Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Utopian Wish

Guest post by Guravitzer

Harry Maryles discovered the Essenes recently. In his search for new comparisons that demean Chasidim, he suggests in his post Modern Day Essenes: “By isolating oneself from all outside influences one becomes a modern day Essene. Essenes were an ancient sect of Frum isolationist Jews. They too couldn’t stand what they saw in the streets of Jerusalem in their day over 2000 years ago. They too wanted to live a life free of such influences. So they moved to a community just outside Jerusalem in order to isolate themselves from such sights. Even though they were extremely Frum Jews - Chazal frowned upon these people – and rightly so. Living like that is not the Torah ideal. Torah Jews are not mandated to withdraw from the world. We are supposed to participate in it.”

In a possible fit of Hashgachah Protis, a scholar named Rachel Elior has just dredged up the waters of the Essenes. Her radical conclusion – that the Essenes never existed, that they are a production of Philo’s wishful thinking – is best discussed among scholars. Her scholarship reminds us of one relevant point. The Essenes were never mentioned by Chazal. We don’t know why the Essenes separated. We don’t know if the Essenes separated. Apparently, we aren’t even certain they existed. We are certain that Chazal never “frowned upon these people,” among his other inaccuracies. Perhaps Mr. Maryles is so confounded by his intense dislike for Charedim and his need to pound the drumbeat of “they are isolationist!” that he missed this inaccuracy in his thought process. From the concept of a Seyag, a fence for Torah, to the admonition of the Rambam to retreat to an island if all humanity fails, to the walls erected around G-d-fearing European communities against the Maskilim, isolationism works. Perhaps Mr. Maryles means to refer to Bedidus Besoch Bnei Odom, to remaining walled off while walking among the masses. The goal is then not to participate in the world, but to allow the world to participate in you. You are not affected by the world; the world is affected by you.

There is room for discussion of the cynicism and materialism pervasive in the Jewish world. The lack of Yiras Shomayim, a staple to be being a Jew when you think no one is looking, is appalling. Return the straw man and illogical argument of isolationism to its proper place on the back shelf. Straw man because no one is truly isolationist in thought or deed, and illogical because isolationism always had and will always have its place in Judaism – the problem lies elsewhere, perhaps in the prophetic words of Chazal that as Moshiach approaches, Chutzpah will increase. Perhaps, as is the case with the Essenes according to Rachel Elior, Mr. Maryles creates the Isolationist-Chasidic-Essene in his mind in his search for Utopia. The wonderful place that will allow for participation in the world, a complete secular education yet complete Jewish G-d-fearing education, a complete involvement in the world yet remaining utterly unaffected, or perhaps even a Utopian yes-beard-no-beard solution (skin patch on top of beard, anyone?) may have affected Philo with the dream of the Essenes, and seems to have affected Mr. Maryles with incoherent thoughts that lead to a Jewish Dystopia.


Maybe A Litvak said...

He believes that being in society is a mitzvah and since it is his 'mission' he won't be harmed.

bahaltener said...

Actualy, "Isim" (Essenes) probably means Chasidim etymologically.

BTW, did anyone see a source, stating that Chasidim horishoynim mentioned in Chaza"l could actually be Isim?

There are also some parallels to research between radical fractions of Isim (who probably were associated with early noytzrim, triggering some serious errors in the approaching the role of the tzaddik) and modern day extreme meshichists.

Gateshead said...

Harry Maryles is nothing more than an ignorant bigot. His silly rantings on his blog have exposed him quite well for what he is- a pathetic whiner masquerading as an intellectual.
Game's up Harry. Go do something else, maybe start an interfaith 'dialogue' or some other important project in the service of your proprietary brand of Judaism. Your bitter buckets of hate make decent people sick. We still remember your disgusting comments about the Jews of Gaza....
Harry hates any proud frum and committed Jew. Of-course he hates Chabad.....You call yourself 'Rabbi'?! Harry Maryles is a disgraceful self-annointed 'authority' on Jewish issues. Sadly, his opinions usually run contra to Torah values.....v'yiras shomayim- man d'char shmey ??

Anonymous said...

1. There was actually an article written by Yehuda Liebes, comparing the Dead Sea Sect to Asher Zelig Margulis, the famed ideologue of Neturei Karta.

2. The best quote from the Maryles:
"I believe that there is a lot of repressed sexuality in isolated Frum communities. That is why one can find Chasidim with long Peyos and even longer beards frequenting the brothels of New York - as was depicted on a Law and Order episode last night."

Law and Order? Huh?

snag1 said...

FYI, I wouldn't say that Hirshel (Maryles) is a Lubavitch hater, hey, he even davens in a Lubavitcher Shul!

Anonymous said...

He didn't says lubavitch hater, he said chareidi hater. Lubavitchers are the most tolerable of the chareidim, because they are at least friendly most of the time.

schneur said...

You are correct the Essenes are a group we do not know much about. For years it was assumed that they were celibate and even today many scholars assume that at the very least many Essenes were celibate. Obviously that's where Chazal came out against them.
They(Essenes) also had serious taanes aginst the establsihed order the Holy Temple including our calendar and other halachos. This is not speculation , but facts gleemd from their writings. Chazal were not in favor of sectarians no matter how "frum" they were. They also had halachic difference with Chazal' and thus this was another area which Chazal criticized them.By the way Josephus does mention the Essenes.
Finally its ironical that a Lubavitcher criticizes R. Maryles. While groups like the Skverer, Satmar, Kluizenberg, Visnitz,Nitra and Popa spent time and money isolating themselves from the ravages of the modern world and its temptations (both Jewish and non Jewish), Lubavitch thought it had the strength to invite these "temptaions" in the form of masses of secular Jews to their own living rooms and dining spaces for Shabbes thinking that They (CHabad) would influence them. If that was not enough rather than isolation from the Goyishe world, Chabad sent out hundreds of young men and women to these Goyishe places to live in that culture.
Well history has spoken , yes af ew lets say several thousand (10,000) joined Chabad and a few thousand more became Orthodox , yet at what price ? Is the spiritual Halachic and Heimishe level the same in Lubavaitch in 2009 as it was lets say in 1964 ?
Outreach can also be done without sacrificing one's own community !

Anonymous said...

Ah. So you are upset that chabad talks to us shgotzim. You want all chareidim to be equally xenophobic, obnoxious and intolerant. I get it.

Friendly anonymous said...

>Is the spiritual Halachic and Heimishe level the same in Lubavitch in 2009 as it was lets say in 1964 ?<

That's a misleading comparison. Lubavitch today is not cloistered, and spans the breadth from satmar to reform, to the eirev rav. Therefore, one can't speak about the "spiritual level" of Lubavitch as a single entity.

Anonymous said...

Halacha? Lubavitch vs.Satmar
Who is for the last 20 years in the secular court in the US and Loi olieni in the zionist Begatz?
Kids off the derech, I see lately too many Yoilies on the web thare totaly frie, so start counting your beans.
Hiemiskiet? has its levels, Kashrus I would say is the same, but Tzenius is definitly not the same but their are certain mailois to that in the Vieber shul and the Mener shul Vehmaivin Yovin

Anonymous said...

Which Shaliach tolerates Meriles in his shul, he probably has the neshoma of reb Moshe Lieb Sasover, lets give him a Paan

Maybe A Litvak said...

question: What is the reason that Chabd places its shiluchim in ostensibly (kifey sechel anushey) places of negative influences? What was the Rebbe's offical reason?

Dovid said...

"Well history has spoken , yes af ew lets say several thousand (10,000) joined Chabad and a few thousand more became Orthodox"

Schneur,I believe your figures are gross exxagerations.Maybe if you include the children and grandchildren etc will you get a 10 thousand figure.
A large percentage of Lubavitch is made up of Jews who were previously Frum, such as bal hablog and many of the now Lubavitch commentators.So the "inreach" was the greatest success.
Nonthelss,Lubavitch has done lots of kiruv and good things, though they have a tendency for demanding more credit than they deserve.

Anonymous said...

What right do people of the normal klal yisroel go out of their homes every morning for business,
The Rebbes business was Nishmas Yisroel so he is sending people for his business

Anonymous said...

Were you in the shluchim office basement and you got your figures?

Anonymous said...


What right was Reb Chaim Berlin rov in moscow? wasn't Moscow by then 90% secular? or every Ungarischer Rov son became a rov in a small village with no minyan on weekdays, as long he had a official title?

Anonymous said...


i thought you need mesiras nefesh for harbotzas torah? is harbotzas torah only Bava Kama? or a little basics is also considered Harbotzas torah? ask 1 of your gedolim.

Harry Maryles said...

My, my my.

This is quite revealing. I didn't know there was so much 'love and understanding' by your friends about me. Except for one or two rather gallant defenders, almost every other comment was completely vile. And you Mr. 'Tzig' allowed this drivel?! You forget that I know who you are. And I could easily expose you. But don't worry, I won't do that.

I have never written one negative word about you nor would I even consider allowing others to do so. But you not only allowed it - you allowed unbelievably nasty comments to be made.

I have not written anything negative about Lubavitch in many months since there has been nothing to write about. But that doesn't stop Mr. Gurewicz from writing a most hateful essay.

I don't know where all his hate comes from. Maybe it's because I chided him a while back about sending his daughter to the Meshichist high school here - I don't know. But I will be sure to mention this to him next time I see him in the Lubavitch Shul here - Bnei Reuven where I Daven twice a day as the Shaliach Tzibur.

Be well and Good Shabbos

Anonymous said...

Maryles - malei rishus lelo seichel.

He is not the only one with that name who has all kinds of krum views. His niece or cousin or something Elana Maryles is worse.

evanstonjew said...

Rabbi Maryles is a frum ehrlicher person. His blog offers many people a place to think and talk about the charedi-MO interface, an important topic to many, both those who lean more to the yeshivish position and those who are on the MO side of the divide.As all readers of his blog know there is no shortage of vocal charedi critics in the comments. In fact the entire framework of the discussions back and forth lean more toward a strict Orthodox take on issues than to a MO point of view. It is true there aren't enough comments from a chasidic perspective, but that is because chasidim choose not to comment. Their pespective would easily fit into the conversation and would certainly be valued.

No blogger is perfect, most everyone has blind spots and most every one including the circle associated with this blog are not as empathic as they could be to points of view they see as wrong . To single out Rabbi Maryles is grossly unfair. To suggest that his personal family tragedy is a punishment for his opinions is just disgusting.

Guravitzer said...

As these comments are a technical extension of my guest post, I will only join for a moment to make clear that I wish Mr. Maryles and his family, especially his grandson who should have a refuah krova ushleima, health and parnassah from the full and open hand of the One above.

I consider Mr. Maryles to be a regular Jew, albeit one of unclear public thinking. I do not know him personally, contrary to his seeming belief.

fikiforti said...

Mr Maryles

yoour same distorted logic that brrought you to associate :guravitzer--gurewicz"is the one who brought you to your ridiculus opinion

Maybe is b/c tou saw the entry in wilki

"According to a Jewish legend, one of the Essenes, named Menachem, had passed at least some of his mystical knowledge to the Talmudic mystic Nehunya ben ha-Kanah,[57] to whom the Kabbalistic tradition attributes Sefer ha-Bahir and, by some opinions, Sefer ha-Kanah, Sefer ha-Peliah and Sefer ha-Temunah. Some Essene rituals, such as daily immersion in the Mikvah, coincide with contemporary Hasidic practices; some historians had also suggested, that name "Essene" is an hellenized form of the word "Hasidim" or "Hasin" ("pious ones"). However, the legendary connections between Essene and Kabbalistic tradition are not verified by modern historians."

you "forgot" to read the next paragraph


Rev. Gideon Ousely, produced a book that he claimed was Essene in origin known as the Gospel of the Holy Twelve (which he claimed was translated from Essene texts hidden in a Tibetan monastery, and partially channeled to him by angels.)[citation needed] Dr. Edmund Bordeaux Szekely is another modern pseudo-Essene. These individuals assert that the Essene teachings had been hidden and assimilated into many mystical spiritual traditions around the world, where the teachings were hidden within ancient libraries. It was in 1928 that Edmond Bordeaux Szekely first published his translation of The Essene Gospel of Peace, a manuscript allegedly discovered in the Secret Archives of the Vatican and in old Slavonic in the Royal Library of the Habsburgs of which much was destroyed by a fire that destroyed the monastery that stood in its place. (now the property of the Austrian government) However, subsequent investigations into the claims of these individuals produced nothing to substantiate their stories. Biblical scholars don't consider the Szekely or Ousely writings as authentic.[citation needed]

Anonymous said...

Mr. Marylis is a person who has no qualms about exposing every sort of flaw he can possibly discover in another Jew - mostly Chareidim but he's an equal-opportunity basher for sure - and yet he feels bad when someone points out his ignorance.I guess it's no surprise but then again, it's interesting that he shows up this way. Hey Harry - stop the endless lashon harrah and rechilus on Klal Yisroel and maybe someone will be melamed zechus on you too.

bpunbound said...

"Is the spiritual Halachic and Heimishe level the same in Lubavaitch in 2009 as it was lets say in 1964 ?"

Come, come Schneur, is it ANYWHERE?

Harry Maryles said...

I do not know him personally, contrary to his seeming belief.

Oh... please. You have commented on my blog and I asked you if you were Gurevitzer a while back and you admitted it to me. Unless there are two Gurevitzers.

Maybe A Litvak said...

I didn't question an ehrenste yungerman who has learning under his beal and has a geshmake in lehrnen, who goes out with his wife to a secular town.

I questioned those lacking any one of those aforementioned maylos

example: bachurim going over to prusta shiksas -on Madison Ave around Shkiya time- with a pusella set of Daled Minim and being as personal and amicable as a travelling salesman.

Is this behaviour (or any lacking the prerequisites) done with RMMS approval or not? If yes, what is the rational?

Where did your Rebbe draw the line?
I am sure he wouldn't allow them to go to times square, pre-Guliani, or stand outside a makum tumah. (Unless, it is not a nisayon, because they would be too young to gain admittance anyways)

Anonymous said...

lubabs dont do that...

Anonymous said...

Since the last time I saw the oorah and aish pamphlet I realized that the nice clean shaven boys of Lakewood are hanging out in houses to talk to women about " KIRUV" how much Torah do these peple have under their belt? Did the gedolim give a heter for these unkosher deeds,

Maybe A Litvak said...

Anonymous said...
Since the last time I saw the oorah and aish pamphlet I realized that the nice clean shaven boys of Lakewood are hanging out in houses to talk to women about " KIRUV" how much Torah do these peple have under their belt? Did the gedolim give a heter for these unkosher deeds,"

Those guys were single? They weren't yungerleit in ther mid twenties? Are they sitting by the stender for most of the day?

I am serious. I want to know if the Rebbe approved of it, and if so, what was the rational. Why can't you give a strait answer?

Pesach said...

RABBI Harry Maryles is a frum guy and a mentsch. He is willing to point out flaws in all communities, INCLUDING HIS OWN. This a trait that you and others of your ilk lack. Anyone who attacks Chabad is automatically wrong in your eyes. Maybe it's time to start looking in the mirror and figuring out why there is so much opposition to so many parts of Chabad. I say this as someone who is tremendously moved by Chasidus, just not your kind.