More on Same Gender issues

There is an interesting piece in Tablet Magazine where Rabbi Benny Lau, considered a moderate by many, makes a powerful speech.

Like many, I am horrified that anyone should seek to murder another over this (or indeed any other reason except for self-defence). I wonder, though, what his speech would have been had nobody been murdered. He would have needed to “tip toe through the tulips”. Indeed, one wonders whether he would directly answer the question of whether such marches are appropriate in the Holiest City of Jerusalem? Would he approve of these at the Kotel or Har Habayis? Would he speak at a March there?

Make no mistake. I do not conjure hatred or invoke enmity against those with disposition towards the same gender. At the same time, I am completely bound to the Torah prohibition regarding the actualisation of such a disposition. That is inescapable for any Orthodox Jew. Though Rabbi Benny Lau certainly agrees with that, I think he would choose not to mention it. He would have halachic precedent to not mention it. The command to admonish is not in effect:

  1. Where one will definitely not be listened to; and
  2. Unless someone knows “the way” to admonish.

On the second point, many Acharonim say that we do not know the way to admonish any longer. That should not be equated with silence. This post is not silence. In any democracy, the only way to foster love of Torah is to teach authentic Torah according to one’s audience’s level. This is inescapable.

Ironically, Religious Zionists in Israel as opposed to Centrist/Modern Zionists around the world, are far less equipped to deal with the new generation. I have witnessed a profound lack of sophistication in their educational approach. The preponderance of attention to land over people is only partially to blame. The other part is the feeling that they need to strive to be “like” Charedim. There is no need to do so and there never has. One ought not be concerned by what cloistered enclaves choose to do or not do. That is their approach.

One does as the Torah commands, and speaks בדרכי נועם.

As Chacham Ovadya Yosef taught:

אין טעם כלל לזעוק בקריאות כל שהן כלפי מחללי שבת בפרהסיא, הנוסעים במכוניתם בשבת, שהרי בקריאות “שבת! שבת!” כנגדם לא מתקיימת מצות תוכחה, אם מפני שאינם מבינים כלל את דברי הזועק, ואם מפני שחונכו בדרך לא טובה, ועל כן לא השכילו להבין את חומרת הדבר של חילול שבת. וכל שכן אם הם אנשים יודעי תורה, ואף על פי כן הם מרשיעים ונוסעים בשבת, שבודאי אין חיוב כלל להוכיחם

Win some, lose some. Chabadnik dons Tefillin on ex-Charedi lady

Some find this funny. For me it epitomises גלות. Here we have a well-meaning boy, who is trying to ignite a spark within Jews. His mode, is that of his Rebbe זי’’ע and that includes igniting the Neshoma through a Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of Hanochas Tefillin.

The only problem is, in this case it was a woman. She had buzzed hair, and to top it off had a strong Charedi broken English accent, full of the usual errors. She obviously enjoyed her moment in the sun of egalitarianism.

I feel sad that she obviously hates her heritage so much, that she is ready to mislead this well-meaning בחור. She’s no daughter of Rashi.

אוי מה היה לנו

Woe unto what we have become

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More on the Rav Riskin Conversion issue

Rav Riskin has suggestions about making it easier for giyur because of the problem with the volumes of non Jewish Russians in Israel.

He has written these in a book. This is the way of Torah.

He has conditioned his suggestions on the agreement of other major poskim.
The information that I have is that he has not actually acted on any of his proposals with respect to Giyur, although, as I mentioned in a previous post, there are a myriad of instances where Charedi Batei Din do quicky conversions which are quite obviously based on marriage considerations!

One of the issues with Rabbi Gil Student’s post is that he doesn’t deal with the suggestions that Rav Riskin puts forward.
Instead of arguing with his suggestions some rabbis prefer to just silence him.

I’m aware that Rabbi Yoram Ullman of the Sydney Beth Din, did deal with some of the proposals, however, I was not in a state to be at his talk. If he has published a Tshuva, or anyone can encourage him to do so and pass it onto me, then I’d be obliged.

If I was Rav Riskin, I’d take my arguments to Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Rav Hershel Schachter (but that’s just me). If they both gave approbation to one of his suggestions, I’d accept it with 100% confidence. If they don’t then I would not. Neither of these Gedolim have an agenda (although Rav Hershel may adopt the approach of his teacher Rav Soloveitchik and be unwilling to Pasken for Israel specifically)

  

The Charedi Male Burka

10425356_1590666974515418_1164827599723612175_nHeaven forfend. In my opinion they are transgressing the Torah command of לא תלבש גור שמלת אישה

If they had Tzniyus as their concern, they should have come wearing their Tallis over their heads (which ironically is known mechanically as עטיפת ישמאלים)

It’s almost certain they are Chassidim and not Litvaks.

 

The charedi press distorts Judaism

They, and I explicitly exclude myself from their interpretations of Judaism, have a right to publish their own newspapers (even though they fight anyone who brings historical proof that the Netziv, R Chaim Soloveitchik and many more Gedolei Torah read the newspapers).

They don’t need to have pictures, and here I find myself in agreement with Uri Regev when they distort the image of a female. In a bizarre way they are in fact using what is new to present a distorted world.

Now, you might ask why it bothers me? Well it bothers me because I try to follow Torah, not some new invention. As such if it was a picture of Amalek there might be a positive command to erase him etc (practically we don’t know who Amalek is Lehalocho). Charedim might cogently argue that they won’t publish a picture that shows knees. Ok. If their clientele prefer digital burkas covering the face, that’s not ok. It’s not halachic and those people should never leave their houses let alone read any newspaper. 

So, in summary, the Charedim have created a mitzvas aseh (a positive command) to digitally distort women in pictures so they are not there, where in fact there only exist negative commandments. Such negative commandments can be fulfilled by not including the picture.

Ah, but it’s got nothing to do with Halacha in fact. It has everything to do with POLITICS. They must somehow show that they are in government visually, so they want to show their male members of the government of the state of Israel.

I have no time for such false religiosity.

Finally a sophisticated positive way to deal with חילול שבת

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

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

ואפילו בהסתרה … even when he is hidden?

There is a moving Breslov melody which is very popular. The words are from R’ Nachman in לקוטי מוהרן although I haven’t ever read that ספר חסידות, but so I am told. The gist of it is that even when God is hidden, as in ואנכי הסתר אסתיר את פני he is still there albeit בהסתרה.

My davening was very agitated at Shule today. In fact, during davening, when I read certain things, tears welled up in my eyes, and for reasons which probably aren’t entirely normal, I didn’t want anyone to notice my distress. I raised my voice for pesukim which condemned רשעים.

I asked a few people, what is the meaning of this song after the tragedy the latest tragedy. Rav Moshe Twersky הי’’ד for example, Rosh Yeshiva, was named after R’ Chaim Brisker’s elder son Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik, the Rav’s father, whose Yohr Tzeit falls out on the same day as my father ע’’ה.

I asked others whether Breslav would be bopping in the streets of Beit Shemesh. How can anyone, even a Chossid bring שמחה to the table.

I noted to others, that in this case, they don’t do Tahara, and one is buried in their bloodied clothing. I don’t know what the din is, but my feeling was it would have been appropriate to bury the person in their Tefillin as well as their Tallis. אפילו בהסתרה was sounding so hollow to me. I couldn’t cope with it.

[Hat tip BA]

Here is a post from a lady close by

Some people wake up in the morning to the soft strains of the music on their alarm clock. This morning I woke up to the heart-stopping shrieks of multiple ambulances and police cars racing down my street on the way to Har Nof. Meanwhile my husband was in shule davening Shacharis. I hadn’t even said goodbye to him as he left while I was still asleep and was considerate enough not to wake me. Thank G-d my husband came home from shule. But my friends Chaya Levine and Breina Goldberg weren’t as fortunate. What do you say to a friend, the widow of a holy martyr, whose life has changed drastically in an instant? How can I smile at Salim, the friendly Arab worker at the grocery store across the road, without feeling suspicious? And how do I deal with the fact that for the first time in 24 years in Israel I no longer feel safe in my own backyard? May G-d comfort all of us in these trying times, and may we all appreciate every minute spent with our loved ones.

I just don’t want to hear God’s accountants telling us it is because of a) or b) or c). Do yourselves a favour and adopt וידום אהרון.

At times like these, I’m terribly reminded of horrible holocaust scenes . I’m left with extreme בהלה

What can one do? We can donate money to relevant organisations, but there are families that now comprise some 24 children without a father. What was the Aybishter doing hiding? Can we ask why? I say yes. I say we adopt Moshe Rabeinu’s attitude and say מחיני נא מספרך rub me out from your Torah if you have something against the Jews. This so soon after a Shabbos Kiddush Hashem, it defies logic, and yes, I know “that soul may have completed its purpose in this world” is often used, but I don’t know why that soul wasn’t allowed to complete more. Who does it harm?

Don’t anyone dare suggest it was because we didn’t follow Satmar’s incorrect views.

In Melbourne we have the wonderful CSG looking after Shules and Schools. Ironically, they don’t look after Chareidim who think that their negative attitude to Israel and Torah Learning etc will protect them. This is a reminder that אין סומכין על הנס and you have to protect yourself. Does someone really believe that two or three deranged chevra from this כת הרוצחים these ישמאלים ממזרים aren’t capable of a copy cat style operation. Both major political parties are supportive of improved security, but there is a limit to what can be done. And I hope nobody touches the latently anti-semitic, nevus socialist alliance party. Don’t give them one vote.

Parents, watch your kids. Watch yourselves.  I see kids in the Charedi area of Ripponlea walking at night alone or in two’s. They wouldn’t have a hope of protecting themselves from the type of attack that Zac Gomo endured. Zac was a חייל with training and that saved him. He spoke Arabic and knew how to close a wind pipe.

Maybe we need to introduce קרב מגע in every Jewish School. Obama isn’t going to help us, and neither is anyone else. We can’t be sanguine. We must act, speak up, and look after ourselves. At the same time, improving one’s own personal faults in עבודת השם and עבודת הזולת, which is a very personal thing, should be on everyone’s mind. The world is finely balanced, and as usual, we are on the עקידה and although it is commonly thought that Yitzchak didn’t die on the עקידה the Midrash/Peskikta explicitly says that פרחה נשמתו i.e. Yitzchok died before the knife cut, and when he was saved, a new Yitzchok was effectively born.

אני הקטן don’t have anything of real value to contribute in this blog post except an outpouring of = extreme angst and aggravation that MY God was אפילו בהסתרה and if so, I say, no I beseech, that this game of hide and seek needs to stop through full גילוי אלוקות במהרה בימינו.

In the meanwhile, I would, even though it’s against intrernational law, not only demolish the houses, but evict all members of the family on a one way passage to Gaza. Let them rot there. I would investigate and include any Imam/Sheik who had influenced them (if they did) and do the same to them. The Balad party and all parties should swear allegiance to a JEWISH State, and if they can’t, they should leave to an Arab state.

End of Story.

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!

Twisting, turning, Askonim using Gedolay Yisrael

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

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

KanievskyiPhone

The Mesorah Of Chesed

[Hat tip to Marek]

Article by Barry Jacobsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Honeymoon is over (part 2)

HaRav Chaim Drukman, who was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, was interviewed regarding his reaction to the boycott I pitputed about yesterday. He was in charge of the Israel Conversion Authority, and was the subject of a now maligned opinion from Rabbi Avraham Sherman regarding his conversions, where Rabbi Sherman had attempted to anul conversions on the basis that the Beth Din members were not “kosher”.

Rav Drukman is a holocaust survivor who was part of the establishment of Gush Emunim. He is known as an Ish HaChesed. As Rav Aviner wrote

By contrast, “if the Torah scholar scrupulously makes sure to greet all people gently, humbly and graciously, and he suffers insult without insulting in return, if he treats others with respect, even those that treat him lightly, and if he radiates integrity in his business dealings… until everyone praises him and loves him and appreciates his deeds, then he has sanctified G-d’s name. Of him it says, ‘You are My servant, Israel in whom I glory’ (Yeshayahu 49:3).”

Indeed, Rav Druckman is amongst those who suffer insult without insulting in return.

He really does get insulted and hurt a great deal. It is impossible to describe just how much, and it really does hurt him, but he never returns an insult.

Such is the humble person under discussion. He is an open saint, but a secret saint as well. In other words, his personality is so open, it radiates so fully, it has such a great influence, that one could think that what we see is all there is. Yet that is not the case. There is to his modesty much more than what we see. Don’t ask me what. I don’t know. Because Rav Chaim is a humble, modest person, who doesn’t often reveal what’s inside of him.

Watch the video interview with Rav Druckman. Turn on the English captions if you can’t understand Ivrit too well. He accurately notes the disdain that Charedim have held Religious Zionists in, as a matter of perpetuity. You see, for Charedim, Rav Druckman isn’t “frum enough”. Period.

The Honeymoon is over

Let’s face it. Charedim have never considered any religious zionists—Mizrachisten) “frum enough”. That’s a generalisation, of course. Notable exceptions, such as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל or indeed his son-in-law, Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg שליט’’א never saw things in black and white (sic). Rav Shlomo Zalman’s son, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, however, is most extreme in his views.

The Charedim were considered “black” (in keeping with their attire) and the religious zionists (with their white crocheted Shabbos Yarmulkes were the white ones). In truth, the right-wing of religious zionists, such as those from Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, are easily “as frum” as the frummest Charedim, across the board, although they didn’t wear the uniform of hats and jackets or follow the dictates of Agudisten or “Daas Torah”. It’s no different in Melbourne.

We have four kollelim:

  1. The Chabad Kollel
  2. The Lakewood Kollel (Litvishe Misnagdim)
  3. The Adass Kollel (various Hungarian and other Chassidim)
  4. The Mizrachi Kollel MiTziyon (Religious Zionists)

The Chabad Kollel is an arm of the general Chabad movement. People learn there for a couple of years and then go into Chinuch, the Rabbinate, or the general work force. It’s not a life time job to sit in Kollel. The Kollel is interested in people outside of Chabad, in the same way that Chabad is interested in anyone (with the exception of farbrente Misnagdim with whom they share no love).

The Lakewood Kollel was split asunder by a massive disagreement between its own constituents which saw one Rosh Kollel go back to the USA and the other remain in his position. Many important Ba’aley Batim left the Lakewood Kollel, never to return. For many of the full timers, it’s a lifetime job, to “sit in Kollel”. The Lakewood Kollel isn’t really interested in Religious Zionists. It is mainly a common ruse to attract such people to attract funding to support their activities. Behind the scenes, religious zionists are not considered “frum enough”. This is no different to any other such institution around the world.  It is not unique to Melbourne.

The Adass Kollel keeps completely to itself. It is made up of people who have retired as well as young and not so young marrieds. It isn’t interested in the wider melbourne jewish world outside of its own hermetically sealed group and it certainly has no time for Religious Zionist types from a Torah perspective.

Kollel Mitziyon, isn’t really a Kollel. It’s a quasi yeshivah and does a good job continuing the type of learning program that those who studied at religious zionist style yeshivas experienced before returning to Australia. It normally imports a Rosh Kollel and Israeli Hesder Bachurim; their Rabonim though are simply not treated with any respect by the other Kollelim or their constituents.

So what honeymoon is over? Has there ever been a marriage? There has been a “quiet peace” between Charedim and Religious Zionists. While the latter learned in Yeshivos and went to the army, the former generally avoid the army at all costs because they see their torah learning as protecting Jews, and many also see it as a full time, life-long vocation.

Until now.

The new style Mizrachi party, Habayit HaYehudi no longer supports a carte blanche arrangement where significant numbers of Charedim are able to avoid going to the army and sit in Kollel for the rest if their lives. The retribution has been swift. Incredibly, joining the anti-semites and anti-zionists of the world, the Charedi parties have decided to no longer support produce from the “settlements” beyond the green line!

I find this disgraceful. That they could give strength to the types of boycotts imposed by both Jewish and non-Jewish anti-semitic anti-zionists is simply breathtaking, but not surprising. They will stop at nothing to make sure that their sole vocation remains Torah study. To put it in other words, it would be akin to the Lakewood and Kollel Beis Yosef deciding that they would no longer use any businesses associated with the Mizrachi (religious zionists), here in Melbourne. Chabad, of course supports settlement activity given that the last Rebbe was staunchly against returning land for peace.

Idle threats aside: I do not understand why the Charedim do not institute a Hesder system like the Mizrachi did so many years ago. Let them have a ten year Hesder program, where they do 3 years of army interspersed with an extra 7 years of Torah study. What would be so bad? But to boycott any place over the green line in the way they are proposing makes me sick in the gut, and convinces me even more that it was only ever a platonic “marriage”, and the honeymoon is now well and truly over.

Haredim addressing pedophilia issues

This interesting post is from the Jerusalem Post. [emphases are mine] by Melanie Lidman.

It is refreshing to hear about Rabbi Cohen, who seems to work diplomatically behind the scenes, and yet seemingly doing so effectively.

But there is a long way to go on other issues, especially the moronic mechalelei hashem who attack women and the low-life (who should get a real beating) who has avoided giving his wife a divorce.

Those of us who don’t consider ourselves as card carrying Haredim, also have a job to perform. Whenever possible, speak to them, don’t avoid them. Engage them respectfully and ask them what they are doing about issues. I think this is a very useful approach to take. I have been doing it of late, and have been astounded to find that so many are completely oblivious. When you tell them, they are in a state of shock.

It seems like a weekly occurrence – bold headlines splayed across the pages of newspapers: “Haredi man arrested for sexually abusing daughter”; “Haredi bus driver molested children for 6 years”; “Haredi community attempted to cover up serial pedophile.”

Despite the prevalence of these stories, Rabbi Avinoam Cohen, the director of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry’s Torah-Observant Prisoner Rehabilitation Program, believes the haredi community is doing a better job of dealing with the issue of pedophilia.

“Slowly they’re starting to understand, there’s a type of movement,” said Cohen, who deals with around 60 ultra- Orthodox prisoners at a time who have agreed to go through a personalized rehabilitation process. “It’s not like it was five or eight years ago. They’re not going to leave their children with someone like this [who is known to have a problem], or they will go to the police.”

While the more extreme sects, including Toldot Aharon or Natorei Karta, refuse to deal with police or any secular authorities, awareness of the issue and the proper response is getting better among mainstream haredim, said Cohen in a recent interview.

“The victims [of sexual abuse] caused this movement,” he said. “They feel it in their bones that it’s getting better. The awareness has increased because of the publicity about the incidents, and the children who are failing out of school and no one understands why.”

Cohen works to implement successful rehabilitation programs for pedophiles to ensure they don’t re-offend, a difficult struggle given the large numbers of unsupervised children in haredi neighborhoods.

T., 38, says he sexually abused over 20 children in Jerusalem during a six-year period. T., who has mild developmental disabilities, tried to tell his family what was going on, but they dismissed it as “total fantasy.” It was the same response they gave him when, as a nine-year-old boy, he told them that an older man from another haredi sect had tried to rape him on the way to an evening study session.

“[My father] said it’s my imagination. They never believed me at home. I had no one to talk to,” he said during an interview in Cohen’s Jerusalem office.

According to Cohen, more than 70 percent of men who sexually abuse children were victims of sexual assault themselves.

The haredi community’s refusal to deal with the problem in the past has created generations of victims.

T. said he had been confused after the attack, and had no guidance.

“If an older person is allowed to do this to me, then maybe I can do this to others,” he said.

“I didn’t know if it was forbidden or not. But someone did it to me, so I thought I could do it to someone else.”

Cohen, who was raised secular but has been haredi for over 20 years, explained that some haredi parents are so overwhelmed by the number of children they have that they can’t adequately deal with the needs of each one, especially if one requires special assistance following abuse.

Additionally the fact that a child has been sexually abused can sometimes harm the matchmaking chances of other siblings.

“People say, ‘Maybe the family isn’t modest, and this kid was doing something immodest, and that’s why this child was abused,’” Cohen explained.

But a trusted adult or parent ignoring a child who says they were sexually abused, or, as in T.’s case, trying to convince him it didn’t happen, “is worse than the original abuse,” the rabbi continued.

That attitude, at least among the less extremist haredi communities, is changing. Cohen spares no words in his anger over rabbis who allow known sex offenders to move to another community, rather than deal with police.

“They need to put rabbis who don’t go to police in prison,” he said. “I can think of at least 20 religious commandments that they’re breaking.”

Another remaining challenge is dealing with convicted offenders who have served jail time and then return to the community. Even if they don’t return to their own community, they will still likely be in a neighborhood with many children.

“Now I’ve been out [of prison] for a year, and I have supervision,” said Y., 43, who was convicted for abusing two girls over a number of months.

“Every day the struggle is renewed. Especially in the haredi areas, there’s small girls and teenage girls everywhere. You can’t get away from this. And you need to know how to be a human being and walk among the community,” he said.

“Sometimes I have no control over it – I’m going through an alleyway and suddenly a bus lets off, like, 100 girls,” he continued. “Every day is a test. Every hour of the morning and night. I have to deal with this all the time.”

Cohen explained that this was the part where a religious upbringing could actually assist offenders in their rehabilitation.

In halfway houses and private or group therapy, convicted sex offenders learn both tools to overcome their inclinations, and religious texts that promote the ideas of inner strength, not harming others, willpower and asking for forgiveness. Often, the former prisoners are able to relate strongly to the idea of text study, something with which they grew up, and find it the most influential part of their therapy.

Y., who lost custody of his five children after he was convicted, said that haredim also strongly subscribe to the idea of teshuva, or repentance and subsequent forgiveness.

“There’s compassion in our community, even for people who did things in the past,” he said.

Not all prisoners receive rehabilitation. Prison rabbis must recommend a prisoner as a good candidate for rehabilitation in the last third of their prison sentence. Cohen, along with another three staff members, is responsible for coordinating a personalized program for each prisoner, which can include stays in halfway houses, therapy or drugs – including monthly injections known as chemical castration, which work to remove any sexual inclinations. Most sexual offenders have regular supervision for a year, but afterward have no assistance.

Also, a limited budget from the Welfare and Social Services Ministry means that Cohen only has enough staff to deal with around 60 prisoners or ex-prisoners at a time – a small percentage of the number of people who could use the services.

Jerusalem police don’t keep statistics about haredi sex offenders versus non-haredi sex offenders. But in 2012, there were 823 complaints of sexual abuse across the capital – a 23.6% increase from 666 incidents in 2011. Part of the dramatic increase could be due to more people reporting incidents to the police that they would previously have hidden within their communities, though it is difficult to tell.

“There is an improvement with the reactions to the incidents,” said Cohen.

“They’re saying, ‘We won’t allow this here.’ It’s the start. We’re still far from breaking the cycle, but we’re starting to break it.”

I can’t stomach this attitude

Is it any wonder that people are so sensitised and seem to have more of a propensity to abuse? The Rambam advocated a middle road. This is an extreme position, largely influenced by the influx of Hungarian Charedim to our Holy Land. It needs to be seen for what it is, a crazy chumra which serves no halachic purpose and if anything is an abuse of Halacha in the sense that it places a (future) stumbling block before the “blind”. The day somebody gets excited or over-refreshed by such “brazen imagery” is the day they need to see a psychiatrist.

I don’t see it as some attitude against women. I see it as a complete and wanton abuse of men.

From yediot:

PurimNonsense

No Queen Esther in Purim costume ads

What does one do in order to avoid blurring the faces of little girls in Purim costume ads? Very simple: Show boys only.

After being criticized in recent years for concealing girls’ faces for “modesty reasons” or replacing them with dolls, this year some Israeli toy stores have decided to completely remove pictures of girls from their advertisements.

Ads published by some chains in ultra-Orthodox newspapers in recent weeks are surprisingly missing costumes which were included in their ads in the past, although these costumes are still on sale.

For example, the biblical matriarch Rachel and even Queen Esther are absent from the ads this year, as part of an ongoing trend in the haredi media not to publish pictures of women or feminine clothing items

Last year, girls were blurred (upper photo) – this year, they’re gone

Religious Jews belonging to moderate factions are protesting the haredi press’ radicalization, which they say has reached the “exclusion of four-year-old girls,” but are also criticizing ads showing young girls in revealing costumes in the general press, which they say “border on pornography.”

Religious-Zionist movement Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah, for example, responded cynically to the two extreme phenomena: “It appears that there are those who prefer to read only the parts related to Ahasuerus’ feasts in the Book of Esther, while on the other hand there are those who completely hide Esther.

“The despicable treatment of women, on both sides, strengthens extremism and creates a public domain which ranges between over-conservatism and over-permissiveness. The public is responsible for designing a road in the middle, which respects human beings and does not see them as an object.”

The Modiin Illit mother was apparently lying

In this article, I asked how it was possible for a woman to fake claim that her 5-year-old was raped and then withdraw the charge. Complicating matters was the apparent refusal of Charedi Medical offices to cooperate.

It turns out now that the Police do believe that the woman was lying. One can only presume she has psychological problems herself and needs treatment. That being said, surely this is yet another reason the Charedi community should not fear police investigations, and makes a mockery of their decision to stay mum and not assist the police with their inquiries!

The latest chumra for Shidduchim

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

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

The Shidduch Bench (c)

Redressing the Charedi imbalance

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

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

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

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

Lock these vermin out

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

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

And, for something different, a Breslover reaction.

Natalie Mashiach, assaulted in Beth Shemesh

Where is the outrage and condemnation?

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

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

Am I too sensitive about the Chareidi press?

Finally some good news.  Remember the poor fellow who sustained 50% burns to his body? Well he has been released from hospital, thank God. Recall that Matzav.com had taken a while to publish the story and then in a tepid manner. Consider how they reported the release:

Aharon Rottenberg of Rockland County has been released from the hospital. Aharon suffered burns over 50 percent of his body last month when he tried to stop an attacker from fire-bombing his house.

Aharon’s attorney says his client hasn’t returned home, but is staying in an undisclosed location in the area.

On May 22, Aharon was burned when an incendiary device exploded as he wrestled with an 18-year-old who had come to burn down the Rottenberg home.

Rottenberg has filed an $36 million lawsuit. Rottenberg claims a campaign of intimidation was orchestrated that led to the arson attack that burned half of his body. He says he was targeted.

Rottenberg is being represented by civil-rights attorney Michael Sussman.

The 18-year-old has been charged with arson and attempted murder.

Rottenberg had been recovering at Westchester Medical Center. He suffered third-degree burns over half his body

שומו שמים 

Where do these guys get off? Did you notice that there isn’t a single word about Skver? Did you notice that they even went as far as saying he’s from Rockland County as opposed to honing in on his more accurate location (New Square)? Notice they tell us nothing about the attacker! From the article you wouldn’t know he is Jewish let alone a Skverer Chasid, and let alone someone from the home of the Rebbe himself! Notice that they say that “He claims that he was targeted”. Hello! Who is claiming he wasn’t targeted! Even the Rebbe acknowledges something bad had happened. What do they want us to believe, the 18 year old was some delinquent who happened to walk past the house and randomly chose to throw an “incendiary device” at that home. The attacker was also a Skverer of course.

Are the readers of matzav that stupid or gullible?

At best, this is another insult to intelligence. At worst it is yet another indication of the reprehensible approach taken by Charedi newspapers to the truth. Feh!

But maybe the readers are from another planet. One self-named “Ben Torah” wrote in the comments section:

I hope Matzav continues to report good news. I hope Matzav reports every time a Yid is discharged from a hospital! (Otherwise I’m not sure why it is reporting this Yid in particular.)

Sheesh! He probably makes a bracha each time he breathes air.

Can the Shtetl survive in the Western World?

The extreme charedim, such as Satmar and their ilk do not support the State of Israel. They do not want to take a cent from the Government. After all, this is not a Government made up of Shomer Shabbos people, and in addition, they consider the State as undermining and stopping the progress of the Geula. So what do they do? They prefer to quietly live amongst non-Jews. They don’t, however, just live in a spread out manner. They prefer homogenous enclaves within the non-Jewish States. As they get bigger, they also want to control those cities. They ask that other don’t ride on their bikes in an immodest manner while passing through their neighbourhoods and they take people to task for offending their principles whilst in what they term their neighbourhood.

How much longer can this last? A recent report suggests that Kiryas Yoel, may well be experiencing some fireworks in the not too distant future. Ironically, they might have been better off in the State of Israel.

Dissident leaders from Kiryas Joel filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing the Satmar Hasidic community’s majority faction of abusing its control over municipal affairs and demanding the 34-year-old village be dissolved.
The 59-page complaint catalogs grievances dating back a decade and depicts a religious faction exercising uncontested power in the secular realm. The case, brought by Goshen attorney Michael Sussman, calls Kiryas Joel a “theocracy” that violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against the establishment of religion.
“Religion is wonderful,” Sussman said at a press conference in his office Monday, seated beside Joseph Waldman, a plaintiff and longtime dissident leader. “But it cannot dominate the state. And that is what is happening in Kiryas Joel.”
The case alleges discrimination against dissidents — estimated in court papers to comprise 40 percent of the village’s roughly 20,000 residents — in various facets of public life, from tax exemptions for synagogues to election improprieties to selective enforcement of village noise ordinances.
Among the most serious allegations is that Kiryas Joel’s Public Safety Department, a quasi-police agency, has acted as enforcers for the main congregation and tolerated acts of violence and intimidation against dissidents by unruly crowds of young supporters of Satmar Grand Rebbe Aron Teitelbaum, the leader of Kiryas Joel’s majority faction.
In one incident in August 2010, a mob of screaming boys — angry about a marriage held in a dissident wedding hall — allegedly hounded relatives of one of the newlyweds as they walked home from a synagogue after midnight. The complaint says the boys punched, kicked and threw bottles and eggs at the family, which included a pregnant woman.
The suit alleges that public safety officers passed by during the harassment and did nothing. Later, when the family members approached their destination, an officer parked nearby allegedly refused to escort them home.
The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to dissolve the Village of Kiryas Joel, which would effectively remove its leaders, lift its laws and place it under the governance of the surrounding Town of Monroe. The village was incorporated in 1977 as a satellite of the Brooklyn-based Satmar sect.
If the judge won’t do that, the suit asks for the removal of the current village leaders, including the mayor, trustees and administrator.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of a much-publicized attack against a dissident in New Square, a Hasidic community in Rockland County roiled by the same sort of internal rift as the Satmar Hasidim. In that May 22 incident, a 43-year-old man suffered severe burns fighting off a young man who tried to burn down his home.
Sussman, who’s also representing the burn victim, Aron Rottenberg, announced Monday that he had filed a $36 million lawsuit in state court against New Square’s grand rebbe, David Twersky, and the 18-year-old aide suspected of starting the fire.

from here

Charedi misinformation, disinformation and downright distortion Part 3

But wait, there’s more. In noting the continued campaign of obstructing the truth and blackwashing what really happens, I can advise that Yated Ne’eman has moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. Yated Ne’eman is a mouthpiece of the Litvishe Misnagdic world. Originally created by R’ Schach ז’ל and the Steipler Gaon ז’ל, the paper is now under the editorial control of R’ Elyashiv, R’ Shteinman and R’ Karelitz.

One popular magazine, entitled Mishpacha, has recently been embroiled in controversy because it dared to publish articles that didn’t simply cover the singular life which starts at Cheder, moves to Yeshivah, and then to Kollel for each and every male Jew. Women, of course, can’t be mentioned in papers with or without pictures, unless they have just passed away. For more on the ban, see here, for example.

Mishpacha is quite popular, especially amongst Western style Agudisten and Right Wing Modern Orthodox. It even had the guts to pubish stories that mentioned R’ Hershel Schachter, the esteemed Rosh Kollel at YU. That is a big no-no. Never mind that R’ Schachter is one of the most respected Poskim today. Yated Ne’eman, however, was apparently losing readers. It needed to muzzle Mishpacha. Fast forward and Mishpacha was banned. The magazine was considered outside the pale of normative (thus used) Charedi Judaism. I’ve seen a few copies of Mishpacha Magazine and it didn’t strike me as being heresy, but what do I know.

So, what happens when a group of people go to visit the famed Yeshivah of Radin, of the Chafetz Chaim ז’ל? Well, of course, Yated publishes a picture of the group outside the Beis Hamedrash. There’s only one problem with the picture. You see, the editor of Mishpacha magazine was present, so what does one do. Doesn’t the Torah say

 and thou shalt photoshop evil from your midst … ובערת הרע מקרבך

And so it came to pass. Exhibit one is the Yated picture, with the editor of Mishpacha photoshopped from the picture so that the Yated readers remain blackwashed. Exhibit two is the original. Hat tip to R’ Segal and the report in Chadrei Charedim.

Exhibit 1: Yated Doctored Image
Exhibit two: Original picture. Where has the man with the multi colored lines gone?

How will the apologists explain this latest nonsense? Whose little world is going to be infected if the editor of Mishpacha remains in the picture?

What makes a Rabbi an expert on matters of abuse?

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the chief posek for the Charedi non Chassidic community, especially in Israel, issued the following ruling in 2004 in Yeshurun. The translation below is from Rabbi Dr Asher Lipner. The original question and answer is here.

BS”D Fast of the Tenth (Month) 5764

To my friend etc. Rabbi Shraga Feivel Cohen etc.

I received his letter in its time and was unable to respond until “a day on which scholars take a holiday.” The essence of the letter: one knows that someone is sexually abusing a boy or a girl in a manner in which we are incapable of stopping him from continuing his evil deeds, is it permissible to report such a matter to a government official?

This is the language of the Rashba (Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet, Spain, 1235-1310, one of the foremost authorities in Jewish law) in his Responsa, III no. 393, “It appears to me that if the witnesses are believed by the selected judges, [these judges] are permitted to impose a monetary fine or corporal punishment, all in accord with their evaluation; and this maintains society. Because if you will adjudicate based only on the laws established by the Torah, society will be destroyed… And, therefore, those judges who did this, if they saw that the situation required [such action] for communal welfare, they acted legally, and certainly when they have been authorized by the government (to impose such punishment)…”

From the words of the Rashba we learn that in matters that concern societal welfare the Sages of Israel of every generation have the authority to make fences (to extend their authority and decide matters according to their best judgment) and to stand in the breach, even without government authorization. And concerning that which the Rashba wrote in his novel insights to Baba Metzia (84b) implies that this is (based on) governmental authority: “If they say to him ‘Arrest him,’ and we are dealing in a case in which there are no witnesses or forewarning and in which there is no Sanhedrin (Supreme Court that has the authority to impose capital punishment) [and therefore according to strict Jewish law a Jewish Court cannot convict such a person], this case is different because they (the members of the Jewish Court) are agents of the king (government) and the king’s law allows for capital punishment even without witnesses and forewarning, in order to discipline the world…” Accordingly, in matters of societal welfare it is not necessary to receive prior governmental approval.

The permission to report (an abuser) to the government is when one is certain that he transgressed, in this there is benefit to society. However, when there is no substance or foundation [to the allegation] but merely a dimyon (presumption), if we would allow (reports to the government) not only is this not for societal welfare, but this is societal destruction. It is possible that [a student may make false allegations] because of some bitterness that the student holds against the teacher or for some meaningless presumption that causes a person to think that his death is better than life—through no fault of [the teacher]. I do not see any permission in the matter.

Yosef  Shalom Elyashiv

Rav Elyashiv’s willingness to permit cooperation with authorities diminishes when it comes to parental abuse of children. This has to do with the concern that the child will be removed from the parental home and given to a foster family that is either xtian or secular. “There is no doubt that this would harm the soul of the child, even if for a short while,” in such a situation, R’ Elyashiv stated that qualified Rabbis must be consulted in each case of parental abuse.

None of the above is new. What is new, however,  is the recent Charedi Agudas Yisrael pronouncement:

But at a panel discussion titled “Molestation Issues and Reporting: Current Halachic Thinking,” the panel’s leader, Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman, cautioned that Elyashiv never explained what constitutes “reasonable suspicion.” To establish this, Gottesman said, a person should consult a rabbi “who has experience in these issues” before going to secular authorities.

“If [the rabbi] thinks reasonable suspicion has been met, then you would be allowed to overcome mesirah and report,” said Gottesman, a board member of Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools.

Rabbi David Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president, told the conference that even mandated reporters — teachers, social workers and people in certain other professions who are required by law to promptly report any suspected cases of sexual abuse — should consult a rabbi before going to the police.

This qualification by Agudas Yisrael brings us back to square one! In fact, it might be worse because even they acknowledge that nobody knows who the so-called qualified Rabbis are, Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshivah University, who was originally involved in the ill-fated case involving the guilty Baruch Lanner stated:

“There is no decent justification why anybody in their right mind should think rabbis are qualified to make that judgment”

Indeed, check out this recent farcical case in Lakewood, where the Beis Din had to call a social worker to make the detemination and wasn’t even available to later hear what the social worker had unearthed!

Agudas Yisrael’s pronouncement has caused justifiable consternation (see also here).

Melbourne has its share of alleged predators, some of whom walk around in our community with impunity. Yes, it is true that in most cases victims will not formally go to a court of law and press charges. I am not here to judge them. However, I do have the following question, which is bothering me.

If I am a Rabbi, and I have undergone specialist training on abuse  and I have seen victims who have testified to me about crimes a Melbourne predator has allegedly committed, and I believe those victims but I cannot convince the victims to go to the police, would I do everything in my power to make sure that those alleged predators

  • are not given opportunities to address youth in our community
  • are not able to sit on boards of community organisations

Sadly, in our own Melbourne community, there are alleged predators who continue to speak to our youth in both formal and informal manners presenting as some sort of “expert” as well as alleged predators who continue to sit on the boards of community organisations. Should those people be encouraged to remove themselves from such positions? The predators need to seek help. They need to admit what they have done and be under a supervised treatment regimen. We must protect society in whatever way we can. Some of these predators masquerade as if they never perpetrated any crime.

Surely, if we can’t get victims to press charges, removing alleged predators from positions of power or influence is the least we can do to protect the vulnerable ones in society?

Rabbi Mark Dratch of JSafe is a source of inspiration.

as is Dr Asher Lipner

Perhaps it’s time to open up a Melbourne Chapter of JSafe?

Charedi misinformation, disinformation and downright distortion Part 2

What has changed? The situation at New Square gets worse (hat tip to Steven)

The Chilul Hashem grows daily. The Skeverer Rebbe stays silent; he doesn’t visit the victim of the arson attempt nor has he put this arsonist house boy into Cherem for this act, to my knowledge. Check out the video above. Can you imagine if they were Muslims saying this is “MuslimLand” and not “JewLand” as expressed by the Skverer Chasid?

All that aside, what also irks me is that the two internet based news sites, matzav.com and www.theyeshivaworld.com remain completely silent on the matter. Nothing has happened in New Square that’s worth reporting? How can this be? This is the same type of blackwashing that takes place in Artscroll and other Charedi publications. Why are they hiding it? Is it because they want their kids to do such things or because they don’t want their kids to do such things? If the latter, why not show it, and issue condemnation?

Here are the front page topics on Yeshivah World News which were considered more news worthy than an arson attack on a family of 5 by Skeverer Chasidim:

  • Bloomberg Compares Same-Gender Marriage To Slavery
  • Google Announces Mobile Payment System: Google Wallet
  • Burglars Stealing Silver Sefer Torah Crowns Busted After Investigation By Metropolitan Police & Shomrim London NW
  • New Jersey State Police: 18 Percent Increase In Fatal Traffic-Accidents This Year
  • Wisconsin Union Law Struck Down By County Circuit Judge

Here are the topics that matzav considered more newsworthy than an arson attack on a family of 5 by Skeverer Chasidim:

  • Bloomberg Makes Case For NYC Same-Gender Marriage Law, Compares It To Slavery
  • RCA Examining Its Guidelines For Individual Membership of Yeshiva Chovevei Torah
  • Lakewood Officials and Askanim Visit Bnei Brak On Chizuk Mission
  • Lakewood Cheder Closes On 13-Acre Campus
  • 17% of Lakewood Residents Are Under Age 5
  • OU Kosher: Building Bridges to the World of Yeshivos
  • NYC to Save Money by Increasing Class Sizes for Special Education Kids
  • New York City Health Department Wants All ‘Alcopops’ Banne
  • New National Rubashkin Campaign

שומו שמים

Why is the story from New Square clearly under censorship by Matzav and Yeshivah World News. Pitputim have a few commenters who come across as apologists for Charedim, would any like to respond with a guest post justifying this practice of שקר?

Don’t they have anything better to do?

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

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

Grovelling to Sonei Yisrael Yimach Shemom (Photo from Reuters)

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

This one is just as bad, if not worse.

Radicals protesting in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)

Pushing your own barrow

Rabbi Ralph Genende issued an opinion (hat tip to Ezra May) about Di Tzeitung’s photoshopping of women in an uncelebrated manner.  There is a way to criticise this Satmar newspaper but Rabbi Genende has not simply sought to do that. Rabbi Genende has used this as an opportunity to trumpet modern orthodoxy and contrast it with ultra orthodoxy.

Let’s look at how he made his arguments, and ask some questions.

While modern Orthodoxy has long-championed the greater inclusion of women in Jewish public life, the Chareidi (ultra-Orthodox) world still struggles with, if not out rightly rejects.

In what way do Charedim struggle with the inclusion of women? My observation is that each group within the Charedi world has their own halachic interpretation which they pursue.

In what way are the modern Orthodox championing inclusion of women? The Rav forbade the inclusion of women on Synagogue boards and the RCA issued their displeasure with Rabbi Avi Weiss’ attempts to ordain women.

they don’t have the right to impose this on others as the “Torah-true way”

In context, only readers of their paper are ‘forced’ to see this picture through their lenses. Is that not their free choice?

 I do have a problem with their zealotry, their conviction that they have the G-d given right to make women sit at the back of the bus or pressure them to move out of their allotted seats on an El AL plane because they don’t want to sit next to them.

I agree that women on a public bus should not be forced to move, but is this because of a lack of respect for women per se? I would have thought it was all about separation of sexes. I suspect that they would drag a man from the women’s section if he wandered over there.

More to the point, what has this to do with Di Tzeitung’s editorial policy unless one is simply trying to make the facile point that if they are extreme with one thing they must be extreme with others. Is Rabbi Genende implying that all those who choose not to publish pictures of women push women to the back of buses? Clearly that’s not the case.

To airbrush out pictures of women (which is done regularly not only in Di Tzeitung but also in other Chareidi publications) is a distortion of the truth which in Halacha is called gneivat da’at (being deceitful) and midvar sheker tirchak (keep away from falsehood).

How so? It is Gneivas Daas or Sheker if there is an expectation that they do not airbrush woman out of pictures. Is Rabbi Genende seriously suggesting that the readership of these papers is not aware of the editorial policy to do so? Come now.

The readership of the Tzeitung believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for  what they look like”. I am not assured by this because the Tzeitung producers and readers are ‘fine-print’ shmekkers; they often focus on the most stringent minutiae of Halachik practise

So the implication is that anyone who aspires, as policy, to be a so-called בעל נפש must be telling a lie if they miss the fine print?  Maybe yes, maybe no, but how does Rabbi Genende know?

Equally, it is sciolistic to suppose that the difference between Charedim and  modern orthodox relates to the fine print. Is Rabbi Genende aware, for example, that the Rav, as scion of Brisk acted in Psak in a manner which tried to accommodate all opinions!  Is this the difference between Charedim and Modern Orthodox? I think not. Was Rav Hirsch dismissive of the fine print? What about the Sridei Eish?

And I am not assured by their reverence for what women do because this is usually restricted to a very narrow area

Is Rabbi Genende now questioning the appreciation of all Charedim for their wives because their lives are less outward and worldly (in his parlance narrow) than his? What sociological study is he leaning on to support this assertion?

More worrying is the attitude of a large segment of the Chareidi world towards women and modesty in general. A group of Chareidi women and girls in Bet Shemesh have begun to wear Muslim garb covering their whole body (including their heads and faces) with rabbinic approval.

We are all aware of this radical group. We are also all aware that they have also been condemned by Charedim. What license did Rabbi Genende use to define this phenomena as a large segment. Is he engaging in hyperbole to push his own barrow?

 There is an increasing tending in the Orthodox world to separate the sexes at schools, weddings, funerals and shule events. This was not the norm in the Orthodox world in the past.

Rabbi Genende has now moved from Charedi and Modern Orthodox to “Orthodox” in general. Do his claims stack up? Orthodox Schools were always segregated. Even the Rav who allowed it at Maimonides felt that once that community was able, that males and females should learn Torah in separate classes. On weddings, I’m not sure how this practice has increased in vacuo. Is Rabbi Genende also claiming that the level of immodesty has stayed constant during time? It has not. The levels of Tzniyus in clothing has greatly decreased over time. Indeed, the Rav refused to perform a wedding for a Chasan who was not wearing a hat, and did not perform weddings when the Kallah was wearing a plunging neck line  etc. Once when the Rav was caught out performing Siddur Kiddushin for a bride who was immodestly dressed, the story is related that he kept asking for a bigger  and biggur siddur until he was unable to see the Kallah past the siddur! There are also explicit sources which forbid the mingling of genders during funerals, including the Shura.

 While modest, respectful, appropriate behaviour between men and women is what the Torah expects, it does not expect a total separation of the sexes.

Rabbi Genende is entitled to his opinion, but I’m not sure why he thinks he is entitled and they are not entitled to follow a contrary view?

As the wise rabbis of Pirkei Avot advised long ago: “Be careful with your words”.

I agree with this 🙂

Let us in the modern-Orthodox world encourage them to be more inclusive in their ways and views. You need fences for protection but you also need gateways and openings so that you can grow and move freely in Hashem’s varied and colourful world.

I am not sure if Rabbi Genende speaks for modern Orthodoxy, but I don’t see his article as encouragement! Nay, he is playing to his audience; his congregation.

Disclaimer: Let me be clear that I do think that what Di Tzeitung did was careless and gross and lacked an awareness of the world, but I do not agree with using this as a platform to bash and/or push one’s own barrow; something I contend is what Rabbi Genende achieved with his article.

I’m really “proud” to be associated with these Jews

See this. In our own Age newspaper. Who is peddling this stuff to the Age. Feh!

Am I the only one embarrassed? They got this from the infamous failedmessiah who lifted it from Hirshel Tzig’s blog and got the name of the paper slightly wrong.

In the words of one of the blogsters, if someone has a יצר הרע for Hilary Clinton, they have bigger issues than Di Tzeitung.

Charedim and the State of Israel: then and now

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

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

Jaffa Gate

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

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

Rav Yisrael Ya'akov Fisher ז'ל

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

The next day, the great Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld,

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ז'ל

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have the courage of your convictions

People do not agree. This is a fact of life. There are, and always will be, emotive issues which evoke strong disagreement. Sometimes the disagreement can result in feelings of aggression even hate between antagonists. Jews are no different. If anything, because there are many issues of substance lingering around our Daled Amos, there is perhaps more opportunity, perhaps even propensity, to viscerally agree to disagree.

Rav Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hevron

Two recent examples of differing approaches to courage and expressing the truth of one’s convictions confronted me this week. The first involved Rav Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hevron, and Rosh Yeshiva and head of the Rabbinic Council for Judea and Samaria. Rav Lior is considered to be a star pupil of Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook, z”l, and one of the  brightest among Gush Emunim style adherents of the concept of a greater Israel. Born into a Belzer family and subsequently orphaned, Rav Lior was touted as an Illuy even amongst the Charedi population of the State of Israel. Rav Lior and others gave their Haskama to a book which was considered to be “inciting” by the police and other authorities. Refusing to back down, Rav Lior is now likely to be arrested. Rav Lior claims that the arrest warrant interferes with his right to offer religious approbation to a book related to Torah thoughts and principles.

You can agree or disagree with Rav Lior, but you will never die wondering what his views are on a particular topic. He says it like it is, and his views are like he says. There is no diplomatic licence employed to bury his thoughts or camouflage his principles for fear of a physical or financial backlash. Rav Lior, his supporters and students, do not cower underneath rocks like proverbial green moss, afraid of the consequential glare of sunlight. Rav Lior subscribes to a philosophy that sees the hand of God in the creation of the State of Israel.

Diametrically opposed to his views are those who endorse the position of the late Rebbe of Satmer, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum z”l. Rav Teitelbaum held that the primary (perhaps only) reason for the Holocaust was God’s “retribution” against the actions of zionists who dared transgress the 3 oaths. These views, largely held by the Hungarian charedi population, are considered utterly abhorrent by many. It is simply beyond comprehension to fathom the concept of 6 million Jews murdered, gassed and burned and amongst them תנוקות של בית רבן who were hurled against walls to have their skulls fractured, all because God was angry that they dared defy British anti-semites and seek to re-inhabit ארץ אבותינו. Whatever the case may be, we know where the Satmer Rebbe stood on this issue in the same way that we know the views of people like the Neturei Karta’s  R’ Moshe Beck.

In summary, one will not die wondering what Rav Dov Lior or להבדיל R’ Moshe Beck’s views on issues are. They have the courage of their convictions to openly state their opinions. Fast forward now to the following video of a local identity, the brother of R’ Moshe Beck, Rav A. Z. Beck, the Hungarian Rabbinic leader of a separatist Haredi group in Melbourne.

STOP PRESS:

It seems the video above was removed from youtube. In some sense that says plenty. Those of you who wish to see the video, may download it

What are their views? Do they think Hitler and the SS were sent by Hashem because of the Zionists and their rebellion against the Shalosh Shavuos? Is this the view of that community as a whole? To be sure, there are exceptions, but is this the mainstream view? Do they contend that since most Jews in Melbourne consider themselves Zionist or pro State of Israel that these Jews are all Kofrim (apostates)? Is it permitted to engage in business with regular Jews in Melbourne, or is there some blanket overarching permission when it comes to making money? It is alleged that the Melbourne Rav Beck distanced himself from his brother. To what extent? Is it only the fact that the brother openly states his opinions and demonstrates the courage of his convictions? Is it only because the Monsey brother kissed Ahmadinajad ימח שמו? Is what is said in private also said in public?