Males who refuse a Gett; an appropriate response

The Rabbinic Council of America again leads the way on this matter. The pioneering work by noted Posek, Rav Mordechai Willig on this matter, will now become compulsory for member Rabbis. Rav Willig had discussed his method with leading Rabbis around the world some years ago and received  their Halachic agreement. In Victoria, Australia, I understand there are some local legal impediments preventing this method ‘having teeth’. I trust that the RCV, the Rabbinic Council of Victoria are working overtime with both parties to make sure this is overcome. It is high time the Rabbanut in Israel enforced the same on all its Rabbis. I don’t know what other Rabbinic groups such as the Aguda opine, but given the number of very public issues in that sphere of late, it would be nice to see them follow suit.

The text of the RCA Resolution reads:

A Powerful Advance to Prevent Using Jewish Law to Cause Human Suffering

Sep 22, 2016 — “The Rabbinical Council of America today takes a major step forward toward alleviating the suffering of those who cannot successfully end marriages due to the refusal of one of the parties to participate in effecting a Jewish divorce,” said Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA. A resolution adopted by the RCA now requires “each of its members [to] utilize, in any wedding at which he is the officiant (mesader kiddushin), in addition to a ketubah, a rabbinically-sanctioned prenuptial agreement, where available, that aids in our community’s efforts to ensure the timely and unconditional issuance of a get.”

According to Jewish law, both the husband and the wife must participate willingly in the delivery and acceptance of a get, a Jewish divorce document, without which neither party can remarry. Most divorcing couples understand the need for the get, and are cooperative and respectful of the process. In some cases, however, one spouse inappropriately uses the get as a bargaining chip to gain concessions in other areas surrounding the divorce such as financial settlements or child custody, or as a tool to torment a former spouse. This is an abuse of Jewish law as well as a form of spousal abuse that uses religious practice as a tool of manipulation and control. A rabbinic tribunal often does not have the authority or capability of forcing a recalcitrant spouse to cooperate, and there are those whose marriages have functionally ended but who tragically cannot remarry due to their religious convictions. A woman who cannot remarry is referred to as an agunah; a man is an agun.

One effective way to prevent get-abuse is the “Halachic Prenup.” Drafted by Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Sgan Av Beth Din of the Beth Din of America and a Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University, in consultation with halachic and legal experts, the Halachic Prenup has been advocated by the RCA since 1993. The agreement received wide-spread endorsement of leading rabbinic authorities in Israel and the United States, and is based on much older documents, dating back hundreds of years. This prenuptial agreement both designates the rabbinic forum in which claims for a get will be adjudicated and creates financial incentives for both parties to effect the Jewish divorce in a timely manner. There are other prenuptial agreements that are used as well.

Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, Director of the Beth Din of America maintains that “”we have seen, over and over again, that the existence of a halachic prenup dramatically changes the dynamics of contentious divorce cases and virtually eliminates the risk that the get will be improperly used as a tool for leverage or extortion.”

Rabbi Jeremy Stern, Executive Director of The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), a group that seeks to eliminate abuse from the Jewish divorce process and which was instrumental in drafting and advocating for this resolution, reports that in well over 1,000 contentious Jewish divorce cases with which his organization has been involved, “we have never seen a case of get-refusal in which the halachic prenup did not work. In numerous divorce cases in which the husband began to posture that he would refuse to issue a get, the halachic prenup secured the issuance of a timely and unconditional get.”

While until now the vast majority of RCA rabbis have counseled their congregants to enter into halakhic prenuptial agreements, and while many of them refused to officiate at weddings in which these documents were not first signed, this new resolution now requires all RCA-member rabbis to require the use of prenuptial agreements. There is reason to believe that this new mandate will help to prevent or alleviate many agunah cases. Most importantly, it will remove any perceived stigma associated with signing the agreement. Requiring rabbis to officiate only at weddings with halachic prenups eliminates the concern often expressed by about-to-be married couples that signing a prenup casts aspersions on their characters or their marriage.

With the adoption of this new resolution, signing the prenup is now no longer about the couple and the expectations that its rabbi has of them, but is about the rabbi and the professional standards that he must maintain. Rabbi Shalom Baum announced that the RCA will embark on a number of initiatives to help rabbis better implement this new mandate, as well as community programs to encourage the understanding and signing of prenups.

Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Vice President of the RCA said, “Seeing that there is a halakhic prenup at every wedding is everybody’s responsibility. Mothers and fathers should not walk their children to the chuppah unless a prenup has been signed. Friends should not let friends get married unless a prenup is signed.”

Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the RCA said, “Supporting members of the community and relieving their distress are among the top priorities of rabbis. If the definition of a religious scholar is one who increases peace in the world (Berachot 64a), then rabbis must certainly step into the forefront when use of halachically acceptable tools are available to prevent the abuse of the vulnerable. Otherwise, we forfeit our claim to the title ‘rabbi.’

Modern Cholov Yisroel: A blunder of nomenclature

The Halacha of needing supervised kosher milk (Chalav Yisrael) is clear. It applies today, as it applied yesteryear. Every single Jew is enjoined to only drink Milk that was supervised by a Jew. (there are different approaches to supervision). There are different reasons between the Bavli and Yerushalmi as quoted by Tosfos in Avoda Zara, but what is inescapable is that:

There is no permission whatsoever not to drink Chalav Yisrael.

This is a famous law, and we (Orthodox Jews, ranging from Charedi to Centrist/Modern Orthodox) have no permission to drink anything other than Chalav Yisrael. The prime reason given is that we are concerned that non Kosher Milk was also mixed in. Without going into the details of whether non Kosher Milk looks different (greenish) and whether Camel’s milk today is in fact white now, and whether there are no non Kosher animals in the flock, the reality is that there is no Orthodox Posek in the world that ever abrogated the need for Cholov Yisroel. They cannot! They are powerless to annul this (nor would they want to annul it in the many lawless parts of the world).

The Pri Chadash and others suggested that the decree only existed where there was a possibility that there was non kosher milk mixed in. Where no such possibility existed, then the milk is considered at the level of Cholov Yisroel. Some reject the Pri Chadash and want to say that the entire country has to have no non-Kosher milk-bearing animals, but here is not the place to delve into the topic in respect to those details. The Acharonim in Yoreh Deah and after that, are troubled by the Pri Chadash’s observation.

We then have the two great permissive analyses of the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe Feinstein. Neither of these argue that every single Jew need not drink Cholov Yisrael. For those who believe the Chazon Ish was not lenient, I have a wonderful analyses which I can make available once I ask permission.

The difference is what is considered SUPERVISION. According to R’ Moshe (and we rely on such considerations right throughout the Kashrus Industry) Dairies generally have cow’s milk only, and they fear being shut down and/or sued for presenting non Cow’s milk as cow’s milk, and this constitutes the necessary level of Mirtas (fear) by the non-Jew, to the extent that he will not destroy his business. Accordingly, what R’ Moshe and the Chazon Ish (and others) are telling us is that this particular style of fear is equal to the fear or if you prefer ‘halachic efficacy’ of being supervised by a Jew, (who may have washed out any buckets for exactitude at the beginning) and then being in a place near the flock to be able to stand up at any time and see what is happening. Accordingly, they were lenient, and note: this is not a leniency when people travel through China, India, Russia, and many countries where no such “fear of being sued” or “fear of being caught doling out adulterated products exists (I’m not even going to mention places like Africa and Asia). There is a case mentioned in the Aruch Hashulchan (a Giant Navardoker Misnagdish Posek ) where he relates that the Milk in some famous café was in fact Treyf as it was mixed with non Kosher fats to give it an “edge”).

What’s been the wash up of all of this? We now have a generation of people who say

No, we don’t keep Chalav Yisrael

This is plainly wrong. Everyone must keep Cholov Yisroel at all times. What they are really saying, is that they are keeping the Chalav Yisrael as defined by the promulgation of companies producing cow’s milk and the concomitant fear that their businesses will be ruined if they do not adhere to the standards set by Government. [ Imagine the court case, God forbid, of a child who is allergic to milk other than Cow’s milk who is found to have been given tainted milk, that had camel’s milk mixed suffering anaphylactic shock. The outcry would reverberate. This is why many companies say “may contain traces of nuts and dairy” when in fact this is so remote as to be halachically insignificant and basically a clause inserted by legal insurance to protect themselves.]

It’s not just milk. Generally speaking in most areas of Kashrus, one can find an ‘accepted norm’ and then those who (mainly for Kabbalistic reasons, especially with milk — and yes, both the Ramoh and the Mishnah Brura and the Aruch Hashulchan were affected by these considerations) expect more.

If I was an American Rabbi at that time, I would have visited R’ Moshe and asked that he announce that all observant Jews drink Chalav Yisroel. Some (the Ba’al Nefesh, as R’ Moshe was himself but not for his family or his guests) will assume the traditional mode of supervision, with the eye of Mashgiach.

In summary, I would have liked to have seen CHALAV YISRAEL divided up into two categories, just like much Kosher food (and here I do not include the outlier, unaccepted rogue authorities in many cities around the world)

  1. Chalav Yisrael Mehadrin
  2. Chalav Yisrael Stam (where this is known to be considered supervised through another Halachic method)

You might say I’m picky. I don’t believe I am. I’ve spoken inter-alia on this topic with many people over the years, and I have always been floored by the fact that they think that they are drinking NON CHALAV YISRAEL. Chas V’Shalom to think that a Jew doesn’t have this obligation TODAY, and that they are lax and not fulfilling it. No, they are fulfilling it, because it must be fulfilled. Nobody had nullified the degree. Reb Moshe didn’t “do away” with Chalav Yisrael!!!

By sadly calling them either

  1. Chalav Stam (a new extra halachic phrase that never existed) or Chalav HaCompanies (which was not used by R’ Moshe to defined a new type of milk,  but rather an innovative mode of supervision that renders the milk Chalov Yisrael.
  2. Chalav Yisrael

they have created generations of people who actually think that Cholov Yisroel is a Chumra and isn’t Halacha Lechatchilla. I believe this has done damage and created falsehood.

I would urge, certainly Kosher Australia, to use Mehadrin for Cholov Yisroel which is eyeballed by a Mashgiach, as there is a market for this type of supervision, Halachically and Kabbalistically. True, most local milk produced in Melbourne is under the Hungarian Adass Charedim, and they won’t drink non-eyeballed supervision. Kosher Australia uses Mehadrin for many things. The Charedim in Melbourne follow Kosher Australia’s Mehadrin as does the Badatz in Yerusholayim.

A simple paragraph by Koshe Australia explaining when they use Mehadrin for Cholov Yisroel achieves everything and does not passively cause people to err (and dare I say sin God forbid) and think that they don’t have to have Chalav Yisroel and that Chalav Yisrael is something just for people with bushy beards or long peyos. Sorry, Shulchan Aruch was written for all. People do err and they must understand that at all times and at all places Chalov Yisrael is a must! (I’m not going to discuss cheese or butter here)

[ Yes, with bread, which is a staple, the Gezeira of Pas Yisroel wasn’t accepted and there are leniencies, but without going into the different situations when and if these leniencies can be applied, this isn’t paralleled with Chalav Yisrael. ]

I should hasten, unlike the times of the Shulchan Aruch, we also need to be sure the bottled product is actually Kosher (ditto, the bread in a place where Jewish bread, is not available and there is a bakery (Pas Palter). Food production has changed markedly.

Sharing a coffee for social reasons in a non supervised non-Jewish coffee shop when a Kosher one is available, is something I would suggest people ask their Halachic decisor. I’m not comfortable with it.

[ For work, when I think it is necessary: I have black coffee in a glass, and have my own sweetener in a sachet, if theirs is not kosher, or I just drink water].

The Gay Pride March in Jerusalem

If one is Orthodox and as a matter of belief, the Torah is the word of God, then one cannot escape that certain acts of sexual relations are forbidden, including some of those being exposed through a march.

In Halacha, there are several categories of people who perform acts which constitute sin, many unrelated to sexual acts, where their capacity to act as Torah ordained witnesses is diminished. There are some who do this out of want, and others who do this out of rebellion against the Torah.

I have no doubt that there are many people who struggle with the fact that their desires, sexually, are considered a matter of shame to the extent that they don’t wish to disclose this information, except in trusted (safe) environments. Berating someone for having such desires, or call it a disposition (research on this will emerge over the next ten years, have no doubt), is not of value in this day. Indeed, it could cause someone to feel that they are so hopeless, that they make take their own life in the worst case, or become so depressed that they cannot function as a human being.

It is known that many contemporary sages have said that we no longer have the skill of “telling someone off” for straying from Torah. I believe this is true. The best way to influence someone is to be a living and shining example of what a Jew with unconditional belief, and intellectual submission to the Torah means, and that such a person can be pleasant and sensitive, as can the Judaism they practice.

Intellectual submission to Torah in the form of Emunah is something that is axiomatic for the practicing Orthodox Jewish person. Belief, by its nature transcends intellect. Reasons for commands are there primarily to explore the “what can be derived” from Judaism, as Rav Soloveitchik explained, however, reasons, do not have a place in the “why must I do this command”. The why question exists only when there isn’t submission. In Chassidic terminology this may be termed Bitul.

I understand, and I am happy to be corrected that there may be two motives for a parade of this sort:

  1. To promote the life style as being acceptable
  2. To express the view that nobody should live in fear, or be cut off, as a result of their orientation.

Promotion of such a life style is not compatible with Torah. To put it crudely, one would also be against a march which said “It’s okay to do away with Shabbat”. The common element is that they are immutable Torah imperatives, and the quest to seek adherents to such views is anathema to a Torah observant Jew. Indeed, we find great Halachic difference in the Jew who breaks the Sabbath in private versus the one who honks the horn when passing the Rabbi walking to Shule, with the aim of showing that “I don’t care about Sabbath”, or the person who eats prawns because they “just love the taste”.

In terms of the Gay Pride march, if the aim is point 2 above, then I think its existence transcends religion. There are various types of people who don’t accept this reality for other reasons. It is important to make sure that all those who have predilections and quandaries, are not made to feel that they are “outside the tent”. They are in the tent. A more sophisticated approach would be how to engage them, should they personally wish to be engaged on the topic, and make them feel that there are hundreds of Mitzvos that are applicable to them, as much as anyone else. On this point, it would be useful if Rabbis of skill got together and devised some guidelines.

With that in mind, I felt the statements of some 300 Religious Zionist Rabbis achieved nothing positive in respect of the marchers, except for Nir Barkat choosing to remain Pareve and not attend for what he called “sensitivity” reasons. If those Rabbis thought that there was a lack of knowledge about various sins and how they are treated in Judaism, then there are other ways to interact with the various groups. The religious group need a different approach than the one of the non practicing variety. Those approaches need to be advanced and not simple. Quoting a verse, for which the irreligious marchers have no regard, is a waste of time. Do they not know this already?

Point 1 though is something that I do not think should happen from a Halachic viewpoint. I do not see a reason to seek recruits to swell the numbers engaging in such a life style.

The gay pride movement is not without blame here, either. They have much to answer for. Jerusalem is the Holiest City, as such, sensitivity, indeed the same sort of sensitivity they demand when respecting their sexual orientation, should imply that this is definitely not the City where one chooses to march. In the process, they are trampling on sensitivities that they do not understand and in some cases are antagonistic towards. Why do this? It only creates antipathy and division. Of course, this does not mean that there are people in Jerusalem who are confronted with the issue of being gay (or GBLTIQ). They are in Rishon LeTzion, Haifa, and not confined to some geographic point in Israel.

If they have had an Israel march in Tel Aviv, then it’s happened. It can be marketed as such: the location of the march doesn’t signify that it is only for those who live in Tel Aviv. There is no need to offend the Torah based sensibilities in Jerusalem, the Holy City, when sensible alternatives which achieve the same aim are possible. Some of the responsibility for the rhetoric that has occurred, rests with those who also wish to remove the notion that Jerusalem is any holier a place, in Israel. Ironically, that’s what the Arabs do. It is not what Jews do: be they practicing orthodox or otherwise. If they throw a spark into flammable material, then expect a raging fire.

I would have liked to have seen two outcomes from the march:

  1. Jerusalem is considered a no go zone for such marches as the outcome is to cause more antipathy, and that’s precisely what they are trying to overcome. It will actually heighten the problem for GBLTIQ people who will feel minimised.
  2. The Rabbis, need to be more sophisticated in the statements that they put out in response to such events. There should have been meetings beforehand between the organisers and Rabbinic leaders and I expect that a better outcome would have occurred. Of course any Orthodox Rabbi will quote the Torah here if asked. The Torah’s views are not hidden, nor are they unknown. However, I do not know what is achieved by calling such people names as a method to reduce the occurrence of people performing forbidden acts of the Torah.

It is a democracy. That also implies that the Jews of Jerusalem should have a say about the compatibility of the event occurring also in Jerusalem. If the motive is to preach secularism, then it is secularism, not being Gay, that is the issue here. Silent peaceful marches against creeping secularism where Israelis are identifying as nothing different to a non-Jew who lives in Israel (and sees Israel as their secular home country). This may even come to resemble the French Republican model.

It is at times like this, that we need the wise counsel of the lover of all Jews in Israel, Rav Kook. He knew how to ignite the spark of Judaism in Jews who were adopting other isms in Israel and he did so through positive acts. It is time the Rabbis examined their methods of protest and became more advanced in their way of expounding the real basis and foundation for which Jews live in Israel in the first place.

Some will sophomorically claim that this is just the Charedi Leumi section of Religious Zionism, and that they are no different to other Charedim in 90% of their outlook. Rav Kook was a Charedi; there is no doubt about that. One does not have to become a wishy-washy, left-wing, tree-hugging, apologetic Rabbi with a community of people who are lax in increasing numbers, to be qualified to respond to these events.

Unfortunately, our generation doesn’t have a Rav Kook. It doesn’t have a Lubavitcher Rebbe or a Rav Soloveitchik. Apart from Rabbi Sacks who is wonderfully adept at expressing Torah views without causing others to become anti-Torah, we are lacking Rabbinic leaders who understand people, and not only the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch.

Leifer again, sigh

[Hat tip NB]

Adass Yisroel “unaware” of Leifer funding

by Henry Benjamin

A member of Melbourne’s Adass Yisroel community has told J-Wire that no-one is aware of anyone within the community funding Malka Leifer who lives in Israel but is wanted by authorities in Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse.

The offences took place when Leifer was employed by the Adass Yisroel school as its principal . She fled Melbourne in 2008 when allegations were surfacing and has avoided extradition on ten occasions to Australia failing to appear in court on psychiatric grounds.

Melbourne’s “The Herald Sun” has reported that it “can reveal a bank account linked to Mrs Leifer is being topped up by Adass community members here”.

The report stated that “deposits are being made over the counter at a bank in Elsternwick”. Elsternwick borders the suburb of Ripponlea, home to the Adass community.

Leifer has been ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment in Israel…a process which could take up to ten years. The court has ordered assessments to be produced every six months.

Malka Leifer
Shlomo Abelesz, featured in the recent SBS documentary on Melbourne’s Adass community Untold Story – Strictly Jewish.

He told J-Wire: “No-one I have spoken to within Adass is aware of this and we are as shocked as the rest of the community. If someone is doing it privately, it is possible. We would be surprised if it is true.”

Ablest said that if it were true someone, somewhere “had broken privacy laws”. He added: “I haven’t heard of one person within Adass who has heard of this account. Mrs Leifer was not very popular. There would be very people who would be wanting to support her within Adass. The story sounds to me like fabrication and until I see proof of it I would say it’s a beat-up. Everyone is disgusted with her. No-one in any official position in Adass has ever heard of this account.”

It’s interesting to see secular privacy laws of the country allegedly being mentioned. Torah Law may say something else. Check with your own Rabbi.

Challenges

There are a number in Melbourne. I won’t elaborate but 

חיה ביילא בת לאה בתיה 

Is one which hits home personally and she should get back to full health quickly.

I was at a Simcha tonight, and all I heard was ‘it’s terrible what’s going on in Melbourne lately’

Then somebody sent me THIS CHILLUL HASHEM

If I was there I would take the parents and teachers and air drop them into Gaza. That’s obviously their home. Disgraceful low lives.

Don’t support Satmar ever

These chassidim occupy a religion which has many connections to orthodox judaism, but they are also the biggest group that causes problems. Purim wouldn’t have occurred if Mordechai was a Satmar Chosid or Esther was one of them. He would have been told to cower to the enemy and suck it it all up and Esther would have been hidden in a bunker. These people who base their religion on R’ Yoelish’s discredited V’Yoel Moshe continue to be a thorn in the side of Jewish continuity and unity. They are everywhere and their polemic is offensive and untimely. While rockets rain from Gaza this is what they say.

In Melbourne, they are in Adass Yisrael. Don’t forget it. On Yom Ha’atzmaut, their Rabbi commanded that they say Tachanun at a Bris!

When they come to collect “Peerim Gelt” ask who they are. If they are Satmar. Give them ten cents. Give your money to poor people in the community who don’t follow this perverted philosophy. Which philosophy? The one which gives strength to the enemy. They haven’t learned that sucking up to those who actually don’t like you, will never help in the long run. Read this from ynet, and tell me if it doesn’t annoy you as much as it does me (emphasis is mine).

I don’t know which permission Rabbi Teitelbaum used to visit Israel and then leave. It seems to me that this is patently against Jewish law. I know of no permission to do so because of a grandson’s bar mitzvah. Love to read his halachic defence. It’s all politics; not halacha.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a clue how many in Melbourne’s Adass community follow him versus his (beloved) brother Zalman, but they both share the same hate for the Jewish State and do enormous damage with their sharp unbridled tongues.

Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum visits Israel and rails against settlers and ultra-Orthodox recruits who join the ID.
Kobi Nachshoni
Published: 03.11.16, 17:33 / Israel Jewish Scene
As terror attacks continue to strike Israel, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum said on Tuesday that “the real culprits are the settlers in Israel who agitate the nations of the world in the country and throughout the world, which causes serious hatred of Israel and the severe wave of attacks.”

Rabbi Teitelbaum, also known as the Satmar Rebbe, and his brother lead the world’s largest Hasidic movement, landed in Israel on Tuesday and spoke sharply to his followers, at his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Jerusalem. The city had which suffered a serious attack shortly before that, alongside two other attacks that night. “In recent months, the blood of Israel is spilling like water,” he said. “We cry every day for those dead and wounded. ”

The rabbi also addressed the growing numbers of ultra-Orthodox recruits in the IDF. “It is true that there is no coercion,” he said, “but via soft words there is an increase in recruits to the IDF, which is a source of evil , and especially when the young men are not as strong spirituality. What is new is that no one here screams out loud that there is a prohibition to enlist in the IDF, which is is a place of destruction.”

The anti-Zionist rabbi attacked in his speech all the ultra-Orthodox political parties that participate in state institutions, are partners in the government, and enjoy its budgets. “You are always hearing about what’s happening here in Israel, and especially the conscription law, there there are agreements with the government,” he said. “We will stand firm so that the yeshivas will not be destroyed. ”

“The agreements – there are some who say they are good, some say they are bad, and they need a lawyer to teach them, but the reality is that since that law there has been a rise in ultra-Orthodox recruits. One should know that the main sin in enlistment is
those who go there will not return (i.e. will become alienated from religion – KN).”

Jewish Care Responds to Article Published in The Age Feb 10 2016

Bill Appleby, Jewish Care CEO formally responds to an article that has been published in The Age newspaper on February 10, 2016 entitled Yeshivah Centre Abuse Victims Fear Bullying, Intimidation:

Last December, we announced that we would assist the Yeshivah Centre in the operation of their Redress Scheme which was established to offer assistance to victims of child sexual abuse.
Jewish Care agreed to operate a confidential 1800 number and email address for abuse victims. In addition, our President Mike Debinski was engaged in a personal and separate capacity to oversee the operation of the Scheme.
Our Board agreed to assist Yeshivah because we felt that we were uniquely and appropriately placed to offer assistance to the victims and that we have the relevant expertise in the area to most effectively respond to survivors of abuse; ensuring a caring and empathetic initial response to what is no doubt a traumatic disclosure.
The Board and I are extremely disappointed with the article as it contains a number of serious factual errors. Unfortunately, Jewish Care has been mentioned in The Age article as having breached a victim’s trust after an email sent to the Board of Jewish Care was sent to a member of the Committee of Management at the Yeshivah Centre.
It is absolutely vital to understand that the author of the email mentioned in the article did not identify as a victim, nor did the email contain any victim information. The content of the email only raised an issue of perceived governance concerns. Those concerns have been clarified by the Board with the assistance of independent legal advice.
The article also stated that Jewish Care is the administrator of the new sexual abuse Redress Scheme. This is incorrect. Jewish Care is not the administrator of the Yeshivah Redress Scheme. The Scheme is administered independently of Jewish Care and I have previously described our limited role above.
We believe the implication that Jewish Care Directors released information about a victim to another body is defamatory and formally requested The Age newspaper on the 9th February to immediately retract these inaccuracies.

In closing, I want to give our community, clients, residents, staff and volunteers absolute confidence that we respect and keep confidential all client information in accordance with our statutory responsibilities. This is as you would expect.
As we have done for 168 years, we continue to serve the community professionally, providing vital support for those who are most in need.We remain ready to assist and continue with our efforts on behalf of all those in the Victorian Jewish community who need our assistance.

We believe the implication that Jewish Care Directors released information about a victim to another body is defamatory and formally requested The Age newspaper on the 9th February to immediately retract these inaccuracies.
In closing, I want to give our community, clients, residents, staff and volunteers absolute confidence that we respect and keep confidential all client information in accordance with our statutory responsibilities. This is as you would expect.

Belzer chassidim cave in to secular pressure

Make no mistake, this was not about Judaism. It wasn’t about דינא דמלכותה it was about keeping their school open. I had blogged about the issue here. They have caved in and shown less guts than the days of yore when the Gedolim of Europe had to deal with the issue of introducing secular studies into Yeshivos. If they really followed their Rebbe, then they should have gone on Aliya to Kiryas Belz or something and followed his ruling. Instead, they decided Golus in Stamford Hill under מלכות של חסד was preferable.

From the Jerusalem Post

Plans by leaders of the Belz hassidic community in north London’s Stamford Hill to expel pupils if they were driven to school by their mothers have been countermanded by the school governors, after a strong warning Education Secretary Nicky Morgan that it was “completely unacceptable” and her instigation of an inquiry into the controversial policy.

The issue arose after the head of two junior schools – Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass, for boys, and Beis Malka, for girls – sent out a note threatening to institute the new policy from the beginning of the new school year in August. The note stated that the edict conformed with the ruling of the leader of the Belz Hassidim, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, that women adherents must not drive.

Headlines about bans on women driving led to close attention on the Belz community in particular and hassidic Jews in general, with parallels being drawn with Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive. Jewish communal leaders – including Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Rabbi Joseph Dwek, the head of the Spanish and Portuguese community – distanced themselves from the ruling.

Morgan, who also serves as women’s and equalities minister, said the government would take any necessary action to “address the situation.”

Faced with negative reaction, Ahron Klein, chief executive of the boys school, issued a statement at the end of last week in which he stated that the head teacher had “sent out the letter on behalf of the spiritual heads of the community, who had not taken into account the implications of such a policy.”

He added that Neshei Belz, the community’s women’s organization, had also issued a statement saying that Belz women’s values may be compromised in driving a vehicle, although they added that they respect individual choices made in this matter.

Klein pointed out that the message that children would be excluded had not come from the school’s board of governors, “who did not approve the letter in advance.” And he clarified that the schools believe that women have a choice about whether they want to drive, “and our policy is to accept all children who are members of our community, which we have been doing for the last 40 years.”

Klein confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that, indeed, women driving their children to school would not be faced with their children being turned away, though he emphasized it was generally accepted by hassidic Jews – and not just by the 700 families of the Belz community in the UK – that for reasons based on their form of Judaism, women do not drive.

While welcoming the clarification, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which declared the policy “unlawful and discriminatory,” announced it had written to the schools demanding further clarification that they were complying with UK law and seeking confirmation no pupils driven by their mothers to school would be subjected to sanctions.

I wonder which היתר they used and whether it was sanctioned by their Rebbe? Whatever, they have come out of this looking quite silly.

Support for Rabbi Riskin

I had blogged on this Here

(hat tip nb) Rav Melamed is considered one of the leading Poskim for the Chareidi Leumi group (right wing religious zionists)

 

I’m writing to update you on events surrounding the Israeli Chief Rabbinical Council’s refusal to automatically renew Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of Efrat. As I wrote last week, Rabbi Riskin has instead been summoned for a hearing, at which the Council will examine his qualifications and credentials for continuing the work to which he has devoted his life since the very establishment of the city.

I am delighted to report that Rabbi Riskin has been blessed with an incredible groundswell of support, which testifies to the meaningful, lasting impact he has had on world Jewry. 

He has been especially touched by the solidarity and encouragement expressed in letters, emails, phone calls, tweets and facebook posts from individuals spanning the globe. 

In addition, prominent members of Knesset and Israeli government ministers, communal and spiritual leaders in Israel and the Diaspora and countless organizations have spoken and written eloquently on his behalf, demonstrating the highest levels of respect he has earned from a broad cross-section of the Jewish world. 

Below is one such article, authored by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, spiritual leader of the community of Har Bracha and a leading figure in the “Chardal” (ultra-Orthodox Zionist) community. In addition to beautifully encapsulating so much of what has been written and said over the past week, the poignancy of his heartfelt advocacy stems precisely from the fact that he holds fundamentally differing views from Rabbi Riskin on many issues. 

I invite you to read and be inspired by Rabbi Melamed’s expression of steadfast support on behalf of our beloved rabbi.

With warmest regards and Shabbat Shalom

David Katz

International Director, Ohr Torah Stone

 Op-Ed: On the Rabbi Riskin Saga:

Don’t Disqualify the Torah Scroll (from Arutz Sheva)

by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed 

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is a man who raised himself from poverty to dedicate his life to Torah and more – differences in philosophical or even halakhic approaches should not be used to disqualify one rabbi or another. 

It was recently reported that the Council of the Chief Rabbinate has expressed doubt as to whether to permit Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from staying on as chief municipal rabbi of Efrat despite recently turning 75.

The hearing ordinarily would have been nothing more than a procedural matter. But several members of the council evidently aimed to prevent Rabbi Riskin from continuing in his capacity as a result of their objections.

This, then, is the appropriate time to take a stand and praise Rabbi Riskin, a righteous, wise leader who has done extraordinary things.

Rabbi Riskin was born into a non-religious, poverty-stricken family. But from a young age, of his own free will and with the help of his grandmother, he began making his way toward the Torah and religious observance. Being a prodigy and an outstanding student, he was accepted to Harvard, the most prestigious university in the world, with a full scholarship. By choosing to study there, he would have guaranteed his professional and financial future: no door is closed to Harvard graduates.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, a temptation that few could resist. Yet Rabbi Riskin declined the scholarship and instead made his way to Yeshiva University, which also took notice of his abilities and granted him a full scholarship.

Since then, he has dedicated his life to Torah.

As a young, gifted, and charismatic rabbi, a captivating speaker with the ability to lift up the souls of his audience and draw them near to Torah and religious observance, Rabbi Riskin earned special esteem in the United States. Successful, educated individuals also found meaning in his words of Torah and were privileged to become acquainted with Jewish tradition under his guidance. “There was truthful Torah in his mouth, and he brought many back from sin.” The future that awaited him was that of a leader of the American-Jewish community.

Yet before even turning 40, inspired by pure faith in God and His Torah, he gave up his position in the United States and made a decision to immigrate to Israel.

In so doing, he gave up what had been his main skill in his work: his command of the English language, which had brought him the success he enjoyed in the United States. True, he learned to speak Hebrew excellently. but they say that in English few can parallel his rhetorical skills. Thanks to his vision, abilities, and leadership, he was able to bring many members of his community to Israel in his wake. He established an Israeli city at the heart of whose cultural life are the study of Torah and religious observance, whose residents enjoy a high standard of living and contribute to the economic, scientific, and social development of the State of Israel.

His ‘aliyah’ to Israel was felt by hundreds, even thousands, who followed in his footsteps to new homes in Efrat and throughout Israel, while also benefiting from the enhanced religious life implicit in such a change. Never slowing, Rabbi Riskin successfully established yeshivot and educational institutions for boys and girls in Gush Etzion and Jerusalem. Drawing on incredible sources of energy, he still makes his way to all of these institutions, where he teaches, speaks, illuminates, and imparts to his students the excitement of a life centered on Torah and Judaism.

Yet when he arrived in Israel, he was guaranteed nothing. He came with little more than the shirt on his back.

Western Aliyah to Israel

Unfortunately, though we are not always aware of it, the vast majority of those who have immigrated to Israel in modern times have come from countries where Jews were subject to persecution and poverty. Immigration from Western countries, particularly the United States, is perhaps the most impressive of all.

I therefore have a deep appreciation of Rabbi Riskin as well as all other immigrants from the United States.

A Difference of Approach

There are most definitely different approaches to various issues in Jewish law. This always has been the case in Jewish discourse, whether between the sages of the Mishnah, those of the Gemara, the luminaries of Geonic Babylonia, the scholars of the medieval era, or those of the modern period. Sometimes the differences stem from people’s different characters, as with Shammai and Hillel. Other times they stem from differences in background or intellectual method. Concerning these issues, our sages said (Ḥagigah 3b), “‘Masters of assemblies’ are those scholars who sit, some in this faction and some in that, and occupy themselves with the Torah. Some say it is impure; others say it is pure. Some forbid; others permit. Some declare it invalid; others declare it valid.

Lest a person say, ‘Then how can I study the Torah?’ the verse states that all were ‘given by a single shepherd’: a single God gave them, a single leader said them, from the mouth of the Lord of all creatures, blessed is He, as is stated, ‘God stated all of these things.’ So you, too, make your ears a funnel and develop a discerning heart so that you can hear the words of those who say it is impure and the words of those who say it is pure, the words of those who forbid and the words of those who permit, the words of those who declare it invalid and the words of those who declare it valid.

American Jewry

Rabbi Riskin’s American background plays an important part in his pursuits: American Jews and immigrants from the United States stand at the forefront of the struggle with Western culture and its principles of liberalism and equality, including feminism.

Out of their faithfulness to the Torah, Rabbi Riskin and his colleagues have forged a path to contend with these major and important questions. Among American rabbis, too, there are different approaches: how much to open up and how much to close, what to bring near and what to keep distant.

Sometimes, other rabbis, including myself, prefer other solutions. Sometimes this preference stems from habits of observance to which we are devoted, sometimes from the fact that we believe a certain way is more appropriate. For the most part, these differences of opinion and practice pertain to questions of education and society, rather than to questions of practice per se. Time will tell what advantages and disadvantages each path contains. In any event, we must not seek to delegitimize Rabbi Riskin’s path, which is one of the most important approaches to religious observance in our day. 

A Whole Torah Scroll

If a single letter is missing from a Torah scroll, it is unfit for use, and the same holds true for the pan-Jewish religious world: every true Jewish scholar has a letter in the Torah, and any person who excludes one of these scholars makes his own Torah scroll unfit for use. Any offense against Rabbi Riskin’s service in the rabbinate is equivalent to the obliteration of whole sections of the Torah.

I imagine that it was only out of ignorance that the Council of the Chief Rabbinate entertained doubts with regard to Rabbi Riskin. I am confident that once they have heard a bit of his reverence, erudition, and rectitude, the majority of the members of the rabbinical council will take his side.

If, heaven forbid, they reach a contrary decision, Rabbi Riskin’s dignity will not be harmed. His standing in his community and his institutions will keep rising, and his influence will become even greater. However, the public standing of the Chief Rabbinate as the public representative of the Torah of all Jews will be weakened when it becomes known that the Torah scroll it represents is deficient and unfit.

Policy of the Chief Rabbinate

Some have argued that the Chief Rabbinate should draw a line that all rabbis must follow, and Rabbi Riskin is not following the line that was drawn concerning such issues as conversion.

True, it is desirable that the Rabbinate take a position in pressing matters of public importance-but in order to do so, it must engage in a deep, serious discussion of each of these issues, a discussion of Talmudic, medieval, and modern literature that analyzes the reality of the matter at hand in all its dimensions. In order to expedite such a discussion, rabbis who are active in the given area would have to study various books and articles ahead of time, and then the discussion of every issue would continue for at least a few whole days.

Unfortunately, today no serious discussion is held concerning any important matter, whether in the Rabbinate or in any other religious entity. For instance, when it comes to conversion, Rabbi Ḥaim Amsalem wrote a very respectable book that is deserving of discussion. True, I draw different conclusions from his, but in objecting to what he wrote most of his opponents offer worthless arguments that rely on violence such as is accepted in Haredi circles.

I must add that despite the great value of arriving at a consensual position on every issue, such a position must not come at the expense of rabbinic discretion. Even when the Great Sanhedrin held session, local courts enjoyed a certain degree of authority, because fundamentally this position is not a thin line, but a divinely sanctioned field, a field in whose scope there are different practices and approaches thanks to which the Oral Torah becomes richer and greater.

All the more so today, when there is no Great Sanhedrin that traces its authority directly to Moses, must the Rabbinate not set a rigid line that seeks to disqualify religious perspectives of substance. The lesser the standing and authority of the Chief Rabbinate, the more it must take the various perspectives into consideration in arriving at its position. This is how the rabbis of the Jewish people carried themselves in previous generations.

“One Law Shall There Be for You All”

Aside from anything else, a single law must apply to all. When the Council of the Chief Rabbinate declines to react to profound challenges to its views and its dignity on the part of rabbis belonging to the haredi stream, who violently reject its kashrut supervision and treat the chief rabbis and municipal and neighborhood rabbis with contempt, it must also act tolerantly and fondly toward rabbis such as Rabbi Riskin, who respect the Chief Rabbinate but sometimes take a different track.

In today’s reality, the Rabbinate does not go out of its way immediately to dismiss rabbis who, contrary to the rules of Jewish law, disqualify conversions performed by representatives of the Rabbinate. It continues to recognize kosher supervision services, marriages, and conversions by “rabbis” who have the gall to publicly dismiss commandments of the Torah, such as the duty to settle the Land of Israel and defend the nation of Israel through military service, or deprecate the good that God bestowed on us with the establishment of the state and denigrate those who recite the Psalms of Praise on Independence Day.

In such with today’s reality, the Rabbinate must restrain itself from taking action against a rabbi whose reverence, deeds, and erudition are greater than those Haredi “rabbis” whom it is overly careful not to slight. 

Same gender marriage

My first point is a Jewish one. Marriage does not equal Kiddushin. It is a civil concept. Were it not a civil requirement for certain privileges, many Jews would simply not be involved in secular marriage.

Kiddushin is well defined. It is JEWISH marriage. On that front, there is no compromise and there can not be a change. The Torah is explicit. Those who find an opening can call it what they like, but it’s not KIDDUSHIN, and anyone who calls it Kiddushin belongs to the Reform movement and is not considered part of mainstream Judaism.

How should Jews then react to the Civil contract of Marriage? I look at these issues through the eyes of Halacha. The Halacha which is germane, is that of B’nei Noach. The reality is that we cannot be seen to be supporting something contrary to the Noachide laws. Those people, however, have free choice. When they live in a union, which they already do, without the civil contract, they are technically in breach, although one wonders whether Tinok Shenishba applies 🙂 I do not think the Jewish vote classifies as Mesayea Lidvar Aveyra or that this even applies because they already do it without the contract.

So, what would I say if asked? I would say that Judaism does not support same gender  marriage contracts. Judaism doesn’t proselytise, and whilst we have our views we recognise that the non Judaic world are governed by the laws of that land. We adhere to the laws of the land, but our personal stance as a religion is that there should be no change. At the same time, we do not support making someone an outcast because of their proclivities. Those are personal matters. We also feel that should the civil concept be legalised, all groupings based on gender preference should dissipate as this only causes animosity.

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

I’m not getting into the latest abomination any further

It’s become a horribly repetitive and deflating refrain. Children abused, abused unfairly treated and often ostracised, all sorts of Askonim and Rabonim are accused and shown to have done the wrong thing. Papers such as the AJN have a field day.

Some get away with it, others are punished accordingly. Psychologically, the Chillul Hashem is all too heavy to carry at the minute. I feel embarrassed to be a Jew in רשות הרבים when it’s pasted all over the Sun and AJN.

One thing though: if anyone even remotely tries to pressure the courageous girl who came forward and lifted the lid on probably the most closed community in Melbourne, they should be sent לעזאזל with due legislated gusto.

I’m not taking comments on this post. The matter is before the courts and will be decided appropriately.

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

 

 

My Whys over Pesach?

The AJN target Yeshivah and are not at all even handed.

[UPDATED: I was not aware that my post (in good faith, by a friend) was published on Facebook. I don’t use Facebook except in a private professional capacity to stay in touch with my 450+ postgraduate alumni of nearly 3 decades as it is a most convenient forum.

I understand some people had nice, not nice, and some scathing comments to make about my “Whys”. It’s only a relatively a free country, however, and as author of my thoughts I reserve the right to publish and/or respond to anyone reacting to these. Accordingly, if you feel like it (and frankly it is not my aim to attract comments) and are ready to put a real name to your comment (unless you are, of course a victim of crime) I will moderate your comment according to my understanding of Halacha and common law. If such an arrangement does not suit you, go ahead and write a critique. I won’t be engaging in debate, as this is not why I write. If I want my blood pressure to rise, I have a myriad of better techniques at my disposal 🙂 ]

Onto the article, which I will now proof-read in anticipation of a wider audience than I would normally expect.

Both before and during Pesach I found myself full of pitputim that I needed to express. I held myself back for reasons that aren’t worth recording. One of these was that I didn’t think it was permitted on Chol Hamoed. Maybe I was the proverbial תם (simpleton) of the Hagadda and should have fired thoughts as soon as they occupied my neurones, but, for various reasons, I held back and wrote them immediately after Pesach (when I undoubtedly should have helped my wife). Undoubtedly that was not the right timing, but let’s not go there (thanks CBN).

Some of the responses to these questions need people to retrospect through new glasses; as such I was reticent. This is a hard job, Accordingly, I’m going to frame some of my thoughts as a series of why’s as opposed to proffering cheap advice.

  1. Why has the disgraceful Australian Jewish News continued to remain the mouthpiece of few, as opposed to a faithful unbiased reporter of Jewish news allowing for a wider range of reporting of fact. To give but one example, anyone on Facebook (and I am not on Facebook except with my University alumni although I have an account I originally set up to see pics of my grandchildren) can look up Avi Yemini and find most serious accusations which he apparently alleges will now be formalised via the police against his father Steven (aka Tzefania) Waks. Why Steve? Well, he has clearly shown a preference to a centrist orthodox way of life, dispensing with charedi garb and beard. For the record, I am often regarded as centrist and my name is Isaac. Some persist in calling me יצחק and from my perspective both are quite ok. Indeed, halachically speaking one cannot will away a name that one was called formally even if done via deed but lets not go to that area of Halacha. More to the point:Why is the Australian Jewish News seemingly ignorant of Avi Yemini and his siblings and their views of the father of Manny Waks? I met his siblings in Miami and it wasn’t a pretty description, and backed up Avi. Indeed, they don’t like to talk about it. Guess what AJN? That (comparative silence) in of itself is news, and should be reported. Why didn’t you do that? There is more, but I won’t write it.
  2. Why is Tzedek “off the map?” I did see an advertisement this week, which is good but there is no denying the demise of Tzedek and it worries me. At best, it served as an important encouragement to those who have been abused (earlier in their lives) to give voice to that abuse; and encourage others to give voice. This is critical to unveiling the mask of perpetrators and ensuring educational programs become de jure in organisations to recognise and prevent such perverts. We don’t hear comparatively less from Tzedek since their controversial CEO resigned, although I have absolutely nothing against those running it now and I am sure they are as committed to the cause as those who preceded them; irrespective of whether some were victims. I am not a victim of abuse, but I pursued Cyprys until his veil was lifted. I believe Kramer was after my time, and I certainly didn’t experience any abuse from any of my teachers, be they religious or secular in my 12 years in the School and neither did my siblings.
  3. Why are victims creating websites? The manifestation of private websites authored by professed victims serves good in my eyes only if it’s cathartic for them and not investigative. I’m not a psychiatrist but I’d hope their psychiatric advice would be to pursue such channels only if it was part of their healing. There are existing channels. I’m not sure why they aren’t apparently being used. Shouldn’t they channel their life long challenges to established professionals and professional organisations? I don’t think personabused.com.au is the best idea on the planet and furthermore many will see it as self-serving gold-digging. There are formal community and private bodies to help deal with these life long issues and give aid using the best professional methods, as they are developed. At worst it may give the impression that those abused seek to make a career from being abused and I doubt that this is their intention. Well, I hope not. If it indeed is their sublime intention, then I suggest they need even more professional help than they realise.
  4. Why is it that The Australian Jewish News seems to only report one school and institution-the Yeshivah Centre. We all know that the Yeshivah Centre and Chabad in general have done more than arguably any group for Torah observance, Kiruv, and the welfare of those in need. They are not judgemental. Their mantra is love albeit played through the love strings of their Rebbe’s violin. This is their great strength. They do, in the main follow, a system which was typified by their late and great Rebbe. They have rotten apples. No group is immune from that reality. The last Lubavitcher Rebbe (and his father in law) didn’t join groups (e.g. Aguda) and felt they could achieve their aims through an independent well-structured agenda: bringing Jews and Judaism to Torah and Mitzvos through spreading Chassidus Chabad. He rarely (to my knowledge) interfered with the nitty-gritty of problems in his myriad of institutions but was surely bombarded by such (indeed I once did so). He expected that same independence and intellectual purity to be demonstrated by his trained and faithful emissaries. Sure, they asked his advice, but he wasn’t aware of cleaners and locksmiths and groomers of kids in Mikvaos irrespective of the stories you hear of his greatness and vision.Now, it is clear to all, that the SCHOOLS, (Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah) which are really the raison d’être of the entire organisation are employing best practice, to the extent that they are perhaps overly strict. It is known that they are allegedly being sued by some employees who step out of a very strict line and who don’t allegedly practice world’s best standards. This was instituted before the Royal Commission and as soon as word of the criminals Cyprys and Kramer became love children for the reporters of “the Age”. The other love children of “the Age” are Israel and the “Palestinians”. I know some of the reporters from the Age. They hunkered for Jewish stories and used to call me (and read my blog) as I am straight on these matters and always tried to be. Indeed Mr Waks senior rang me almost daily in my pursuit of Cyprys. As a board member of Elwood Shule, I felt an extreme responsibility to stop this pariah from parading in the way he did.
  5. Why is Yeshivah singled out for its particular mode of governance, when all Chabad Houses still function in a similar way and have not been abandoned in any way. Few complain, because they trust the Rabbi and his advisors and they all benefit. Are some going to conduct an audit of a Rabbi Raskin/Engel/You-name-them and their specialised Chabad Houses, or, say Rabbi Lieder who works tirelessly for Israeli back packers (and ironically leave Melbourne with more knowledge of Judaism than what they learned when in Tel Aviv?) No. I don’t hear any call from the Jewish News or the holier than thou’s asking for a different form of transparent governance. Why not? Is it a matter of amount or principle? Don’t get me wrong here. I think they should all, without exception, including Adass’s offshoot extreme school, subscribe to the strictest codes especially given the Chillul Hashem we have endured. I also happen to disagree with the mode of governance but having grown up witnessing the hopeless squalor that Rabbi Groner lived in, I never considered him to have anything other than the institution in his mind. Indeed, when my father gave him some money before Pesach, the next day there was a receipt from the Yeshivah Centre.
  6. [Please note] The information about Heichal Hatorah (Rabbi Donnenbaum) was miscommunicated. It isn’t based on video surveillance. There is a policy, as I understand it being developed by professionals which as I am informed will be an approved policy that can stand up to accepted standards.  We apologise for that previous innacuracy.
  7. Why only Chabad? It’s not just Chabad. Rabbi Kohn, a controversial figure himself, runs what is effectively the identical model of a Chabad house, except that his is a private business like Meir Gershon Rabi. Will anyone ever know the finances? Cyprys went to Kohn’s minyan! I heard Rabbi Kohn say he learnt his craft from R’ Nochum Zalman Gurevich, who we all knew and loved. Well he learned some of it, the bits that garnered donations. Yes, Kohn’s bent could be described as non Hasidic or anti Hasidic, but who audits his books? What real governance exists? What standards do they use there? Is there a community list—even a Shomer Shabbos list—of every single place that has an acceptable verifiable standard. Let’s not forget, people like Cyprys would try to hire a Shule Hall or a Youth Hall and use that as their modus operandi. He worked for the CSG no less and they had no clue.2015 is not 1985 or 1995 or earlier. The world has changed we must completely eradicate this scourge of scum. It is in fact far worse overseas, if you can believe it because they are so much “holier” and use cattle prongs to elicit a gett as long as you pay through your teeth.
  8. Why are Adass Israel ignored? Peyos don’t make the man. Malka Leifer, has strangely not been a constant focus of those affected by Cyprys and/or Kramer and she runs free allegedly in Immanuel in Israel. Credible rumors abound that she is seeking to avoid extradition to face serious charges on the grounds that the “West Bank” where she resides is not Israel! and Australia has no extradition treaty. Can you believe such a Chutzpah? If true, this is a clever but grossly offensive defence by smart attorneys. I ask why the silence from the Adass Congregation that provides us with so many products and producers. Is it only about food and profit? You cannot get Adass to do anything until you hit their hip pocket. The rest of us are unwanted pimples of the Sitra Achra. Don’t be mistaken. This is what they are taught. I have heard it from the number 2 in the Rabbinic side of the organisation. The youth of Adass are not the old generation. They have little love and are taught thatAhavasYisroel only exists for aShomer Shabbos.There are some wealthy people in Adass. Why isn’t Leifer’s picture in the local Immanuel paper weekly saying “Beware of this person. There are serious allegations of lesbian pedophilia against her”. Should she be teaching or ever left alone even with her own children? Has she even admitted she was wrong, short of fleeing the next day. I asked arguably the third most senior Rabbi at Adass and he shrugged his shoulders saying “What can we do”. I urge you to ask them when you bump into them at various establishments. Ask at the bakeries, ask at the fish shops, ask at the next function you attend. You can do plenty Adass but you thumb your nose at the non charedi community and now also deny that many of your own are “off the derech” something you prided yourself with and now send away so “nobody will notice”.
  9. Why aren’t other schools in the frame? I was informed reliably by someone at the Royal Commission that there were n students of Mt Scopus abused some time ago and a then headmaster was approached and said “Shoosh” it will cause a Chillul Hashem. Sound familiar? I know the AJN were at the Royal Commission. Was there an order barring the names of other schools affected by the despicable reprehensible pedophiles to be reported. I had wondered about the timing of a later letter by Rabbi Kennard (who reads my blog). He didn’t reply. Why? Rabbi Kennards letter was correct and proper but should have been written at least 6 months earlier.
  10. Why don’t people re-internalise that Yeshivah was a one man band. An incredibly wonderful one-man band with more success than people could ever imagine. It was the late and great Rabbi Groner, who whilst consulting with professionals, would not today remotely repeat his approach if he had his time again. Is there anyone game enough to say he would? There was always a committee, but they were and are toothless tigers who took ultimate direction from Rabbi Groner. If he said “no” the committee could proverbially jump. He told them what he thought they needed to know. I have no doubt there were many private things he took his grave. Tonight is his birthday as I just saw from an email.Much was in his head and certainly never on paper. He was the Shaliach. People were only too happy to call him their friend and get his calls in hospital while he was in hospital himself, and come to functions in his honour and he is on the record as vociferously castigating some of the parents whose children became victims (and they ignored him on occasion). Is there a real need to destroy the man after his passing, together with his significant life work, now, while the place has initiated a process to modernise its governance when ill-timed votes threaten its existence financially? Sure, if their new governance is a façade, go for it, but for crying out loud, give them a chance to go through a process. It doesn’t happen over night.
  11. I know of another very well-known (real) clergy (not charedi) who the Jewish News chose NOT to name over allegations of past pedophilia. The name would shock. He was by no means “ultra” orthodox. In that case the AJN (correctly) did not name the person because he couldn’t defend himself against the odious claims. Why only Yeshivah? Because some Rabbis showed themselves to be second-rate and/or clever by half?
  12. Why are there so many (self-proclaimed) counsellors permitted to discuss all manner of most serious topics to congregations and groups “as if” they are experts. If you are a counsellor, then register with the Australian Counselling Association and/or other similar bodies. Your commerce degree isn’t enough. There are enough complaints about counsellors themselves but if, unlike psychologists, some can get away with a load of ill-advised counselling, and more, without being answerable to a formal board, then no Jewish organisation should let them into their four walls to speak and nobody should seek them for any advice except which chewing gum to buy. Some maybe okay, but others are straight out charlatans, Register! Did victims go to a psychiatrist and spill their guts out and get medication where indicated or did they run rings around the counselling option of people who don’t answer to a board of counsellors.
  13. Why are people skeptical about those who sit on Yeshiva’s board or sat on that board? I have emails from about a decade ago where (it now turns out) some victims and others were looking to change things while Rabbi Groner was alive. One hears all types of stories of “this board member” being stubborn, “that one” being nepotistic etc. Some of it is true especially in a vacuüm. I know three former board members and I don’t think they aligned with any of the above. I know they gave thousands of hours of their lives to keep the institutions above water and growing in a way that no Jewish child was ever turned away. Remember, I happen NOT to be a card-carrying member of the “Chabad only” approach to Judaism, although members of my family happen do. We live in peace and in harmony. It’s not hard.There is a review of governance allegedly taking place. It doesn’t and can’t take 5 minutes. Instead, I hear people saying “it’s a PR trick”. How do they know that? I know a serious person who is looking at the structure and they are definitely not looking at it from a PR point of view. Yeshivah is in transition. It had to happen after Rabbi Groner’s passing following that of his mentor. It’s a shock and terrible that the spectre of pedophilia needed to be the back-breaking catalyst, but in the words of a good friend “it is what it is”. So people why don’t you sit back and see what comes forth. By all means if it isn’t transparent and in keeping with the law, bleat and bleat and bleat. Until then, surely wait a little while.
  14. Why do people feel that beating Rabbi Telsner or Rabbi Glick is the answer? It isn’t. It’s 2015. I especially rang Rabbi Telsner because I wanted to know exactly what he said that got the Jewish news positively apoplectic on their front page and what was said to him. How the AJN could then say “tell us it’s not so Rabbi Telsner” is beyond me. Rabbi Telsner and I have a love/less love relationship. He doesn’t like it when I raise Chabad issues with him (halachic) and he’s not my Posek but he doesn’t deserve to be manipulated.
  15. Why isn’t the Association of Jewish Psychologists being used more. They respond. They don’t go looking for work. I went to a talk and was very impressed with Dr Dan Gordon. He is someone who every School should use for an in-service for their teachers. Why was this a well attended event by Rabbis and religious people and yet so poorly attended by others including headmasters and/or vice-principals? I have a feeling my wife may have been the only senior teacher there. These are specialist psychologists, with PhDs and experience; they have authority and wisdom and aren’t running shonky practices. Listen to their professional wisdom.
  16. Why is the AJN becoming more of a left-wing “Age” newspaper seemingly only haranguing religious institutions (except Adass who don’t buy their paper and buy Hamodia). Religious groups certainly deserve it in some cases, but as I’ve pointed out the AJN are transparently biased. I dislike Hamodia with a passion because it is such a fake fairy tale “feel good” paper full of omissions. I saw a new paper emerge over the break. I hope it takes form. To be honest, I wouldn’t be unhappy if the AJN disappeared if it didn’t seriously reform to become a properly neutral paper instead of a harbinger of an agenda together with pictures of who attended what. I’m tempted to cancel my subscription and my advertising. If it’s possible and the AJN is listening, let me know and I will cancel. Call me tomorrow. My blood pressure will be healthier without your articles and the predictable Henry Herzog et al propaganda that we all skip and are sick to death of.

On the Age of 20 in Judaism

One of my readers commented (with his usual vitriolic language) about this age in the context of halachic maturity (which was the essence I was discussing in that original article in respect of Yossi Feldman focussing on age 13 at the Royal Commission as being the transition from a minor to something else). I felt this was disingenuous, but be that as it may, another reader sent me the following which I present as of interest. If I find some time over Shabbos, I may add to this from the Tzitz Eliezer as I had mentioned in the comments section.

גיל הבגרות המלאה 

אף שהבגרות ההלכתית לזכרים הוא גיל 13, מצאנו במקורות רבים שגיל הבגרות המלאה הוא 20. 

בתנ”ך מצאנו במספר מקומות את גיל עשרים שנה כגיל הבגרות המלאה:

בתרומת מחצית השקל: שמות פרק ל פסוק יד, וכן בפרק לח פסוק כו.

בערכים: ויקרא פרק כז פסוקים ג, ה.

במפקדים: במדבר א, פסוקים ג-מה, פרק כו, ב, ד, דברי הימים א כז,כג, ב כה, ה.

בחטא המרגלים: במדבר פרק יד, כט, פרק לב, יא.

בגיל הלויים לעבודת המקדש: עזרא ג, ח, דברי הימים א כ, כד-כז, ב לא, יז, אך ראו במדבר ח פסוק כד: “זאת אשר ללוים מבן חמש ועשרים שנה ומעלה יבא לצבא צבא בעבודת אהל מועד”, חולין דף כד עמוד א, ורמב”ם כלי המקדש פרק ג הלכה ז.

ביוצאי מצרים מצאנו מחלוקת בין הפרשנים בגילם של ה”גברים” וה”טף” יוצאי מצרים:

“ויסעו בני ישראל מרעמסס סכתה כשש מאות אלף רגלי הגברים לבד מטף”. (שמות פרק יב פסוק לז). 

מה היה גילם של הגברים, ומה היה גילם של הטף?

בעוד האבן עזרא (בפירושיו הארוך והקצר) מתייחס לגילם של הטף:

“לבד מטף שהוא פחות מכ’ שנה”. 

הרי רש”י בפירושו מתייחס לגילם של הגברים:

“הגברים – מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”. 

לדעת הרב מנחם כשר, (תורה שלמה חלק יב, הערה תקפ”ב), מקורם הוא במכילתא דרבי שמעון בר יוחאי פרק יב פסוק (לז) ויסעו:

“מטף מלמד שעשו עמהן פחות מבן [עשרים שנה]”. 

בשיר השירים רבה (וילנא) פרשה ג ד”ה ד ורבנן פתרי:

“ששים גבורים, אלו ששים רבוא שיצאו ממצרים מבן עשרים שנה ולמעלה. מגבורי ישראל, אלו ששים רבוא שיצאו ממצרים מבן עשרים שנה ולמטה”. 

הרמב”ן כתב, (שמות פרק ל פסוק יב):

“והנה ישראל כשיצאו ממצרים היו כשש מאות אלף רגלי (שמות יב לז), לא שש מאות, ומתו מהם עד המנין ההוא, ונתרבו במשלימים שנותיהם. ואולי “הגברים” אינם בני עשרים, אבל כל הנקרא איש מבן שלש עשרה שנה ומעלה בכלל, כי הוא להוציא הנשים והקטנים בלבד, כאשר אמר לבד מטף”. 

[בספרות החיצונית מצאנו שבהקרבת קרבן הפסח חייבים רק בני עשרים שנה ומעלה.

במגילת המקדש (יז, ח), נאמר:

“מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה יעשו אותו ואכלוהו בלילה”.

בספר היובלים (מט, א, יז) נאמר:

“בדבר הפסח לעשותו בעתו בארבעה עשר לחודש הראשון… כל איש אשר בא ביומו יאכלוהו בבית המקדש אלהיכם לפני ה’ מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”].

בתלמוד מצאנו במספר מקומות איסור למלא תפקיד ציבורי על מי שאינו “בן עשרים”:

בעבודה במקדש:

מאימתי כשר לעבודה? משיביא שתי שערות, רבי אומר, אומר אני עד שיהיה בן עשרים … ת”ר: מאימתי כשר לעבודה, משיביא שתי שערות, אבל אחיו הכהנים אין מניחים לו לעבוד עד שיהא בן עשרים”. (ספרא אמור פרשה ג, חולין דף כד עמוד ב), וראו רמב”ם הלכות כלי המקדש פרק ה הט”ו.

כשליח-ציבור ועלייה לדוכן: 

“… אינו עובר לפני התיבה, ואינו נושא את כפיו, ואינו עומד על הדוכן עד שימלא זקנו. רבי אומר: וכולהם מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה, שנאמר ויעמידו את הלויים מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”. (ירושלמי סוכה פ”ג הי”ב, וראו תוספתא כפשוטה (ליברמן), חגיגה פרק א הלכה ג, חולין דף כד ע”ב, מסכת סופרים פרק יד הלכה יג).

לדון דיני נפשות: 

לדברי רבי אבהו בשם ר’ יוחנן, מי שהוא פחות מגיל עשרים פסול לדון דיני נפשות (ירושלמי סנהדרין פ”ד ה”ז), וראו שו”ת הרשב”א חלק ו סימן קע”ט: “… לפי שעדיין אינו בשלימות דעתו … “.

אף אדם וחוה “כבן עשרים שנה נבראו”. (ב”ר פרשה יד ד”ה ז, שהש”ר פרשה ג),

אלא שמצאנו שאף שמשה היה בהגדרת “גדול” באותה עת, הוא לא היה “איש”.

על הפסוק “ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו” (שמות ב, יא), נאמר במדרש:

ויגדלבן עשרים שנה היה. (שמו”ר ( א, ד”ה כז).

את הפסוק (שמות פרק ב פסוק יד): “ויאמר מי שמך לאיש שר ושפט עלינו הלהרגני אתה אמר כאשר הרגת את המצרי …”, מפרש רש”י: “מי שמך לאיש – והרי עודך נער”.

במדרש תנחומא, (ורשא) שמות סימן ח:

” … א”ל אחד מהם מי שמך לאיש ועדיין אין אתה איש מלמד שהיה פחות מבן עשרים”.

במדרש שכל טוב, (שמות פ”ד):

“ומסורת בידינו שבן עשרים שנה היה משה כשהרג את הנפש … שדתן הרשע אמר לו מי שמך לאיש … כלומר עדיין לא הגעת להיות איש …”. 

לדברי המדרש שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשה א ד”ה ל, היה אז או בן עשרים ואיש הוא במשמעות מבוגר, או בן ארבעים, ואיש משמעותו שליט:

“ויאמר מי שמך לאיש שר וגו’, ר’ יהודה אומר בן כ’ שנה היה משה באותה שעה אמרו לו עדיין אין אתה ראוי להיות שר ושופט עלינו לפי שבן ארבעים שנה לבינה, ור’ נחמיה אמר בן ארבעים שנה היה, אמרו לו ודאי שאתה איש אלא שאי אתה ראוי להיות שר ושופט עלינו”. 

בילקוט שמעוני, (שמות רמז קסז, מקורו מדרש אבכיר) נאמר, שגיל הבגרות להקרא איש הוא 25:

“… שבאותה שעה לא היה כי אם בן עשרים שנה … ואמרו מי שמך לאיש, שאין אדם נקרא איש עד כ”ה שנים, כלומר עדיין לא הגעת לאיש …”.

הרב מנחם כשר מביא בתורה שלמה (שמות פ”ב סוף הערה פ”א) 9שיטות לגילו של משה באותה עת: בן 12, 18, 20, 21, 29, 32, 40, 50. 60.

ר”י אבן שועיב כותב בדרשותיו, (פרשת ויחי בד”ה בישישים חכמה), שגיל הבגרות הוא עשרים:

“… והילדות הוא מעט משנולד אדם עד עשרים שנה, ובזה הזמן יש בו גידול תמיד”.

Conversions: Now the Israeli Bureaucracy are Poskim

[Hat tip BA]

This, from the Times of Israel by Ben Sales, is another level of conversion madness.

TEL AVIV (JTA) — In 2012, Anna Varsanyi was married in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony conducted through Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

Two years later, the Hungarian immigrant has made a life in Israel, settling with her husband in the central city of Modiin and working a desk job in a hospital. She is weeks away from having her first child.

But the baby won’t be Jewish, according to the State of Israel.

Varsanyi, 30, is the victim of an unusual bureaucratic mix-up.

Israel abounds with immigrants who are considered Jewish by the state but not by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate under its stricter qualifications. Varsanyi is the rare case in which the opposite is true.

Born to a Jewish mother, Varsanyi meets the Chief Rabbinate’s standards for who is a Jew. But Israel claims Varsanyi isn’t Jewish because her mother converted to Christianity.

‘This woman’s basic rights are being violated, and those of her unborn child are being violated’
Varsanyi says her mother is Jewish and it was her great-grandmother who converted — in 1930.

“It’s like they tell you, ‘Come, make aliyah, you’re Jewish, you’re one of us,’” Varsanyi said, using the Hebrew word for immigration to Israel. “But when you’re already here, they say ‘You’re second-class, you’re not one of us. So you might as well leave.’ ”

Born under Hungary’s Communist regime to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, Varsanyi grew up barely aware of her Jewish heritage. But a growing interest in her Jewish roots led her to study Yiddish literature and culture at university and to register for a 10-day Birthright Israel trip. Next came a year abroad at the University of Haifa, where she met her Israeli future husband. After a stint working for the Jewish Agency for Israel in Budapest, she immigrated in 2011.

Varsanyi gained citizenship under the Law of Return, which requires only one Jewish grandparent for an immigrant for automatic citizenship. Varsanyi’s maternal grandfather was unambiguously Jewish.

But when Israel’s Interior Ministry saw a document concerning her great-grandmother’s conversion, they refused to register her as Jewish, claiming she was raised Christian. To be recognized as Jewish, the ministry told Varsanyi, she needed to convert.

Except Varsanyi can’t convert because she is already Jewish according to Jewish law, which doesn’t recognize conversions to other religions. The chief rabbinates of both Israel and Hungary consider Varsanyi, her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother to be Jewish.

“It’s hard to imagine anybody more committed to the Jewish people than someone like Anna,” said Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder of Itim, an Israeli organization that guides people with religious status issues through Israeli bureaucracy. “They’re simply not looking at the facts. This woman’s basic rights are being violated, and those of her unborn child are being violated.”

At first, the Interior Ministry’s decision had little effect. Varsanyi already had citizenship and was married, the two areas in which issues of personal religious status are most likely to cause problems.

But last year she began petitioning the ministry for a change in status, worried that her future children would not have their marriages recognized by the government.

‘If I didn’t have principles or problems I’d say let them win’
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Varsanyi said. “Why would they force me to convert when I’m Jewish? If I didn’t have principles or problems I’d say let them win. But I wouldn’t be able to face myself.”

The ministry has rebuffed her requests, claiming that her mother converted from Judaism before she was born. Varsanyi says this is not true, that it was her great-grandmother who converted.

The ministry also has refused to rely on the Chief Rabbinate’s recognition of Varsanyi as Jewish, despite a 2012 law allowing it to do so. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told JTA that the ministry has asked the rabbinical court that declared Varsanyi Jewish for an explanation but has yet to receive a response.

After several rejections, Varsanyi has come to feel like the ministry’s employees “don’t give a crap.” She said she once met with a ministry official, who after reading her papers said, “I don’t know what you want because you’re not Jewish.”

“It was traumatic — I almost cried,” she said. “Like, ‘Welcome to Israel: You’re not a Jew.’ ”

Clarify your systems and policies El Al and stick to them

An article appeared in the Jerusalem Post by Sharon Udasin (reproduced) below. It is effectively in many papers, and I’d imagine it will end up in the non-Jewish press in time.

More than a thousand people have signed an online petition calling on El Al Airlines to protect female passengers from harassment by ultra-Orthodox men.

More than a thousand people have signed an online petition calling on El Al Airlines to protect female passengers from harassment by ultra-Orthodox men.

The petition on Change.org was launched Sunday, days after an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed in taking off when haredi male passengers refused to sit next to women. As of Tuesday afternoon, the initiative had more than 1,100 supporters.

Sharon Shapiro of Chicago, who initiated the petition, said she wanted to stop the phenomenon of “passenger shaming.”

“Some men become belligerent if their demands aren’t met, and spend flights bullying and harassing women who refuse to change seats,” she wrote.

The petition recommends that El Al “reserve a few rows of separate-sex seating on every flight, where for a fee, those passengers who need such seating can pre-book their seats and not annoy or coerce other passengers before take-off to change seats with them – thereby avoiding arguments, bullying, and delayed take-off.”

While El Al did not provide a reaction to this specific petition, the company responded to last week’s incident, stressing that the airline “makes every effort to provide its passengers with the best service all year round.”

“Traffic is currently at its peak during this Jewish High Holiday season to and from Israel and representatives of the company, in the air and the ground, do their best to respond to every request,” a statement from the company read. “El Al makes every effort possible to ensure a passenger’s flight is as enjoyable as possible while doing our utmost to maintain schedules and arrive safely at the destination.”

It added that the airline was “committed to responding to every complaint received and if it is found that there are possibilities for improvement in the future, those suggestions will be taken into consideration.”

 

My views are:

  • It isn’t halachically necessary to ask to move to a seat next to men, but if you feel you need to or want to, or you have been so directed by your Posek/Rabbi, then you must ask extremely courteously. This is not a right, this is a privilege that someone who may have carefully chosen their seat earlier for a range of reasons (unknown to you) may wish to extended to you as a courtesy. If this causes a mass kerfuffle of people moving all around the plane and bags being shlepped to other overhead lockers, think carefully about what may be caused by you together with others who are doing the same thing as you. You might even consider giving a gift of thanks. No doubt you will thank the person/people several times with a cheery disposition. If the person is not Jewish, if you do give a gift later, then I do not think you are transgressing לא תחנם
  • El Al really should not get involved in these issues en masse at the beginning of a flight; there has to be a better system. As an airline, any airline, all requests about food and seating should be made beforehand. One could even add a question about seat preferences along gender lines with the rider that there is no guarantee. They might consider some rows at the back of the plane as male only and female only, and if those fill up, study patterns adjust, but there can’t be a guarantee.
  • Flights should never leave late because of such things. This is a major discourtesy to fellow travellers.
  • If there is even the slightest sign that the person/people are reticent to move, then one has an opportunity for a Kiddush Hashem, and to be friendly and not show even the slightest umbrage at their desire to sit on their allocated seat and accept their decision with a smile. Failure to do so, may cause a Chillul Hashem, and that is far more severe than what the person was attempting to avoid.
  • If somebody cannot afford to buy three seats so that the one on their left and right are empty, or upgrade to those business/first class seats which are separated, then they should consider travelling on Muslim airlines, where they are more likely to be seated in male only areas.
  • Create your own Charedi Airline if you have the patronage
  • I’m presuming that the people, most of them at least, are not simply Anti Charedi or Anti Religious. I think this is a reasonable assumption given the description of circumstances presented.

Finally, as noted by many Poskim, daven sitting quietly in your seat and forget about disturbing people with “minyan, minyan”.

Make up your own mind or ask your Local Orthodox Rabbi!

Are we unique in crime stats?

There are and will always be bad eggs within any group, be it chassidic or otherwise. I do not know if anyone has done a statistical analysis of crime amongst orthodox people to see if they are in fact under the normal number occurrences of such things, with statistical reliability. I’d be surprised if they were not.

In that vein, I was sent this (hat tip DS) from the New York Post. It had been published in Ivrit earlier in an Israeli forum.

High holy days, indeed!
A crew of Hasidic Jews from Crown Heights who dreamed of fancy Hawaiian getaways tried to score 50 pounds of potent pot from an FBI agent posing as a Texas drug dealer, according to court papers.
Wearing traditional yarmulkes and tzitzits, Boruch “Barry” Rapoport, 47, Moshe “Mony” Horenshtein, 27, and Menachem Jacobson, 30, were all arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday and will have their cases transferred to Texas to face drug raps there.
Rapoport, who is married with kids and lives on public assistance, met an agent posing as a El Paso drug honcho in April and said he needed a staggering 50 pounds of pot a week, according to a criminal complaint.
The leery Lubavitcher asked that he be kept away from the marijuana trove because he and his cohorts “won’t be going to Hawaii for many years” if they were ever busted with the haul, according to court papers.
“Rapoport stated that he didn’t want to be in the same room as the ‘s–t,’ ” the complaint states.
Rapoport also demanded that they use the code words “alfalfa” and “vegetables” for marijuana.
The undercover told Rapoport that his marijuana mountain was located in El Paso and that he would have to have it transported by truck to Brooklyn.
The two agreed to have the pot delivered to a warehouse on Atlantic and Nostrand avenues on Tuesday and that they would close the deal the next day, according to court papers.
Rapoport met the undercover at a Brooklyn hotel to hand over the cash on Wednesday while Horenshtein and Jacobson arrived at the warehouse to inspect the pot and talk business, court papers state.
Jacobson, whose bail was posted by Hunter College Chabad Rabbi Boruch Jacobson, was pleased that the weed was high quality because “you can’t sell that Mexican stuff around here,” according to the complaint.
“Jacobson then stated that he knew about ‘hydro’ and the requirements for growing it because he was asked to grow some before,” the suit states.
Horenshtein, who plays in a Hasidic music band, handed over $3,000 to the agent to cover transport costs and selected two marijuana bricks as samples before the agents pounced. Rapoport — who pays $108 in rent for his subsidized $1,400 apartment — produced $95,000 in cash to pay for the pot before he was arrested.
All three men were released on $500,000 bond and will appear in court in Texas federal court on Sept. 26.
Horenshtein’s bail was posted by members of the powerful Rubashkin family of Crown Heights.
The clan owns a host of businesses — including the a massive kosher-food outfit — and is heavily influential in the Lubavitch community.
Horenshtein’s attorney, Zaki Tamir, did not return a call for comment. Jacobson’s lawyer, Albert Dayan, declined to comment.

Haredim Enlist! Good stuff

This is from here by Elchanan Miller

An unusual advertisement appeared on a number of ultra-Orthodox websites at the end of last week. “A group of Yeshiva students is organizing to volunteer with the reserves. Want to join?” it read.

“We believe that the people of Israel are in the midst of an obligatory war against ruthless enemies who seek to annihilate us,” the ad continued, using biblical language for a battle that all Jews are obligated to fight.

“We believe it is a great privilege to join the military effort, in addition to our important contribution through Torah study. We too yearn for this precious mitzvah.”

The message was an outlier in a community where army service is still taboo. Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi community, which comprises 10 percent of the country’s total population, has traditionally shied away from service. From the founding of Israel until this year, Haredi men could postpone their mandatory military conscription indefinitely, as long as they were registered for study in a high religious institution, or kolel. This de-facto exemption ended when a new universal conscription law drafted by Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition passed in the Knesset on March 12. A three-year transitional period, ending in 2017, allows men exempted from service in the past to continue avoiding the draft.

The advertisement, published on two leading Haredi news sites, sends applicants to an online form inquiring about age, marital status and employment status.

“There is no risk of the army drafting you for service if you’re exempt, or that you will get stuck in the army against your will,” the advertisement reassures worried inquirers.

An ultra-Orthodox man walks past the army recruiting office in Jerusalem, July 22, 2013 photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

Yossef, a 40-year-old father of six from Jerusalem who serves as the initiative’s publicity coordinator, told The Times of Israel that the online campaign has garnered 500 volunteers since the ad went online Friday, with new people stepping forward every day.

He estimated that a total of 1,500-2,000 will end up signing on for two possible tracks: a combat track for younger, unmarried men to be trained with new immigrants and to join existing fighting units; and a shorter track for older volunteers, comprising multiple-day basic training followed by a commitment to volunteer in the reserves 12 days a year for five years.

He said senior officers within the military have expressed excitement about the idea. A request to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit for comment was not answered.

“The volunteer position must be significant, otherwise it’s pointless,” Yossef told The Times of Israel. “It’s not just something symbolic for us to check off and say, ‘Look, we came to serve in the army.’ People really want to contribute, and not simply as watchdogs in some remote installation. The volunteers also need satisfaction in their work.”

The initiative was the brainchild of five adult students based in Jerusalem, who have long debated the idea of volunteering for the army. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in June, and IDF Operation Brother’s Keeper, which ensued in the West Bank, spurred them into action.

‘The ultra-Orthodox see those giving their lives in battle and want to contribute too,’ Yossef said

“The ultra-Orthodox see those giving their lives in battle and want to contribute too,” he said. “It’s true we feel that the study of Torah is the greatest contribution we can make to the people of Israel, but one doesn’t replace the other. [Military service] doesn’t contradict our contribution through Torah study.”

But volunteering for the army is, Yossef acknowledged, also a show of defiance against a government that has decided to shove service down their throats. If Haredim were given a mass exemption from the army, many would volunteer to serve in the IDF and join the workforce, and “70 percent of yeshivot (religious institutions) would empty,” he said.

“We wanted to show both the army and our own public that there is a different way of doing things,” Yossef added, withholding his real name and the names of the other initiators, for fear of an angry backlash from hardliners within his community. “The forced draft is a big mistake on the part of the state, but no one — neither the rabbis, nor anyone else — can say anything against volunteering for the IDF reserves. It’s just like volunteering with the police, Magen David Adom (the Israeli ambulance service) or Zaka (the Haredi disaster victim identification organization). It doesn’t harm the Haredi lifestyle.”

Haredi recruits march during  a swearing-in ceremony  at Ammunition Hill, Jerusalem, May 26, 2012 photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The IDF has been trying to convince the ultra-Orthodox for years that military service and the Haredi way of life are not mutually exclusive. In 2002 it created the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, formerly known as Nahal Haredi, where ultra-observant men can volunteer to serve as combat soldiers in a unisex environment, eating strictly supervised kosher food and dedicating time for prayer and Torah study. But critics of the program say it caters to those on the fringes of Haredi society, not those at its heart.

Yossef believes that the volunteer track into the IDF will prove much more successful in the long run than the draft approved by the Knesset earlier this year. For that reason, he opined, some elements in the Haredi community fear this experiment. Dozens of hate messages have arrived with the online application forms over the past week.

“If we expose any names, those people’s children will be thrown out of their Haredi schools because the extremists will go threaten the schoolmasters,” he said.

“It’s not a simple thing we’re doing,” concluded Yossef, one of relatively few Haredim who served in the IDF and reserves. “But it’s very inspiring. Even though I’ve been discharged, I think I’ll join the first training course. This is something special.”

Torn between what I think is right and a Torah law

In the evening, as I lie in bed hoping I can fall asleep quickly, I often take to my iPad arguing the outright lies put out by Hamas sympathisers disguising themselves as spokesman for the Palestinian cause.

In an among one stream of debate, a past moral and respected alumni of mine called for money to help the citizens of Hamastan. I asked her whether she was motivated by helping only Muslims or whether it was a civilian gesture to help all citizens caught up in the war begun by Hamas. She didn’t like me introducing that angle to her appeal, although she had published figures where she had already politicised the debate. She was, I believe, one of the vocal supporters of the rabble-like demonstration together with the great unwashed: consisting of the Marxists, Socialist Alliance, and other anti-Semitic no hopers living on Government subsidies in the main. I see them putting up posters all around my workplace. I take them down, if I pass such posters. I have the same right to take down a non mandated poster as they do putting them up.

Suddenly, one of my alumnus’ friends posted a horribly offensive picture of Hitler ימ’’ש with the words “I didn’t kill all the Jews, I left some for you to kill” followed by Share the post etc

I was fuming. I tried to control myself, but as a child of holocaust survivors and like many of us who lost relatives in the genocide targeting a race–the largely helpless Jews–I felt that justice needed to be effected. I quickly took pictures of the said disgraceful post and researched the background of the person who sent it. I asked him to contact me as he was in breach of State and Federal Laws, after which he quickly took down the post.

He wasn’t a Yobbo. He is very intelligent, having completed an Aeronautical Engineering degree from RMIT. He was from Pakistan, living in Melbourne, occupying a very senior role in a well-known company, and was undertaking a part-time MBA part-time at Melbourne Uni.

I asked our common acquaintance to contact him. Our common acquaintance/alumnus is a nice person, also a Muslim, and she and I have mutual respect. He refused to contact me. When a week passed, and I saw another objectionable post from him, I decided that I had to do react. The Police were outraged and informed me that he had likely broken both a local and federal law and if convicted faced a term of up to 3 years in prison and all that flows from that. The police suggested that we need to react to such hate speech.

Yes, it is also true, I was grossed out by the assault perpetrated by Zach Gomo, and this was also on my mind. Zach has been to our house several times, with his lovely partner to be.

There was a rally, which I couldn’t attend. I understand it was poorly attended. In my opinion the proper JEWISH response was not to wear red (a colour we are enjoined to avoid), but to blow the Shofar, to the sound of Teruah (it is a Machlokes Acharonim whether this applies today) and to issue prayers for the safety of the defenders of our Holy State. The agenda should not be led by Zionist organisations alone. They sometimes invent new modes of protest and rally. As Rav Soloveitchik stressed: the Chachomim defined the limits of Torah according to tradition-Mesora. We should not be inventing new traditions. The Mesora informs us what we should be doing. We must follow the Mesora at all times. Unfortunately I could not attend. I was teaching Torah at the time to two people who are the future of our people. I hope the rally achieved success and the organisers were pleased.

Now, I wanted my interlocutor to visit the Holocaust Museum and issue an advertisement apologising for his racially genocidal incitement. In other words, I wanted him educated.

I had rung the Neil Mitchell program on Monday when the topic arose, and related what a low-life had perpetrated. Neil took my number off air but never followed up. I wouldn’t expect Jon Faine to have any more sympathy even Neil although he is technically Jewish and has two very fine traditional parents.

Yes, my angst is trivial compared to a family that has lost a love one, but I can’t help the seething frustration, where weeds are permitted to sprout with impunity in a “multi-cultural” Australia. That being said, a Torah Law prohibits me taking the next steps, and one must bow to the Torah and I will leave it at that.

This is from Debbie Schlussel. It’s not what he posted. What he posted was much worse and I dare not even let anyone see it as it is distressing.

A sense of shame and חילול השם

It’s somewhat ironic that during the week of Parshas Pinchas, where the grandson of Aron HaKohen, failed to consult with the Manhig HaDor, Moshe Rabeinu, and murdered the two lust-filled people who were cavorting in a tent. I hear you say that Hashem gave Pinchas the Bris of שלום albeit with a shortened Vav and there are many explanations in this regard. I will leave it to readers to refresh their memories and check the myriad of diametrically opposed explanations of this act.

Fast forward. Three תנוקות של בית רבן, Yeshiva Students of the highest calibre were short and murdered because they were Jewish. Had they been Muslims, they would not have been shot or kidnapped. The perpetrators seem to be hiding in caves somewhere in the Chevron region. Time will tell. They will be caught and they will receive, hopefully, a life sentence behind bars, with no remission, and no luxuries.

It is now pretty clear that some,  overcome with the grief of this incident coupled with their sense of vengeance felt that they could take the law into their own hands and incinerate a Muslim boy in return. This is anathema. It is anathema not just in Jewish Law, but even B’nei Noach are meant to have proper courts of laws and systems. Society cannot exist while people are taking the law into their own hands. Did they even listen to the words of the parents of the slain קדושים’s parents? Did they think that the man hunt wasn’t on an enormous scale with the aim of catching the low lives who perpetrated this disgraceful act.

Yes, we can show that we didn’t demonstrate, burn tyres, cause all range of mass violence in reaction, but some, albeit a few, had been brought up and inculcated, no different to the murderer of Yitzchak Rabin, to take the law into their own hands.

This was an opportunity to demonstrate a Kiddush Hashem. The parents were inspiring. The world was watching, and then some wild ones קנאים decided that they owned the right to respond for the parents and for the State. They too must be brought to justice, and they too must be jailed for the rest of their lives, in an Israeli Jail, without the comforts of a good living. No “Glatt Kosher/Daf HaYomi” Jail for them. They should do physical labour and go to sleep each night exhausted. For they have defamed the name of Hashem Yisborach, and that in turn defames the name and kedusha of Am Yisrael.

From afar, I do not believe in territorial concessions. I believe one must be aggressive in expansion and only this will bring the Jordanian Palestinians to their senses. Either they want one state in Yehuda and Shomron, or they do not. Until they renounce violence and completely disarm, they cannot be partners for peace. Until that time, Jews have the same right to live in the previously declared Jordanian territory as anyone else. If they don’t like it, then they should negotiate. No Israeli Prime Minister from the left of the left to the right of the right has managed to find a partner for peace. Abbas is just a pretty western suit with a coiffured moustache. It’s only a matter of time before he dies of old age or sickness and then there is nobody else. He hasn’t got the guts to do anything because, unlike Sadat, he is afraid. He is afraid that someone will blow his head off. Let him go to his grave afraid. In the meantime, there is nobody with authority or credibility to talk to.

Then there is the enemy in our midst. If a Palestinian State was to be established, then Jews should be permitted to live there. If they are not, then all Palestinians within Israel should be asked to politely leave before they are forcibly removed. We live under the façade of a holy democracy. It is an incredible democracy but it has allowed people who are not genuine citizens to pretend that they are part of Israel. Anyone not ready to sing Hatikva, fight in the IDF, and do their civic duty is not a Citizen of the State. I don’t care who they are. It’s a free world. They can go to Jordan or Yehuda VeShomron or Williamsburg and live a free life over there if they hate Israel. Let’s face it, most loathe Israel.

Ironically, the words of Aharon of Satmer are but a pimple compared the acts of these Jewish young adults.

Extremists on both sides need to be sidelined. The Meretz Morons whose philosophies are astronomically in the realm of cosmology cause as much trouble as the right wing automatons who have grown out of the ill-fated Gush Emunim movement. Rav Amital would be turning in his grave.

The Chief Rabbis should have (maybe they did) attended the funeral of the Muslim Boy, and sought out his Imam, to apologise for the extremists who decided that price tag was some sort of Hetter to commit חילול שם שמים. We don’t say ה׳ ינקום דמם for no reason. Yes, we must bring them to justice, but Hashem will ultimately deal with their future, and if he sees his people behaving with similar savagery, will he be happy? I don’t know.

What I do know, is that we cannot be Hashem’s accountants. There are all sorts of Rebbalach and more who think they know why Hashem oversees certain things. They would do better by simply following והלכת בדרכיו

We don’t need more accountancy from self-appointed accountants of Hashem’s Cheshbonos. We can only deal with the here and now. The here and now is ugly and we must not let these חיות רעות invade the HOLINESS of our religion. Theirs is a profanation that cannot be countenanced.

They aren’t Pinchas. They have no Moshe. They certainly didn’t make בריתי שלום

Guest post on the propriety or otherwise of R’ Meir Rabi’s business practices

[The post is from EK, I have asked Meir and his business partner Kalman if they have any objections= to me posting this, and the answer from Meir was no.]

Several months ago, I brought to the attention of readers of “Galus Australis” that Rabbi Meir Rabi is responsible for the appropriation of the artwork of a famous Hungarian / Israeli / Australian graphic artist: Georg Hamori. Rabbi Rabi has not responded to the specific allegations. Unfortunately, Galus Australis is in the habit of removing all comments from articles that are inconvenient to its contributors. I have included some new comments together with an updated version that incorporates updates I made before Galus Australis obliterated them.

I regard all Australian “Kosher Authorities” as being equally interested in empire building and / or financial gain. Indistinguishable and multilateral examples of this include: “Laffa Matzo” brouhaha; non-direct and non-continuous supervision of “Kosher” eateries; bogus shechita by not observing Kohanic gifts. Even so, I like Rabbi Rabi and some of his positions on Kashrut.

To put my position in perspective for the readers, as far as we know, my family originally lived in Ottoman Palestine and Egypt, India and China. Rabbi Rabi is on the right track about soft matzos. The problem is that the wheat or barley should have been observed from harvest to grinding into flour. Then the dough must be rapidly prepared to prevent fermentation and immediately baked. Worldwide, there are many soft and hard flat types of bread that contain no leaven or aerating compounds and are thoroughly baked before fermentation occurs. I agree with Isaac Balbin that there should only be one Australian Hechsher. The board that operates the hechsher must be representative of all degrees of observance and must be transparent in all its operations.

I’m keenly interested in stamp collecting. Why is this relevant? The other week I was perusing Rabbi Rabi’s It’s Kosher website and found an image of the certificate he uses for providing to manufacturers and retailers. I am reliably informed the certificate is displayed at “It’s Kosher” retailers.

http://www.kosherveyosher.com/passage-certificate.html

The core image of the certificate is the APPROPRIATED design of the Israeli 150 Pruta stamp commemorating the “Memorial Day for the Fighters for Independence” and “The Seventh Independence Day” by the late; world famous, graphic artist George Hamori. He designed a vast number of stamps, many of which were issued by Australia and Israel. He was born in Hungary, survived the holocaust, immigrated to Israel and later moved to Australia. The Hamori family continue to live in Australia.

The Israel Post Office released this stamp on the 26 April 1955.

Records show that Israel Post had a license to produce a stamp design almost identical to the Israel State Emblem. Looking at the stamp gutter is more information. For comparison, an exact image of the Israel State Emblem is depicted. The stamp design differs to the Israel State Emblem in that the lighting angle is the opposite, the rounded base and stem of the menorah truly depicts the menorah on the Arch of Titus (not stylized as on the Emblem), the font for “Israel” is different and of course there is the addition of flames.

Fact: you or some one working for you must have acquired the image of the stamp and then used software to remove “Israel” in English and Arabic along with the denomination “150″. You should know that the Israel FLAG AND EMBLEM LAW 1949 (5709) ss(3) & (8) and possibly s5 would apply to you and what you have done. There are penalties specified by the Act.

I found this on the Kosher Ve Yosher website of Rabbi Rabi in the legal section:

“COPYRIGHT … We therefore grant permission to publish and disseminate any texts (NOT IMAGES) found in this website …without the prior written consent of Rabbi Meir Rabi.

Publishing information from this site requires:
• that it be used and presented such that it clearly pursues the same objectives as are presented on this website.
• that full credit be attributed to Kosher VeYosher or its Kosher! together with and on the same page as, the relevant texts.
• that the full internet address of the this website and the name of Rabbi Meir Gershon Rabi appear on the same page as the relevant texts. That these attributions be clearly observable on the relevant page.”

Your self-admission that you thought the copyright had expired is telling. This article provides a scholarly discussion of the Halacha in relation to appropriation.

http://weblaw.haifa.ac.il/he/Events/eveFile/NetanelNimme.pdf

Rabbi Rabi, I feel you are a hypocrite and have demonstrated zero respect for Mr Hamori. Using the State of Israel Emblem for the gain of your Hechsher is reprehensible. Why instead didn’t you create your own original artwork with a menorah? I feel very strongly that you need to discontinue the appropriation of Hamori’s design for the following reasons:

[1] The stamp was designed to commemorate the sacrifice of the Fighters for Independence, to establish a homeland and state for Jews and protect them in the shadow of the holocaust and earlier pogroms. It is entirely wrong that this ideal is vandalised for commercial or personal gain.

[2] Misappropriation of intellectual property: either belonging to the Hamori family or the Israel Post Office.

[3] No attribution was provided to George Hamori on the certificate.

[4] Shock to the Hamori family who might see the certificate image at an It’s Kosher certified retailer.

The Hamori family deserve an explanation and apology

The extremism is out of hand?

Check out this post from the Litvishe leader Rav Steinman inter alia (hat tip hr)

A gross CHILLUL HaShem

We need Rabbis to speak out against this arrant dangerous nonsense. WE created the problems through our false sense of entitlement.

On the Mizrachi Side we have the disgraceful hill top youth. How many more Chilulei HaShem do we have to witness?

This isn’t Torah. It isn’t a Torah State. It’s what HaShem paskened we should have. As such we should seek to make it holier through darchei noam.

I have to commend Rabbi Rosen. I reproduce his forthright criticism of the hill-top youth below.

So, this is nothing for Rabonim in Melbourne to speak about? I beg to differ. When the Sabra and Shatilla massacres occurred the NRP was against an enquiry until the Rav, rang them up from the USA and berated them for their loss of basic Torah values. They were kafuf to the Rav, and they listened thank God.

Halacha clearly states that a Yid can’t be seen to be less ‘moral’ than the normal world even if you bring 100 proofs that an enquiry is not necessary. There were times when unmarried girls wore hats to shule because the Xtian girls wore them to Church lehavdil. I recall a Tshuva in Yabia Omer on this.

People who resort to a Chilul HaShem when there are clearly other ways, will need to deal with the Aybishter after 120 years; not a pleasant thought.

Someone lurking behind a fake name sent me a comment that I should take down the picture of Moshe Beck in my earlier post because the Rabbi of Adass isn’t responsible for his brothers actions. That is 100% true. I know about this phenomenon unfortunately. It has always been true. But if that lurker with the fake Hungarian name lotzi123 had any guts, he’d name himself AND he’d tell us if it’s true that the Moro D’Asra actually visited his brother and attended Simchos. Is that also untrue and just made up stories ‘Lotzi’

I vehemently disagree with the extremists at Adass. They created their own School. Are they tolerated with sniggles and not open condemnation or Cherem? There are many great and kind and good people at Adass. I speak with them and like them. They ALSO privately bemoan the lurch to Satmar and Skverer extremism. We are brothers, but as Holocaust survivors dwindle the voices of the extremists take over. Is this the Chutzpa Yasge of the Gemora in Sanhedrin portending the Geula? If so bring on the Geula now please. It hurts to see people openly flouting clear Halacha because they think Israel is not from God but from the Sitra Achra. Mimo Nifshach: if it’s Sitra Achra get OUT … why do they stay?

In the least, if you loathe the not yet frum Yidden in Israel (unless you can make a buck off them) keep your thoughts to yourself and stop poisoning the kids with a menu of Sinah and Nekoma and now violence. I heard it with my own ears recently when I listened in to a Melamed teaching children. The Melamed is a Dayan! He was fire and brimstone in his delivery. The next generation has no chance.

How nice it was for once to see Charedim stand silently in the Park on Yom HaZikaron and recite Tehillim while doing so. THAT was a simply executed Kiddush HaShem.

Where are the voices of Rav Kahaneman, Rav Shlomo Zalman and their ilk. They seem to be hiding.

Who are we kidding, the extremists didn’t approve of Rav Elyashiv because he was in Heichal Shlomo paskening Shaylos. Heaven forbid! what a horrible thing he must have done when he freed an Aguna

Here is what Rav Rosen wrote:

The “Tag” of Kayin / Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
“‘And every man will stumble over his brother’ [Vayikra 26:37] – All the people are responsible for each other, they would have been able to protest but they did not” [Sanhedrin 27b].

“Those Ruffians”

Among other things, the destruction of the Second Temple can be “credited” to “those ruffians” – who wore the badge of the Sikarikim (see Gittin 56). They took swords into their hands, convincing themselves that they were taking the law and justice into their hands. And they set up a reign of terror over all that surrounded them, enemies and brothers alike.

What are we talking about? You have probably already guessed from the title of this article: the “Price Tag” ruffians who “fight” the Palestinians and the commanders of the IDF, in the mosques and on the tires of the jeeps – using fire, sharp spikes, and (mainly) graffiti. These thugs have taken on the role of “national irritants” against our enemies, against our lawful governm ent, and (mainly) against the security forces. I do not believe the claim that what we see is a provocation by the Palestinians, by leftist Jews, by the security forces, or by other dark forces. I strongly suspect that we are talking about irresponsible youths who are certain that we will win using an approach of thugs!

I know very well the story of the fanatical attack by Shimon and Levi in Shechem, but in this case I am in complete agreement with the pointed scolding by Yaacov, our father and theirs: “You have made me ugly and spoiled my odor among the inhabitants of the land… I am few in number, and they will gather around me and strike me, and I and my house will be destroyed” [Bereishit 34:30]. Yaacov’s complaint is not only a matter of dissatisfaction (“you have made me ugly”), it literally leads to a curse – “Let their anger be cursed” [49:7], which is accompanied by a punishment of exile, divisiveness and separation from each other – “I wil l divide them among Yaacov and I will disperse them among Yisrael” [ibid]. The best thing for fanatics and for the world is to keep them apart from each other!

“They Stabbed their Rabbi”

I am also well aware that the people bursting with fanaticism will not listen to ethical scolding, do not pay attention to rabbis, and certainly do not weigh their actions in terms of “profit and loss.” They are operating “from a gut feeling” or in response to messianic mysticism, and as far as they are concerned “let the world be consumed!” The proof of how much damage can be caused by such individual acts is provided by a fanatic who has been somewhat forgotten, a man who had a personal very noble record and was not an anonymous “hilltop youth.” I am talking about Dr. Baruch Goldstein from Kiryat Arba, who killed dozens of Arabs in the Machpeila Cave on Purim of 5754 (1994), thereby causing tremendo us damage “and making us ugly.” With what he did, he gave a double-edged sword to our Moslem enemies and to the world. Foolish fanaticism, hallucinatory and murderous, also contributed to the spoiling of the vision of expanded settlements among broad groups of our nation. And this is exactly what is happening before our very eyes as we watch the “Price Tag” events, shaking our heads and shedding tears out of pity: It is a pity that you should waste your youth for no good reason in prison, and it is a pity that you corrupt the righteousness of our path.

And this explains why the cries that are heard from every corner are futile: “Where are the rabbis who can calm them down? Why don’t the rabbis stop them?” We are told that “those ruffians” from the Second Temple era “stabbed their own rabbi!” [Gittin ibid]. They will not be deterred by having us turn our backs on them. In any case, if for no other reason than to reject the claim that we do not scold them, I hereby object loudly and without any limit to their actions. The need to voice an objection is also clear from the quote at the beginning of this article, in the commentary on a verse in this week’s Torah portion – that we are all responsible for each other, especially those who “were able to protest and did not.”

Fanaticism Cannot be Planned

We mentioned Shimon and Levi, the fanatics of Shechem, as providing an inspiration for the “Price Tag” fanatics. It is appropriate to repeat here some relevant points from our sources about the proper attitude towards fanaticism.

“Shimon and Levi were greatly upset by illicit sex, and they each took their swords and killed” [Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 38]. And for this they were scolded by Yaacov. But they “took their swords” spontaneously, without any advance planning, without establishing an organization of fanatics, and w ithout declaring any public policy and designing a “tag” as a symbol of their activity. This is what the sages taught us: “They did not ask Yaacov for advice… and they did not take advice from each other” [Bereishit Rabba 80:9].

The same two brothers meet again in the arena of fanaticism, but in the second case they are on opposite sides. Pinchas the priest (from the tribe of Levi) kills Zimri, a family leader (in the tribe of Shimon) for the sin of immoral behavior with a daughter of Moav. “Pinchas acted against the will of the wise men. Rabbi Yuda said: They would have put a ban on him, if not for the fact that the Holy Spirit came out and said, ‘I hereby give him my covenant of peace, because of his fanaticism'” [Talmud Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 9:11]. The act of Pinchas was accepted because it was spontaneous and not the result of planning. The laws of fanaticism read as follows: “One who has sexual relations with an Aramite woman should be struck by fa natics” [Sandhedrin 81b]. But in the same breath, it is also written there, “One who comes to take advice is not told to do so.”

That is, fanaticism is by definition a spontaneous act, and at times it can be accepted, depending on the circumstances. Fanaticism is always the act of an individual, and establishing any organization or “taking advice from each other” is not fanaticism but the act of a “ruffian.”

Dvar Torah for Shoftim

Tomorrow, is Rav Kook’s ז’ל Yohr Tzeit, so it is fitting that the Dvar Torah includes his thoughts, The Dvar Torah is from one of the Roshei Yeshivah of Kerem B’Yavneh (my alma mater), Rav Motti Greenberg.

Ironically, last night at Ma’ariv, there were a few international Tzedoka collectors from Israel in Shule. I was in my usually “straight ahead” mood, and asked one of them (a Chossid, with peyos)

What are your thoughts on Nachal Charedi

His responded with a pained look and said

Anyone who supports Nachal Charedi should not be allowed to enter a Shule

The problem with people like that is that they think that when they go to the toilet, it doesn’t stink. They live in la la land.

He effectively stated that I had no place davening Ma’ariv in Shule if I thought Nachal Charedi was a valid approach.  I said,

well, I support them, and you don’t come up to the level of their shoe laces, with a hateful comment like that

I don’t expect he will visit me for a donation. His paid driver heard the interchange.

Anyway, the D’var Torah … 

As part of the laws of warfare, it is written, “What man is afraid and fainthearted? Let him go away and return home.” [Devarim 20:8]. According to Rabbi Yossi Hagelili, this refers to a man who is afraid because of the sins in his hands. However, this seems backwards – to be afraid because of sins is a good trait and not a bad one, why should the man be sent away?

In Chassidic texts it is written that one time there was a delay in the construction of the succah of the Rebbe, the author of Beit Aharon. In the end, one of the Rebbe’s followers made a great effort and finished building the succah the day before the holiday, thus giving the Rebbe great pleasure. As a reward, the Rebbe offered the man his choice – he could either sit next to the Rebbe in the world to come, or he could become very wealthy. The man chose wealth. He explained to the astonished Chassidim who asked about his decision that to want to spend the world to come close to the Rebbe is a matter of selfishness, but if he had great wealth he would be able to help many other people.

Rabbi Shimon Shkop wrote in the introduction to his book Shaarei Yosher, “The foundation and the root of the goal of our lives is that all of our labors should always be geared and dedicated to the good of the community.” Rav A.Y. Kook wrote, “A person must always extricate himself from the private frameworks which fill his entire being, such that all of his ideas are centered on his own fate. This brings a person down to the depths of being small, and there is no end to the physical and spiritual suffering that comes about as a result. Rather, his thoughts, desires, his will, and the foundation of his ideas must always take into account the general – the world, mankind, Yisrael as a whole, and the entire universe. And this will also establish his personal status in the proper way.” [Orot Hakodesh volume 3, page 147].

To be “afraid of the sins in his hands” means that the person is concerned with his own sins and not with the sins of others. This is a man who lives only for himself. This is similar to what the sages taught us: “Why is it [the stork] called a ‘chassidah’ (one who is kind)? It is because it is kind to its companions.” [Chulin 63a]. But a question is asked: The Rambam teaches us that the reason birds are considered impure is because they are cruel, why then is the stork an impure bird? Chidushei Harim explains that this bird is kind, but only to its own friends.

The soldiers in King David’s army would give their wives a divorce before going out to battle. Rav Kook explains that the reason was not only to avoid a woman being “chained” to h er husband if he would be lost in battle. The Gentiles would bring their wives and children to the battlefield in order to give the soldiers greater courage, as if to say, look for whom you are fighting. But in David’s army the men would divorce their wives in order to disassociate themselves from any personal interests and to fight for the good of Yisrael as a whole. This is as the Rambam wrote, that a soldier must stop thinking about his own family and be aware that he is fighting in a Divine war. Anyone who is afraid only because of his own individual sins and does not think of the general public during the war is not worthy of fighting in the Army of G-d.

When a dead body is found abandoned on the roads, the community elders declare, “Our hands did not spill this blood” [Devarim 21:7]. “Would anybody even consider that the elders of the Beit Din are murderers? Rather, they are declaring that they did not see him and send him away unaccompanied, witho ut any food.” [Sotta 45b].

As the month of Elul begins, we should remember the hint of the month’s name, an acronym of “I belong to my lover and my lover belongs to me” [Shir Hashirim 6:3]. This is a hint of the relationship between man and the Holy One, Blessed be He. But the letters of Elul are also an acronym for another verse, “Every man gave to his colleague, and also gifts to poor people” [Esther 9:22]. This refers to concern for other people.

In connection with the above, we note that all the prayers of the Days of Awe refer to the needs of the community as a whole and not to personal requests.

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.

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.

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.

More on R’ Schachter’s views on Mesirah and Dina D’Malchuso

At the suggestion of מו’ר R’ Schachter’s מקורבים, readers who seek more than a 10 minute grab, would do well to read his written word on these topics, well before the scourge of hidden child abuse arose.

Firstly, there is a brief note on Torah Web here from 2007.

A more expansive and learned paper can be read here from RJJ Volume one which I believe is from 1981.

Enjoy.