Signing Off

When I first started blogging, it was before the Asifa. Post-asifa, there arose the question whether I could (and should) continue. Consulting my mentor, we had thought that this may be litoeles, which, if not essential, may have fallen under the exception category (see Bava Kama 83a). He asked for some time to think it over, while in the meantime I continued blogging.

Originally of the mind that this was okay, he has come to the conclusion that a different direction was better, both with regard to me personally as well as to that of my blogging endeavor. Gedolei Yisroel consider bloggers to be cranks and haters and as such should be treated the way such people are treated in normal, civilized, human society: marginalized by being ignored. Responding to haters just legitimizes them and adds fuel to the fire.

I will no longer be blogging, neither here nor anywhere else. Baruch shetzivanu lishmoa divrei chachamim.

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to all those who’ve read and commented on this blog. I would like to single out bloggers who were kind enough to link to this blog and publish my comments on their own blogs, even though I was often severely critical of them: Harry, Dovid, Tzig, Garnel, Eli, Bray and others. Thank you.

The Internet Is Not The Problem, I Repeat, The Internet Is NOT The Problem

Record number of religious girls surfing sex sites

New research indicates that one in three teenaged girls from the religious and Ultra-Orthodox sectors surf porn sites – nearly twice as many as non-observant girls of the same age.

Seventeen percent of the non-religious girls polled said they visited sexually-oriented websites, while over 30% of the national religious and haredi girls polled responded likewise.

Over 500 11th and 12th-grade students from the national religious, haredi, and secular sectors participated in the study, which focused on the amount of exposure to the Internet and the “sexual conflict.” The research is a follow-up to a qualitative study published a year ago that examined attraction vs. reversion to sexuality and attraction vs. reversion to morality and conservatism.

Dr. Yaniv Efrati of Bar-Ilan University, who used the statistical research to examine religious youths’ sexual conflict, explains that sexual attraction among girls is “perceived as a much stricter taboo in the religious society than in secular society…..”

Interestingly, while the percentage of religious and haredi girls who surf porn sites is significantly higher than the number of secular girls who do, there was virtually no difference by sector in the number of boys who surf porn sites. According to the study, over 80% of all teens are exposed to online porn.


Notice that the “enlightened” non-Haredim fare no better then the crazy “Ban”ners.

And these folks still believe that the internet is not a problem. Stupid (and dangerous) fools.

Links for 6/15/12: Blood libels, More Internet Dangers, RCA In Trouble

If anyone still thinks that bloggers are 1) responsible and serious 2) in it to help 3) fair and balanced, please read this post.

Modern Day Blood Libel by Harry Maryles

If the internet commentariat still have a shred of decency left in them, there will be across the board denunciations of this travesty

RCA Facing Leadership Challenge

Someone’s finally waking up

Horace Mann Case Prompts New Look at State Abuse Laws

Which Haredi yeshiva calls itself Horace Mann…..oh wait

Picture of the Day: “Shield Your Eyes

Billboard goes up, heads explode. Love it!

Our Special Nation

Trending topic on blogs this week I’m sure.

IDF Embraces To’eva Month

Still wondering why Haredim avoid army service?

Poland vs. Russia: Fans Involved in Violent Outburst in Streets of Warsaw

Repeat after me: Only Haredim riot, Only Haredim riot

Flatbush Internet Asifa Held At Agudah On Ave L

Asifas, Asifas everywhere. Too bad it’ll NEVER work

One People, One Destiny

How DARE they? Were Reform there? Were Haredim there??

Recognizing Computer Addiction In Adolescents

Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Chazal vs. Science – Part 1

It must be a slow news day. Or perhaps these past few weeks have been quiet and controversy-free (heh). Otherwise what would cause R’ Harry Maryles to resurrect Le Affair D’Slifkin? To the best of my knowledge, nothing new has happened on that front: mainstream Torah Jewry continues to ignore Rabbi Slifkin while he grows more and more strident in his criticisms of Haredim. Like a jilted ex, Slifkin is determined to make Haredim pay for his rejection, even if it means losing whatever defenders he still has in the community.

Harry’s piece contains quite a few inaccuracies and misrepresentations, easily spotted by anyone in the know. I was tempted to let this one lie since it is little more than a great big perversion of Hashkafa. I will nonetheless indulge myself for two reasons: Harry “puts the ball in our court” and who can resist a hanging curveball? Second, this is a great opportunity to highlight the detour Modern Orthodoxy has taken from the true path of Torah and Yiddishkiet. They may not realize it, but they’ve fallen hook, line and sinker into the morass of prevailing Western thought, causing them to abandon much of the essence of Torah Judaism.

These truths have been known by all, from the greatest rabbis to cheder children, for millennia.

The following is a quote from the great sage and kabbalist, the Leshem Shevo V’achlama: (Credit: The Eye of the Storm, Rabbi Aharon Feldman)

The main thing is: everyone who is called a Jew is obligated to believe with complete faith that everything found in the words of our Sages, whether in Halachos or Aggados of the Talmud or in the Midrashim, are all the words of the Living G-d, for everything which they said is with the spirit of G-d which spoke within them, Sod Hashem L’Yireav “the secret of G-d id given to those who fear him”.

In other words, every word of Chazal that is quoted in their established works is 100% true. Plain and simple.

Given the above, how do we then explain statements in Chazal that appear to be inaccurate, based on the latest science or even through our own eyes? Simple, the same way we explain discrepancies in the Written Torah. We attribute the problem to ourselves, not to them. It may be that we misunderstand their intent or that our circumstances have changed (nishtanu hativim), regardless, it does not diminish the veracity of their words by an iota. No doubt, to accept this, one must believe, but we are believers, are we not? There is no need to “believe” that it is raining outside when one is getting wet nor that there is a God, both are obvious and undeniable. Belief kicks in when logic/science checks out.

Over the course of the generations there have been some great men who have taken an alternate view. Counting among them all time greats such as Rav Saadiah Gaon and Rav Avraham the son of the Rambam, they were willing to accept that Chazal could be mistaken in matters of science. It is primarily on these sources that Slifkin relys upon to build his controversial theses. Whether or not he stays faithful to these sources is a topic for another day, primarily because it is academic. For the Torah Jew, to accept these alternate views is wrong. It is not Torah. Am I calling the aforementioned Rishonim apikorsim? Ch’V of course not! They were permitted to believe it, we are not. Sounds ridiculous? Consider this.

There are endless disagreements in Chazal, both Halachic and Hashkafic. These are not merely on peripheral matters. Life and death halachos are subject to rigorous controversy. The basics beliefs of Judaism are matters of profound dispute in the Talmud. However, disputes cannot remain undecided in perpetuity since the world cannot exist in limbo forever. Hence the need for resolution.

In earlier times, the Sanhedrin was the final arbiter of Jewish law, practice and belief. Until the Sanhedrin intervened, one could act according to his understanding of the Halacha, provided he was sufficiently knowledgeable. However, after the Sanhedrin weighed in and issued a ruling, it was to be followed by all. Here we have the first example of what was a perfectly legitimate understanding of Torah today become a sin punishable by death tomorrow.

After the the Sanhedrin ceased to exist, matters became murkier. Nonetheless, the underlying principles remained the same. When a decision is reached by the consensus of Klal Yisroel, that is Torah. A Jew today who relies on a minority opinion to do work on Shabbos, work that has been accepted as forbidden by Klal Yisroel, is a Mechalel Shabbos with all the consequences thereof.

Hashkafa is no different. One can find minority opinions who dissent from the basics of Jewish tradition, including denying the coming of Moshiach and the attribution of corporeality to G-d (Rav Hillel in Chazal believed so). The existence of these divergent views is not a Heter to follow them. There are gray areas where “freedom of choice” as it were, still exists, but not on matters that are settled.

The absence of a formal and transparent mechanism to transform disputes into dogma has led some well meaning individuals to err and stray from the straight and narrow path. It has also encouraged the rise of charlatans who attempt to hijack the process toward furthering their own ends. Chazal recognized this and warned us that the Talmid Chochom who has no wisdom is worse than carrion and of the poisonous effect of those who twist Torah to fit their needs. “Whoever want to be misled, let him be misled”, Chazal proclaim, knowing that those who covet the truth can easily find it while those who don’t never will.

On to Harry’s post:

(Regarding Slifkin’s claim that Chazal were sometimes mistaken with regard to nature)

These views were not considered heresy in the past.

Revisionism as Harry practices so well. The overwhelming majority of Jewish scholars, books and laymen throughout the years have rejected Slifkin’s approach and maintained that Chazal were not mistaken on matters of nature. The sources are too numerous to count, chief among them are Tosafos (Moed Katan 11a, discussing nishtanu hativim), the Rivash (No. 447) The Rashba (Toras Habayis, Mishmeres Habayis, Bayis 4 Shaar 1) and the Maharal (Beer Hagolah 6).

We continue. Slifkin’s approach does raise potential problems for Harry:

The feeling now is that if one questions Chazal on a matter of science by pointing to contradictions with current scientific knowledge, then one may as well question their Halachic knowledge, too. That would of course destroy Torah Judaism as we know it.

Not to worry, he’s got a way out:

In matters of science many of these great men had the best scientific knowledge of the day. They knew Mada. But that knowledge does not always match the reality we know today. Chazal did not have the technological advantages we have to better see and understand the reality of nature.

This does not mean that their Torah knowledge was any less deficient. That was transmitted directly from Sinai through Moshe Rabbenu  to Yehoshua; then to the Z’kenim… all the way down to Chazal themselves. But nature needed to be studied independently to be understood. The very nature of science is based on the scientific method that tests hypothsies derived of observations. Sometimes long held truths are discarded when new information comes along shedding additional light on nature thus creating better and more accurate perceptions of it.

There is so much objectionable here, it’s hard to know where to begin.

“many of these great men had the best scientific knowledge of the day.” Really, and how does Harry know that? Perhaps even by standards of the day their knowledge was deficient?

“This does not mean that their Torah knowledge was any less deficient.” This is the nut of it all. If this cannot be stated with equivocation, then Harry is in trouble. As he said before, goodbye Torah Judaism.

So how does he make the distinction between science and Torah?

That was transmitted directly from Sinai through Moshe Rabbenu  to Yehoshua; then to the Z’kenim… all the way down to Chazal themselves.

Sounds good, except that it is NOT TRUE. Much of what we have in Chazal, in the Gemara, was arrived by using their own understanding, their own cognitive faculties, not through tradition. They had rules to follow (called the 13 exegetical methods by which the Torah is expounded) but other than the Gezeira Shavah, they were not received directly from Sinai (although Moshe knew it at the time). The Gemara makes this clear.

If that is the case, considering that Chazal may error in matters of nature why can’t we assume they can error in matters of Torah as well? Are we to go the Catholic route, infallibility in religious doctrine while complete idiots in all other matters?? It would appear that Harry has struck out.

But that knowledge does not always match the reality we know today.

Until tomorrow, when we’ll know a new reality. That one will be the new absolute-never-to-be-disproven-truth. Similar to the “ether” and the “flat earth” before it.

Until the Slifkin controversy – both alternatives were acceptable.

Incorrect and I challenge Harry to provide comprehensive evidence of that.

The fact that there were Rishonim who explicitly stated that Chazal erred in matters of science bolstered the view that this is a legitimate Torah perspective. But once Rav Elayshiv declared this view to be heresy, it no longer is.

Rabbi Feldman explained this apparent contradiction in the following way. Rishonim could believe that and not considered heretical. We no longer could. For them it was fine. For us it is heresy. How did he justify such a statement? By pointing to Chazal themselves. There was a legitimate opinion expressed in the Gemarah that did not believe that there would be an actual Moshiach but only be a messianic era. Today that view is considered heresy as defined in the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith. His point was that what was a legitimate belief in one era may not be a legitimate belief in another. So before Rav Elyashiv said such beliefs were heretical it was fine. Now it is heresy.

Here Harry is simply mistaken:

In Rabbi Feldman’s book, The Eye of the Storm (Pg. 161) He makes it clear that Rav Elyashiv was not the one who invalidated these opinions but rather the one who made clear the distinction cited above i.e. that the minority opinions were permitted to hold their opinions, but we are not, given that we must “follow the majority opinion and our tradition as to how we should approach Torah”. So It is not Rav Eliyashiv “deciding” new haskafa any more then when he paskens that milk and meat is forbidden that he is “deciding” new halacha

Harry, however, has a hard time accepting the rationale we’ve put forth.

I have a problem with this kind of thinking. One cannot change a person’s belief by proclamation. Belief does not develop that way. You are asking people to reject their own logic based beliefs developed over time after much thought and analysis that were perfectly acceptable a moment ago.

Never mind that it was NOT acceptable a moment ago. This incredibly shallow and emotional response masquerading as logic is completely irrelevant. Beliefs are what they are. You’re not “ready” for them? Okay, hold the phone while we recalibrate our beliefs to what you ARE ready for. What utter nonsense. At most, the person in question is a nebach, but a nebach apikorus is also an apikorus.

The he shoots himself in the foot: (along with a snarky dig at “today’s Poskim”).

A later section of the Gemerah in Niddah (20a) tells us that the great Amora Rava and others actually admitted that they were not familiar with natural science. And he refused to Paskin a Shalia because of that… a lesson for today’s Poskim. How does one reconcile this clear admission with the belief that Chazal knew natural science better than we do today? Some didn’t even know the science of their own day!

Let’s see. So Chazal tell us sometimes that they are not familiar with the natural science and therefore won’t rule on a shaila because of that. Shouldn’t we therefore assume that when they DID rule on a shaila based on their view of nature that they were well aware of the actual conditions upon which they ruled? Not just what the “science” of the day believed, but the actual, objective truth. Wouldn’t they have had the foresight and the knowledge to refrain from issuing a psak for the generations based on science of the day? Were they not aware that today’s science is tomorrow’s punch line or is it only today’s chachomim of the mah nishtana who figured it out??

To me this Gemara is the biggest proof that Chazal based their scientific statements on the actual truth, not merely the science available at the time. When they didn’t know they told us, when they told us, they knew.

I think the ball has just been thrown into the other court. It behooves those who say that such views are heresy to explain why that is still the case. To simply declare all evidence that disputes their claims to be forgeries is a very poor argument. Unless they have proof to back that up it makes their claims about Chazal’s infallibility in matters of science look pretty tenuous at best.

Here Harry loses the “logic thread”. He starts off demanding proof that Slifkin’s views are heresy and ends up mocking “their claims about Chazal’s infallibility in matters of science” as “pretty tenuous at best”. One has zero to do with the other. Even if we were to grant that Slifkin’s views are not heresy, there is still the overwhelming consensus that “claims” Chazal’s infallibility on all matters. See the sources cited above. In essence, Harry is now mocking the majority of Rishonim and Achronim who accept this view.

In the comments he goes even further.

I know that Nishtaneh HaTeva is used a lot. But for me – that answer is just a little too convenient.

As mentioned above, Nishtanu Hativim is mentioned by Tosafos as well as numerous mefarshim throughout Shas (See Hishtanus Hatevai’im by Rabbi N.M. Gutel for a comprehensive list). But to Harry, it’s “too convenient”. Tosafos must’ve made a mistake. Hey, it’s par for the course, if Chazal can make mistakes about science, then Tosafos can make mistakes about Chazal about science!

At stake here is more than a theoretical argument. This speaks to the extent of the inroads modern thought has made into some segments of Orthodoxy, to the point that they have no clue who Chazal were and what true Torah ideology is. Modern Orthodoxy has so bought into the notions of “egalitarianism” and “rationalism” that they have become like donkeys.

Have I descended into name-calling? Not quite, this is the moniker that they have chosen for themselves, as I will explain in Part 2.

Modern Orthodoxy: Bastion of Coercion?

Amid all the sound and fury the recent Asifa engendered, what stuck out was the visceral hatred the 21st century “man on the street” has to conformity. The Asifa stuck in their craw for many nefarious reasons, but what really got their goat were the thousands of people “blindly following their Rabbis like sheep” (puns intended). To them, this was a very public elevation of behaviors long thought discarded and relegated to the moral trash bin. It appeared that conformity and authority were being reintroduced as legitimate ideals, a direct slap in the face to that most modern and Western of values: the supremacy of the individual. Me, Myself and I Uber Alles.

Never mind that people nowadays continue to follow the herd slavishly in almost every aspect of their lives; in mannerisms, culture and above all, making sure to always engage in “right thinking”. Few are “mavericks”, which is understandable considering that mavericks are mavericks, well, because no one else is doing what they’re doing. If everyone were to become a maverick, then by definition no one would be a maverick. Let’s leave that aside for a moment and allow our “rugged individualists” the pleasure of wallowing in their highly exaggerated sense of uniqueness. Let’s make believe that the way they see themselves is an accurate reflection of the truth. You can then imagine my utter surprise when I came across this:

Rabbinic Group Requiring Prenuptial Agreements

An Orthodox rabbinic group is requiring its members to use a prenuptial agreement in the weddings in which they participate.

According to a resolution passed by The International Rabbinic Fellowship, its member rabbis may not officiate at or participate ritually in a wedding ceremony in which the man and woman have not signed a halachic prenuptial stating that if the marriage dissolves, they will agree to a Jewish divorce.

Ignoring for the moment the potentially disastrous pre-nup itself, there is something that struck me about this article. Wait for it, wait for it…… Ah, there it is. “Rabbinic Group REQUIRES..”. Requires? As in, you must do this or else you’re out? Why, that sounds like coercion, something we know only Haredim do! Why can’t the RFA just bring this pre-nup option to the attention of their rabbis and leave it at that? What happened to the individual’s freedom of conscience, the ability of every person to choose wisely without outside pressure? If you ask me this sounds like….. a Takana!

Then there’s more from Rabbi Michael Broyde:

I vote for the latter solution as the best now available to us and I think we should mandate that no Orthodox rabbi perform weddings without a BDA prenuptial agreement.

If your rabbi belongs to an organization that does not mandate the use of any prenuptial agreement, ask him why that is the case. If your rabbi does weddings without using a prenuptial agreement, press him to stop doing such weddings and to mandate that no such weddings take place on the synagogue grounds.

Mandates, requirements, what’s happening to our live-and-let-live friends in the Modern Orthodox world? What’s next, a requirement that schools teach Shmiras Einayim? Mandatory tznius guidelines (gasp)? G-d forbid, a BAN on something??

If I were MO I would protest, raise a ruckus. This is against our tradition (oh the irony!)!! We are not “the requirers” and the “Takana makers”, that’s for sheep i.e. the Haredim. We’re all adults here, let’s allow every Rabbi to follow his conscience and he will surely do the right thing.

Could it be, that it is not Takanas per se that the MO dislike but the subjects they address? It seems that Takanos are fine as long as they address valid concerns of “Tikkun H’olam”. Anything not on the approved list of causes de jour, anything sounding suspiciously too”Jewish” is to be left alone. After all we don’t want to be lumped together with THOSE guys, do we?

Centrism Is Dying – And For Good Reason

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir of Gur, popularly known as the “Chidushei Harim” used to go out of his way to pass by the docks of his city where he was greeted daily by a group of rough-looking longshoremen. They would line up in a row, hat in hand and say “Good Morning Reb Itche Meir” to which he would respond “Good morning my fellow Jews”. They would continue to stand in respectful silence, until he passed from view.

An inquiring chassid, aware of how much the Rebbe valued his time, suggested that perhaps they make use of a shorter route in the future. The Rebbe’s reply was priceless. “These unlearned and unobservant Jews,  besides for expressing their respect for a Torah scholar when I pass, are also observing one of the basic tenets of the Torah: the mitzvah of U’Bacharta Bachaim, You shall choose life. Not all are capable of doing what is required of them, due to circumstance or whatnot. However, by choosing to admire and respect those who do, they are demonstrating the purity of their hearts. The choice at least, is still within their means to make, and I will not deprive them of that”. And so he continued day in and day out walking past these “people of the street” and allowing them to pledge allegiance (as it were) to the crown of Jewish existence in this world: the Torah and it’s scholars.

Hot off the press comes the following from the NYT:

After decades of decline, the Jewish population of New York City is growing again, increasing to nearly 1.1 million, fueled by the “explosive” growth of the Hasidic and other Orthodox communities, a new study has found. It is a trend that is challenging long-held notions about the group’s cultural identity and revealing widening gaps on politics, education, wealth and religious observance…

“There are more deeply engaged Jews and there are more unengaged Jews,” said Jacob B. Ukeles, a social policy analyst and one of the principal authors of the study, which was sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York. “These two wings are growing at the expense of the middle. That’s the reality of our community.”

This is just the latest in a series of studies confirming a noticeable trend in the Jewish community. The center is hemorrhaging believers to the wings as people abandon “moderate” ideologies for the more rigid “right” and “left” extremities. It would be accurate to point out that this phenomenon is hardly restricted to Jews. Moderates across America bemoan the increasingly partisan divide which they claim has made reaching consensus more difficult then ever before. Too much time has passed to dismiss this mass migration as an aberration, a passing fad. It therefore behooves us to examine what is causing this universal flight from what would appear to be a reasonable and sensible, middle-of-the-road, approach to life for the often demanding diktats of a less accommodating path.

Moderates would like you to believe that a number of societal ills are responsible for what they see as the “fragmentation of society”. Explanations range from the lack of proper education to the general immaturity of the younger generations. What moderates refuse to do is take a long hard look in the mirror. One can hardly blame them though; chances are they wouldn’t see much of substance staring back.

Centrism has no form of it’s own, it is a hybrid. However, unlike the Prius, it’s components do not complement each other. The disparate matter that centrism wrestles to fuse into one are inherently programmed to work at cross-purposes, not allowing for any meaningful and lasting synthesis. Oil and water don’t mix, fire and water are mortal enemies, so too the Word of G-d and the Idol of Man or (lehavdil) the Milton Friedman School of Economics and the Keynesian Bureau of Government Works will always be at loggerheads with one another. Reality intrudes, whether it is invited or not.

Back to the Jewish scene. On the right are the Traditional Orthodox (i.e. Haredim) who pledge unwavering fidelity to the One True G-d and His Torah. Over to the left are those who, in the tradition of the ancient Arabs, worship the dust of their feet i.e. the Almighty Self (secularists). Along comes Modern Orthodoxy with the suggestion that we worship them both. However, man cannot have two G-d’s as our father Avraham taught us and as was later confirmed at Mount Sinai. One can either give a full measure of devotion to G-d or one can ignore Him (c”v), half measures won’t cut it. G-d, (either the real one or the idol (self)) is either everything or He is nothing. Modern Orthodoxy is vaguely aware of the Catch-22 they’re in, hence the constant “struggle”, the never ending navel-gazing and existential angst that so permeates the movement.

What has changed? Much. What may have worked for the elders is no longer working for the youth and hasn’t been for some time. While the elders have hammered out a practical, workable way of life, drawing lines and boundaries that would confuse Pac-Man, the youth are adrift. They look to the right, then to the left and back over to where they are and want no part of this marriage of convenience. The couple is totally incompatible and they want out. They want a divorce.

They ask themselves “If the Torah is G-d’s word, shouldn’t we embrace it with all our heart and soul, without compromise and apology”? “If however, it is secular humanism that is progress, secular ideals that represent the best in mankind, then where are those ideals? Where are the women rabbis? Where are the gay marriages?” To them, the half-baked excuses that are offered in lieu of a consistent weltanschauung are seen for what they are: nisht aheen un nisht aher, nisht tzu gott un nisht tzu lait (neither here nor there).

As Centrism appears to wither on the vine, one looks back and wonders “where did this come from, what were the conditions that brought forth this unique flower from the garden of history, one that burst on the scene with so much promise only to fade away shortly thereafter”? A cynic would posit that with the dawn of the Enlightenment, the rigors of observance were too much to handle. However, not wanting to totally jettison thousands of years of tradition and wary of unforeseen consequences, enough was held onto to allow for a quick retreat to the embrace of yesteryear should the need arise. In other words, let’s see what we can get away with and still be called “Orthodox Jews”.

However, there is a more charitable view that may pass muster as well. As beautiful, meaningful and rich that Judaism is, it can also be one more thing: difficult. The demands placed on a Jew often appear to be overwhelming and out of reach. It is therefore quite reasonable to want to cut it down to size, to bring G-d down to us if we feel we cannot ascend to him. But as the Talmud tells us (Sukkah 5a), G-d has never descended to this world, if we want to reach him we must go to him. His Torah however, is not in heaven, although it may sometimes seem to be there.

Traditional Jews try to do our best, and but most importantly, we never lose sight of where we ought to go. We strive to always choose life, even if that choice remains in the world of intent rather than deed. We never lose sight of where our standards OUGHT to be, and joyfully honor those who get closest to it. This is the lesson of Ubacharta Bachaim, a timeless idea that is demanding while comforting, showing the Jew the heights he can reach while applauding whatever progress he has made. That’s all G-d wants from us. Just remember, do not lower Him to where you are, do your best and let Him do the rest.

The Inexcusable Character Assasination Of A Gadol B”Yisroel

When discussing Gedolei Yisroel, one may disagree with their conclusions or even disregard what they say, but one may never disrespect them, especially in public. Today, Rabbi Harry Maryles has crossed a red line, one that may very well be in the territory of Mevazeh Talmid Chochom Berabim.

Reb Harry:

People that have survived some of the worst tortures by man imaginable have been struck in their collective hearts by a giant dagger that was forged in the Satmar Rebbe’s cauldron of anti Zionist hatred… I want to be absolutely clear about this. The Satmar Rebbe, had he been alive would have been one of the first to condemn this act.

And yet I blame him for the philosophy that generated this violence…. (ea – HAP)

But their philosophy of hatred against Zionism stands as a pillar of faith among them all. It does not take all that much to convert some of that hatred into action. From simple anti Zionist rhetoric at one end all the way to the kind of thing that happened here….

Although I believe in individual responsibility and these disgusting pieces of trash are indeed responsible for their own actions, one cannot ignore where they are coming from. To say that the Satmar Rebbe does not share of the blame for generating the type of hatred that desecrated Yad VaShem would be the same as saying that Pope Urban the 2nd does not share the blame for the atrocities of the Crusaders.

When first reading this post, I did a double take. Is this R’ Harry or did I mistakenly wander over to Dovbear or The Successful Bigot? Alas, it is indeed R’ Harry. Leaving aside for the moment the linkage that Harry creates, tenuous at best and defamatory at worst, let us instead adopt Harry’s formula and see where it leads us. We’ll call it Harry’s Law. Harry’s Law states: Every ideology is responsible for what kooks do in it’s name, regardless of how strenuous they object to it or even if said kooks renounce said ideology. Let’s see what comes up.

Ahh, here we go.

The Rav

Rabbi J.B Soloveitchik was known for his openness toward secular culture and for his attempts toward synthesizing modernity and Torah. Therefore, using Harry’s Law, it is well within bounds that the Rav’s approach of parting with tradition is the source of the following:

Rabbah Hurwitz

Morethodoxy In General

This farce

Rabbi Steven Greenberg

YU Symposium on Gays

Noah Feldman

There is little doubt that were the Rav alive he would strongly condemn most if not all, of the above. But there is also no denying that there is a direct correlation between the philosophy he espoused and the direction some have taken it. Again, Harry’s Law.

Therefore, I blame him for the philosophy that generated this continued Churban Hadas and Chillul Hashem.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.

Rav Kook was well known for his extremist positions regarding the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. Among his more famous statements is the following:

During the first attempt at illegal settlement, Rabbi Kook joined his pupils. When soldiers came to evacuate the group, Rabbi Kook yelled at them, “take out your machine gun; we’re not going anywhere.” (ea=hap)

While Rav Kook backed off the implementation of his fiery rhetoric, it seems that some of his followers didn’t. Using Harry’s Law as our guide, this is the result of Rav Kook’s extremist pronouncements:

Baruch Goldstein

Jewish Settler Kills Four Israeli Arabs In Attack on Bus

Price Tag Violence

Yigal Amir

Yakov Teitel

We can also blame the rabbis who wrote this book for any future violence directed by Jews at non-Jews.

Logic Gone Astray

Now on to Harry’s Law itself. In truth, I’m not being fair to Harry, he is hardly originator of this type of demagoguery. This disingenuous attempt at blaming one’s ideological opposition for the acts of extremists is part and parcel of the American scene nowadays, albeit the very dregs of it. Liberals blame conservatives for the Oklahoma City bombing and the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, conservatives hold liberals responsible for the crazies carrying Bush=Hitler signs and round and round she goes. Bernie Madoff is capitalism’s fault, the Norwegian murderer a result of extreme nationalism.

This kind of thinking has been rightfully rejected by balanced and sane people on either side of the ideological divide. It doesn’t take much to recognize the shoddy thinking and faulty reasoning underlying linkage of this nature. An ideology bears responsibility solely for what it advocates, not for loonies acting out their sick desires in its’ name. Were we to match crazy actions to the ideology closest to it, disregarding the order of magnitude separating the two, we would condemn Mother Theresa for the actions of Code Pink, Quakers for the cover-up of abuse, as well as the phenomenon of women who look to marry serial killers as an indictment of “kindness”.

Furthermore, were we to adopt this poor excuse for reason, wouldn’t Harry himself be liable should anything happen to the perpetrators of this crime (once they are caught)? Isn’t he fomenting hate toward them? Indeed, isn’t he fomenting hate toward Satmar in general with the tone and the tenor of his remarks about them? Is he prepared to take responsibility for his words, regardless of the extremes they may be taken?


There a number of other curiosities and inaccuracies that Harry feels free to share with us.

1) The perpetrators have yet to be caught. Shouldn’t Harry hold off passing such harsh judgement until we know that those he thinks committed this crime actually did?

2) Anyone who follows Neturei Karta closely knows two things 1) They have long been disavowed by Satmar 2) They themselves have repudiated Satmar, doing so when the Satmar Rav was still alive!

3) The “hatred” evinced by the Satmar Rav was directed toward Zionism as an ideology, not at people. He would (and did) give the shirt off his back to ANY Jew even while condemning his beliefs. King David had hatred as well, Ohavei hashem Sinu R’ah, (Lovers of G-d hate evil). To the Satmar Rav, Zionism was responsible for removing millions of Jews from their religion, thereby qualifying it as “evil”. One may disagree but to parlay his stance as one “responsible” for the actions of sickos is ludicrous.

4) The coup de grace is Harry’s apples to oranges comparison of the Satmar Rav to Pope Urban II. This is insane. Pope Urban II  called for the violent actions of the Crusades, explicitly. OF COURSE he bears responsibility for what happened afterward. The Satmar Rav recoiled from physical violence against anyone (he even refused to demonstrate against a visiting Israeli PM because the Arabs would be demonstrating as well). His tactics bear closer resemblance to those of Gandhi than those of Urban II.

5) More than being “angry and hateful”, any student of the Satmar Rav will tell you that he was sad and hearbroken, totally tzebrachen (broken) over the millions of Jewish children led away from their God and their people. Listen to tapes of his Shovavim Torah as he beseeches his fellow Jews to do Teshuva.

I am far from being a Satmar Chassid. In fact, I can’t think of even one instance that I and my family follow the Satmar derech. However it is an undeniable fact that the Satmar Rav was from the greatest Gaonim, Tzadikim and Kedoshim of his generation. This was acknowledged by R’ Moshe Feinstein, R’ Aharon Kotler and many others who were often the target of his ire. The closest comparison I can think of is to Shammai Hazaken. The Halacha may not be like him, but he was one of the greatest and a national treasure. The words written today against him, by a man who should know better, are hurtful, disappointing and a disgrace.

In the interest of being charitable I will judge R’ Harry Lkaf Zechus and assume that he was so shaken up by the vile desecration at Yad Vashem that he said things he now regrets. I will also attribute his harsh words toward Satmar in general as coming from his innate Ahahvas Yisroel and what he perceives as Satmar “hating” other Jews. It is my fervent hope that he will retract his post and issue a proper apology.

P.S. Reb Harry, where were you condemning secular society and it’s leadership when this happened just last week? And this?

When Are Riots Bad?

Answer: When Haredim are the ones rioting. Otherwise, why rioting is just people “expressing” their justified frustration or something.

Case in point:

Israelis attack African migrants during protest against refugees

An African migrant in a car with shattered windows after a protest against African refugees and asylum-seekers in Tel Aviv turned violent.

Demonstrators have attacked African migrants in Tel Aviv in a protest against refugees and asylum-seekers that indicates an increasingly volatile mood in Israel over what it terms as “infiltrators”….

A car containing Africans was attacked and shops serving the refugee community were looted. Seventeen people were arrested.

A reporter for the Israeli daily Maariv described it as an “unbridled rampage” and explosion of “pent-up rage”.

“Suddenly one of [the protesters] noticed that in one of the cars waiting for traffic to move were two young dark-skinned men, apparently foreign workers. For the hundreds of inflamed and enraged young people, that was all they needed. Within minutes, they dismantled – there is no other word to describe it – the car and its passengers. Some of them smashed the windows with their hands and rocks, others kicked the car, bent the plastic parts and tried to attack the people inside. ‘I’m not from Sudan, I’m not from Sudan,’ the driver tried to tell the assailants, but nobody was listening at that stage.”

Haven’t heard of this violent “incident”? Surely the Prime Minister spoke out against this blatant racism? No? Instead he said this?

“illegal infiltrators [are] flooding the country” and threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.

Oh well, then perhaps you’ve heard of this one:

Yeshiva World News:

Following the defeat of the bill in Knesset, protests became unruly outside the Knesset, trying repeatedly to close down the street. At least one arrest was made. Elsewhere in the capital, protestors set a garbage frog ablaze and pushed it onto the light rail tracks in the Beit HaKerem neighborhood.

Or this one:

Graffiti including “Death to Arabs”, “Regarding from Ulpana” and “Regards from Gilad Farm” was left on vehicles and the N’vei Shalom (Wahat al-Salam) School. The tires of a number of vehicles were slashed as well in the erev Shabbos vandalism attack in the mixed community where Jews and Arabs reside.

Also not? Must be nothing to see here, move along, move along. We’ll be sure to call you the next time Haredim block a street, but for now nothing doing.

Metzitzah B’Peh: Only The Beginning

UPDATE: New CDC Data May Not Show Risk Due To Metzitzah B’peh

Original Post:

Nanny Bloomberg and his wet nurses are very concerned with what people are putting in their mouths these days. After banning large soda beverages, they now turn their attention to another threat to society, Metzitzah B”Peh:

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley today issued a statement strongly urging that direct oral-genital suction not be performed during Jewish ritual circumcision, and announced that several hospitals, including those serving Hasidic Jewish communities and all Health and Hospital Corporation hospitals, have agreed to distribute a brochure that describes the risk of contracting the herpes virus from this practice, known as metzitzah b’peh.

Note that Chief Wet-nurse Farley refrained from issuing a ban on Metzitzah B’peh, opting instead for a “strongly worded statement”. This may be due to an archaic law called the First Amendment, part of an ancient and infrequently invoked body of laws known as the Constitution. There is also the minor detail that the risk of danger to the baby (2 deaths out of over an estimated 100k MB”P) through MB”P is about the same as giving it Tylenol and much less than second-hand smoke, neither of which is banned.

However, this is just the beginning. A document has come to light, purportedly from the desk of Dr. Farley, featuring the next steps in the War on To Save Humanity From Themselves. Quoted in full below:

Memo: To The Mayor

From: Dr. Farley.

In accordance with your recent directive that we zero in on other potential hazardous materials and practices that may affect children, we have come up with the following:

Jewish Rituals To Be Banned:

Matzah (increased risk of gastrointestinal distress)

Cheesecake on Shavous (trampling danger due to intense pressure to get the best piece)

Prayers on the High Holidays will be cut by three hours (long prayers, especially by a professional Chazan, can lead to a 37% increase in risk of heart attack and stroke)

Lulav (paper cuts)

Sukkah (6.7 times more likely to collapse than regular house)

Chanukah Candlelighting (fire risk)

Purim Gragger (noise pollution, increased risk of senior citizen hitting children due to unauthorized cap gun discharges)

Chulent on Shabbos (increased Global Warming due to flatulence)

The following objects will no longer be permitted in houses with small children:

Small objects of any kind (choking hazard)

Food (choking hazard)

Bikes (children on bikes are 9 times more likely to fall off them than children on a couch)

Hot beverages (increased risk of burns)

Counters, chairs and tables (children on an elevated surface are 4.9 times likelier to fall than children sitting on the floor)

Toilets and bathtubs (risk of drowning)

Windows (risk of falling)

Cleaning agents of any kind (risk of poison)

Medicine (risk of poison)

All toys (choking hazard, lead exposure, mental distress due to sibling rivalry)

Parents may no longer do the following activities with their children:

Put them to sleep (SIDS)

Feed them (choking hazard)

Carry them (risk of falling)

Transport them in a motor vehicle (studies show that children in a motor vehicle are 8.9760 times more likely to be in a car crash then children at home)

Bathe them (drowning)

Have them (studies show that parents who have children are 2.4 times more likely to abuse them than parents who don’t)

The sheeple are more than willing to submit to the continued benevolence of our Mayor-for-Life and his do-gooders. We just have one request to add to the above list: No million dollar couches. 900,000? That’s fine. A Million? Too much. Deal? No?

Didn’t think so.

Links for 6/8/12: What’s Going On In The Real World, Who’s Behind Israel’s Continued Existence, Mixing Into Other People’s Business & more

A look at the “outside world” Haredim are so fervently urged to join.

Most Israeli Parents Dissatisfied with Schools

Haredim Don’t Know What They’re Missing – Part 1

“Kill Scott Walker” as “Angry Liberals” Flood Twitter Over Tom Barrett’s Loss to Scott Walker in WI Recall Election

Haredim Don’t Know What They’re Missing – Part 2

Cannibalism Trend Can Feed On Itself, Experts Say

Haredim Don’t Know What They’re Missing – Part 3

20,000 NIS Fine for Cursing a Chareidi Man

No doubt this story will be covered wall-to-wall in the blogosphere. And this next one as well:

Chareidim Banned From Ramat Aviv Mall

Segregation, discrimination!!!!

Is Texting Ruining The Art Of Conversation?

Must be an article from Hamodia.

“The Germans can be proud to have ensured the existence of the state of Israel for several years to come – Ehud Barak

Yup, Aschalta D’Geula

Why haredim should not be Zionists

Speaking the truth

Conservative Jews Approve Gay Wedding Guidelines

Where’s the protest over this tremendous Chillul Hashem??

Rabbi Aviner: Draft Chareidim to Military of National Service

Tomorrow: Rabbi Aviner: How DARE Charedim Not Stick Up For Us Regarding Ulpana?? Gee, I can’t figure it out….