Friday, February 29, 2008

Economic Terrorism II

I finally got a chance to listen to the entire interview with concert organizer Shaya (Shia?) Mendlowitz and Lipa Schmeltzer. I had to do it in small incriments. Towards the end of the interview with Lipa, he mentions he is going to raise tzedakah money for some of the losses incurred (presumably the losses incurred by others, no himself. . . but he talks so fast, I can't really understand him. The radio host, Zev Breener, basically says "how nice."

Frankly, I don't think it is so "nice." If the show would have gone on (even this one time), no money would have been lost and a real tzedakah would have gained. I would say that the case must be fought out in court, blame must sit at however many numbers of doorsteps in lies at, and those responsible for causing this multi-car pile up should be the only ones paying the debt. And, perhaps if they had a taste of their own medicine, these things wouldn't happen on a regular basis.* Destroying someone else's parnasah because you have an inkling is just unacceptabe.

Now that my memory is expanding beyond the past 2 months, I am reminded of another terrible case of "Frum" Economic Terrorism. Approximately 3-4 years ago, Mashgichim with differences in a mid-west facility ran advertisements in the Jewish Press and elsewhere accusing the Star K and its Rav HaMachshir of lax supervision over the meat company Zalman's (or something else with a Z). There were accusations and defenses. But, the fight didn't last long. Zalman's soon went under, as few resturants and caterers would place orders with this company, as no one wanted to take a kashrut risk (I will admit to being scared to purchase the product) and other hashgachot needed to play it safe.

But, back to the idea of collecting tzedakah for the lastest train wreck. . . If tzedakah collections are taken up, those responsible get off free, tzedakah funds are stripped away from *real* tzedakah causes (the pot does have a limit), and I can't even see how the money given would actually count as tzedakah in a halachic way.

If I have a business and someone vindictively destroys it causing me to breach my own contracts with vendors, why should the community have to be the one to pick up the pieces when there are responsible parties? For more on breached contracts, see MO Chassid's post on the sanctity of contracts. He asks, "Why is inducing breach of contracts made in good faith less of an issur than having a concert? Why is inducing a breach of a contract with gentiles less of a chilul Hashem than putting on a concert? Why is tortuous interference with another man's contract acceptable? Is Choshen Mishpat no longer part of the Shulchan Oruch?"

I have an additional question: Why does Kashrut seemingly always win out over Yashrut? Tzadikim and halacha have always been concerned about the money of individuals and the community. What has happened? And what can we do to put the scale back into balance?

I will be away. Please keep the conversation respectful, yet honest.


ProfK said...

No matter which way you do the figuring there is going to be economic fallout for those involved in the concert. And maybe, just maybe, that is the intention of those who suddenly put the ban into place. It says to people "Don't live, eat, sleep or work unless you have our permission to do so first. Otherwise we are coming after you." It's daas Torah flexing its muscles (and I'm not conceding that there is any daas or any Torah in most of the actions.)

Tell me that you don't like my sleeve length or my kipah style and I just might ignore you. Interfere with my ability to make parnoseh and I'm forced to engage with you. Despots have been using this methodology for centuries. I for one don't remember having elected anyone as dictator.

Anonymous said...

The Chillul Hashem is far greater than the cancellation and other fees that will come out of tzedakah. The big Chillul Hashem has been the huge demonstration that Torah learning and religious observance can be consistent with shoddy treatment of other people.

The Rav, ZT"L, used to say that the Orthodox would win the battle for the hearts and minds of the Jewish people only if it was obvious to everyone that religious observance led to more ethical behavior.

There is a story I learned of Rav Yisroel Salanter, the founder of the Mussar Movement in 19th century Eastern Europe. it occurred during a period when the Czar was drafting Jewish boys for very long period of army service in the hope of "Russifying" them. The communal rule was that no family would have to send a second son, until all the families in town had sent one. In one town, through which R. Salanter passed, the town fathers had accepted a bribe from a wealthy man to send a second son of a poor widow, rather than one of his sons.
Rav Salanter heard of the matter when he passed through town. At shule, when the shaliach tzibbur got up to start, R. Salanter objected that he was not a God fearing man. A second rose, and R. Salanter repeated his objection. After the townsfolk caught on, he said: "None of you is God fearing; you pray because your fathers did. A God fearing person would not treat widows and orphans as you have done." It is ironic that the ban seems to be taking tzedakah away from orphans.

If there were some reason within Daas Torah to object to the performance, the matter could have been handled in an appropriate way. The concert has undoubtedly been planned for months; Mr. Schmeltzer has been singing for years. If the Rabbonim could not reach a quiet agreement with Mr. Schmeltzer, there was at least plenty of time for them to issue a carefully considered and written Kol Korei, explaining what they objected to, after the various signatories met to make sure they were truly in agreement and before the concert was announced, tickets were sold and so on. There was no reason whatsoever for a hasty, last minute kol korei. The only thing that seems to have changed recently is that some so-called kannoi got worked up about it now rather than earlier.

Anonymous said...

As a continuation to js on the last post... I call this phenomenon "Replacing Yiddishkeit with narishkeit."

And I'm sorry to say there is already more than one branch of "Orthodox" Judaism. I can talk to people in the charedi element, I can be friendly, but they won't eat at my house and I won't eat in theirs. They would never set up their kids with mine nor would I with theirs. They have no respect for my rabbeim and, while I respect the Torah-knowledge of some of the charedi leaders, I would not follow them halacha l'ma'seh. I certainly would never pay the slightest attention to their bans and decress. So why should we think we belong to the same group?

Chaim B. said...

>>>And what can we do to put the scale back into balance?

Unfortunately, nothing. The only remedy is the further splintering of the orthodox world into those who choose to live by these bans and other such pronouncements and those who choose to take a different route. Sadly, the splintering often forces one to choose between a LW option that offers watered down religiosity and a RW option whose exteme views challenge common sense.

ProfK said...

Chaim B, that RW option is also watered down religiosity. When you add in shtick that replaces actual halacha you are diluting frumkeit.

Anonymous said...


Of course this splintering exists, what I was talking about is more of a complete divide, similar to between conservative, reform, and orthodox - to the extent that an orthodox person wouldn't want to daven in a conservative or reform shul, the same would happen between branches of orthodoxy.

My theory is that many in the conservative movement will get tired of the pro-gay agenda in some conservative shuls and many in the orthodox movement will get tired of kol korei's and perhaps want a more egalitarian service and join to form a "conservadox" branch.

Anonymous said...

Chaim B:

I also think that when chumrot are coupled with contempt for, or an unwillingness to trust those who do not adopt them, they become the type of chumrah ha meviah l'kulah that we are warned against (see for instance Shach's kuntres hapsak in YD.) Chosheid b'kesherim lokeh.

It is very important to know the difference between halacha, minhag and chumrah.

The only thing I think one can do is try to be m'dakdeik in mitzvot wwhile trying to avoid the confusion on either side, and choose a Rav who guides you in that path.

Anonymous said...

What really gets to me is the hiding behind religiosity to avoid having to defend one's actions.

Take the following quotes from

"Contacted by The Jewish Star for comment, Friedman said he would first have to consult his Da’as Torah."

“The gedolei yisroel don’t want that issue [to be discussed] on the radio and in newspapers. It doesn’t belong for the public to decide on issues that belong for Da’as Torah.”

"He refused to disclose the names of rabbonim he consulted."

"Pressed for specifics about his claim of threats [against the rabbonim], he maintained that 'it would be a chilul Hashem to write about it.'"

These quotes anger me so much. It's not just "no comment" it's "I can't comment without first speaking to Daas Torah". It's not just "I won't speak about it in public" it's "Daas Torah doesn't want it discussed in public". It's not just "I won't discuss it" it's "it would be a chillul hashem to discuss it". Always the ivocation of the magic words Daas Torah, Chillul Hashem, etc.

The implication of course being that if you were frum (like me), you wouldn't ask such chutzpadik questions, if you were god fearing (like me) you wouldn't publish this, if you respected the rabbonim (like me)...etc etc etc.

What a disgusting farce. It's even worse than "because I said so" it's "because they said so", and who are "they", sorry I can't tell you.

I feel like I'm in a bad version of the Wizard of Oz and this hooligan sheister is pulling the strings behind some curtain making this huge, awesome, scary display of Daas Torah.

Anonymous said...

JS - Conservadox already exists and had existed for a long time. My shul used to be conservadox but is now orthodox. I have a problem with some people from my shul who say without shame "I know rabbi said that it's not allowed/not kosher but I still do it, I do not care" and then we have other people saying things like: "Well, rabbi said so, it must be true, I do not care if it makes sense I will follow it."

What happened to G-d fearing people in first group of people and Jewish sechel in the second group of people?

Anonymous said...

It was me, I press orange button too fast

Ahavah said...

It's not just economic terrorism - it's talibanism 360 degrees around. They throw bleach on the clothes and in the faces of women who aren't up on the latest stringencies, they vandalize and harass, they threaten and actually carry out violent attacks, they burn down people's homes and businesses - the mafia look nice these days compared to the rulers in the cheredi enclaves.

And then they have the NERVE to wonder why so many kids and adults walk away and go off the derech?

They have made Judaism into a horror. What I think about them isn't polite and shouldn't be repeated in front of children or in the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

My understanding of the old Zalman's issue was that there was a legitimate disagreement about a meat-processing practice: the Star-K held one way, while most other agencies did not. Was there more to it than that?

Lion of Zion said...


"My shul used to be conservadox"

people can be "conservadox" (maybe). what is a conservadox shul?

Anonymous said...

"people can be "conservadox" (maybe). what is a conservadox shul?"

Not sure, I never asked. We joined this shul after a new rabbi took over. I do know that we did not like the old rabbi and that's why we chose a different shul at the time.

Ariella's blog said...

"Better to be glatt yosher than glatt kosher" is a a quote I heard R' Gelley attribute to R' Breuer

mordechai said...

The key is to stop donating money to every Rabbi who signed this Kol Korei. Let their students go to other yeshivot. Better yet let them get jobs.

They demonize those of us with jobs and then come to our shuls with their hands out.

Do these Rabbis care about the people who won't be able to afford weddings because this concert was cancelled of course not. They don't care about people just themselves.

These are not gedolim they are animals.

Anonymous said...

"They demonize those of us with jobs and then come to our shuls with their hands out."

A few years ago, after hearing and verifying a nasty story, I stopped supporting Charedi Tzedakas. When they ask me for money, I clearly tell them why I am not contributing.

Anonymous said...

Concert ban makes the Times:

Abacaxi Mamao said...

I don't see an e-mail address for you on your blog, or I would have written to you directly. Have you ever, or would you, write about what sort of money married women should have separately from their husbands for the sake of their own financial security, i.e., in the case of, r"l, sudden death (it can take awhile to get assets from a deceased person, I think) or divorce? How things like credit history are affected by death or divorce if all assets were jointly held, or, worse, held only by the husband? These are unpleasant topics, but I think important!

Miriam said...

Chaim B, all,

Why do we have to choose between what's already there (LW vs RW) what about making one's own path?

Anonymous said...

Chaim and Miriam,
Halachic Modern Orthodoxy, a strict Y.U. approach to Torah is a wonderful option for those who wish to live lives of Torah, Halacha, Derech Eretz, Kovod Habrios. Respect for Parnassah, honesty in business, Yashrus, keeping the ENTIRE Shulchan Aruch are all values taught in the Halachic Modern Orthodox world and are all modeled by their Rashei Yeshiva and top Rabanim. Please spend some time at Y.U. You will see that this is not "watered down religiousity" and can offer a rewarding frum lifestyle. Not all of the adherents to this lifestyle exemplify its best traits, but many do and the tragedy is that in the Yeshivish/Chasidish/Chareidi world, there is no knowledge of Halachic Modern Orthodoxy. No one knows it exists or wants to admit it. Get off the train, people, it's running away with itself.