Thursday, February 26, 2009

Munkacser Abdication (Part II)

In Part I we discussed the Munkatcher Rov - Reb Boruch Rabinovitch - in general and the fact that he was a light that would not shine after WW2, when in theory he should have been in his prime, due to the lack of pre-war Rabbonim at that time. We can assume that due to the fact that a larger contingent of Hungarian/Marmorisher Jews survived the war that they would've flocked to him almost as much as to the Satmar Rov. In part II we'll try and get to the bottom of what transpired during and immediately after the war years that caused him to so drastically change his approach to Jewish life and abdicate the throne of Munkatch - at least as far as Rebbistive went.

Bacuhrim and RBR accompanying Reb Choone Koloshitzer upon his visit to Munkacs

At the outset of world war II the Government of Hungary deemed all foreign citizens suspicious and potential spies that needed to be deported back to their home countries. Reb Burechel was a Polish citizen - from Shedlitz, - Shimon Goldman's town- and thus deemed a potential spy, or something like that. He was rounded up with thousands of other Polish and Foreign Nationals and delivered over the border to Kamenetz-Podolsk in the Ukraine. Literally just dumped there. Only by a sheer miracle was he rescued from the massacres that the bastard Ukrainians carried out on the helpless Jews, just as they would when the Nazis overran the Ukraine in the summer of '41. RBR made his way to Budapest after being rescued, and immediately threw himself into the task at hand - rescuing Jews by any means neccesary. He sounded the alarm - as was the case with RMBW, who also escaped from the trains to Auschwitz - and made it his duty to help those refugees who had managed to escape from blood-soaked Poland. Hungary was still a relative safe haven at that time, no deportations yet, only forced labor.

Reb Burechel and Reb Nuta Shlomo Schlissel, the Rosh Yeshiva and Dayan of Munkacs

Truth be told, there isn't much information out there about RBR's wartime activities. They say that he wrote a book and still saw it published right before his passing on Chanukah 5758. Before that time he wouldn't discuss what he did. maybe since he became a shtikkel Zionist he decided not to write about them for fear of implicating himself by associating with them. He would say that he's leaving that chapter of his life for "after 120." It seems like he was frustrated at the total apathy of most Hungarian Jews, not only to the plight of their brethren in Europe, but also to the dangers awaiting themselves. I may have mentioned before how in Shavuos of 5703/1943 Jews traveled to Koson, to the "Ohr Moleh", to be with the Tzaddik for Shavuos, my maternal grandfather included. Most of Polish Jewry was decimated by then, but in Hungary it was Yom Tov as usual for those not conscripted into the forced labor brigades. A biography written by RBR's son-in-law says that the reason for RBR's leaving Hungary in 1944 and traveling to the Holy Land was that he saw that he could only do so much if the people themselves are unwilling to help. He had done all he could, now it was time to save his family.

Learning Parshas Emor at Cheder in Ungvar

Unlike the Belzer, Lubavitcher, and Satmar Rebbes, among others, no book has been written about the Rabinovitch Family's escape. Let me rephrase that - I haven't seen one, so we may have to get to that part later. In the hakdome to his sefer בינת נבונים he does write about how he was rescued in the Ukraine and escaped to Hungary. They arrived in the Holy Land in 1944, and Reb Burechel would darshen to thousands about the slaughters that the Jews in Europe are subjected to and would try and call the Jews there to action. There the Rebbetzin Frima, the Minchas Elozor's only daughter, contracted Tuberculosis and was no longer alive a year later. RBR was left alone with 5 yesomim'lach, shattered sevenfold now that his world and his wife had been taken from him. What happened later is unclear, prone to hearsay and rumors and often mixed with outright lies. Two years later he married a young woman - one that the Chassidim were (to say the least) quite unhappy about. The Holocaust had taken a major toll on the young Rov - he had changed drastically. His outlook on life and how to build the Jewish Nation from דאסניי had also changed, and many of his shver's - and his - talmidim and chassidim were very unhappy.

More on that later, iy"h.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

.......אל תשליכנו לעת זקנה

New York City Republican mayoral candidate Jonah J. Goldstein (C) speaking with orthodox Jewish voters

די פון אייך וועלכע זענען אויפגעוואקסען אין ניו יארק און געהערט די אידישע ראדיא, ווייסען צו זאגען פון די וועכנטליכע און אמאל טעגליכע אפיעלס פאר די פארשידענע מושב זקנים'ס וועלכע האבען זיך געפונען און די אויבענדערמאנטע שטאט במשך פון גאר אסאך יאהר. די פירער פון די אגודת בית אנשי מעמד, אדער "בית תומכי תורה וזקני ישראל" פלעגן זאגען א שטיקל דבר תורה און דערנאך מאכען דעם אפיעל. ערשט פלעגן זיי, אבער, אויסרופען די נעמען פון די גוטהארציגע נדבנים וועלכע האבען זיך אנגערופען ביי די פריערדיגע אפיעלס. "מיסיס שירלי גאלדשטיין פון קווינס אכצען דאלאר, מיסטער ראבערט ווייס פון פייוו טאונס פינף און צוואנציג דאלאר," א.ז.וו.. טראכטנדיג פון די גוטע צייטען מאכט מיר ווארעם אויפ'ן הארצען. אמאל איז די אפיעל געווען פאר די נייעס מיט משה ראזענפעלד, און אמאל ערשט דערנאך. רבי פינחס הירש זינגער איז געווען איינער פון די גוטע בעטער, צווישען אנדערע. פארוואס רעד איך דערפון יעצט? פשוט. די בילד האט מיר דערמאנט פון די בתי אבות, כאטש נישט די סצענעס (פון אידן שפילן קארטען) ווייזען זיי אין זייערע ליטעראטור, און ס'איז צו פארשטיין פארוואס אויך

א ברידזש גיים אין א מושב זקנים, 1938

די אנפירער פון די מוסדות פלעגן אלעמאל רעדן פון די "עלטערע תלמידי חכמים" וועלכע געפינען זיך ביי זיי. זעהט אויס אז פאר די שנאר אקציעס איז געווען בעסער אזוי . רעדן פון אלטע אידענעס און סתם אלטע אידן, פאר זיי צו שנארען, איז, זעהט אויס, נישט אזוי איינגענעם. מיר קומט אויס אז אסאך פון די אידישע מענטשען וואס מ'פלעגט דארפען האבען פאר דע אידישע סינעמע אוןן טעאטער פלעגט מען נעמען פון אט די מושבי זקנים. מ'האט זיי אנגעטוהן טליתים מיט קיטלאך און ס'איז געווען א פארטיגע זאך, מ'האט נישט געדארפט פאטשקענען מיט פאלשע בערד וכדומה. די רחמנות אויף די דאזיגע אידן און אידענעס איז גאר גרויס. ווארשיינלאך זענען די אידן געקומען אין אמעריקע זוכען א שטיקל לעבן און א טראפ מנוחה. די אידן, זעהט אויס, האבען געהאט א ביסל מסירות נפש דא אין די גאלדענע מדינה: געהוטען די אידישע צורה און געהאלטען שבת און כשרות. די קינדער זייערע זענען מסתמא אויפגעוואקסען ווי די פרייע פויגל, אהן א אידישע חינוך, און זענען געווארען ככל הגויים, עכ"פ במראם החחיצוני ובהתנהגותם. וואס טוט אזא איינער וואס ער קומט זיך נישט אויס מיט זיין אלט-מאדישע טאטע און מאמע? שטעלט ער זיי אריין אין אזא מוסד פאר אלטע לייט און לעבט זיך א גוטען טאג אין לאנג איילענד, און קומט איין מאל א יאר וויזיטען די אלטע טאטע מאמע! נו, וואס זאל אזא אלטע איד זיצען און טאן א גאנצען טאג ווען די קאפ זיינער ארבעט שוין נישט? זיצט ער און שפילט "ברידזש" מיט נאך אידען און אידענעס

דער איד איז אפשר יא און אפשר נישט געווען אמאל א תלמיד חכם, ס'קען גאר זיין אז אמאל איז ער געווען פון די חשוב'ע תלמידים אין איינער פון דע גרויסע ישיבות אין פולין צו אין די ליטא. אפשר איז ער אנטלאפען קיין אמעריקא פון די פריזיוו בפקודת רבו, און אפשר איז ער גאר געבוירען אין די גאלדענע מדינה. די ווייטאג ביי אים צו זעהן זיינע קינדער אזוי אויפוואקסען דאהי איז ביי איהם געוועהן אוודאי זייער גרויס. אפשר האט ער זיך גאר געבענקט צוריק צו דער אלטע היים, כאטש וואס דארט וואלט ער געליטען רדיפות, ארימקייט,און נאך ארגערס. די דאזיגע אידן זענען געלאפען זעהן די גדולי ישראל וועלכע פלעדן קומען קיין אמעריקע קלייבען געלט, און מיט זיי האבען זי זיך אביסעלע דערקוויקט די דורשטיגע נשמה. פון זיי איז אויסגעוואקסען רבי שלמה פרייפעלדס און רבי יצחק דוד גראנערס, און פון זיי האבען די ישיבות אין ניו יארקער געגנט געהאט קליענטען אין די ערשטע יאהרען. ס'איז א ווייטאג צו זעהן אז די לעצטע יארען האבען זיי געדארםט פארברענגען אין די מושבי זקנים אהן משפחה און באקאנטע, אפילו אזוי פיל צענדליקע יאהרען שפעטער. וואס האט די אלטע אידעלע געקענט פועל'ן ביי דעם קאנדידאט פאר מעיאר? נו שוין, זאל די אייבערשטער שוין רחמנות האבען אויף אונז אלע און שנעל שיקען משיח'ן

New York City Republican mayoral candidate Johan J. Goldstein (seated 3R) speaking to orthodox Jewish voters.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Harav Avrohom Kahaneman z"l


Son of the late Ponovizher Rov, and President of the Yeshivah since his passing. Reb Avrohom was 97 years old and a beloved Talmid of Reb Lazer Yudel Finkel in Mir and in Yerushalayim. He is survived by a son Reb Lazer Kahaneman, and a daughter, Tziporah, married to Reb Shmuel Markowitz. The two are embroiled in a major battle of succession ever since anyone can remember, based - I believe - on a promise Reb Avrohom made to Reb Shmuel at the time of his engagement.




Monday, February 23, 2009

System Overload!

I sit here in the office, doing what needs to be done - working for pittance to help support the family. This is a discussion onto itself - why college educated men don't make much more than young girls who do their nails while waiting for the phone to ring.... There should be a rule about that. Maybe Barry O could help us out here... Anyway, I sit here and work. It's hard enough working when you know that it's all gone way before the check's been written. But this is why we're here, to work and have nothing to show for it, so we do as we need to. But even the pain and suffering should have limits placed on them, no? There needs to be some accounting of the pain and suffering, no? So why then am I subjected to such utter, indescribable pain? what have I done to deserve this? Even the perpetrators of the most brutal crimes aren't subjected to such pain and suffering. They have lawyers and rights groups that advocate for them. They do, but I don't. They get to work out and entertain themselves, and we don't. C'est la vie.

What - you ask - is the pain and suffering that I'd made to endure? It's simple. Regesh Symphony - or is Regesh classics? - over and over again. That's what the man in charge of this office insists on playing over and over again. That and some classical music CD. Not that listening to any other tape over and over again would have a different effect, but it so happens that Regesh is the tape that right now has me tied up in knots. Me being somewhat musical maybe I do have a beef specifically with the folks at Regesh, like we discussed back in '07. Not that I have better music or a better voice than Reb Abish, it's just that if you ask some Yeshivishe types there was no Jewish music until the 1980s. Yes, they all listened and kvelled over Carlebach, but they may not admit it. Abish made it ok to listen to Jewish music, since it had an overtly Yeshivishe kvetch to it, something the Roshei Yeshivah at Lakewood could "Far'Dveyke zich" to. There was no Bentzion Shenker for these people - and I pity them for it. Ignorance is bliss for these folks, and what they don't know can't hurt them, - or can it? Of course it can. Abish is nice, but to go through life thinking that AB invented Jewish music is nothing short of a crime.

Maybe I should start a BZS fan club. Start promoting him among the Yeshivaleit. Start showing them what real compositions and real singing can be like. Let them not go through life without recognizing the man and his achievements. Although Chabad Nigunim in my opinion have no match on earth, Modzitz - especially when sung by RBZS in his prime is not far behind, although some may say that after hearing the nigunim from RBZS, singing it at a shabbos table or hearing it from any other is just no good. Ahh, but how? how do you convince a youngster who gets his musical kicks from the shnook of the day playing incoherent garbage to appreciate the good stuff? The Yeshivishe/Modern/Lubavitcher kid doesn't know that the Eishes Chayil, Menuchoh VeSimchoh, Baruch Keyl Elyon as well as many others were all either composed by him or made famous by his melodious voice. The Chossid who never misses a Melava Malka may go through life without knowing that the Omar Hashem LeYaakov and Askinu Seudoso that he sings every week is a Modzitzer shtikkel that our BZS made famous.

What can I say? It hurts. Start Listening Now.

More Modzitz

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Response to RYGB

Reality Check responds to Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer's shiur.

(I tried to break it up to make it easier on the eyes, while retaining the classic Circus Tent layout. I hope the words are easily understood, and I hope that RYGB will see it soon and respond in kind. - HT)

"I listened carefully to RYGB’s talk. He started off “on topic,” but way before half way went off topic (mostly because of all the questions) and his talk turned into a sociological discussion of Chassidus in general, all different kinds of branches thereof – nothing at all to do with Chabad, and nothing of real content in fact. As he asked for specific criticisms, I will oblige with some off the top:

1. He started quoting from some unidentifiable “letter,” which even if he had the actual name of the author it would still be irrelevant as it expresses personal opinions of that individual in a correspondence with another individual. The only point he cited from there is that (a) when studying Torah one “intellectualizes” G-d thus losing the “direct, emotive” connection” (I suppose what Chassidus refers to as dveikus), and (b) when studying the Rebbe’s teachings this obstacle is overcome, but (c) Chabad restricts this to their own Rebbes, the only way to overcome it is by learning Torah from one of the Chabad Rebbes. As for (a), there is truth in that. It is a “problem” noted already by the Baal Shem Tov about the tension between Torah-study (intellectual exercise where one must concentrate on subject-matter) vs. pursuit of dveikus (see Tzavoas HoRivOsh 29). Yet BST also states that one must continue studying, for without Torah study there cannot be dveikus, and the way to overcome the problem is by interrupting your learning every so often and thinking about Hashem - the Noysen HaTorah. He forgets, however, that Nefesh Hachayim IV:7 says something very similar, so that this is not unique to Chassidus, and “misnagdim” have the same problem.

As for (b) – at face-value that is ridiculous. The implication appears to be that one should only study the Rebbe’s Torah. Does that exist anywhere? In Chabad they study Gemoro, rishonim and acharonim, and poskim, no less than anywhere else. The Rebbe’s Torah is no more than their version of study of mussar etc., thus learned only at certain times (e.g., early seder and last seder of the day), though as the Rebbe has many pilpulim and hadronim etc. relating strictly to nigleh – these are often inserted into the analysis of nigleh subjects, ---- but NEVER, ever replacing any other kind of Torah-study. In that context it does indeed ensure never to forget that when we do talmud torah it is Toras Hashem. As for (c) this is no more than in mussar-yeshivos, learning the derech and teachings of their mussar-mashgichim (in the Mir R. Yerucham, in Kelm the Alter fun Kelm, in Novardok R. Yossef Yoizel etc.). To mix different derochim only confuses, and leaves one kere’ach mikan u'mikan. Moreover, the Lubavicher Rebbe’s Torah quotes so many other other chassidic and non-chassidic sources that the average student is exposed to these as well (albeit in context). Moreover, as their study of chassidus extends to all their Rabbeyim, and especially the extensive writings of the Temach Tzedek, the latter quotes extensively other Chassidic works, so that they are familiar with them as well (though obviously not widely and only from these quotes).

From Boisbriand Blog

2. RYGB claims that chassidus emphasizes the emotional vs intellectual yedi’as Hashem. This is true of many branches of chassidus, but certainly not of Chabad. In fact, this became a major argument between the Rav (founder of chabad) and some of his colleagues. Already the Maggid of Mezritch (successor of BST) emphasized the need of intellectual yedi’as Hashem, and this became prominent in the teachings of his disciple the Rav, aka as the Alter Rebbe. Even a cursory glance at Tanya (and esp. part 2 thereof) provides clear evidence of this. You claim that unlike the “emunoh pshutoh” of the Chassidim the misnagdim were open to chakirah. Both parts of this statement are untrue. Where do you have sources for misnagdim delving into chakirah? Have you forgotten what the Gro says in his notes on Shulchan Aruch regarding the Rambam’s philosophy (chas vesholom) leading him astray? And obviously you are not aware of the Tzemach Tzedek’s “Sefer HaChakiroh” where he profoundly analyzes statements of many sifrei chakiroh (from R. Saadia to Ikkorim etc.), aside of the frequent references in Chabad writings to Moreh Nevuchim.

Re your claim that aside of Vizhnitzer chassidim don’t even use Chovos Halevovos; that is incredible nonsense and ignorance. The classic sifrei chassidus are full of citations from there (from Toldos to Sfas Emes and Shem Mishmuel etc.).

3. First YGB makes general statements re chassidim (besides chabad) not into kiruv, and only much later this is qualified by mentioning Belz and Braslav. 4. Re: mechiyas Amalek – you say this is meant spiritually. Nowadays yes, as we have no knowledge to identify Amalek. But it is meant physically, and will be apply as such when Moshiach comes. 5. You mention that ALL Lubavitcher boys wear their shirts out as a notion of bitul. Nonsense. Some do so out of laziness, others in order to assure that their talis koton retain its she’ur of amoh al amoh (while when tucked in it is crumpled up to less than the she’ur; many get around this by wearing a gartel over their talis koton to keep it in place). In fact, there are many Lubavitch Yeshivos (certainly that demand that the boys keep their shirts tucked in and give a knas for violations). 6. When in finally returned temporarily to your topic, you expressed your problem with the concept of bitul hayesh, especially vis a vis the Rebbe. First of all, vis a vis the Rebbe; this is simply the halachic requirement re bitul to one’s Rebbe, (moreh raboch kemoreh Shomayim etc.). Find out about the total bitul that Reb Boruch Ber had to Reb Chayim, and some stories about this border (in common perception) on the absurd! The true talmid (chossid) regards his Rebbe as Shechinoh medaberes mitoich groinoi [cf. Yerushalmi Berochos 2:1, Yevomos 96b etc. re R. Elozor and R. Yochanan etc.], to accept the Rebbe’s view as objective while one’s own view is most likely distorted by pniyois.

The same chassidus that had this great veneration of their rebbes also demands vayigbah liboi bedarkei Hashem, and demands that one must recognize and act on one’s own qualities and talents no less than on one’s defects. (unlike in many mussar schools!) It also demands that one is not to rely on the Rebbe (tzadik) [as in tzadik be’emunosoi yichye – al tikrei yichye elo yechayeh] but achieve and “shteig” (to use a Litvishe expression) on one’s own efforts (taking tzadik... yichyeh literally). This is not only in chabad, but goes back to the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid in their explicit teachings."

- Reality Check.

Friday, February 20, 2009

There's only one original

There's an old Chassidisher Vort that captures the essence of this picture. The Tzaddik Reb Hillel Paritcher (not to be confused with Meir Paritcher, for those who know Meir Paritcher was Reb Meir Chodosh, father of Shulamit Ezrachi and mashgiach of the Chevron and Ateres Yeshivos in Israel) once said the following: [ The truth is that the Rebbe once mentioned it a farbrengen and was wary of the fact that misnagdim would "pick up on it" and make hay, but he mentioned it nevertheless. ] had Shlomo haMelech known about the love between a Rebbe and Chossid and a Chossid and his Rebbe he would've written Shir HaShirim using that love as his moshul instead of the moshul he uses. Now before you jump out of your seats, think of Reb Hillel (and I hold my breath when I say this) as somebody of the caliber of Reb Yisroel Salanter or the Alter fun Kelm, that way you'll accept his words with a clear conscience no matter how radical it may seem to you. That's the world we live in and I'm getting close to accepting it. Reb Hillel is telling us that the greatest form of love is that which exists between Rebbe and Chossid. Radical words indeed....

Let's examine these words, shall we? and maybe at that time examine why we shy away from the word "love" in general. We can help ourselves understand the concept of "loving the Rebbe" by taking a deep look at the above picture. You may not see it, but what I see is love and admiration for the Rebbe here. You can get a hundred people and have them surround your favorite Rosh Yeshivah, but it's not love. You can have a hundred thousand people at a man's levaya, but it still may not be love. It may be admiration, respect, fear or awe, but it still won't be love. The picture here says love. Love like a father to his son and like a child to his father. Now, you may ask why is love important at all? I think we can leave that for a later date. It's Erev Shabbos and the Tzig has errands to run. In the meantime enjoy the beautiful picture, maybe listen to the clip of Reb Hillel's nigun, and have yourselves a wonderful Shabbos, no matter how you celebrate it. I'll try and say the whole Tehillim tomorrow morning and do some Torah studying as well.

Listen Here

ניגון הגדול לרבי הלל מפאריטש זצ"ל
ניגון הגדול לרבי ה...
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Farm Animals - all of you!

Z.I.Y commenting on: Circus Tent Hollow Footsteps:
Since this thread has gone Off Topic & has become about someone's shiur & meeting in Pathmark, yadayada (yawn...) - it may be unbecoming to interfere on this interference by amazingly getting back on topic - namely this quarrel between the Dakoys (Hirsh the Goat) & Gasoys (7FatCow) - but I'll try:

As someone who knows both the Footsteps crowd & the 7fatcow oylem well, and can safely vouch that conflating the 2 is like conflating Satmer & Lubavitch - or, the Bundisten & the Poyaley Tziyon, for that matter. While from the "outside" (really ghettoized inside...) it may seem like 1 big monolithic dropout migration - to those who KNOW these chevreh (not just talking from their recliners on 14th Ave.) know that the differences between them are kirchoyk mizrach mimayrov (to use some hyperbole). One can say, that a main difference between Footsteps & 7fatcow-Cholenters is like the chiluk between heresy (the former) and blasphemy (the latter), vd"l. From the scores of those I know from both, I can attest that I know of only 2 individuals who are associated with both, and even so, with Cholent-7FatCow more than with Footsteps. In fact, quite a few of the Ki do not look favorably upon the Footstep. Just look at the latest 7FatCow post. For Footsteppers are perceived as being naive, nerdy, sober misnagdic, kindergarden-sellouts-to-society etc. types - whereas Cholenters are viewed as loosers, filthy, tripping chasidic, spinning-wheels-stuck-in-the-mud hypocrite types.

Farmer passing cows on the way to feed sows, Iowa, March, 1954

Moreover, lumping these 2 groups with the typical "dropout" stereotype is further misrepresentation, and indicates to the ignorance of those who do. We are not dealing here with the classic "yeshiva bums" syndrome that is well known to those who went throughout the years (even back to the '40s) to Torah VoDaas or Chaim Berlin or even Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch (ULY) or Torah Veyireh (UTA) for that matter. These 2 new breeds are not "dropouts" with all the de- facto via-negativa connotations. Rather, in the case of Footsteps they are "drop-ins" into normal mainstream society, ("nihyeh k'echod hagoyim") and in the case of Cholent-7FatCow they are "in-and-out" b'vas achas ("poyseyach al shtey haseifim"). If you don't understand this chiluk, I advise you to open up a Rambam to Hilchos Mumrim and Hilchos Teshuvah (ch. 5 I think where he classifies apikorsus) and the noysey keylim. It is more complex then mere Mumar liTeovoyn and Mumar liHachis. Most of the comments about this are not even worth responding to, for they show the obvious am horatzus and condescension of the writer - oh! opening up RaMChal or Chorev or becoming an MO urologist at Mount Sinai is the solution. Call it the Zev Brenner Solution. [- By this very comment these writers imply that there is acceptable diversity - which only they are to decide for others what the limits are - which leads to a point I'll soon make below.]

The only ones that made some half passable points were, of course der Tzig aleyn, by making the worthy distinction between the "farlorene" of BT homes & of geborene shtiber - and "seen it all said," who is mature enough to point out that the so-called dropouts come in all flavors & tastes. To which I'll comment, that, verily, just like "eyn deyosehem shovoys," so too "eyn apokurseyhem shovoys." And if this is the case, just as you accept that there is a variety of "cases," so too accept the fact that there is a variety of etiologies and of individual life-perspectives that draw/lead the given "oysvorf" to his/her destiny. For you, the most extreme liberality is to get a medical degree & wear a kipah serugah; for Mendel-turned-Mark, it is learning the Greek classics or even Hasidism in an Ivy League ohn a kapel.

Flock of angora goats heading for home pastures near Comfort, Texas,1942

I agree (and I think that this point has been made awhile back) that most of the so-called dropouts do not fit the league of Achad HaAm or Michah Yoysef Berdichevsky. Not even Label Schneerson (the Rebbe RaMaSh's younger brother). But guess what, neither did most then. There is a sizable group of these farklerter that are already filling the lecture halls of Brooklyn College & Columbia University - no, not those Coney Island Ave. pool room bars, or Bisele. Quite a few are also pursuing the creative path, whether in painting, music, film, fashion, literature, theater - you name it. Of course there are levels of ambition, talent and success - but so there is in the world over. The point is that here you have a mass of inspired, talented (some more actual than others) yunge kep un hertz who have made the decision to carve their own path - together - in a way they feel works best for them.

Even when it comes to lernen, quite a few of these, especially the Cows, can put any Tzig in his place. A primary case in point is the late Yoynoson Abraham, aka Reb Johnny, A"H, who no one I know, surely not on this blog ken kumen tzu zayn linke piyate. - For a good antidote to the puerile YGB shiur linked above, see the series of shiurim given by Reb Johnny a year or 2 ago in the East Village at: (guess where?) Cholent. See His Website. (In fact, Johnny was a, if not the, founding member of Cholent, from when it was still in Borough Park.) - and this was to a fremde oylem. You should hear his gemoroh shiurim on sugyes in Bobo Kamo and Metzioh, which went on for years, for entire nights, un s'hot zich gevorfen ketzoysen & nesivoys - all the way down to contemporary Bnei Brak Povarsky & Beis haTalmud Malin (and untern tish, afilu Gedaliya Nadel). All to which he would give noyfach midiley. But above all was his koyach hahasbore and PASSION of learning. Ritcho deoyrayse MAMESH. And this is in addition to the countless machberesen of chidushim he left over, some of which have already been printed.

Angora goats being raised on ranch for their fleece, known commercially as mohair.

Do you know how he was nifter this year Moytzoey Simchas Toyreh in middle of the night? At an open Gemoroh Masechte Bava Metziyeh, learning. The next morning they found his body in the shtiebel he snuck into to learn during the night, slumped over - you know what sugyeh? "Tokfoy Kohen"! (He was a Kohen and had a heart attack!) - An emese mayseh. How many of today's so-called Gedoylim can claim such devotion to Toyreh???? As we used to say: "Unzere ziburiyes iz beser fun zeyere idies".... and this is just one individual of the so-called "dropouts." So to all those lame castigators I leave with a final word of advise: Do not judge until you KNOW.

Ve'idoch Peyrushoy....

P.S. To Hirshel Tzig: I googled "circus tent guest post" - guess what? there was only 1 match: the "Hollow Footsteps" post. Since when do you post guest posts??? Why did you decide to do it now??? Why not disclose who wrote it??? Can't you see why the Cows would be chowing you down now and mooing at you???? You stink from obvious bias - and hiding behind the "It's not me" excuse (even if true) is pathetic. More transparency is in order, especially if you want to milk (no pun intended) your readership to make this blog joint a more profitable venture.

Va'ayasem b'Toyv.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Judas Goat"

A portrait of "Red", a Judas Goat who leads sheep into the slaughter house.

The heartless one will sell his own brothers and sisters down the river for a few scraps of food.

Wiki: A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

I was thinking yesterday (Not that this is unusual activity for me) that maybe this was a message to me, the fact that in my searches for the blog I came across this traitor of an animal. Maybe, in some strange way, it was referring to me, that I lead other Jews to the spiritual shechitah by running this blog and rallying against certain members of the Rabbinical establishment. That for the little bit of enjoyment that I get from seeing action on the blog I sell my soul to the "devil" and herd all those fine, innocent little "ציגעלעך" to the point of no return. The problem is that nobody would work that hard and do such evil just for the few comments I get. Plus, the nasty emails and ad-hominem attacks I get are enough to make a grown man cry, so that pretty much debunks that theory. Which is why we're trying hard to make this thing work financially; that way we can exchange a guilty conscience for some cold, hard cash, like so many of us do, just in a slightly different different way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to improve this blog (with your help!)

(George McGovern and the Bobover Rebbe zt"l, May 1972)

My friends: It's been almost 4 years since we embarked on this very noble venture and started the blog. Back then we were new to the game, we saw the need and jumped in, not knowing where it would lead or how long it would last. Much has changed - for the better, I think, despite losing the "anti" aspect of it. We learned that we can have intelligent discussions here without trumpeting the vices of today and without doing major attack jobs on people who live in our communities. We're pretty much unique in that sense. Over 500,000 unique hits later and I've been told by faithful readers that we've reached the next level. I've been told that this blog has what it takes to turn into a serious blog that can support itself make some cash, pocket change, yes, but cash nevertheless, without asking for the support of the readers. In other words I can get advertising dollars, also known as "making money while you sleep." Don't worry it won't be in the classic, DovBear schnorrer fashion, of "please buy my book." It won't really involve much effort on your part at all.

For the last few years I've had several amazon ads up on the sidebar. They add a bit of the color and make me an affiliate. If you click on one of the icons it'll take you to the actual product that you clicked on, but you can also browse all other amazon products and - if you make a purchase - it'll be as if you were referred to them by Circus Tent and I'll get a shtikkel commission. Amazon pays you your referral fees in 100 dollar increments. I've added some new widgets and stuff to the site, some of which may not be all that appropriate for my readers, but you'll excuse me while I tinker with the site a bit. There's also the "I liked" widget that rotates the products (books, mostly) that I clicked as being my "favorites." The same goes for Google ads. There the system is based on clicks, you don't need to buy anything from them or from the advertisers. I don't expect people to sit and click the Google ads for me. The Google people got tired of my ads not being clicked on so all I see now is "Help Hurricane Katrina Victims" ads or other very generic (not specific to what we feature) from them on my site. Maybe I'll throw myself into that a little bit too and see what I can gain from their ads.

My point is simple: I need to get some sort of compensation for all the work that goes into writing and moderating and commenting without passing it onto you, the reader. I know there are ways to make money when you have as many readers and visitors as I have and I want to take advantage of it. Please, do not think that I'm slowing down or giving up, on the contrary, I plan on making this blog bigger and better, especially since I see that the efforts pays off in the amount of new readers. I may have to broaden my horizons a bit, whatever it takes, well, almost whatever. But from what I understand, what it really will take to make it is soliciting ads from Jewish (and non-Jewish) businesses and getting google and amazon to work for me. Where you people come in is if there's somebody out there that works in this line and can help I'd love to hear from you. If you have ideas and experiences to share - even discouraging ones - I'd like to hear them too. If you think it'll never work tell me why, but I need to know, and from what I hear it can work, and not in the "Earn $5,000 a day and work from home" type of way either.

my email address is

Thanks for listening!

Foolish Chassidim

The Ahavas Yisroel, Reb Yisroel of Vizhnitz was known to denigrate himself in front his chassidim, even the very simple ones. Telling them what a sinner he was and how there are much better and holier Rebbes out there for them. Yet I doubt he was a man of jokes. Tzaddikim aren't as a rule. He wasn't trying to show them that he was a man of the people or that he was one of them. He also wasn't feeling guilty that he was living the high life on account of the Chassidim's money. So, what was the point of telling a young bachur that he he's part of a group of fools who supports a large family of Rabbis?

I ask for intelligent, respectful answers, please.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mad Cows

The Cows seemingly didn't like Friday's guest post about "Footsteps" very much. Many of them are involved with the program, some were trained there and others saw it as part of their holy work to help those who left the frum world integrate into the general society. So I "get" the horror they felt that they were somewhat compared to Hamas and Al-Qaeda, and why they used that as their title to the post. That being said the only plausible and/or intelligent comment made there was a link to a Youtube clip where Hodel explains to her father Tevye why she wants to marry the Sheigetz and leave her family forever, despite the pain and suffering it will cause them. (Not that things like really happened in real life either, most intermarrying didn't take place in backwoods towns like Anatevka, it happened in Berlin, Vienna and Budapest. Maybe I should become a consultant to the Movie Industry, showing them how to dress the actors and how to properly portray them to the rest of the world, then I wouldn't have to shlep to work every day...)

Back to the show... What many of you don't know is that the author of the post - who wishes to remain anonymous - is one who VERY much understands where kids like the ones who enter footsteps come from. He's not the typical judgmental type and is not trying to "bring them all back." He very much understands young people, deals with them and their problems, realizes that it's often not just them throwing off the yoke of heaven because they wanna have a good time with no rules. His house is an open one, literally, one where any person can find warm, understanding people to listen and help and to feed their hungry tummies. So before you "enlightened" cows hoot and holler about us frummies still living in the dark ages and being some kind of religious cult try and direct those harsh words to someplace where they'll actually stick. Another point is the fact that I don't believe Ms. Schwartz ever claimed to have ever been the victim of misconduct at the hands of family or educators. With her it's what often happens to children of Baalei Tshuvah; they meet their grandparents and get sucked in to the free and open lifestyle that their close family enjoys. Then we can discuss the fact that often only kids from very Chassidishe backgrounds have the language barrier issues, but we'll leave that for another time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Can't we all just get along?!

(Reb Yitzchok Matisyohu Weinberg)

A Shliach's Encounter With Rabbi Noah Weinberg

By Avrohom Berkowitz, Moscow

Some of you may have wondered - as did I - about the loud silence on Chabad websites about the passing of Rabbi Weinberg. Here's something nice from The story is warm and very conciliatory, especially after what we've had here on this blog this week. Ultimately, however, it all comes back to meetings with the Rebbe, it seemingly always does....

א גוטן שבת

Guest Post: Hollow Footsteps

Listen to the Zev Brenner Show Here

Ok, so I was badgered until I listened to the Zev Brenner/ Footsteps segment from last Motzoei Shabbos. Of course, I think the show was ill-advised, to say the least – as there is no good that will come from giving an anti-religious organization extensive free publicity; maybe next week Zev will have J for J? That said, it's water under the bridge. No doubt, Zev means well (and the same goes for Ms. Schwartz, founder of Footsteps) but listening to the show, I had that feeling I get when my car tires get stuck spinning in the snow. Making the program focus on the issue of kosher food service was a bit childish, and the caller that decided to gratuitously insult Ms. Schwartz didn't do the frum cause any favors. A little depressing. Ms Schwartz surely has some good intentions. So does Hizbolla. So does Hamas. So does Al-Qaeda. So do, and so did, lotsa folks – but good intentions don't make something right or legitimate. Like many out there, footsteps likes to raise its flag of positive activity and good intentions to legitimize whatever it does – and here's the rub – what service is it really providing? Their mission statement clearly states their dedication to, "providing educational, vocational, and emotional support to those seeking to enter or explore a world beyond the insular, ultra-religious environments in which they were raised."

In other words, in the name of becoming healthier, well-rounded and more educated, they will help you leave your families, your religion, and culture and transition into being a secular Jew who can hopefully become part of the secular American dream. To that end they help you by providing a support group and educational resources to support our most base desires for money, power and guilt-free living. Good Luck. Many have tried but few if any have found peace and happiness on this path in the last few thousand years. Nevertheless, since it's not hard to convince folks that there is fun on the other side of tracks, and all those "prohibitions" restrain us from some kind of thrill; this path has always had its allure – nothing new here.

Here's the big problem though: Forget the services – these services can be provided within the parameters of frumkeit; Footsteps does not. And that is reprehensible, immoral and unethical. To call it healthy, noble or progressive to strip one of true virtues such as loyalty, commitment, family and community is hardly anything to get idealistic about. Anyone with the most basic moral compass can tell you that loyalty is noble. Respect for one's roots, background and traditions is valuable. Self-restraint is a virtue. Tossing away a religion you and those before you have belonged to for thousands of years because ham tastes good on matzah? That's helping someone? That's not moral. I know the counter-argument; I really do. Morality would dictate that we assist those trapped in repressive regimes – that we save people from dangerous cults. So, pray tell, what's the big evil of Yiddishkeit that we need to save them from? As far as I can tell we aren't peddling suicide bombings or violence. There's nothing moral or ethical virtue accomplished by these secular missionaries. That's why Footsteps is a fraud. If they cared about Mordy from Chareidiland they would be interested in helping him within his environment, not to leave him as a spiritual orphan trying in vain to be someone else and live someone else's life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Maramuresh Memories

schneur said...

The author is Rabbi Israel Taback , who was a MO Rabbi in Baltimore. I read this book years ago and it has lots of interesting stuff, about American orthodox Jewish life. If one can read Yiddish then read Bays Israel by Herzel Opshan about Vishnitz and a book by Deszo Schoen about Siget-Teitelbaum dynasty originally in Hungarian. Add to that Greenwald's Yiddish book Toyzent yahr Yiddishe Lebin in Ungaren and you will get a decent picture of what the inner Jewish life was like in Transylvania before the war.

Tzig says: Great reading for all lovers of European Jewish history Bichlal, and the History of the Jews of Bukovina un Maramuresh BiFrat. This is how you, the readers, help make this blog great, by sending in some of what you have saved in your archives for others to enjoy! We thank you for this graciousness and wish you much success.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

מיין גיהנם

(From the Sefer Divrei Torah - Munkacs)

A short synopsis:

The Gemoroh says that a Tzaddik gets burned from the Chupah that his chaver has in Olam HaBoh. We brought the Rebbe's pshat way back when. The Rebbe says that the Tzaddik is נכוה because he now sees how good his "friend" has it and he wants it too, but it's too late now. In Olam HaBoh there is no Tshuvah,, and since the Tzaddik didn't learn those Inyonim intentionally, not because he was an אונס, so he's not allowed in to that Chupah. But the Neshomoh wants it anyway, sheknows how good it is, so she gets too close to the Chupah and gets burned. It's KeDai to click the link and give a listen. Another p'shat is brought down in "Divrei Torah" of the Munkacser Rov as follows: There was a chossid - an oved Hashem b'emes - who passed away and came to the Tzaddik Reb Mendelle Rimanover zt"l - his Rebbe - and told him about his Gehennom. It seems like this chossid did have some Aveireleach - since nobody's perfect - and needn't to be atoned for them, but the aveiros were not big enough for the full-blown Gehennom, since he was such an oved Hashem, so they improvised.

At that time one of the Geonim of Galicia - name withheld - was also niftar, and he too needed to atone for some small sins, and neither were his sins big enough for the real thing - so they improvised for him too. What they did was very simple. They took the two - the Chossid and the Gaon - and they put them into one room in hell. For 12 months the chossid was screaming and davening like he would when he was alive - a flam feier. The Gaon sat down to learn בהתמדה גדולה but could not take the yelling and screaming of the pious one, and would yell at the chossid to stop davening out loud and disturb his learning. The chossid - as any good chossid would - ignored him and continued with his avodah. The Gaon's learning, on the other hand, was terribly disturbing to the chossid - not because chassidim hate learning, but - because he could not understand how a man who was sooo into learning could be sooo disturbed by davening. He was also very bothered by the Gaon's quick, quiet Tefillos, for after all, how could a man so immersed in Torah not know about the concept of Kol Atzmosai Tomarnoh, using all of your body when davening? So for him, sitting with this Gaon was nothing short of hell. And since they're both in the same Heichel/Chupah, therefore they get "burned" one from the other.

While listening to the Hespedim today I realized that I had a chelek of Gehennom on this world and self-imposed too! I'm not sure if that counts as Kaporas Aveynos, though. My own personal Gehennom. By "Gehennom" I mean a very painful situation, where like the chossid every word that came out of the mouths of the maspidim was painful to listen to. We can discuss why this is the case till the cows come home, but we can't argue facts. Maybe it's the terminology they used when referring to RNW, words like Godol HaDor in Kiruv, and Arzei HaLevanoin. It shouldn't surprise me anymore how people in that world make statements that have no connection to reality but it still never fails to. Don't get me wrong, I fargin every man his praise and his hespedim, but when you do it at the expense of young, impressionable men "off the streets," as they said over and over again, (which I'm sure the assembled must've loved, being called "off the streets") then it gets annoying, especially when at the same time they were so proud of the fact that he listened to Daas Torah, but encouraged everybody to think for himself...

I've had enough of this topic for a long time to come.


I'm listening to the Hespedim at Aish

All I can say is "wow!"


Now is the time to decide that I'm going to give him (RNW) Nachas... (Rabbi Noach Orlowek, RY at Torah Ore)

The Rosh Yeshivah was the Godol HaDor in Mesiras Nefesh (Rabbi Yitzchok Coopersmith)

"He told us that in our generation Moshiach will come." (a son)

They seem to be in love with the word "responsible."

The kicker was the kaddish at the end. The Kaddish without the VeYatzmach Purkoney. The Slonimer Zeide must be crying for his farlorene eyniklach who totally ignore their heritage for a bissel koved. But for them it's ok, I guess.

Again, I call attention to the fact that seem to be saying that HE was the only one who saw the need to do what he was doing. Not the Gedolei HaDor. Also, the carried away-ness, the grandiose statements, the Pesukim that are brought, they don't hold a candle to what the biggest Meshichist may say after a bottle of Mashke. Remember what I'm saying here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Truth Detectors

It seems like - like it or not - every post becomes a Lubavitch litmus test. You might find it hard to believe, but I could never imagine that every conversation, including me relating a cute בדידי הוו עובדא, will somehow become a battle ground. Here I am, talking respectfully and full of derech eretz and I get it all thrown right back at me. For those of you who are so worried about me getting "Farchapt," you're really hurting your cause. There are Lubavitchers who make Litvishe and Chassidishe Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshivah take the same litmus test; did he ever visit the Rebbe, and what was his opinion of Lubavitch. I often think it childish; not everybody was zoche, sure, but that doesn't make them any less important. In the case of those who proactively seek out Lubavitch to ridicule and criticize, then we can surely differentiate. After all, we can understand respectfully disagreeing, but to go after them for no good reason? I would venture to say that in REBW's case he's trying hard to show that any Chassidishe influence he may have had surely has been cleansed from him. Much like The trio of RAK, RYK, RYYR were "cleansed" by the AFS. (put that in the luach Roshei Teyvos.)

I happen to know several young men, choshuv'e talmidei chachomim, who were his Talmidim. They happen to be Lubavitcher Chassidim too. I also know several leidigeyers who spend their free time in Atlantic City, who were his talmidim. Those guys have as much shaychus to torah as does a chimp. They wouldn't know which way to hold a sefer. Yet they love him too. I guess that's part of what makes him great. Oh, and they also dislike Lubavitch for some reason, maybe they DID learn something there. I also happen to know that none of the so-called big Kanoyim has the breitkeit to not accept a Lubavitcher into his yeshivah if he so pleases, nor would he hide the wine from him were he to grace his shabbos table. For the most part it's all talk, and talk is cheap, my friends. That's where Lubavitchers differ from the ones who supposedly are Bnei Torah. We can respect a man who disrespected our leaders, with a few understandable exceptions, because we can see past that chisaron. We can take into account his influences, his surroundings, and even his employer, and we know that other than אונזער הייליגע רבי nobody's perfect.