The Israeli court system is to blame for Malka Leifer?

Watch this. I do not understand how the Israeli secular court system has done anything wrong except uphold the law of Israel. In this case it has conflicting evidence of Leifer’s alleged mental condition and is now seeking a court-based independent assessment before extradition. Is that not proper? Will the psychiatrist be considered biased if he/she concludes that Leifer is some sort of unfit mental maniac?

Video below from the ABC. It took a long time till victims came forward, and it takes a long bow to allege that Israel is dragging its feet on this and to say so on television. The case is proceeding as it should, and my expectation is that she will be found to be fit and extradited for trial. If it wasn’t a  Jew who made this claim about the Israeli Court System, some might call the comments anti-semitic. There are processes, and they must be followed. Prime Ministers and Presidents are put in prison in Israel.

It takes time.

The law isn’t the fastest runner on the block and these are weighty issues.

People need to choose their words more carefully.

 

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

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

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

You should read the article HERE [hat time CMW]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Don’t give Satmar a cent

From Ha’aretz. Be under NO illusion. There are many in Melbourne’s Adass Community who support this group completely. Others are even more right-wing.

Why would you say anything, even if you disagreed. They are the right-wing version of J-Street.

They live separate lives to the rest of us. They should not come to my door whether brought by master driver Osher Ehrlichster and others, all whom make a nice commission from these collectors. I will give them a dollar if they sing HaTikvah even with modified words (like I do).

If you expect a rebuttsl or disagreement with Rabbi Beck, forget it,

If it wasn’t for the fact that Yankel Unfanger was such a Tzadik, I’d have nothing to do with their products. He’s normal. Many of the rest are not. They are extreme zealots who should live on Gibraltar. They have a monopoly on Chalav Yisrael. That’s life.

Sicko Satmars

Some 3,000 followers of the Satmar Rebbe in Williamsburg took it to the streets of Manhattan Tuesday evening to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his speech to Congress and his claim that he’s an emissary on behalf of world Jewry to warn of a nuclear Iran.

The protest, held outside the Israeli Consulate on 2nd avenue and 42nd street in Midtown Manhattan, was organized by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada and attended by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum.

Signs at the protest included statements such as “Bibi – don’t drag American Jewry into your provocative politics”, “”Bibi Netanyahu does not speak for us”, and “we are ably represented, we don’t need a Bibi-sitter.”

“When Netanyahu professes to speak on our behalf, we have to speak out and say this is not the case,” Rabbi David Neiderman told the thousands assembled. “Benjamin Netanyahu, stop speaking on our behalf and directing us what to do.”

“We in America and Jews all over the world are loyal citizens in the respective countries we reside in, and no other foreign government can claim to represent us or speak on our behalf,” he proclaimed.

Rabbi Neiderman went on to thank President Obama – whose name mentioning drew thunderous cheers – together with the Republican congressional leadership. “We are well represented and don’t need Netanyahu and his government’s representation,” he stated.

The speakers preceding Rabbi Neiderman were harsher in their attacks against the Israeli leader. They called him “Haman” and Amalek” and accused him of igniting antisemitism by his ‘reckless’ actions. One Rabbi went a step further to claim that he’s sacrificing the well-being of world Jewry for his political survival. The Satmar Shita against Zionism and the formation of a state in the land of Israel was only mentioned as a secondary reason to protest.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, a spokesperson for ‘Natruna’ and the “True Torah Jews” website, told JP that the protest was only aimed to contradict what Netanyahu said that he’s speaking in the name of all Jewish people. “Besides this being a lie, it’s a very dangerous thing for him to say,” Rabbi Shapiro asserted. “He wants to get into some brouhaha with the president, he’s a foreign minister, he can do whatever he wants. But why bring in the Jewish people into this? So, we are here contradicting what he said about us, and if somebody has a problem with what Netanyahu said he shouldn’t blame the Jewish people.”

“We are here to disassociate ourselves from the dangerous statements he’s making – statement that puts Jews in danger,” he added.

Rabbi Shapiro also lambasted those who compare Satmar – who is against Zionism – to Neturei Karta, who associate themselves with Iran and the Palestinians. “We don’t believe that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. And when a leader of a foreign country comes to America to trash the president and says he’s our representative, the question is not why us but where is everybody else?” he explained.

Issues tangential to the tragic death of Aharon Sofer ז’’ל

I have been ill with a virus, consumed with the Gaza operation and all the news surrounding it, and yet, I most certainly knew that this 23-year-old Yeshivah student, who was hiking with friends near Yad Vashem, had disappeared in the Jerusalem forest. I had read it in the Israeli papers. I read it in the Jerusalem Post, Yediot, Times of Israel and I’m sure more.

Was it a secret? No? We all knew about it, and it was on the front page over a few days.

And yet, in another example of Charedi ignition, we are exposed to a shrill article in Matzav, which not only asserts that the Israeli media ignored the disappearance, but probably did so because he was Charedi. The first point is patently false. When I first heard about it, my immediate reaction, call it a gut feeling, was that he had lost his way and was dehydrated somewhere.

This is not the first time in recent times that a Charedi kid has tragically died in avoidable circumstances. Perhaps his phone battery was low, or it was a kosher phone unable to connect to the internet for a distress signal, but not having water when you hike appears to be more common among Charedim. Aharon may have had water. I don’t know. It’s baffling.

What I do expect though is that a proper educational approach take place where Yeshivah boys are warned and re-warned, that you don’t travel without a charged phone which has a way of sending a distress signal, and you must have water with you. Will such obvious advice be splashed on the walls all around Israel’s Charedi enclaves? I don’t know. I sure hope so. If they don’t it’s questionable whether the Rabonim should be held to account according to the Din of Egla Arufa that we just layned.

No doubt, we will hear one of “God’s accountants” who says that it happened because he wasn’t in the Beis HaMedrash. I sincerely hope not. The Rebbes and Rabbonim who went to Marienbad and similar to get some Menuchas HaGuf were also not in the Beis HaMedrash, and it is entirely acceptable to take a rest and have some fun Bein Hazmanim. In Israel of course, based on the Medrash?, walking 4 cubits suffices to acquire Olam Habo! I guess according to Satmar and other Hungarians that statement is whitened out.

I’d like to turn this issue on its head, from a Melbourne perspective. Yesterday, in light of the fact that a few days had passed and he hadn’t been found, it was planned to have an evening of Tehillim in the Adass Hall. The poster was politically correct. It also mentioned that the Tehillim was for the “matzav” in Eretz Yisroel. My questions were, for the “Matzav in Eretz Yisroel” there had previously been no such poster let alone a call to the Rabbinic Council to lend their approval.

A boy of 4, Daniel, had just tragically been killed in a mortar attack. The Rabbi of Adass will not allow a Tefilla for the welfare of the soldiers of the IDF (Tefila L’Chayalei Tzahal) to be said in his Shule! The automatons follow this ruling. Yet, when a boy from Lakewood, who tragically met his demise becoming lost while hiking, the “Matzav” in Eretz Yisroel gets a sudden call up. I ask, where was the picture of little Daniel whose parents were in the midst of Shiva. Where was a call to divide the learning of Mishnayos for Daniel’s soul? There was not. You see, Daniel, wasn’t wearing a Yarmulke and his parents were Kibbutzniks so his Neshama wasn’t important enough to make a brouhaha and cause a kiddush Hashem by using this night to also divide the learning of Mishnayos.

Why do the Rabbis of Lakewood in Melbourne and those from Adass ask for support from the Rabbinic Council of Victoria (RCV) if they consider that council to be something akin to a Chabad dominated circus of ignoramuses? Let’s not kid ourselves. They have no respect for the RCV.

Let’s get serious. Matzav.com had no business making such false accusations, and the Melbourne community really shouldn’t have had to wait till after a ceasefire and when this boy Aharon tragically lost his life before attempting to organise joint ventures in “good faith.”

Perhaps my cynicism is greater than ever, but for me, every soldier, child etc who is killed is a human tragedy. Whilst the RCV had an evening of prayer (twice, I believe) and whilst some Charedim attended, most did not and would not. No, Matzav.com, the argument goes the other way, why does it take the untimely tragic death of a Lakewood boy to spur the Charedi world to organise a special night of Tehillim for the community. The answer is, I believe, that Aharon was frum. He was learning. Soldiers protecting lives and little boys killed by mortar are on a “lower madrega”, one which doesn’t call for a special gathering.

Ironically, who visited family Sofer to give them encouragement? It was the Dati Leumi mother of one of the three boys kidnapped and murdered by terrorists.

In summary, who could have a problem with an Asifa to say Tehillim for a missing kid, but to effectively make differences between frum and not yet frum is distasteful.

Let me also remind my Charedi friends that there was a soldier who went missing for days and days and was ultimately found dead. The strong rumour is that abuse when he was a child led to his untimely death. Again, I can’t remember the Charedi Lakewood or Adass communities organising, let alone getting the RCV involved, to publicise their event for that tormented soldier.

I’m sorry for those Charedim who send me unnamed comments telling me I’m fostering Sinah. People, wake up. The Sinah is perpetrated palpably not by me, but by the actions of hypocrites who love non Charedi financial support in terms of business and donations, but think we are second-rate.

Well, I don’t accept being considered a second-rate citizen: neither Rav Shach or Rav Kotler was my Rav,  and I don’t follow the anti Israel views of R’ Yoel of Satmar.

We are in Ellul. A bit more Ahavas Yisroel is needed. Tonight there was meant to be a community Avos uBanim program. Adass not only said that they aren’t participating, but they actually removed the posters advertising the event, lest one of theirs is “led astray” and sits and learns with his son in a large room with those who don’t follow the closed Hungarian Charedi world. Shame on them!

I will finish with a most sincere wish that Aharon’s parent’s are blessed with nechama, and the resultant trauma doesn’t consume their lives, בתוך שאר אבילי ציון וירושלים. I can’t even begin to imagine their pain.

Our country, our people, our struggle and extremism

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

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

The Palestinian Arab rendition of Hatikva

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

עם לבדד ישכון

But who is the עם?

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

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

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

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

במקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקים כבוד לרב

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

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

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

It’s a Shame and a Shande ואין פוצץ פה

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

I’m still waiting …

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

Where were the public posters and condemnations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where have all the crackers gone?

Recently I had occasion to be at Adass Yisrael Shule (the Charedi Shule in Melbourne) for Shabbos Davening, as we has some Simchos to attend. After Davening there is a nice Kiddush. Generally speaking, my taste buds have been infused with the cuisine from Poland, and proudly so. All I need is some Schmaltz Herring, Whisky, and crackers for Mezonos.

At Adass, I noticed for the second time, that there was no pure Mezonos except for the cakes (and no, I’ve never understood how cream cakes crept into our Kiddushim when there is Herring on offer 🙂

Nobody, not even a Hungarian born on the border with Czechoslovakia would eat herring with cake. Yuck She-Be-Yuck, you’d have to agree.

Looking for Mezonos, all I could find were baskets of this

Melba Toast

Now, there is nothing wrong with the taste of Melba Toast, and it would taste good with the Herring, no doubt. As my Mazel would have it, I was also sitting over the produces of this toast, and he overheard my whinge that there was no plain Mezonos that one could use. I couldn’t see a cracker anywhere. He, and others, responded that’s it’s fine, it’s not really bread, it’s “Mezonos” bread and so on. True enough, it isn’t a fresh roll, made with juice and not water, and it’s hard to tell the difference between these and a standard roll or wrap, but at the end of the day, I argued that these were bread masquerading as bread. I was advised that the Badatz allow it, and my memory recollects that this is indeed the case. I retorted that the OU (specifically Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter (and Rav Belsky) had problems with this produce and believes one should make HaMotzi.) For those interested, you can see why it’s called Melba toast (an Aussie connection!) and how it’s made here. This is, if I’m not mistaken also the position of Rav Gedalya Dov Schwartz of the cRc. I asked then, why Adass had to enter into a Safek Brachos, and didn’t use a true and tried standard cracker. Okay, I didn’t insist on Eyer Kichel (they are outrageously expensive).

I have to give credit where credit is due. Soon enough, someone had Rachmonus on me and  found a pack of crackers. This was magnanimous. My blood pressure lowered, and I enjoyed my interaction with the menagerie of different Chassidim and the non Chassidim.

PS. A pet peeve of mine is that people don’t wait for the Rabbi (Roov/Rov) to say Kiddush. This happens everywhere. I don’t understand why. So, you wait 5 minutes, at worst 10 minutes. This is Kavod HaTorah, especially for a clearly elderly Rov, who doesn’t exactly move in a sprightly fashion.

PPS. You will notice that Kosher Australia doesn’t take a stand on this (which I think is the right thing to do) on their airline meals and makes pareve statements in regards to this bread. Mind you, on a plane, I think one should be meikel because of Kavod Habriyos and not bother the fellow travellers.

The connection between Chabad and the establishment of Adass Israel in Melbourne

This is a great little piece of research by Rabbi Dr Aryeh Solomon of Sydney. Hat tip to Moshe. Enjoy. If you can’t read it below click here

Can there be a positive outcome from Malka Leifer’s “innocent escape”?

On the issue of child abuse, I recently read an excerpt from notes formally approved by Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch of the Eida Charedis in Jerusalem.Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch

One frequently encountered problem is when there is clear evidence of child abuse and yet the rabbi consulted says not to go to the police. He might say that the molester promised never to do it again or that the molester’s family or community or yeshiva might suffer significant financial losses or embarrassment. In other words if the rabbi is saying to sacrifice children for the sake of money or embarrassment or the disgrace to the community, it is clear however that this view has no basis in Jewish law. We don’t sacrifice innocent people for the sake of negative consequences to others. Rav Moshe Sternbuch commented that any rav who would say such a thing is not practicing as a rav. A rabbi has an obligation to provide protection to the victim. By definition it seems it is an unjust ruling. Any rabbi who makes such a ruling may be ignorant of either the halacha or he doesn’t understand what the molesting or wife abuse causes. Therefore if there is time – another rabbi should be consulted.

However an alternative reason that a rabbi might say not to report the molester is that he feels he can guarantee protection for children against the molester. For example he might threaten the molester with a severe beating or provides supervision or he claims the molester has repented and won’t abuse again. He might also claim he can provide therapy equal or better to a psychologist. While these seem to be logically equivalent to the police, the likelihood that they will be effective is not very high. Therefore one should find a competent rabbi who agrees that the police should be informed in the case of actual abuse. Rav Sternbuch commented that only a known talmid chachom posek can posken these problems.

After reading these comments, (with which some Rabonim disagree and consider too lenient) my mind wandered back to the unresolved case of Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

and the Adass Israel School in Melbourne. For those who are not acquainted with the case see the forward article and the age report.

In short, there were strong allegations that Mrs Malka Leifer, a then principal of the Charedi Adass Israel School, sexually molested her female pupils. It was further alleged that two Charedi communal Rabbis knew about the allegations for some time.

Molestation and Pedophilia know no boundaries and are not restricted to Charedi circles, although it would appear that Charedim are more likely to cover up such incidents. In my opinion, the reason Charedim may be more likely to suppress such incidents has little to do with the laws of Mesira and Halacha. Rather, the process of washing one’s linen behind sealed doors is more likely to be a syndrome of a closed society, where everyone lives in each other’s proverbial pocket and nobody wants any remote smell of “a stain” (פגם) to waft from their house (even if they are an actual victim). There would be concerns that knowledge of any allegation will diminish the dignity of a family in the eyes of Shadchonim and the community.

We noted that in the Leifer case, strong indications are that two Melbourne Charedi Rabbis are alleged to have known about the allegations for quite some time. In the well-known YU Lanner case, the Beis Din that had protected Lanner initially, finally apologised and announced that they were wrong. Rabbi Blau, in particular, has been so profoundly affected by the Lanner error that he is now an active campaigner against Rabbinic cover-ups and a profound supporter of alleged victims.

Has anyone in Melbourne ever apologised in respect of the Leifer case? Is anyone seriously still pretending that “nothing happened?” Even if Leifer cannot be prosecuted, given that two well known Rabbis were allegedly privy to complaints for some time (almost a year according to some sources), and now know, in retrospect, that they ought to have acted promptly, why do they not admit their error of judgement in the same way that the Beth Din in the Lanner case did? Yes, Lanner was convicted and Leifer ran away, but whose fault is that?

Where is Leifer now? Do people around her know the allegations against her? I shudder to think if she is involved in Chinuch in any way.

Thankfully, the Rabbinic Council in Victoria and others, notably the Jewish Taskforce against Family Violence, have taken on the general issue in a serious and responsible way, liaising with the Melbourne Rabbinate including the Charedi Rabbinate, schools, victims and authorities respectively, with education being a critical focus.

One can only pray that any Rabbis who were allegedly “in the know” in respect of the Leifer case, have attained the wisdom to realise that they are decidedly not experts and that the authorities are the correct point of contact when an allegation of molestation arises and the victim, or their parent/s, come forth.

ה ‘  ירחם

Is this why the Geula is delayed?

This never ceases to shake me up. I did a nice wedding last night. There were  a number of members of the local Adass Israel congregation present. Most were the modern/litvish type but a number were your run of the mill hungarian chassidim from Adass. They are unmistakeable because they stare. They stare and stare at you. Their kids stare at you. Only their wives don’t stare, but that’s because you can’t see 🙂

I went outside to have a breather during the main course (and to hear the cricket score) and two young guys, probably abut 25 years of age were standing nearby. I asked them what type of chassidim they were: the first was Satmar and the second was Munkacz. I asked the Satmar guy if he had read any of the rejoinders to ויואל משה the well-known critique of Zionism by the first Satmar Rebbe, R’ Yoel ז’ל.   He said he had heard of them but hadn’t looked. I asked him why would he not engage in Torah and delve into the item from the point of view of someone who had an alternative view, if only to make sure that one had a rounded perspective. Looking at me uncomfortably, his offsider from Muncaz, who was much more aggressive, decided to chime in and interrupt my comments.

Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook ז'ל

We spoke about a number of things. I told him some stories and then he told me some. He was more widely read than his Satmar friend. Our discussion though was about to face an abrupt end. He acquainted me with a story about “Kook”. I said,

“I beg your pardon, are you referring to Rav Kook”.

At which point he said “who gave him Smicha.” I had a mental blank and could not recall, but I told him that he should read what the Netziv said about him in Volozhin and ask himself why the Aderes chose him for an Eidem. He persisted and said, do you want to hear the story about “Kook” or not. I looked at him and said,

“you can disagree with someone, you can even completely disagree with someone, but don’t ever drop a title from a Rav who so many held and hold in the greatest esteem. This is not Kavod HaTorah. Do I call your Rebbes, “Yoel or Eloozer? God forbid. Don’t you have any simple manners. Can you just talk like a Mench?”

His response: “You either hear it the way I say it or ” … I walked off.

I was sad, very sad. Here you have 2 guys who have been fed a one tracked line all their lives. Fine. It’s their business. They have an intense feeling of Yiras Shomayim which they define as following the path of their Rebbe without deviating even one micrometer.

Rav Kook was consumed by an incredible level of אהבה.  Everyone knows that Rav Kook’s love for the Holy Land of Israel was passionate in the extreme. He saw it bound up with אהבת התורה in a vigorous symbiotic relationship. What many forget, however, is that Rav Kook’s simple love of every Jew was extraordinarily vehement. His love of Yidden stemmed from his acute spiritual sensitivity to Elokus. Rav Kook felt the Tzelem Elokim reflected in every Yid whom he saw. It wasn’t a campaign or some hachlata (decision) or a daily utterance that inspired him. His was an innate automatic attachment to anything exuding spirituality. Rav Kook would have loved those two Mevinim. He would have been Mochel his Kavod. He would never have been offended by them. He would have seen them, and their Rebbes as items of Kedusha. Yet, these miniscule proverbial warts have the temerity to show a level of disrespect that is offensive to me, in the extreme.

Imagine Hakadosh Baruch Hu looking down and observing. The estrangement of so many shpitz yidden from kedusha is astonishing. If they had any semblance of kedusha they could not ever speak in the way they did about an איש אלקי, a Gaon and Tzaddik, Rav Kook z”l? Why should he send Eliyahu HaNovi to come and announce ובה לציון גואל to us? If we continue in this path of שנאה the only way we will be redeemed is through Yisurin God forbid and through בעתה as opposed to אחישנה.

Woe to us. We have no common language of respect.

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