Monday, August 25, 2008

Modesty squad targeted by Jerusaelm police III

Jerusalem Post reported:

A mishmeret tzniut, roughly translated as "modesty squad," is a vigilante body, usually with some form of rabbinic license, that has taken upon itself to enforce normative ultra-Orthodox behavior.

The mishmeret tzniut derives its power from its ability to identify and manipulate the zealotry of the haredi majority.

There are a multitude of such bodies representing different haredi sects that deal with issues from the eradication of MP-4 and DVD sales in strictly haredi neighborhoods to the fight against ultra-Orthodox pop concerts, from the creation of separate seating in the waiting room of the local post office to the strict supervision of women's clothing stores to make sure no tight-fitting or otherwise immodest apparel is being offered to haredi females.

All the crusades chosen by the various modesty squads are no-brainers for the majority of the haredi populace. After all, who is not against the sale of potentially lascivious movies in one's neighborhood? And who is not opposed to the introduction of Western-style pop stars to the wholesome haredi culture?

Rabbinic leadership may or may not buy into the means used by the activists to further their just causes. Even if the rabbinic leaders oppose certain actions taken by the mishmeret hatzniut, they usually cannot publicly attack it for fear of losing their credibility among the public who look to its rabbis to champion haredi zealotry and meticulous adherence to the letter of the law.

In Jerusalem, the most well-known and established enforcer of haredi norms is the Council for the Purity of the Camp (Va'ad Le'ma'an Tohar Hamachane), which was created by Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Safronovitch with the blessing of the fifth Gerer rebbe, Israel Alter, also known as the Beis Yisrael, who passed away in 1977.

It is unclear what connections the council has to the Ger hassidic sect today.

Binyamin Meirovitch, one of the men detained by police due to his alleged connection with the severe beating of a divorced woman, is also connected to the Council for the Purity of the Camp.

Meirovitch owns the Ne'eman printing press that publishes pashkevilim, the black and white notices plastered on the walls and bulletin boards of haredi neighborhoods. These notices, complete with the signatures of prominent rabbis, are the preferred medium for relaying warnings, orders or information from the rabbinic leadership or quasi-rabbinic bodies such as the council to the haredi street.

One of Meirovitch's employees is Elchanan Buzaglo, who was accused by police of, along with six others, beating the divorced woman.

The rumor on the haredi street is that the woman was beaten because her former husband complained that she was acting immodestly.

Despite the brutality of the beating, as described in the police rap sheet, a vocal contingent in the haredi community took to the streets against what they saw as police intervention in internal matters.

As Shmuel Poppenheim, a spokesman for the Edah Haredit put it, "The vast majority of haredim are opposed to the use of violence.

"But when the iniquities are taking place right next door, anybody in their right mind would do what it takes to put an end to the madness."

No formal announcement condemning the violence against the woman was released by the Edah Haredit. However, according to the Chadarei Haredim (haredi rooms) Internet forum, Rabbi Moshe Sternbach, a member of the Edah's leadership, told his students it was permissible to hand over to the police haredi zealots who desecrated God's name with their actions.

Sternbach could not be reached Sunday at his Jerusalem home to verify the report.


  1. It would be interesting to know if the report regarding how Rav Sternbach holds can be verified.

  2. I think you should adress this since you seem such a strong advocate of it
    Hello RYGB,
    If you have time can you please answer a big question ?

    On divisions within Judaism

    It is very funny and sad, that when people's opinion differ there is what I call random categorization that happens. For some reason people have a need of labeling other people? Your a left wing and I am a right or you are Haredi and I am not, Ultra Orthodox and modern.

    All what these labels and categorization do is separate and distance people to the point that each has to go to his own shul, and live in a different community, and has his own shulchan aruch.

    I often wonder when 600,000 Jews received the Torah did they all started labeling each other.

    Did 600,000 Jews with 600,000 opinions started separating from each other due their hashkafas. Did say you are lefty (therefore wrong) and I am righty (therefore right).

    Why is there a need to label different Jews? Why does disagreeing with another Jew we feel a need to separate ourselves. Do people honestly believe that calling somebody a liberal or a modern Jew makes you go to Heaven because you are more strict on Judaism while for whatever reason you give yourselves a Heter to say Loshan Hara about a group of Jews.

    Anyway a person spins it, whenever he refers to a somebody as a lefty or a modern he has a negative connotation when he uses that term. He treats them differently and speaks to them differently, and I know we all think we are tzaddikim that we have only the most holy thouhgts in mind when say this but the bottom when we label somebody, we try to distance ourself, and inferiorize them.

    There is joke, 2 Jews get stranded on a island and live there for 5 years togather. One day they are discovered, and they look at the place they build. There is 1 house, 1 hospital, 1 gym, etc.. and 2 shulls, They asked why do u have 2 shuls, they respond this is the 1 I go to, and this is the 1 he goes to.

    On a more serious note a very interesting thing I read on exile of Jews from Spain, that may clarify what I am saying.

    The following is taken for Anti-Maimonidean demons by Jose Faur

    R. Solomon Al'ami (c. 1370-1420), himself a foe of philosophical studies, described the new ministry produced in Spain:

    Some of our recent sages lost their way in the wilderness! They erred[even with] the most obvious! Because they hate and are jealous of each other, and put up for sale the Torah for presents. Their goal of their curriculum is to know how to read [the Torah] meticulously and
    expand their own innovations. The study of Talmud and other works [also is wanting] because they are concerned with every minute detail of the law and the diVerent views and opinions [not with its sub-stance]. They thrust aside the humility of the virtuous, temperance
    and holiness. What [one rabbi] instructs the other darkens; what [one rabbi] permits the other prohibits. Through their quarrels the Law had become two! They knit [their views] on a spider's web, embarrassing themselves and exposing their wickedness: their eyes are closed and cannot see; their hearts fail to understand. They show favor [when
    issuing legal decisions] of the Law, and fail to tell the people their disgrace. Because God had poured over them a spirit of foolishness and had close their eyes. This is what disgraces the Torah in the eyes of all those who see and hear [them].
    R. Solomon Al'ami, Iggeret Musar, A.A. Haberman, ed. ( Jerusalem, 1946), pp.40-41

    Have a good day.


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