Friday, June 28, 2013

The latest Avi was worse than usual.

Avi Safran has something new up in which he draws an analogy between a single mother named Cindy and Israeli kolel families. Here's his nimshal, with my fisking
Over the past decade or so, their social services – primarily in the form of child allowances – have been drastically cut, several times. 
So why don't they get jobs?
Now what is left of the allowances is under the knife again. 
So why don't they get jobs? Or, better question: Why don't they prepare their kids for the next round of cuts by preparing them for a vocation?
And charedim are being pressured to forgo full-time Torah-study, their “most important asset” and first priority. 
They are not being pressured to forgo full-time Torah study. They are merely being pressured to pay for it themselves. 
They are told that they must enter the army, even though there is no need for them in the military (as its leaders have repeatedly stated) and they fear the impact Israel’s “military melting pot” will have on their lives. 
If enough of them join the army, they won't have to worry about that.They can have their own battalions, divisions - whatever.
They are vilified without pause, and cajoled to act not in what they consider their best interest (and the best interest, ultimately, of the entire country) but rather just to do what they are told. All, of course, for “the economy” and the “greater good.”
Haredim know a thing or two about vilification don't they? If the community hadn't done such a good job of villifying the greater Israeli society, they wouldn't be petrified about joining it.  

No one, to be sure, can claim a “right” to social service entitlements.
Well, that's not true. You can claim any right you like, and various entitlements are recognized as rights in some paces.
 And one can, if he chooses, take the stance that no citizen of any country should expect, for any reason, that the government needs to take care of him in any way. 
Those people are called selfish morons.
That’s a perfectly defensible position, at least from a perspective of cold logic. But every compassionate country recognizes the rightness of assisting the poor. 
They are being assisted. They are being encouraged to change their economic status, to leave the category of poverty and to join the middle class
And a country that calls itself the Jewish one, it can well be argued, has a special responsibility to underwrite the portion of its populace that is willfully destitute because of its dedication to perpetuating classical Judaism 
(1) They's not why they are willfully destitute. They live in poverty, not by choice, and not because they wish to perpetuate anything. They are driven by superstition, peer pressure, and things like that. Not by any desire to keep anything alove other than their own, modern, sect.
(2) Classical Judasim doesn't tell people to stay poor and learn all day. It tells people to work and earn money. That's what all of the great classical Rabbis did. 
(which, as it happens, is what kept the connection between Jews in the Diaspora and their ancestral land alive for millennia, and allowed for a state of Israel in the first place).
The founders of Israel were atheists who wanted Israel not because of any silly affection for an ancestral land, but because they desired a safe place for Jews to live as free men.
Gratitude for what one has received is a deeply Jewish ideal. And Israeli charedim should indeed feel and express gratitude for all that the state provides them. 
Right, but they don't.
But absent are calls for non-charedi Israelis – or the rest of us – to consider feeling and expressing gratitude for the charedi willingness to live financially constricted lives in order to remain immersed in Jewish practice and learning. 
Why in the world should a secular Israeli feel any gratitude for that? Why should even an ordinary Orthodox Jew who slaves all day and pays extra at the market and for his school tuition to cover low earners feel gratitude for able bodied people who are gaming the system?
Instead, just the opposite is seen: Israeli charedim are used as political pawns, regarded and portrayed and treated as Israel’s misfortune.

They are used as pawns by their own leaders, who are interested in protecting their empires, and who often demonize secular Jews as "Israel's misfortune".

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another violation of Kotel norms - but the Haredim ignore it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is in Jerusalem and today he visited the Western Wall. No one blinked. Should they have? Well, yes. Given the extreme greeting the Women of the Wall have received from Charedim who claim that they wish only to protect the sanctity of the place, its fair to ask why a man wearing a purple dress was permitted to stand at the Wall for close to ten minutes praying - presumably to Jesus - without proviking any Charedi response. What happened to their standards? Their morals? Is it wrong for a person to apear at the kotel wearing clothing that belongs to the opposite gender, or not? Is it wrong for a person to pray at the kotel in an UnOrthodox fasion, or not?

But there stands the Archbishop, skirts aflutter, worshiping Jesus, in full view of Haredim like the one standing behnd him, and no one cares. Why?

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More Three Weeks Tragedies

by @ The Agudath Israel of America 

In a long line of insults and attacks on the Jewish people comes this new war on holiness and sanctity. Today the Supreme Court knocked down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, paving the way for legal homogaysex marriage across this once G-d fearing country.

Read the Supreme Court's decision here (and weep):

We now recommend that all Jews obtain storm, wind, and flooding insurance since lots of hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis are sure to hit all of us.

In the next week or so we will be issuing a new Kinah to be recited by Achenu Bnei Yisroel lamenting this new catastrophe.

Please keep your daughters indoors at all times since we fully expect caravans of lesbians to be out on recruitment patrol. Additionally, you must be vigilant in keeping an eye on your sons. If there is the slightest hint that he may turn homogaysexual  PLEASE report him to your nearest orthodox rabbi. If he has briefs that are any other color than white or black or if he begins buying ties with floral prints or if  his voice starts to get a bit too soft REPORT him.

Now that this marriage can be legal, family life of straight people is over as we know it. Once marriage is legal  nobody will will want to marry someone of the opposite sex anymore. That's science.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Women and public prayer no longer go together

Its official. Women are no longer expected to participate in public prayer. My proof comes thanks to my crack Haredi correspondent who shared the following newspaper clippings with me. They are part of a description for a weekend some organization sponsored to teach parents how to best serve their disabled children.

As you can see, the organizers take it for granted that women won't be interested in attending the services. To keep them entertained, programming has been scheduled while the men at prayers.

Women may be exempt from participating in public prayers but (a) they still receive the benefits men receive and (b) the exemption is granted, not because women are deemed incompatible with public prayer, but because whoever established the rules thought their time would be better spent watching children. But,this weekend was for parents only. No children were in attendance. But instead of taking advantage of a golden opportunity to pray with a minyan, these women preferred to hear Marion Fine's "side-splittingly humorous takes on life."

By the way, I have the same complaint about women at weddings, or other events, who not only refuse to join the ad hoc mincha minyamim that pop up all over the place, but can't even be bothered to answer the kaddish or kedusha as they walk by.

For now, I'm merely reporting. Better amature sociologists can explain why its happened and what it means, but I maintain this is a Very Bad Development, for women and for Judaism.

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Korach Crux Redux

Guest post by Y. Bloch

A few weeks ago, DovBear re-posted a piece entitled "The Korach Crux," a colorful deconstruction of the first part of the Torah portion of the same name. (Don't worry, we'll get to this week's portion presently.) I didn't have a chance to respond to that post before that Shabbat, but the next morning, I did notice that the rest of the portion may be similarly divided. [Please note that the verse numbers refer to Chapter 17 in the standard Tanakh; your mileage may vary.]

Collection of the Fire Pans (1-5) "and he will not be like Korah and his assembly"
Complaint on the Morrow (6-8)
Plague & Intercession (9-15) "aside from those who died due to the Korah matter"
[Despair at the Tabernacle (27-28)]
Sign of the Staffs (16-24)
Aaron's Staff before God (25-26)

Note that I have moved the final two verses of the chapter. That is because the sign of the staffs clearly relates to Korah's claims against Aaron, and it seems to be in response to something, namely the fear on the part of the people about the "Tabernacle of the LORD" (NOT the Tent of Meeting; see above 16:9) being a danger to the people. Why is it written at the end of the chapter if it belongs earlier? Well, these two verses send us into two good-sized chapters (18-19) about who shall approach and how they shall do so. These two chapters clearly must have been stated earlier, as they deal with those two inevitable human experiences, taxes and death, and could not have waited until the second year in the desert. Also note the textual clues: God speaks exclusively to Aaron in Chapter 18, which we only find immediately after the deaths of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10; and Chapter 19 again uses that special phrase "Tabernacle of the LORD."

And speaking of tabernacles, we do have one point at which our antagonists meet, in "the tabernacle of Korah, Datan and Abiram" (v. 27). Of course, this may be an innocent term, but I believe that it is significant, especially considering the use of it earlier in the chapter (for the first time in Numbers). I would like to propose that Datan and Abiram are in fact in the proper place: their rebellion is all about "you haven't brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards," which would make sense right after the decree of forty years of wandering. It is Korah who is out of place. And where does he belong? This week's portion may tell us, as in 27:3, Zelophehad's daughters declare: 

"Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not among the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons." 
Now, why would the DoZ mention Korah, that tiny incident that is totally forgotten in Deuteronomy? There are many possibilities, but the simplest is that they initially approach Moses soon after Korah's rebellion; amid a census, yes, but not that of the 40th year. This would also help resolve an issue which has always bothered me: if we put Zelophehad's death in the first two years and the entire narrative of his daughters in the 40th, wouldn't they already be in their 40's and 50's at least? Did they remain unmarried through all this time? Why are the Gileadites so worried about their fertility in Ch. 36? However, if they approach Moses amid the Sinai census (and merely return now in the 40th year, cf. Joshua 17), soon after the Korah incident, the chronology works much better.

In essence, I am arguing that the Korah incident occurs, chronologically, in the end of Exodus, while the Tabernacle is under construction. (Note that "the entrance to the Tent of Meeting" is called that even while construction is still ongoing, Ex. 38:8.) Essentially, Moses promises the world to the Levites in order to put down the Golden Calf insurrection (hey, that was today!), and it's not surprising that Korah, as well as some other Levites and prominent Israelites, would resent the fact that Aaron, who made the Calf, is the one to receive the privileges of priesthood. This somewhat sullies the themes of redemption and repentance in Exodus, and the death of Korah and his men is in any case overshadowed by the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, who do something very similar, but have good reason to think they might get away with it. However, the middle of Numbers is a great place to insert Korah, as Datan and Abiram invoke his martyrdom in "the tabernacle of Korah, Datan and Abiram"--yet another honest man struck down by Moses' arrogance, in their view. This even gets a mention in this week's portion, 26:9-11.

Does this approach work, or is the fasting getting to me?

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Balak, Hitler, Lapid

by @azigra

The Chardedi propoganda machine is in full effect, I received this email from a friend last night:

I almost threw my siddur at the guest Rabbi speaking from the pulpit this past week in the Agudah of Highland Park. Visiting from Israel, Shmuel Bloom, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America, had the following outright outrageous remarks for the audience. He started by comparing Balak, king of Moav, to Hitler. OK, this part of the speech was not terrible, they both wanted to dehumanize and kill the Jews, but then he totally lost any semblance of sanity. 
Are you ready for this (and I'm sure you know what's coming)? Then R' Bloom went on to say that we have our modern day Balak and Hitler today in Israel doing the same thing to us. They are trying to dehumanize us by calling us parasites. They are trying to pull us all out of the Beis Medrash . . . .

How does he have the gall to compare Lapid to Hitler. Has Lapid even scratched one Charaidi Jew, let alone 6 million? Is the army, in Bloom's eyes, comparable to gas chambers?

Aside from a friend of mine who was livid, the rest of Shul sat there impressed by his somewhat charismatic speech. What a shame.
And here is a heart-wrenching video showing what the Zionists are doing to the Jews in Israel:

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Have you heard the one about the Jewish girl who cared so much for modesty she pinned her dress to her leg so that her body would not be exposed as a horse dragged her to her death? Or, what about the Jewish man who was forced to run a gauntlet, but turned back, and wrote his own death sentence, after one of the blows knocked his hat off? As the girl would not allow her leg to be exposed, the man would not go forward with his head uncovered. He went back to retrieve his hat and died for his trouble.

I've heard both stories told in various contexts. Sometimes, these poor Jews are victims of the Nazis. In other tellings the Cossacks or Crusaders are their oppressors. I've even heard the stories told - one or the other - by rabbis who claim to have heard them from first--hand witnesses. Once, someone swore to me that he personally knew the girl with the pin.

Always, the man and the women are held-up as Jewish role models, worthy of our admiration.Several times, I've heard the story of the pin retold to Jewish teenagers, who were then bidden to be as modest as the girl was.

Well, let's slow down, I say.

First of all, neither the man nor the woman ever lived. Their sufferings weren't witnessed by anyone, and no one knew them personally. Both are characters in a Y.L Peretz story called Three Gifts. Anyone using these characters  to inspire other Jews should know they are fictional creations invented by an atheist story-teller.

Second, what's so wonderful about what they did? We're not commanded to cover our heads. That's custom, not law. I doubt any posek would say death is preferable to being bareheaded. So the man held up as a hero is in fact a sinner, someone who failed at the mitzvah of protecting his own life at all cost.  The same might be said about the girl who pinned her hem to her leg. We aren't allowed to wound ourselves on purpose.

Finally, a small criticism of our culture. The story is called Three Gifts. The second gift was the pin used by the girl to attach her dress to her legs. The third gift was the hat the doomed man died to recover. And the first gift? What was it? A few specks of dirt from Israel. In the story, a man died to protect a canister of Israeli soil that he had intended for his grave. His dirt was the first gift.

I'll let the reader decide why our scolds and moralists love the story of the girl's modesty and the boy's kippa, but never see fit to share the story of the man who died from his love for the land of Israel.

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A joke for Rabbi Purzansky

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because it had a greivance against God and Torah. I mean duh.

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These are some of the tweets I published this morning.

I feel like doing something for God and bringing additional holiness to the world. Maybe I'll stand on the street and shout at an 8 year old. #haredilogic

Maybe I'll prove my culture is superior and worth preserving by slandering an MK and rioting in the streets #haredilogic

Maybe I'll prove my great respect for women and their superior sanctity by greeting them with violence whenever they try to do any little thing I don't like #haredilogic

Maybe I'll prove learning Torah solves every problem and protect us from every misfortune by abandoning the bes medrash for a protest rally held under the banner of "Learning Torah solves every problem." #haredilogic

In ye days of olde, we had blog games here at DovBear. Remember? Anyone? In any case, this is an opportunity to play. Add your own #haredilogic in the comments.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How sad: Steven Pruzansky's war against women continues

Steven Pruzansky's war against women continues: (in the comments of his most recent post). He writes: 
How sad when women do not realize that their role in the home is superior and more important that the man’s role in public.
How do men find the nerve to repeat this condescending twaddle? Aren't they shamed by the inanity of it? If the role of women is so superior, why does no man want it? Why isn't Rabbi Pruzansky - or any other Rabbi for that matter - advocating for the chance to stay at home, cut off from the world, stripped of any voice in communal affairs, raising children? If its so superior, why isn't its superiority apparent? Why is this superiority obvious only to those, like Pruzansky, who adduce it solely for the purpose of telling other people what to do.
Indeed. I have been fortunate in that I have been surrounded my entire life by happy women, who love the Torah, women’s role and their lives. They have no grievances against the Torah, which is to say they have no grievances against the Creator. For me, that is a blessing. For them, as well.
Remember yesterday when I pointed out that Pruzansky has the maddening habit of accusing his opponents of being anti-Torah? Well, here he does it again. What can we do to make Pruzansky realize that it isn't the Torah or the Creator that has banned women from participating in communal life? That decision was made by men, ancient men, who took their own superiority for granted. The grievance, therefore, isn't against Torah or the Creator but against the men who interpret it in their own interest.

Later he says this to another commenter:
Hmmm, sounds like you have grievances against the Torah. Perhaps a man-made religion will suit you better, or, even better than that, maybe probe your tradition a little deeper, lose the feminist ideology that emanates from a foreign source, and you will happily learn how God carved out different modes of worship for men and women, because – shockingly – men and women are different.

It is a shame when women feel that the only mode of worshipping God that is meaningful to them is mimicking that of men.

Does that sound like misogyny? Sounds more like feminism gone awry.

In short, women need ordination like fish need a bicycle.

Let's note for the record the serious sins he commits here:
  1. Again he is declaring that anyone who disagrees with him is anti-Torah. How convenient it must be for Pruz that his every thought is perfectly in keeping with God's will
  2. Again, he displays no awareness that Judaism, in the main,  is also man-made. Though we agree that Judaism started with a revelation, ever since men have been at work interpreting the Scripture and applying the laws. This is a creative work. The halachic process isn't a game of telephone; rather its a process of men using their intellect and imaginations, and yes, also their prejudices and personal perspectives, to create solutions and approaches for navigating the world.  
  3. Again, he presumes anyone who disagrees with him is insufficiently educated, which is ironic when you think about it. Many people have learned as much as he has - or more - without reaching the same conclusions he did.
  4. He says that its a "shame" that women are trying to mimic men, but what other modes of worship are available to a pious women who wishes to pray? Its not feminism that inspires a women to pray, so why assume that its feminism that inspires her to imitate the only modes of worship she's been taught arelegitimate? 
  5. What does he mean when he says God carved out different modes of worship? The prayers were composed by men. The times for prayer were established by men. Women are required to pray and the benefits of praying with a minyan are available to women, too. Is Pruzansky ignorant of all this? What is a woman's "mode of worship? The fact that men like Pruzansky have bullied women into thinking they have no place at a weekday minyan is a tragedy. In my own neighborhood, most women stay home from shul on shabbos, too, and I lay the blame for this, as well, at the feet of men like Pruzansky. 

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Impale Sunlight

A guest post by Y. Bloch

There is much to discuss in the fascinating denouement of this week's Torah portion, Numbers 25:1-9, but I am particularly intrigued by the middle verses (4-6):

The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the heads of the people and impale them before the sun to the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.” And behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought close to his brothers a Midianitess, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the Children of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
To whom does the phrase "and impale them" (ve-hoka otam) refer? Every commentator I have seen, from Rashi, Rashbam and ibn Ezra to Daat Miqra, understands it as referring to the unnamed sinners. Indeed, this is the conclusion of the Talmud (Sanhedrin 35a). Some translations insert this interpretation as well, from the New Living Translation's egregious "Seize all the ringleaders and execute them" (imparting some sort of pejorative meaning to the totally innocuous term roshei ha-am, heads of the people) to the Living Torah's unwieldy "'Take the people's leaders, and [have them] impale [the idolators] publicly," a sentence with enough brackets to hold up all the bookshelves in my den. According to this view, God tells them to convene courts, and Moses transmits this.

I find it amazing that the masters of peshat unanimously embrace this approach. It verges on the comical to imagine in the midst of a plague rounding up numerous judges, clerks, bailiffs, witnesses, etc. The Talmud itself, before it gets into the hermeneutics, has a working assumption that seems undeniable in the text, asking "If the people sinned, how did the people's heads sin?" Clearly, in this view, God is ordering Moses to publicly execute the leaders. (Indeed, the term "impaling" only shows up one other time in Scripture, in the punishment of Saul and his family for the crimes committed against the Gibeonites, II Samuel 21). This is indicated not only by the immediate antecedent in v. 4, but the fact that there has been no plural noun used as yet. "Israel" sins (in the singular), and the term "Children of Israel" only pops up in v. 6. It seems that Moses fails to execute God's command, the judges (who are identified as heads of the nation when appointed in Exodus and Deuteronomy) fail to execute Moses' command, and the plague is not halted until Phineas does exactly what God initially ordered: he runs a tribal leader through. (As we learn below, Kozbi's father has a similar title as well.)    
This reading only gains more power when we consider that the "officers of hundreds and officers of thousands," along with Phineas, play a prominent role in the war with Midian (Numbers 31). These are the senior judges, the "heads" or "chiefs" described in both Ex. 18 and Deut. 1. They, more than anyone, should feel a need to expiate their sin, or "to atone for our lives," as they put it. 


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What exactly do you want- those who oppose the advancement of women in Judaism?


I am wondering what it is they want exactly- those who oppose the advancement of women in Judaism. I am trying to understand where exactly they think things are going to end up.

I'll give you a hint. The constant restraining hand, the 'that's far enough' held against women in Orthodox Judaism is going to backfire.

We are educated, modern, professional. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, consultants. Our opinions are respected and sought out- both professionally and personally. We add tremendous value to the world and to society. (Lest you think this does not apply to the Charedi camp where women work but are not necessarily in these professions- how long do think you can tell them to go out and work and support the family, be in the public eye and advance- but only so far?)

But, when it comes to spiritual and religious matters, we are relegated to 'behind the mechitza', depending on the community our photos aren't shown, and when it comes to our most personal matters we are expected to ask a man... because women can't 'pasken'. 

Recognizing the serious repercussions on women and family life, the significant discomfort that women feel having to discuss their most intimate matters with a man, the Yoetzet Halacha was created. Women took back those intimate issues that had always been theirs before the mother- daughter tradition was lost over time. 

"BUT WAIT", they were told. 

'You can't pasken. Yes, you know the answers. Yes, you know the laws. Yes, you learned the materials inside and out- more in depth than most 'Rabbis', but, well, you are female and its not been done before (at least not in the box we have created- and dammit it makes us uncomfortable!) and so you must ask a man for his stamp of approval.' 

And now, the Maharats- 'Orthodox women spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities who are experts in Jewish law, Talmud, Bible, Jewish Thought', have graduated. And the fire and brimstone has ensued.

And I'd like to know why. What is so very threatening about a woman who knows whats what and is able to confidently tell those who come to her for advice what they can or should do? What is the issue here?

And if you want to tell me it is against Halacha, be prepared to back it up.

But lets step out of the halacha argument for a moment. You want to talk about the continuity of the Jewish 'mesorah'? The way things have always been done?

I'll do one better. 

Let's discuss the continuity of the Jewish people. 

How long do you think the Jewish people will last, will continue to thrive and grow, if you hold half of them back? How strong will our nation be if you tell the majority they can only go so far?    How long do you think we will accept the limitations you place because of your fear of 'slippery slopes' and other nonsense?

We are talking about women who respect, love and honor Torah. We are talking about those who CHOOSE to live within and uphold the restrictions that Judaism provides. They are not looking to change Torah --only to be a part of it.  You cannot prevent this anymore than you can stop time- and you shouldn't want to.

Education for girls was rejected as heresy but is now mainstream. 
Yoetzot Halacha were given great resistance and are now highly regarded.
And both only add honor, prestige and depth to the Jewish people.

So, I ask again. What exactly is your aim here? Who are you 'protecting' and who are you 'protecting' it from?  

Take a sincere and hard look at your motivations and your goals. I think you may find- if you can be objective- that may not be L'shem Shamayim. 

The Timeless Man of Faith

by @azigra

From the printed on paper new-source Yeshiva World News comes this report:

"HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita gives many people a bracha and advice when they visit with him seeking just that. The rav also frequently requests that they accept upon themselves something to uplift themselves spiritually, such as growing a beard and peyos. It appears that of late, Rav Kanievsky has also instructed people seeking his bracha not to wear a wristwatch to avoid “לא ילבש”. He points out that the Chazon Ish and his father, the Steipler, did not wear wristwatches because of the prohibition.
Longtime talmidim of Rav Chaim are quoted as saying this is not news, explaining they have been familiar with the rav’s position regarding a wristwatch. 
Clark Gable  in 'Gone
with the Wind'  with
pocket watch
Kikar Shabbat adds that last week, Rav Kanievsky was shown photos in which Rav Shach ZT”L and Rav Elyashiv ZT”L were wearing watches. Rav Kanievsky reportedly responded explaining that he too used to wear one until he received reliable eidus from Maran Chazon Ish that it is prohibited."

1) It seems we finally have an explanation for why the Charedim oppose joining the IDF: soldiers must were
watches and this will threaten their faith.

2) How many weeks till we see a Kosher Pocket Watch ad? Or rabbinically approved wristwatches?

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Lipman and the lies Haredim keep telling about him

Dov Lipman accuses Haredi columnist Jonathan Rosenblum of telling several lies in this article. You can read and judge for yourself, of course, but I think the evidence is with Lipman

Leaving aside, for a moment, the merits of each side and their arguments, the way that the Haredim, Rosenblum included, have conducted themselves in this dispute - by engaging in riots, slanders, lies, etc -- ought to be enough to convince any sensible person that something in their culture is broken.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pruzansky vs the Open Orthodox Jews: Part 1

This won't be the full treatment this topic deserves as I am short on time, but because I did promise the Facebook Society of DovBear Bashers that I'd elaborate on my disdain for Rabbi Pruzansky's latest fussilade, I present this abridged fisking.

Leading off we have this aside, made in reference to Nechama Leibowitz:

And she did not live with grievances against the Torah.

Pruz phrases it this way because he very much wants you to think that his opponents are unworthy of respect because they are carrying grievances against the Torah. Well, I'm calling him on it. The subjects of Pruz's piece aren't carrying a grievance against the Torah. Rather, they are opposed to one particular school of thought, one particular set of interpretations. We who think Judaism will be enhanced if women are given more respect and more opportunities to express themselves religiously and/or to serve the klal are opposed only to narrow-minded misogynists, their fallacious interpretations, and their mean-spirited teachings. We have no problem with the Torah itself.

This isn't the first time Pruz has tried to say that people who disagree with him (or people who expose his errors) are "anti Torah". Its a longstanding habit of his. See here

Following a mischaracterization of various statements alleged to have been made by members of the Open Orthodoxy movement, we arrive at another choice Pruzansky nugget

(Generally, the New York Times’ editorial page is a reliable indicator –if not the source – of the social perspectives and views of this camp, but that is a different discussion.)

Pruz, on the other hand, takes his cues from the far more prestigious Rush Limbough show. Here, for example, is a Pruzansky sermon that was lifted almost point for point from one of Rush's monologues

Also, I don't think its a coincidence that Pruz's views on abortion, feminism, immigration, homosexuality, and evolution track almost perfectly with the positions expressed by Evangelical groups like Focus on the Family. If you want to know what Pruz thinks about almost any social issue, you can check with your local churchman for a reliable preview. Now to be fair, I don't think that either Pruz or his opponents are deliberately modeling their styles of Judaism on Christianity or the New York Times . But I also wouldn't say that they haven't been influenced to some degree by the world around them. We don't live in vacuums. However, what I can't stand is Pruz's fantasy that his style of Judaism alone is unaffected by the Zeitgeist (and this is a fantasy shared by other conservative Rabbis like Avi Shafran and Yaakov Menken)

Next, Pruz wants to know why none of his fellow Orthodox rabbis has been willing to challenge the Open Orthodoxy movement or to publicly disagree with them. The main take-away from this is that Pruz doesn't read Sarfran and Menken (or perhaps he doesn't consider them Orthodox Rabbis?) But as an aside, I'll note that Open Orthodoxy isn't the first orthodox reform movement to meet little opposition. The same Orthodox Rabbis who today say nothing when Open Orthodoxy embraces new roles for women, also said nothing when other Orthodox reformers made kolel universal. They were similarly silent while Lubovitch messianism took root and while mainstream Judaism followed Charedi Judaism into two new intellectual models, namely, fundamentalism and willful ignorance about the world.

I am not sure why Judaism acquiesced to these reforms. Perhaps, as Pruzansky suggests, our Rabbis merely wanted to avoid strife. Or perhaps they are simply cowards, unlike Pruzansky who may be too cowardly to allow un-moderated comments on his blog, but certainly isn't afraid to share his decidedly conservative thoughts with his decidedly conservative congregation and other decidedly conservative New York and New Jersey Jews.

More later I hope. I really do wish I had more time.

The Brilliance of Rashi on Numbers 20:15

וַיֵּרְדוּ אֲבֹתֵינוּ מִצְרַיְמָה וַנֵּשֶׁב בְּמִצְרַיִם יָמִים רַבִּים וַיָּרֵעוּ
לָנוּ מִצְרַיִם וְלַאֲבֹתֵינוּ

Anyone who doubts Rashi's colossal skill as a reader and translator, would be well-advised to review his comment on the verse above, Numbers 20:15. But before we get to Rashi's take, let's first review how some of the other great translators read this verse :
How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers - KJV 
In what manner our fathers went down into Egypt, and there we dwelt a long time, and the Egyptians afflicted us and our fathers. - Douay-Rheims Bible 
Our fathers went down to Egypt and we dwelled in Egypt many years, and the Egyptians did evil to us and to our fathers - Robert Alter
All very straightforward, and clear, right? Now, look at Rashi:

Our fathers went down to Egypt and we dwelled in Egypt many years, and the Egyptians did evil to us and to our Forefathers (ie Abraham, Issac and Jacob) 

Rashi, of course, doesn't translate entire verses in the way Alter or the King James version do, but we can often tell from Rashi's commentary how he's chosen to read a particular verse.

The passage I've bolded above shows how I presume Rashi understood the verse based on his comment on Numbers 20:15 which I have reproduced below:

and our forefathers: From here [we learn] that when Israel is afflicted with punishment, the Patriarchs grieve in the grave. - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 12, Num. Rabbah 19:15] ולאבותינו: מכאן שהאבות מצטערים בקבר, כשפורענות באה על ישראל:

The temptation is to write this off as a fanciful interpretation. However, I believe this strange reading is actually as straightforward as the translations I cited first, and perhaps does a better job of capturing the literal intent of the verse. 

Avigdor Bonchek shows that Rashi has caught two things:
  1. The word order is wrong. "The Egyptians did evil to us and to our fathers." Chronologically, the Egyptians would have done evil to our fathers prior to hurting us. The suggestion that the Patriarchs grieve only after we have been harmed solves this problem.
  2. The vocalization of the word "v'la'avoseinu" suggests that the fathers this verse has in mind are specific and particular fathers. The patach under the lamed indicates a define article, so the last part of the verse should be read "to THE fathers." This tells us that the fathers spoken about here are not ordinary and generic ancestors, but specific fathers, namely the Patriarchs.
The only place Bonchek errs (and you can read his piece here)  is in his suggestion that Rashi intends this as a drash. I disagree for two reasons. 

First, as Bonchek tells us himself Rashi is responding to a specific grammatical cue. The vocalization of the verse tells him that words mean "To THE fathers" Though there may be some element of drash (by which I mean interpretation) in his decision that THE fathers are the patriarchs, and not some other well known set of ancestors --like the Shevatim, for instance-- the pshat  is what told him that specific fathers were intended. 

Second, Rashi did not consider himself a darshan. Though he will at times cite a drash he almost always introduces it with a formula like "And our Rabbis darshaned as follows." Even when he does this, he almost always provides the pshat first and only introduces a drash when there is some shortcoming in the pshat.  

On Numbers 20:15 Rashi offers only one reading. Typically, when Rashi offers just one reading, that reading is what he understands to be the pshat.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why the Chief Rabbi's latest essay about atheism was terrible

Coyne has already done an excellent job explaining why Chief Rabbi Sack's latest article is a fetid mess, so this will be short. (Before starting, I do want to say that, much as I like Coybe's rebuttal, I do think he was wrong to say the rabbi is an "ignorant fool". Clearly he's a bright, knowledgable man, only bright knowledgable men sometimes write terrible essays. That is what happened here.)

My real quarral with CRS's essay is that its grasp of history is so poor. He seems to have forgotten that, in its purest, undistillied, "authentic" form, European Christiniaty was a force for evil, not good. It kept people stupid and locked in ignorance. It compelled people to embrace falsehoods, and it punished those who tried to investigate the universe and share what they found. It's no accident that Europe began to move forward only as its reliance on religion became weaker. European Christiantiy kept people poor, stupid, and without the knowledge they needed to cure diseases or to live rich and fulfilling lives. That began to improve only as the faith of Europe faltered.

The Jews, of course, had it worst of all in Christian Europe, but CRS seems not to know this either. He writes, "Lose the Judeo-Christian sanctity of life and there will be nothing to contain the evil men do when given the chance and the provocation." Really? Weren't Jews murdered in Europe before Europe lost the so-called "Judeo-Christian sanctity of life"? During the era of crusades, and pogroms, and libels, and ghetoos, and expulsions, and inquisitions, the people of Europe were entirely loyal to their faith, yet it didn't do much to make our lives any safer or any better. Given the "chance and the provocation" much evil was perpetrated by religious men. So why does CRS  worry that the loss of that faith might make things worse?

In fact, one can reasonably argue that secular Europe values life more than religious Europe did. Nowadays, every European city has several major hospitals, and life-saving, and life lengthening health care is provided by the government as an inalienable right. Poor people are fed, housed and given medicine. Children aren't permitted to work in factories, nor can they be abused by their parents and teachers. Slavery has been eradicated. Wars are fought less often, and when they are fought greater care is taken to preserve the lives of both civilians and soldiers. Secular Europe has no more stomach for war, in part, because they are tired of coffins. So which society had a greater appreciation of the sanctity of life? The faithful society that allowed these horrors, or the faithless society that works to prevent them?

CRS concludes his piece by arguing that only moderate expressions of religion like (surprise) his own can successfully combat fundamentalism, but again he's forgotten the history of Europe. European fundamentalism - the fundamentalism that led to ghettos, and witch trials, and the execution of free-thinkers and the suppression of books, etc. - wasn't defeated when it was exposed to more moderate forms of religion. It was defeated by secularism. Secularism - specifically the winning arguments made by secularists - is what ultimately forced the churches to revise their teachings, temper their dogmas, and dispose of what was hateful and dangerous in their doctrines. Were it not for the success of secularism, Jews would still be in ghettos, wearing yellow stars, and banned from universities and from the polls. (It was the Church that did this to us, first. Hitler merely restored the status quo) Men like Galileo would still be confined to house arrest, their ideas banned, their books burned. Secularism changed all that and just as it ultimately won its long, hard-fought battle with fundamentalist European Christianity, it will yet win the fight with fundamentalist Islam.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013


Only a very stupid or narrow minded person would say that we're less moral today than we were a century ago. Sure, gay people have rights, and I suppose that's a scandal, and all, but so do women and black people. Isn't that an improvement? Also, kids don't work 18 hour days in dangerous factories, and we don't allow poor people to die in filth. We're slower to go to war, and when we do we are more careful with human life. That all speaks to our improved morality, does it not?

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rabbi David Hollander's Legacy

Over at the Yated Ne'eman Rabbi Pinny Lipschutz has bravely decided to criticize the gedolim. While making clear he respects their scholarship, he takes issue with problematic aspects of their leadership, and makes constructive recommendations for what the haredi world can do to improve on itself without blaming all of its problems on outside forces.

I'm just kidding. He's attacking the RCA again. Pinny thinks the RCA should condemn the Women of the Wall for "provocation" and condemns them for inviting Dov Lipman to speak to their convention. I'll leave addressing said charges to others, but what I found interesting was that R' Lipschutz chooses to utilize the Synagogue Council of America controversy -- which I've written about -- in order to frame the RCA in his narrative, and I wanted to shortly look at how he does it.

R' Lipschutz tells us how R' David Hollander in the 1950's "understood that certain aspects of halacha were not negotiable. He was ready to fight for the integrity of halacha and he did." We're told that he did this by fighting to get the RCA out of the interdenominational Synagogue Council. He didn't expect the fierce Modern Orthodox opposition to his move, we are told. After all, a psak had been issued by the leading gedolim, and who was the RCA to disagree? R' Hollander was "vilified and ostracized" for his brave stance. My understanding is that Pinny means to criticize the RCA for being too accommodationist towards the heterodox and ignoring the decisions of the gedolim today.

The trouble of course is that this story isn't true. The gedolim did not issue a psak halacha per se, but a Daas Torah proclamation. As I detail as meticulously as I can in fn. 26 of my essay on this topic, the Rav was quietly but firmly opposed to this proclamation and R' Eliezer Silver, a founding cochair of the Moetzes, saw it for what it was: an unwarranted attack on the RCA's autonomy to have their own poskim (in particular, the Rav) issue decisions. Indeed, this is the first American incident that I am aware of where Daas Torah is utilized to delegitimize another gadol. R' Hollander was indeed vilified and ostracized; he also brought it on himself. He regarded himself as "a rebel against the established trend of the [RCA], which was modern orthodoxy" and in that role went to various gedolim (including the Rav's uncle) to get them to pressure the Rav; he snuffed that he couldn't respect the Rav as authority due to the latter's "inability or unwillingness to take a clear stand one way or the other" and instead regarded himself as an "eved ne'eman" to Kotler. If Hollander didn't expect social repercussions for his rebellious attempts to pressure the halachic leader of the organization he was president of, he was being silly. This wasn't about clear-cut halacha, but a position regarding the heterodox, and Hollander wanting to enforce his opinion on the RCA, which was following the Rav.

Surely Pinny, known over the years for his strenuous defenses of the gedolei yisrael, would want an organization to follow its gadol and not play Salad Bar Judaism by trying to go pressure him with opinions from other rabbis...What could be more disrespectful to a gadol, right? But then, Pinny writes at the end of his article, Orthodox Jews must (emphasis mine) "show proper deference to the roshei yeshiva who represented the lion’s share of gedolei Yisroel and leading poskim of that time." In other words, to Pinny, it's not about what your gadol says, but our gedolim. Your gadol can't make his own decisions, only theirs can, because they have more. This majoritarian method of social control is a great means of enforcing one's will on a group while actually not respecting individual gedolim who themselves say you don't have to follow said social control (e.g. R' Silver, The Rav). And that, not halacha, is Hollander's true legacy to Pinny and his chevra.

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From Zin to Zered

A guest post by Yoseif (Yossie) Bloch:

As this is my first guest post here, I would like to thank DovBear for the opportunity to offer an opposing perspective. Yesterday, he shared on Facebook a post of his from 2 cycles ago ( about the nature of Moshe's sin. Let's look at the central argument:  
What I mean by this is perhaps Moshe, as he stood at the rock, stick in hand, was unable to see the people for what they were.

Instead of recognizing that the people in front of him were the children and grandchildren of the nation that had sinned so many times during the first eventful year in the desert, Moshe treated them as if they were their own parents.
Cogent, concise and compelling--predicated, of course, on the assumption that Moshe is addressing the new generation (G2), that the generation which left Egypt (G1) is dead. This, of course, is what we were all taught, based on Rashi's famous comment on Num. 20:1, "Then the entire congregation of Israelites entered the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there." Rashi comments: "'The entire congregation'--the complete congregation, for the ones destined to die in the desert had already died and these were assigned for life." The source for this is Midrash Tanhuma (Hukkat 37), and thus it turns out that all of those condemned must have died by the last day of year 39. (The Ramban notes that the phrasing "the entire congregation" is far from unusual and offers his own explanation; indeed, the phrase appears more than two dozen times in this book alone.) 

It is not clear if Rashi here is presenting an alternative to what he writes in his Talmudic commentary. On BT Taanit 30b, he quotes the Jerusalem Talmud (Taanit 3:7), which describes the annual grave-digging ceremony on the 9th of Av: in year 40, no one died, so the last time G1 men died would have been 9 Av, 39, eight months before G2 arrived at Kadesh.

The problem is that this seems to directly contradict an explicit passage in Deuteronomy (2:14-16):

Now the length of time it took for us to go from Kadesh Barnea to the crossing of Wadi Zered was thirty-eight years, time for all the military men of that generation to die, just as the Lord had vowed to them. Indeed, it was the very hand of the Lord that eliminated them from within the camp until they were all gone. So it was after all the military men had been eliminated from the community.
This passage unequivocally identifies Wadi Zered as the Jewish Rubicon, the line between G1 and G2. When do the Jews cross Wadi Zered? Not in year 39, but in year 40!

From there they moved on and camped in Wadi Zered. (Num. 21:12)

Note that Aharon dies on 1 Av (33:38), and the Jews spend a full month mourning him (20:29). They would be crossing Wadi Zered sometime in the summer of year 40, about six or fourteen months after the Midrashic dates.

Moreover, this tidbit fits in beautifully with the picture given to us in Hukkat. Just three stops before Wadi Zered, we have the final episode in which the people resent the Exodus (21:5): “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread or water, and we detest this worthless food!" It is almost identical to the complaint at Mei Meribah, which motivates Moshe to call them "rebels" (20:5): "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to bring us to this dreadful place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink!” These are classic G1 complaints.

So how are we supposed to react to this? Certainly, intra-Midrashic contradictions are nothing new; they are not really contradictions, but differing opinions. Similarly, we often find the Midrash altering our view of the text by adding elements that are not written in it. However, in this case, the Midrash is actively sidelining the simple meaning of the text. Are we to ignore it? Is Deuteronomy irrelevant when discussing Numbers? Is Masei irrelevant when discussing Hukkat? I've been puzzling over this for 15 years, but perhaps the DovBear community has a solution.   

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Everyone’s A Slave…

“You’re either a slave to Hashem or you’re a slave to your taivos.” How many times have we heard that? Most recently from our friend amos. It's one of the standard kiruv sound bites, and is a particularly grating one. It sounds profound, is meant to suggest that no one can be free, and that, as long as we’re all slaves, being a slave to God is better than being a slave to our desires. I think it’s time to put this banal assertion to rest.

Before I get to deconstructing the logic of the claim, here’s something funny. I wanted to find out where the idea comes from, so I typed “a slave to god or a slave to your desires” into Google. The first result is a passage from the New Testament, Romans 6:16-18:

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

I went through a few pages of results and tried variations of the search phrase, and it really seems that this idea comes from the New Testament. How funny that Rebbonim and Roshei Yeshiva are giving mussar shmusen based on something written by the apostle Paul!

The claim itself is a false dichotomy. It suggests that there are only two choices. Either one does as Hashem commands, or one is a slave to his “taivos,”  which literally mean “desires” but in this context means “base desires:” pleasure, money, power, etc. As someone recently pointed out, even if it’s true that everyone is a slave to something, why would it have to be base desires? Someone could be a slave to his compassion, or his sense of justice, to caring for his family or to improving his community.

Hidden in the claim is another sound bite, the often-heard canard that without God, there is no morality, so of course if one doesn't enslave himself to God he will be overwhelmed by his base desires.  It’s not true that without God there’s no morality, but, more importantly, the notion that if someone isn't a slave to God he’ll be only concerned with fulfilling his base desires is demonstrably false. It’s just not true that non-religious people’s lives are non-stop orgies.

The corollary is also not true. Religious people are not free of their desires by virtue of being religious. There are religious people who are overwhelmed by their base drives. The idea is that you must be a slave to something; being a slave to your base desires is bad; so be a slave to God, which will prevent you from being enslaved by your desires. Yet one can be a slave to God AND a slave to his desires, so what is gained by being a slave to God?

In addition to being a false dichotomy, it also uses an equivocation fallacy. Being a slave to an intelligent Being and being a “slave” to your desires is not the same thing. Webster defines “slave” as:

1 : a person held in servitude as the chattel of another
2 : one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence

Neither is a  good situation to be in, but the first one is worse. Someone who is a slave to his desires may have serious problems, may even destroy his life, but he can, in theory, overcome his difficulties and regain control. Someone who is chattel is no longer someone in control of his own fate. He is property, just a thing to be used as his master sees fit.

I’m thinking about going through all the kiruv sound bites like this, and then create an index. Here's a short list:

  • You’re either a slave to Hashem or you’re a slave to your taivos.
  • Without Hashem, everything is hefker (there’s no morality without God).
  • There are no questions, only answers.
  • Our grandparents died for their beliefs.
  • You think you're smarter than (insert brilliant Rav here). [tesyaa]

And maybe some of the proofs?:

  • There’s an unbroken mesorah.
  • Our sifrie Torah are exactly the same as ones that are hundreds of years old / the same as what was handed to Moshe on Har Sinia,
  • The Kuzari.
  • The four-animal proof.
  • The longevity of the religion [Ksil] 
  • the mass belief in its tenants (i.e. muslims and Christians ALSO believe in the old testament [Ksil] 

Any more?

Cross-posted from my blog

What was Moses's sin?

This week Moshe commits some unforgivable sin, and is banned from entering the promised land. But what did he do wrong? The nature of Moshe's sin is the source of much controversy among the big names.

- Rashi, recycling an aggada first found in Sifrei, says Moshe's mistake was hitting the rock instead of speaking to it.

- Ramban gives Rashi what comes across as a condescending pat on the head (There, there. What a nice aggada.) before asking: "If he wasn't supposed to hit the rock, why did God tell him to take the staff?" In the view of the Ramban Moshe sinned when he said "can we get water from this rock?" This made it seem like the miracle would be done through his own powers, and not by the hand of God. (Hasidic Rabbis who perform mofsim are hereby put on notice)

- Rambam in Shemonah Perakim says Moshe sinned by getting angry, and thereby suggesting to the people that God was angry when He was not. The Ramban thinks this suggestion is "vanities on top of vanities" i.e. a lousy answer in the extreme.

- Ibn Ezra goes a little Kabbalistic, and says some things about Moshe and his prayerful concentration before concluding the the sin was hitting the rock twice instead of once. Ramban's reaction to this answer brings to mind Nelson Muntz (Hah-Ha!)

- Abravanel is a bit more polite then the Ramban as he goes through the pros and cons of ten possible sins, all expertly weighed and considered by Josh Waxman here. (scroll down)

- Shadal, reacting to all of this, has the best line. He says: "Moshe Rabbenu only sinned one sin, but the commentators burdened upon him 13 sins and more, for each one invented of his own heart a new sin." (saw it on Josh's blog)

No disrespect to the medieval commentators (who, as you know, I adore) but they're late to the party. Often, the earliest commentators can tell us more about how the verses were first understood. One such early commentator, usually left unconsidered when the various interpretations of Moshe's sin are reviewed, is the opinion of King David. He, also, was a bible commentator, and his commentary can be found in the Book of Psalms when Biblical events are described. Tehillim 106 mentions Moshe's sin, and describes it his way (KJV): They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes; Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

How do you read this? Josh says it means the Psalmist thought Moshe sinned by become angry.

So score one for Rambam?

Yair Lapid Joke - REVISED

If you're a Jew with email you've gotten this message at least thirty times:

Yair Lapid and the Pope were meeting. The Pope said to Lapid, “I hope you don’t take offense that I’m wearing this cross.”

Lapid answered, “Not at all. But I do take offense that you’re wearing a yarmulke.”

Hahahah! Hysterical right? Only I think the joke works even better like this:

Yair Lapid and the Pope were meeting. The Pope said to Lapid, “I hope you don’t take offense that I’m wearing this cross.”

Lapid answered, “Not at all. But I do take offense at how your power rests solely on myth and superstition and at how you sit on a throne of gold paid for with the sweat of other people

Sunday, June 09, 2013


by @azigra 

Members of the Satmar community gathered in NYC today to protest the founding of something which has been founded for 70 years already. Apparently they still believe the vote is ongoing at the United Nations; don't tell them or you'll spoil their fabricated victim-hood which might corrupt their delicate system. 

"Satmar" is a portmanteau for Saint Marie, as this sect is believed to descend from Saint Marie Magdaline, wife of Jesus Christ. And just like in Islam there are the Sunnis and Shiites, in Satmar there are Zalis and Aronies. Each one believes something or other about Jesus Christ with these difference often leading to violence. 

It's hard to explain the mentality of these Satmars, since despite this rally, they don't really care about today's particular issues, they just hate Israel. This current political debate is just something they can use to protest Israel like they've been doing for decades. It is also result of the confluence of their said hate for Eretz Israel and with the Chasidish need for excitement and entertainment since they have no other means of experiencing any. Rebbes, Hasidic leaders, realize they need to keep the men fat and happy, so they host huge gatherings of people to watch them eat dinner, they organize exceptionally large weddings, they wear Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoats like they are in a Broadway show (they are in an off off Broadway show), they roll their eyes back into their heads while they hum a tune, and they wave their hands and dance for the people's amusement and enjoyment.

Wachtfogel at the podium 

For some reason a fellow who is not Satmar, and not Chasidic by any means attended and spoke at this event. Elya Ber Wachtfogel is the Dean of Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Moshe of South Fallsburg and one of the most "Litvish" people in American rabbinics today. If you can picture a place that is thoroughly anti-chasidic in style, behavior, and thought, it would be this man's school. 

That is why it came as a surprise to me that he spoke there. Was his Daas Torah-dar out of wack? Did he not think a sign such as this (see right) would be found there? I'm not apart of Wachtfogel's community but I belive his community should make him answer and apologize for having taken part in this event. The sign attacks the vice leader of worldwide Lithuanian style Charedi Judaism.  

Lithuanian Jews: Satmars are not your friends, they dont care about you, they are just an extremely powerful and rich lobby who will use and abuse you for their purposes and dispose of you when done. Joel Teitelbam wasnt your friend, he would despise your Lakewood lifestyle. 

Another issue is the media's attention to the fact the Zali and Aroni leaders would both be attending this event. These are two siblings who do not speak to each other because of a fight  over money, real estate, and power Religious leaders, supposedly positions which should be held by the most pious, are filled by petty bickering money and power hungry fascist loons and we're supposed to be impressed that they put aside their petty differences to unite over hatred for other Jews? So the IDF you cant join but to fight in one of the two Satmar armies is permissible? Talk about sick and twisted. 

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Friday, June 07, 2013

How to tell if you are, or are not, a "Korach Blogger"

On Facebook, a friend of mine is recognizing Parshas Korach by re-posting Avi Shafran's famous post in which he says bloggers are Korach.

I think this is a wonderful practice, and I am duplicating it here in the hopes that it catches on.
By Avi Shafran, on June 26th, 2012 
Sneering cynicism. Self-glorification in the guise of advocacy. Ostentatious observance cloaking rank jealousy. “Democracy” in the pursuit of evil ends. Haughtiness pretending to the selfless pursuit of justice and truth. 
What do all those things bring to mind? 
A) The parsha we read on Shabbos.
B) Much of the “Orthodox Jewish” blogosphere. 
Both, you say? You win.  > read the rest
What's that you say? Avi Shafran now has a blog of his own? And not only that, but you say that  for years and years Avi has published articles that consist of "anger, snideness, half-truths, and bald lies attract like-minded people like rancid meat draws flies?"  Well, yes, all true, but that's totally and completely different as anyone with an ounce of yiras shamayim would understand.

I shouldn't have to go to the bother of explaining this to you, but here goes:

Avi, who committed the bulk of his crimes in print, is perhaps a Korach JOURNALIST, and certainly not a Korach BLOGGER. Using bald faced lies and rancid meat writing like Avi has in print for decades is totally kosher. That's Journalism, see, not Blogging. I am guessing that a web site with no comments, like the one Avi currently runs, is also journalism, not blogging.

Moreover, the targets of his Korach Journalism are targets that God himself would choose. We know this because Avi chose them and is it possible that Avi and God wouldn't be on the same page? Come on! You should go and lobotomize the brain that was capable of such a thought!

Look, here's an easy way to tell the difference: If you attack Agudah or Agudah positions you are Korach! Plain and simple and not even a little bit convenient. This is doubly true if your attack permits reader comments. 

However, if you attack anything else, specifically the things Avi attacks, and especially if you don't allow comments, then you are a Righteous and Pure Individual of Superfluous Holiness

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Not Everyone Seemed to Remember Korach and his Rebellion

By David A.

In this week’s Parsha we read about the well-known rebellion of Korach (the Levite) and his cohorts Datan and Avirom..  There's little doubt that during the 40 year desert wanderings, this event was likely the biggest challenge to Moishe’s leadership and authority. and the text is quite clear as to what was Korach’s major complaint. He focused on Moishe’s nepotism, that is he demanded to know why or on whose authority was it that only Moishe’s family were made priests and not anybody else.

My question is: That despite the apparent prominence of this event, why is it that when Moishe in Devarim (Deut. 10:6) is recounting the events of the desert he forgets to mention Korech or even his complaint about the priesthood.

Any suggestions?

Of course, for those of us who maintain that Devarim's position on eligibility for the priesthood was to allow any Levite to be a Kohen (see Deut 10:8 & 18:6), then Korach complaint would be moot. And I'd suggest more,that maybe his part in the rebellion actually never happened.

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