Jews about which the Torah says “stay home, you are afraid to go to war and you are an impedance”. Help your wives with the washing, cooking and food provision.

I notice Issy Weiss of Neturei Karta wears the palestinian scarf. Why doesn’t he put a Kaffiyeh on and add tzitzis to the corners. Now there’s solidarity.

 

An Apt Tisha B’Av Message

  
(Hat tip RC)

The internet and the streets simply must open up the world to Charedim

Here is a fascinating story of the grandson of the Satmar Rebbe who joined the Israeli army. Yes, it’s true, that there is no family that is immune from a child taking a different direction. This is a fact of life.

I don’t like the word blame in the context. I prefer to think that the concept where ‘one size fits all’ and clueless teachers and/or parents cause much of this reality. חנוך על פי דרכו teach according to their acuities, is something harder to achieve in a “my way or the highway” approach.

You should read the article HERE [hat time CMW]

Another article, of interest, describes what appears to be a growing phenomenon is from the Huffington Post, and reproduced here [Hat tip Krakower]

I Escaped Hasidic Judaism and Went From Living on the Streets to Being a Hollywood Actor

In June 2008, exactly three years after I got married, I decided to get a divorce. I didn’t fall out of love with my wife. In fact, I never fell in love with her in the first place. I simply no longer wanted to have the life I had with her and everyone surrounding her.

My wife was a Hasidic Jew, and when I married her, so was I. But that was no longer the case. I was a 22-year-old man with a long beard and side curls (payes) and all the other markings of a Hasid, but I was an atheist. An atheist surrounded by Orthodox Hasidic Jews. Surrounded by their certainty, their food, their self-righteousness and their minivans.

I hated all of it, so I left and entered a world full of uncertainty and a broad spectrum of ideas about right and wrong.

I had no idea what I was going to do. I had no education beyond Jewish Talmudic studies. I had no friends outside of the Hasidic world beyond a few I met at Footsteps, an organization that supports Orthodox Jews attempting to escape. I had no marketable skill beyond being able to charm your pants off. I had never been on a date. I had never heard of The Beatles. And I thought, “May the Force be with you” meant “May God be with you.”

“For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us.”

After leaving the Hasidic world, I spent seven years in various stages of decay. I slept in a tent in Bushwick for several months, lived in a rented Volkswagen Jetta for as long as my credit card limit allowed and crashed with friends. I starved in the harsh street of New York City. When I used my last subway fare to make my way to my sister’s (one of eleven siblings) house for leftovers from Shabbat meals, she wouldn’t let me in the house because I was wearing jeans.

When I went on dates, I had nothing in common with the women. I knew nothing about their culture, and they knew nothing about mine. I thought all shiksas were prostitutes, and they thought all Hasidim were landlords and diamond dealers.

Let me answer some revealing questions about Hasidic Judaism. Does it withhold a broad education from their children in order to keep the children narrow-minded and uneducated? Yes. Does it vilify the outside world in order to keep its members from joining it? Definitely. Does it have a fear and/or doomsday element to it? Of course. Is there ex-communication for those who dare to leave? Oh yeah.

I still have not received anything past a 5th grade education. In fact, since I never attended a regular school, I don’t actually know what a 5th grade education is — I just picked a grade that seemed right. I don’t know what algebra is; I know I can Google it but I wasn’t made to care enough to do so.

“After leaving the Hasidic world, I spent seven years in various stages of decay.”

For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us. I believed that all goyim are murderers, rapists, degenerates and dirty second-class citizens. Of course, they/we aren’t but I was taught that in order to make the secular lifestyle less appealing. I was told horrible things would happen to me in this world and the “next world” if I leave. I was told I would end up a criminal or drug addict. Many members of my family refuse to speak to me to this day.

I have had to transition both out of Hasidism and transition into mainstream culture. I have had to find a replacement for the void left by the lack of community and warmth. I had to replace my family, my friends and my moral compass. It was hard leaving everything behind but it was even harder to find something to replace it all with.

Thankfully, as an actor, my professional community is very friendly and inclusive (albeit competitive). I’ve replaced my biological family with actors and Footsteps members. I have managed to date, to have my heart broken, to have broken some hearts and to grow because of all of it.

I get asked all the time: “Are you happy now?” The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes!” I have friends who love me for who I am, for who I was and for who I am trying to become.

“I had to replace my family, my friends and my moral compass.”

Career-wise, it seems I have sought the path of most resistance, deciding to work in a field full of multi-talented human specimens with high cheekbones and jaguar physiques. I’m five foot seven inches, unathletic and have a heavy Yiddish accent. And yet, I’ve been getting work. My latest film, “Felix and Meira,” just beat David Cronenberg at the Toronto International Film Festival for “Best Canadian Feature Film,” and I won “Best Actor” at the Torino Film Festival. Next, I will appear in a recurring role in the upcoming season of “Transparent” on Amazon Prime.

But those achievements pale in comparison to the responses I get from people within the Hasidic community who have snuck out to go see the film. They have been yearning to break away but have been told that if they do, they will end up in jail or in rehab, and they believed it. But now, they can counter that with success stories like mine and those of others like me.

The Hasidic community isn’t what it used to be even five years ago. With the Internet, every person has access to every flavor of every forbidden fruit his or her heart desires, including my story. It won’t be long before the Empire falls. It might not fall completely, but it certainly will be forced to adapt to the 21st century.

The Empire won’t go down easy. The Empire will strike back. For evidence, watch the comments section below.

Follow Luzer Twersky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@twersky

In my opinion unless subtle changes are introduced into Charedi education this will become more prevalent. It is nigh on impossible to live in a Cocoon these days. I know of schools that redact every book with pen or gluing pages together. The effect is that the students are more certain to find the original text and be exposed. I’m not sure that approach works. Kids are far more connected than they ever were.

Indeed, there has been a new (undesirable) ban now on whatsapp [Hat tip BA]. I surmise this is because the kosher filters cannot filter such messages. whatsapp is wonderful, it keeps families closer and informed, especially when they are spread around the world. Anything can be used for bad or for good. That is the central tenet in my understanding.

How different is their indoctrination?

these oh so sweet boys share views held by Melbourne’s Shomer Emunim School, a break away from Adass. How sick, sick sick

Watch this

When does a Woman not exist?

its old news that Adass chassidic will not write even the first initial of a lady. My wife would be known as ‘mrs I Balbin’ this is certainly a hall mark of Hungarian chassidic practice as well as some Russian/Polish chassidic.

contrast this to the wedding invitation that R Chaim Brisker used for his son Mishe’s wedding (Moshe Soloveitchik was the father of the Rav. He had signed it as ‘Chaim and Lifshe Soloveitchij’. No appellations and her name was ‘out in the wild’, heaven forfend. 

Where are the Charedi Luminaries?

[Hat tip DS]

The original (24/4/215) in Hebrew is here from Chadrei Charedim. I haven’t seen it elsewhere in English.

A Givati Brigade Commander went to see two of his Charedi soldiers who were in dire poverty in Meah Shearim. The Jewish Terrorists of Meah Shearim, then set on him and his car for daring to come and aid etc. The mother of the Brigade Commander noted that her husband was Rav Getz, the Rav of the Kotel, who had good relationships between these Meshugoim. About 50 of them, men and children lay on the road, smashed his car and wouldn’t let him leave. They knew he was too kind to do anything to them. Have we heard any voice of condemnation from the Charedi Badatz.

I’d take the 50, and put them on a farm in Beersheba and make them work for a year. They slept soundly at night while this brigade leader and his soldiers risked their lives and this is the thanks they get.

Enough is enough. We have to send a message to these extremists. When they come to my door, again, I will give them the least and tell them that instead of travelling the world they’d be better off enlisting in an old age home and helping people in Israel and earning a wage. They aren’t geniuses, they are not the chosen few who should be sitting and learning all their lives. That is the domain of the real McCoy.

These Jewish Terrorists are a gross Chillul Hashem, and they remind me of the Sunni vs Shiite war that is raging. They do not see the rest of us as useful or part of the Jewish Kehilla (unless of course you are flashing hundred-dollar bills).

 

Jewish Meah Shearim Thugs

וְשֹׁחַד לֹא תִקָּח כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר פִּקְחִים וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִים

 

 

Someone tell me Charedi Shules are also involved?

i saw the following from the RCV and whilst not knowing the program details I must admit that places chock full of children such as Adass and Rabbi Kohns Torah centre, Rabbi Donnenbaums Heichal HaTorah and Beth Hatalmud have not signed up (yet?)

It is one thing not to be part of the RCV but it’s another to have your head buried in the sand and assume you don’t have lurking pedophiles. We know it’s likely not true in some of above. One can only hope they have or will join but simply didn’t want to be listed on an RCV press release (small minded in my view given the gravity of the issue)

RCV LAUNCHES CHILD PROTECTION PROJECT IN SHULES

 

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria Inc (RCV) has just launched its Child Protection Policy Program in Shules 

in partnership with Australian Childhood Foundation. This vital project will prioritise the rights of children to protection from abuse by employees and volunteers in member shules across the state. Working closely with the Australian Childhood Foundation, each participating shule will formulate an effective child protection policy and system to cover all of its programs and activities. .  

The member shules will be participating in the Foundation’s Safeguarding Children Accreditation Program, which systematically builds the capacity of organisations to keep children and young people through

•enhancing and maintaining a collective culture that promotes the safety of children and young people;

•reviewing, designing and executing specific policies and procedures to protect children and young people;

•providing relevant training to management, staff and volunteers;

•engaging the involvement of children, young people and their parents/carers in safeguarding practices;

•implementing a consistent set of endorsed operational standards at every level; and,

•responding effectively to situations in which a child is abused or exploited by an individual involved in the management or delivery of a service or activity.

Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation applauded the RCV for taking this initiative. “It is an important commitment by any organisation to become accredited under the Safeguarding Children Program. It will help everyone involved in shules to understand their responsibilities to protect children and keep them safe”.   

Dr Tucci said that “Safeguarding Children accreditation will demonstrate that each shule has achieved and maintained best practice standards for protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation whilst they participate in the shule’s services and programs”.

Throughout 2015 the shules will be attending monthly Safeguarding Children Workshops in order to develop their policies and procedures in line with the seven standards.  The inaugural workshop was held this week.

Rabbi Moshe Kahn, Executive member of the RCV stated “The RCV is committed to safe guarding children, making sure that each and every child that enters our shules is protected and that both the child and parent can know with confidence that best practice child protection is in place.”

The following shules have joined this program:

          Aish HaTorah

          Chabad Bentleigh

          Blake Street Hebrew Congregation

          Brighton Hebrew Congregation

          Chabad on Carlisle (FREE) Inc

          Chabad Carnegie

          Chabad House of Caulfield

          Daminyan

          Chabad Glen Eira

          Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation

          Hamerkaz Shelanu, Lamdeni and KaTeeny

          Chabad Malvern

          Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

          Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation,

          L’Chaim Chabad Kingston

          Sha’arei Tefillah

          Shnei Ohr Chabad North Caulfield

          South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation

          Yeshivah Shule, including Young Yeshivah and Kollel Menachem

          Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, including Ohr Chadash

          East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

Finally a sophisticated positive way to deal with חילול שבת

You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that throwing rocks, shouting shabbos, spitting, overturning Rubbish bins and every bit of meshugass the paleontological neanderthals  attempt to “increase holiness” is a complete ביטול זמן and serves to sever them more from the rest.

Here, is an approach I like. Hats off, as they say

The Heter Mechira in Shmitta

This may come as a surprise to the nidertrechtikte soinim of Rav Kook, but the common fallacy is that when he became Chief Rabbi of Yaffo-Tel Aviv, he introduced the Heter Mechira.

This is of course one of a string of lies and distortions that Israel/ZIONIST hating so called Frummer Hungarians in Israel would have you gullibly swallow to this day.

But their world isn’t a world of Torah even remotely approaching the supreme and holy Tzadik that Rav Kook was, so I am not surprised that they peddled and continue to peddle their outright lies and disrespect for a very holy Rov.

ירך הלבב

This awe inspiring photo (hat tip mad) shows you can be very frum and ‘as holy’ as those who refuse to enlist. This is a milchemes mitzvah unless you practice a heathen religion related to Judaism as per Neturei Karta and their supporters, and the holy Litvaks who don’t follow Torah by defending Am Yisroel Lefi Pshuto shel Halocho Mefureshes ….

THESE guys are holy. They are our heroes and Shluchei HaKadosh Baruch Hu kipshuto

May they all come back healthy and all those who are injured should recover כהרף עין

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Maybe it’s not just Beck and Neturei Karta?

I’m sure many of us are spending time defending Israel and its rightful inhabitants at work, in forums, in comments on various newspapers (I had a totally benign comment of mine censored by the Economist, no less)

These are TOUGH times. Jewish soccer players get attacked on the pitch. We read that a shop in Belgium hung a large sign saying ‘no entry to Zionists or dogs’ and then had Zionists replaced by the word Jews. Our people fight those who want to annihilate us every minute and protect Jewish lives. Is it Torah that doesn’t see a missile on Bnei Brak or is it the Enemy themselves who perceive such enclaves as their friends?

Many in Europe of all places are facing violence and huge barrages of protest which invariably link us to hitler Yimach Shemo Vezichro. There is a very clear approach being taken by haters of Jews.

This morning someone sent me a phone picture of a demonstration in Paris taken by a bystander. I don’t have words to describe how sick in the guts I felt seeing these low lives joining those who would be happy to see us wiped out.

I am thinking that we need a web page, a World-Wide page, of faces and names. Anyone from any country in the world who joins these protests, is made visible in their anti israel views and should be named alongside their picture.

Here is the picture that raised my blood pressure significantly.

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Polemic with Hamas/Palestinian supporters and Mr Moshe Ber Beck

I have argued Israel’s case strenuously in a number of internet forums during the current operation  to defend Israel from Hamas. It was incredible, that my Muslim interlocutors kept publishing videos of Mr Moshe Ber Beck showing me that even Jews are against Israel.

Oh yes, I can tell them that the disgraceful Beck is generally described as a fringe lunatic, but do you think they believe me? They point out that all the ones with long side locks and funny hats and beards are just like Moshe Ber Beck, and there are plenty of them.

I’m embarrassed that someone like Beck (whose voice sounds eerily but unsurprisingly similar to his Melbourne brother) can’t keep his mouth shut and hide in a deep hole somewhere in the Antarctica or Siberia. Perhaps he and his like-minded ilk should find the same hole that the two assassins used to murder the three boys הי’’ד are hiding in: Beck and Co are just one moral rung down from them.

I’d expect to see posters all over Israel, especially Meah Shearim condemning Beck, but the Mashiach will be here before that happens.

The excruciating pain of the 3 kidnapped yeshivah boys and the disgrace of Neturei Karta

[Hat tip DS]

My children were near that spot on Thursday night. It is spine chilling. While we normally criticise Neturei Karta for a lack of Ahavas Yisrael, in this case, they have certainly done the wrong thing. They have written about three of their own who (שומו שמים) may have been drafted into the Holy Army defending our Nation.

I find it very hard to support these people. Someone at Shule said “respect their Shita”. Sorry, this poster makes me ill in context. They complain about “ZIONIST MURDERERS”

What Mashiach would want to walk through Meah Shearim? Not even Shabtai Tzvi the faker.

I call on the leaders of Adass Yisrael to disassociate themselves from this and to attend the Tehillim tonight at Caulfield Shule

 

Our country, our people, our struggle and extremism

I was not going to post about this topic because I know there are many at Adass Yisrael, the Melbourne Chassidic Charedi organisation, who were upset at what happened and I didn’t want to pour petrol on a raging fire.

Then I received the following video [hat tip MD]. It shocked me to my core. If you understand Ivrit, just a little it will likely do the same to you. Make sure you turn on annotations and captions in youtube for English.

The Palestinian Arab rendition of Hatikva

It is plain to see that they have butchered the words of Hatikva to issue calls for the destruction of our homeland and annihilation of our people. We are sixty short years away from a scourge that made no difference between a Rebbe or Mechalel Shabbos. A scourge that didn’t care if someone was from Satmar or from Mizrachi. The common theme is that

עם לבדד ישכון

But who is the עם?

Two incidents occurred with the approval of Rabbinic decree at Adass on Yom Haatzmaut. Now, nobody is saying that people have to give שבח והודאה to Hashem if they feel that the state is a cataclysm for עם ישראל but is this אחיך בלבביך?

Both incidents are outside the rules of Dinim Mefurashim in Shulchan Aruch according to all Rishonim.

  • We don’t say Tachanun at a Bris Mila (שו”ע, סימן קלא, סעיף ד). The Kaf Hachaim says that even other minyanim in that building don’t say Tachanun כה”ח, סימן קעז. The Mishna Brura says that even if the Ba’alei Simcha aren’t there  (משנ”ב, שם, ס”ק כב). Yet, when a recent Bris was held on the 5th of Iyyar (yes, we can assume that they didn’t accept the 6th of Iyyar this year because that was designed to lessen the chance of עבירות) yet at Adass, the Rabbi declared vocally that Tachanun had to be said. The SADNESS and CALAMITY of the establishment of a State overrode in his unpublished and unsourced opinion (I know about the Chazon Ish 60 years ago) the clear requirement not to say Tachanun because there was a Simcha. Perhaps they should have worn sack cloth at the Bris and said Kinos on the floor? When I look at this action in the context of the youtube link above, I feel sick in my stomach. Isn’t it clear to one and all that Tachanun would not have been said because of a Bris? Isn’t it known that the right-wing Satmar branch of Adass are closer to Neturei Karta and the breakaway than they are to the rest of the community and Adass has lurched to the right over the years, especially as the sane voices of holocaust survivors dwindle.  Would this happen at Chabad? No. Would this happen at Beis HaTalmud? I’d venture to say no. Even though Rav Kotler was no uber supporter, he had a fidelity to Halacha. Someone correct me if they say Tachanun at Lakewood on Yom Ha’atzmaut if there is a Bris.
  • There was a poor Adass fellow who was sitting Shiva for his father. During the Shiva,  the Halacha is clear that we do not say Tachanun. Nobody is talking about Hallel with or without a Brocho or anything like that. Tachanun is not said in the mourners house. Yet, because it was Yom Ha’atzmaut, they decided to say Tachanun in contrast to an open halacha שולחן עורך אורח חיים סעיף ד’ ובמשנה ברורה סק”כ. This is a time when the Midas HaDin is threatening and we dare NOT mention sin (Tachanun) in the house of an Avel. But here, the existence of a State of Israel and the possibility that this might be seen to be supporting Yom Ha’atzmaut, was seen (unpublished and unsourced) as more important than the fearful notion of מידת הדין מתוחה, וצריך ליזהר שלא להגביר מידת הדין עליו

So what does one do? My suggestion is that all who are friendly with people from Adass and who agree with my viewpoint express objection in strong terms and ask them why those who were not happy with the unhalachic ruling, decided to say Tachanun. This is not a הוראת שעה from a נביא.

במקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקים כבוד לרב

I fully accept that the Rabbi(s) who must have issued this ruling are careful with the minutest detail of Halacha and are honest and ehrliche Jews, but I simply cannot reconcile this alleged breach of Halacha in the context of that sickening youtube video.

Nobody says one has to agree with ראשית צמיחת גאולתינו … I know many Rabonim who cleverly say סמיכת when it is politically wise to do so, or who add the word שיהא. These are eschatological matters which really don’t concern me too much. I’m happy with plain גאולה as soon as possible.

I consider these actions as tantamount to matching the antics of the ערב רב who visit and visited those despots who seek to dismantle the only Jewish homeland we have, and have had for thousands of years.

It’s a Shame and a Shande ואין פוצץ פה

Visiting their “Rebbe” Arafat’s Tziyun
Holocaust survivor, Moshe Ber Halevi Beck, with Ahmadinajad, ימח שמו וזכרו

Yom Ha’atzmaut: I didn’t find it funny

As I was leaving Shule today, there was a function being held. I don’t know who the caterer was, but it was under Adass supervision. The door was open, and the Mashgiach (supervisor), a rather portly chap was munching on some soup nuts. He was a jovial type and we exchanged a few pleasantries. He then asked me (in Yiddish) do you know what day the Megadef (blasphemer) in today’s Parshas Emor committed his sin? [ The blasphemer who cursed God was the son of Shlomis Bas Divri  and his father was allegedly the Egyptian killed by Moshe Rabbenu (Shmos, second Perek) and he was punished with death for cursing God.]

This Mashgiach of the food (who was a Chossid of some sort, with long Payes, and his Tzitzis Beged on the outside) bellowed that it was the 5th of Iyar (i.e. Yom Ha’atzmaut). I have to admit that I didn’t know if he was telling me the truth in respect of the date and I just wasn’t aware or I was confused with the date of the Mekoshesh Etzim, but it doesn’t matter.

In other words, on the very the day that Hashem allowed the world to grant Israel the ability to be an independent nation, was according to this fellow the same day that the Megadef sinner was put to death for cursing God.

His point was clearly that there was a connection between the two. The notion of a new State for Jews wasn’t a cause célèbre but something akin to cursing God/sinning for which the death penalty was appropriate.

As is my way, I usually find a quick retort, and told him that the correct meaning was that anyone whose distorted weltanschauung saw the establishment of the new State of Israel as a sin/curse, was deserving the death penalty. He snorted, and didn’t respond, and I went on my way.

I simply cannot comprehend how people can speak this way about Israel. I struggle with it. Either they feel that immediately after the Holocaust God decided to “test us” and offer us a State and we should have said “NO”, or they think that the Hester Panim (concealment of God’s visage) during the Holocaust continued further and we shouldn’t have fallen for the “ruse” agreed to by the United Nations, or that we should simply have accepted the view of  R’ Yoel of Satmar, that it is (God forbid) a sin to make mass Aliyah to Israel before the Redemption (as expounded in VeYoel Moshe and discredited as an halachic argument by many Talmidei Chachomim of note).

Having been at the Yom Hashoa commemoration during the week, focussing on the destruction of Hungarian Jewry, and feeling the pain of that episode once more, I find it utterly incomprehensible that soon after 6 million holy people were murdered by the Nazis, that I am meant to see the establishment of a State as  a cataclysmic curse akin to the Megadef (the episode of which has some parallels to the Mekoshesh Etzim in Parshas Shlach).

It is times like this where I am profoundly challenged to consider such people and their views as brotherly. Not only did I not find it funny, I found it grossly offensive (he mistakenly thought I was a Chabadnik, as he had stated).

I am glad that I went home to have a nice Shabbos meal with my mother (a Holocaust survivor who lived, studied and found refuge in the new State of Israel immediately after the war) and managed to control my seething anger.

The flag of the State of Israel atop the Ponovezh Yeshivah on Yom Haatzmaut

A litmus test for Shules regarding the IDF vs Torah study issue

[Please note: I will keep this list updated as information comes in]

 

Phew. I’m physically wasted. Baruch Hashem, our daughter was married last night, and apart from the usual responsibilities of being the “father of the bride” and all that goes with it, I sang and danced during the evening with my great band, Schnapps. That’s not an advertisement. They were simply magnificent last night.

Someone drew my attention to an interesting point which then had me think of the following hypothetical:

If you received an Aliya on Shabbos, and asked the Gabbay to make a Misheberach for Tzahal (Tzva Hagana L’Yisrael) what would the different attitudes be in different Orthodox Shules. I will list those that I believe will have and do have no problem with such a benign (Zionistically speaking) request (and donation)

  • Elwood
  • Caulfield
  • Mizrachi
  • South Caulfield
  • St. Kilda
  • Kew
  • Brighton
  • Ohel Dvora
  • Yeshiva
  • Da Minyan
  • Moorabbin Shule
  • HaMerkaz Shelanu (Rabbi Liberow)
  • SpiritGrow

I do not know what the attitude would be at the following Shules. I accept of course that there may be differing practices within, say, some Chabad Houses

  1. Rabbi Kohn’s Shule
  2. Russian Chabad Shule (FREE)
  3. Central Chabad
  4. Chabad Sephardi Shule
  5. Glen Eira Chabad
  6. Malvern Chabad
  7. East Brighton Chabad
  8. Other Chabad Houses
  9. Rabbi Donnenbaum’s Heichal HaTorah
  10. Rabbi Berlin’s Shule
  11. Rabbi Wurtzberger’s Lakewood Kollel Beth HaTalmud

Perhaps readers can enlighten me on these and any that I inadvertently forgot. I haven’t mentioned Adass yet. I will relay, though, a true occurrence which was at a public gathering of prayer which might shed light on their view.

During the time when those three Charedi Yeshivah Bochurim were arrested and incarcerated in Japan, Adass organised a public gathering to say Tehillim to beseech God to release those boys. At that public gathering, it was suggested (quite vocally) that since Gilad Shalit was incarcerated by Hamas in Gazastan, that he also be included in the Tefillos. I’m advised that the response was like

You can organise your own Tehillim if you want to daven for him

If this is true, it’s an outrageous view. Now, I know this isn’t a universally held opinion. Adass certainly has various categories of views and it’s quite remarkable that those views can co-exist in the one place, however, if Adass President Binyomin Koppel could enlighten  the official view about such a Misheberach, I would be obliged.

Certainly, I have been at Chabad Shules, notably Yeshivah where special Tehillim is said for Israel when it faces many of its challenges.

I raise this because if a Shule does not allow a Misheberach or special Tehillim or similar for Tzahal, then, frankly, I do not want to hear about their special Torah learning protecting the Chayalim. It’s incongruous, is it not?

Similar questions could be asked in respect of Jewish Schools and their allowable activities.

picture from Haaretz

I’m still waiting …

Where was the evening and large gathering of “all” Gedolay Torah in the World against the low life scum who kissed the rectum of Ahmadinajad?

Where were the public posters and condemnations?

Did Rabbi Beck put his brother in Cherem, or does he still visit him quietly when he travels?

No, these low life scum who kiss the Iranians, continue in their Chillul Hashem while those frum charedim who wish to do national service or army are beaten up by the “holy” ones, protecting them for their own good.

Let’s not kid ourselves. This was a Charedi juggernaut and Charedim do not equal the “entire” Torah World. Rabbis Telsner and Groner made a poor judgement and some type of apology. I think they were politically naïve.

How many Mizrachi types will still frequent the professional Kollel “olderleit” at Beth Hatalmud after their Rosh Kollel still refuses to apologise for his participation in this Tefilla/Protest and the posters rude and offensive description.

I went to Kerem B’Yavneh,he first Hesder Yeshivah. We learned hard, at least as hard as the black garbed holier ones. It always shocked me how motivated the boys were in their learning and their defence of the country. The difference was that during the first Lebanon wars, my two room mates Zev Roitman and Chovav Landau הי’’ד (whose wife was pregnant with a boy at the time) were incinerated in their tank after a direct hit. They were the only two in a Yeshivah of 500+ who were killed. The Malach HaMoves was in my room, clearly.

Maybe someone will tell me that they should not have manned their tanks, and should have learned Boba Metzia instead, but my Torah doesn’t tell me that.

The word around town is that Rabbi Donenbaum from Heichal HaTorah felt he was “forced” to sign. Perhaps he could explain why in his weekly few pages of halacha.

Incredibly, when Gush Katif, Ashdod, Ashkelon etc were under fire, it was the Charedi Yeshivas, those whose learning protect us with their constant high class learning who ran away.

I’m ashamed of their action. They could have called for a half day Taanis in their own Shules. That’s at least private and could be timed for the same time. Instead they chose the emotive time of Ta’anis Esther, when they didn’t need to do any extra fasting, and will have us try to believe they had no thought of the connection between Haman and the democratically elected government of the “Treyfe Medina” whose money hand outs they covet and which has a duty to defend all its citizens and ask all to contribute to the Mitzvah of Milchama.

The imagery of barbed war around a Torah on the Melbourne Poster was positively inciteting and spewing with a brand of hatred that sickened me to my core. Maybe they should have davened solely for peace

Excellent article on the IDF exemption issue

This is from Rabbi Slifkin (whose wife is a distant relative of ours)

It is well worth reading.

Talmidei Chachomim earning a living

I have written about this here.

I don’t always agree with Rav Aviner. For example, I disagree vehemently with his attitude towards Rabbi Elon. On the issue below [Hat tip NB]  he is undoubtedly right. There isn’t any reason someone who knows Torah and continues to learn should be a pauper. If they do want that, perhaps they should set up a Kollel in Vietnam?

Prominent Dati Leumi Posek Rabbi Shlomo Ha-Cohain Aviner Shlit”a addressed a statistic reporting that 40% of Charedim do not work. The Rav stated that due to the economic realities in Israel today, an Avreich (married Yeshiva student) must learn a profession that permits him to support his family. “A Talmid Yeshiva cannot remain in Yeshiva indefinitely. He must earn a living and it is not enough to say ‘Hashem will take care of things and it will be fine’”.

He told students during a Shiur that there are Avreichim who go to soup kitchens daily, and that in some Charedi homes children regularly go hungry.  That is why a husband must be able to earn a living. A Talmid can learn for a number of years as everyone must, but at some point one must reflect and determine if one will be a Rav or Rebbe and if not, it is time to look for work. The Rav added that not everyone is suited to be a Rav or Rebbe, though most believe they are, and while one may be a Talmid Chacham there is still the issue of earning a livelihood. Batei Medrashim are bursting with Talmidei Chacham that do not have work because all of the jobs in the Yeshivot are taken.

The Rav then addressed Avreichim who used to make do with the bare minimum. “Once upon a time, man slept on straw like Rabbi Akiva and this was fine.  But today it is not possible to live like this. We may sleep on straw but how will one pay tuition for one’s children? One does not have to eat Prili (type of fruit yogurt) daily but even when living austerely there is a need for money to pay for different necessities.  We cannot change reality with Pilpul. Perhaps in Vietnam one can survive on one dollar a day but in Israel it is impossible.”

Twisting, turning, Askonim using Gedolay Yisrael

The following made the rounds. Of course, most reported them irresponsibility and with the usual anti Jewish venom. Some salient points.

  1. This is not a letter from R’ Chaim Kanievsky
  2. It is from a Charedi organisation that sets itself up to “purify” communication. It  has an agenda, and will never tell you about a Rav who has no problem with proper use of an iPhone
  3. There is a footnote which is their own fodder for the masses and can be misread to be the words of R’ Kanievsky.
  4. Even if this is true, R’ Kanievsky isn’t making decisions for you and I. A Rav paskens (if he did indeed pasken) for the people in front of him. Frankly, those people aren’t looking for a Psak at all. They are simply look for another bazooka to hold at people’s heads
  5. Anyone who extends the use of such a letter to the “conclusion” that wedding witnesses or mikvah ladies who use iPhones are Pasul even B’Dieved, doesn’t need a Rabbi; they need therapy
  6. There are plenty of Av Beis Din’s around the world who use smartphones.
  7. This has nothing to do with phones, it’s all about the improper use of the internet. Who has an argument with improper usage? My iPhone contains more Shiurim than I have time to listen to.
  8. Of course, toilet blogs like Scott Rosenberg’s blog and others, breed piranhas using such stories. They are irresponsible.
  9. Rabbi Kanievsky defers to Rav Shteinman anyway (the latter of whom isn’t a Posek of note, unless I’ve missed his Tshuvos)
  10. They neither live, nor know about my world, and simply don’t have the information required.
  11. I didn’t ask them for their opinion, and am not obliged to do anything with their letter.
  12. A Rosh Yeshiva is not a Posek anymore than a Posek is a Rosh Yeshiva
  13. There is no such thing as Daas Torah anyway. Speak to your Posek when you have a Shayla. That’s the way it was and ought to remain.
  14. End.

KanievskyiPhone

Jewish Spite filled Anti Semites

[Hat tip SH]

The Heimlich family is an honourable family in Adass Yisrael, full of Talmidei Chachomim, born and bred in the Charedi (hungarian) community in Melbourne, Australia. One of the sons, is a renowned Posek to whom most Adass folk turn to for their Sheylos today. He sits in the Gerrer Shitibel daily and learns, and is a fine man.

One brother Nachum is a Rosh Kollel in Satmar. You can hear his vituperative and spite filled anti zionist/jewish speech on youtube, where he tells the non Jews that we don’t need a country, we don’t need an army etc and publicly criticises Israel. To Nachum I say, come back to Australia. Your place isn’t in Israel. Why torture yourself by staying there.

Pull out, I say. Get your kinsman out of Israel. Cross the border into Ramallah. Go live there in peace and harmony. Get the heck out of Israel. It’s really Avi Avos HaTumah for you and means nothing to you. Get lost!

Shame on you Rabbi Nochum Tzvi Heimlich on the youtube (listen at about 10:42) The Australian accent is unmistakeable. What a Chillul Hashem. Remove your sackcloth, and come wear Australian sheepskin.

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 11.23.41 pm

I call on his brother in Melbourne to condemn his statements. I doubt it will happen any more than the clandestine visits of Rabbi Beck to his infamous extremist brother.

We in Melbourne are fools for supporting and allowing these extremist elements to take our money through their various businesses. Next time you deal with one, ask him whether he supports Satmar and Toldos Aron or similar. This is a Shandeh.

I call on Adass to distance itself explicitly in the press from these extremists and condemn them and their sentiments.

Israel and Soldiers

[Hat tip to DM]

Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva Rav Yerucham Levovitz: “..regarding those who currently sacrifice their lives so we can be saved, no one in the entire world can stand in their presence…and our obligation to pray on their behalf is limitless…”

Nothing is to be achieved from the negative messages, prevalent in the hareidi/hassidic world about Israel. It is time for a change in approach so that new generations learn about what Israel is and not what it is not. Then the madim (uniform) and kelei ha’mikdash, the sanctified vessels and tools used daily to rebuild our Promised Land and safeguard all of its citizens, will be seen in a proper light..

The revered Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva Rav Yerucham Levovitz, who commented in his Sichos Mussar regarding those who were killed in Lod in Talmudic times [ha’rugei Lod ein kol briya yechola la’amod be’mechitzatan]. “No mortal can be in their presence” because they have sacrificed their life on behalf of Israel. Likewise,“regarding those who currently sacrifice their lives so we can be saved, no one in the entire world can stand in their presence [no one can measure up to their level]. And our obligation to pray on their behalf is limitless…”

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, head of Har Etzion hesder yeshiva, related that once, when he returned to America and was visiting with his father in law, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, he posed a series of questions he had received from students serving in the IDF. One student worked in the tanks division and his job was cleaning out and maintaining the tanks. Often his uniform got covered in oil and grime and he wanted to know if he needed to change before afternoon prayer,davening Mincha, something that would be terribly inconvenient and difficult. The Rav looked at Rav Lichtenstein and wondered out loud, “why would he need to change? He is wearing bigdei kodesh, holy garments.

These sacred garments have restored Jewish pride, faith and fortitude… these bigdei kodesh safeguard and secure all that is holy and worthwhile in G-d’s Promised Land and throughout the world.

No lesser voice than HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook shared the regard and reverence for Israel’s soldiers and the uniform they wear. In Sichot Rabbenu, Yom Ha’atzmaut 5727, he wrote:

“A student of our Yeshiva approached me. I said to him: ‘At first I did not recognize you.’ He was wearing the army uniform. You know that I relate to this uniform in holiness. A lovely and precious man, full of G-d-fearing and holiness was approaching, and he was wearing an army uniform. At that occurrence I mentioned what I said at one wedding [of Ha-Rav She’ar Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa], when the groom came dressed in an army uniform.

There were some who were pointing out that it is inappropriate for a groom to stand under the chuppah with an army uniform. In Yerushalayim, the Holy City, it was customary that they came with Shabbat clothing, holy clothing, like a streimel (fur hat worn by hassidim on the Sabbath, ed.).

” I will tell you the truth. The holiness of the streimel – I do not know if it is one-hundred percent clear. It was made holy after the fact. Many righteous and holy Geonim (great rabbis) certainly wore it. There is certainly so much trembling of holiness before them, and we are dirt under the souls of their feet, and on account of this fact, the streimel was made holy.

“Also Yiddish, the language of Exile, was made holy because of its great use in words of holiness. But from the outset – it is not so certain. In comparison, the holiness of the army uniform in Israel is fundamental, inherent holiness. This is the holiness of accessories of a mitzvah, from every perspective…”

Rabbi Yehoshua Zuckerman relates [inIturei Yerushalaim] about Rav Tzvi Yehuda “teaching a class and a student, who was on leave from the army, was standing next to him. During the entire time, our Rabbi rested his hand on the student’s arm. At the end of the shiur, another student asked about this. Our Rabbi explained,“It is simple. He was wearing a Tzahal uniform and I was touching holiness the entire time.”

Thankfully, there are also those in the hareidi community willing to speak out against the angry and misguided radicalism that would diminish the glory of the IDF. Writing on Behadrey Hareidim,Rabbi David Bloch, founder of Nahal Hareidi, expressed his resentment at Rabbi Tzaurger’s words.

“We have been told by our ancestors: ‘Anyone who opposes the good in his friend may end up opposing the good of Hashem’, anyone who is not grateful towards the soldier for his defense of the Jews in Israel, so he can live here in relative peace, is an ingrate.” Rabbi Bloch continues: “There is no connection between the Zionist ideology and gratitude to those who physically make it possible with God’s help so each resident can live here, and manage his life as he sees fit. Even if we were living in exile and there are enemies who want to destroy us – we must be grateful to those who are working to save lives. One could be anti-Zionist and still be grateful to those who risked saving lives. Such a call is a serious failure of values.”

The most basic Jewish value is that of expressing Hakarat ha’tov, gratitude, to anyone and everyone who does anything which is of benefit for me and certainly for society at large.

Every Orthodoxy has radical elements. To be radical in one’s love of Torah and of God is not a sin. However, when one’s embrace of Torah is expressed as hatefulness towards IDF soldiers and a damning of the bigdei kodesh that they wear, then it is a radicalism that has lost sight of true Torah.

What SIN did he perpetrate?

The story (there have been a few) in Yediot, of yet another Charedi soldier being lynched by those who supposedly sit all day in the Beis Medrash protecting everyone with their Torah, learning as a substitute, is sickening.

What aveyra has he done? Visiting a relative?

In anyone’s language it is at least a Safek Milchemes Mitzvah. If he believes it’s a Milchemes Mitzvah what business is it of anybody else to lynch him? Go your own way. Does he hurt you? He protects you too. Do you really think the Arab spring give a damn about you because you have lange peyos and kiss their feet. Did you every hear about Dhimma? You like it? Go there.

Is this what the Torah meant when it said to give Tochacha if you felt someone was doing wrong?

Where is the permission to hit another Jew for this? You sit in a Beis Medrash all day, so bring me the clear proof that this person is some sort of Apikorus from yesteryear? I don’t want to hear about your Shalosh Shvuos. Sorry to tell you, they aren’t what makes the world go around, and they are not taken seriously by any self-respecting Posek, today.

What about the Chillul Shem Shomayim? Even if you think he is wrong. The best you can do is go to his house and try and convince him that he should be sitting in the Beis Medrash instead, or selling shoelaces in the Shuk. What have you achieved with this violence? Only one thing. You have encouraged your own youth to think that they are all Pinchas, and that this defender of your country is some sort of Zimri. I have news for you all. You are as far way from Pinchas as he is from Zimri. Maybe you are descendants of the Erev Rav.

Where is your Moshe Rabenu? Has he protested against your wanton violence?

What sort of Emuna and Bitachon do you have in your own educational systems if you think that they will crumble because of Nachal Charedi and the like? Was all the learning earlier just a sham? Doesn’t it protect you? Take a look at yourselves.

This section of the Charedi world, with its mostly extreme element, causes people to be turned off Torah and Mitzvos. How many people will not care about Yahadus, because they will say “Zu Torah?”

In the nine days, this is a most depressing incident.

Gevalt. Where are your Gedolim? Where are their Pashkevilim? Why aren’t their Batei Din rounding up these violent people and putting them in Cherem? Why aren’t their faces plastered everywhere?

You try to talk to a Yid, who isn’t yet frum. You face a modern world with all manner of issues and questions. How much longer are we forced to say “ah, they are extremists”. We don’t need extremism. We need the middle derech, the Darchei Noam. If they don’t like it, let them go to Williamsburg.

The word  נועם has disappeared from the vernacular of so many of these Meah Shearim Charedim.

Then they wonder about people like Yair Lapid? They are responsible for it, not his father.

A haredi soldier was attacked by dozens of haredim in Jerusalem‘s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood. The soldier ran into a nearby building and called in police forces, which managed to rescue him unharmed.

Police said that the soldier, a resident of central Israel, arrived in the Mea Shearim neighborhood to visit relatives. When he was attacked, he fled to a nearby structure, where he changed into civilian attire and contacted police to report the assault.

After clashes subsided, haredim gathered in the area, crying out against haredi soldiers and calling police ‘Nazis.’

Following the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack and said that “we will take a hard line against whoever tries to intimidate the citizens who are fulfilling their duty to the State.”

Netanyahu added that “the best answer for these lawbreakers is the number of haredi recruits, which has increased significantly in the past few years and will continue to grow.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also referred to the event and said: “The attack is despicable and abhorrent, and requires serious treatment. We cannot allow violent hooligans to threaten the peace of young haredim who choose to join the IDF .”

Ya’alon further added: “They should be brought to justice with zero tolerance and we will fight this trend with severity. I call on the leaders of the haredi public to condemn the violence and vigorously eradicate such phenomena.”

Nahal Haredi rabbis condemned the attack, saying it was “an act of hatred that is un-Jewish and un-Orthodox”, “blasphemy” and “shame and disgrace”.

An exceptional statement by the rabbis read that “the fact we are at the nine-day period before Tisha B’Av, in which we commemorate the destruction of the Temple, places this act of hatred in a shameful light. It is time for the haredi public to denounce the attackers.”

In response to the riots, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that “The ongoing incitement against these violent attacks of haredi recruits, such as the grave incident that took place in Jerusalem tonight, are appalling and should be condemned by everyone.”

Lapid added that he intended to hold an emergency meeting with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich in order to see what police can do to prevent such incidents from recurring.

Knesset Committee for Promoting Equal Share of the Burden Chairman Yaakov Peri fiercely condemned the attack and said that “any attempt to physically or spiritually harm soldiers should be dealt with harsh penalties by the State.”

Peri further added that “such event should not be tolerated by the authorities. I ask the leaders of the haredi community to take responsibility before a disaster occurs.”

Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri also condemned the assault, saying “I’m appalled of the deeds of extremist teens who shamelessly hurt a Jewish soldier.”

Violence against haredi soldiers has recently seen a marked rise, possibly due to the public dispute over the draft reform, set to conscript the previously largely exempt haredi sector.

In May, it was revealed that the IDF Advocate General was assembling cases of violence, incitement and assault targeting haredi soldiers, with the purpose of filing indictments against those behind the attacks.

Transportation company nixes extra-terrestrial depiction from bus banners for fear of offending ultra-Orthodox passengers

[Hat tip to DS who pointed out the original article in Yedioth]

It was also published by Times of Israel, and reproduced below. I’m not clever enough to understand what is bothering them. Can someone explain? 

The Egged transportation company has barred ads bearing a depiction of an extra-terrestrial from being featured on company buses in Jerusalem, for fear that the peculiar advertisement may be offensive to some passengers.

The ad campaign, produced by Kiddum — a company that offers psychometric preparation courses for future university students —  features an image of a harmless-looking alien with the sentences “Advanced intelligence discovered on Earth” and “They are like us, only more advanced” written beneath him. The campaign aims to convince youngsters that Kiddum graduates are able to produce exceptional, ‘unearthly’ scores on their exams.

The ad series was launched a short while ago and was run in many major cities across Israel, including Jerusalem. Egged, however, decided to pull the ad from buses in the capital because they deemed the picture of the creature from outer space offensive to ultra-Orthodox travelers.

The Cnaan advertising company, which handles advertising for the Egged bus company, explained that Egged had decided to nix images of all people — male, female — and apparently non-humans as well, from its campaigns on Jerusalem buses.

“According to the concession agreement between Egged and the Cnaan company, characters may not be featured at all in Jerusalem, and that is why the campaign was not approved by Egged,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Ads with photos of women, and more recently men, have gradually disappeared from advertisements on buses in Jerusalem over the past years, and activists say there has been a similar, though less dramatic, trend in cinema advertisements. The advertising companies have said they are afraid of vandalism by religious extremists, and of hurting people’s feelings as a result of posting pictures of women.

[Hat tip to DS]

Yedioth had this story.

The Mesorah Of Chesed

[Hat tip to Marek]

Article by Barry Jacobsen

A beautifully arranged presentation, graciously hosted by the Wolfson family, was held this past Motzaei Shabbos regarding the upcoming plan in Eretz Yisrael to conscript yeshiva bachurim into the IDF. Sadly, at the conclusion, I left with a feeling of disappointment.

No questions were permitted from the floor. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the speakers afterwards, who generously listened to me. But that was not the same as a full discussion of a difficult issue.

I am grateful to Rabbi Bender for his infinite chassadim to my family in numerous areas. Any comments I make are in no way intended to minimize the tremendous feelings of respect I have for him. Similarly, I had the opportunity to know the father of Rabbi Ginzberg from my days in yeshiva.

He was a paragon of seiver panim yafos, friendship, kindness, and concern about the welfare of all the bachurim. Any points I raise here are only intended as an exchange of ideas and an expression of deep pain for what I and many others see in the current state of affairs.

I was inspired to devote a number of years to learning in my early youth.

The warm feelings towards Torah, Yiddishkeit, and a Shabbos table filled with ruach will never be dimmed. The desire to maximize that path motivated me to send my kids to chareidi yeshivos where they were given a warm and meaningful Torah education. However, I am deeply disturbed at what has been happening on a wider level in the klal as a whole. I believe I speak for many others, and I know my chaverim have discussed these issues with me, as well.

After introductions by Rabbi Kobre, Rabbi Bender opened with a discussion of the importance of Torah in protecting the klal. He quoted the Gemara in Cheilek that one who says “Mai ahanu lan rabbanan, ldidhu karu ldidhu tanu,” is an apikorus. (One who says, ‘What do the rabbis help us? They only learn for themselves.’ He is considered an apostate.) Rabbi Bender discussed how there were a certain number of yeshiva bachurim learning, while the soldiers fought, during the times of Tanach. He also mentioned how the chareidim have a much lower rate of incarceration in Israeli jails than the general population, thus demonstrating that the Torah teaches good behavior. Finally, he mentioned that there are a number of chareidi organizations which do much chesed for the klal as a whole in Israel, not just for the frum segment, such as supporting the poor and providing assistance with medical issues.

Rabbi Ginzberg focused on why even people who had respect for gedolim in the past, such as those of the stature of Reb Moshe Feinstein, now seem to have wavered, and why questioning daas Torah has become more widespread, particularly on blogs.

Rabbi Eli Paley focused on some of the technical issues, such as how many soldiers the army really needs, and some of his own experiences in the army which seemed to be difficult for a chareidi lifestyle. He seemed to imply that the army is used in some ways as a form of indoctrination and acculturation with the secular viewpoint, rather than as an absolute necessity for security.

Rabbi Kobre mentioned some of the problems chareidi soldiers have recently faced, including medical exams which intruded upon their sense of privacy, and that even in the newer chareidi programs, 25% of the alumni come out non-frum. He took umbrage with a statement from a high level army chief that the chareidim are a worse problem than Ahmadinejad. Rabbi Kobre concluded that this is a state of emergency, and we all need to cry out for salvation.

All of this is true. But it is totally beside the point. The main problem that needed to be addressed, but was totally ignored, is why the chiloni sector has turned on the chareidim at this point in time. It is my belief that we are largely to blame. If it were only a matter of logistics, with the enrollment of more chareidim, suitable infrastructure would be set up so as to better serve them. But that is not at all the point of this article.

For the past 100 years, the chareidi world has been fighting Zionism like it is some kind of poison. They coined fiery slogans such as the Zionists didn’t become frei in order to build a state; they built a state in order to become frei. Aside from being totally foolish, as one can become frei by going to the McDonalds down the block without going through the backbreaking effort of building a state, it is an insult to the downtrodden Jewish people. After suffering 2,000 years of persecution, poverty, plagues, and pogroms at the hands of their host countries, which caused the spirits of many to break, is there no understanding why the status quo was unbearable? Many were converting and leaving Judaism in droves because they couldn’t take the anti-Semitism, discrimination, and misery. Many fled to America or wherever else they could get into.

Theodore Herzl warned that things would only get worse, and his prophecy was 100% correct, as we saw in the Holocaust. He knew the answer was for the Jews to get a place of their own, and he tried his best to help his suffering brethren, despite whatever personal failings he may have had. He did magnificent work. Think about how hard it is to organize a shul dinner, and then imagine how hard it is to organize a country. He had to rally the Jews, raise funds, meet with countless heads of state. The chareidim totally vilified Herzl and forbade any hazkarah in his honor within the city of Brisk after he passed away. The rav of the main shul in town locked the doors to prevent it. But the population was undeterred and broke the lock and held a massive service with thousands of people in attendance. To this day the vilification continues.

In 1923, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah passed a resolution condemning the efforts of the Zionists and vowed to fight any attempt to set up a state with all means at their disposal. This was 25 years before the saga of the Yemenite children whose peyos were allegedly cut off. This fighting and denigration of the medinah continues until this day. Chareidim refuse to say the tefillah for the medinah or for the chayalim in their shuls, citing all kinds of Kaballistic reasons, or because we don’t have power to write new tefillos (despite that we say new kinnos on Tishah B’Av for the

Shoah) or other creative points. However, in the old siddur Otzar HaTefilos, written about 100 years ago, there is a tefillah for Czar Nikolai, his wife, his parents, and children, mentioning them all by name, with effusive praise for each. We are allowed to say a tefillah for this individual who was no friend of the Jews, but for our brethren in the Israeli government, it would somehow ruin the davening.

The average Jew is tired of this stuff already. When a Jew goes to Israel and is greeted at the airport by the sign, Bruchim Habaim L’eretz Yisrael, his heart soars. When he enters Yerushalayim and sees the beautiful floral arrangement spelling out Bruchim Habaim LiYerushalayim, and sees the Old City and the Kotel, his heart is torn with emotion. When he sees young soldiers guarding the streets with dangerous weapons, the same age as our kids, who are often roaming the pizza shops, he is amazed at the level of responsibility and maturity they have achieved at such a young age. When he sees how advanced the country has become technologically, such that it exports its know-how all over the world, in areas such as military technology, water management, agriculture, medicine, electronics, software, and nanotechnology, his heart bursts with pride. When he realizes that there is freedom to set up as many shuls and yeshivos as he pleases, without any fear of pogroms or anti-Semitism, he is overjoyed and dumbfounded that for the first time in 2,000 years, this is possible.

Medinas Yisrael is the biggest berachah the Jews have received since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.

Now we run into a problem. When somebody tells us that daas Torah is opposed to this, or that the founders of the state were wrong, or bad people, or that we should not say the tefillah for the Medinah, should not celebrate Yom HaAtzamaut, should not sing Hatikvah, should not stand for the memorial sirens on Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaShoah, the average Jew becomes rather confused and torn, with his heart telling him one thing, and all kinds of yeshivishe propaganda that has been drummed into his head telling him another thing.

A little while ago, there was a picture on the front page of the 5TJT of a young child hugging his father’s grave at the military cemetery. The father died so we can enjoy the freedom and the shuls, yeshivos, and mekomos hakedoshim of Eretz Yisrael that we now have. Can chareidim not give this poor child respect for two minutes and stand still while he cries? How dare any leader not emphasize basic decency in his yeshiva.

When a frum IDF soldier is stoned and rained with trash when he enters Meah Shearim, the rest of the country is sickened. We often hear that it is one meshugeneh. Totally wrong. When verbal violence is preached at the top levels, physical violence results at the lower levels.

All the chesed that the chareidim do, while certainly well appreciated (as it is here in the Five Towns, as well), it doesn’t come to a drop in the ocean of the chesed that the Medinah does. The chareidim may provide transportation, food, or advice to people in need of medical treatment.

But who provides the hospitals, medical training, medicines, instruments, research, universities where training and innovation is carried out, and roads to transport the patients and medicines, etc. They also pay for the care, to begin with.

The chareidim give generously to the poor, but how many mouths does the government of Israel feed? Who ensures that the economy runs smoothly, that there is electricity, and engineering training to design a power grid, and water, and chemists who know how to test its safety? Who protects this vast infrastructure, and provides army personnel to stand watch day and night? The Medinah dwarfs all chesed organizations put together. Where is the hakaras hatov?

The klal craves achdus and warmth. The constant anti-Zionist propaganda spewed forth by chareidim is causing giyul nefesh (utter disgust) in me and many of my chaveirim who learned in chareidi yeshivos, not to mention the chilonim themselves.

Rabbi Ginzberg asks why there is a reduction in respect for gedolim. Well, Sunday following parashas Korach there was a massive demonstration where two warring brothers found that they don’t hate each other more than anything else in the world, as previously believed. It turned out that they hate the State of Israel even more. And the entire ideology is based on some obscure aggadeta (Shalosh Shevuos) not brought down in any of the classic codifiers, which is itself based on a verse in Tanach, from which we don’t generally derive halacha, anyway. Incidentally, a possible message of the Shalosh Shevuos is not to rebel against one’s hosts, out of derech eretz. Would that, perhaps, be applicable as well to Jewish hosts, or are they less deserving than King Henry VIII or Queen Isabella? This movement often resorts to outright lies, such as that the Zionists colluded with the Nazis, when letters have recently become available that Ben Gurion begged the British government to allow Jewish fighters to go to Europe to fight the Nazis. They also claim that enormous numbers of Jews have died as a result of the Medinah, when the number is 25,000 in 150 years, far less than in many other similar eras in Jewish history.

Another rav Rabbi Ginzberg is fond of quoting spewed forth the same type of anti-Zionist vitriol for years. One can open up a book of his transcribed speeches in English. This same rav also founded new political parties. One would think some important ideology was at stake. But it was his dislike of a certain rebbe. For some unknown reason, despite this rebbe’s incredible erudition, breadth, and kindness to all segments, this rav considered the rebbe to be inferior to himself. He disliked that rebbe so much that when that rebbe’s wife passed away, he told other rabbanim not to pay a shivah call. The klal is mortified and tired of this. These types of things have led to a weakening of faith in daas Torah.

Is it telling that the preceding two-brother chassidic movement, and the preceding rav’s yeshiva are now both torn asunder by internal machlokes?

Walls have had to be built and smoke bombs have been thrown in the beis medrash of one of the world’s most prestigious yeshivas in Israel. Midah kneged midah? Perhaps. But maybe just the natural progression of things.

When multiple generations have been raised on hatred and sinas chinam, the imbibed hatred is then used on each other, as well.

A few years ago, there was a major chinuch protest demonstration, with all chareidim in Israel urging their followers to attend. What was the issue?

The Israeli government was upset that a certain school was separating the Sephardic girls from the Ashkenazic girls by means of a fence in the middle of the school building, and down the middle of the playground.

Personally, even if a thousand gedolim held a demonstration with a million followers urging people to be cruel to young Sephardic girls, I would follow my heart and simply ignore it, and instead welcome them with open arms. The hamon am is disgusted.

Torah has become an exercise in mental gymnastics, with the primary message being ignored. When Rebbe Akiva said that v’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha is klal gadol baTorah, he meant it. It supersedes all other considerations. Am I ignoring or denigrating daas Torah? I hope not. Rabbi Ginzberg has mentioned on more than one occasion the importance of keeping mesorah. There is one mesorah we have which is even older than the mesorah of learning—by about 500 years. It is the mesorah of chesed. It was taught by Avraham Avinu. When three individuals who he actually thought were idol worshippers (see Rashi) showed up at his door, he did not spit, as some chareidim now do, at priests of other religions. Rather, he served them a delicious meal and gave them a place to rest, before sending them on their way. Chesed comes before ideology.

When Avraham was told that anshei Sdom were going to be punished, he didn’t smirk that they deserved it, but he screamed to the Ribbono Shel Olam, “Hashofet kol ha’aretz lo ya’aseh mishpat!?” Will the judge of the entire world not do justice!? He was our father, and the father of all peoples of the world. Av hamon goyim.

One of the speakers mentioned that we are experiencing a war against Torah Judaism, an oft-heard refrain of the last hundred years, that the chilonim and Zionists are aiming to destroy Torah and see the chareidim as its symbol. This is needlessly inflammatory (but admittedly effective as a way to rally the troops) and simply false. Reb Aryeh Levine dressed chareidi.

Yet the Knesset dedicated a special day in his honor and made a special plaque which was awarded to him in a major presentation. He worked with all his might to help the fighters in the early days before the state.

After davening, he walked tens of miles on Shabbos to the prisoners in jail to tell the families how their loved ones were doing. He cried out on Rosh Hashanah, mentioning each by name, when they were sentenced to the gallows. The chilonim recognized that he loved them with all of his pure heart. The chilonim, in turn, loved him with all of theirs. If we acted like Reb Aryeh, and gave the chilonim the slightest bit of hakaras hatov and warmth and appreciation for the amazing achievement they accomplished (bsiyata deshmaya), not just as a condescending ruse to be mekarev them, but with a sincere and full understanding of the miracle they created and the intense effort they put in; and if we offered to move our yeshivos to the army bases to keep them company in times of war and be mechazek them with kindness; and if we stopped our foolish and angry (and baseless) rhetoric, they would never think of drafting a single yeshiva bachur. We have only ourselves to blame for this miserable situation. Let us try to rectify it before things get worse.

For now we need to know that there is nothing more to Yiddishkeit than simple kindness and mutual love and respect. In the words of Hillel, idach perusha hi—all else is just commentary. Perhaps it is not the chilonim who have gone off the derech. Perhaps it is us. I am not rejecting daas Torah, rather I am relying on the daas Torah of Reb Aryeh Levine which goes straight back to Avraham Avinu.

The author may be reached at bdj@alum.mit.edu.

The good work of Rabbis is often invisible

The reality is that newspapers and reporters are seemingly more likely to report and aggrandise horror stories and mistakes than they are to report excellent outcomes and outstanding effort, especially when it comes to Orthodox Rabbinic work. Sure, if a philanthropist donates money, they will report that as a big story with a nice picture spread. You won’t, however, find the headline on the front cover

“Reform rabbi speaks in favour of the anti-zionist BDS-supporting AJDS”

The “passionate” support of the Reform rabbi happened. It was mentioned in an article about the meeting of the ECAJ. I’d suggest such a view and display of passion has bigger ramifications for the reform movement and the opinion of many Jews than a Zablo that was screwed up and set aside by a NSW court. We should have had a transcript of what she had said.

As Rabbis Ullman and Moshe Gutnick noted in their letters to the Australian Jewish News, the focus on positive work and outcomes of Orthodox Rabbis seems to occupy no space in the AJN.

I wonder how the left-wing, and Limmud Oz supporters would react if it was suggested that they invite the following Neturei Karta people to speak about why we should be appeasing Ahmadinajad and dismantle the State in favour of Palestinian Arabs. After all, it’s all about tolerance, diversity and giving everyone a fair go to express their views?

No, Limmud Oz wouldn’t ever invite Neturei Karta, even remotely by video conference. Why not? I wonder if the AJDS would support them being invited? I imagine they would. After all, democracy is their religion. And yet, Limmud Oz invited Slezak! I don’t see much difference. In retrospect, there is a significant difference. Slezak is taken more seriously, especially by the young and green, and the young and green are mainly behind Limmud Oz.

People like Jeremy Stowe-Lindner, principal of Bialik College in Melbourne, writing in an article in the Australian Jewish News that amounts to a whitewash of a serious error by Limmud Oz in inviting Slezak, should now support Neturei Karta using his own arguments. Would Stowe-Lindner also use an error of inviting Neturei Karta to promote his agenda of sidelining denominational issues to the category of personally baked pareve cheese cake?

I know of recent cases where the Victorian Rabbinate, through the Beth Din, have solved very serious and long running cases of recalcitrant husbands not giving a Get. Was that a front page story? Heck, no.

It’s also the Rabbinate’s fault. They need a PR person in this day and age. In addition, they should have supplied statistics about the number of mediations they have overseen over the last few years which have been successful and not been challenged and compare those with  secular mediations and arbitrations that have been challenged.

No, you won’t see any of this in our Australian Jewish News. They are in the business of selling papers, and horror stories especially about Orthodoxy are better.

[AJDS really should rename themselves ADJS because I struggle to find Judaism in their politics. Left-wing democracy would seem to be their religion.]

Leave Haredi enlistees alone!

Picture the scene. Terrorists are at loose in an area of Israel. The Army is conducting searches, door-to-door. The door of an apartment opens and some of the soldiers have dangling payos and scraggly beards. They are frum; they are Haredim who chose to enlist. The owners of the apartment themselves are Haredim. Would they protest? Would they tell the soldiers to go to the Beis Hamedrash instead, and leave it to the “chiloni” or “druze” enlistees to conduct the search and/or protect the apartment block from an incursion? I’d hope not. Why must they conclude that anyone with Peyos is רך הלבב? I’d say the opposite, these are גיבורי חיל.

Ah, but that’s at a time when people are thinking clearly. They can feel the palpable danger around them. In fact, I’ll bet they actually feel proud that Frum soldiers are performing a Kiddush Hashem by acting to protect the lives of their fellow Yidden.

What happens before that? These soldiers can’t just jump out of a Ketzos HaShulchan, with little to no training and assume an important protective or attacking role. There is training. It takes years. The training has been catered to be sensitive towards Haredi requirements. Haredim want the outcome, the protection, but they don’t want the training? Who learns a Ketzos before knowing Shulchan Aruch and the Gemora behind it? Do you introduce R’ Chaim Naeh to year three students? No, of course not. There is a period of preparation. In Torah it does take longer, but in the military, you also need an acceptable period of training, unless Haredim want to see keystone cops, so to speak, acting on their behalf?

I see this current period as one of re-alignment. It is no different to the current phenomenon of frum kids who are doing University courses on-line. Yes, University was not allowed for various reasons, but you can now do a program on-line if you can’t or won’t go to University and are not going to be a business person (IDB=In Dad’s Business). Not everyone is cut out, let alone has the acumen to become a Dayan, or Magid Shiur, or Rav of a Kehilla, let alone a great Melamed. How many people have we seen cause a Chillul Hashem, despite their long years in Yeshivos, because innately, they are simply not leaders suited to their jobs, and should be pursuing a different style of work, albeit remaining an ehrliche yid.

The shoemaker, R’ Yochanan HaSandler, wasn’t considered any less a giant because he was engaged in Olom Hazeh in an honourable way. We are meant to follow such Tanoim. He was R’ Akiva’s student, no less, and a contemporary of Rashbi.

This is why I find reports such as this one, utterly repugnant. Will Haredi incitement and pressure  solve any problems? Will that create more Torah more love between Jew and Jew? Just leave these boys alone. חנוך על פי דרכו is ever so critical and perhaps our failure to do so is part of why some leave the fold? Respect them!

I don’t see an Israeli government specifying that students study Spinoza or Amos Oz. They are specifying  studying the basics, and the basics  constitute a study of the Borei Olom and his Beriah. That’s what Science and Math are.

As Rav Kook said: on its own the basic sciences etc are just that. However, when coupled with Kodesh, they transform Kodesh to Kodesh Kodoshim, because they complete and enhance our understanding of the world. You wouldn’t make a Birkas HaTorah on them alone, but when coupled with  Kodesh, they lift Kodesh to Kodesh Kodoshim. I believe this idea is expressed by many in different ways. Mekubalim would probably refer to it as breaking down klipos, but I’m an ignoramus in the field of Kabbalah and Chassidus.

In a State, yes, it is a State, despite the reticense of so many to utter such a word,  you need garbage collectors, and police officer and nurses, as well as accountants and doctors and social workers, journalists with ethics, and psychologists. Especially when you are surrounded on all four sides by people who are literally an embodiment of

עומדים עלינו לכלותינו

It is only the foolish person who doesn’t learn from history (wasn’t yesterday Chaf Sivan?) who thinks they can hide under a rock or in a cave like Rashbi and make Yahadus thrive.

I have every confidence that Torah learning will continue to grow in quality levels and in measure. Those who want to fund institutions that won’t enforce the three R’s, go right ahead. It’s your right. I inclined to help a place that actually realises that it “lives in this world” both BeGashmius and BeRuchnius.

Let Eliyahu decide our questions

The Talmud, when faced with a conundrum that cannot be solved, uses the phrase

יהא מונח עד שיבוא אליהו

Let the issue rest until Eliyahu HaNavi comes (back) and advises us of the Halacha

or

תשבי יתרץ קושיות ואבעיות

ֵEliyahu (HaTishbi) will answer all the questions.

The question is asked: since Moshe Rabbenu was our greatest teacher, why do we wait for Eliyahu (who never died) to answer the questions, surely we should wait for Moshe (who will be resurrected when Mashiach comes) and ask Moshe Rabbenu to Pasken/decide the Halachic conundrums.

Rav Yissacher Shlomo Teichtalהי’’ד

R’ Teichtal הי’’ד

in his celebrated אם הבנים שמחה, explains that to be a Posek, a Halachic decisor, a Rabbi needs to be immersed in the world. A Rosh Yeshivah, for example, who only interacts with the surreal world of his Yeshivah, is not equipped to be a Posek for the masses. All his answers are designed for the שומר נפש, the Yeshivah or Kollel Jew, for whom being יוצא לכל הדעות, acting according to all stringencies, is the norm. Accordingly, since Moshe has not been interacting in our world for thousands of years, he is not suited to be the Posek when the Mashiach comes. Eliyahu HaNovi, however, who did not die, and lives amongst us, so to speak, is more suitable to answer our questions.

It is also for this reason that the משנה ברורה was not considered as acceptable to normative Psak, as the ערוך השלחן. The Chafetz Chaim was considered like the Rosh Yeshivah who lived in his world, and his method of Psak certainly was biased towards accommodating as many opinions as possible. The ערוך השלחן however was also someone who interacted deeply with his community, and for whom the sight of a woman brandishing a chicken to discover whether there was an issue of Kashrus with that chicken, was not unusual. Similarly, although R’ Chaim Soloveitchik ז’ל also known as R’ Chaim Brisker

R’ Chaim Brisker ז’ל

was considered the genius of his generation in terms of learning and innovation, R’ Chaim wasn’t a Posek. When people came to R’ Chaim to ask a question, he referred them to R’ Simcha Zelig Reiger ז’ל,

R’ Simcha Zelig, Av Beis Din of Brisk

the Dayan of Brisk.  (Incidentally, R’ Hershel Jaeger once told me that some descendants of R’ Simcha Zelig live in Melbourne).

Rav Teichtal, takes this one step further. He considers it immaterial that earlier Gedolim, such as the Satmar Rav or R’ Elchanan Wasserman had a negative view of an en masse Aliya to Israel. Rav Teichtal claims that they, like Moshe Rabenu, were not there to witness the changes in the world, and so their Psak, for today, is irrelevant.

R’ Elchanan Wasserman, May God avenge his murder

The latest chumra for Shidduchim

[Hat tip to my ex-room mate at Kerem B’Yavneh]

There will be other developments, no doubt, which include an opaque perspex divider when these seats become part of the norm in parks and gardens. There will also be super bus terminals built around this design in certain neighbourhoods, where the Yetzer Hora is too powerful. I’d insert a smiley in this post, except that it might be misplaced.

The Shidduch Bench (c)

They must be excommunicated

Are there billboard announcements all around Meah Shearim denouncing this Nidetrechtige Oysvoorf? Are we only going to see announcements about the denier level of stockings, or could we perhaps have the Satmar Rebbe’s come out and openly disassociate themselves from this mohammedan brown tongue?

Watch this video (in his polished Ivrit no less-another example of hypocrisy). If it doesn’t bother you, then perhaps you need to take another look at yourself and ask why you are desensitised to such debasement and such a profound חילול השם.

Question: Is there a group in Melbourne’s Adass community who support this guy and his philosophy and approach? Who are they? Here we are on the eve of the great day that Hashem wrought open miracles and allowed us to re-unite Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh, and this low life calls it “al-quds”. I’m profoundly sickened by people who harbour such philosophies and spread them around the world in the way that this חזיר does.

«Hat tip to Krakovian Ezra»

Are the Agudah Zionists after all?

In an emotional outburst against Tzipi Livni, MK, Rabbi Yisrael Eichler MK is reported by Arutz Sheva as having stated that

“It is only because of the ultra-Orthodox, here in Israel, that today we are in our beloved homeland of three-thousand years dating back to God’s promise to Abraham that ‘to your seed I shall give the land’,”

What does this mean? Surely the meaning is that as a reward for Limud HaTorah and Shmiras HaMitzvos, Hashem is supporting the continued existence and security of a Jewish State. But what of the three oaths, which are quoted by Satmar, Neturei Karta, Shomrei Emunim and the like? Does it mean that according to United Torah Judaism, these are superseded by the protection of Torah? What then is the view of Satmar et al? Do they contend that irrespective of the amount of Torah in the State of Israel, the “State” entity itself, as opposed to the land, is enough to cause much of the manifest problems we experience? I’ve never understood, then, why they don’t leave the State. It’s one thing to say I don’t take “anything” from the Government of the State, but how does this make any difference. Why are they living there? After all, the Satmar Rebbe chose not to live there. Could they not all go to Williamsburg or Brussels and live the same lives without infuriating Satan by their living and expanding in the State they should not be part of?

So you say it’s forbidden to leave Israel, that’s why they don’t leave. The reality though is that they have left in the past and do leave. Is Torah protecting the State, as per the comment of Rabbi Eichler? Perhaps they contend that their Limud HaTorah only protects their own.

My comments, above, should be seen as largely tongue-in-cheek. The point I am trying to make is what purpose is there in making statements like this, especially in a parliament where some members are anti-religious or ambivalent towards the religious. What is served by such an outburst? Will the Israeli public all of a sudden take their side? I just don’t get it. These type of comments, as well as comments in the past, where Eichler stated

“Reform Jews are worse than our enemies. They are anti-semites who hate Israel”

achieve very little. Okay, I know that Reform is gravely problematic, but anti-semites? I haven’t met a Reform Jew who wants to kill me. They are misguided, certainly.

It is true that there are elements of the Israeli press who actively seek to ridicule Charedim. That phenomenon must be condemned. But it is equally true that the Charedim do themselves no good at all when they exude

  • angry and vitriolic hate
  • physical aggression against those who aren’t up to their standards
  • supremacist invective
  • an “us” versus “them” divide

Perhaps it’s the Chabad upbringing in me and/or the extreme love philosophy of Rav Kook, but I just don’t see how this style of negativity achieves anything, except more ridicule and a lowering of Kavod HaTorah.

I’m probably living in a fool’s paradise. Closeted in Australia, I still see the role of a frum politician as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity not to behave in the same way as those who haven’t benefited from Torah. It is an opportunity to always behave with decorum and speak respectfully. It is an opportunity to reject anti-Torah legislation through powerful speeches laden with an ambience that will trigger the Nefesh Elokis in most parliamentarians (Rav Lau comes to mind).

Do you know why the so-called “slut walk” is planned to take place Rachmono Litzlan in Yerusholayim? It’s not just because the walkers don’t comprehend the Kedusha therein. It’s also because Kedusha has to be radiated. If the proverbial fans of this radiation are seen to be vituperative pariahs on account of spiteful mouths and a lack of support for the physical safety of the country, the Kedusha finds it harder to permeate and is concealed.

There is no point being triumphalist. דברי תורה בנחת נשמעין

Tachanun on Yom Ha’atzmaut

I understand but do not accept the view of Hungarian Satmar, Toldos Aron, Shomer Emunim and similar, that the establishment of a State for Jews is the work of Satan and should be rejected. Such a view, in the opinion of many great sages is not justifiable, and its tenuous reliance on the three oaths is seen as an halachic fiction.

I understand, but do not agree with the view of Chabad and some other Chassidim and Misnagdim, that “it is what it is”. They contend that the establishment of the state wasn’t a necessary event in the development of events leading to the Mashiach. However, given that the State is a reality, they will support the people within the State. Chabad, for example, refrain at all costs from saying the State of Israel. Listen carefully. They will always say Eretz Yisroel, following the practice of the last Rebbe, who I believe only referred to it as the “State of Israel” but once.

I understand and accept the position of those who see the State of Israel as being an eschatological reality created by Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and that it will eventually lead to ובא לציון גואל, but who will either

  • not say hallel
  • will say hallel without a bracha
  • will say hallel with a bracha

They do not disagree with the metaphysical importance of the State, but have halachic techno-legal reasons for their particular practice. For example, the Rav didn’t say Hallel and at Kerem B’Yavneh we said Hallel without a Bracha.

I do not understand why people who do not agree that the establishment of a State for Jews is the work of Satan (e.g. Satmar) or who are passively ambivalent about the eschatological significance of a State (e.g. Chabad) not only say Tachanun, but insist on saying Tachanun. It is related that the Chazon Ish, who was saved from the events of the Holocaust by no less than the efforts of Harav Kook ז’ל, insisted on saying Tachanun.

In Melbourne, a number of years ago, when a Bris occurred at the ultra-orthodox Adass Yisrael congregation, Rabbi Beck insisted that Tachanun be said davka because it was Yom Ha’atzmaut and that it would be entirely wrong for someone to come away with the impression that Tachanun might not have been said on Yom Ha’atzmaut.

It is well-known, that Chizkiyahu the great King, in whose generation the Gemora tells us (in Sanhedrin from memory) that Torah study and knowledge was in a high and unprecedented state, failed to materialise the Geula because Chizkiyahu became too haughty and felt that it was unnecessary to utter special praise (Shira) to Hashem and thank him for the miracles that Hashem wrought on Am Yisrael.

Shira, praise and thanksgiving, is the power to see the illumination of the future in the present. It is the power to perceive our existence as a link between the past and the present, and the power to raise everything towards an all-encompassing Geula.

Therefore after crossing the Red Sea, in “Shirat Ha’Yam” – it states: “Az” Yashir. Az– “Then,” past tense, is a reflection on the past, “Yashir” – “will sing praise” in the future tense. There is the joining and encapsulation of the past and the future, thereby giving meaning to the present.

The Torah is also referred to as “shira.” We seek to find Hashem in every nook and cranny and aspect of life—in every corner. This is the approach to Torah that elevates the world. Torah that creates a superficial division between the Yeshivah and the external, real world, is not the ideal.  Yahadus desires to interpret everything, and of course, especially the manifestation of God’s name

It is possible to study Torah as in the days of Chizkiyahu, to the extent that even the children are expert at the laws of tumah and tahara, yet still the Geula is hindered and delayed.

Yeshayahu expected Chizkiyahu to offer praise, and sing shira to elevate the entirety of reality. Chizkiyahu failed and the world was set back in reaching its goal.

One’s individual Torah, despite it’s great value and benefits, is not termed Shira. Only the transcendent Torah that strives to see how everything is bound to Hakadosh Baruch Hu is described as shira.

Those who separate the Torah from the State as if they are two entities are not singing.  This is how Rav Kook explained the criticism of Chizkiyahu. “That in his days briers and thorns covered Eretz Yisra’el,” for Chizkiyahu did not demonstrate how the Torah is also connected to the land.

In justifying Chizkiyahu, some have posited that the miracle of his victory over Sancherev was not as great as the sun standing still (in the days of Yehoshua) and that is why Chizkiyahu didn’t sing Hashem’s praises. Mortals, however, are not qualified to  judge which miracle is greater or more substantial. Judging such things is an expression of haughtiness, and this is what Chazal meant.

Shira dissolves the temporal manifestation of ingratitude, as supplied by the Yetzer Horah.

What is most puzzling to me is that even those who don’t recognise the need to especially sing to Hashem still insist on making this a day like any other and continue saying Tachanun. Yet, on their own days of celebration (e.g. a special day in a Chassidic court), they suspend the saying of Tachanun.

Why?

Redressing the Charedi imbalance

I received a link to a video which explicates the positive acts performed by Charedim (hat tip Moshe)

It’s important to not fall into the trap that sees all or even most Charedim as lazy parasites who spit on little girls. We all know that it only takes one group of extremists to tar many others. In Melbourne, although our own Adass community has many more extreme Neturei Karta, Toldos Aharon extremists than 30 years ago, one has to say that there are exemplary icons who are more visible and who also contribute to a positive image for Charedim. Icons like Izzy Herzog ז’ל come to mind immediately. I know from many people, including my Uncle, that Izzy was magnanimous with his Chesed. He didn’t check to see if the recipient was ‘truly‘ frum before he interacted with them in exactly the same way that he would react with members of his own community. The Charedi volunteers from Hatzola are an incredible group of people. I know some of them personally after having performed at their children’s weddings. They are Mentchen in the true sense of the word and still stand poles apart from the growing extremist fringe that questions every Eruv string and Animal Sinew, but won’t bother saying “good morning” if they see you in the street because you might infect them. So while we should be positive and proud of the special Chesed acts performed in our own Charedi community, we should not be afraid to voice our opinions.

Last night, in a matter of ten minutes, two young men came to our house. One was a Vizhnitzer Sofer Stam, who needed help with his children, and the other was the son of the Stropkova Rebbe who was collecting for a Kollel for “off the derech” types. I could have just pulled out my wallet and given them something, but I was in somewhat of a fiesty mood. After ascertaining that they weren’t Satmar, I asked them about their attitudes to the Sikrikim. Both condemned them as a Chillul Hashem. I suggested to the Sofer that he find a new gig so that he doesn’t have to feel so bad as to have to knock on people’s doors for a crust. I felt sorry for him. What can he do? A Melamed? He’s a prisoner of his system. Mind you, he had “married off” three kids, and looked a lot younger than me (no smart comments please).

The second guy said that his father the Stropkova davka lived in Kiryat Moshe because he wanted to live amongst a range of “normal” people. I asked him why a Kollel was appropriate for “shvacher” people? Perhaps they should be taught a trade. I asked him what intervention was in place for people like this when they were in Cheder. At any rate, I gave them both. I felt I did the right thing. If you travel out to Australia, I’ll tell you what I think of the extremists who are associated with your dress code.

Who runs the Edah Charedis?

The news out of Israel is that the Av Beis Din of the Edah, together with some of his fellow Dayanim issued a letter requesting that their community daven for a Refuah Shelema for the critically ill R’ Elyashiv. R’ Elyashiv is described by non Chassidic Ashkenazim as the “Posek HaDor”. However, R’ Elyashiv is seen by the Neturei Karta and their ilk as tainted on account of his previous employment and relationship with the Rabanut.

The Beis Din of the Edah Charedis took the sensible view that when a man of this stature and learning is critically ill, one should cast aside any aspersions and genuinely pray for his recovery. The “Askanim” or Committee of the Edah, like Askanim in many groups have their own agenda. They parade and market allegiance to “Daas Torah” but they pick and choose when they listen to their own Daas Torah. This is a very dangerous situation and further marginalises the importance of Rabbis in our world.

Daas Torah is a new invention: an outgrowth of the chassidification of Jewry post Holocaust. Ironically, Daas Torah isn’t under threat from those who don’t subscribe to that weltanshaung. Rather, it is being undermined by the very people who created and now misuse it like a political football to further their own often sinister agendas.

Lock these vermin out

I’m sorry, there is no other way than to describe them. They are vermin. If this story is accurate, or even mostly accurate, I hope they have video footage. There should be video surveillance cameras installed in every single road in Beth Shemesh where these vermin hang out. Catch them, put them in prison for 5 years, and then lets see where it takes us. Are we going to wait and wait and wait for the never resultant condemnation from their Rabbinic mentors? The lunatics are out of the asylum.

Watch this video of the girl, Natalie Mashiach, recounting her horrible experience.

And, for something different, a Breslover reaction.

Natalie Mashiach, assaulted in Beth Shemesh

The Eda Charedis is imploding

Hat tip to Dovid, reports coming to hand indicate that there have been a series of arrests at 4:30am in Meah Shearim involving the Shamash of the Av Beis Din, R’ Tuvia Weiss. After a long investigation, it would seem that there has been a massive money laundering operation happening through the offices of the Shamash, Amram Shapira. Also arrested were Shmuel Lubatzki who ran the “charity” known as HaVaad HaArtzi as well as Yossele Sheinberger and Ya’acov Eisenbach. The charges are serious and involve many millions. Through their representative, Yitzchak Shlomo Blau, the Eda have sent a message to the Israeli police that all bets are off, and communication lines are now closed.

I expect that there will be a new ferocious round of violence, tyre and rubbish burning and mass demonstrations. Worse, our friends at Satmar, who are philosophically aligned with the Eda, have suggested that Chassidim demonstrate in the USA against the “religious persecution” of minorities. Will they demonstrate in Australia too?

In the meanwhile, one of the two Satmar Rebbes, R’ Zalman Leib?, has condemned the Belzer Rebbe because the latter dared to suggest that violence may not be the way to deal with the issues being faced. In a rambling tirade, lacking  Torah sources or halachic veracity, the Satmar Rebbe basically said that you can’t fight a lack of kedusha (read Tumah) by adding Kedusha elsewhere. He suggested that one had to “confront” the Tumah. He’s right, but he hasn’t explained why confronting can’t be achieved by increasing Kedusha. He seems to think that Kedusha can’t permeate. We know that is simply wrong! We live in times where the most powerful method to deal with the opposite of kedusha is to bring kedusha to it! You can’t mandate Kedusha through fiat. That’s a medieval approach, at best. It doesn’t work in the free world. Period.

Next time you consider Satmar, remember that although they do great things in Chesed, they are aligned with the Eda Charedis in no uncertain fashion.They are implacably against Israel and their world view is one that is increasingly aggressive against anyone who doesn’t allow their spreading tentacles to transform and supplant an existing landscape with their definitions of Tzniyus etc. It’s in our midst too. Today, in East St. Kilda, as I got out of my car, 3 little boys from the Adass offshoot school said “look the Tziyoni is here” after which they quickly scuttled back up their drive way. Who is teaching these kids such disgraceful hate laden invective? Am I also the Tumah that the Satmar Rebbe and the Eda Charedis wants to “attack”? Are the women wearing Sheytels and Tichels and little girls going to School in Bet Shemesh, the Kochos HaTumah?

We are in big trouble. These extremists have gone way too far. The market needs a correction.

Perhaps it’s time to divest from the Edah Charedis?

Read about their duplicity here. Why should we trust let alone use their Hechsher? You are better off supporting OU, StarK or Chof K and the like. Unfortunately, in Israel things have multiple hechsherim. I’d like to see a company like Osem take a stance and say go and find another product to stamp. It won’t happen, though, because it requires principles and not just profits.

Where is the outrage and condemnation?

Hats off to Rabbi Telsner on Shabbos. In his Drosha at the Chabad Yeshivah Shule in Melbourne, he briefly vent his spleen regarding the Chillul Hashem being perpetrated in parts of Israel by the offshoots, weeds and seeds of the Eda Charedis. Rabbi Telsner’s point was that any “Chassidim” in those groups were not. They didn’t have or display the approach of the Baal Shem Tov on loving each Jew irrespective of the questionable activities those Jews were involved in. R’ Teslner added that the zealots couldn’t be learning Chassidus, and if they claimed that they were, nothing was internalised. Rabbi Telsner was scathing. He said that “all they seem to do is a Chilul Hashem and then they come Schnorring to our doors”. He’s right.

What is the reaction in Adass or Beis HaTalmud? Did Rabbis Beck or Wurzburger have anything to say about these issues? If not, why not? If yes, was it to a cloistered private circle or was it a public comment. If anyone knows, please do inform us. I’m sure many in the community would like to know where these organisations stand on this massive Chillul Hashem malaise.

Responses to Zealotry

Some definitions:

Extremist:  a person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, especially in being politically radical

Fanatic: refers to persons showing more than ordinary support for, adherence to, or interest in a cause, point of view, or activity.

Zealot: stresses vigorous, aggressive support for or opposition to a plan or ideal and suggests a combative stance.

Taking stance that is “not the norm” can be viewed as extremist. In a community of meat-eaters, a vegetarian who is uncompromising may be seen as adhering to an extremist view. Once a community comprises more vegetarians, they cease to be called fanatics. Their behaviour becomes an acceptable norm, albeit of a minority view. In either case, some vegetarians are more vocal than others. We accept the views of someone who is passionate about their vegetarianism. We don’t have a problem with the existence of vegetarian-only restaurants. There are lines, though. Where does society draw those lines?

  • It would be unacceptable to enter a vegetarian restaurant and demand to eat meat.
  • It would be unacceptable to enter a meat restaurant and demand that they cease serving meat.

Why is it unacceptable? Simply because we recognise the right of free choice: an inalienable right; a God-given right. Free choice is the basis of our existence as humans and is the eco-system through which we are able to rise or fall.

Kosher-style restaurants or take-aways are not kosher. It is forbidden by Halacha to eat food prepared in such establishments. Yet, some people on the fringe, do so. You find yourself in an environment where Kosher-style is presented to you. The food is unacceptable and yet your host insists that you partake. They cannot understand what is wrong. There is no pork. It’s supposedly a kosher fish with side salad. What can be wrong with the dressing? You decline. Your host may well be upset, yet you may not be in a position to adequately explain why you cannot take part. Your host may not be in a position to understand or accept your stance. It would be wrong for your host to become angry. Equally, it would be wrong for you to show anger towards your host. There is a gap between your views and theirs. You may also both be somewhat fanatical in your views. You may not understand each other. You may both even be somewhat fanatical in not accepting or understanding the rationale; but there is still a line. This line is the glue which keeps society together. When that line is crossed, we are in danger of falling apart as a unit. The line is crossed when someone is a zealot. You become a zealot when you take an aggressive or combative stance.

Sometimes, in rare cases, a Jew is commanded to sacrifice their life and not compromise their ideals. This is קידוש ה, the sanctification of God’s name that is wrought through death. It is a form of passive aggression. We aspire, though, to live. In regards sanctifying God’s name through living our lives, the Talmud in Yoma quotes a verse and interprets it as follows:

ואהבת את ה’ אלוקיך you shall love Hashem, your God. [This means]

שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך that the name of Heaven [God] should become beloved through your hands [actions]

Ultimately, your actions need to be ones which cause the name of God to remain/become beloved through the mode of your adherence to Torah and Mitzvos. The Talmud then provides some examples:

  • Your business dealings should be honest and upright
  • You should adhere to righteous Jews and learn from their ways and their Torah
  • You should speak with pleasantness

This list is not exhaustive. Clearly, there are many other things that have the potential to both sully or exalt respect for the practice of Judaism. The resultant potential love of Heaven is induced thereby.

The greater test is to stay an honourable, practicing and believing Jew during one’s life. As incredible as Isaac’s preparedness to allow himself to be sacrificed by his father, Abraham, the test for Abraham, who would have had to live with what he did for the rest of his life, was greater. The test to go on living is usually protracted and far more stressful. Similarly,causing God’s name and Judaism to be loved by one’s actions is greater and more challenging through the mode of one’s life and the way one lives.

I am convinced the events of the last few weeks involving a section of the ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist, community in Israel have caused the name of God and the image of Judaism to be severely tarnished. Halachically,

  • one does not spit at little girls (or anyone for that matter)
  • one does not ask a woman to move to the back of the bus, whether she is dressed according to one’s own acceptable levels of modesty or not.
  • one does not throw stones at people who are not keeping Shabbos
  • one does not yell at people who don’t adhere to a certain standard of dress, even in one’s own backyard
  • one does not compare Jews to Nazis—ever.
  • one does not use the holocaust in an abhorrent pantomime to advance an agenda

To be sure, the anti-Zionist zealots, comprising so-called Sikrikim, Neturei Karta, Toldos Aaron and the others believe that they are “defending” God’s honour. They are, of course, wrong. Their behaviour is nothing short of odious and against Halacha. These zealots  do not act alone. They receive the silent, or “behind closed doors” blessings of their Rabbinic leaders. They will not listen to anyone; we are all Treyf. In their mind, they have a complete mortgage on the truth.

What can we do?

  • We must recognise that there is a sizeable number of “black hats” and “thick stocking” style people, who are also disgusted by this thuggish minority of misguided individuals.
  • We must ask our own Rabbis, yes, each and every one of them, to explicitly make a statement in writing and in sermons to their congregations rejecting the ideology of the zealots as outside the pale of normative Judaism. Statements should be without prevarication. There is no need to speak about anything else. For example, the statement by the RCA is sensibly crafted, whereas the one from the Aguda is disingenuous.
  • There is a group in our own community, constituting a section of Adass Israel Congregation, who fully agree with the philosophy of the zealots. A few days ago, I was accosted in the street, next door to my parents’ house, by a brain-washed boy , who yelled at the top of his lungs “Zionists are Pigs” (in Yiddish). Do not forget that this group of zealots are in our midst. Pockets exist in most Jewish communities around the world.
  • When asking for a statement/response from your Rabbi, it is important to not only include members of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria or the Organisation of Rabbis of Australia. One should also approach the Rabbis of Adass, Beth HaTalmud and other non-affiliated congregations and ask specific questions with no wriggle room. In particular, ask if it is ever appropriate to demand that a woman “move to the back of the bus” even if she is on one of those bus lines where such an pseudo-mechitza is implemented.
  • When a collector comes to your door, ask them the same question. If you don’t like their answers, give them less and someone else more.
  • Avoid apologetics. There is absolutely no justification for this disgraceful anti-halachic behaviour.

Let me end with a story about a true sage, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל. In his neighbourhood of Sha’arei Chesed a lady persisted in driving through the otherwise empty streets on Shabbos. Surrounded by the “holy” ones, he was asked, “Surely you have a Torah obligation to protest against this desecration of Shabbos?”. R’ Shlomo Zalman responded that indeed he did have a responsibility to express his dislike for what was occurring. He advised them, however, that throwing stones, or surrounding/blocking the car and/or yelling “Shabbos” achieved nothing. It only served to further aggravate the situation. “So in what way are you protesting?” they asked. R” Shlomo Zalman was quiet. Over the next few weeks, rather than accosting the women who drove through the neighbourhood, they observed R’ Shlomo Zalman as he walked in the street after Shule and came face to face with the car. A look of genuine pain was seen on his face. The lady noticed this look from R’ Shlomo Zalman’s face over the next few weeks, and apparently decided that she didn’t want to cause any angst to this old and pious man. If you are respectful to people, they will also respect you. Don’t cross lines.

We Jews who also try to keep Halacha to the best of our ability must vehemently reject and ostracise this group of unsound zealots and let them know that we are not with them in any shape or form, and that their corrupt version of Judaism is simply an invalid aberration.

Enough is Enough.

Extremism rears its ungainly tail-Chillul Hashem in Bet Shemesh

The Gemara פסחים נא ע”ב, states—שלא ישנה אדם מהמנהג—when there is a custom in a particular city to behave in a certain manner, it is forbidden to acquit oneself in an alternative way. In particular, if there is an opinion to be stringent or indeed lenient in respect of a particular Halacha in a given town, it is forbidden to effectively inhabit  that town and alter the Minhag.

The Ramo in his responsa (שו”ת סי’ נד) considers the question of barrels that had previously been smeared with lard, and were now used to store olive oil. Was one permitted to use the olive oil if it sold in these used barrels? The Ramo decides that it’s permitted without qualification to buy the olive oil, and furthermore, this is a long and established convention. The status of this practice being a custom, not only means that it is limited to a permissive ruling. The Ramo expresses the view that someone who desires to be stringent based on the opinion of their own Rabbi, should not do so, even if that person is a בעל נפש—a punctilious individual.

On the category of בעל נפש, It is common for contemporary Poskim to decide Halacha, and then provide additional direction to the בעל נפש. This is found in the משנה ברורה and אגרות משה. (See also (חולין מד ע”ב) for a more fundamental source). Yet, in the case of the barrels, the Ramo specifically directs the בעל נפש to not be מחמיר. Why so? Surely one is always entitled to adopt a stringency? The Ramo’s reasoning is that since it is permitted and בני ישראל behave in consonance with that היתר, their practice should not be indirectly questioned in any way through the stringent actions of those who wish to take upon themselves an alternative ruling. There is much more to say on the general issue of חומרות. For example, in יו”ד סימן פט ס”ק יז, the Shach cites the earlier opinion of the Maharshal who considers those who wait six hours after hard cheese before consuming meat as not only “simpletons”—the Maharshal coins them as apostates (דברי מינות)! Not every חומרה is sensible, and one who is really a בעל נפש will be cognisant of not offending others or foisting their private practice upon the masses. המחמיר יחמיר על עצמו
The Maharashdam who was a contemporary Rishon at the time of both the Ramo and Beis Yosef, limits the aforementioned rule of the Ramo  (יו”ד סי’ קצג) to

  • a Psak which involves a דין דרבנן, a Rabbinic law. However, if one wants to be מחמיר because they fear an infraction of a דין דאורייתא, a Torah law, they may do so.
  • a situation where the act of being מחמיר is not assumed by the existing population who settled and live in the city. Newcomers to a town, may not exert their חומרא on the townspeople. (Note that majority or minority is not the consideration here; מנהג המקום is the determining factor and we do not say חוזר וניעור).

There are groups of people in Israel, known by many names, who

  • assume levels of צניעות which can only be described as חומרות
  • settle in existing cities, such as בית שמש, and not only wish to practice their own חומרות, but seek to force others to adhere to those same חומרות.

To be sure, members of these communities falsely claim that their standards are

  • not extreme,
  • involve איסורים דאורייתא, and
  • may even imply the need to act in a manner of יהרג ואל יעבור.

Such claims are  false.

The actuality is that צניעות is, by definition, a set of lines followed by a grey area. The grey area is defined and governed by societal practice. Societal practice cannot be determined by fiat, violent or otherwise; it is also relative to time and place.

Ironically, when extremist women commenced wearing black Burkas as an “extra” level of צניעות, even the usually strict Edah Charedis exclaimed that “enough is enough”. To add to the irony, the Edah objected despite the fact that one could cogently show that were one to live among Muslim women, it might well be a Rabbinic imperative to match their levels of צניעות! I don’t expect we will find such a judgement emanating from the Beis Din of the Edah even though I contend that such a ruling could quite cogently be constructed.

A line was drawn. Grey areas exist in every city, town or village. I do not hold the view that, for example, in Melbourne, one can talk about מנהג מלבורן unless it is something that all the religious communities have practiced and continue to practice. If Adass, the Litvaks, Ger or Chabad or whoever do things uniformly in a particular way, then it is a matter for those communities. They cannot and should not ever impose their practice on anyone else. Ironically, it may well be דינא דמלכותא that preserves the halachic status quo outside of the State of Israel.

Bet Shemesh, on the other hand, is and was, an established city and it had its lines and grey areas. Those areas were amorphous and pluralist but never included the consideration that men and women walk on either side of a road. (This was also not the practice in Poland, for example, except allegedly in Kelm). The line never extended to the disgraceful dehumanisation and targeting of women who wear Tichels and skirts down to their knees. The line didn’t consider a woman who “heaven forbid” displayed her toes through sandals as licentious and through whose toes was causing lustful thoughts in these less than holy בעלי נפש thereby “polluting” the atmosphere with such פריצות. (Yes, one lady wearing a long skirt and sandals was indeed set upon by unruly ruffians for this most trivial reason).

I have been disturbed for days by the sad picture of that little girl holding her mother’s hand while trembling on her way to school because she feared the modern zealots would spit and accost her.  שומו שמים … how far have we strayed from דרכיה דרכי נועם.

If zealots feel the need to build their own עיר מקלט city, where they can enact all level of stringency, that’s their business. If they are permitted to do so by the law of the land, then let them go ahead. If a person wants to live or visit, it would be a good idea to follow those stringencies within the boundaries of that city. This is not different from להבדיל Mecca, where Muslims have accepted certain extra practices only within that city. This would not ever imply though that mindless automatons are justified in resorting to spitting and other forms of violence if someone does not follow their city-based dicta. A city whose Rabbi encourages such practices of violence either directly or indirectly will face a דין וחשבון in due course. I would call such a city that duly practices such abominable acts a modern-day example of an עיר הנדחת.

For a little more perspective, let me conclude with a rather prophetic and incisive psak from no less a גאון than Rav Chaim Berlin ז’ל.  

Rav Chaim Berlin was the son of the famed Netziv (from the Netziv’s  first wife) and a half-brother of R’ Meir Bar Ilan. He was Rosh Yeshivah in Volozhin, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, and at the end of his life became Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem after R’ Shmuel Salant ז’ל.

R’ Chaim Berlin’s halachic responsa  were published posthumously by alumni of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin in the USA. In Even Ha-Ezer, R’ Chaim was asked by a  former student now in the USA what to do in the event that a woman stretched out her hand to him as part of common business practice. R’ Chaim answers that according to the letter of the law עיקר הדין there is no איסור because the act is not occurring בדרך חיבה—amorously—and since the student is visibly religious and is expected to be doing so simply as part of business etiquette, it is permitted. Interestingly, and this is the part that I found very impressive, R’ Chaim quotes the Gemara יומא פו:א

ואהבת את ה’ אלוקיך – שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך

You shall love Hashem your God—[implies that] Heaven should become beloved [by others] on account of your hands [actions]

R’ Chaim contends that the person who is clearly a religious Jew, and is visibly seen as such, and who does not behave with common business etiquette is likely to encourage Non-Jews to think that Jews and their Rabbis are fanatical madmen! Accordingly, he says that failing to shake the hand, in the case of that student, would constitute a חילול שם שמים!

These are powerful words. I’m not a Posek suggesting that anyone simply make their own halachic conclusions based on this insight. However, it is quite clear, that we have witnessed over the last few weeks is exactly what R’ Chaim Berlin was warning us against.

The actions of an ungainly ugly tail of extremist Jews have through their own prescribed grey areas caused Judaism to be seen by many as no different to the Taliban or Salafist Wahhabis. My accusation extends to the imbeciles who berated a blind woman when she sat at the front of one of those new separate buses.

עת לעשות לה’ הפרו תורותיך

Don’t they have anything better to do?

Two items on the news caught my eye, and both upset me in their own way.

The first was a visit to Iran, yes, yet again, by members of Neturei Karta. What do they hope to achieve? I cannot understand a mindset that thinks that they are bringing the Geula closer by kissing the neck of Esav. Look at the smirks. Feh.

Grovelling to Sonei Yisrael Yimach Shemom (Photo from Reuters)

The second is another NK protest designed to protect the Satmar enclave of Williamsburg  (why is one guy shockeling?) about a new Shaytel place opening up in Crown Heights. Do they really think that a single person is going to pay attention to this? What will they achieve except some newspaper coverage that might link these clowns to the photoshopping incident. What a Kiddush Hashem. Feh.

This one is just as bad, if not worse.

Radicals protesting in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)

Yom Ha’atzmaut: Remembering Rav Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal הי’ד

If you have not heard of Rav Teichtal,

A younger Rav Teichtal, הי''ד

may Hashem avenge his murder by the Nazis, I suggest you borrow or buy a copy of אם הבנים שמחה Eim Habanim Semecha (EHS) which has also been translated into English. Rav Teichtal is known throughout the world of Halacha, as the famous Posek and author of  Responsa שאלות ותשובות משנה שכיר. In fact, I’d venture to say that many Rabbis, save the centrist or religious zionist, would only know of him because of his שאלות ותשובות משנה שכיר. Most certainly, when I was a lad, most people, including centrist and religious Zionist Rabbis hadn’t heard of  אם הבנים שמחה because the Charedi anti Zionist world banned the book and exerted extreme pressure on the family not to republish it.
When I was learning in Israel, there was never a time that I went into a bookshop without asking whether they had a copy. The closest I got, was just before I left, when someone gave me the address of a family member, and suggested I might try knocking at their door. I didn’t have the guts to do that. How pleased I was, some twenty years later, when it was republished. When it appeared in English, I was both surprised and not surprised. I was surprised that something I couldn’t lay my hands on appeared in English, but given the compelling nature of the Sefer, I was not surprised that others sought fit to translate it with haste.

Rav Teichtal was the long term Av Beis Din and Rav of  Piešťany, in Western Slovakia.


On the 10th of Shvat 1945, as Rav Teichtal was transported to the concentration camp in Mathhausen. Rav Teichtal’s son related (see introduction to EHS)

After starving their victims for a number of days, the oppressors tossed each of them a meager crust of bread, with the evil intent of having them fight pathetically for their paltry allotment. Indeed, one of the Ukrainians grabbed the portion of a Jew – my father’s neighbor – who was desperate for this crust of bread. This angered my father, who demanded the return of the theft. The other travelers begged my father not to get involved, since it might cost him his life. But he said “How can I stand by when the wronged man’s life depends on this food?” Indeed he insisted on taking a stand, and the Ukrainians, with the cooperation of the Nazi soldiers, rose against him and killed him, after torturing him mercilessly.

Prior to the the outbreak of World War 2, Rav Teichtal was as anti-zionist as his mentor, the Minchas Elazar of Muncasz. Rav Teichtal had written anti-zionist polemics like the majority of his Hungarian Charedi colleagues. Describing the views of the Muncazer, Rav Teichtal wrote (EHS):

 “The Minchas Elazar opposed resettling and rebuilding the Land [and] based his entire opposition on the idea that salvation must happen with miracles and wonders. In his opinion, anyone who tries to [bring salvation naturally] denies the redemption which will occur miraculously.”

Rav Teichtal הי''ד later in life

During the war, while hiding in Budapest, he wrote (EHS):

“A large portion of our Israelite [European Jewish] brethren who
were killed would have been saved if they had already been in Eretz
Yisrael. And now, who will accept the responsibility for the pure
blood which has been spilled in our time? Similarly, all those who
deterred the Israelites from going to Eretz Yisrael and participating
with those building [the land] cannot purify themselves and say:
‘Our hands have not shed this blood.’
“Those [anti-Zionists] who have a predisposition on this matter
[fleeing to Palestine] will not see the truth and will not concede to
our words. All of the evidence in the world will not affect them, for
they are smitten with blindness, and their inner biases cause them
to deny even things which are as clear as day. Who amongst us is
greater than the [twelve] spies [meraglim]? The Torah testifies that
they were distinguished, righteous individuals. Nonetheless, since
they were influenced by their desire for authority, they rejected the
desirable Land, and led others astray, causing this bitter exile…
[These] spies were prejudiced by hidden motives. The same holds
true in our times, even among rabbis, rebbes, and Chassidim. This
one has a good rabbinical position; this one is an established Admor,
and this one has a profitable business or factory, or a prestigious
job which provides great satisfaction. They are afraid that their
status will decline if they go to Eretz Yisrael. People of this sort are
influenced by their deep-rooted, selfish motives to such an extent
that they themselves do not realize that their prejudice speaks on
their behalf. People of this sort will not be convinced to accept the
truth, even if they are shown thousands of proofs from the Torah…
The holy kabbalist [Rabbi Eliyahu of Greidetz] who resembles
an angel of the Lord of Hosts states explicitly that the reason
there are tzadikim who oppose [aliyah] is because the kelipot [evil
forces] have become strong within them. It entices them to nullify
this great matter for which the Holy One Blessed Be He constantly
longs. He longs for us to return to our forefathers’ inheritance, for
every Jew has an obligation to strive to return to our Holy Land, as
I will prove unequivocally from the words of our Sages.

The מקובל Rav Eliyahu Greidez, mentioned above, was none other than Rav Eliyahu Gutmacher, ז’ל to whom many Jews in Poland flocked, to receive ברכות and advice, and in whose memory Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu was named.

The Kabbalist, Rav Eliyahu Guttmacher ז’ל, one of the theological founders of Religious Zionism

Perhaps the most heart-rending story that served to motivate Rav Teichtal to be transformed from an anti-Zionist into a religious Zionist was (see here) :

“What can we say; how can we speak, and how shall we justify ourselves? God has found the sin of your servant.” I shall tell you a story.

In a small town there was a shamash (sexton) of a synagogue who died, leaving behind a widow. The people of the community thought about how they could provide her some financial support, for at that time there was no pension for widows. Perhaps it would be possible to allow her to continue the work of her late husband. On the other hand – it is not proper for a woman to serve as the shamash of a synagogue. Eventually it was decided that she would carry out those activities that could be performed outside the synagogue, while the tasks of the shamash during prayer times would be filled by the worshippers themselves, on a voluntary basis. Thus the woman would be able to continue earning the salary that her husband had received.

It came time for “selichot,” and as part of her job the woman had to get up and go about from house to house in the village, waking the people for selichot. She took the special “selichot stick” in her hand and headed for the most distant house in the village – the home of Weiss Shendor. When she knocked on the door, Weiss Shendor awoke, alarmed at the disturbance at such an unusual hour. When he opened the door and saw the wife of the shamash, he asked what she wanted. She explained that as part of her duties she had to go from house to house, waking everyone for selichot. When Weiss Shendor heard this, he tried to persuade her that it was not seemly for a woman to go about outside so early in the morning, in such cold and wet weather, and that it would be better if he did the job in her stead. The woman accepted the offer and handed him the “selichot stick,” and Weiss Shendor set off to waken the people.

Upon knocking at the first house he was asked to identify himself. He answered, “I am Weiss Shendor, and I have taken it upon myself to waken the people for selichot.”

The house owner was incensed. “Weiss Shendor? A pork-eater like you isn’t going to wake me forselichot!” With that he slammed the door and went back to sleep.

He went off to the second house and again came the question, “Who is it?” Again he gave the same reply, and again the same response: “Weiss Shendor? A Shabbat desecrator like you will not come and wake me for selichot!” Again a door was slammed in his face.

The same thing happened at the next house: “A swindler and gambler like you will not wake me forselichot!” – and so on, at every house throughout the entire village. The wake-up round ended with nothing more to show for itself than a trail of scorn and disdain. Not a single person got up for selichot.

When the congregation was gathered for the morning prayers, the rabbi asked: “What happened this year, that no one came to the synagogue for selichot?” The people started justifying themselves and explaining that it was all Weiss Shendor’s fault. He was a shady character who was notorious throughout the village; it was he who had come to awaken them for selichot, and that was why none of them had come.

“Fools!” responded the rabbi. “It’s true that Weiss Shendor is guilty of everything that you’ve accused him of, but this time he was waking you for selichot; he wasn’t doing any of the bad things that he’s known for. So why didn’t you get up?”

[Here Rabbi Teichtal burst into tears and shouted:] It’s true that the Zionists desecrate Shabbat and so forth, but it was they who awakened the nation and shouted, “Get out of the rubble; the gentiles hate us, there is no place for us except in Eretz Yisrael” – and we didn’t listen!

Let us only hope to be worthy of correcting the distortion and having God accept us in the promised land”

These days, alas, not much has changed in respect of the Hungarian ultra-Charedi establishment and the State of Israel, as seen by the following Pashkevil (click to enlarge), appearing now in Jerusalem.

Pashkevil condemning Yom Ha'atzmaut: 2011

Charedim and the State of Israel: then and now

This story originally appeared in שבת בשבתו in 2001 in a weekly Parsha sheet put out by מכון צומת and was retold by Rav Aviner.

During the 1929 riots, on Friday, the 17th of Av, rioters ran wild throughout the country, cruelly ransacking and murdering. In the afternoon, thousands of inflamed Arabs stormed out of the Mosque of Omar after being saturated with the hateful incitement of the Mufti, Haj Amin Al-Huseini, and marched forward, armed with knives and clubs. Most of them advanced towards the neighborhoods of Meah Shearim and Beit Yisrael, with cries of “Slaughter the Jews.” At the head of the inflamed throng marched an Arab sheik, waving a long sword and firing up the rioters not to have pity on men, women or children, since it was a holy war — a jihad.

Jaffa Gate

When the rioters reached the Italian hospital, two Charedi youths emerged from the flour mill at the southern edge of Meah Shearim and advanced towards the rioters. One of them, who had curly side-locks flowing from under his hat, pulled out a pistol and shot straight into the mouth of the sheik walking in front, and he died on the spot. The inflamed masses were seized with fright and they began to flee in the direction of Damascus Gate, while the two youths chased after them, throwing a hand grenade which killed three more rioters. Moreover, the rioters trampled one another to death during their escape.

That same bearded youth who fired the pistol was the saintly Rabbi Aharon Fisher, father of the illustrious Rabbi Yisrael Ya’akov Fisher,

Rav Yisrael Ya'akov Fisher ז'ל

Chief Rabbinic Justice of Edah HaCharedit in our own times [now ז’ל, this was correct in 2001].

The next day, the great Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld,

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ז'ל

who lived in the Old City, had to go to Meah Shearim as a Mohel [circumciser]. His family and friends were terribly worried about him, and they begged him not to go, but he insisted. He would not forego the mitzvah.

The eighty-year-old rabbi, clad in his tallit, walked to Meah Shearim not by way of Jaffa Gate, but by way of Damascus Gate, a troublesome spot even in normal times. He walked calmly along the same route where thousands of murderers had walked, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of circumcision, and he returned by way of Jaffa Gate. When he was later asked why he went precisely by way of Damascus Gate, he responded, “So that the Arabs would not think that they had succeeded in banishing the Jews from even one corner or street in Jerusalem.” And why had he returned by way of Jaffa Gate? “Such is my regular custom, in order to fulfill the words, “Walk around Zion. Circle her” (Psalm 48:13) (BeDor Tahapuchot, Rabbi Shlomo Zalmen Sonnenfeld, pages 226-229;393-396).

It is well-known that the illustrious Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld was not a Zionist. Quite the contrary, he ascribed to the opposite view. He was the most Charedi of Charedim, and an opponent of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.

To say that the Charedim did not sacrifice themselves for this land is a severe libel.

Meah Shearim was established on a spot where people were afraid of bandits.

The Charedim sacrificed themselves for the Land, or more precisely, for the word of G-d, who commanded us to settle the Land.

It is Adar, but I am sad and angry

Like many of you, I have just watched the funerals of the five kedoshim of Family Fogel from Itamar. I don’t have words to describe the sickening feeling I had when I watched the pictures here (warning: graphic images)

They say everything is השגחה פרטית and I don’t deny it. My feelings have moved from utter despair and sadness to extreme anger. Just released on youtube is this footage from Iran TV from several years ago.

It is a most uncomfortable and disconcerting segue to the murder of the five Fogels הי’ד in Itamar. You watch it and ask yourself what can we do about neanderthals who parade themselves as supporters of those who encourage, cheer and perpetrate the butchering of innocent children in their beds on Shabbos Kodesh.

Do we have Neturei Karta supporters in Melbourne? Is the  Adass Charedi offshoot of שומרי אמונים closely aligned with this Neturei Karta offshoot? Are the שומרי אמונים the self-same people whose cars brandished anti-zionist sentiment driving around Melbourne “in protest” at Zionist activities in the State of Israel.

There is arguably a חיוב to protest against these types of מחללי שם שמים but how?

I just realised that this type of Jews has a collective noun, straight out of the מגילה

מתיהדים

Update: our own daughter was planning to be in Itamar that Shabbos. The seminary had other plans.