Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peace Sells... ...But Who's Buying?

Hindsight is always 20/20, and you don’t need to be a George Benson fan to understand this. Well, OK, that “always” was an exaggeration, I admit. In fact, I may be the only one to see things this way, but nevertheless I come from the unfair advantage of hindsight. In any event, we should be very careful when saying things that can be construed as criticism of great Talmidey Chachomim, especially about those of prior generations, who were undoubtly very honest, righteous and true leaders.

Tumultuous as Jewish life in Europe already was by the end of the 19th century, nothing compares to the upheavals of post-WWII Jewry. After the spiritual devastation and physical extermination, the Jewish Phoenix slowly started to rise from the ashes, in the USA and Israel. New places, new situations and new challenges faced the old people. Dedicated and determined, Rabbis, communal leaders and laymen worked day and night tirelessly on resurrecting Clal Yisroel. Sadly, what de-facto happened was the establishment of different communities based on leaders’ ideologies and religious tendencies rather than the whole people’s needs. The old factions were resurrected, and the old feuds were replanted.

But following the true teachings and traits of great leaders is not easy; the core ideas gave way to monkeying the external characteristics, which then galvanized into cultish group adherence. Although the protests of many leaders against this trend is well documented, they failed nonetheless, not least because many worked on resurrecting their own community instead of Clal Yisroel as a whole.

As time passed, prosperity rose, and the deep understanding of a Jew’s purpose in this world started to fade, giving way to his identity as part of group X before his identity as a Jew. It is unfair to blame this solely on selfish and childish motives, as great turmoils were still challenging the Jewish people. However, at this point “survival” had a totally different meaning than what it meant a mere decade or two prior. As I mentioned before, I’m coming with the power of hindsight, and by no means claim to be anywhere near the great wisdom and yiras shomayim or the great Gdolim of the previous generation. But I do feel that a great opportunity at reconciliation was lost. Of course, it is nearly inconceivable that Hassidim, Litvaks, Religious Zionists could have been completely synthesized. But far more could have been done to bring the sides closer.

Could the leaders have sat together and try to agree on certain things? On fixing problems common to us all? On some semblance of consensus despite the deep rifts? On mending the cultural gaps? I believe so. So why wasn’t it done? I don’t know. But I do know that Yanky Eisenbach from Meah Shearim will never attend a Jethro Tull concert, Rechavam Shefer from Kibbutz Sa’ad won’t back up on his Zionism, Jim Glickstein from YU will never renege evolution, and Berel Rabinowitz from Ponevezh will never agree to learn less than 18 hours a day. These approaches and ideologies are here, whether we want it or not, whether we agree or not. Ditto for many societal norms. Is there really no end in sight?

Two weeks ago, Ido Zoldan was murdered by Arab terrorists, enabled by Jewish politicians who sell their souls for less than a bowl of lentil stew. We all cried and bled for him. We all felt the pain of his wife and children. But until two weeks ago, he was nothing. Until two weeks ago he was jus another nameless “tsiyoini” whose wife doesn’t cover her hair properly, who relies on heter mechirah and wears jeans. Until Zaka volunteers had to put him in plastic bags, he wasn’t our brother. Until the Cheva Kadisha had to prepare him for burial, he wasn’t really one of us. Is there anything but tragedy that can unite us?

I got a fundraising letter from my local Hatzoloh-EMS chapter. One of the things I read just raised my hair on top of my head. “Our volunteers help everyone, regardless of their communal or religious affiliation” Really? How kind of you! Until now I though the right thing to do was leaving someone bleeding to death if he isn’t in your Chassidus. “Hallo! My son was electrocuted!” screams the frantic mother, “Ummm, is you husband yeshivish? What kind of hat does he wear? Oh, sorry we can’t help you. Call the other ambulance”. How sick and insane does a people have to be to even feel the need to put such a disclaimer in their pamphlet?

As I said before, in times when leaders refuse to carry their duty, there’s much more responsibility laid on each individual’s shoulders. And there is a lot we can do. Silent waters run deep, and sudden, drastic changes usually bear no good outcomes.

Maybe we can really include all Clal Yisroel in our silent prayers. Just insert a short individual plea, ask Him to assist us in getting united? To care for one another even without tragedy? To help out, to attend a simcha instead of a levayah? To ease a little of our meshigassen – not the core principles, of course, - just what we agree are meshigassen. Or to take in consideration the effect of our poisonous words – will they help or just add oil to the flames?

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gutter Ballet

An open letter to Rabbi Avi Shafran and some of his critics

Dear Rabbi Shafran,

After reading your article about sexual abuse in our community, I was left hurt, insulted and betrayed.

The traditional reading on Yom Kippur’s Mincha is parshas arayes. That parsha details some of the most horrendous and repulsive behaviors any human can possibly commit. Why does the holy Torah command us to read that specific segment on the holiest of our days? The Mishna Brurah, has a simple answer: since a man’s self desires sexual sins, and one may have transgressed these prohibitions, he should repent. The Shulchan Oruch doesn’t exempt anyone from hearing this reading. It doesn’t exempt Talmidei Chachomim, nor people with frocks or shtreimels or white beards.

I fully understand that exposing such criminals may shed our community in a bad light. But covering them up shed us in an even worse light. As a result of your article, Rabbi Shafran, wherever and whenever I go with my hat and jacket, I feel like I proclaim “I protect child molesters! I deny that there are problems within my community!” This chilul hashem is by far greater than that of exposing criminals. Most people today understand that there are sick deviants in any society. Most people are able to understand that one who transgresses the Torah by the most odious acts is not a shomer Torah umitsvos. But when the systematic cover-up of such incidents is exposed –and it is exposed, believe you me- that’s when our community as a whole is being demeaned, shamed and ridiculed.

I am fully aware of the abysmal injustices that the Orthodox –and especially the charedi- communities in Israel have suffered at the hand of the Bolshevik Zionists – in some cases even murder. I am fully aware that secular Zionism propagates hatred of true Jews and has a lot to answer for. But it is no excuse for us to behave like them. Since we know what it means to be betrayed, we should be all the more careful not to betray the wretched victims of sexual abuse. Since we decry secular Zionism’s denial of its crimes, we must not deny our crimes either. But all of this is besides the point. In the final analysis there are no excuses; we must do what is right for the simple reason that it is right.

Rabbi Shafran, I understand that there are hachic problems in dealing with this topic. But I also understand that the Torah has specifically empowered our sages with daas Torah in such cases. Daas Torah can rule that a criminal is to be turned over to the authorities even without two kosher witnesses. I would also remind you, that in Jewish Law, a criminal tried for capital punishment but found not guilty, isn’t free to roam à-la O.J. Simpson or Teddy Kennedy. In the time of the Temple, such criminals were left to die in solitary confinement.

I would like to address now some of Shafran’s critics;
not only are you no better than him, you are far worse. You have exploited the victims of sexual abuse for political gain, for your fame and for the pleasure of putting down your opponent. Rosenberg has an exposé on how haredi culture (which he either doesn’t know, as is obvious from his articles, or he willfully distorts the facts) breeds more abuse and cover-ups. Unfortunately there is some truth to his words. But he conveniently omits a few disturbing facts; he writes: “Look at it this way. If you could stop a murderer from killing by calling police, but choose not to do so because breaking omerts would result in less desirable shidduchim [matches] for your children, would your inaction be correct? Is your child's "better" shidduch more important than the victim's life, a life you do not have the power to restore? If this question is in any way difficult for you, you're in the wrong species. Check your lineage for apes.” Well, sweetheart, you full and well know that murder was actually covered up. Unfortunately for you, that didn’t happen in haredi communities. It happened among your darling Reform brothers. That’s right – there are at least three incidents I am aware of, when Reform “Rabbis” were committing adultery with their congregants wives. In two instances the cuckolded husbands opted to have their wives assassinated, while in the other, a Rabbi himself ordered the murder of his wife, in order to marry a woman he recently “converted” to Judaism. You’d imagine that according to Mr. Rosenberg’s analysis there’d be a tremendous outcry in those communities, harshly condemning the tragic events. Not so. Not only the community tried its best to hush the events and refused to talk to the media, but when one of their own tried to document the case, she was beaten, her nose was broken, she received death threats and was ostracized. So much for the great secular civilization many of you so much adore.

Then you have the bleeding heart ultra-righteous blogger who abhors sex abuse so much, that any comment containing the names of sexual predators is deleted from his blog’s comments section. Well, as long as they belong to his party. In other words, Ze’ev Kpolevitch, who was convicted of no less than 19 counts of rape and statutory rape, but after serving a nominal 3½ years sentence, was brought back to the yeshiva, doesn’t make it to the blog world. That’s right, the pervert is brought back to yeshiva after conviction, he is still there, and you remain silent. The Israeli media accused Rabbis Chaim Druckman and Avraham Shapiro of covering up the case and urging witnesses to remain silent. That somehow wasn’t detected by your radar, Mr. Righteous. Why? Since you don’t care about this, why are you so adamant other predators are brought to justice? And don’t you think your over-defensiveness just gives credence to other allegations? If you bar as much as mention of the name George Finkelstein, don’t you think it raises suspicion that the allegations against him, as well as allegations of cover-up against Norman Lamm may be true?
You criticize others for the very same thing you’re guilty of. At least Shafran doesn’t run around accusing others of cover-up. You have exploited sexual assault victims’ plight for your own sick games, for political gain and idiotic partisan politics.

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


We just read about Shimon and Levi slaying an entire town for tolerating a tremendous injustice done in their midst. But there was something else at play too – maybe even deeper and more fundamental than the simple reason attributed to the retribution.

Yaakov chastises his sons, saying that by their action, they have placed him in peril. Their reply seems totally detached and unrelated to the rebuke: “? הַכְזוֹנָה, יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת-אֲחוֹתֵנוּ - Shall our sister be dealt with as a prostitute?” Communication breakdown? How does this possibly answer their father’s claim that their actions caused them to face extermination? No answer, no give and take. The chapter ends here.

So what was so convincing about this short snippet that left Yaakov Ovinu speechless? What can possibly make you agree that putting your life in danger was justified?

Had Yaakov’s sons taken their father’s reasoning into consideration, what would have been the outcome? Would the Hittites and surrounding nations have respected and honored Bnai Yisroel for being able to restrain themselves? Would they see the Daughters of Israel as dignified women with self-respect? Would they be safer that way?
In all probability that’s not exactly the message the Hittites would have gotten. And perhaps, they would not have been better off being constantly victimized by the neighboring bullies.
And maybe even if it wouldn’t have turned out exactly like that, what kind of life is it knowing you can be bought?

Well, certain things are worth fighting for. Dying for. Suffering for.

Certain things just cannot be prostituted, bastardized and sold out. The Torah is one of them. One’s integrity is another. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility. But there are red lines. And it really doesn’t matter whether you start by prostituting your integrity or the Torah. They’re bound together. If you start cutting corners “for the Torah”, first a little white lie, a little dishonesty here, a bissaleh fraud there… If you start cutting corners of the Torah… you’ll end up in the same place as well… you’ll eventually cut the fundamental corners, the cornerstones. You’ll willfully distort the Torah, as distortion will become part of you.

Maybe Shimon and Levi’s mistake was taking booty. They didn’t make it clear enough that their sole objective was doing justice. They declared to the entire world: “Don’t mess with us!” But then and there they also erred buy touching the material belonging. And perhaps that was Yaakov Ovinu’s claim against them: if you can’t carry out your duty in the purest possible form, you may as well not do it at all. But they still answer him There’s no prostituting the Torah!

'אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה נגד ה

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dallas 1PM

Today, forty-four years ago, Jack Ruby (nee Rubinstein to a frum family) emptied a single bullet from his Colt Cobra into Lee Harvey Oswald’s stomach. Oswald died of the wound a short while later, and Ruby died of illness after his appeal.

To this day, stipulations and conspiracy theories abound. Why was JFK assassinated and who was really behind it all are questions which will probably never be answered.

What the assassination did however achieve, was sugarcoating the Playboy President’s legacy, and downplaying his many failures and misdeeds. Claiming that without Oswald we’d be speaking Russian today might be an exaggeration, but it sure isn’t far from the truth.

Many times in history assassins of dictators are heralded, even if not outright heroes, as people who rid their countries of oppression. This is true even if the assassins turned out to be no better than their victims. Cromwell and Napoleon sure fit the description, and even today many are willing to downplay the Bolsheviks’ abysmal evil, brutality and cruelty because they dethroned the Czar. Yet one who’d dare even the slightest such nod in Oswald’s direction is regarded as a lunatic at best. The fact however is, despite the admiration, J.F. Kennedy was
at best a midget compared to his predecessor, Eisenhower.

Today we also have a feeling of betrayal and abandonment. Our so-called leaders play with our money, our education, our children and our lives with absolute impunity. There’s no accountability, wherever there’s a serious problem there’s someone who can help but turns away. “We can’t do a thing,” they say, but when they are always faster than lightning to pay back the man with the big wallet. This is true about many leaders at many levels. Or rather, just powerful people, for leaders they are not. They may parade as leaders, but their leadership fails with their inability –or unwillingness- to lead their own selves.

It is at such times that unity is most precious and of utmost importance. When responsibility is rejected by those who need it most, it falls on everyone else’s shoulders. That’s precisely what must be understood by all who want change. We don’t want animal farm all over again.

But we shouldn’t go overboard

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Stranger In Us All

A few days ago I came across an interesting post on Ben Chorin’s website. In short, the post quotes an article about Israeli football fans who booed during the moment of silence in honor of Rabin’s memory. In his analysis, he claims they did so to protest against their humiliation, i.e. the moment of silence is really meant force them to “…affirm the virtuousness of the secular Ashkenazi left and the barbarism of everyone else, first and foremost, people like themselves. Their reaction was a sign of healthy self-esteem combined with a certain, um, lack of inhibition.” An angry commenter there remarked -in typical leftist conceit- that those barbarians are indeed incapable of such deep analysis, and were just acting as, well, barbarians.

In the last few years I have been working around non-intellectuals, to say the least. They come from many backgrounds: WASPs, Jamaican Blacks, Hispanics, American Blacks, Africans – what not. I can affirm you with the greatest certainty that even primitve and uneducated people are not necessarily stupid, and they most certainly aren’t oblivious to their feelings. The Ego is an extremely powerful part of us, and is extremely sensitive. He loves himself more than anything and anyone else, and woe to the one who’d dare insult him.
Such people are probably not conscious or analytic of the world exactly in the way we are – perhaps their brains analyze reality differently. Those Beitar fans probably didn’t analyze reality in the same way Ben Chorin did. But they certainly felt it, to the deepest of their souls. This beside the prevalent Sepharadic complex of inferiority and resentment of the elitist Polish intelligentsia of Israel.

The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner is one of the greatest masterpieces of English poetry. The epic poem tells the story of a mariner who kills an Albatross –a bird of good omen- for no apparent reason. The rest of the crew are angry at him, but later justify him. Then a terrible curse, a thirst and draught begins as vengeance. In the end all the crew dies except the Mariner, who is doomed to live and tell his horrible tale wherever he goes.
Literary critics have written entire libraries of analyses about the poem. A point many ponder about - what exactly the morale of the story is? One lesson I believe we can learn from here is that idle bystanders who know a wrong has been done may be guiltier than the actual criminal. For we cannot know what posessed him in the momoent he carried out his act – but the others understand it is evil, yet later they justify the criminal. (Or just don’t denounce him.)

Yesterday I saw something that literally made me sick. Someone made the most odious, repulsive, puke-inducing and repugnant comments about our saints of saints, Yaakov Avinu and Leah Imeinu. I can’t even repeat what the putrid coward hiding behind the blog D.B. said. Go see for yourself if your stomach is strong enough.

Quite often we witness people outraged at their Rabbis being denigrated, or even not addressed with proper respect. Sometimes numerous articles are written against this or that journalist or blogger if they “mistakenly” ommit a rabbi's due title, or if one chas veshalom dares questioning this or that decision of one’s Gadol. A flurry of angry comments flood the site after such a snafu, and the war of words rages for days on end. The fierce defenders of Torah stand up with fire in their eyes to protest the disrespect showed to their Leader by that nasty individual, who must immediately apologize… or hang.

Yet… yet here… total silence. Not one protest. Not one condemnation, not an iota of outrage showed. I know, I know. There are a million excuses. He wants the attention, it’s better to ignore him, etc.

Are we really that shallow? What are we standing up for when we protest a Rav’s humiliation? Are we really standing up for Torah or that rabbi or gadol? Or are we standing up for our own little narcissitic ego? How come a little carelessness about a contemporary rabbi generates such emotions, yet when Yaakov Avinu is dragged through the mud, called a swindler, when Leah Imenu is compared to a Playboy bunny no one has anything to say? How can we not go crazy when we hear such utter defamation taken directly from ageless, classic anti-semitic propaganda? How can everyone keep quiet when one who proclaims to be an observant Jew quotes from Third Reich textbooks and pub-mob?

I think this is precisely our problem. Our idiotic sectarianism isn’t about truths anymore. It’s not about principles. It’s about me and myself and I and my. When a rav is insulted, it is not the insult of Torah or righteousness we protest. It’s our own insult we stand up against. That’s how low we got. Yaakov Avinu doesn’t matter anymore. Apparently, he’s not a treasured figure in our History. Apparently, he’s not a fundamental part of Yiddishkeit.

Well, he wasn’t in our club.

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Rage

Like a tiger
In the cage
We begin to
Shake with rage!

-"The Rage", Judas Priest (British Steel, 1980)

If you’re sensitive I suggest you skip what follows. You may call it “the worst of Joe Izrael vol. I”. Or just “Yossi is angry”…

It now seems wounded and maimed veterans are asked by the gov’t to renounce part of their sign-on bonuses! Can you believe this? We feed millions of illegal immigrants, bums, academic parasites who are an embarrassment to education and intelligence, and welfare leeches who can’t speak English but get straight A’s on their section 8 applications! Did you know that Medicaid recipients are eligible for free taxi to the doctor? That’s right. Frimmet from Monsey can git a raid viz gantz comfy taxi to Nie Yirk Sitty so hubby Chaim Mayer can sit and shmeeze in bais medrish, while Marines who lost arms and legs have to give back their sign-on bonuses.

I have a brilliant politico-economic solution: let’s send the illegal immigrants to Iraq and force the hassidim as well as other welfare-suckers to pick cucumbers and cotton and pack orders at Chaim Yankel’s Sipermurkit.
In the meantime this soldier who lost his eye and the gov’t spat in his other eye could actually receive his full sign-on bonus, instead of Yoily Herskowics buying himself a new shtraimel with foodstamps and getting a tuition break because "the rusha goyim take me off di velfare". And white kids would do some work instead of getting drunk on daddy’s credit card.

Here’s what Michael Savage said about his letter from the GOP requesting a donation:
“I crossed out the amount to donate, and I wrote on it:
#1 stop immigration.
#2 pardon the Marines
#3 stop government spending.”

I would like to suggest you do the same with any further donation requests for any moisad. Write on it:

"#1 I demand transparency of all financial dealings of your mosad. Who gets how much and how is the money spent. How are employees and board members appointed?
#2 I demand your organization unconditionally condemn child molestation, pledges not to harbor such people and to fairly investigate allegations of sexual abuse. Ditto for other felonies.
#3 I demand your organization unconditionally condemn reliance on government funds as a way of life, and the obtaining of such funds illegally, fraudulently or by questionable means.

Until I get proof the above demand have been fulfilled I suggest you save your paper and stamps as I won’t donate you one cent more. Signed:__________."

In fact you can just send in such a letter to the Agudah, UJC, RCA and any other organization you know. Send it to hassidic rebbes too.

How come no one stands up against a huge cut of the population all living like leeches on the taxpayers’ backs? How come all Hassidic villages, as well as most of Fakewood are below poverty level, everyone has sec.8, single mom benefits (many frum people don’t get civil marriage), welfare, Medicaid, foodstamps, and perhaps benefits that haven’t even been yet signed into law, while the place is full of Lexuses, Suburbans, Town Cars, each house is bigger and fancier (and more distasteful) than the other. Kids prancing around in $400 outfits, renewed quarterly. How come when these people go to the doctor’s office or get pulled over by a cop they can’t speak English, yet when they fill out welfare and Medicaid forms, Shakespeare couldn’t make a better case for himself. Did I mention cash businesses and bribe? Did I mention Mr. Frankel’s endless love of his Yiddishe brothers? He owns a few houses in Monsey, but they all house illegal immigrants from Mexico, who needless to say are the most pleasant neighbors imaginable. One family per house – well, a family of 40, that is. They’re always sober, spotless clean, and their dogs barely ever bite. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (wink-wink, nod-nod, hehehe, they know who votes them in) approves them for section 8 benefits as long as they can provide a piece of cardboard with “Hernandez” scribbled on it.

So why can’t Mr. Millionnaire Frankel rent the houses to Yidden? Because he’s too cheap to renovate them. And he also knows if the tenant loses his sec 8 eligibility (in the unlikely case a HUD inspector puts 2 Lexus and 2 Suburbans and lavish furnishings and sixteen kids together) he’ll never see a payment again. Besides, of course, the not-so small danger of one of his fellow Skvindlers just swindling the house away from him. Of course, that doesn’t bother His Exalted Holiness Maran Hagaon Haadir Hagadol Hagibor Vehanora Kvod Kudshas David Twerski SHLIT”A, whose credentials include being the son of the previous Skverer rebbe and the grandson of the one before. In fact, he has been informed of the problem numerous times, but he has a hassidus to fihr. To his credit, after 15 years of complaints he instructed the heilige Koenig brothers to shut down "T&A’s adult entertainment" on RT 59. I guess tipping went down when hassidim became the predominant customers. Now they have to stick to their "Hy-Tech auto-wreckers" insurance-defrauding business. Nebach, only two Caribbean cruises this year…

Bad news for Mr Twersky and his devout followers: some Black Moslems beat you guys! And I thought Skwer was the best at least in one area. Shame on you!

A few more articles you'll never see on Adov Hitbear's site:

Snuff films have influence. But don't tell the Bare Dove good "liberals" can do harm.

Dovie swears Moslems are bad only from "our POV". (But haredim are objectively, unequivocally bad.) Islamic Law is the very essence of love, peace and compassion.

Dept. of Homeland security more incompetent than Agudah.

And to end with a good thing... finally a little good news on the border.

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Civil War

The current conversion conference conflict opened up an old can of worms with numerous ramifications. These in turn may have long lasting repercussions, some possibly of unforeseeable magnitude.

There are real problems here, which most seem to ignore, either because they were carried away, or perhaps they’re only focusing on petty bickering. Suffice to say most people didn’t see farther than their noses, which isn’t too far, even if they’re Jews.

So let’s capitulate, let’s clear the air please;
There is a very serious problem of intermarriage. There is also a very serious problem of severe breaches in giyur procedures within orthodoxy.

EJF was founded to solve, or at least soothe these problems. But it turned out (or was so planned from the beginning) that money for nothing and chicks* for free make you forget your principles pretty quickly. So EJF is actively pursuing intermarried couples, employs leniencies, targets the children of intermarried couples, and tries to monopolize the business. There is also a great problem with centralizing halocha.

But the main focus of controversy was on an entirely different matter. Apparently rabis Eisenstein and Tropper officially declared, in the names of R’ Elyashiv and R Kanievski, that the conversion of one who believes the world is older than 5768 years is void. Similarly, one who holds this belief is a cofer (heretic), unfit for dayonus and as per consequence even past conversions performed by him are retroactively void.

Naturally, the Modern Orthodox were outraged, and rightly so. But they forgot all about the real problems and while they were busy screaming about being delegitimized, rabbi Tropper cashed another check, and EJF is still riding high.

Although hard to believe they are true, the statements were made, and will have to be dealt with. Is it a moment of truth for Modern Orthodoxy? Time will tell.

As a side note, I’d suggest that as a worst-case scenario, (i.e. the comments were actually made exactly so and they are true) even the most stringent hard-liner position, i.e. that Evolution is unequivocally heresy, shouldn’t retroactively void conversions. Even if one actually holds one heretic belief, if he keeps Torah and mitsvot he may not be entirely dismissed. This is especially in regards with Orthodox people holding evolutionary ideas (I almost put an L in there…), since they believe this conforms to halocha. In the worst case this shouldn’t be considered more than shogeg in one ‘un-kosher’ belief’.

As a matter of fact, in ’92 a group of RCA rabbis proposed to change the approach to intermarried couples, (labelled "the roundtable proposition") as an answer to the alarming rate of intermarriage. The RCA’s leading rabbis immediately released and unequivocal rejection of the proposal and reinforced the traditional approach.

Despite this, there are many rabbis, who, on a private basis (i.e. they have or serve on independent courts) employ very lax, and I’d say even heterodox practices. People with ultra-liberal agendas are liberal enough to enact laws of their own, at the community’s expense and detriment. (Note that Noah Feldman has more integrity than such people. He could have easily resorted to a giyur Maiden Japan and avoid all the fuss. No one would have ever accused him of throwing tantrums…) There is also a lot of corruption – dayonus can be quite a profitable business.

The real tragedy is that those gerim will be rejected in many Orthodox communities. The communities that will accept them will only alienate themselves from general Orthodoxy. And I fear that some are actually interested in this. There are at least two virulently anti-orthodox sites that vehemently oppose EJF specifically because it jeopardizes such rogue courts and rabbis. They, as well as the insulted MO people who resorted to personal smears against Tropper actually play into his hands. Now he’ll have proof that it’s Modern Orthodoxy’s extreme left wing together with some unsavory characters who are trying to smear and vilify him.

Instead of resorting to absolutely useless attacks, we should focus on the real problems, as well as stopping the commercialization of Judaism.

This is a huge silver lining to EJF’s black cloud, because come hell or high water, now everyone’s noses will be rubbed in their own dirty little secrets, lest EJF achieves its goal. But by now a few egos too much have been hurt, and the struggle won't be easy. In other words, by wanting to be bigger and better than everyone else, rabbi Tropper actually forced all to face reality.

And the episode may have an even more siginficant facet to it. Perhaps now those who really care may actually face up and sit together to discuss solutions and ways to ensure proper procedures.
Is there at least a glimpse of a chance, if not at reconciliation, at least a bit of tightening and mending the relations between the factions? Let’s hope so.

*Rubashkin glatt, of course.

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gay Ruth

A psak of the Eidah Charedis in Jerusalem about promoting conversions came out this Thursday.

So far it seems that they do not yet have complete information on what is going on, as the main focus is still on the children of intermarried couples. This is also one of EJF’s problems, so it is good that it has been addressed.

You can get these in PDF format by clicking on the pictures. I suggest you print them out and show it to your Rav and any influential people to stop this before it gets out of control.

I include here some material clearly showing that EJF is actively targeting intermarried couples and their children, ("Jews pushing conversions", "Rabbis easing conversion rules" etc) furthermore they use and manipulate special leniencies which are not widely accepted. Certainly in the area of geirus which is irrevocable and has long lasting influences we cannot rely on leniencies. (I have copied the material in case pressure is exerted on the original publishers to take off the articles. Original links provided within.)

It has come to my attention that I was accused on several blog comments of hating gerim, being against gerim or gerus and having anti-ger agenda. This is absolutely false. As I have mentioned before, and is widely known, many gerim had tremendous beneficial influence on the Jewish nation: Ruth HaMoaviah, Shmaya and Avtalion, Onkeles The Ger and some more. But there is no indication that the EJF and the ultra-liberal rabbis' conversions are so sincere.

I did mention the clear halocha that in times whem "Israel has the upper hand" - (יד ישראל תקיפה) which clearly applied in the times of Dovid Hamelech and Shlomo Hamelech, gerim are not to be accepted. It should at least be considered in light of the fact that Jews are now prosperous, there is a State called the "Jewish State" with its own army and independence, and is more prosperous and safer than many other countries in the world.

It is also an undeniable fact that there is a surge in gerus, which is due to many factors; open contact between Jews and Gentiles, intermarriage, the Aliayh from the former Soviet bloc to Israel etc. It is also undeniable that being a Jew is far more appealing now than it was 200 years ago - or even just 65. Judaism and Jewish Law discourage conversions, this is also an established fact. So it is not far-fetched to remind people of this.

Unfortunately there are many rabbis, even Orthodox ones, who are not careful and because of their liberal ideology find all kinds of leniencies which should not be liberally applied. What they cause is that their conversions will not be widely honored, hence causing distress and frustration to their gerim who will realize too late that they won't be universally accepted. Maybe those rabbis actually want this as they lose their congregants to both secular society and stricter orthodox circles. In any event I have no claim against the converts who, in near all cases, are not in a position to be aware of all these details and are not to be blamed for the converting rabbis' faulty practices.

I did mention that many gerim have detrimential influence for the sole reason that I did observe such people - people who convert because they are unprepared they either join the most exremist circles, or become disillusioned and abandon relgion. And there are those who do not intend to be religious at all and are interested in conversion only for the sake of marriage. Unfortunately, some Orthodox rabbis perform such conversions. Some out of corruption and for money, some because the aforementioned libertarien ideologies.

© Joseph Izrael 2007

Smears trump not the truth.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tears Of Fire

In case video fails click here.

Jew's Syndrome Pt. I (Sad Wings Of Destiny)

Have a great Shabbos, and don't forget to talk to your rav about EJF! Truth must prevail!

© Joseph Izrael 2007

The Pressure Will Blow

I spoke to Rav Yossef Bloch this evening, and he asked me to take off his shmuess from Youtube. He said the shmuess was never meant to be made public, and had he known that he'd have an audience greater than his immediate circle of talmidim, he would have used slightly different expressions. All the information is nonetheless true and he stands behind every statement made.

Please note that there was no pressure exerted on me whatsoever. He told me that the sound files are in my hand and he cannot force or pressure me, but he asked me to take them down. R' Bloch does not want to have any shaychus to the internet, nor to be quoted in public. I reluctantly take off the shmuess for the sole reason that I respect him as an honorable Talmid Chochom and an ish emes.

I spoke today to rabonim across the haredi spectrum. I was able to gather the following information:

· EJF accused their opponents of taking quotes from their pamphlet “guide” for giyur-rabbis (not distributed to the public), which then several rabbis refuted, and they actually changed that paragraph. (A Shach leniency regarding the ger’s total and sincere intent to accept full mitzvah observance, which was distorted by EJF to mean that the acceptance itself could be eased.)

· RE: Centralizing and/or institutionalizing Halocha, (i.e. in and on itself) whether for general purposes or for a single issue is very strongly discouraged is a bad and dangerous notion. Rabbis should collaborate as neede or see fit, but not monopolize Halocha or Yiddishkeit.

· RE gerus in this day and age: halahic guidelines for all?: Varying answers, more or less around the lines that such guidelines can (or should) be published, or rabbis should voice their opinions if problems emerge, or protest. But certainly not by instituting a body that will be active in the very same field. (Totally unreasonable and illogic rationale, no?)

· RE Belief in a world older than 5768 years: a) constitute ‘kfirah’: widely varying answers from laughs to a firm “yes”;

· -b) if yes, does it retroactively passel (void) giyurs by rabbis believing in an older universe: Chas Veshalom!

· -c) does it disqualify such rabbis from performing gerus: No. The most kanoi: no answer.

· -d) Do such people lecatchila count in a minyan and is their wine muttar: Yes / reluctant yes.

Explanation by most kanoi & second most kanoi: their kfira is not complete, i.e. they believe H’ and are mekayem mitzvos, but they have one (or certain) heretic belief.


& - Correction & apology: Thomas Kaplan’s wife is in all probability Jewish from birth, albeit they have other intermarried relatives. This person should not be maligned or criticized as he acts in good faith and doesn’t understand halocha and halachic thought (tinok shenishba) and acts in good faith.

& - EJF actively pursues intermarried couples and encourages conversions – more details to come.

& - EJF do use leniencies in converting intermarried couples or their children.

I did not mention names because some rabbis didn't wanted to be quoted in public for different reasons (not knowing enough about EJF, not wanting problems from EJF surrogates etc.) and are unwilling to voice public opinion on the matter. Not yet! The pressure will blow!

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crest Of A Knave

It’s just plain amazing to me how low we have sunk. After the Monsey Hassidim and Mosdos hounds have successfully reelected the incumbent mini-emperor of corruption, Chris St Lawrence, who will authorize the most outrageous down-zonings, buildings so crowded and repulsive they make Harlem’s skid row look good, and exempt every other property from taxes, authorizing every single “school” with unfettered access to local, state and Federal funding & services, as well as looking away from all fire violations, we find out corruption has penetrated even the county Supreme Court!

The following articles appeared a month ago, then a follow-up came Monday, then yesterday. The Michael Goldstein in question is a local swindler. Many developers still bear his wounds, while the Wagschal mentioned in the article is simply a subhuman brute. I just hope these filthy scoundresl eat each other up before they can appear as guests of honor at the annual dinner of your son's yeshiva.

Sept 12, '07 - Rockland Journal News:
RAMAPO - Venera Held worries that she may have given away a house she owned.

"Fraud" was a word one of her attorneys used in court to describe events leading to Held's predicament.

"Breach of contract" was how an attorney for the buyer summed up what has become a protracted dispute involving courts from the town to the state appeals level....

Nov 12, '07 - Rockland Journal News:
RAMAPO - A protracted dispute over ownership of a house has been complicated by the surfacing of more potential buyers.

Real estate developers Jacob Wagschal and Jacob Weiss are suing Michael Goldstein, also a developer, for the return of their $120,000 down payment on a two-family house at 60 Decatur Ave.

Goldstein, meanwhile, is suing Venera Held to gain control of the house, and waiting for a state Supreme Court judge to decide how much he should pay.....

Nov 13, '07 - Rockland Journal News:
RAMAPO - A man suing a retired school bus driver to gain control of a house near Spring Valley, is himself being sued by other potential buyers of the house.

Jacob Wagschal and Jacob Weiss are suing Michael Goldstein over a $120,000 down payment they made on the house at 60 Decatur Ave.

Others are also named in the lawsuit, including Venera Held, the retiree from whom Goldstein had bought the two-family house. She has said in court that she never intended to sell the house. Also named is Chaim Brown, identified in court documents as having a financial interest in the house with Goldstein....

The Madcap Laughs

I know it's not Purim yet, but I couldn't resist... Found this on Reb Yudel Shain's blog in the comments section:

Yonaty and Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin Min Hamehadrin are pleased to introduce:
The Chumra of the Week Club
• Are you concerned that people don't notice and appreciate your yiras shomayim?
• Do you sometimes get the feeling that your neighbor is observing more chumras than you?
• Have you ever noticed someone looking at your tefillin during shacharis as though there were something wrong with them?
• Do people occasionally hesitate when you extend them an invitation to eat at your home, or ask what hashgachos you rely on?
• Has anyone ever said to you in surprise: "Oh, are you maikel?"
If you have ever been faced by any of these mortifying scenarios, The Chumra of the Week Club (CWC) is for you!
CWC is a new concept in real, authentic, ostentatous Yiddishkeit. Never again will you be upstaged! Never again will you be at a loss for a chumra! We supply you weekly with the very best in conspicuous yiras shomayim! (Please note that due to lack of demand for "bein adam l'chaveyro" chumras, all CWC chumras are "bein adam lamakom".)
Special Introductory Offer (limited time only): Join now and immediately receive three free chumras from our database (from the categories of your choice) as our introductory gift to you. Thereafter, each Friday you will receive full source material for a new, exciting, additional chumra which you can immediately put into use. Within a short time you will have amassed a chumra list that will amaze your friends and make you the envy of your kollel or shul.
Guarantee: We absolutely GUARANTEE all our chumras to be of the highest quality! Our full-time staff is busy combing the Bar Ilan CD ROM for the most obscure strictures. (Note that with Super-frum and Over-the-top membership you can receive even more obscure and personalized chumras - guaranteed to dumfound both friend and foe.)
Return Policy: If you are not delighted with any chumra you receive from us, you may return it for exchange within 7 days of receipt - no questions asked. Simply state the reason for the return (to help us serve you better in future), and the category from which you wish to receive your replacement chumra.
Reasons for return may include (but are not limited to):
• You are already observing a chumra of equal or greater stringency. (Unlikely, as our chumras are hand-picked for uniqueness and stringency.)
• You know someone who is already observing the same chumra.
• The chumra is not noticeable enough.
• The chumra does not inconvenience other people
• Keeping the chumra would involve personal hardship
Accompanying Factsheet: Our chumras come from a wide range of lesser-known achronim, including: the "Pi Ha'ason," and the "Shtus Vehevel." Each chumra comes complete with a fully annotated fact sheet that includes:
• A photocopy of the source material
• A list of justifications for your chumra
• Suggestions on how to introduce the chumra into casual conversation
• Member feedback and success stories
Don't suffer any longer! Don't sit back as others beat you in the race to the top! Join CWC today and benefit from the special introductory offer! Start your own personal database of show-stopping chumras by completing the form overleaf and mailing it to us with your payment TODAY!
Please complete form and send, with your cheque, to The Chumra of the Week Club, c/o Yonaty Design and Publishing, 12/13 Shalom Bonayich, Netivot 87804, Israel.
Title (check one):
□ Harav
□ Harav Hagaon
□ Harav Hatzaddik
□ Hagaon Hatzaddik
□ Kvod Kodsho
□ Moreinu Verabeinu
□ Adoneinu Moreinu Verabeinu
□ Hamara De'asra
□ G'dol Hador
□ Other (please specify): __________________
Name ___________ ben ___________ ben ___________ ben ___________
(You must be able to supply genealogical data for the past four generations to be eligible for CWC).
Surname: _______________
Address: ___________________________________________________________
Phone: ____________ email: __________________
Indicate the level of membership you wish to purchase (check one):
□ Regular (one new, eye-popping stringency per week - $500 p/a)
□ Super-frum (same as Regular PLUS one super-unusual chumra every six months - $650 p/a)
□ Over-the-top (same as Super-frum PLUS an annual chumra tailor-made for you, and guaranteed to be totally unique - $950 p/a.)
To help us custom-tailor your personal chumra selection, please circle the following, as applicable:
1) Litvak / Chassidic / Sephardic
2) FBB / BT
3) Type of coat worn (check one):
□ short - single breasted
□ short - double-breasted
□ knee-length - Two buttons on back? ( YES / NO )
□ ankle-length
□ drags on floor
Years in kollel _______ Current occupation: _____________________________
Yes, please rush me my three introductory chumras by return post! (Check three categories below from which you would like to receive your free chumras):
□ Food - Fleishigs
□ Food - Milchigs
□ Davening
□ Clothing
□ Tefillin and Tzitzis
□ Miscellaneous

So far... I guess this is why we need so many Geirim, as Jews don't buy it anymore.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Raging Silence (J'Accuse!)

Please forgive me for harping on the subject – but it’s gnawing at me, and I cannot let it go.

As you may well know, about two months ago there were several horrendous acts of vandalism and violence against Israelis by Neo-Nazi immigrants from the former USSR that made headlines. However, this has been going on for over seven years now. The very warmly recommended website has been active for a good while now, and literally contains an arsenal of articles on the subject, starting from 2000. I just can’t get over how this has been collectively hushed and ignored by all, and especially by the bloggers, who constantly claim that they’re far more honest and reliable than the mainstream media. Certain incidents even made it to foreign papers yet were totally ignored in Israel. I wonder where were the usual “Chilul Hashem” detectors (you know, those charedi bloggers who always point out to MO’s chilul hashems and the MO blogs that always find out all the charedi chillul Hashems – of course, a mere coincidence- It would be pure loshon hora to suspect these paragons of brutal honesty of petty bickering and really caring for the issues from the bottoms of their hearts) were at the time. I guess they were re-running Miriam Shear And The Wicked Haredi Thugs episode #9678. That and similar events should never be downplayed, and since haredim unfortunately won't do it, heck, the blogg-mob will. Yet it is clear as day that the issue at hand is not the curtailing of the violent events –au contraire, the more, the merrier, as they provide good reader-fodder and are a good incitement tool- but the delegitimization of an entire segment of Klal Yisroel in order to prove their ideology’s ultimate triumph. How can I make such a nasty accusation? Because I have, even if not hard evidence, at least a very convincing indication to the claim. Let me just bring up a number of them;
- The worst case of sexual abuse and coverup thereof ever happened in a Mizrahi yeshiva, Netiv Meir, when, after serving a three-year jail term for nineteen counts of rape, statutory rape, sexual miscinduct etc., the Rosh Yeshiva, Ze’ev Kopolevitch was brought back to the yeshiva. The Israeli papers at the time of the court case alleger that rabbis Chaim Druckman and Avraham Shapira knew, or heard allegation of Kopolevitch’s actions yet remained silent. He's still in the Yeshiva. Not once did any blogger bring this up.

- Modern Orthodoxy’s two major publications, the Jewish Press and the Jewish Week steadfastly protected Mordechai Tendler, as well as his brothers who allegedly molested high school girls. Actually Harry Maryles openly said that he accepts UOJ’s accusations against Kolko but not Tendler.

- There is now an alleged rapist, accused of assaulting girls on dates. To date, not a word has been said about him, no warnings, no blog rants. This guy goes over to little girls at weddings and is cajoling them, saying how pretty they are, in front of their parents.

These are but a few blatant examples of how negative events in MO society are willfully ignored; yet similar events in haredi society are exploited by these bloggers, not to sound the alarm nor to eradicate the events themselves but to smear and delegitimize everyone who doesn’t agree with them. No big deal, you may say, who are these bloggers after all, and what is their influence. This is a valid claim. However, the great minds and leaders of YU are all over their message boards, tacitly or cunningly encouraging this trend. Besides, the WWW is tomorrow’s mainstream media. It would be a fatal mistake to downplay its significance, as it was the case with newspapers; by the time traditional Jewish leaders woke up to publish a paper of their own, the Haskalah movement had already ravaged the majority of Jews.

But the Neo-Nazi incidents and the silence about them -even after published in mainstream media- trump all sense of sanity. If these event’s don’t shake one’s very foundations, there is something deeply corrupt within him. I still can’t get over it! Nazis in the land of Israel! Swastikas in Erets Yisroel! When a pig stuck its feet in the wall surrounding the Temple, the earth shook! And now these events, which, as I told you, have been going on for at least 7 years, pass as if nothing had happened! Nazis goose-stepping in a uniform I have worn some years ago! Is ignoring this not complicity? Is it not a clear message to these subhuman vermin that they can go on with their atrocities with impunity? That the Jewish community at large doesn’t want to acknowledge nor deal with the problem? That bearded and black-hatted Jews (“Black Hat Morons”™) the world over are responsible (which in and on itself is true to a great extent) for the actions of the Beit Shemesh hooligans, yet the Israeli Nazi gangs are welcome to roam free.
I accuse Dov Bear, Gil Student, Harry Maryles, Cross-Currents and the heads of YU who regularly appear on these blogs of a pact of silence in this horrendous atrocity. How come you all claim to be independent thinkers, original and nuanced, yet you seem to be synchronized and somehow always sing the same tune? What will you say when this problem blows out of its current proportions? What will you do when a bigger shul in Israel is torched?

Well, don’t bother answering. I know the answer. You’ll say if only the haredim had accepted Evolution, (the mainstream version, of course), joined the IDF (like the bagel fressing blogging wussies who never held a gun) and observed Yom Haatzmaut, and of course accepted the giyurs of your local grocer, ah, then it would have never happened. Or they'll just become part of Israeli day-to-day life... like terrorr attacks.

Now bow your heads in shame and join forces to stop this before it’s too late. We can discuss evolution, halocha and history later.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Eternal Jewish Fraud

With the “Eternal Jewish Family Convention” in full swing, the war of words between the internationally accredited giyur experts is also in full swing. Somehow, -and I do not, by any stretch of the word, imply any dishonesty from anyone’s side- in a strange twist of reality, all MO experts are of the opinion that it is a terrible injustice to centralize giyur, and that every neighborhood grocer must have the authority to be megayer any Gentile candidate, while all charedi experts have no doubt that any and all giyur must pass via a bais-din “entrusted” by Rav Elyashiv (Read: the thug Yossi Efrati – by any means not an איש אפרתי). In the halachic aspect of the matter too, all seasoned experts surprisingly followed their own party line.

What they did not realize was that their cherished rabbis, regardless of creed, color or religious persuasion, were hi-fiveing each other behind the scenes. The accursed convention is not about giyur but about money. The whole EJF thing is a fraud. Some people who are inept at creative and honest businesses found ways to make money on giyurim. There are many ways to obtain money for giyurim; secular people reluctant to marry Gentiles (because granny said so) are willing to pay a hefty price to convert their bride/groom. Many Gentiles from the former Soviet bloc find it convenient to get a free pass to Israel (including the ‘New Oleh’ package), and people who have difficulties finding a spouse for various reasons, can have now a convert from Russia. And there is a plethora of other reasons. There is also a secular, extreme leftist man named Thomas Kaplan, married to a Gentile woman (whose name is proudly displayed on the EJF site as patron), enamoured with George Soros’ obsession with “open society”. That person is unfortunately extremely wealthy, and he is the funding source behind EJF and its main perpetrators. This whole giyur scam will have a devastating effect on Jewish life and society. 1st, now that we were given Giyur Made Easy™, it will break down the last barrier that frei Jews had: intermarriage. Of course, the EJF do-gooders (no sarcasm implied: they really do good… for themselves) will scream that they only target (Target? Wot? Since when are Jews proselising?) already assimilated couples… Yeah right! And that will not send a message that intermarriage isn’t a one-way ticket anymore?

EJF is the brainchild of Yehudah Leib Tropper of Monsey, Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Yaakov - a yeshiva for baalei tshuva. This “rabbi” is not new to controversy. My hunch is that he got into the giyur business via his sister-in-law, also a baalas tshuva, who adopted a gentile boy. In any event, he cashes in big time on giyurim, the only innovation to his trick is to mainstreamize and legitimize his crime against Judaism by claiming he goes to “save” intermarried families. In other words, he invents an antidote for any possible scandals in the future. For giyur scams are not new, and from time to time a rabbi is caught red handed. Tropper just guarantees himself against a flagrant delicto and also ensures his rights to the business. The EJF site proudly proclaims that Reb Moishe ZTS”L ruled that intermarried families have to be reached out to. This is an absolute lie. What Reb Moishe said (nowhere in writing) is that if a Gentile married to a Jew/esse wants to convert, it is possible to forego the obligation to reject him several times before proceeding with giyyur. Tropper also usurped Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel – I was present at a phone conversation with him and he denied any endorsement or agreement to the EJF, yet his photo is still on EJF’s site.

I post here Rav Yossef Bloch’s speech about the EJF. Unfortunately even he is not fully aware of the real scope of this horrible calamity. He doesn’t know what goes on is Israel. I’ll leave those details for another time. Suffice to say that there is a major giyur business both in Israel and abroad. The nubers are in the tens of thousands, not only thousands as R’ Y. Bloch says. And some of the most glittery rabbis are involved.

Click here for Rav Yosef Bloch’s full lecture.

See also: Killing Machine, Assassimilation.

I just realized that the link didn't bring up the lecture's other parts. I gave a different link now, where you will be able to find all parts of the speech as they are numbered.

There's also a letter from Rav Moishe Sternbuch online on the subject. For the Hebrew version click here.

The speech was removed as per R' Bloch's request. See "The Pressure Will Blow" article above. 11/15/'07

Friday, November 02, 2007

Atomic Rooster

Heroes End

Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, who dropped the first Atom bomb ever - "the little boy", passed away today at age 92.

Tibbets reamined adamant until the end of his life, that he had carried out a necessary act which eventually ended the war and potentially saved thousands of lives. He had no remorse about Hiroshima.

The bomb is also a lesson for all humanity that ruthless, inhuman dictatorships must be fought with all means available - and that a nation is collectively responsible if it fails to stand up against such evil. Most Japanese supported their governments supremacist ideology and many willingly participated or supported bloodthirsty exterminations and torture. (Although I'm sure the hard left is already dancing on Tibbets' grave, yelling that the Japs were about to surrender blah blah blah. I wouldn't be surprised if DB already wrote that pearl harbor was actually done by George Bush and the haredim to be able to blame the Japs and try the bomb out on them.)

I regret that I didn't have a chance to shake his hand. May he rest in peace and his memory blessed.