Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Did G-d Send the Hurricane?


(not my question, it's from the story.)

"Depends whom you ask.

All along the theological and political spectrum, Katrina has crystallized people’s fears into a now-familiar brew of apocalyptic theories similar to what we saw after September 11 and after the Asian tsunami several months ago.

At least one New Orleans-area resident believes God created the storm as punishment because of the recent role the United States played in expelling Jews from Gaza. On Sunday evening, Bridgett Magee of Slidell, La., told the Christian website Jerusalem Newswire that she saw the hurricane "as a direct 'coming back on us' [for] what we did to Israel: a home for a home." Stan Goodenough, a website columnist, described Katrina as “the fist of God” in a Monday column. “What America is about to experience is the lifting of God’s hand of protection; the implementation of His judgment on the nation most responsible for endangering the land and people of Israel,” Goodenough writes. “The Bible talks about Him shaking His fist over bodies of water, and striking them.”

Meanwhile, spiritual and political environmentalists say that massive hurricanes such as Katrina, along with the Asian tsunami, are messages from the earth, letting humanity know of the earth’s pain. These hurricanes are caused by global warming, environmentalists say, which are the result of using too much fossil fuel. They see the catastrophic consequences as a kind of comeuppance."

Is this an exclusively X-tian way of thinking? Because I've heard many Jews say that "maybe this is from the Ribbono Shel Olam because of Mardi Gras!"

Why are people taught that G-d is ח"ו a reactionary who "explodes" in a fit of anger and causes death and destruction?

Source: Beliefnet

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Double Standards

Reader Manhattan writes in response to the ZSS Post

"So who's to "blame" for his going off the deep end? The Rebbe, the FR?!

of course, the Apikorsim from Volozhin, Mir, Slabodka etc. had nothing to do with the Yeshiva they attended, it was just per chance.



I don't know if I'd blame the Yeshivos for producing the destroyers of כלל ישראל, those who were responsible for tearing millions away from Yiddishkeit. The two time periods, that of pre-WWI&WWII Europe and post-WWII America, were very different. Yet the situation in the Yeshivos certainly didn't help, hence the need for Tomchei Tmimim.

As far as ZSS and, to a lesser extent, Shlomo Carlebach, I firmly believe that these two had their minds made up a long time before to do what they ultimately did. These were two very motivated guys who used Yeshivos as their medium and the same can be said about people like Bialik and others, but the ישיבות הקדושות were breeding grounds for revolutionaries and rabble-rousers, TT was not, Shazar not withstanding.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Where's the line?

When on the subject of Israel vs. Eretz Yisroel there's a very fine line, especially fore those of us in the Chabad community. When the Rebbe spoke of ארץ ישראל השלמה he obviously wasn't referring to Israel as a secular entity, but rather as a place of Hashroas Hashechinah and a place of dwelling of millions of Jews. Similarly, when he would scream about the situation in Israel and the fact that its leaders are giving away their very lifeline, it wouldn't be the State of Israel that the Rebbe would worry about, at least not as a secular state.

Therein lies the dilemma.

It seems to this blogger that the lines are getting very blurred, and this is not good. These days the average Lubavitcher has very little idea what the Rebbe's approach was to the "zionist question" and it shows. Although there are many examples such as shluchim and Chabad houses showing Yom Ha'atzmaut on their calendars, I'd like to stick to the issue at hand, namely the Disengagement/Expulsion.

Many of our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel felt it was their holy duty to go to Gaza and barricade themselves in Shuls and homes. They sang and danced with their brethren, not a problem in and of itself, but the content may have been questionable. I can understand it, but it was totally misguided. Physically fighting the decisions of the government was never in the Rebbe's plans, and there were times that it could've been. When Yamit was expunged in 5742 was there a call to arms from the Rebbe? was there any less displeasure then? of course not. Chabad never participated in public demonstrations just for that reason, not in Israel nor in America when it came to Soviet Jewry.

Besides for the misguided plan of action there is also the problem of crossing the line. Most Lubavitcher fall into the trap of the so-called "kanoyim" who accuse Lubavitch of being "more Zionist than the Zionists". This can be traced to the fact that most Lubavitchers are very active in both Shleimus Ha'aretz and the Israeli electoral process. There's also the fact that they're part of the Israeli educational system and invite politicians to their functions. That being the case, coupled with the fact that most Yeshivahs don't teach Shitas Chabad in these matters makes for a confused and uninformed Chabad populace.

When a Yungerman in my bungalow colony mentioned this fact, namely that Lubavitchers should not have been in Gaza, and that the Rebbe would have disapproved of it, he was almost driven out of the shul, but I believe he was right. The view of the Rebbe was never to make political statements (save for 5748-9) nor to support political parties and that would include fighting cops and soldiers in Gush Katif.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You think he likes himself?

East NY'er sends us this blurb:

Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov has deemed recorded music a negative influence on society and banned it from public events, TV and weddings.
Niyazov has already banned opera and ballet from the former Soviet state, saying they were unnecessary, the BBC reported.
"Unfortunately, one can see on television old voiceless singers lip-synching their old songs, Niyazov told his cabinet regarding music on TV. "Don't kill talents by using lip-synching ... create our new culture."
In 2001, Niyazov, the country's president for life, banned gold tooth caps, long hair and beards on young men.
He has also banned car radios, closed all hospitals except those in the capital and renamed calendar months after his relatives, the BBC said.

Source: Washington Times

(Sounds like some people I know)

As if there wasn't enough

Now it's Zalman Schachter's turn to shine.

This week's Newsweek magazine's cover story is all about Religion and Spirituality. One of the ways to get close to G-d is through "Kabbalah", and who better to ask than ZSS.

"Born in 1924 in Poland, Schachter-Shalomi escaped to the United States in 1941, where he was ordained by the Lubavitcher Hasidim, the Orthodox sect that preserves the Judaism practiced in Russian villages 250 years ago. He became entranced by the mysticism of Hasidic practice: its meditative prayer, parables, ecstatic worship and embrace of Kabbalah. As a young rabbi in the postwar years, Schachter-Shalomi was sent to college campuses to bring Jewish students back to the fold. That led to his own spiritual search. He sought out Baptists, Roman Catholic monks, Native American elders, Sufis, psychologists, Buddhist masters and the Dalai Lama, to explore theological ideas."

Here's an interesting photo of him wearing a shtreimel (!) meeting the Dalai Lama

I say blame the Poilisher, after all that's where he was born, no?

The article continues:

"Today, based in Boulder, Colo., he and his students combine elements of Orthodox Judaism (morning prayers, strict observance of the Sabbath and a kosher diet) with a contemporary sensibility. The result is what he calls Neo-Hasidism. Like other liberal branches of Judaism, Schachter-Shalomi's Neo-Hasidism ordains women as rabbis, accepts gays and lesbians, and welcomes intermarried couples. But it goes further to embrace mysticism and the spiritual wisdom of other faiths, and it sees environmentalism as sacred."

Just plain wonderful.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Couldn't they just rent a place?!

What a non-education will get you.

Story today on COL

"Chabad Arranges Kabbala Course in East River"

[It's one thing to speak that way, but to publish it too?]

How do they do this course in a river?

and they say that Chabad is rolling in dough? They have to make classes in the East River, for crying out loud!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

ווי קען מען שרייבען אין אזא צייט ?

I remember as a 9 year-old kid seeing Fiddler on the roof, starring Topol. The scenes are etched in my mind, never to be forgotten. (goes to show you what improper movies can do to a child)

I remember crying bitterly at the scenes of the Jews of Anatevka being evicted from their homes by the apologetic soldiers who insisted that they were "just following orders". Paul Harvey, a 90 year-old GOY from middle America, said it best yesterday when he said that, for him, it conjured up memories of the film. "THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT THOSE WERE THE CZAR'S SOLDIERS".

Most Israeli soldiers have acted in a noble and respectful manner, I'm not implying that they haven't. Some seemed a little too eager to carry out those orders. The same goes for the leftist press in Israel, where the press is probably more blatantly anti-religious than in any other country.

For those who follow the teachings of Harav Kook zt"l the evictions have more severe consequences, with the foundation of the State of Israel being a part of the redeeming process. Their courage, faith, trust in Hashem, and steadfastness is to be commended and forever remembered.

The Palestinian Jews of occupied Williamsburg have outdone themselves again. Their joy at the expulsions and total disregard for their brothers is amazing even to somebody who thinks he's seen it all. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything.

For most others the disconnect is heartbreaking. They have very little feelings one way or the other. Some see it a cost-saving move, making good economic sense. After all, all that money and manpower being spent on 8,000 Jews? "פארוואס דארפען זיי וואוינען דארט צווישען די אראבער?"

You think somebody will wake up when they come for Kiryat Sefer, Beitar, Modi'in and the other Charedi towns?

I wonder....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Ingrates

An ungrateful person.

No, this isn't the name of a new novel or movie, it's a class of people that are just that, ingrates. "Bite the hand that feeds you" is the understatement of the year. These are people who owe whatever their (pathetic) lives are now to Lubavitch and the Rebbe. If not for Shluchim giving them the time of day and a place to feel welcome they would die in obscurity, if you'll excuse me, without their pitiful existence ever being noted. Yet they choose to besmirch the only people that were ever decent to them.

I've spoken to some of their "Bakante" and asked them about it, and they try and explain it. "You need to understand where they're coming from", "they feel like they've been lied to", yada, yada, yada. I'm sorry, but I choose not to be so understanding.

Every person has been lied to or had some truth concealed from him, it's a fact of life. I DO NOT SAY THAT THIS WAS THE CASE, but even if it was it happens, and it's not like he just found out that his father was Pol Pot's executioner. For some reason these "pure souls" are shocked to the core that not everything was revealed to them when they were נתקרב and now they're "exposing" the hidden truths. Excuses are good for a one-time crime or wrongdoing, not for a constant barrage of cut and paste excerpts from a book written by a two-bit loony whose only claim to fame is that he fights Lubavitch for whatever reason.

I do not claim to be a psychoanalyst, but I do know that some of the readers are. I'd like to analyze the need of these people to do what they do. Claiming to be on a quest for "the truth" doesn't cut it either.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Don't push!

As a bochur I attended a Yeshivah camp that had 4 or 5 "litvishe" Yeshivos staying together. One מוצאי תשעה באב after Maariv the guys all charged into the lunchroom to push and shove on line to get their not so great food. What would cause them to push for fried fish and sloppy mashed potatoes is beyond me, but that was the case.

One of the Maggidei Shiur, I believe from Mirrer Yeshivah, could not take it, he could not fathom how young boys can push for food, so he got up and cried out from the depths of his heart "it was just Tishah B'Av"!, meaning how can you push for food at a time like this. The cry went mainly unheeded due to the fact that most boys were still quite hungry, but I remember the story 13 years later.

What do we expect of Tishah B'Av, and what is its main purpose? Is it

1) Tshuvah
2) lamenting the Churban
3) refraining from Loshon Horah
4) Holocaust rememberance

OK, the latter 2 are just to be inclusive of all types, I basically mean the first 2 choices. The other תעניות are basically meant for Tshuvah, although they recall tragedies in the timeline of the Jewish people. Tisha B'Av by virtue of the fact there is lots to say with most of the Kinos lamenting the Churban Beis HaMikdosh and the Crusades is meant to cry for tragedies. So the question arises: are we meant to lament the Churban as a means to bring to Tshuvah which will bring about the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdosh, or is it a reason to cry in and of itself?

If the answer is the former then we have lots of work to do. How is it expected of us in these days to cry over something we've never seen, and all we know of it is that it was a messy slaughterhouse, ח"ו? (a story of the Kotzker and Reb Shlomo Eiger is the source for that quote, so don't get into a huff about it). We do not stress the fact that it was a מקום השראת השכינה so most people don't see it as such, so why cry for it? In the old days we cried for the Beis Hamikdosh because we couldn't bear the pressures of everyday life. The pogroms, the persecutions, and the economic dead end that was the road of most Jews was enough to arouse great yearning for those great days, but what now?

Yom Kippur is different because of the Yom Tov atmosphere, the Davening which speak of Tshuvah and the Yom HaDin, concepts that people can relate to very easily, but Tishah B'av is a day that we can't wait to get over, either by sleeping through it or just by wasting time. I understand Kinos is said with more sincerity due to easily available translations of Kinos and Midroshim, but how does all of that translate into wanting the Bais hamikdosh?

Maybe I'm missing the point here, but it seems that one of the points was Tshuvah. The Chasam Sofer would give a Droshoh every year on Zayin Av, a tradition carried on to this day in Kehillos like Adas Yereim, Chasan Sofer, etc. where the minhogei Chasam Sofer are practiced. I seem to remember hearing that in that Droshoh they mention the names of all people of the community that passed away over the year, especially Rabbonim and Tzaddikim, in order to bring the community to tears. That would seem to make the point of the day as Tshuvah.

You follow me here?

Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What have we here?

Oops!, I forgot, he's allowed to, he's not Chabad.

Bite YOUR nose!

I wonder what it is that causes Lubavitchers to besmirch all that is good and pure about their movement just to get back at an adversary. They do not care that they take down with them 2 or 3 generations of Baalei Mesiras Nefesh, or even the Rebbe and all his work.

Case in point: Aussie echo
He claims to be upset about the Chinuch situation in Melbourne, something that really needs to be fixed, but he goes about it all wrong. The buzzards out there, and you know who you are, loom above cyberspace looking for fresh dead meat, and The Aussie is fair game.

Let's not kid ourselves, every movement has its share of good and bad, others have more for some reason, but others deal with it in better ways. The fact that Lubavitchers have been taught, and rightfully so, not to be afraid to ask questions has come back to haunt some of us because our disgruntled kids are speaking publicly now. When others see young people and others "exposing" the truth about Lubavitch they buy it lock, stock and barrell and are "shocked", not knowing any of this before.

Aussie: Lubavitch is fair game and ready to be had by the rhodents coming out of the woodwork, they have many willing acquaintances ready and willing to do the dirty work for them. Even within the people don't see the harm they do. Please don't be the one to do the job for them.

Good luck otherwise!

א חסידישער בעה"ב


Reb Nosson Gurary passed away last night. He was the son of ר' חיים שמריהו, the brother of זלמן. He was a successful businessman who carried a lot of clout in the community and was someone to be reckoned with, besides for his Chassidishe qualifications.

I last saw him last year when he came to be מנחם אבל Reb Yoel Kahan who wa sitting Shiva for his sister (the wife of Reb Boruch Paris). Reb Yoel and Nosson had been classmates and friends in Tel Aviv many years ago, a time that needs to be studied on its own.

Nosson and Reb Yoel had not seen eye to eye in recent years, with each one taking different sides in the local CH disputes. However, the חסידישער אהבת ישראל that I witnessed that night was a sight to behold and a lesson for the ages. Each one sat and reminisced about the old days, recounting fond memories of a very special childhood, a time when they would go be משלים the Minyan for the Belzer Rov zt"l, or ride on the bus with the חזון איש.

This aspect of Lubavitch is what shows you the sincerity with which Chassidim take the concept of Ahavas Yisroel. It does have its shortcomings, but, as is quoted in the name of כ"ק המגיד ממעזריטש נ"ע Ahavas Yisroel needs to be for everyone, no matter his level of observance or difference of opinion. I just wish people would love each other without letting the bad ones take advantage of the love.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Why the hate?

I've always wondered why Lubavitch is he most hated of all frum/Chassidishe groups. I mean, you can have two archenemies from two of the fighting factions in any group going at each other like cats and dogs, mention Lubavitch and they drop everything. They suddenly remember that fighting the "real enemy" is more important.

We can do this very slowly and examine all possibilities.

1) Old world hate from non-Chassidic groups, i.e. Litvishe.
people like this are usually hateful from lack of understanding, and 200 years of lies. They think that Lubavitchers either learn Tanya all day or don't keep Torah and Mitzvohs. When they find out or meet a Lubavitcher Yungerman וואס קען לערנען they're shocked and reconsider. The real hardliners negate that too by telling themselves that deep down this guy's an Apikores. Others will degrade by using names like "Lubabs and Chabadskers", thereby totally disregarding them or anything they do.


Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Is this all that's left?

Photo credit:

Is this what were supposed to believe is the continuation of Sanz and the Divrei Chaim zt"l?!

Are people so dense as to believe that that's all it takes?

How much time does the man spend in front of the mirror?

Believe me it's nothing personal against the man, I just can't take it anymore.

Where's the prayer?

Believe me friends, it hurts me too. I shudder to think what'll happen if and when the Disengagement happens. However, I do wonder if we're not missing the point here.

Sharon is running the country like an absolute dictator, he could care less about what anybody thinks. His party votes against it, he doesn't care. The referendum would strike it down, he doesn't care. He's negotiating and unilaterally pulling out under fire, he doesn't care. It's a banana republic, friends.

I can understand the idea of trying to go in there and disrupt the police from trying to carry out the evictions, that's a practical and common sense plan of action, but what's with all this political activity? What can be accomplished?

There will be no vote, even amongst the party members, all votes are done in cabinet only. Everything is in place, ready to go, so there is no natural way out of this, so why all this demonstrating and marching? Where's the cry out to Hashem, the Kapitlech Tehillim?

Monday, August 8, 2005

Way to go kid

Eliyohu Yakobovitch is a student at Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in לוד

He's 15 years old.

He finished ש"ס

Source: COL

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Sell my soul for hits?!

The easiest way to generate publicity and comments on your blog is to be controversial. Criticize, condemn, berate, accuse and "expose" are always sure winners.

If you're a guy like TA you'll do anything, after all didn't somebody once say "The truth will set you free"? and who's more anxious to taste that freedom than a lonely old commie.

I will not sell my soul to the devil, I will take the high road.


Monday, August 1, 2005

Curly what?!

(not an actual photo of Curly)

This may be hard to believe for some of you, but I don't relish this story. It comes to us from our friend Chabakuk Elisha.

Act One. That's Funny, You Don't Look Jewish. Chaim and Billy both lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just blocks away from each other, in worlds that almost never collided. Chaim was a Hasidic Jew, he'd never heard pop music or watched MTV. Billy Campion, known as the rocker Vic Thrill, was the star of an underground band. Billy put Chaim, who took on the name Curly Oxide, into the band, and in just one year, he leapt from the 19th Century into the 21st.

You can hear it HERE after the first 8 minutes.

Source: NPR's "This American Life"

What gets me is this kid decided to come back! He lives in Kiryas Joel and probably argues for/against Aron and Zalman Leib all the while knowing that it's all nonsense. He has told his wife and regrets it now and has this dormant gnat gnawing away at his insides. Here's a guy who spent years leading a double life, doing כל דבר אסור and lives as if he's one of the guys in Satmar.

What about the fact that his parents decided to marry him off quickly and that's what got him out of there,

Are we to believe that he's totally rid of his old desires and can now raise a religious/chassidish family?

Is it good for a young boy/girl to act out their desires whilst young so as they don't fight them for the rest of their life?

Can parents really expect that getting him married is the cure to all problems?