Congratulations to Rabbi Danny Mirvis and his family

Danny Lamm has not taken long before his committee (how many Lamms are on that committee, and people complain about Yeshiva!) has offered the position of Senior Rabbi to Rabbi Mirvis.

He ticks the boxes.

  1. He is a Religious Zionist from a Hesder Yeshiva
  2. He isn’t a Chabadnik (yes, I don’t believe Mizrachi would ever appoint a Chabadnik)
  3. He was educated in the more politically moderate Yeshivat Har Etzion
  4. He and his wife are charming and seem to be well-liked
  5. He will likely complete a four-year stint before returning to Israel (preferably the stint will be a lot less due to Geulah being in place)
  6. I have only shared a few lines of conversation with him, and heard him speak twice. He does his homework and is a likeable person. I do not know how he traverses the philosophies of Rav Amital vs Rav Lichtenstein, the former apparently having more of an influence on his outlook. Rav Amital and Rav Lichtenstein had enormous respect for each other but were very different, with Rav Amital having his own strong disagreements with R’ Tzvi Yehuda Kook on Rav Kook’s approach and the approach needed today.
  7. Perhaps most tellingly 🙂 when I introduced myself he said “Oh, Jackie Bassin’s Zayda”. I was expecting, “Oh, Adina Waller’s brother”. I learned from that, that he obviously had exposure to our grandson, and appreciated him, and that this was perhaps more my Yichus than being my sister’s brother :-). If he’d known my father and not mentioned that I was his son, I might have had some misgivings. Rabbi Sprung knew my father and often asked him what his secret was. Sadly, Rabbi Mirvis won’t, but happily he will see some of my parents’ great grandchildren one on one.
  8. He will give a more meaningful approach to Judaism than the more tree hugging, Tikun Olam, we embrace everything style of leadership or the “I do it different and I will shock you style from ARK”, and will respect Kashrus and support established authorities and ignore the communal maverick.

Prior to that, the name “Mirvis” only registered with me in respect of his Uncle Johnny. Johnny who is no doubt also a Rabbi, was in fifth year of Hesder at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, when I joined Kerem B’Yavneh. I didn’t have much to do with him, partly because of my reclusive nature, and partly because he concentrated on the English and American Bochurim, for whom he was given a particular mashpia style role. I only knew of his father when he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth, although I need to declare that I am not a Monarchist, and consider both Philip and Elizabeth anti semites. The latter would visit a toilet in Ghana before stepping into Israel, and the former cantankerous oddity only goes to visit his mother’s grave, in a private capacity. Charles is hardly pro-Jewish either. Let me repeat what I have stated in other posts. If one claims to be against anti-Semitism and can’t call Israel the JEWISH State, they are an anti-Semite in my eyes, irrespective of where one sets borders.

Good luck. It’s not an easy community. You will be pushed around (older generation) by pseudo-Mevinim, but the youth will rally around you, and in that way, you will be successful. Now, if you can get the grandfathers and great grandfathers out of “Beit Haroeh” and hand it over to Ohr David, that would be a great start. Beit Haroeh has passed its used by date long ago and its time they grew up and moved into the Main Shule.

I also hope they let you influence Yavneh in respect to its Torah learning programs, and not write you out of that equation as they did with previous Rabbis.

From an interview at Har Etzion:

After numerous years as Director of the Yeshivat Har Etzion Center for Torah Leadership (CTL), Danny Mirvis is stepping down ahead of moving to Australia to assume a new position at the Mizrachi community in Melbourne. Dublin-born and London-raised, Danny has held numerous positions in the Yeshiva including Madrich of MTA, Racaz of the Overseas Program and most recently, Director of CTL. We asked him some questions about his time with CTL and plans for the future.

How has CTL changed over the years?

CTL started off as an exciting dream with many great ideas. Over the years, those ideas have been developed and organized to create three focused areas of activity:

1) Partner Projects – Supporting a broad range of educational and social initiatives of alumni from Yeshivat Har Etzion and Migdal Oz, including a focus on women’s learning.

2) Torah Leadership – Developing the connection with alumni actively involved in the Rabbinate and Chinuch across the world through ongoing contact, regular conferences and supporting different Torah publications.

3) Future Leaders – Identifying and investing in students and alumni with significant leadership potential, through leadership programs and CTL’s Winter Fellowships.

What have been the highlights of your time with CTL?

Rabbi Doniel Schreiber, the Dean and Founder of CTL, is a man of tremendous passion and vision. To work together with him and see how that vision has become a reality has been a privilege and pleasure.

For me, CTL’s proudest achievements have been the partner projects we identified and supported in their early stages, which have gone on to blossom and thrive on their own two feet. To give just a few examples, Garinei Ayala is now three times the size it was when they first came to our office to ask for assistance. The Shiurim in Givat Shmuel and Katamon are now self-sufficient and continue to grow and attract large crowds. The late night Beit Midrash at Penn turned to us for assistance at its inception and has gone on to become a fully-fledged part of Penn’s learning program.

How do you see CTL developing in the future?

CTL’s primary area of focus – the alumni of Yeshivat Har Etzion and Migdal Oz – is a talented, dynamic and growing group. It is through these alumni that CTL aims and hopes to make a positive impact and genuine contribution to the world around us. As our alumni progress and grow in number, new opportunities will develop for CTL to expand its programs and activities.

The same can be said for our alumni in Chinuch and the Rabbinate. I see great potential for CTL to increase its interaction with this group as it continues to grow in influence and number.

You have held numerous positions in the Yeshiva. How does it feel that your next position will be on the other side of the world?

Though I have held numerous positions in the Yeshiva, they have all shared the sense of mission of working towards the Yeshiva’s goals of being immersed in Torah and engaged with the world.

Mizrachi in Melbourne is a wonderful community with strong ties to the Yeshiva, a genuine appreciation for Torah and a deep love of Israel. Though it could not be much further away geographically from the Yeshiva, I see my role there as a continuation of the same mission.

What will you be able to take with you from your experiences with CTL to assist you with your future role?

First of all, thanks to CTL, I will belong to a global network of Rabbinic alumni from Yeshivat Har Etzion, which I will be able to draw on for ideas and advice.

I also hope to employ CTL’s educational and organizational philosophy in my new position. At CTL, we have not aimed to build our target audience around our programs and activities, but to build our programs and activities around our target audience. This is something I hope to continue in the future.”

PS. I had promised to show him my Shas, printed in Dublin on linen paper. He was astounded that such a thing existed. I suggested his father would know. It even has Chiddushim of the Satmar Rebbe at the back, and yes, there are still pages stuck together in my Shas, I never used it for Daf HaYomi 🙂

Chabad Principal Rabbi Smukler attends and dances at Yom Ha’aztmaut service

The yearly prayer event which coincides with Ma’ariv is something I have attended for more years than I care to share. I do not recall but I believe I was unable to attend last year. In some years I was lecturing at the time, but I have attended almost every year.

I learned in a Hesder Yeshivah of note; the first Hesder Yeshiva in Israel. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht had the written and personal approval of the Chazon Ish. We dressed in our better finery and had a special dinner celebration of thanks. I lost my two Israeli room mates to War. I think about them often: Chovav Landau and Ze’ev Roitman HY’D. Chovav Landau’s wife was pregnant with their only child at the time. They were both in their fourth year of the five year program when I met them. I was closer to Ze’ev than Chovav. Ze’ev had lost his father to Yellow Fever, because a Doctor in Rechovot, had not changed needles after injecting an Arab patient. I felt his tragedy acutely. They both had machine guns locked in our room, and both perished when their tank was hit during the first Lebanon war.

The text of Ma’ariv in our Yeshiva was not the one adopted by the Kibbutz HaDati Movement (there was one next door) nor was it the text of newly published Koren Yom Haatzmaut Machzor. It was standard  Ma’ariv.

The Yeshivah formally followed the ruling that full hallel be said in the morning but without a blessing. There was no Tachanun.  This was not a statement of ‘less’ religious zionism. Rather, it represented delicate rulings related to liturgy and halacha.

As I recall, Ma’ariv had no additions. There was no Shofar etc I’m happy to be corrected. I do not know what current practice is followed. The Yeshivah did not affiliate with Bnei Akiva formally because of a concern for mixed gender functions. In my day Bnei Akiva in Jerusalem was gender separated.

Halachically, what one says before Ma’ariv and after the concluding Aleinu prayer is of lesser importance. When said in a Shule proper, there is also halachic  import.

That being said, I was to learn, later in life that the famed Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, otherwise known warmly as ‘the Rav’ was implacably opposed to additions to liturgy. This extended to the Holocaust and Kinos. He famously stormed out of RIETS when some ignored his ruling on Yom Haatzmaut.

Chabad’s Yeshivah and Beth Rivka Schools follow their choice. Chabad make no liturgical change and do say Tachanun. Whilst certainly not religious Zionist, they are not noted for the extreme anti Zionist rulings of the Adass Israel Congregation where Tachanun is especially said on Yom Ha’atzmaut even in the presence of a Bris Milah lest someone conclude that Adass saw any religious importance  in the State of Israel’s Independence Day.

For decades, Chabad’s boys school principal would not attend the Chabad dominated Rabbinical Council of Victoria’s gazetted service at Mizrachi. Thee council is, I believe dominated by Chabad Rabbis. This is not surprising in Melbourne where the survival and resurgence of Judaism is due in major part to Chabad.

I have been opposed to the service only being held at Mizrachi as I do not consider Mizrachi to be the ‘owner’ of this style of service. I am certain, that, for example, Caulfield Shule would gladly offer their Synagogue.

Chabad now has only one Principal: the controversial Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler.

It was then interesting for me to note Rabbi Smukler’s  front row appearance at Mizrachi last night, including his dancing circomvolution around the Bima. I concede that this may not have constituted halachic dancing (during Sefiras Haomer). He didn’t clap like Rabbi Cowen of Mizrachi’s Elsternwick Shule (Rabbi Cowen is considered a Chabad Chassid) nor did he sit on the Mizrachi wall like Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, who spoke as President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (and who is also a Chabad Chasid) and R Leor Broh (also a Chabad Chasid) of Mizrachi’s Beit Haroeh Shule (populated by once young marrieds, now grandfathers :-).

To be complete, unlike a general Yom Tov or a Chabad Yom Tov such as Yud Tes Kislev, I didn’t notice any Chabad Rabbi in attendance wearing their longer black Kappote).

We live in very interesting times.

May the State of Israel metamorphose into the Eretz Yisrael of our redemption, speedily, in our days, with the continued grace of God.

What made Mizrachi back flip on Moshe Zalman Feiglin’s planned talk at Shalosh Seudos?

I hear there are powerful forces that insisted that Moshe Feiglin’s talk at Mizrachi’s rather tame Shalosh Seudos, be cancelled. He was due to speak there by error or naturally. Mizrachi in Melbourne have certainly allowed right-wing revolutionaries from Ateret Cohanim to speak there, but Moshe Feiglin was cancelled. Was it because of the marxist left wing conservadox organisations like Shira Chadasha or is that Hadasha who had the Chutzpa to join the Reform and others and advertise their opposition to free speech. To them, I say go hug a tree. You will feel fulfilled. Go find a rabbi who fits your pre-defined view of Zionism and Judaism and give it a logo. Off you go. What was so damned offensive about Moshe Feiglin, someone tell me. I heard him on Friday night and knew little about him. He sounded fine to me. Are these the same dark forces that considered Rabbi Sprung too right-wing and who complain bitterly when Rabbis (for whom they have no respect) decide that certain whisky should be avoided. These are people who think they own Judaism. Guess what? They don’t. Ex nihilo is nonsense. The world was always filled with God. It was a matter for him to form a world such that והלכת בדרכיו not the ways of the humans who decide what is and is not moral, what is left and what is right.

So, I looked him up. I found this. Nothing objectionable:

Although Manhigut Yehudit is an educational organization that does not endorse political candidates, we believe that you will find Moshe Feiglin’s words at the Zehut Founding Conference to be enlightening and inspiring:

Dear Friends,

I must admit that I am very moved. I have participated in quite a few events in my life and have made quite a few speeches. But when you begin to understand the depth of the crisis and upheavals facing Israel and the world; when you understand that what we are doing here this evening is laying the foundation for the only leadership that is capable of understanding reality and thus, for dealing with it; when you understand that – you understand that tonight’s event is formative; it is an historic event.

A New Leadership Movement: From Zionism of Existence to Zionism of Destiny

Make no mistake. This is not a group of a few hundred Israelis who have decided to form another political party. What is happening here tonight is nothing less than a revolution.

Tonight, we are founding a new leadership movement for the Nation of Israel. Tonight, we are founding the only leadership that has the tools to truly deal with the approaching tsunami – from within and without!

Tonight, we are creating national leadership that will bring the State of Israel from one era: Zionism of Existence, to a completely new era: Zionism of Destiny.

The Vision: Identity, Meaning, Liberty

Everything so sorely lacking in Israeli politics can be found in this movement. First and foremost, what we have completely forgotten:

We have vision!

Our vision includes:

Loyalty to our identity

A message of meaning

A battle for liberty.

True answers can only be found within this vision:

Answers based on liberty to deal with all our current challenges: Housing, education, cost of living, health and of course security and foreign relations.

Only those who have vision and know the answer to ‘why?’ can provide the true answers to ‘how’.

Without Destiny, Existence is Endangered

Seventy years ago, the crematoria of Europe were extinguished and our Nation began to rise from the ashes. The State of Israel’s first seventy years are also about to be completed.

There is no doubt that the State of Israel is a success story. It has realized the vision of the prophets and has been the conduit for the unequaled historical miracle in which all parts of the Nation of Israel have participated.

But it is specifically the physical success that has made us vulnerable to a gnawing, paralyzing weakness that threatens all the achievements of the Return to Zion.

From a physical standpoint, we have never been greater and stronger; both economically and militarily. But internally – we have never been so weak.

Sometimes I feel that I should apologize to my children: I had so much fun growing up in this country. Israel was a country that radiated security and faith in the justice of its cause. What confusion and lowliness we are bequeathing the next generation – exactly at the most critical time!

Our parents, the generation of the War of Independence and the Six Day War, the generation of the Yom Kippur War and Entebbe, gave us a state that stood proud. They gave us a state in which a drizzle in Sderot meant that autumn was coming – not rockets coming out of the sky.

Missiles on Tel Aviv? Who would ever have thought?

Our parents gave us a state in which there was no need for security guards at the entrance to every shopping mall and train station.

They gave us a state whose existence was not questioned by any cultured person in the world.

They gave us a state in which every soldier in uniform understood what he represented and nobody dared attack him.

They gave us a state that would immediately obliterate any entity developing nuclear weapons to destroy us – with no warning, no speeches and no lobbying the Congress.

Our parents gave us a state in which every young couple could afford housing; a state that no matter what school you attended, you emerged an Israeli patriot.

They gave us a state in which little girls could play hopscotch on the corner unguarded.

A state without ‘protection’.

A state in which every Jew could walk freely – everywhere.

And what are we giving our children?

A threatened, helpless community that begs the world and the US air force for help?

A state that has lost its faith in the justice of its cause, a state that – more and more – the world considers a mistake?

A state in which young couples can only dream of owning their own home.

A state in which the schooling falls far short of our potential.

A state in which parents are forced to guard their children while they play outdoors.

A state in which personal liberties are being eroded.

The world is not exactly waiting patiently while we return to ourselves. The entire old order is crumbling before our eyes.

ISIS is replacing the Arab states.

Nuclear ayatollahs set the world agenda.

Europe is quickly becoming Moslem.

America stands by those who attempt to destroy us.

Where is the leadership of old? Leadership that would know how to present a vision and strategy in the face of the existential challenges falling upon us?

This is the new leadership that we are building today, here in Tel Aviv.

No more state that flees its message

No more state that flees its meaning and history.

Today, we are heralding the connection of all of these to the liberty of man.

Dear friends,

The era of religious and non-religious is over!

The era of Right and Left is finished!

All the ridiculous molds that divided us time and again are a thing of the past.

The Israeli young people yearn for the meaning taken from them.

They crave to dig deeply into their identity and liberty.

Israel’s young people desire leadership that will give them all these things. Leadership that will truly solve:

The housing shortage, the collapsing educational system, the high cost of living – leadership that will restore security to our streets.

We have all those gifts – and more – to give:

Housing: We know that liberty means that the land belongs to the citizens – not to the state. Land must be allotted by lottery to all army veterans in Israel.

The bureaucratic red tape must be cut and people must be allowed to build as they please on their land. And most important of all, we know that this is our Land and we should build throughout our country.

Education: We know how to truly solve the problem with education in Israel. Because we know that liberty means that we are responsible for the education of our children- not the State. The State will give vouchers to the parents of every child and the parents will decide where to redeem them.

Just imagine countless ‘boutique’ schools competing for your vouchers – just like the maternity wards compete for the social security funds that they receive for every new mother who gives birth in their hospital.

Every teacher will be a private tutor. And every student will be a king!

Cost of living: We know how to truly deal with the high cost of living and how to propel the economy forward. Simply, we must:

Open the Israeli market to competitive imports
Close the Standards Institute
Cut down the government mechanism to at least half
Nullify the tax on companies
Return the state payment for army veterans to social security
Stop funding our enemies.
War can never be over when the Israel Defense Force vocabulary does not include the word ‘victory’.

It is impossible to win when it is not clear who the enemy is (The rocket? The tunnel? Terror?)

If you cannot figure out who you are, (A Jew? An Israeli? A citizen of an amorphous state?) you will clearly not discover who your enemy is. Maybe we were sent here by the UN?

Now we can understand that a person or country that has no identity will never enjoy peace.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen: Only Zehut will bring peace!

We have the answer to the ‘why’? And thus, we can provide all the answers to the ‘how’?!

Dear friends, now it is in our hands!

The energies, the people, the clear plan and the will and preparedness to lead are all in this hall. They are in no other place and so, the responsibility is on our shoulders. We have all the tools with which to bring about a true revolution.

We have a year – not more – to reach every corner of this country.

Now friends, it is in our hands. And we have good reason to be excited at the eve of the New Year. To be excited and to thank the Creator, Who has brought us to this momentous and historic time, in which we have merited to establish leadership with vision for our Nation.

Shanah Tovah

I heard in Shule that he’s “homophobic”. Sorry, what does that mean. Does that mean that he beats up gay people or does it mean that he happens to accept Torah that the act of homosexuality is a SIN. Are the politically correct anonymous powers behind Mizrachi afraid to say the word תועבה … if so, they should join Shira Chadasha, the “Shule of Song”. Too far? Uncomfortable seats? Only for the young? Do me a favour people get a life.

Okay, so I looked for more, and found this.

While other Knesset members will ride off into the political sunset after their successors are sworn in to the parliament Tuesday, outgoing Likud MK Moshe Feiglin will go to the Party Registrar’s Office to officially create his new political home.

Feiglin left the Likud after he failed to get selected for a realistic slot on the party’s list for the new Knesset. He announced that he would form a party at an event held at the same time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated with his party’s new candidates.

Feiglin’s faction will be called Zehut, which means identity in Hebrew. It will push for Israel to decide what it means to be a Jewish state.

Speaking at the Knesset after he received his “former MK card,” Feiglin boasted how people waited in line to pay NIS 500 to join the list of party founders that would be submitted to the registrar. He said 60 percent of the initial 500 founders were not religious and that Zehut would not be sectarian.

“Establishing Israel’s identity is the key to its future,” Feiglin said. “The loss of its identity is the problem, and returning it is the solution.”

Feiglin said he turned down offers of realistic slots on multiple party lists, preferring to sit out the current Knesset and build a new party from the bottom up.

“The Likud is not the answer to anything,” he said. “I prefer to advance my ideas on my own. My ideas attract curiosity and appreciation. I didn’t need a stage. What I want is to provide an alternative of leadership.”

Feiglin said that if MK Yair Lapid could start a new party and win 19 seats and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon would win 10, he could win 20 in the next election, which he believes will take place soon after what he called a “Pyrrhic victory” for Netanyahu.

His political predictions proved right in the past. He wrote on Facebook ahead of the 2013 election, when Bayit Yehudi was polling 16 seats, that it would fall to eight when the Likud would warn its voters that the Left could come to power.

Zehut will be registered as soon as the Interior Ministry verifies the Israeli residence of everyone on its list of founders in accordance with the law.

Feiglin hopes the current Knesset will pass a bill allowing Jews abroad who are not citizens to join Israeli political parties.

Many secular people attended a pre-Passover toast Feiglin hosted Sunday night in Jerusalem.

Uri Noy of Petah Tikva, who was one of them, said he was surprised to see so many people not wearing kippot.

“The upheaval is really happening,” he said. “I came to Feiglin because I saw that in the [2006] Second Lebanon War, Israel did not fight back. I got turned on by him, and I’ve supported him since then.”

Noy said he was in Likud with Feiglin and he was glad they left because the Likud has not been true to its political platform that calls for keeping and settling the land of Israel.

He said there was nothing wrong with a secular Jew supporting the building of a Third Temple, noting that Zionist founder Theodore Herzl wrote in favor of it in his book Altneuland.

“Leaving the Likud is not giving up,” said Binyamin Nakonechny, a former Likud central committee member who was the first person who joined Zehut. “Feiglin has faced political setbacks throughout his career but he hasn’t given up. He has just started over.”

Okay, I can’t see anything that would cause the Marxist tree huggers to try and muzzle free speech. Then I saw he was sentenced to prison for opposing the Oslo Accords (sounds like Russia to me). Well, even the left-wing moustached types cannot say anything good about the useless 20 year old Oslo Accords. They were and are bullshit. Sorry, that is fact. Try a few stabbings to remind you. Then I thought to myself, maybe he was into religious coercion etc and I found this on wikipedia

Feiglin, responding to a report that Israel’s first permanent Arab Supreme Court judge Salim Joubran had refused to sing Israel’s national anthem, asserted Joubran: “must return his Israeli ID card and make do with the status of ‘permanent resident.’

Guess what, I agree with him. It’s a joke. The Marxist libertarian left wingers in our Jewish people are so self righteous that they don’t understand basic logic.

If someone supports a Kahane policy that doesn’t make them Kahane!

Try and get that through elementary logic.

Feiglin said:

Feiglin referred to U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden as a “diseased leper” in a 2010 op-ed column published by Israel’s third largest news outlet, Maariv.

Was he wrong? Is Obama any different? What good has Obama done for Israel except kiss the orifices of Iran since he came to power.

Then I heard he was a homophobe because:

“”Throughout history,” Feiglin explained, “from Rome to Europe in our day, the approval and spread of homosexuality presaged the decline of nations and cultures. If one reads the Torah portion ‘Noah’ – this comes as no surprise. . . .The organizers of a pride parade do not wish to gain rights. They strive to force homosexuality as a culture upon the public sphere. . . . A minority has no right to take over public assets. Let the marchers kindly go back to their individual closets. And let them do it without whining, because no one interferes with their affairs in there. Let them give up their attempts at takeovers, and leave the public sphere to normal people. . . .Feiglin added in an additional post: “I have no problem with homosexuals, most of whom are, most likely, good and talented people and no one wants to interfere in their private lives. I have a problem with homosexuality as a culture. This culture subverts the status of the family. And without the family there is no nation, and without a nation there is no civilization.”

Okay, he has no problem with what people do in their private lives, but opposes Pride parades and the creation of Pride cultures. Guess what. So do I. Does Shira Chadasha or Mizrachi embrace Parades in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I don’t tell people what to do in their bed rooms.

But then I found the answer. It’s got to be the pathetic political correctness of our good tree hugging leftists.

Feiglin is banned from entering the United Kingdom due to a decision by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, made public in March 2008, excluding Feiglin on the grounds that his presence in the country “would not be conducive to the public good.” A letter to Feiglin from the Home Office said that Smith based her decision on an assessment that his activities “foment or justify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”Feiglin responded, “Seeing that renowned terrorists like Hizbullah member Ibrahim Mousawi are welcomed in your country in open arms, I understand that your policy is aimed at encouraging and supporting terror.”

So what terrorism has Feiglin fomented. Since when do we follow anti-Semitic Britain? To all you libertarian democrats and supporters of free speech I say hang your heads in shame. There are far worse right wingers in the Likud, and Mizrachi would haven did let them in to speak, that was when old Mr Lamm ע’’ה was alive. Alas, his son, Danny obviously no longer has influence. As to my own views, I am outside Israel, but as long as he isn’t advocating terrorism (like the Muslims who advocate terrorism AND live in Australia) what is wrong with free speech? I was also gob-smacked when Australia wouldn’t allow that anti-abortion campaigner in. Unless there is something about him that I don’t know, we are heading towards totalitarian Russia, where if you have charisma, they certainly won’t let you in to talk.

This is political correctness gone mad

Adass vs Mizrachi

The following correspondence is making the rounds of email on the internet. It sheds light on the basis of the disagreement.

Disclaimer: Ian is my brother-in-law

First, we have a letter from Adass

Dear Ian
I am receipt of your email statement of behalf of the Mizrachi Organisation.
I am astounded that you would issue such a notice without the courtesy of enquiring about the aim of this gathering
You labelled this “a protest” which was “designed to attract the attention of the general community and the media” organised by opponents of the state of Israel
Unfortunately your statement is totally incorrect.
This was not a “protest” but rather a gathering of Jews – Shomrei Torah uMitzvos from most communities – to say Tehilim and Tefillos against recent decrees aimed at harming the Torah world.
We mirrored the call of the ENTIRE Torah leadership worldwide – Chassidim and Litvaks, Ashkenazim and Sfardim.
The Gedolei Hador are pained at new legislation which further erodes Achdus and Shalom between fellow Jews.
How can anyone sit back and watch as a Jewish State legislates that one Jew will put another Jew into jail for studying Torah?
This is something that saddens all of us and we pray that Hashem should bring us together as one people.

This was not a protest. No one spoke, there was no speeches. No banners or signs – Just tehillim and tefila

It was most specifically NOT done to attract the media. It took place inside a Shul – the most appropriate place for prayer.
There was no contact with the media and no street signs.

You have stated the exact opposite of what we were aiming.   We came for prayer for unity peace and you interpreted it as the opposite.

I think you owe the organisers a public apology for your words.
Wishing you a Good Shabbos and Simchas Purim
BINYOMIN KOPPEL
President
Adass Israel
 
PS Please note that I am responding on behalf of our Shul.
Mizrachi’s response is produced below
Dear Binyomin,
I refer to your email of 14 March 2014.
Your letter raises a number of complaints concerning the statement I made on 13 March 2014 which I will attempt to deal with.
First, you say that you are astounded that I would issue such a notice without the courtesy of enquiring about the aim of this gathering.
The aim of the gathering was readily apparent from the poster that was widely distributed. The poster depicted a Sefer Torah wrapped in barbed wire conjuring up the very worst images from our recent history. It called upon men, women and children aged 9 and over to “show solidarity with our embattled brethren in Eretz Yisrael regarding the proposed new law”. It contained images of large outdoor rallies held in Jerusalem and New York.  Although you assert that I should have made enquiries about the aim of the gathering before making any statement, no attempt was made to consult with the Mizrachi Organisation (or to obtain Rabbi Sprung’s signature) prior to organising the event. Presumably that was because it was anticipated by the organisers that Mizrachi would have objected in the strongest terms to what was being planned.
Secondly, you say that I mischaracterised the event by calling it a protest.
When people are called upon to assemble in large numbers to voice their opposition to legislation enacted by a democratically elected government, they are in effect being called upon to protest. A protest need not involve speeches or banners, although I note that similar events held in other cities included such features. You say that the event “took place inside a Shul – the most appropriate place for prayer”. However the poster announced that the rally would take place in the Adass Gutnick Hall.
Thirdly, you state that in organising the gathering you “mirrored the call of the ENTIRE Torah leadership worldwide”.
It is disappointing and troubling that you do not consider Mizrachi and our ideological affiliates around the world, who did not participate in any such events, as part of the Torah leadership community.
Fourthly, you assert that the legislation will mean that “one Jew will put another Jew into jail for studying Torah”.
A cursory reading of the legislation or the available summaries of it will reveal that the law has no such purpose or effect. Its intent is to gradually implement a more equitable sharing of the responsibility for protecting and defending the State of Israel and all of its inhabitants. The law does not come into effect until at least 2017. In the meantime, there is a full exemption for anyone over 26 who did not register in the past and an exemption for anyone aged between 22-26. There will be an option to perform national service rather than serve in the armed forces. Exceptional students will be completely exempt.
Fifthly, you write “We came for prayer for unity (and) peace and you interpreted it as the opposite”.
Scheduling the event on Ta’anit Esther and using the words “Gezeirot Kashot” (ie. harsh decrees) to describe the legislation recently enacted by the State of Israel plainly sought to equate that legislation and those responsible for it with with the terrible edicts decreed against the Jews by Ahasuerus at the instigation of Haman. Actions and statements such as these are plainly calculated to erode achdut. Referring to the Government of the State of Israel as “Shevet HaRasha” (the evil tribe) erodes achdut. How can you claim that you were seeking “unity” and “peace” when you describe fellow Jews in these terms.
I note that, since receiving your letter, two of the seven Rabbis who signed the poster have since expressed deep regret and emphatically dissociated themselves from the document.
You conclude your letter by saying that I owe the organisers of the event a public apology. For the reasons set out above I am not able to apologise for the statement that I made on behalf of the Mizrachi Organisation.
Yours sincerely,
Ian
__________________
Ian Waller SC
President
Mizrachi Organisation

Agudas Yisrael and Yom Ha’atzmaut: then and now

[Hat tip to Mark]
The letter below was penned by famed Rosh Yeshivah of Telz in Cleveland and member of the Moetzes Gedolai HaTorah in the USA, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch ז’ל. I had heard about the sentiments, but it is all the more powerful when one reads the actual letter. Well, not quite the actual letter, but a translation of the letter, which I lifted from the following article.

    

With God’s help, Sunday, Parashat Bechukosai, 5714

My respected friend, Mr. David Ulman, Shalom and with eternal blessing!

First I would like to express my gratitude to you for contacting me to request clarification with regard to the holiday of Independence without judging or criticising from afar. Now let me respond to the matter with clarity.

  • The copy of the advertisement that you sent to me is indeed correct. Furthermore, this event was attended by the Women of Agudath Israel and Pirchei Agudath Israel. The reason that their attendance was not mentioned [in the ad] is simply due to the fact that they decided to attend later [after the flyer was published], and they became an official part of the evening’s program.
  • Before we discuss the actual matter we must first clarify the following questions:
    1) Is Yom ha-Atzma’ut a worthy matter for the Ultra- Orthodox community to deliberate and to express a stance regarding it[s celebration]?
    2) Is it worthy of celebration?
    3) Is it worthy for the members of Agudath Israel to unite with the members of Mizrachi in a fashion which allows us to express our approach and influence others to act according to the spirit of Agudath Israel?

In my humble opinion, one must respond to these questions as follows:

  1. The independence of Israel and the establishment of the State are important events in the life of our nation. It is worthy for members of Agudath Israel to participate when there is a possibility to express their thoughts and views before a large forum in order to influence them regarding the approach of the Agudah and to refute the negative sentiments against Agudath Israel.
  2. In my opinion, despite all of the defects and deficiencies in the leadership of the State of Israel, its mere existence, which happened via revealed miracles, is of great significance that deserves recognition and appreciation. This recognition must be publicly expressed for two reasons: First, because the truth must be expressed. Second, that all should know and recognise that our war against the Government of Israel is not targeted against the existence of the State.
  3. Participation with Mizrachi in a fashion that Agudath Israel is free to express its views was recognised as the correct approach by creating a religious front that Agudath Israel is always willing to renew. Although I know that we disagree with Mizrachi on our fundamental beliefs, and in no way are our views consistent with each other, and consequently our actions are totally different, still there are many issues on which we can work together and, through this, strengthen the ultra-religious and its influence on the life of the nation.

After this preface let’s discuss the issue of our participating in the celebration of Yom ha-Atzma’ut. The collective meeting for Yom ha-Atzma’ut was not particularly festive; it was simply a symposium conducted by all the Orthodox factions and gave everyone the opportunity to express their views. Of course, if we would not have attended, the meeting would have turned into a platform focused on criticising Agudath Israel and its leaders who are the “Gedolei ha-Torah.” Our participation on the other hand caused the speakers to speak politely and allowed Agudath Israel to express its views in front of more than one thousand people. Hence even if we would not have related to the State of Israel in a positive fashion, our participation would still have been of value. However, in my view since the creation of the State of Israel is indeed an important milestone in the life of our nation, our relationship to it, therefore, is positive, and our participation is obligatory.

Our participation together with Mizrachi is despite the fact that the religious political front was canceled. In Cleveland there is a religious front by the name “Orthodox Jewish Association” comprised of representatives of ultra-orthodox synagogues, Agudath Israel, Mizrachi, Young Israel and representatives of the educational institutions of the ultra-orthodox. A condition was established that if there is any issue with which one of the participants disagrees, the organisation cannot act. For example when rabbi… came here as the representative of the so-called Jewish Agency’s Torah Department, during their month of propaganda, and most of the organisation’s members were willing to participate in an open forum, Agudath Israel and our educational institutes did not agree, despite our personal relationships with rabbi…. Of course Mizrachi acted independently, but not in the name of our joint religious organisation. Due to this organisation, thank God, we were able to eliminate non-kosher at United Jewish Appeal banquets and gatherings and accomplish other positive outcomes that strengthened the religious position and its respect in the community. Therefore, if we would not have agreed to organise the Yom ha-Atzma’ut gathering of course we could have stopped the organisation from attending. However, our view is positive [towards Yom ha-Atzma’ut] and therefore we did attend. It is noteworthy that nothing was done without consulting with us. We oversaw all preparations to insure all would be in accordance with our interests. For example, no irreligious attended and all women sat in a separate section behind a Mechitzah etc….

To summarise, I feel it correct to clarify why this was conducted this year and not in previous years. The reason did not emanate from our side but from the side of the other factions. In past years all the Zionist factions would conduct the gathering in accordance with their approach and of course we are neither part of them nor their ways. But this time they approached us with a proposal that the gathering would be only with religious people in accordance with the spirit of Torah and asked us if under these conditions we would be willing to participate. And thus, despite the fact that this year we are actually at war with the Mizrachi even more so than in previous years, we still feel it was the correct approach to demonstrate to them that on issues on which we are in agreement we can work together.

In general, I already expressed my view that we lost a great deal by refraining from recognising correct issues just because the irreligious and those manipulated by them, the Mizrachi, agreed to them, because through agreeing with them we would have strengthened their false opinions. In my opinion, our views did not find receptive hearts within the nation not because of our stance against their incorrect views; rather it is because of our negative position against the correct views such as learning Bible, speaking Hebrew and Eretz Yisrael. The populace cannot understand our concerns and, moreover, when we emphasise our positive views they will accept us and allow us to fight the falsehoods. In addition, I must express that this attitude of ours is not unique to our life in America. We acted this way in Lithuania as well despite the fact that then, as now, we were totally zealous concerning anything that, God forbid, is not in accordance with the spirit of Torah. We did not regress because of persecution, denouncement and sometimes even suffering, sorrow and much damage to our holy Yeshiva.

With this I am your friend, I respect you and bless you, 

Eliyahu Meir Bloch