Monday, May 4, 2009

I have to stick to my task in an outside World


A friend of mine from a certain chassidic group let me know that the Rebbitzen of Toldot Aharon would be giving a class (shiur) on Sunday (yesterday). I always wanted to go to one of her classes and see what she is teaching.

So far, I have met the Toldot Aharon Rebbitzen once and this was last November. We met at one of the chassidic Tishes of her husband, Rebbe David Kahn, and talked for about twenty minutes. Then, I didn't even know that she was the Rebbitzen but thought she is a visitor; just like me or almost.
I took another friend with me and the Rebbitzen's shiur was scheduled for 9pm. Location: Her home.
My friend and I were on time and a Toldot Aharon girl showed us the Rebbe's house, as we didn't know where it was. Outside we met another young chassidic woman who is a friend of my chassidic friend who informed me about the class.
As soon as we entered the Rebbitzen's house, the Rebbitzen told me and the friend I brought that the shiur would be actually only for young women. I don't know if we looked that old but it was clear to us that we had to leave.

We were quite disappointed and while crossing the backyard we tried figuring out the reason. We were almost certain that it wasn't our age but rather the fact that we are obviously not part of the Mea Shearim world. Furthermore, we are both not married and thus didn't cover our hair. Why should we ?

We turned into Mea Shearim Street and right at the beginning we met my chassidic friend who had informed me. She and another woman were also on the way to the Rebbitzen's shiur.
We told her what had happened and she couldn't believe it. "I am also 40 years old", she said. We kept on guessing until suddenly the young chassidic woman who had entered the house with us showed up. A little out of breath, I have to say.

"Oh, great, you are still here, she said. The Rebbitzen wants to apologize and you are invited to the class. You know, she just told you off because she thought that you were strangers from the street".
So, we went back and as soon as we entered this time, the Rebbitzen apologized again. As a matter of fact, she learned that I knew two of the women at her shiur. This way we, again, got the message that in Mea Shearim one needs connections and know people. Otherwise it could be a real mess.

We were about ten woman, most of them married. The Rebbitzen intended to speak about Chinuch (education) of the children and about Zniut (modesty). All of us took at seat in the larger living - room and the Rebbitzen even set up a bench.
I cannot say that I know her well but what I really like about her is that she doesn't show that she is the big Rebbitzen. When you see her, you see a modest woman not showing off at all. Someone who doesn't have the desire to stick out or wants to be important. When I see her at the Tish, she doesn't have a special chair as many other Rebbitzens from different groups, The Toldot Aharon Rebbitzen sits together with all the other women and mostly even stands. The same applies to the apartment. Very simple and modest but spotless.

She began the shiur by explaining how important the right upbringing for the children is. Parents should always serve as an example and especially the mother should not shout at the children. Be patient and learn how to deal with the situation, even if the kids make a mess. Now they do make a mess but the more you teach them, the more they learn how to do it better. If you are impatient how do you expect your children to be patient.

Don't bring up your children with force but rather explain them why this and that is important to do. However, let your children know the limits and don't allow everything.

The Rebbitzen's eyes were shining and one could see that she really lives the religion and all the rules she is talking about. When she got to the subject of baking Challot for Shabbat, she became really euphoric. Someone asked when she bakes her Challot and the Rebbitzen said that she does so on Thursdays. Then everyone is in the kitchen, including the grandchildren, all of them get a piece of dough and all of them are baking together. "This gives you a real Shabbes feeling and the atmosphere is unbelievable. Everybody enjoys doing the Challot and this way, the children are taught what to do".

The Rebbitzen was always open for questions and many of the woman asked. They gave her different examples of situations and asked how they should deal with the child.

Then someone wanted to change the subject to the modesty issue and the Rebbitzen listed a few important things concerning women:
"You always have to be aware of the fact that being modest is Malchut (royalty). Wearing long sleeves, long skirts and not laughing or shouting in the streets. There is your home and there is the Reshut HaRabim. In the Reshut HaRabim you have to know that there are other people; men and women and thus you have to be modest. Don't shout out loud and keep your female voice low".

"Women with their collars open or otherwise immodestly dressed are a Busha (disgrace) and look cheap. As a modest women, you have to know your duties and don't cause any attention of men. Don't wear bright shiny colours".

I have to say that I actually do agree to most of the things she said. I myself cannot understand why there are so many woman only half dressed or in other words, half naked. Don't they have any self - respect and need to attract men ? Don't they recognize their own private values ?
I am definitely not dressed as modest as the Rebbitzen but I do wear my sleeves until the elbow. I don't walk around in shiny colours and don't wear sandals but Crocs.

It was a very nice shiur and atmosphere I have to say. Secretly, I admired the haredi women sitting there and being so concerned about children and modesty. I also found it very easy to get in touch with everybody and we did get to know some other women.

If I get the chance, I will definitely go again. By the way, the Rebbitzen was teaching in English. She was born in Germany but moved, at a very young age, to New York.

When we all left, she came up to me and apologized again but my friend and I felt a kind of uplifted and all the confusion from before was forgotten. However, her most amazing statement was that no one should look down on another Jew because he is maybe not as Orthodox as you are. There are different ways of living a frum life style and not only the one you think is right.


  1. B"H

    Very interesting post. I'm glad you shared it.

  2. B"H

    To be very honest:

    I thought about writing about the shiur or maybe not. As everyone knows, the Toldot Aharon are not too excited about publicity although I have written about them many many times. But writing about the Rebbitzen may be to delicate.

    However, I don't see anything negative in it and I have to admit that there was a great atmosphere at the shiur !

  3. Yes, great post. Thank you.

  4. Great post! Does Toldot Aharon do any outreach in New York?

  5. B"H

    In the New York area they are located in Monsey.
    The son of the Rebbe has his community there.

    I wouldn't call it OUTREACH but in Jerusalem, for instance, people just go to their Synagoge, then speak to the Rebbe (women to the Rebbitzen) and ask if they can join at a certain stage.

    But they do accept newcomers and actually have quite a few. The same with the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak and the Shomrei Emunim !

  6. Wow! Do you have contact information for them in Monsey?

  7. B"H

    No, but if you send me an e - mail I may get you together with someone who may have some information.