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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Even More Revolting. . . and divorced from the mesorah I know

Even more revolting than the Japan Song video that was posted on VIN amongst other places, is Matzav publicizing the thoughts of a Rebbe that would be better left unspoken and unpublished.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm just wasting virtual ink in cyberspace. But there needs to be dissenting voices. A quick Google search reveals that this story has been picked up by all sorts of websites outside the tribe. And, to make matters worse, these irresponsible rantings and ravings are reported (via Ynet) in a mainstream Jewish-Orthodox publication, the 5 Towns Jewish Times, without culture comment (!), and a note" The Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty is one of the biggest and most famous Hasidisms, with thousands of followers and many affiliates. It has two centers - one in Jerusalem and one in Borough Park, New York."

The thought process expressed is so completely divorced from the mesorah that I have learned. Going into Nissan, I think of another loss of human life, one which we know with complete certainty was brought directly from Hashem himself and yet we are told not to rejoice, but rather spill out from our glasses of wine.

And in other tasteless items, Matzav is publicizing that there are a few days left in the "Rubashkin Purim Contest." I'm thinking that the US Federal Bureau of Prison must have some laws on the books about prisoners communicating with unrelated minors, as well as running competitions out of your cell, but do note that the entries are not being submitted to Otsville, but rather to an address in Monsey. Whatever your feelings are about the case aside, I don't think it is good practice to publicize a competition for children run by a community member convicted of a crime. One can only predict who will run the next competition from their cell? File allowing a child to participate in such a competition as lacking sechel.


Garnel Ironheart said...

> The Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty is one of the biggest and most famous Hasidisms,

Never heard of 'em before.

> with thousands of followers

Followers being defined as suckers who gave them a cheque once when one of their schnorrers knocked on the door late at night.

> It has two centers - one in Jerusalem and one in Borough Park, New York."

Both of them basement bachelor apartments with a couple of guys living in them.

ProfK said...

Biggest and most famous dynasties? Check here for the truth of that statement.

Wouldn't want to take a shailoh of a scientific nature to this rebbe--tsunamis and death are caused by arrest of bochrim?!

What's worse is that the rest of us pay for this when others spread the news all over the world and it suddenly morphs into the "Jewish" opinion rather than being the ramblings of one person.

The Original Baltimore Yid said...

I attended a shmooze given by R. Weinberg (Z"TL) at the Agudah here in Baltimore. He said that for every nickel you steal in this world Hashem exacts retribution in the next world. How true and how sad that so many of us have taken to some form of g'neiva as a parnassa. The g'ula is chased away and in the end we all suffer. There's only one answer: a legitimate parnassa and STOP STEALING! If not we will see more natural disasters and soon it will be us.

Avi said...

While the concept of God remaining actively involved in our world is one we fully believe in, yup, this is revolting.

JS said...

I just wonder how much longer this kind of behavior is going to be tolerated. Right now we're all under the umbrella of Orthodoxy. At what point are people just going to get fed up and split off? We already have so many dumb labels: modern orthodox, orthodox modern, modern orthodox machmir, yeshivish, chareidi, ad nauseum. What's it going to take to cause a rift akin to the separation of reform, conservative, and orthodox?

I feel absolutely no kinship with these people and feel they're praying to a different God at times.

JS said...

Need more?,7340,L-4043780,00.html

New edict saying that religious Jews should not serve in Magen David Adom, Israel's EMT service.

Miami Al said...


The problem is we are all so tiny. If you don't group us all as "Orthodox," then we all show up under Other* with the Reconstructionists and Secular Humanists.

There is also, sadly, more fluidity than you think.

Plenty of people in the MO world dabble in various RW stuff that if it wasn't giving sanction as "more religious" would be problematic. It's a one-way connection, the MO seeks "legitimacy" from the RW, and the Hareidi world seeks money from the MO world.

JS said...


Well, think about this. You have a guy who is MO and is LW/liberal. The guy fully embraces the "outside world" - believes in evolution, a 15+ billion year old universe, doesn't seek out a rabbi for every life decision, is highly educated in a secular field, etc. The guy's family keeps shabbat, kashrut, and taharat mishpacha, but the wife doesn't cover her hair all the time and the guy doesn't daven 3 times a day, etc. You get the idea.

Who is he more likely to give a donation to? His local Conservative yeshiva such as Solomon Schechter? Or some RW/Chareidi yeshiva he's never heard of in Israel when a shaliach comes to his door?

The answer seems to be the latter, but why? The guy clearly has MUCH more in common with the former than the latter. I posit it's simply because one is labeled "Conservative" and one is labeled "Orthodox" so there's this mistaken thinking in the MO guy's head that he has more in common with the Chareidi guy even though the Chareidi guy is less accepting of him than the Conservative person.

You would be hard-pressed to find much of anything the Chareidi guy and MO guy have in common. I exaggerated this by making the MO guy LW/liberal, but take any generic MO person and I still think the point stands. The two see the world in remarkably different ways and see their religion and relationship with God in remarkably different ways.

If the rabbi in a MO shul said the kinds of things these Chareidi rabbis say on a daily basis, he'd be run out of town. And yet, there is still this kinship.

tesyaa said...

JS - amazing comment. The Orthodox world, even the YU world going back to Rabbi Soloveitchik, has done a very good job of painting Conservative theology as outside the pale. (The Rav was respectful of non-Orthodox Jews, but considered their beliefs to be heresy).

Of course the Chareidim view the MO like the MO view Conservative, but that's another matter.

ora said...

There are things deeper than the clothes we wear or the kind of kosher we keep, or even secular education. A person who accepts halacha and oral Torah as binding has a lot in common, religiously, with someone else who does the same, even if the externals are different.

Otherwise you could just as easily say that a religious Jew has more in common with a religious Christian than with a Jew whose beliefs are reform, or the like, but those theological details like "what/who is the messiah" and "is g-d one" override the external similarities.

I think the statement "the hareidim view the MO like the MO view conservative" is wrong for the most part.

All that aside, the specific statement about the Japan tsunami is sick.

Anonymous said...

I use to be proud to be part of Orthodoxy . Not anymore. This change has happend over the last few years. I still attend Orthodox shuls and keep shabbat kashrut and more. Perhaps I will just call myself Jewish or traditional.

I need to think about this more.

Baltimore Yid (not the guy above) said...

@That Baltimore guy above

While I agree that we all need to be much more careful about stealing especially with regards to Chamas but your post doesn't seem to make sense. If Hashem exacts retribution in O"HB then by definition these natural disasters are not retribution (of course that's what I happen to believe too). Whatever the correct or incorrect incarceration of those boys in Japan we need to say Hashem Yerachem on all of them. Pesach is right around the corner and we have to remember how Hashem cried over his children the Egyptians in the Yam suf.

Critiquer said...

Not sure what mesorah you're talking about. In my mesorah (sic) R' Moshe Leib of Sassov and other pious individuals made pidyon shvuyim their life's work. When six former attorney generals decry the injustic of Rubashkin's sentencing, how disappointing it is to hear you rant about him.

As for Japan, the devastation, and the boys in prison there, in my mesorah there is the Talmud, and in that Talmud it says that the world revolves around us, the Jews. Now I know that this makes you cringe, but isn't that too bad. The world was created for us Jews (see the first Rashi) on the Torah and whatever occurs in the world happens for our sake. I don't know whether the devastation in Japan happened because they have retained these two boys for three years already because G-d didn't tell me, but I know that it's possible. Just as I know, because it says so in my mesorah, that Haman's decree to annihilate all the Jewish people happened because nine years earlier, the Jewish people attended the king's banquet. If you would have been blogging at the time, you would have vilified Mordechai for saying what he said.

Abba's Rantings said...


"When six former attorney generals decry the injustic of Rubashkin's sentencing"

do they decry the verdict or the sentence. there's a big difference. even if he were sentenced too harshly, he is nonetheless far from being a role model.

"The world was created for us Jews (see the first Rashi) on the Torah and whatever occurs in the world happens for our sake."

could you please cite for me where in the first rashi it says this. i think you might have a variant mesorah for this rashi.

Critiquer said...

On the words "Bereishis bara" (in the beginning He created), Rashi says, ".. as the Sages expounded, bishvil ha'Torah sh'nikreis reishis darko (For the Torah which is called 'the beginning of His way') u'bishvil Yisrael sh'nikri'u reishis tevua'sa (and for the sake of Israel who are called 'the first of His crop").

JS said...

"There are things deeper than the clothes we wear or the kind of kosher we keep, or even secular education. A person who accepts halacha and oral Torah as binding has a lot in common, religiously, with someone else who does the same, even if the externals are different."

I'm not referring to clothing. That's not why the MO and Conservative have more in common than the MO and the Chareidi. You think the MO and Chareidi observe the same halacha and Oral Torah? How exactly? Yes, maybe superficially it's true, but deep down it's simply not true.

Think of social situations: MO mix genders at social events and educational events, it's often a good thing for boys and girls to mix. Chareidim completely separate genders, it's inappropriate for girls and boys to socialize, and even married people should be socially segregated publicly.

Think of kashrut: MO will rinse fruits/veggies, but will eat all types of produce, they'll eat all dairy and bread products, they'll use mainstream hashgachas. Chareidim won't eat certain fruits/veggies, think the water may have bugs in it, exceedingly rinse fruits/veggies and maybe use light boxes, only chalav yisroel cheese and milk, only pas yisroel breads, they only abide by heimish, local hashgachas.

Consider weddings/dating: MO don't require a shadchan, there aren't specified gifts, there's no set time to begin dating or number of dates to have. Chareidim only date through a shadchan, gifts are highly regulated, you can only date after a certain age and for only a certain number of dates and can only go to certain places on dates.

There are tons of other issues such as the big ones like Internet, secular education, and interaction with the outside world and small ones like gebrokts.

To minimize these differences is dishonest in my opinion. It's simplistic to say "Both MO and Chareidim keep halacha."

I know many tradition conservative families where the main difference between them and an MO family is the fact that they attend an egalitarian shul and certain minor leniencies regarding dairy products.

Orthonomics said...


re-read what I wrote (and did not write in the post) regarding Shalom Rubashkin. What six former attorney generals say about the **sentencing** has absolutely nothing to do with the propriety of a prisoner running a competition for children.

I am not ranting about him, although I think the community is making a huge mistake by putting him on a pedestal, rather than just working on his defense in a modest, quiet way.

I am pointing out what should be obvious: this is a terrible idea and parents should exercise sechel. I see that the contest has a mailing address outside of Otsville Federal Prison. Nonetheless, the promise is that Mr. Rubashkin himself will read each essay. It should be over any parent's dead body that a child's name or any other information enters into the confines of prison. Simple as that.

I won't respond to the rest of your commentary. There is a far difference between Mordechai giving mussar to the Jews and what this Rebbe has said to the Japanese people and government in the face of tragedy. Beyond that, it is terrible public policy during a pidyon sheyunim campaign.

Dave said...

It's also worth noting that the former Attorney General's wrote to condemn the (soon retracted) request by the prosecution to request a life sentence.

As far as I know, they have said nothing about the actual sentence, which is square in line with Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

JS said...


Your knowledge of the "mesorah" is pitiful. Rashi is trying to understand a difficult grammatical phrase "Breishit bara." He is so vexed by the seemingly poor grammar that he throws his typical approach of explaining verses according to their plain meaning to the wind and explains that the text begs to be explained homiletically (ein hamikra hazeh omeir eleh darsheini). He then finds a midrash which solves the grammatical problem by saying the "beit" in breishit is shorthand for "bishvil" (for the sake of). It's clear this midrash is selected, not for it's truth value necessarily, but because it solves the grammatical problem. Nonetheless, Rashi proceeds to give a long explanation of how the verse SHOULD be explained plainly and how the grammar of the words should be read - namely, it means "In the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth." He then explains why he rejects other possible plain ways of reading the text grammatically.

So, no. Rashi isn't teaching us some deep secret of the universe that the world was created for the sake of the Jews. But, even if you believe this is what Rashi is telling us, he relegates such an explanation to homily, not the plain meaning. Further, since when do we issue psak on philosophical matters? When did we decide rashi is "right"? Why give short shrift to other rishonim? I hope it's not because Rashi is more famous.

Critiquer said...

Mrs. Rubashkin has moved to Monsey to be near her husband. It is probably her address.

I have heard the following from a Rubashkin family member:

1) SMR has received letters from people asking his forgiveness when they formerly denounced him but now realize that things were not as they seemed.

2) He received a letter from a yeshiva bachur who wrote that he is in a yeshiva for boys who are not the best of students and he finds it hard to sit and learn. And yet, he and his fellow students decided that they would learn 10,000 pages of Gemara for the merit of SMR. They are that inspired by his example of simcha and bitachon under extremely difficult circumstances.

3) He received a letter from a man in Lakewood who wrote that his wife lost her job and they were feeling down about it but when Yom Tov (back in September) came around, they decided to follow SMR's example and focus on simcha and they had a wonderful Yom Tov. But reality set in after Yom Tov and when Chanuka approached they wondered how they would sustain a happy, festive mood. They decided to use SMR as their role model and they made the effort. He wrote to say that his wife started a home business which was doing very well.

I understand your point about not making him into a tzaddik, but following the rule that we need to learn from everyone, we can learn how to be b'simcha and how to retain our bitachon even when we make mistakes and life does not go as planned.

As for modestly planning his defense, a family member told me that the big mistake was to lie low in the very beginning. It was when they went public that they got major support from all sorts of people, including non-Jews and including veryy prominent people.

Have you heard of the Aleph Institute? it is an organization that provides support for people in prison, in the military, and others in need. It was started by the Lubavitcher Rebbe who urged that we reach out to Jews in prison. Much good has been done with their PenPal program. How about checking out their website? I don't see the problem in a child writing to a prisoner. From your tone it sounds like you are denouncing penpals between children and pedophiles.

As for Japan - considering that Israel was the first to set up a field hospital in Japan, yes, it would be nice if the appreciation of the Japanese extended to releasing two Israelis who already served three years for being what is called in the drug business, "blind mules."

Critiquer said...

JS - let's say you are right, and Rashi is only explaining a technical point, tell me - do you believe that the Jewish people are the purpose of creation?

Anonymous said...


I was feeling down after reading your most recent comment, but then I thought of SMR's example and focus on simcha. I am now having a much better day.

JS said...

If we were there wouldn't be any non-Jews, no?

Critiquer said...

JS - what's the logic in that?

Do you or don't you believe that Jews are the purpose of creation?

tesyaa said...

Critiquer, who do you think you are, Joe McCarthy?

You sure sound like you're on a witch hunt.

JS said...

Are you asking me about logic or what I believe? I thought I just said that, but here it is again:

Do I believe that Jews are the sole purpose of creation? No.

Why? If Jews were the sole purpose of creation then why are there non-Jews? It's not so they can become Jews as we have no commandment to convert the world. So, even in a lame-brained view of the universe, non-Jews serve some purpose that Jews do not serve. Perhaps this is recognizing God's existence and keeping the Noahide laws.

Either way, seems like an AWFUL waste of space to create an entire universe with billions of solar systems and habitable planets for around 13 million or so people. I'd like to think God isn't so wasteful.

Critiquer said...

Tesyaa - that was such a thoughtful, insightful comment on the subject. TFS

Critiquer said...

JS - Of course non-Jews have a purpose. Having a purpose and being The Purpose of Creation are two different things.

Anonymous said...

shir shel yom of yom chamishi - "hayoser goym halo iochiach".

go check the translation.

JS said...

First of all the quote is from shir shel yom RIVI'I, not chamishi.

The line is from verse 10:
הֲיֹסֵר גּוֹיִם, הֲלֹא יוֹכִיחַ: הַמְלַמֵּד אָדָם דָּעַת.

It means: He who chastises the nations of the world, will he not rebuke?

The context is that evil in the world seems triumphant. The Psalmist wonders aloud how long God will tolerate the joyful exultation of the wicked. The Psalmist bemoans how the wicked oppress God's people - they kill the widow and stranger and slay the orphan - all while saying that God doesn't see nor comprehend.

The Psalmist laughs at the wicked's haughtiness by observing how foolish and boorish they are: God who formed the ear, can he not hear? God who formed the eye, can he not see? God who chastises the nations of the world, will he not rebuke?

The Psalmist continues by saying that God is the one who imparts man with knowledge and therefore knows man's thoughts and how empty they are. Therefore, it is good for God to rebuke man and teach him Torah - such a person should be joyful because God does so to give him respite from an evil judgment on his day of death.

It's very clear from the context that "goyim" has nothing to do with non-Jews and everything to do with establishing God's place as the judge of the world who rebukes all evil-doing in order to save the wicked one from himself.

It wouldn't kill you to actually read the perek of tehilim before commenting.

My name is Ira Needleman said...

I am not going to debate if the world was created ONLY for Jews; but the key, even in reading the first Rashi, is that it for JEWS, not jews.

In other words, setting up history or 'big picture' for the entire Jewish people - Purim story as an example; Einstein out of Germany helping the US win WWII; wiping out the Egyptians - is one thing. Killing thousands of people and ruining hundreds of thousands of lives because of two drug mules (who only thought they were smuggling antiques and not drugs) is not Rashi or anyone else, except for maybe the quoted Rebbe.

Though I guess I would be convinced if a tsunami wiped out Iowa.

Anonymous said...

Why all the agressiveness?
Is the ultimate goal of our lives to win arguments online or to perfect our character?
Haredi or MO, if we let our bad middos affect the way we act and talk, then who are we to criticize each other?

Now, to address your comment directly, I'd like to point out that there's another valid explanation to the pasuk that is very different than the beautiful one that you listed above. Unfortunately I do not have a mikraot gedolot in front of me right now to quote from, but just perusing such a sefer is a helpful exercise in understanding that each verse can have many valid interpretations.
Have a wonderful day!

JS said...

I don't believe I was being aggressive. This all goes back to the point I initially made that we might as well be practicing different religions. Same source text, vastly different interpretations. And this isn't some academic exercise. It goes to the core of our values.

If one views the world as a place creates exclusively for Jews or that the perek of Tehilim we say every Wednesday teaches us that God views the "goyim" as wicked and deserving of rebuke, one interacts with the world in a vastly different way than if one, instead, interprets as I did above.

For example, is it OK to cheat on one's taxes or break other American laws? You better believe how you interpret those verses impacts your answer to that question. Can I steal from non-Jews? How should I treat Jews who are not observant? These are incredibly important issues where behavior is often dictated and justified by how one chooses to read a particular verse.

It's a difference that makes all the difference.

Critiquer said...

The same Judaism that views Jews as the pinnacle of creation (domem-tzomei'ach, chai, medaber, Yehudi) answers your questions and says dina d'malchusa dina, you are not allowed to steal from a non-Jew, and we must treat all Jews with Ahavas Yisrael. These are Torah laws and are not dictated, on a whim, by how Joe Shmo or Yankel Berel feels like "interpreting" them. Great rabbis throughout the ages, down to our time, were admired by the non-Jews for their noble behavior.

Anonymous said...

I think that you're creating a wall between MO and haredi which is non-existent. MOs and haredim have vastly different levels of observance and hashkafa, so to imply that haredim steal is as correct as implying that MOs aren’t shomer negiah.

What all orthodox jews have in common is that we all believe that Torah is true and its commandments are binding as interpreted by the Talmud and codified by the Shulchan Aruch, Rema and later authorities that follow the same rules of interpretation that are valid according to our tradition (for this reason, Conservative is outside the pale, even if, as individuals, they might keep many halachot).

As far as I see, most shortcomings in keeping halacha among MOs and haredim are just unintentional outcomes of their worldview.

For example:
- MO: If you raise your children to value integration with the secular world, some might choose to integrate in ways that are not entirely appropriate, such as watching TV (deriving pleasure from looking at women – even for a second –is a sin according to all authorities) or eating non-kosher food due to convenience and ignorance (such as “eating dairy out”)

- Haredim: If you raise your children to give tremendous value to Torah study, some might experience poverty and fail in maintaining the highest ethical standards of honesty.
Now, obviously these are both unintentional outcomes, but according to both streams, the outcomes are not so severe (or the transgressors are not so many) as to require a change in the worldview.

The reason why some commenters are so eager to attack haredim is because the shortcomings of some of them (such as making politically incorrect statements or requesting clemency for first time criminal offenders) are unacceptable to modern society, while the shortcomings of some MOs (such as touching people of the other gender) are simply halachic transgressions, and are not even viewed as incorrect by a secular person.

In summary, you can’t define haredim by the shortcomings of some of its members just like you can’t define MO by the shortcomings of some of its members.

A fully observant MO has much more in common with a Haredi that with his fellow MO who transgresses halacha by the dozen and vice-versa.

So we’re not and will never be separate religions, despite these individual arguments.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the response above to JS

rosie said...

As to the Rebbe who blames the tsunami on the imprisonment of the Jewish boys, because we don't know the inner workings of Hashem, what this Rebbe says may be politically incorrect but no one can say with 100% certainty that he is wrong either about why Hashem appears to have punished the Japanese. All that anyone can say is that it makes some people uncomfortable to give reasons as to why other people are suffering and that no human really can say that they know why. Spiritual leaders may be more in-tuned with what is going on in the spiritual realm and may have a better handle on it than lay people so that is why I don't discount what this Rebbe says. He could be right.
As to SM Rubashkin, he is allowed to correspond via mail to the outside world. If the law that everyone wants to defend allows him that right, who are we to curtail it? I don't blame anyone who has what amounts to a life sentence, to try to live as meaningfully as possible. Many people besides Jews feel that Judge Linda Reade is cruel and her sentences are excessive. Many other criminals had very long sentences for crimes that other judges gave lesser sentences. SMR and his friends have a right to appeal for a lesser sentence and it is a chessed for adults and children to correspond to incarcerated Jews. There is no mitzvah to forget about them. That we try to stay connected to them does not mean that we exonerate them or want to emulate their criminal activity.

Miami Al said...


Torah law prohibits stealing from gentiles.

However, some people will steal (if people didn't break laws, they wouldn't need to exist).

World view handles how you deal with it.

If you view gentiles as beneath you, you focus more on the Chillul Hashem of getting caught.

If you view us all as people, with Jews have our own unique culture, religion and practices, you focus on the stealing.

So while we all nominally buy meat from the same Kashrut process, how we live our lives is totally different.

So while we share certain religious practices, our beliefs, interpretations, and views are totally different.

I think that we're all Jews, and all follow similar practices, but we really don't share a religion. We all say the same words at our services, but what we emphasize, how we connect those words into actions, and what we sing is totally different.

Miami Al said...

Anon 11:34,

Given your emphasis on MO/Hareidi shortcomings, I assume you fall in the latter camp.

Interestingly, all the Hareidim are saying that the MO Jew has more in common with them than the non-Orthodox Jew.

The MO Jews are saying that they have more in common with the non-Orthodox Jew than the Hareidi Jew.

You keep asserting that the Conservative Jews are beyond the pale. And we're looking around and seeing people not that dissimilar than us, worrying about the same world as us, with different religious practices than us, and asking ourselves, why are they beyond the pale, and these people that look/think/dress/act entirely DIFFERENT than us considered part of our world.

JS said...


Nice summary. I'm going to refrain from further comments. You can look above to see how I feel.

Anonymous said...

Miami Al,
Someone once asked a great rabbi, what’s the difference between a jew that goes to an orthodox shul and transgresses some sins on a regular basis and a jew that goes to a conservative temple and transgresses some sins on a regular basis.
The rabbi answered that the former is simply a sinner while the latter has adopted a worldview that redefines some of his actions as not being sinful anymore.

Whether a community focuses on the chillul H’ or the stealing is not enough to make us separate religions. If my neighbor uses his extra income to buy a fancy car and I use mine to donate to charity, that does not put us in different categories. It’s a detail. Sure, you might say it’s a significant detail that has deep character ramifications and might be a result of a different underlying worldview, but let’s not be overly philosophical. I still have a lot in common with my neighbor, we can daven next to each other, etc, even though he chose to buy a fancy car and I didn’t.

Anyone that believes that “the Torah is true and its commandments are binding as interpreted by the Talmud and codified by the Shulchan Aruch, Rema and later authorities that follow the same rules of interpretation that are valid according to our tradition” is following the same religion.

Transgressors will always exist in all communities, and the type of transgression will largely be a result of where the community puts a greater emphasis on, as I pointed before.

R’ Lichtenstein (the Rav’s son-in-law) once wrote in a sicha that it’s indeed problematic that many in the MO world identify more with their secular counterparts than with their haredi ones.

He asks (I’m not quoting word by word, I read it many years ago), why should you feel more affinity to those that share your worldly interests that with those that will be sharing the world-to-come with you?

It’s a rhetorical question, but it’s definitely something we should think about.

Dave said...

So how do we classify the Chareidi communities where the rabbinate has decided to fund communal activities via a pattern of fraud and crime?

Spinke. Deal. Milton Balkany. And those are just the ones where we have convictions or guilty pleas.

tesyaa said...

As an aside, I have noticed that many frum women bloggers have much in common with, indeed share much of the same readership, with religious Christian women bloggers. I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all - but I do think it points out that people with similar day-to-day lives have more in common than people with very different lives who happen to share the same theological beliefs.

Anonymous said...


3 rabbis out of how many rabbis? 1000 perhaps?

1 hasidic rebbe out of how many hasidic courts? (FYI brooklyn has probably more than 50)

Whichever way you look at it, the percentages are negligible.

Yes, it's disturbing, but let's face it, most of us send our kids to schools that have a much higher percentage of kids that abandon orthodoxy than that and we still live with it.

Sometimes I feel that it's a waste of time to argue, because unfortunately many of us need to single out the transgressors of the haredim to be able to reassure themselves that being MO is indeed better.

What I'm saying is, leave them alone and focus on your relationship to G-d.

Anonymous said...

In many ways, an orthodox jew is actually theologically closer to a religious christian than to a secular jew.

Miami Al said...

Anon 12:18,

"The rabbi answered that the former is simply a sinner while the latter has adopted a worldview that redefines some of his actions as not being sinful anymore. "

I am aware of that opinion. It's been pronounced by people considered very serious scholars in the Orthodox/Modern Orthodox camp. It may have been true when being expressed 60 years ago.

It is not true now.

The Jew that joins a Conservative Synagogue is NOT expressing a world view. He is joining an organization to provide his family with some Jewish connection and services that he likes.

Ask a Reform Jew what they think of the Pittsburgh Platform, and you will get blank stares.

Ask a Conservative Jew what they think of the driving Teshuvah, the Swordfish Teshuvah, or any of the random off the wall things pronounced by the Conservative Law Community, and you will get a blank stare.

The fact is, a Conservative Jew is a non-observant Jew that finds services with "a lot of Hebrew" comfortable. A Reform Jew is a non-observant Jew that finds services "mostly in English" comfortable. The theological differences between the movements, on paper, are vast. Amongst the laity, minor.

While I agree with the theory that the movements are a problem theologically, since I've seen no evidence of the laity knowing what those theologies are, I have trouble applying it to the individual.

The only "Orthodox" congregations welcoming to the non-observant are Chabad, which is why they are exploding throughout Suburbia. The Modern Orthodox congregation does NOT want a non-Shabbat observant family to come to their Shul. 50 years ago they did, now they do not.

The observation about world views and synagogues were true in the inter-bellum and post-bellum Non-German-American Ashkenazi America, when immigrants came to America, and either chose the familiar or these new American movements.

After two generations of these movements failing to teach their ideology, you can't ascribe that much to it.

"why should you feel more affinity to those that share your worldly interests that with those that will be sharing the world-to-come with you"

Because in this world, we have a lot in common.

In the next, we may not.

Friendships and affinities may only last for a certain time and place, and that's okay. People grow and change, and grow together or grow apart.

When I see campaigns to inundate the governor of Florida with outrageous screaming New Yorkers to threaten him into commuting the sentence of a cop killer, I wonder, how can I share a religious view with these people.

I see events in Japan, am saddened by the human tragedy, and amazing at the heroism of the men that risked/gave up their lives to stop the melt down. Judging by Facebook posts, my non-Orthodox and non-Jewish friends are seeing/thinking the same thing.

When I see people "celebrating" a divine wrath killing 25,000 people because the "blind drug mules" that thought that they were "antiquities smugglers" and "tax evaders," I just don't see a compatible religious mindset.

Sorry to disagree with you, but given the apologetics for this coming out of the Hareidi camp, I can't help but think, they don't worship the same God as me. So if that's true, then I'm not sharing the world to come with them. One of us is worshipping a false god, and we each think that it is the other one.

Dave said...

Anonynmous, you didn't answer my question.

Are the nominally Orthodox communities which have adopted a world-view in which financial lawbreaking is no longer considered problematic to be grouped with the Conservatives, or not?

Anonymous said...

"One of us is worshipping a false god, and we each think that it is the other one."

Sorry, I think that those thoughts only go one way. I never heard such things being expressed by a haredi and I strongly disagree with that statement.

I believe that we'll share the world to come and our closeness to H' will be determined by our effort to get closer to Him in this world.

I am confident to assume that less than 5% of haredim called Florida, and less than 1% were "outrageous, screaming New Yorkers".

I am also confident that less than 1% of haredim are associated with the rebbe that made the tsunami comment.

Your point of view is based on the news and a few anecdotal experiences, and that’s a biased way of determining the truth. Go spend some time in a haredi shul, spend some evenings learning in a community kollel and then let’s talk.

I wish I could invite your family for a shabbos meal in my house. Maybe you can finally meet a haredi that is more representative than the ones you see in the news.

Anonymous said...

i've never met such community. could you give me the address?

Dave said...

Spinke has been funded by tax fraud for generations.

There are multiple plea deals in Deal on the same tax embezzling schemes.

This is institutional fraud to support communal institutions. And yet, it isn't bein treated as anything that merits ostracism (compare this to a few treif chickens) or condemnation. Instead, the condemnation is saved for the government informants.

And this is before we get to the honors given criminals (so long as they made the right donations) in other communities.

So tell me, since financial crimes are acceptable in these communities, can we write them into the same bin as the Conservatives?

Anonymous said...

Anon - a VERY well known and well respected chareidi posek (based in Brooklyn) spoke in Teaneck on Shabbos a few years ago and said that if you are reasonably sure you won't get caught, cheating on your taxes is mutar. Supposedly he said he will only say such a thing on Shabbos when he can't be recorded.

Anonymous said...

"since financial crimes are acceptable in these communities"

you still only have anecdotal evidence based on isolated cases and individuals.

there's a world of law abiding haredim out there, dave, did you ever stop to notice?

Dave said...

You aren't answering my question.

I am asking about specific communities, in which we have proof that the leadership were involved in habitual financial crimes as part of the everyday funding of the communal institutions.

Now, please answer the question. For those communities, should we classify them the way you classify the Conservatives, as people who have "adopted a world view" in which those sins are acceptable?

Anonymous said...

Dave, I believe that a community that does not abide by the shulchan aruch or similarly authoritative sources should not be called orthodox.

I just wouldn't be so quick in name-calling people and communities based on what the newspaper says.

Anonymous said...

But what about a posek who says that unlawfully not paying taxes is OK? According to him he's relying on authoritative sources.

If others don't buy into those sources, is this just a question of a group that holds by a different psak - or is an example of people who have vastly different values?

Dave said...

So we should ignore their confessions and the findings of the courts?

Or are those things we should ignore also?

Anonymous said...

Can you define someone as non-observant based on one or a few transgressions?
I really hope H' is not as strict to pass judgment as you are with your fellow men.

Dave said...

I'm trying to apply the rule you (assuming you are the same anonymous, it would help if you picked a pseudonym) gave.

Someone who sins repeatedly but knows they are sinning can be Orthodox. Someone who has adopted a "worldview" in which they aren't sinning anymore cannot.

I want to know which category these communities fall into (especially since the rabbinic leadership are the ones doing it).

Miami Al said...


If those transgressions were driving to Shul on Saturday morning, you'd have no trouble defining them as non observant.

If they went to McDonalds for lunch, you'd have no trouble defining them as non observant.

Anonymous said...

I believe that with the exception of the posek that you mentioned, all other ones knew that they were sinning.

So out of the whole world you found one person with a problematic opinion and somehow you extrapolated that to "communities", "rabbinate".

Dave said...

So, two generations of Spinke Rebbe's knew that they were sinning when they set up the scheme? And when the current Spinke Rebbe stood up at an OU conference and said he'd just discovered you could in fact do things legally instead, that was a lie? And the rabbinate in Deal, they thought it was wrong too? So they aren't holy men who were misled by their charity for a moser, they were in fact lifelong sinners who had wormed their way into positions of authority in their community?

For that matter, it is my understanding, from discussing things with Orthodox Rabbis, that you cannot fund a mitzvah with an aveirah. Donating stolen money does not count as tzedakkah. Learning funded by theft acquires no merit. So why is it that a butcher who serves up a little treif chicken is run out of town on a rail, but treifing up generations of communal institutions merits nothing but sympathy for having to go sit in jail?

Anonymous said...

The posek with the "problematic" opinion is almost universally accepted by the chareidi world, Rabbi Dovid Cohen. (Just now when I started to type "Dovid Cohen" into the Google search box, the top search suggested was "Dovid Cohen taxes" !!) Has anyone tried to distance oneself from this posek? Has any other chareidi rabbi stood up and said that this rabbi's opinions are problematic? Has he lost one iota of status in the chareidi world?

Anonymous said...

The difference is that in this case we’re talking about someone knowledgeable (I suppose), and since I myself am not fluent in choshen mishpat I cannot comment on his statement.

I HAVE however learned hilchot shabat and hilchot kashrut, so I definitely feel more confident in saying what’s acceptable and what’s not.

In any case, you’re not correct, I also would not label someone as non-observant unless they would tell me that they think it’s permissible. In my childhood, many of us ate fish sandwiches at Mcdonald’s but we were still orthodox, since we did it out of ignorance (all of us ceased to do that once we were enrolled in yeshiva and learned more about kashrut).

In any case, Dave and Al, you're all focusing on 1% of haredim and extrapolating to the other 99%.

Is that a reasonable thing to do?

Dave said...

I'm not "focusing on" (nor do I necessarily agree with your numbers) a small minority.

I'm looking to see how this rule that you proposed is applied.

So far, you are happy to write out the Conservatives, but have been going through gyrations to avoid writing out putatively Orthodox groups. (*)

And this makes me think that this is less of a "rule" and more of a rhetorical device. But feel free to prove me wrong.

(*) For that matter, I think you can make a credible argument that since 1935, the Deal community has enshrined an absolute violation of the prohibition against oppressing the convert into their social structure, which means enshrining a sin as a positive value in their worldview, and by your rule, they haven't been Orthodox for generations.

Miami Al said...


But for Conservative Jews, you focus on the 1% that has any clue what the Conservative Law Committee (or whatever it calls itself these days) says, and not the 99% of good, honest, Conservative Jews that think that by joining a Conservative Synagogue they are giving their children a Jewish upbringing.

My issue is not to suggest that the Conservative movement is "correct" or anything similar, it's do suggest that that big pool of American Jews that thinks that they are doing the right thing should be given the same benefit of the doubt as the much smaller but more Jewishly educated Haredim get.

Again, the issue is not with the Hareidi criminals, there are few of them. It is that when they are caught, the community seems to believe that it is acceptable, and lash out at those prosecuting the wrong doing.

That to me is a more significant than the fact that when I go to a Miami Heat game with non Orthodox business associates, they walk up to the nearest concession and grab a hotdog, and I walk to the one Kosher concession there and pay an extra $1 or $2 for mine.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to agree with my numbers. Join a haredi community and see for yourself.

Re: Deal, if there's indeed no basis in halacha to their behavior, then, yes, I wouldn't consider them orthodox. Now, again, I haven't studied the laws of geirut in depth to know if a community can apply further restrictions. Have you?

1) You're right, I should've have limited my comment to knowledgeable conservative jews. I apologize.

2) "the community seems to believe that it is acceptable" - I don't think that's true. Everyone (haredim included) know that what SMR did was wrong. I speak as a haredi who has heard lots of haredi shul talk about it.

3) "lash out at those prosecuting the wrong doing"
I would say that only the fringe 1% lashes out. The majority simply sympathizes with the plight of the individual and hopes for a lenient verdict. If your son was caught issuing fake invoices, would you wish he spent 20 years in jail or would you hire a good lawyer for him? Yes, what he did was wrong, but the way most of us would deal with our children is how haredim deal with their members who misbehave.

A great rabbi once was distraught that he realized he didn’t love his fellow jew as much as he loved his son. So too here, for the sake of ahavat yisrael, you should sympathize with a stranger sinner’s plight as much as you would if the sinner was your son.

Anonymous said...

So too here, for the sake of ahavat yisrael, you should sympathize with a stranger sinner’s plight as much as you would if the sinner was your son.

Anon 3:55, if even a great rabbi had problems with ahavas yisroel, why do you expect laymen blog commenters to be even greater than a great rabbi?

Dave said...

So if everyone knows SMR is guilty, who are the people who refer to him as a modern day Dreyfus?

Are they not Chareidi? Or just utterly ignorant of history, since Dreyfus was innocent.

Anonymous said...

I didn't hear this comparison before, but I'd assume only one in the extremist fringe could utter such garbage. Everyone in my haredi social circle seem to understand very easily that what he did was wrong.

Miami Al said...


Thank you for an enjoyable, educational, and enlightening exchange.

You have presented a fair, honest, and good explanation for what seemed, to the outsiders, like truly wicked behavior coming from Hareidi society.

We're obviously not going to see eye-to-eye on some of these meta discussions, but I very much appreciate the disagreement that has been quite cordial and informative.

Dave said...

Yes, what he did was wrong, but the way most of us would deal with our children is how haredim deal with their members who misbehave.

This doesn't appear to me to be entirely accurate.

Rather, it seems to be accurate for violations of secular norms that are (to steal a term from the Catholics) venial sins for the Chareidi world.

Consider the butcher in Monsey. He certainly did not get treated with any great leniency, he was run out of town. If instead of defrauding millions from a bank, Sholom Rubashkin had turned out to have included pork products in his sales to the Orthodox world, I don't think there would be mass rallies on his behalf.

Rather, it seems to me (as an outsider), that business and tax fraud are not considered moral faults. More like a speeding ticket than a sign of immorality. (*)

Which is more likely to intefere with a Shidduch in the Chareidi world? A family member who wears bright colors, or a family member who did time in the Otisville Kollel for fraud? Is it worse to send your children to Public School, or to commit benefits fraud to be able to send them to a Yeshiva?

(*) Few in the secular world would consider speeding to be a sign of poor character. However, these days, Drunk Driving is considered to be a moral failing as well as a criminal act, where it was not 40 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Al. I hope to meet you in person one day.

Keep me (and most other haredim) in mind next time you read the news about some haredi criminal. Most of us are not like that and will never be.

Best regards!

Anonymous said...

I think that we've all laid out our arguments pretty clearly.

Your assumption is that all actions that take place in the haredi society are done with the approval and encouragement of most of its members and I believe that it is incorrect.

I’m pretty certain that the extremist fringe threw the butcher out of town, not your average haredi who works hard and makes an honest living.

Al is right that at the end of the day we won't agree on everything, and I commend him on concluding the discussion on a cordial note.

Chag kosher vesameach to all!