Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Thought on Parashat Vayechi


Talmud Pesachim 56a teaches us that Yaakov wished to reveal to his sons the end of the withdrawal of G - d's right hand from battle against the enemies of the Jewish people but the Shechinah (G - d's presence) departed and thus his ability of prophecy came to an end. 

G - d's withdrawal of His right hand means metaphorically speaking "withdrawing His power and letting the enemies succeed over Israel". See, for instance, Nebuchadnezzar or the Romans.

While reading this Gemara, I started asking myself what would have happened if Yaakov had told all prophecies concerning the Jewish people ? Lets say he had told his sons and two grandsons (Menashe and Ephraim) about the Ge'ulah (Redemption) and when it is supposed to come along. Lets assume he would have foretold all the sufferings in exile, the pogroms the kings in Israel. Would the Jews then sinned and basically caused their own Galut (Diaspora) ?

Maybe not but what we always learn is that G - d created this world for us humans with the concept of "Free Will - Bechirat Chofshit". And now imagine where our free will would have been if Yaakov had announced all these events which are going to happen. It is very human for us not to behave properly, rebel and in the end cause exactly all those punishments like the Galut. Loosing the country, the Beit HaMikdash, doing Teshuva and hoping for a positive change. 
Already the prophets had foretold the destruction of the Temples but no one wanted to listen. In a way, the Jews then used their own free will. However, being foretold the exact arrival date of Meshiach would cause a different reaction. After the destruction of Beit Sheni (Second Temple) the Jews were very much aware of the fact that Meshiach will be coming one day but until then, we have to do something in order to cause the arrival. Tikunim (soul rectifications by Mitzvot etc.). Would the Jews have done so if they knew the exact date of Meshiach's arrival ?

The basic Toldot Aharon Takanot - Part 1


This is the short and more public version of the Toldot Aharon Takanot (from the group's founder Rebbe Aharon Roth):

1. Every Shabbat and holiday, everyone (of the members) should come to the Toldot Aharon Beit Midrash and pray Shacharit (the morning prayer).

2. The prayer should be in the Beit Midrash. A powerful prayer.
It is forbidden to prevent anyone from a strong enthusiastic prayer. When the person is crying out loud to G - d. Except for those who start making crazy voice beyond the way of Toldot Aharon.

3. Everyone has to go according the Nussach of our (Toldot Aharon) group. Whoever does not do so, has no right to pray with a loud voice.

4. a) The men go with a Tallit on Leil (Erev) Shabbat. b) During the Torah reading, the head has to be covered with a Tallit.

During prayer, no one should be busying himself with something else such as reading Tehillim (Psalms), organize something or look through other books.

5. Someone going to the Beit Midrash should refrain from talking.

6. Watch your children that they do not scream during prayer or the reading of the Torah. Those not watching their children have to be fined.

Also watch your children's clothes ao that they are clean and proper.

Take care that your children do not cause any damage to the Beit Midrash. In case they did, the father has to pay for the damage.

7. No one can be called up to the Torah who did not go to the Mikweh on the same day.

8. Study Tehillim (Psalms) after the prayer.

9. No one should put on Tefillin not belonging to anyone or damaged one.

10. Show respect to the Beit Midrash. One should not yell or make fun (laugh out loud) while being in the Beit Midrash. Further, do not smoke inside the Beit Midrash.

11. Show respect to the books in the Beit Midrash. It is forbidden to take out a book without asking the Gabbai. Only those receive a permission who respect the rules and return the book on time and its place.

12. Do not let a woman come to the prayer in our Beit Midrash who does not wear modest clothes. The woman should not wear a wig (Sheitel). - This is happening to other haredi women from other groups who do wear a wig. In the Toldot Aharon staircase at the Ezrat Nashim (women's side) you can find a box full of Tichels. If a woman wearing a Sheitel is coming into the Toldot Aharon Beit Midrash, she is asked to put on a Tichel (on top of her wig).

13. This point is not really clear to me: It says that someone being / or is keeping a little away from society (the group) has to pay a "Pidyion Nefesh - soul rectification". Those not paying have to stay away from the Beit Midrash until they do pay.

14. Everyone should take care to pay the taxes and the water tax.

15. Everyone should make a "Melave Malka" when it is his turn.

16. If anyone is coming to pray with us (on Shabbat) who does shave his beard or Peyot (side curls), we have to respect him. Respect every guest ! However, we have to tell him that he he did not shave his beard or Peyot, we could be called up to the Torah.

This refers to members:
If someone is coming to pray in Toldot Aharon on a regular basis and does not keep the Takanot, we need to tell him after three months that there are Takanot. In the time of three - six months, we need to warn him and remind him of the Takanot. If he does not fix his behaviour and keep the Takanot until the sixth month, he cannot be called up to the Torah. He cannot be part of the group.

17. A member just ignoring all the Takanot is only to be warned for the period of one month. If he then does not keep the Takanot, he will not be even allowed to enter the yard.

18. A member who does not keep the Takanot is not allowed to give a Shiur or Drasha.

19. A new member will not be accepted until he lives at least six months according to the Takanot. Society has to see if he is able to live according to the rules.

20. In case someone starts arguments or fights or states other opinions / ideologies cannot come to the Beit Midrash.

21. Once a month, in the weeks of Mevarchin (blessing the new month), a gathering has to take place. Everyone has to attend and not use any kind of excuse. If someone does not show up he will be fined.

At every gathering the Takanot have to be read.

22. Once a year, a meeting with all the members has to take place. Either in Cheshvan or in Kislev. A meal will be served and you renew your union with Hashem. Sign the Takanot anew.

A member who does not come to the "great gathering" has to be separated from society.

Prayer Takanot

1. When praying the members have to wait for the "Shaliach Zibur – official person praying" and his prayer.

2. No quarrels in front of the Shaliach Zibur about the prayers.

3. A member who does not keep the Takanot of the modest dress code is not allowed to pray in front of the Shaliach Zibur.

4. The same with people who like to argue, stutter or have a different voice, took drugs or did anything else not according to the way.

5. One cannot stand in front of the Shaliach Zibur in case he shave his beard. Not even a little tiny hair cutting off the beard is allowed.

6. The members have to keep the Toldot Aharon Nussach.

7. One is not allowed to stand in front of the Shaliach Zibur and pray if he has not been to the Mikveh on the same day. Moreover, he is not allowed to stand in front of the Shaliach Zibur and wear woolen clothes.

8. If anyone feels like he needs a Mikveh because he could not overcome his thoughts, Yetzer HaRah or any other sin, he should go to the Mikveh. Even before Mincha (afternoon prayer) and Maariv (evening prayer) one had to go to the Mikveh.

9. One has to use his special prayer gartel (belt) in front of the Shaliach Zibur.

10. Everyone has to pray from his Sidur and not saying the prayers by heart.

11. One has to pray with a loud voice because the public prayer continues after the voice of the Baal Tefilah.

12. The person leading the prayer service should not hurry.

13. Pray with joy and wait until most members finish their kapitel (chapter).

14. Wait in the "Shemona Ezrei – Amidah" until the community members finish and are able to say AMEN.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The SEFAT EMET on Parashat Vayechi

One of the greatest religious problems is that people fear having a relationship with God and consequently distance themselves from Him. Just as angels serve God without fear despite their lower status in comparison to God, so too human beings should take their model (walk amongst them) and not be afraid of developing a relationship with God and serving Him. This represents a wholeness that we as human beings are capable of only if we think of ourselves as walking amongst angels. (Sfas Emes, Parshat Beha'alotecha 5636)


One of my favourite Torah commentators is the Sefat Emet, Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter, 1847 - 1905. He gives an amazing insight into this week's Parashat Vayechi:

"Yaakov lived in the Land of Egypt" (Gen. 47:28).
With the quality of truth you can live even in the land of Egypt. Yaakov was truly alive there, meaning being attached to the root and source from which the life - force flows. Nothing in this world, not even suffering, should keep us away from clinging to the creator. No matter where we are.

Even though he was in Egypt, he knew that the entire country was just a hiding "shell", inside which there was nothing but that divine life - force. This is why the sages say that the wicked are called dead in their lifetimes. Because they are separated from the source of life.

Rashi says that Yaakov was about to reveal the end; the time when Meshiach is arriving. Yaakov was in his height of prophecy when he spoke to his sons before he died. But in the end, all those further prophecies were hidden from him.

Yaakov wanted to make it clear that exile (Galut) is just a matter of hiding, and that the power within comes only from G - d. But had this been revealed, there would have been no exile at all, so it was hidden. The kabbalistic Zohar tells us that Yaakov revealed what he wanted but in a hidden way.


"The Language of Truth"
The Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet
Translated and interpreted by Arthur Green


Nittle Night - xmas


Last Thursday night, 7th of Tevet - 24th of December, is known as "Nittle Nacht (Night)", and the custom is that we don’t learn Torah this night till midnight, (see Rama on Shulchan Aruch, letters of the Chatam Sofer and others) Kabbalisticly the reason is, as is known from the Rebbe Rasha"b the 5th Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe Shalom Dov Baer, 1860 - 1920, the reason is so as to not be “adding Chayus” spiritual life and strenth to him and his followers.

The Rebbe says in a Sicha that we shouldn't "waste our time" but involve ourselves in something like chess which exercises the mind or any other chore that needs to be done. And the Rebbe related a story in the Sicha where a Bochur would save all the sewing of the buttons on his cloths to “Nittle Nacht” to be productive in a “non adding Chayus” way.

Details about the Nittle Night on "Hirhurim".

Chess in Chabad during the Nittle Night 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Perversion in haredi Forums


Finally I got the point why haredi Rabbis keep on banning the Internet. Although the Internet can be extremely useful, many (probably younger) Haredim obviously do not know how to use is properly and play around.

I signed up for some Israeli forums and surfed the haredi world on those sites. Despite all the positive forums, the negative impression about haredi forums named "Chassidishe or Glatt Sex" remained. Haredim searching for a sex partner beyond their marriage. How can those kind of people call themselves "Haredim" and pray the "Bedtime Shema" before falling asleep ? 

The Internet has opened a new world to haredi society but banning it is not the right move. Rather educate the people and do not hide the secular world out there from a closed haredi community. 

Truth - Emet


In a chassidic sense, "Truth - Emet" means a total sincere devotion to G - d. Serving Him sincerely without any external selfish motives. The idea of directing the mind solely to G - d while studying Torah and doing Mitzvot. Falsehood is spiritual death, but G - d is present when truth is present.

Chassidut Gur took over the Peshis'cha as well as the Kotzker ideology and especially the Kotzker Rebbe, emphasized the concept of truth.

How much I wish that today's reality would show more truth. Nowadays, too many Rabbis are just running after fame in order to satisfy their urge for acceptance. Today, too many Rebbes as well as the Rabbis of the litvishe world in Israel deal with politics and thus forget the absolut devotion to G - d.


"The Encyclopedia of Hasidim"
by Tzvi M. Rabinowicz

Zhviler Rebbe passed away


The Zhviler Rebbe passed away at the age of 76. 
People participating in the levaye (funeral) will leave in about one hours (2.30pm) from his Beit Midrash to Har HaZetim (Mount of Olives).

Further details and photos HERE !

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sarah Einfeld - A former Gerrer Chassidiya


About a year and a half ago, the 25 - year - old Sarah Einfeld left the Gerrer (Gur) community in Ashdod (Israel). Sarah was born into Gur but at the age of 15, she started reading all kinds of different "secular" novels. She realized that there is a world beyond the world she grew up. A world of the Gerrer girl's school "Beit Yaakov" where she was taught that anything one does wrong, he will be punished for. Either by G - d or the community itself. When a Gerrer Chassid does not function, his children are being thrown out of school etc.

This behaviour, however, is very common among any direction in Jewish Orthodoxy. Maybe less severe in the national religious community but already much stricter in the litvish - haredishe community. A TV set, slightly immodest clothes, secular literature or a movie can already ruin a Yeshiva career or a Shidduch.

The opinions about Sarah Einfeld are split. Many Israelis say that she did the right step when she left Gur. Other say that she, at least, should have remained some kind of modern - Orthodox, Chabad or even litvish instead of running over to the secular, eat on Yom Kippur and travel on Shabbat. I personally see Sarah still in a continuous state of rebellion and it will take her quite a while to get over it. From my personal experience I know that it is not a good idea dreaming about freedom and escape but, at the same time, running over into another frum direction. First of all, you have to get a clear mind and this does not happen when you just jump from one frum life to the next !

For the time being, she wants to enjoy her freedom and catch up all the time she has lost while being a Gerrer Chassidia. Of course, she is looking for revenge but, in the end, she will hopefully finally realize that she is actually hurting herself as well as her soul.

Two days ago, a haredi journalist from the state - owned Israeli radio "Kol Israel" told me that Sarah Einfeld was a "wacko". A nutcase just looking for attention. "If you don't like your chassidic group, okay, so leave and have a nice life. But start your own life and don't act like Sarah Einfeld who is always coming back to the same subject all over again: Chassidut Gur and how much she suffered", so the journalist.

He is not alone with his opinion. Just the opposite because many men react the same way. They see Sarah as someone looking for attention and only using the public because she is bored. She must have deeper problems and maybe Chassidut Gur is right in not referring to her.
According to her own words, she hasn't spoken to her parents since she left Ashdod more than a year ago.

In a newspaper article from October 2009 (Yediot Acharonot), Sarah stated that she always asked herself why her uncles would not even look at her. No one answered her questions and finally she found out that those are the modesty rules of the group. One day, at the age of 18, she came home from school and her mother told her that they found a Shidduch for her. She spoke to this Chassid for two hours and the next time she saw him was under the Chuppah.

In her blog, she quotes some women who said that their wedding night was nothing but "rape". Chassidut Gur has wild sex Takanot and, among others, men and women only uncover the "necessary" body parts (according to Sarah's blog).
Basically you are going into bed with a person you do not even know. Here, she emphasizes, that it is the same (bad) experience for a man and a woman.

"It was a total rape. I felt dirty and I wanted to push him down from my body", this is what many women had told her. Eventually she left the group and now lives with her two children in Ramat Gan (between Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak). In the video below a short clip from her documentary "Soreret" is shown where she explains her 6 - year - old daughter why she cannot see her grandmother. "Because your grandmother does not agree with things I do and therefore she is angry", Sarah explains.

Sarah states that she did not leave Gur because she hates the group; neither does she feel any hatred towards her ex - husband. She left because she did not feel that she could lead a life according to her dreams about freedom in Gur. There, everything is determined and so - called "Madrichim - Guides" even watch over everyone's sex lives.
The TV journalist in the below video asked her how she is getting along in the secular world ? Is it not very hard to live exactly the opposite way now ?
Sarah answered that, of course, it is hard. There are many things and ideologies in the secular world she would never do, agree with and she even tries to keep away from them.

As a matter of fact, there is no perfect society in this world. Each one has its problems and has to cope with them. I read many many responses in haredi forums such as "Hyde Park" or others. The main response there was that Sarah is a kind of nuts and should keep quiet and move on in her life. She is crazy and always was. Others feel pity on her; especially women. Various haredi women like her because she dared to break out of society. Others are too afraid and already have four, five or more children. Where should they go ?

One comment on one of Sarah's blog postings asks how people can help her (Sarah).
How ? Sarah asks back. By not forcing their daughters into the same kind of life when the haredi mothers already hate theirs. Not giving a quick Shidduch to the daughter, letting her go through the same sexual experiences when they (the mothers) already cried out silently during their wedding night. This is the main issue: When countless haredi women hate their lives and society pressure, why do they force the same life upon their daughters ?

I do not know what to think about Sarah ? There are so many different opinions and some family friends even yell that she should be grateful to her parents who even paid for her higher computer education. Who else would do that in Gur ?

I read most of her blog postings and do believe that she is honest. It is obvious that she suffered a lot even when she claims that her husband was a good guy. Is it not in the nature of many men that, as soon as an independent woman shows up, they cannot stand her ? The same with Sarah. At least, this is what I noticed with many male comments.

However, I do agree with that she should go on in life and not only get stuck in her former Gur past. What I do not understand is why she had to make this half - naked photo for "Yediot Acharonot". This is reducing her credibility and every haredi guy can now threaten his wife:
"You want to rebel and leave ? Fine, but look what you have to do in order that the secular society is accepting you. Do you want to pose naked ?"
Definitely not and thus the woman prefers to stay.
No, it was not a great idea having this picture taken. Otherwise she showed lots of courage by leaving Gur and escaping to a society she did not even now.

Streimel Exchange in Belz

The Belzer Rebbe changed his Kolpik Streimel into the traditional Polish Streimel called "Spodik" (see Chassidut Gur or Alexander). The first time the Rebbe appearing in the new Streimel style was during Chanukkah.

The difference between the two Streimels is the origin of the fur from different animals.
As if a Streimel is that important ...

Picture of the Day

Yesterday's haredi demonstration in front of Jerusalem's INTEL.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chassidic Torah Parashot (Vayigash)


All kinds of chassidic Parashot in Hebrew, English and Yiddish !

Among other: Toldot Avraham Yitzchak, Chernobyl or from the Edah HaCharedit.

New / Old Haredi Demonstrations

Mozzaei 10 Tevet (tonight after the Fast):

Haredi demonstration in front of INTEL (Jerusalem) against the chip manufacturer working on Shabbat.

Hole in the Sheet


In one of my previous article I mentioned Sarah Einfeld who ran away from the Gerrer (Gur) community in Ashdod. Some readers asked me for the exact address of Sarah's blog.

Here it is:

The blog is called "Hole in the Sheet - Chor be'Sadin" and she started writing about two years ago.

Despite all her writings, I would like to know the other side of the story, as there are always TWO sides !

By the way, the blog is in HEBREW ONLY !!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Picture: Chabad.Org


Shabbat is right ahead. Food, drinks and we should eat as much as we can because Sunday follows the fast day "Asarah Be'Tevet".

Going to Jerusalem this early afternoon and spending Shabbat there. I just feel dead (nifter) and urgently need some rest. Physically and emotionally, as for the entire week, I have been dealing with the subject of those running away from chassidic society. This always brings back my own memories and now I feel fed up and try thinking about something else.

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to all of you !

Asarah Be'Tevet (Fastday 10 Tevet)


Even if the Jews outside Israel don't really like to hear it, I cannot imagine that Jews abroad are able to commemorate certain events in Jewish history as authentic as we do in Israel. And especially in Jerusalem. The latest example was Chanukkah.
What do Jews who have never been to Jerusalem know about the Site of the Kotel (Western Wall), the Temple Mount and our city ? When you are standing right here in front of the sites where everything took place, you suddenly get a very different feeling and approach to the holidays.

The same is happening tomorrow with the Fast day of Asarah Be' Tevet. This Fast day is a rabbinic fast but has an immense historical meaning. This year, Asarah Be'Tevet is going to start (Sunday) morning. The Edah HaCharedit in Mea Shearim announced for this day new demonstrations in front of the chip manufacturer INTEL.

On this day, the siege over Jerusalem by the Babylonians began. One of the greatest tragedy in Jewish history. Three years later, on Tisha Be'Av, the First Temple was destroyed. The 10th Tevet stands for endless suffering and destruction.

Generally both Temple destructions are considered as a G - dly punishment. During the times of the First Temple, the Jews participated in idol worship, sexual perversions and even sacrificed their children in the Tofet (a place near the todays' Cinematheque). The Tofet was one of the most horrifying sites in Jerusalem at that time. Even if the Jews believed in G - d, they misunderstood the principle of the sacrifices and thought that G - d favours childrens' sacrifices.

Not only the Temple was destroyed. With it disappeared the Aron HaKodesh with the tablets, prophecy, the Shechina hid itself more, and even the Shemen HaMishcha was gone. Today we do not have any prophecy but rather a Bat Kol which Rashi describes as an echo of a Heavenly voice.

Today many of us might consider the Asarah Be' Tevet as a kind of minor fast. "What does this all have to do with me and the problems today" ?

Leading Rabbis appointed the 10th of Tevet as a Holocaust Memorial Day. Kaddish is said for all the Jews whose date of death or the location of the grave is unknown. Many Haredim consider the Asarah Be' Tevet as the real Holocaust Memorial Day and not the one stipulated by the Knesset. This is one of the reasons why especially Haredim do not stand still when we hear the sirens.

Every year anew, this behaviour is causing harsh criticism but once you know their real reason, you can understand it. Their memorial day is Asarah Be' Tevet. One chassidic friend of mine once made a good point about the whole situation. She told me that the religious and particularly the haredi population does not need sirens or big shows. "What do you do anyway when you listen to the sirens", she asked me. You look around and get exited. We, on the other hand, sit down and say Tehillim".
What she said was actually very true and I agree that silent mourning is the better way.

It says in Talmud Taanit 30b that whoever mourn for Jerusalem will witness its rebuilding. Hence, the Ge'ulah.

The 10th Tevet is a day of Teshuva and should lead our hearts to the realization to learn from the mistakes of our ancestors. Everybody should realize that the universe was only created for him (Talmud Sanhedrin 37a) and thus, each of us is responsible for his actions. Every Jew has a special purpose in life and among the Jewish people, and he has to fulfill this task. With his actions, he not only influences his generation but also the future generations until the coming of Meschiach.

Zom Kal - Have an easy Fast !!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"I have never promised you a Rose Garden" - Rebellious Women in Chassidic Society


Tel Aviv is like New York !
Open minded and big. Not as huge as New York but it offers enough room to hide.
Israel's Chozrei Be'She'ela usually escape to Tel Aviv in order to start a new "free" life.

Religious society loves to talk about the massive wave of Baalei Teshuva (Jews who became religious in the course of their life) but avoids mentioning its own members who became Chozrei Be'She'ela (religious Jews who became secular).
Once I became religious myself, got close to haredi society, to an "extreme" chassidic group but, in the end, I was unable to keep track with society demands and especially my own ones. I left and since I have undergone all kinds of religious and almost secular stages in my life.

For more than a year, I have been following three different stories of women leaving chassidic society and becoming secular. The question always remaining in the background is "How secular can you become ?" and "How strong is one hunted by guilt feelings ?"

I have read about a lot about Gitty Grunwald from New York leaving the Satmar society in Kiryat Yoel, about the former Satmar member Baile Glauber who became a police officer and about the Israeli case of Sarah Einfeld (leaving Chassidut Gur).

Gitty Grunwald became famous in summer 2008, when the "New York Magazine" printed her story but no one seems to know how she is today. Despite all the pity people felt, Gitty seems to be a real flake.

Baile Glauber was born into Satmar, was married and has a child. However, she dreamt about a "free" life and wanted to become a police officer. She left the Satmar community, started a police job in the New York area but was suspended just a few weeks ago. Last summer she filed a complaint because she felt being mistreated in her police unit. Her colleagues would be full of anti – Semitism towards her. Now the police do not want to give her a firm working contract. Baile admitted that already at an early age she became rebellious and started asking questions.

The most public case, however, comes from Israel. More than a year ago, Sarah Einfeld left the Gerrer (Gur) community in Ashdod and moved to Tel Aviv. Already two years ago, she started writing a blog in Hebrew which is extremely popular. Secular and Haredim read her short stories and life experiences / thoughts. She mainly expresses her pity for the "poor" rejected women in chassidic society who only learn to talk about children, getting pregnant and leading a life behind the stove. Life would be so much more than running after all the Takanot and keeping quiet in society. Men talk so much about the perfect "Eshet Chayil" and want their wives to be one because it means the wife shuts up and does not make trouble. Shut up and do what the Rebbe and society demands from you. Those jailed women do not think about having a REAL LIFE. Dreams, freedom and joy.

I find it rather astonishing that Gitty Grunwald as well as Sarah Einfeld show the same pattern. Both started to rebel at an early teenage age, both left chassidic society and both freaked out as soon as they had their freedom. Becoming totally secular. Sarah got some tattoos eats on Yom Kippur but does prepare food for Shabbat.
Gitty published pictures of her where she can be seen half naked. The "New York Magazine" put a whole slide show on its website. Almost the same with Sarah Einfeld: In the latest article about her in "Yediot Acharonot" from two months ago, Sarah is posing a kind of half naked, too.

It seems to me that former Haredim first freak as soon as they leave the group. Enjoying their personal freedom without any pressure. Suddenly they can do whatever their feel like, eat whatever they want, and Tel Aviv is paradise for those kind of people. Tel Aviv, the liberal city, where hardly anyone tells you what to do.
These three women represent a minority striving to fulfill their dreams. "Its my life" and I do not want to ask a Rebbe making decisions about me. Marrying me off at the age of 18 and keeping me in prison. I want to express feelings and improve my capabilities. Why not having a driving license like Sarah Einfeld did ? Why is everything forbidden to women but allowed to men ?

Sarah Einfeld's blog is read by many Haredim; male and female. Some use it as a gossip source because she published / is publishing the "secret" sex Takanot from Chassidut Gur. Only having sex twice a month and no foreplay is allowed. Women are forbidden to talk to others about their marriage and problems in the family.

It is just an amazing how certain patterns remain the same. A rebellious young woman leaving society and then trying to catch up with all the fun in life they may have missed. Trying to soak in as much secular pleasure as they can in order to distance themselves from their former lives. Nevertheless, eventually they will realize that there is no escape. You can hardly ever leave society when you grew up in it as those three women. Your thoughts will always be with your past. No matter how unkosher you eat, you always think about saying a blessing over the food. I said "thinking" but do not necessarily mean "saying". However, when you are used to a certain kind of behaviour, you cannot stop it within a few days or weeks.

As a matter of fact, chassidic groups are not too excited dealing with the subject and usually those cases of people leaving and turning secular is not too much published. Other members might follow and further women may get some rebellious ideas.
If those groups tried dealing with the problem as soon as a rebellion is showing up, they may avoid further problems. Instead parents, society and rabbis push the rebel into modest and appropriate behaviour. Threats and the family only thinks about its reputation and future Shidduchim for their other children.

Clip from Sarah Einfeld's movie (in Hebrew)

Each person is dealing with such a situation differently. Some suffer for years, others try to concentrate on the new life. A few even may return to haredi society.
It is obvious that chassidic groups are afraid of having such a "virus" spread in their society but threats are not a solution in order to keep the members on the right path. There will always be people born into societies who do not fit in. The perfect case would be a compromise between the two parties. Sometimes this can be reached and sometimes it just does not work and the member's escape is eternal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Picture of the Day


From the Gilad Shalit demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Office two days ago. 
The psychological pressure on the Israeli govenrment is enormous (as you can see here with all those Gilad Shalit cardboard posters set up) but Netanyahu emphazised that he cannot only think about one soldier but is responsible for the security of an entire nation.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Larry Gordon on his interview with the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe


This radio interview with Larry Gordon (Five Towns Jewish Times) was broadcasted at the end of November. I just listened to it now and found it quite interesting.
Interesting in this respect because it is always a kind of strange when Jews in the Diaspora discuss issues totally connected to Israel.

Anyway, I have two comments on the matter:

First of all, Chassidut Toldot Avraham Yitzchak is not a member of the Neturei Karta. The TAY are a member of the anti - Zionist umbrella organization "Edah HaCharedit" in Mea Shearim. The Edah consist of groups such as the Toldot Aharon, Spinka, Dushinsky, a group of followers of the Vilna Gaon, some parts of Breslov, the Mishkenot HaRoim or Satmar. The Neturei Karta is no official members of the Edah but, according to different statements, does have some influence through Satmar. However, I cannot say how far this kind of influence goes. Apparently only various high - ranking Edah Rabbis are able to do that.
The Toldot Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe Shmuel Yaakov Kahn had an anti - Zionist upbringing by his grandfather (the Shomrei Emunim / Toldot Aharon founder Rebbe Aharon Roth, as well as by his father, the previous Toldot Aharon Rebbe Avraham Yitzchak Kahn).

The TAY Rebbe was not ONLY kicked out of the Toldot Aharon because he studied with Vishnitz in Bnei Brak. There are many reasons why the majority of the Toldot Aharon members rejected him and chose his younger brother, Rabbi David Kahn (who, by the way, studied with Satmar in New York). Of course, there was power involved. A Rebbe has power (and money) and who does not want to be the next Rebbe ?
Furthermore, many Toldot Aharon members had the feeling that Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov would change certain Takanot or ideologies of the group itself. Those members were not prepared to accept any changes and were looking for a new Rebbe keeping the old traditions.
Another point was that obviously, according to Toldot Avraham Yitzchak sources ("Nes Lehitnosses"), a few leading Toldot Aharon Rabbis (Gabbai) started an entire personal war against Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov in order to save their positions.

In the end, many reasons seemed to have come together and the majority of the Toldot Aharon members voted for Rabbi David Kahn as the new Rebbe. Thus, Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov left and founded his own group.

You can listen to the interview with Larry Gordon HERE !
Move the cursor to minute 24 and listen until minute 46.
Then continue with minute 55 to the end.
Otherwise the interview is acompanied / interrupted by commercials and some further news.

Gordon's interview with the TAY Rebbe has caused lots of criticism because Rebbe Shmuel Yaakov was quoted saying that the only problem he has with the present State of Israel is that people do not keep Shabbat. This, on the other hand, caused anti - Zionists to go berserk. Later on, the TAY Rebbitzen denied that her husband did not state such an opinion.

Anti - Tropper - Pakshivilim in Bnei Brak

Anti - Tropper Pashkivilim in Bnei Brak

The forum members are already bringing up the subject of "Lashon Harah".
If all the accusations against Tropper are true, the woman accusing him is lucky to have all the conversations recorded. Otherwise no one would have believed her !

Jerusalem by Night

The entrance to Jerusalem coming from Tel Aviv:

The famous ugly bridge and the old houses you see here are mostly inhabited by Haredim.

Jerusalem's Past

Jaffa Road

Those were the days: Jerusalem's Past

American Orthodoxy and its Scandals


Two big scandals became the leading subject of many Jewish blogs:

2. The Boro Park Spinka Rebbe (photo on the right) will be sitting behind bars for the coming 24 months.

I am still asking myself if Tropper had anything with this woman converting to Judaism or not. If the answer is YES, I wonder why she agreed. Forget about conversion to Judaism: A criminal act should be reported to the police immediately. Unfortunately, many converts to Judaism do agree to the most stupid things just in order to get the conversion certificate. I have seen this myself with some people in Israel. They do anything to get their papers and afterwards they do not give a damn anymore about religion, rabbis or synagogues. Their only goal is to finish the process, no matter what.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Someone like You


According to my own experience: Many chassidic men are one of the greatest gossips I have ever met in my life. People love to say that women are chatterboxes and never stop talking but look at men !

Male Chassidim are interested in anything concerning their society: What does the Rebbe do ? What other groups do ?

Of course, the own Rebbe is the greatest and other Rebbes are second class !

How are the Rebbitzens of other groups ?

Of course, my own Rebbitzen is perfect; an Eshet Chayil, generous, smart and kind. Let alone her Chesed. Other Rebbitzens, of course, are less smart, stupid and not as pious as my Rebbitzen.

There is so much gossip around next to all those holiness and especially male Chassidim are getting excited.

A former Israeli Gur (Ger) woman has a private blog on the Internet. How she left the group and why. Not because she felt any hatred but just chose another (secular) lifestyle. She recently appeared on the Israeli TV channel 33 (Education Channel) and spoke about her life then and now. I did not see the report but was told that she came from the Gerrer community in Ashdod and now lives as a totally secular Jew in Tel Aviv.

Countless Israeli Haredim (incl. Chassidim) love her blog and her story. Not those from Gur, I suppose but others. It gives them an opportunity to point the finger at another group:
"Oh, look what's happening in Gur !"
Particularly in Gur, as the runaway writes about their secret Takanot such as sex and female behaviour.

There are plenty other "Off - The - Derech" blogs around. Most of them in the English speaking world. One Chassid asked me to send me more of those URLs because he is interested in cases like me. He knows all about religion and the beauty and holiness about Chassidut and is now looking for something "more" exciting.
"Like me ? I asked. Why me ? I have only been in society for about a year before I ran away".
The answer was that he is interested in any kind of such people and why they do it.
When I asked him if does not have enough cases in his own group, he denied that there are cases. "Well, a few but runaways are very rare".
Making it sound like "This only happens in other groups but not in my own one". :-)

I am trying to get hold of a video with the interview with the Ex - Gerrer lady because I am interested in one response. If the TV ever asked her this particular question.
For one reason, most "Off - The - Derech - People are being troubled by guilt feelings.
Can I be secular and what does G - d think about me ? How "light" religious should I be in order to keep my guilt as low as I can ?

I would love to know what the woman has to say about this.
Nevertheless, as soon as I get hold of a video, I will let you know !

G - d's World

Photo: Taken from Weasel Zippers


The summit in Copenhagen is over and the world is back where it used to be before:
Heading towards destruction.
Our planet is falling apart but politicians do not hardly care and others even fall asleep. Catastrophe movies always show us that scientist keep on warning about disasters but the world refuses to listen. Not until the real disaster is right in front of us.

Today we do not need any further warnings, as proofs are already too obvious. The ice is melting and the water level is rising. In some years from today, parts of our coasts may be flooded. Lets look at New York or Tel Aviv. Just recently "National Geographic TV" showed the results of the melting poles. Huge parts of New York will soon be part of the sea. I suppose the same applies to Tel Aviv or to any country in the world. At the moment, the press is even going wild about snow in London and the freezing cold weather in Europe and the US.

However, there is another aspect of global warming. Is it only our fault or may something else help causing it ?

According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin), humankind will not exist forever. One day, after the arrival of Meshiach, our planet including the entire universe is going to disappear again. "Back to the time before Creation" where ONLY G - d exists alone and nothing else besides Him.

Our universe is vulnerable; stars come into existence and are also due to die. Once their energy is used up, the end of a star has arrived. And what about the sun ?
Scientists claim that the sun is heating up and thus causes another reason for our global warning. I am only asking myself where the entire topic shows up in the Prophets ? Is there any mentioning about destroying the environment or planets causing us problems in the Tanach ? Let alone in the Torah Codes.

Despite all warning, Copenhagen and floods, the world is going to continue as usual. Too much is at stake. Jobs, money, politics, personal interests. Many people can only be convinced when the disaster is right in front of their doorstep. And even if: I just watched the movie "2012" where whole continents were shifting and the majority of humanity died. Only a few rich people and some Chinese workers survived in arks.
If this is so, why should any high - ranking politician or wealthy businessman be worried. Lets build an ark and show who is the real "G - d".

By the way, in the movie "2012" the American President showed guts and refused to travel to the arks in China. Instead he was wiped out with his people. If Obama or anyone else would do the same ? Or do too many people already see themselves as G - d ?

Auschwitz Sign

Auschwitz (still) without its sign "Arbeit macht Frei".
In the meantime, the sign was found by the Polish police.

Famous Actor died of Swine Flu

And who infected him ???

Marrying a PIG is not always such a good idea !

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Chapter: "Kedusha veZniut" by Rabbi Daniel Frish


The first chapter of Rabbi Daniel Frish's book "Kedusha ve'Zniut - Holiness and Modesty" mainly deals with the commandment to get married and have children. A male has to get married in order to fulfill the first Torah commandment "Be fruitful and multiply". Those who do not marry at a certain age and, instead, waste their semen (zera), cause the Shechinah (G - d's presence) to move further away from the Jews.

A man without a wife is not called MAN.
It says in the kabbalistic Zohar that a man not fulfilling the commandment "Be fruitful and multiply" causes the Shechinah to move away from the earth. Meaning, the further G - d's presence is moving away, the more our planet is vulnerable to catastrophes such as earthquakes, Tsunamis, wars, etc.

The Mitzvah for a man to "Be fruitful and multiply" does not only apply to Jews but also to Gentiles and even to animals. The Shechinah (G - d's presence) only spreads through Neshamot (souls) which were created in the upper spiritual worlds (Beriah). Those Neshamot are being send down in a human body into our physical world. When a man does not have children, he does bring down those Neshamot into our material world (Asiah). Rabbi Frish's commentary on this subject is quite threatening because he sees a man without children on a lower level than a kosher animal. It goes without saying that there are men in this world who are unable to have children (due to various medical reasons) and those people are exempt from the Mitzvah.

Through having children, man is like G - d because he creates a new human being. The world is not only for enjoying oneself and sleep, eat and drink. Following a materialistic lifestyle is selfish and humankind was created to listen and follow its creator.

When a man is getting married, he causes the Ge'ulah (redemption) to come closer, as it says in Talmud Yevamot 62b: "There won't be a (Meshiach) ben David until all created Neshamot will be / have been brought into this world".

Singles only have half of the body because they are not complete (with their soul mate).

This all sounds very frightening but, nevertheless, as humans, we run against all kinds of laws and commandments. In the Jewish religious world it is more than common that people get married at a young age. Haredim sometimes even earlier than national religious Jews.
I have nothing against a marriage but one has to find the right match. I am not just running around in order to catch someone and have children in order to fulfill the Mitzvah (although the Mitzvah applies to men only). The older you get, the higher your expectations of a future spouse. When you are young, well, what do you want ? Maybe someone studying Torah or men dream of an "Eshet Chayil - Righteous Woman".

It is not that easy to fulfill this Mitzvah; especially when you did not get married as a teenager. But even if, divorce is always possible.
I may have this Hollywood mentality with love and things but in my eyes, a marriage has to be a successful one and then you think of children. My parents were divorced and I know how it is growing up in a home falling apart. So, I think twice and even three times before I ever get married

Does the Mitzvah "Be fruitfull and multiply" above happiness and love ? Maybe the Toldot Aharon (and later Toldot Avraham Yitzchak) Rabbi Daniel Frish may have thought this way. In his circles, people, of course, do not give too much about love but more about a common goal. You get used to each other and build a family. You have children and they make your life.

Nevertheless, when I read all his opinions and even the definitions in the Talmud, my "selfishness" is coming out and telling me about LOVE. And, like Hollywood, I do believe in it.