Sunday, March 28, 2010

Doctor Toldot Aharon ?


Various people have told me to think about writing a Doctorat in order to gain an academic title about chassidic groups or the haredi world. I would write so much anyway and if I put all kinds of information and social subjects together, I could strive for a PhD or whatever it is called.

A long time ago I decided not to do so. I don't want a secular Jewish professor telling me what and how to write anything about Chassidut or haredi society. How does he know the subject and even if, an academic always considers everything from an academic point of view.

I am not a chassidic academic and don't intend to be one. What I do is trying to live this lifestyle and not researching it. A researcher works like "Give me the information so that I can sell it to the public. Provide me with the information now ! Tell me what clothes you wear and when you shave your hair (chassidic women) because I want to make money and become famous. Tell me everything and then F… Off !"

More than two years ago, I had a huge fight on the phone with a Israeli woman who had made her Doctorat in Sociology. Her name is Sima Zalcberg and she had investigated Chassidut Toldot Aharon.

I phoned her up after reading her script at a public library and asked her if she is still in touch with the Toldot Aharon families she interviewed or whether she just dumped them after finishing her PhD. How could she call the Toldot Aharon members "objects" in her manuscript ? I told her that people are people and not "objects". First she yelled at me and accused me a few times of being a Toldot Aharon member or spy. Then she admitted that, after her Doctorat, she stayed away and now she is busy with something else.

Sima Zalcberg got most of her information by not telling the full truth to the TA members and, this way, she smuggled herself into some families. Especially when she spoke to the Rebbitzen and told her that she is considering becoming religious but, at the same moment, hid from her that she is writing her PhD. about the Toldot Aharon women.

This is just a brief example of why I don't want have anything to do with academics. For them, haredi society is simply a study object and a way of becoming famous and making money. Researches and academics are not interested in chassidic lifestyle or ideologies but rather in gossip in order to impress secular Jews in some lectures. The secular are easy to impress when you list this and that group and tell them the name of the Rebbe. But what do researchers actually know ? Have they ever been part of religious or haredi society ?

In my opinion, one can only write about the subject when he or she is or has been a society member. If someone studied with Chassidim for some years. When he is breathing Chassidut and lives it. Someone has to experience it in a honest way and not with all kinds of academic thoughts and the "I want to be famous" idea in the head.

Although I have lived in haredi society and left after some years, I am still trying to find my way and some of my chassidic friends don't give up bringing me back onto the "path". I still haven't made up my mind but try to learn something from the issuesI write about. My chassidic friends are my friends and not my objects. They told me many personal things and I know their families. Private matters I would never ever write about.

As a matter of fact, I would never call myself a specialist because I am not and this is not my goal at anyway. My goal is rather to improve my religious ways and not to pull information out of people in order to publish everything behind their backs.

No one from the outside will ever be a specialist on Chassidut or chassidic society but only the Chassidim themselves !


  1. You wrote: "In my opinion, one can only write about the subject when he or she is or has been a society member". Does that mean that you think that Charedim should stop writing about the secular world because those Charedim has not been members of that society?
    Chag Pesach Kasher v`Sameach

  2. B"H

    Where do Haredim write books or long articles about the Chiloni world ? Do they offer tours through secular parts of Israel ? Do they try to make money by writing books about secular Israelis ?

    It is true that Haredim to sometimes refer to the secular world but when you look at their press you will realize that there isn't too much about secular Jews besides politics.

    Chag Sameach ve'Kasher also to you !!!