Friday, April 15, 2016

Stopping the enemies of Jewish tradition - (Where the author uses charedi or yeshivish, I take exception to that if they are in fact worldly, educated in the sciences, and believe that each child must be lead on the path that suits him or her best - PM)

There is a certain group within the Jewish people that over and over again stray from our holy tradition.  These people act as if they have very little regard to many of the statements and teachings made throughout Jewish scripture and subsequent Rabbinic literature.  The existence and prominence of these people is a definite threat to the future of Judaism, and if we do not act quickly it may be too late.

The group that I am referring to is, of course, Jewish Fundamentalists (or Chassidim.) 

 These people, including but not limited to: the Charedei world, most of the Yeshivish community, and even some Jews that consider themselves to be more “modern”, are sadly a growing phenomenon within Jewish demographics.  While there are many reasons why I strongly feel that these groups are a major break from classical Jewish tradition, I would like to focus on one idea that I feel can summarize most of the others.

Jewish fundamentalists (well really any religious fundamentalists) are the most closed minded people in the world.  They are closed minded in regards to science, empiricism, theology, or really any way of thinking that may, sort of, eventually, contradict many of their specious beliefs.

Let’s start at the beginning.

If we believe that God created the world, and the magnificent universe should draw us to the praise of God (Psalm 19), then it probably makes sense that we have some ability to understand the natural world – aka science.  This of course presents an immediate problem, as many of the ideas throughout the Torah directly contradict a scientific way of viewing and thinking about the world.  No I am not talking about one time events such as the splitting of the sea or some food falling from heaven – while these miracles clearly contradict science (and I personally do not believe that they ever happened) it is still somewhat reasonable to hold these beliefs to be true and accept a scientific view of the world.  I am talking big picture: age of the universe, evolution, our knowledge of the universe and the way it works.  It is in these fields that fundamentalists will close their eyes and their mind to any sort of logical or rational argument, branding all who disagree as either stupid or heretical.

In the past Judaism and biblical interpretation was never about trying to stick to the literal translation of the Bible at all costs – but rather it was a quest to learn more about the world and God.  When it came to learning about the natural world, many Jewish thinkers felt that an adequate knowledge of science and the universe was crucial to understanding God.   Some of these scholars wrote that a prophet was one who understood science (ever heard of the Rambam).  Science and ration was not viewed as the enemy in classical Judaism, rather it was viewed as necessary to fully understand the world.

The well known Torah Scholar Malbim actually TWICE changed his commentary of Genesis due to scientific discovery in his time.  If science revealed a secret about the world than we must use it to deepen our understanding of God and the Torah.  Over and over again the Rabbis in the Talmud use empirical evidence to try and determine facts in many different cases.  In some cases in the Talmud the Rabbis even admit that their understanding of a natural phenomenon is wrong and they are forced to re-evaluate their position (Pesachim 94b).  Other exegetes such as the Ibn Ezra or Rabbi Judah Hachassid talk about the possibility of anachronistic verses in the Torah being added in later – due to their literary analysis of the text.  Of course these fundamentalists feel so strongly that their world view is the “correct one” that many of them will even prohibit their students from reading these works.  In a famous ruling Rabbi Moshe Feinstein actually wrote that Rabbi Judah Hachassid’s work was a forgery (based off of zero evidence).  Other Yeshivot who do teach these classical Jewish sources will argue that these Rabbis did not really mean what they wrote or find other very creative ways to distort what they say.

When Jews who do realize that science is valuable try to fuse it into their understanding of Torah,  the Jewish Fundamentalists are quick to silence them (Natan Slifkin anyone).  And here is the main problem!  It is not just that these people simply disagree with science and the world of empiricism – rather they view anyone who does accept science as an enemy who must be stopped.  This is a major break from Jewish tradition.  The irony, of course, being that the group of people who feel in charge of defending this tradition are in many cases the biggest threat to its continuity.

In order for Judaism to continue to thrive we must act together to stop giving these people dominant voices in our community.   It is absolutely ridiculous that pre college students are sent to certain yeshivot in Israel where the Rabbis spend the entire year trying to convince these students to turn down college and remain in yeshiva instead.  Furthermore, once young men do enroll in a – God forbid – secular college, there are actually organization and people that will try and convince students to leave mid college to pursue yeshiva study.  The motive for these Rabbis is the belief that Torah study is the only important and worthwhile discipline for one to pursue in their life time.  It pains me that such teachers have seemingly never opened up the most important halachic work of all time.

One who makes up his mind to involve himself with Torah and not to work, and to support himself from charity, has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt, extinguished the light of religion, brought evil upon himself, and has taken away his life from the World-to-Come… (Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10)

Furthermore, many Jewish communities filled with doctors, scientists, and professors are lead by Yeshivish Rabbis who fundamentally disagree with the disciplines of the majority of their community!  How can a Rabbi denying evolution, inspire a group of doctors in their Judaism!

Many Modern Orthodox schools employ Yeshivish/Charedi Rabbis, worsening the already bad situation.  Does it make sense for a high school student to spend half his day learning science, math, and history – and the other half of his day being told that these things are false!?!

If we want to ensure the survival of Judaism we must stop those who break the valuable Jewish tradition of searching out for truth in the world.

 We must stop hiring these fundamentalists for any sort of teaching position whatsoever!   Just as the Charedi and Yeshivish world views modern Orthodoxy as a less religious version of Judaism, we must view them in the same manner.  If Judaism continues at the trajectory that it is headed now, more and more people will be turned off by the anti-science and anti-thinking attitudes that permeate the religious communities – and we will eventually be left with two groups: one of fundamentalists and one of non-religious and even anti-religious people.  The only people with the power to stop this phenomenon are those people who value both Judaism and its teachings, along with the rest of the academic world – something that was once known as Modern Orthodoxy.

To conclude, I feel the need to recall one of the most upsetting arguments I have ever had in my lifetime (and trust me I get into arguments with a solid amount of foolish people):

It was about a year ago on a regional NCSY Shabbaton where I was an advisor – in charge of teaching and inspiring high school students.  It is through this organization that I have had the pleasure of teaching and inspiring handfuls of turned-off high school students to learn more about Judaism, including helping them chose a yeshiva program or even thrive in their Judaism throughout their college years.  It was a Shabbat afternoon and I was chatting with one of the seniors about various Jewish topics.  The boy, lets call him J, to hide his identity, asked me a question regarding using magical amulets to cure illnesses ( a topic which the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat devotes much attention to).  As any Jewish educator should do, I explained to him the two major opinions in regards to the efficacy of such items.  The first being the opinion that they work and the second (that of the Rambam and many other greats in the “rationalist camp”) being that such items are bogus and at best a placebo and do not actually work.

The answer of the Rambam greatly interested J and apparently a few other students since when I finished giving my answer there was a group of 5-7 other students surrounding us.  Many of them expressed to me that they had never believed that there was such thing as magic and were overcome with joy that their were prominent Jewish scholars who had felt the same way.  After all, how would these students have know the Rambam’s view on such things?  They had only each been in Jewish day school since they were 4 and gone to Shul almost every week of their lives!

Anyways, the conversation evolved into talking about the Rambam’s view of magic and miracles in other contexts and that was when things turned sour.  A man, probably late twenties, wearing a suit and black hat, stepped in and said that the Rambam makes no sense –  “of course their is such thing as magic” he said confidently, “my rabbi told many stories which he has heard directly from descendants of the Chazon Ish, of the Chazon Ish himself performing crazy miracles”.  I politely asked this man to allow us to continue our conversation in peace,  when he snapped back that he was on of the few people in charge of the entire Shabbaton and he did not like the fact that I was teaching these children lies. I sighed and then asked him to go into further details about the “miracles” that the Chazon Ish performed.

I do not remember the full list, but I do remember that at the end of his list he stopped and said “Oh, yeah and the Chazon Ish discovered a cure for cancer at the end of his life due to his deep knowledge of Torah.”  Since then I have learned that this is a very common belief amongst many Jewish fundamentalists, but back then I had never heard this claim before so I then asked the question that any reasonable person would ask in response to this: “so where did the cure go?”  The man smiled and said that the Chazon Ish knew that the next illness was going to be much worse so he hid the cure for cancer and never revealed it.  At this point I could see the bewilderment of the group of the growing number of high school students who had taken interest in our discussion.  I rebutted that if the Chazon Ish knew the cure for cancer and refused to tell anyone then he should be viewed as a murderer.  The man’s face turned red, but before he could say anything I asked the next rational question.  “So based on the Chazon Ish’s actions do you think that we should be engaging in trying to find a cure for this deadly illness?”  I will never forget his answer.  He sort of shrugged his shoulders and said “well, I would never publicly say this, but if the Chazon Ish was against publicizing a cure, who are we to decide otherwise”

While this is an extreme example, this is the general direction of what the future of Judaism holds if we do not take a stand.  Imagine a world where the average age of death is 30, most babies die before turning 1, and our knowledge of the universe is based on ancient mythologies.  That my friends, is what the world would be like if it was run by fundamentalists who are anti human progress in any sense of the word.  Fundamentalists do not only break the Jewish tradition of truth seeking, healthy debate, and bettering humanity, but they wish to forcibly silence anyone who values these important Jewish pastimes.  We need to come together as a community and refuse to hire such people for positions within our community.  Just as there are no non-charedim teaching in schools in Meah Sharim, there should be no Charedim or Yeshivish teachers in our communities.  If one wants to live in a world that is anti-science, anti-ration, and anti human progress, with all who disagree stopped, then please go back in time to 15th century Europe or build a massive wall around your neighborhood or something- but please, do not pretend that you are continuing the tradition of our beloved Judaism.


The Enemy Within-Part Three-Chassidism Is Not Judaism

The Enemy Within-Part Three-Chassidism Is Not Judaism - From The UOJ Classics
Originally Posted January 30, 2007

Make no mistake, Chassidism is not part of authentic Judaism. In matter of fact it is closer to Christianity than to Judaism. Orthodox Jews believe that ALL of the principles of Judaism were given to Moshe at Sinai. The written Torah and the oral Torah were dictated to Moshe by Hashem for the forty days he was at Sinai. The roots of the Chassidic movement did not begin until the thirteenth century, when Moses De-Leon started the writings of the Zohar. About three hundred years later, Isaac Luria (ARI) started preaching this mystic garble. The Ari as he was known, was an enigma. He purported to preach the thoughts of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who lived fifteen hundred years earlier. The problem is that there was no known link of mesorah or chain of events, going back to that time, from RSBY to him or to De-Leon....



ComputerDocDF1 said...

The one who wrote this article is deceived and totally enamored of anything with the label scientific whether it has any credence or not. Evolution is a discredited theory which has the following failures among others. There is no consistent fossil record of an incremental advance from one state of a being to another. The Yale dog to horse garbage is totally contrived. The concept of incremental advance was so poor to explain sudden jumps that Stephen J. Gould a top evolutionist created the theory of punk eek (punctuated equilibrium) where sudden massive changes of structure occur such advancing from no wings to wings in one step. There is no reasonable cause to accept this nonsense.

Double and triple dependencies such as bees and fruit, male and female etc. can't be explained How did they coordinate their development without one half of the combination dying out?

It contradicts the theory of entropy and although the universe is not a closed system, things tend to disorder rather than order.

Zolel Vesovay (Fresser) Sefardi said...


A violent altercation over Shabbat in an Australian synagogue ended in a stabbing. Witnesses say scuffle began over cake.

By Arutz Sheva Staff

A trivial dispute over a dessert dish nearly turned fatal in an Australian synagogue on Saturday.

After an argument broke out between two of the congregants, one attempted to stab the other, only to accidentally wound someone else entirely, witnesses told BeHadrei Haredim.

The incident occurred Saturday morning at the Rambam Sephardic synagogue in Melbourne. A groom hosted the synagogue’s Kiddush Rabba after morning prayers, bringing desserts and refreshments in honor of his wedding.

According to witnesses, an argument suddenly erupted between the groom and a congregant known for having a short temper. The dispute apparently concerned one of the cakes brought by the groom.

“We made Kiddush,” recalled one of the witnesses, “then a verbal confrontation broke out between the two over one of the cakes, to the point where one of [the two] lost control of himself and lost his head, bringing a knife in and stabbing a fellow [congregant] a centimeter from his heart and two centimeters from his lungs.”

Worshippers who saw the man brandishing a knife tried to block him from reaching the groom. In the course of the incident, however, the man stabbed one of the congregants attempting to hold him back.

“The congregant went back to his home to bring a knife; when he came back to the synagogue with the knife, we understood that he intended to stab the groom, so we tried to separate them. In the end, however, the congregant stabbed one of the people trying to separate between the stabber and the groom”.

“It was really a miracle that he [the stabbing victim] survived, he was really saved. I know the people [involved], both the stabber and the victim. We were in total shock; it’s a shame that this happened over food.”

The victim of the stabbing was treated by emergency first responders and transferred to a local hospital.

Police were called to the scene, but were unable to capture the attacker, who fled the synagogue immediately after the incident.

“The stabber is known as a person with a short temper. He has a short fuse. The people have been searching for him ever since he fled the scene of the incident. Even his wife and children don’t know where he is.”

Son of Boog said...


When Shelly Silver was refusing to go to police officer funerals, he was shacking up with Irish gal Patricia Lynch, the Catholic Church lobbyist to stop the Markey Bill on molesters.


Meet the women who allegedly slept with Sheldon Silver
By Carl Campanile, Lia Eustachewich and Laura Italiano
April 16, 2016

Modal Trigger
Sheldon Silver, Janele Hyer-Spencer (top left) and Patricia Lynch
One, Janele Hyer-Spencer, is a motorcycle-riding former beauty queen who’d blast around Albany in a Yamaha V-Star motorcycle and who allegedly got two state jobs through Sheldon Silver’s influence.

The other, once-powerful lobbyist Patricia Lynch, was caught on tape by the feds huffing to the then-Assembly speaker that since one of his aides was rude to her, she’d only deal directly with him.

Meet Shel’s Angels — a couple of 50-something married blondes and one-time Albany insiders who, as revealed in startling new federal court documents, parlayed alleged extramarital relationships with Silver into plumb jobs and top clients.

Sleeping with the membership, the federal papers reveal, had its privileges.

Lynch served for six years as Silver’s communications director before starting her own two-person PR firm in 2001 that quickly grew into one of the largest lobbyists in the state — thanks to her Silver connections.

Her extraordinary access to Silver — then one of the three most powerful politicians in the state — won her an enviable client list that included Madison Square Garden.

Silver killed the West Side Stadium that MSG opposed during the Bloomberg administration.

In 2010, Silver helped Hyer-Spencer get an $84,000 job with the state Education Department, sources have told The Post.

Since 2013, she’s made $99,600 as a Staten Island Family Court Support magistrate.

Silver’s childhood pal, Jonathan Lippman, was chief judge of the Court of Appeals at the time, and oversaw administration of the state courts.

“Going from being a member of the Assembly to the state Education Department to the state Family Court would seem to imply she’s a member of the ‘Shelly Silver witness-protection program,’” an Albany insider said at the time.

Manhattan Federal Judge Valerie Caproni said of Silver’s alleged mistresses in a 17-page opinion that was released Friday, “They arguably are not entirely ‘innocent’ third parties.”

“Each allegedly had an extramarital affair with a public official and then exploited her relationship with the public official for personal gain.”

The affairs were poorly-kept secrets, Albany insiders said.

Lynch and Silver were seen kissing in an elevator at the 2000 Democratic Convention in LA.

Another legislative source said Silver and Hyer-Spencer had adjoining rooms during a 2000 Assembly trip to Israel.

This, even though other lawmakers were also staying in the same hotel.

“I looked the other way, to be honest,” said the source. “I felt it was none of my business.”

Silver and Hyer-Spencer were also seen together in the hotel lobby at the Somos Uno conference during one of the Assembly’s annual post-election trips to Puerto Rico.

The legislator said they were defensive. “They were somewhat startled. They were trying to explain something that didn’t need explaining.”

Son of Boog said...


Sex abuse victims & advocates turned up the heat Monday on Gov. Cuomo to support legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for criminal charges and civil suits lodged against accused abusers.

For years, Joel Engelman, who was allegedly abused by a yeshiva principal, has lobbied Albany lawmakers to extend the statute — saying school administrators can’t be trusted to do the right thing.

“The governor needs to take a stronger public stance on this issue,” said Engelman, 30. “The silence is deafening. The governor is pretty much saying he’s not interested in this bill passing.”

Cuomo said he was willing to consider some type of change to the law, but did not elaborate.

“Those guilty of sexual abuse need to be held accountable, and we would support changes to help ensure victims have their day in court and maintain due process,” said Cuomo’s spokesman Richard Azzopardi.

But he stopped short of supporting a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) & last passed by the Assembly in 2008 that would extend the statute of limitations, a measure opposed by the Catholic Church & a consortium of yeshivas.

That has upset at least one Jewish child advocate. “The governor has to address this problem immediately. He’s part of the problem,” said Mark Appel, founder of Voice of Justice.

Engelman, who says he was abused when he was 8, just wanted the Williamsburg yeshiva he attended to fire his accused abuser, Rabbi Avrohom Reichman.

A few months before his 23rd birthday, Engelman built up the courage to speak with Reichman & officials at the Satmar school, United Talmudical Academy.

He detailed how Reichman, the principal, would fondle his genitals inside his office over a 3-month period in 1993.

School administrators admitted other students made similar complaints & agreed to yank Reichman in April 2009, according to Engelman.

But 3 months later, Reichman was brought back.

There was nothing Engelmann could do because the statute of limitations had expired.

“I was heartbroken,” Engelman recalled. “It was a game to them. I lost my faith in people.”

Engelman tried to sue arguing “breach of promise & oral contract.”

The lawsuit also alleged several officials of the Hasidic group reviewed Engelman’s allegations & found “multiple credible complaints of sexual abuse made against Reichman.”

Republican State Sens. Flanagan & DeFrancisco are reluctant to consider reforming New York's statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse.

But the case was tossed due to the statute of limitations.

“The judge didn’t even want to address it,” Engelman recalled.

During his time at school, Reichman would first talk with him about his day & classes. But the conversation would quickly grow physical as the rabbi began to touch his shoulders & work his way downward, Engelman alleges.

After 15-minute sessions, Reichman would say “dismissed” & order everything be kept secret.

That’s how it remained for more than a decade.

Engelman was aware he was soon turning 23 & the statute of limitations was an issue.

But he trusted the school would do the right thing & protect other victims — a move he deeply regrets.

For years, Engelman urged politicians in Albany to change the law. But he’s frustrated by the lack of action by the Republican-led state Senate & Cuomo.

“Naively, my family & I believed the school in good conscience would take care of the issue,” he said.

Reichman has long denied the abuse. He left the school 3 years after Engelman first approached him

Horndog Hershel said...

Way to go Agudah!

Another one of your allies turns out to be someone who can't keep his pants zipped.

Elly Kleinman
Vito Lopez
Shelly Silver

Anonymous said...

Vito Gropez was niftar this past year. Was there an official Agudah hespid for him?