Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bnei Menashe - Shavei Israel outreach program

Tropper's Lakewood meeting with Kol Yaakov alumni


Yehoshua wrote:


I just received this letter from Kol Yaakov yeshiva. It is postmarked January 28, 2010 and the letter itself is dated January 25, 2010 on KolYaakov letterhead. I typed it out because I don't have a scanner.

As you can read below, whomever sent this letter still believes in Tropper and fund raising is still on-going.

========================
Dear fellow alumni,

Every morning for the past 26 years,without fail, Hilchos Lashon Hara from the sefer Chofetz Chaim have been learned in the Bais Medrash of Kol Yaakov, your Bais Medrash, after shacharis. This emphasis on binding together learning and character development in a tangible way is part of what makes Kol Yaakov so special.

This past month, Kol Yaakov Torah Center has endured one of the most challenging periods of its 29 year history. Kol Yaakov has emerged whole and is forging ahead.

Just this past Sunday, Rabbi Tropper and alumni of the yeshiva from Lakewood, Passaic, and Philadelphia gathered together in Lakewood for an asifa. Everyone took time out of their busy schedules to hear Divrei Torah from Rabbi Tropper, spend time with fellow alumni, and to gain new chizuk and direction.

As alumni of Kol Yaakov, you are the most important people outside of the walls of the yeshiva to its health and continued growth. Please take the opportunity to be personally mechazek the yeshiva: taking time to learn and daven in the Bais Medrash, calling the yeshiva office to share your simchos, and donating much needed funds to help ensure our future. Even if you are not able to visit the Bais Medrash personally, please reach out and call Rabbi Tropper and the yeshiva – reconnect to Rabbi Tropper and your Makom Torah.

Together, we will continue to emerge from this nisayon not as only as strong and healthy as before but in an even better position to broaden and intensify the yeshiva’s mission of teaching Torah, helping create a new generation of Tamidei Chachomim and strengthening Jewish life.

B’yedidus,

Yonason Meadows  Binhyomin Segall  Amitai Bielinki  Yaakov Gruber


Tropper & Silence of the Rabbis/R' Ribiat (II)


5Towns Jewish Times

On January 21, 10 Rabbi Dovid Ribiat released an interview regarding the Tropper scandal. His remarks generated a lot of interest, and he was asked on Jan. 29 for another brief interview to address some of the many questions that have since been raised.

Rabbi Ribiat heads the Kollel Ohr Yaakov of Forshay in Monsey NY, and is regarded as a prominent Halachic authority across the US. He is also the author of several Seforim, including the world-renowned four-volume work on the 39 Melochos of Shabbo [...]


Friday, January 29, 2010

Conversion in the service of politics: Bnei Menashe


The National 

Nazareth, Israel  The Israeli government is reported to have quietly approved the fast-track immigration of 7,000 members of a supposedly “lost Jewish” tribe, known as the Bnei Menashe, currently living in a remote area of India.

Under the plan, the “lost Jews” would be brought to Israel over the next two years by right-wing and religious organisations who, critics are concerned, will seek to place them in West Bank settlements in a bid to foil Israel’s partial agreement to a temporary freeze of settlement growth. [...]

Rav Sternbuch - Maintaining elevation

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What could you live without?


NYTimes

It all began with a stop at a red light.

Kevin Salwen, a writer and entrepreneur in Atlanta, was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, back from a sleepover in 2006. While waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other.

“Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. The light changed and they drove on, but Hannah was too young to be reasonable. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something. [...]

Chilul HaShem: Why is tropper still rosh yeshiva?


The tropper/EJF scandal has entered a new phase.

1) Originally when the tapes were released and tropper immediately resigned there were two views - 1) the tapes are forgeries vs 2) he is a disgusting menvual and walking chilul hashem.

2) As time passed and tropper remained silent and more people realized the tapes were genuine we now have the following three groups 1) the tapes are forgeries became a minority and 2)most said that they were not sure if  the tapes are forgeries and but we must give him the benefit of doubt and even if he sinned , Berachos says we must presumed that a talmid chachom who sinned at night has done teshuva next day vs 3) he is guilty and a walking chilul hashem and the continued silence of the rabbis is embarrassing and sowing confusion regarding moral leadership and emunas chachomim..

We are now in state three and there are two different approaches being taken

1) Tropper did sin, tapes are genuine and he was a menuval but he has definitely done teshuva and those who want him removed as rosh yeshiva and constantly talk about him lack the elementary Jewish quality of rachmonus and they are baalei loshon harah and they are causing the chillul hashem by talking about it  Furthermore he only violated rabbinic prohibitions and thus that is not considered to be a genuine chillul hashem. thus case is closed and we must get on with life and act as if nothing happened.

vs 2) Tropper sinned - not out of a moment of overwhelming lust which is what the gemora in Berachos was describing.  He was seriously and persistently a menuval and thus there is no presumption of teshuva. There is in fact no evidence that he has done teshuva except for a brief statement released to the press that he apologizes for the appearance of violating the laws of modesty! He sinned against a particular woman and there is no mention that he has asked for mechila and that she has granted it. This is a an embarrassing defense and it is not teshuva.  But even if we say he did teshuva  that doesn't allow him to a rosh yeshiva and being called a rabbi. This is for two reasons 1) The gemora says a rosh yeshiva and rabbi need to be a person who is pure and is perceived as pure. He needs to be perceived as the embodiment of Torah itself. It is embarrassing that he is being defended that he only violated a rabbinic decree of nida and  is kares medivrei kabbalah. The gemora says "All who transgress the words of our sages are deserving death at the hand of Heaven." That is an insignificant chillul haShem?! Furthermore it is not certain that he only violated rabbinic laws. 2) The chillul haShem is in the perception of the public both Jews and non-Jews who know that tropper has sinned in a disgusting way and thus he is a chillul hashem every time he is identified as a rosh yeshiva and rabbi. This is not an issue of rachmonus. Is every time that the punishments prescribed by the Torah and Rabbinic decree are carried out it a lack of rachomonus?! Chas vesholom! It is the greatest rachmonus to allow punishments which bring about atonement.

It is time for Tropper to retire and save G-d and the Jewish people the continued embarrassment and degradation. It is time to stop the torment of his students - present and past. Has the man no shame? It is time for rabbis and organization to publicly criticize him - and it is time for EJF  the monster with two heads that he created which is interfering with the issue of geirus and causing distress to converts on an international level - be disbanded. It is necessary for the rabbis to restore confidence in their moral leadership and the public's emunas chachomim. It is an fundamental obligation that the leaders make the effort to explain and convince the public of  their course of action. This is not just the aberration of a single individual but rather the healing of the entire Jewish people.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

World of Geirim VII - Shidduchim Issues - Relationship with parents


Igros Moshe (Y.D. 2:130): 
 
Concerning a giyores whose non-Jewish mother is sick. Should she go to her mother with her children as her mother requests?

Concerning the matter of a giyores who has been following the appropriate Jewish practices and has kept a distance from her father and mother from the time that she has converted 20 years ago even though they live in the same city. But now her mother has fallen ill and requests that she come with her children to see her because she has a great longing to see her grandchildren . Even though the giyores knows that according to the Torah there is relationship anymore with her parents, nevertheless  she wants to know if it is appropriate because she has a very strong natural love to her parents and she wants to fulfill her mother's request at this  time of sickness. Her rabbi wants to permit it because of the concern that she might revert to her old ways as we see that there is such a concern regarding inheritance that a decree was made that a convert inherits his non-Jewish father because of this fear (Kiddushin 17).

Answer: I agree that the halacha is as her rabbi wrote that it can be permitted but because of logic. Because it is not clear that this fear for other things can be compared to loss of money because the desire for them is not so strong. However the more appropriate reason is that they might say that the laws of Torah are not correct if she is told not to go  and this is a very significant point by itself even without the concern that she might revert. We see this from the fact that the halacha is that we visit sick non-Jews for the sake of peace as well as sustain the poor non-Jews and bury their dead for the sake of peace (Gittin 61).... So it is obvious that she and her children would be going against the ways of peace of they don't visit her mother. So besides that factor the Rambam (Mamrim 5;11) states that it is prohibited for a ger to curse his non-Jewish father or hit him and not to shame him so that people won't say that the ger went from a higher religion to a lower one so he should at least not shame his father (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 241)... So if she doesn't go to visit her sick mother with her children it will cause the mother suffering and maybe it will drive her crazy. Thus we see it is an insult to the mother if she doesn't go and it is such pain that it is like hitting and cursing her. So therefore going to her mother is not only permitted but is obligatory to comply with the wishes of her mother to come and bring her children....

R' Akiva Eiger writes that this is part of human culture.... This mean that even though it is not an explict law of the Torah that a non-Jew must  honor his parents and therefore it is not an issue of coming from a higher religion to a low one nevertheless but since natural ethics requires honoring parents then it is also included in coming from a higher religion to a lower one. It is like the reason of chillul hashem if they should say that the Torah permits something that even a nonJewish knows is prohibited...

Therefore it appears in my opinion that it is like the prohibition against ingratitude that we find in agadata that G-d was very particular about this with Adam and also with the Jewish people. Therefore this is something prohibited which is the same between Jews and non-Jews... This is like we don't find explicit prohibitions on bad character traits even though they are disgusting and they incur punishment both for Jews and non-Jews....

We can conclude from this analysis that even if her mother wasn't sick it would be appropriate to go at infrequent occassions if it would appear as ingratitute if she didn't go. It is only to be with her parents on a regular basis that is prohibited even for her in order that she distance herself from them and not revert and it is surely prohibited for her children to go regularly because they might eat unkosher food. However now that her mother is sick -besides visiting for the sake of peace she is obligated to visit with her children to give some sort of honor to her mother and to avoid shaming her (Shulchan Aruch)
'... .

A blogging rabbi under attack



Five Town Jewish Times   I was requested to make this a separate post but see original post see Tropper scandal is this what Lakewood is producing. 


Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn lives in Har Nof, Jerusalem. He is the author of the much acclaimed Daas Torah Sefer, the Yad Moshe Index on Igros Moshe, and operator of a blog entitled DaasTorah, has been one of the few individuals strong enough and brave enough to stand up against bullying in the Orthodox Torah world.

Even before the Tropper scandal, Rabbi Eidensohn has been exposing the misrepresentations, the bullying, and the unfair practices that this organization has used against Bnei Torah, Geirim, and numerous others.

Now he, like many others who have attempted to shed light on some very questionable practices, is being attacked. A writer that claims he is from Lakewood writes about a Jewish bookstore in Lakewood as follows:[...]

Bankrupt diocese will pay $9.8 million to abuse victims


Anchorage Daily News

The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks is emerging from bankruptcy under a plan that will provide nearly $10 million -- and maybe much more -- to sexual abuse victims, send the bishop traveling to parishes where abuse occurred, and put names of suspected abusers on the diocese Web site.

Under the plan for reorganization, $9.8 million will go into a fund for close to 300 victims. Another $2.5 million is going to lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Payments to individuals will be decided case-by-case by a mediator, depending on a variety of factors including the nature and severity of abuse, the age of the victim at the time it started, and whether the perpetrator was in a position of trust.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Donald MacDonald approved the plan at a hearing Monday morning in Anchorage.

"I've never had a case like this in my nearly 20 years on the bench," the judge told the lawyers and Catholic church leaders gathered in court. The sexual abuse claims made this bankruptcy especially challenging, he said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tropper scandal Is this what Lakewood is producing?


Dear Rabbi Eidenshon,    [SEE Five Towns Jewish Times comment]

I just heard of your blog recently. I live in Lakewood and have used the Yad moshe many many times I always thought to myself what an amazing person R' Eidenshon must be to put together this monumental work.. Well I must tell you R' Eidenshon never in my life would I have imagined that the auther of the Yad Moshe was the blog owner of a filthy motzi shem rah/ lashon horah blog that is full of bizui talmidei chachamim. many many talmidei Chachamim. I cant tell you how shocked I was. I couldnt stop thinking about it for days. How does such a thing happen?! I have to tell you that my emunas talmidei chachamim fell after learning who you really are.. Im sorry to say you should be ashamed of yourself!

For your info. I recently went into a VERY popular otzar hasforim of a very popular yeshiva here in lakewood ( Im not saying any names). one that is used by many talmidei chachamim 24/7; There are a few Yad moshes on the shelf there. every single Yad moshe in the cover by your name said the following (in hebrew) "Rasha merusha, mevazeh talmidei chachamim v'gedolei hador R"L. Baal blog shel motzi shem rah v'lashon horah vchoo. R"L."

Anyways, heres the latest going around. I think it was written well. You have permission to post it, but please dont post my name. thanks.
==========================
open letter to the Editor of Tablet magazine

Dear editor,
 
I am writing regarding recent articles on Tablet Magazine’s blog written by Allison Hoffman. There are a couple of points I would like to take issue with. I will primarily use the Jan. 19Th 2010, article titled "among friends" http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/23832/among-friends/ as an example to bring out my points.
 
 
A.  The author obviously has a very biased opinion in regard to ultra Orthodox Jewry, which is apparent by the way she has been authoring one sided stories regarding various ultra Orthodox Jewish issues which involve allegations. She rarely bothers to either do research or report the other side of the story-namely ultra orthodox Jews. In addition to that, the obvious sarcasm and complete and utter disdain that Hoffman has for ultra Orthodox Jewry undermines her entire credibility. Her articles are full of nuanced jabs at the ultra orthodox community and rabbinate. 
 
Here's one example in her most recent article. She writes about Rabbi Tropper: "As a newcomer to the fraught business of conversions...." By calling the conversion process a "business" she is obviously trying to portray Rabbis that do conversions as being in it for money. That is offensive and untrue. For some reason I doubt she would make the same sort of remark about international doctors that go to aid Palestinians.  [...]

 
Hoffman also cites Daniel Eidenshon of daastorah blog (no one is fooled by the name). Eidenshon has had his own private agenda to bring down Tropper from the beginning of EJF. Tropper was Eidensons obsession way before anyone heard of Orand. He didn't like the fact that Tropper was trying to help intermarried couples go through conversions. The Tropper story was a dream come true for Eidenson. In addition Eidenson smears any rabbinic rabbi or leader that disagrees with his view.. Daastorah blog is hardly an example of of what ultra orthodox Jews feel regarding the Tropper story.


FACT CHECKER:
Rabbi Elyashav was not there. This has been confirmed by conference participants as well as R’ Elyashav’s family. This can be verified by asking either of the above.


After pointing out the above, is it no wonder that the ultra Orthodox rabbinate doesn't take the accusations seriously? To add to that, the fact that there is is an article on the issue in Tablet, a blog they would consider to be anti Orthodox, full of gossip and lies (for good reason, as shown above) is enough for them to instinctively assume that the allegations are nothing but libel from some self hating Jewish journalist. (There's something special about secular Jews writing against religious Jews. You can actually feel the hate pulsating through the word's). And to add to that, the mere fact that at the forefront of this cry for 'justice'-all of course in their righteous indignation, is unorthodoxjew, Tablet magazine, and Eidenshon,  not only gives Rabbis reason dismiss the accusation, but on the contrary they feel obligated to support the victim of such libel. A woman comes in to a Rabbi complaining that her husband hits her. The Rabbi asks "that's a hefty accusation, are you sure you want to say that?" "Of course I do", the women responds, "I know what abuse is. Ive been married to a dozen men and every one of them beat me. Not only that, so has all my brothers and my father too". "Hmm.." Says the Rabbi, "something sounds fishy here". Hearing that, the woman yells at the Rabbi "all you men are the same, you probably beat your wife too!" Now the Rabbis thinking... poor husband! Tablet Magazine is that women. Something sounds fishy here. Whoops! What did I just say? Now of course I'm also "guilty", no? Whether or not Tropper is guilty, partially guilty, or innocent is not the point of this letter. [It so happens, that it seems coincidentally people like unorthodox Jew, Eidenson and Hoffman tend to be the type to believe that he is 100% guilty, without even any doubt to the tapes authenticity. While the general ultra Orthodox community seems to either be not so sure, or feel that there is obviously much more to the story. Who knows how many people are really on those tapes. Or is it a cut and paste? Is he really talking to Orand? Did Aguiar pay to make the tapes? Why was Aguiar involved? Etc.] The point is, just because you have an opinion on something, and you want to get your message out, that does not justify using tactics such as those pointed out above, which are way beyond the pail. Remember Jason Blair? Hoffman like him seems to feel the ends justify the means. Aside for the fact that Hoffmans articles are not within journalism ethics and are a clear case of journalism bias. By you allowing Hoffmans false and biased articles to be published,  you are in affect declaring war on ultra Orthodox Jewry. Yes, you may take that as a badge of honor, and no, you arent the first (sorry), and I'm sure you wont be the last. But before you start celebrating and patting yourself on the back for being so brave and enlightend by exposing those closeminded ultra Orthodox fakers. Lest you start becoming gitty by the fact that you stuck it to them big time, I can assure you-you hurt no one. The very people that you are trying to hurt will never know that you exist, nor will they feel your jab. Almost no one there will read a word of what you say. Maybe a handful might come across the articles, but that’s about it. They will look at you the same way you look at a gossip mongering tabloid in Uzbekistan. Irrelevant trash.

So go ahead and punch if you like, but please remember... your punching at thin air.

When religious people lie


5towns Jewish Times

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zatzal once wrote of the horrific repercussions of lying. Aside from the issues and Torah violations involved in the lie per se, it also, quite often, causes issues of theft. When someone lies about issues involved in the holocaust, it is particularly heinous. Why is that?

Because it feeds directly into the hands of holocaust deniers and causes enormous pain to numerous people. The lie allows holocaust deniers to cause pain to those who underwent the horrors of the Nazis, their relatives, and anyone who lost family in the holocaust.

Recently, the Washington Post ran a story about a Sofer who misled numerous people regarding Sifrei Torah that were allegedly from the holocaust. If the allegations are true then this is not merely a lie. It involves theft. It also involves providing fodder for holocaust deniers. If the allegations are true, then the Sofer would be in violation of theft, and would lose his ability to serve as a witness in a Jewish court until he does Teshuva.[...]

Monday, January 25, 2010

World of Geirim VI - Shidduchim Issues


sb's  comment  "World of Geirim - IV Seeing both sides":

DT: "Before addressing your other points could you explain your positive response to these posts while Michal and Gioret have viewed them asattacks on them?"

I don't know what to explain. You seem nterested in the truth and exploring tough issues in a sensitive andhonest way.

DT: "Would you mind writing a post about this?
Describe a little about your background. What your expectations were?What possible solutions do you see?

If in fact this is somethingwhich you think is painful but understandable - do you think it should be mentioned clearly to prospective conversion candidates?"

Inthe interest of anonymity, I don't know if I would write a whole post. If you could give me guidelines on how to write a post without givingaway who I am, I could do it.

I'll post a bit here, and I'll keep it vague: My background is that my father is Jewish, mother not. I have learned for quite a few years in 3 yeshivas, the last two "mainstream," in both Israel and the US.

I didn't really have anyexpectations. I realized that the Torah is true and I realized that things might be difficult but it didn't matter.

As for the last two questions, I can't suggest solutions since I don't understand the problem. I have never heard a cogent answer as to why being a convert,or a bt, is considered such a bad thing in terms of shidduchim. The thing is that most (all?) ffb families would take a far less accomplished fbb over a far more accomplished ger/bt. From this it seems that it is some sort of intrinsic issue. This doesn’t make sense to meand I’m still trying to figure it out or hear an answer from someone.

Maybe it’s the Gemara you referenced in Berachos (and also in Arvei Pesachim) about not marrying a giyores, along with the b’nei niddahissue for BT’s? I just have a hard time believing that everyone knows those gemaras and that they are so makpid about them…Sometimes I think maybe it has to do with a "What will my friends/family think" type of thing, but that seems too shallow for many of the people and it doesn't really explain it.

MT: “Didn't you tell me you were a BT, is there two "SB"s?”

I may have said that. I use BT sometimes as a blanket term for a person that didn’t grow up religious. Also, my father is Jewish and I actually thought I was Jewish growing up – reform Hebrew school etc – before I found out at some point that I wasn’t, so it feels like a technicality to me anyhow. I guess it wasn’t really technically correct, though. (Although if we are nitpicking the word "ba’al t’shuva" is not really correct for bts either.)

Obligation of loving gerim and not tormenting them


There has been much heat and debate which seems to be primarily the result of differing assumptions of what the obligation of a Jew towards a ger.

In this post I will cite sources which illustrate what this means in practise. None of the sources indicate that one can not disagree with a ger or need to avoid giving a ger rebuke. 1) indicates that one shouldn't opress the ger because they have a greater propensity (yetzer harah) to sin and give up mitzvos 2) In the hierarchy of saving the life and providing food and support - the ger is at the bottom of the list with the freed slave. 3) There seems to be an emphasis that there feelings are more easily hurt because of their change of life i.e., they are strangers and they have lower self esteem. This seems to be similar to be careful with the feelings of women because they readily cry and G-d responds readily to tears. 4) As cited before Berachos (8b) cites a view that one should not marry a giyorus


Bava Metzia(59b): It has been taught: R’ Eleazar HaGadol said: Why did the Torah warn in 36 places – while others say in 46 places – against wronging a convert? It is because he has a strong inclination to evil [Rashi Horios 13a]. What is the meaning of the verse (Shemos 22:20): “You shall not ridicule a ger (outsider), nor oppress him; for you were gerim (outsiders) in Egypt?" It has been taught: R’ Nosson said that one should not ridicule another with the blemish you yourself have. This idea is expressed in the folk expression “If someone had a family member who was hanged one should not say to him, ‘Hang up this fish for me.’”

Horios(13a): Mishna Saving the live of a cohen takes precedence over that of a levi while a levei takes precedence over a yisroel, the yisroel takes precedence over a mamzer while a mamzer takes precedence over a nasin and a nasin takes precedence over a ger and a ger takes precedence over a freed slave. This hierarchy is only valid if they are equal in other respects however if the mamzer is a talmid chacham and the cohen gadol (high priest) is an ignoramous then the mamzer talmid chacham has precedence over the ignorant high priest. Gemora – A nasin takes precedence over a ger since the nasin the nasin was raised with us in holiness and the ger was not raised with us in holiness. A ger takes precedence over a freed slave for the slave is included in the curse while the ger was not… It was taught: R’ Shimon bar Yochai said it is logical that the freed slave should in fact take precedence over the ger for the slave was brought up by us in holiness and the ger wasn’t, however since the slave was included in the curse and not the ger – the ger takes precedence. R’ Eleazer the son of R’ Tzadok was asked, “Why do all want to marry a giyorus but not everyone wants to marry a freed maidservant? He answered that the maidservant was included in the curse while the giyorus was not. Another explanation is that the giyorous is known to protect her chastity while the maidservant is not…

Shulchan Aruch(Y.D. 251:9)
: If a person has many poor people who need help but he doesn’t have enough funds to feed them, giving them clothing or redeem all of them – then he should first take care of the Cohen and then the Levi. The Levi is taken care of before the Yisroel, the Yisoel comes before the Challal who comes for the Shetuki who comes before the Asufi who precedes the Mamzer. The Mamzer takes precedent overthe Nesin and the Nesin takes precedence over the Ger while the Ger takes precedence over the Freed Slave. When is this hierachy applicable? When they are all equal in knowledge but if the Mamzer is a talmid chachom while the Cohen Gadol is an ignoramous then the preferences is given to the Mamzer who is talmid chachom…

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What it is all about:The mugger & the black belt


A true chasidic tale:

My chavursa studied karate in a program run  by one of those proverbial oriental masters. He learned all the kicks and blows and  readily advanced through the ranks. One of the critical points that his teacher emphasized - besides that strict ritual of bowing and respect - was that karate is not to be used. It is to be studied and appreciated but not used against another person unless there was no choice. It was an art form and a spiritual endeavor.

One night my chavruta was walking down the dark streets of St. Louis when he was jumped from behind by a huge mugger who put a muscular arm around his throat and demanded his wallet. Having learned his lessons well he turned slightly stomped on his muggers instep, jabbed his elbow in the guys gut and twisted the surprised mugger's arm until the elbow broke. Then he ran to safety.

He was greatful that he had learned his lesson well and had handled the situation well. While it was a shame he had had to break the muggers arm - but it was purely self-defense as his master had taught.

With a feeling of self-satisfaction at his skill and his self-restraint - not only in dealing with the mugger but also his own ego - he went to his karate master to tell him  how he had successfully applied the lessons he  had been taught.

The karate master listen impassively as the events of the night before were related by his excited student. When he finished his karate master bowed slightly to him and then proceeded to give him the beating of his life. "I told you karate is not to be used unless you have no choice. If you had given the mugger your wallet he would have left you alone. This beating is because you have not learned the most elementary lesson of what karate is about.


Fighting 'Arabization' or solving housing crisis?



JPOST

On Tuesday, the National Planning Council subcommittee responsible for general planning principles recommended that the National Planning Council authorize the construction of Kasif, a new haredi city in the Negev, 10 km. west of Arad. The move was met with criticism from environmental organizations for its effect on open spaces, but also from local leaders.

Arad Mayor Gideon Bar-Lev said his municipality had opposed the initiative from the start, when it first came up for debate two-and-a-half years ago

"We think it is a huge mistake in principle and that the decision goes against the state's main planning objections of dispersing the population," he said.

Mt of Olives has website of graves


The world's oldest Jewish cemetery just went online.

A new project undertaken by the City of David archeological Park, located south of Jerusalem's Old City and at the foot of the Mount of Olives cemetery, has begun the process of identifying and documenting tombstones throughout the entirety of the Mount of Olives and uploading the data to the Web.

Tens of thousands of graves on the mount have already been mapped and incorporated into a database, in the first-ever attempt to restorethe graves and record the history of those who were buried there. Theproject includes the creation of a Web site (www.mountofolives.co.il)that aims to raise awareness of the City of David and to honor thememory of those buried in the cemetery, as well as to inform about thetours and activities available.

Tropper - Why the Rabbis were silent



5tjtimes

Rabbi Dovid Ribiat heads the Kollel Ohr Yaakov of Forshay in Monsey NY, and is regarded as a prominent Halachic authority across the US. He is also the author of several Seforim,   including the world-renowned four-volume work on the 39 Melochos of Shabbos. On January 21, 10 he graciously consented to the following interview regarding the Tropper scandal:

Interviewer: Over the past several weeks there have been a lot of questions in the media over the silence of the Rabbis in the Ultra-orthodox community re. the Tropper scandal. Why has there been no condemnation of Tropper from the Rabbis? [...]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Earthquake - Divine response to criticism of the silence of rabbis in Tropper scandal?!



A curious example of apologetics -The Earth Trembles - recently appeared in Cross-Currents. It was written by the director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America - normally the epitome of cogent prose. He did slip once before by claiming that the swindler  Berny Madoff  was somehow superior to the "Hero of the Hudson" - for which he apologized.  What follows is the relevant excerpt. It is the only response of the American Chareidi establishment - that I am aware of - to the Tropper scandal.  Read his article Tidal Waves on page 5 of the Jewish Observer for a more appropriate essay.
===========================
From a truly Jewish perspective, though, there is more that we must do in the wake of a disaster as terrible as the recent one in Haiti. We must introspect, and make changes in our behavior. The 2004 tsunami in Asia occurred during the same period of the  Jewish year’s Torah-reading cycle as the recent Haitian disaster, a  period known as “Shovavim Tat,” an acrostic of the initials of the weeks’ Torah portions. It is a time considered particularly ripe for repentance. After that cataclysm, a revered contemporary Jewish sage in Israel, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, pointed out that the revered Gaon of Vilna identified a particularly powerful merit at this time of year in “guarding one’s speech” – avoiding the expression of ill will, slander and the like. That, Rabbi Steinman added, is a merit especially urgent “in these days, when the evil inclination puts all its energies into entrapping people in this sin… [when] it is almost impossible to find someone who hasn’t fallen into the ‘mud’.”

No prophet or wise man, only eyes and ears, are necessary to recognize that the Jewish world today is rife with “evil speech” – speaking and writing ill of others (whether the words are true, false or – so often the case – some toxic mixture of the two), and with the hatred that breeds such sins. Jewish media are filled with accusations and “scoops”; they compete gleefully to find the vilest examples of crimes to report, to do the most attention-grabbing job of reporting them, and to be the first to do so. The very week of the recent catastrophe in Haiti, a national Jewish newspaper published a comic strip featuring grotesque depictions of religious Jews and aimed at disparaging Jewish outreach to other Jews.

And another Jewish newspaper ran an editorial placing the alleged ugly sins of an individual at the feet of Jewish rabbinic leaders, simply because the presumed sinner, before he was exposed, had arranged for several respected rabbis to deliver lectures and had encouraged people to make donations to their institutions. Having thus “established” guilt by that association, the editorialist demanded that every Orthodox organization and rabbinic leader publicly condemn the alleged sinner or be smeared themselves with sin. Then he mocked rabbinic authorities as a group for, instead of issuing condemnations of sinners, rendering decisions on social and halachic matters, as if that were not precisely what rabbis are for. Those are examples of anti- Orthodox invective. But ill will and its expression, tragically, know no communal bounds – in fact, the offensive comic strip seized upon intemperate statements made by Orthodox Jews about others.

Jews can take positions. Indeed we are charged with standing up for Jewish principles. But personalizing disagreements or slandering individuals is – or should be – beyond the pale.
© 2010 AM ECHAD RESOURCES
[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tefillin stopped a flight:


NYTIMES

he plane, a 50-seat regional aircraft that was less than a third full when it took off from La Guardia Airport, had been climbing through the early-morning sky for about 25 minutes. A 17-year-old passenger in a whitish sweater took out something he had carried onboard, and strapped it onto his wrist and his head.

To some people in New York, that is a relatively common sight: an observant Jew beginning the ritual of morning prayer. But to at least one person on US Airways Express Flight 3079 on Thursday — the flight attendant — it looked ominous, as if the young man were wrapping himself in cables or wires. [...]

World of Geirim - IV Seeing both sides

Growing up's Guest Post

Rav Sternbuch: Behind the Miracles

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is there still a need for EJF? - An insider's perspective (Revised)


The following is the first of a series of posts that asks why hasn't the second shoe fallen? Why hasn't EJF been closed down?

Now that Tropper has left the organization - even without the foul odor associated with the organization - it still has not produced the "universally accepted geirim" and its geirim are not uniformly high quality.  The following contends that it is a chaotic mess which sows discord and confusion and in reality has fallen significantly short of what they claim they are doing.  It is a poorly organized group that doesn't even have a manual which describes the halachic principles it follows , a program sylllabus for educating candidates or even the standards for accepting candidates or mentors.
====================================

Mondrowitz: Lawyer alleges cover-up


Five Towns Jewish Times

Abraham Mondrowitz can be known as the man with nine lives. How so?

1. Twenty five years ago, he was somehow able to elude any charges being pressed by the young men that he counseled in his role as a therapist working for Yeshivas.

2. He was able to avoid any repercussions to his ability to be hired by yeshiva after Yeshiva.

3. He managed to elude prosecution in the United States while living here.

4. He managed to flee the United States and live in Israel when finally facing an indictment by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. [...]

Mondrowitz - Israeli interview of Mark Weiss


This is a link to the Israeli Reshet Bet news discussion regarding the Israeli Supreme Court's decision not to extradite Avrohom Mondrowitz. 

The program (Hebrew) is approx. 20 minutes long and is about 1 hour and 4 minutes into the broadcast. 
 

Haiti - Appeal by Aid Organizations


Zaka 


Orthodox Union's fund


International Medical Corps


There are still thousands of patients seeking treatment of which approximately 80% are in need of surgery and are running out of time - especially with the tremendous aftershocks still devastating this country. The team is treating crush injuries, trauma, substantial wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies - And they're in it for the long haul.

Haitians & Chasidim and Kiddush HaShem


NYTimes

Spring Valley Village Hall sits in a drab strip mall along with Angel Nails, the Family Dollar discount store, the Caribbean Village restaurant and other modest businesses in this Rockland County village, which has a mix of Hasidic and other Orthodox Jews, Latinos and blacks. Haitians make up roughly half the population of more than 25,000.

So in terms of demographics, there was nothing out of the ordinary in the scene at Village Hall on Tuesday, with bearded Hasidic men in their long black coats and a largely black crowd of workers and volunteers scurrying around the lobby, which was filled with boxes of medicine, cotton balls and crutches, big black suitcases and an air of incessant activity.[...]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Israel has only field hospital in Haiti

CNN
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen visits a Haiti hospital where patients are desperate for better medical care.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evidence Mondrowitz may have counseled teen in 2006


Jewish Week

Posted Monday, Jan. 18, 9:15 PM) With alleged Brooklyn child molester Avrohom Mondrowitz under house arrest  until Jan. 24 following last week's decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to deny his extradition, new evidence has emerged that appears to indicate that Mondrowitz was treating adolescent boys in Israel as recently as 2006.

According to a document provided to The Jewish Week by New Jersey attorney Michael Lesher, and apparently obtained from Mondrowitz's computer, Mondrowitz appears to have conducted an interview with and "assessment" of a 15-year-old  boy who had been engaging in "improper behaviours [sic] with his peers."

EJF - How tropper spent his way into rabbinic elite


Tablet

n May 2007, Leib Tropper arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, to preside over a grand conclave of prospective converts to Judaism sponsored by his Eternal Jewish Family organization, which offered "Cadillac conversions" to non-Jews as part of an effort to seize control of the conversion process outside of Israel. Buoyed by a $4.8 million infusion of cash from the billionaire Thomas Kaplan, an oil and mining mogul who is currently president of the board at the 92nd Street Y in New York, the fast-talking rabbi with global ambitions and a smooth line of patter had offered would-be Jews a special treat: an all-expenses paid weekend of discussions on topics like "Becoming Part of the Jewish Family" at the Arizona Biltmore, a spa resort on 39 acres at the foot of Phoenix Mountain that is part of the Waldorf-Astoria chain.

While offers of Ayurvedic massages and luxury accommodation may seem at odds with the somber, discouraging face that ultra-Orthodoxy has traditionally turned to prospective converts, Tropper, by most accounts, did not seem particularly interested in relaxing halachic codes to accommodate the modern world. A biblical literalist, he played an active role in an effort by a group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis to ban the books of another rabbi, Nosson Slifkin, who believed that the world is older than the Jewish calendar—that is, 5,770 years. In 2006, among his other duties, he took it upon himself to retroactively invalidate the conversion of a woman who subsequently dared to violate ultra-Orthodox codes of modesty by wearing pants. [...]

EJF:To prevent Chillul HaShem - transgressing Torah & even idolatry are permitted



Concerning the chillul hashem resulting from the Tropper scandal - it is important to note how seriously Chazal view chillul hashem. In Yevamos (79a) it is noted that Dovid executed Shaul's sons and left the corpses hanging for a long time to avoid the chillul hashem caused by Shaul's indirectly causing gerim diffulty. In Sanhedrin (107a) it describes that Dovid was apparently willing to become an idolater to avoid the chillul hashem that would result if his son killed him.

While both gemoras clearly require much more study, the message of our Sages is clear. Chillul hashem is worse than violating the Torah and it is worse than idolatry. The fact that there are those  whose "solution" to this international chillul hashem is "don't talk about it and it will go away" is simply incredible.

Yevamos(79a):
And Ritzpah took sackcloth and spread it on a rock for herself - from the beginning of the harvest until the rainy season began and she did not allow the birds to rest on the corpses by day or the wild animals at night (Shmuel 2’ 21:10). But how could it be that the corpses of Shaul’s sons remained hanging on the gallows day after day? This is specifically prohibited by the Torah (Devarim 21:23). R’ Yochanon said in the name of R’ Shimon ben Yehotzadak, “It is better that one letter of the Torah be uprooted in order that the name of heaven be publicly sanctified. Those passers-by who saw the corpses hanging would ask what type of people were they? They would be told that they were princes. They then asked what did they do that they were executed? They would then be told that their punishment was related to harm done to gerim. When they heard that they said, “There is no other nation that is more worthwhile to join than the Jewish one because if they punish princes for the mistreatment of gerim then surely they will punish commoners and if they do justice for gerim then surely they will do it for Jews from birth.


Sanhedrin(107a): Dovid wanted to worship idols [so that people would think he was wicked]… However Chushi the Archite came to meet him with his coat ripped and dirt on his head. He said to Dovid, “Shall people say that a king like you has worshipped idols?” Dovid answered, “But should a king like myself by killed by his own son [causing people to question G‑d’s justice]? It is better that I worship idols [and I alone sin and lose my reputation] than the name of Heaven be profaned [because many will become idolators if I don’t].” Chushi asked, “So why did you marry a marry a yofas to’ar [non-Jewish woman captured in battle]? Dovid replied that the Torah permits it. Chushi said, “Don’t you make Torah interpretations based on the proximity of verses? The permission to marry a Yosef’s to’ar is in proximity with the discussion of a rebellious son and we learn from this that the offspring of a yofas to’ar will be a rebellious son.”

Vayikra Rabbah(22:6): ...We find that G-d showed indulgence towards idolatry but that He never condoned chillul Hashem...

R Riskin Advocate of interfaith dialogue


The following is clearly at variance with not only the views of Rav Moshe Feinstein but also R' Riskin's rebbe - Rav Yosef Ber Solveitchik

JPOST

It's no secret that during the past two years I have become seriously involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue. In fact, here at Ohr Torah Stone in Efrat we've established the Susan and Roger Hertog Center for Jewish Christian Understanding and Cooperation, and many hundreds of Christians regularly attend classes and seminars to gain a better understanding of the Jewish roots from which Christianity sprouted.[....]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zionist youth more interested in fun than ideology


Haaretz

The World Zionist youth movements came out this week claiming that a cut in the money they receive from the Jewish Agency is threatening their very existence, and that as a result "hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth will lose their only significant link to the State of Israel and to their Jewish identity."

The recession has hit hard in the movement world, and it has been suggested that this will directly lead to a fall in numbers making aliyah. However, a closer look seems to show that the problem lies deeper.[...]

Chabad's preschool outreach

Tablet

The reception area in downtown Manhattan's Preschool of the Arts is a cheerful, modern space: dozens of self-portraits and paintings by children named Jem and Oliver and Esme crowd the walls. A small sign invites visitors to stop by the art gallery to see "action paintings created in the style of Jackson Pollock" and hangs next to an iconic photograph of the mid-century artist, cigarette dangling from mouth, and a shot of a toddler dripping paint on her own canvas.

A tall narrow bookshelf to the left of the reception desk doesn't garner much attention. Its shelves are divided into sections like child-rearing (two copies of the No Cry Sleep Solution as well as several baby sign-language books) and art (Crafts and La Vie En Rose). It's only the titles in the adult literature section that seem incongruous: Bringing Heaven to Earth, Opening the Tanya, and My Spiritual Journey.[...]

R' Riskin threatens excommunication for going to secular court


Haaretz

What happens to a person who does not want to obey din Torah - that is, judgment according to Jewish law? A resident of Efrat, Alon Levy, who refused to accept such a judgment, was told by the rabbi of that West bank town, Shlomo Riskin, that he would be ostracized and would no longer be allowed to work there.

The affair began during the November 2008 elections for the Efrat local council, when an ugly war of words broke out between two activists representing opposing lists: Levy and Dan Lubitz. The latter sent a number of letters to local residents, defaming Levy. In response, Levy sued Lubitz for libel in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. Lubitz did not submit a defense brief and in December 2008, the court ruled that he must pay Levy compensation amounting to NIS 300,000. [...]


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mitzva to honor abusive parents?


Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin

As a clinical psychologist in the frum community I have frequently been asked by patients to address the question of the obligation to honor abusive parents. As a result, I have researched the issue and have discussed it with some prominent Rabbonim. I would like to share some of what I have learned with other clinicians and anyone else who needs to address this issue.

It goes without saying that kibbud av va'eim is a very important and complex mitzvah. Any particular situation will involve specific clinical and halachic issues that have to be evaluated by a knowledgeable Rov for specific guidance. It does help, however, if the questioner is as knowledgeable as possible about the issues involved. It is for that reason that I would like to share with the readers some interesting and not so well known dimensions of this issue. [...]

Torah based whistleblower - Rothstein Ponzi scheme


Aish.com

On a recent trip to Florida, I met with Alan Sakowitz, the whistleblower who alerted the FBI to flamboyant Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein's massive Ponzi scheme that is suspected of bilking investors of over $1.2 billion.

I had previous contact with Alan, who has advertised on Aish.com from time to time on behalf of various Jewish causes. After reading news reports of how Alan tried to stop the billion-dollar fraud, I thought there may be a good lesson or two to share with our Aish.com readers. And sure enough there was. [...]

R' Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff - Contemporary Scandals


YUTorah

Discusses child molesters, Tropper scandal and other scandals

Sefer Daas Torah on Abuse is nearing completion


My sefer on abuse is heading to completion. It is not a complete work or a polished work or even easy reading. But it is very thought provoking. I think that I have assembled enough relevant material that it might make a major change in the way this issue is understood in our community.

If anyone has any suggestions for essays to be included - please let me know soon.


A survivor of Mondrowitz speaks up


Jersey State

As a victim of sexual abuse, and the subsequent failure of his childhood community to follow up on the incident, Mutty Weiss of Highland Park says Jews need to "vote with their dollars" to make sure their institutions are safe.

Community members need to ask schools if they have safety plans and detailed policies for dealing with sexual predators, as well as if they administer background checks and fingerprinting for new employees, Weiss said at the Orthodox Forum of Highland Park/Edison's "Facing Up to Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community" program Jan. 9 at Congregation Ohr Torah in Edison. For schools that answer "no," Jews must send a message by exploring other options for their children's education, Weiss said.[...]

Friday, January 15, 2010

EJF - More criticism from Rabbi Aba Dunner


5tJewish Times

The Conference of European Rabbis is the primary Orthodox rabbinic organization in Europe. Its current executive director is Rabbi Aba Dunner. The Five Towns Jewish Times spoke with Rabbi Dunner in an exclusive interview concerning the recent statement by the CER about the Eternal Jewish Family (the EJF).

The Confence of European Rabbis was founded in 1956 on the initiative of British Chief Rabbi Sir Israel Brodie. All the chief rabbis across Europe joined the organization and attended its first conference in Amsterdam. It is now run by a standing committee of 25 members which meets twice a year, and just met in Moscow. [...]

Rav Sternbuch: Special Light of Teshuva & Shovavim

EJF - the fraud of "universally accepted conversions"


The rationale that EJF justifies its existence is that it is producing "universally accepted conversions." So even if they engage in proselytization, bullying other beis dins as well as other shady practices but they claim that they at least have accomplished this important goal. Therefore even though they are covered with the overpowering stench of the Tropper scandal they insist that they should continue to exist. Rav Reuven Feinstein and other major rabbis clearly hold this view and other rabbis such as Rav Ahron Schecter, the Novominsker Rebbe  -who is in Har Nof this Shabbos - and Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky - who should be visiting Har Nof soon - have remained silent in the face of these claims.

Rabbi Seth Farber has published a list of the conversion courts in the world that are accepted by the Israeli Rabbanut. You should compare this list with the list of EJF certified courts. While the list is not necessarily comprehensive it does raise a question with their claim.

I have been told that the conversion done by one EJF certified beis din is not automatically accepted by another certified EJF beis din. Even Rav Nachum Eisenstein said he doesn't automatically accept the conversion done by an EJF certified beis din.

EJF has never in fact claimed that their converts are automatically accepted by the Israeli  Rabbinate. The simple resolution of this issue is for EJF is to produce a letter from the Israeli Rabbinute that says all EJF certified beis din's converts are automatically accepted. Until they produce such a letter it is fraud to claim their their converts are universally accepted.

Dybuk, Kabblah & Mesorah


Dear Rav Eidensohn,

I stumbled across your blog as I was researching the so-called 'dybbuk' phenomena within the Jewish community. It was my sister who reported this story to me that led me to research the possible Torah sources for whether such phenomena ought to be thought of as anything but psychological illness.

As a college student studying philosophy and chemistry, I am always skeptical when I hear of stories which clash with the claims of modern science, medicine and general logic, so naturally I was doubtful about the supernatural claims being made. Your blog provided me with some relief in seeing that this is not something that Jews categorically believe in.

This episode has led me to the following larger-scale questions, however, which still remain unanswered. These questions have been ones which I have been thinking about a tremendous amount lately, and would appreciate any insight you may have.

(1) I did locate a number of sources in Hasidic/'Kabbalistic' literature which develop the idea of the dybbuk. What are we to make of these sources/claims? Especially when being tied to writings as early as the Ramban, how are we to straddle the line between being men of Torah and reformers when discarding claims being made by earlier rabbis? Does the idea of gilgul purportedly espoused by the Ramban entail the existence of Dybukim? (As an interesting aside, Plato, in the Meno and Pheado, seems to endorse a doctrine of reincarnation of souls on purely rational grounds).

(2) What criteria are we to use to determine when to endorse a given supernatural phenomenon and when to repudiate it? Surely there are certain supernatural events (Har Sinai, Kriyas Yam Suf, etc.) which we take quite literally as having occurred. What justifies our endorsement of these events over events such as dybukkim?

(3) Are the truths revealed by the Torah the same truths that would be arrived at by perfected human reason?

(4) Is the study of secular philosophy advantageous or detrimental in becoming a perfected Jew?

(5) If the claims about dybukkim are false (which I take them to be), then how do we explain how such ideas have crept into our Mesora under the veil of true kabbalah? Why are such ideas endorsed by supposedly important and learned rabbis? And, more importantly, why don't more Rabbis and community leaders who are aware of the spurious nature of such claims publicize the fraud?

Over the years I have formed answers of my own to some of these questions, but I currently find myself in a position where I am in need of further grounded Rabbinic insight to clarify and solidify my stance towards yahadus and my own outlook as a college student and Jew.

Music now has a hechsher

Shunning intermarried couples & p.c.


Jewish Press by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

I was brought up in the Italian-Jewish neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I vividly recall the sights, sounds and smells of my youth. The kosher deli with its aroma of pickles in a barrel, the Italian deli with its pungent provolone cheese hanging in the window, the barber shop with its background of Italian opera, the newsstand offering a selection of Yiddish and Italian newspapers, and, of course, the ever present sounds of Yiddish and Italian that permeated the streets. It was a wonderful and colorful world.

And the people? We all got along in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In the morning, older Jewish men carrying tallis and tefillin on their way to shul would greet the Italian widows, dressed in black, caressing their rosary beads and mumbling the "Hail Mary" on their way to first mass. [...]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

EJF's Seminar in Dallas Jan 17-19 2010


EJF      Sample Schedule


Commitment to Join my Jewish Spouse, What Does it Mean? Rabbi Doron Kornbluth, Noted Author and Lecturer
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM     Judaism with Authenticity

Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum, Noted Author, Lecturer and Columnist
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM     The Value of the Decision to Share Values with your Spouse: An Emotional and Philosophical Perspective.

Harav Mordechai Neugroschel, Noted Lecturer on Jewish Philosophy
6:30 PM- 7:30 PM     Dinner
7:30 PM– 8:00 PM     Film Untied or United: Building a Bridge to Jewish Family Unity

Rabbi Peretz Eichler
8:00 PM– 9:00 PM     Transformation of a Life

Rabbi Daniel Assor
9:00 PM– 9:15 PM     Evening Prayer Service (Maariv)


Day 2
8:15 AM – 9:15 AM     Morning Prayer Service (Shacharis)
9:15 AM – 10:30 AM     Breakfast
10:30 AM – 11:10 AM     Becoming Part of a Jewish Community – First Hand Experience

Mrs. Chana Basia Rauch
11:10 AM – 11:50 AM     Discovering Jewish Roots

Rabbi Daniel Assor
12:00 AM – 12:45 PM     13 Principles of Faith

Rabbi Mordechai Neugroschel

12:45PM – 2:00 PM     Lunch
2:00 PM – 2:15 PM     Afternoon Prayer Service (Mincha)
2:15 PM – 3:15 PM     Actions Speak Louder than Feelings: Why It's Not Enough to be a Jew at Heart

Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum

3:15 PM – 3:45 PM     Film

Decisions in Destiny: Reaching the Summit of a Universally Accepted Conversion
Rabbi Peretz Eichler
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM     Straight Talk, Followed by Open Discussion
5:00 PM – 5:30 PM     The Road Ahead

Rabbi Doron Kornbluth
5:30 PM – 5:45 PM     Evening Prayer Service (Maariv)
5:45 PM     Dinne


Supreme Court refuses to extradite Mondrowitz


YNET

The Supreme Court determined Thursday that Abraham Mondrowitz, who is accused of committing severe sex crimes against minors in the US up to 25 years ago, will not be extradited.

Mondrowitz, a psychologist by trade, resided in the US until 1984, when he immigrated to Israel. A few months after his arrival he was indicted in his home country on charges of sexual abuse of minors.

Guma Aguiar in psychiatric hospital

JPOST

Betar Jerusalem sponsor Guma Aguiar has been forcibly admitted to the Abarbanel Psychiatric Hospital following a court order overnight Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

EJF - fuels conflict over geirus in Montreal

CJNews

MONTREAL — Mainstream Orthodox congregational rabbis in Montreal allege that the haredi-dominated Vaad Ha'ir is trying to undermine their authority in conducting conversions, dissuading prospective converts to Judaism from going to them and influencing the chief rabbinate of Israel that their conversions are not as halachically sound as those of the Vaad.[...]

EJF - The Con Game (first in a series)


Tablet by Allison Hoffman

December was a very bad month for Rabbi Leib Tropper, a powerful ultra-Orthodox rabbi who has been seeking to determine the standards for conversion in Israel and throughout the world through his little-known yet influential organization, Eternal Jewish Family. First, black-and-white posters appeared on walls in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities threatening public disgrace if the rabbi refused to "cease his filth." While the definition of "filth" was left up to readers' imagination, photos and video were prominently mentioned in the text, which demanded that Tropper suspend his involvement in performing religious conversions.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rav Dunner responds to EJF attack


5tJewish Times

It is long established pattern of the hired cheer-leaders of the ejf to attempt to blacken the name of anyone who criticizes their activities in any way - the pot of gold that the ejf has found is worth $25 million and counting and who wants to lose out on that? but it is clear who the real ganef is in this sad story - it is anyone who associates themselves with this organization whose sole function is to leech as much money as possible out of Mr. Kaplan. The feeble attempts to publish fact sheets in the jewish media demonstrates what and who they are - no serious or well meaning organization finds it necessary to print fact sheets stating that they are not low-lives, not ganovim, etc etc. this is usually a given in any moisad - and if they have to publish something of this nature it can only be that they are and always have been goineiv daas habri'os on a giant scale. [...]

Sefer HaNer on Shabbos


This sefer is a scholarly critical edition recently published by my son Shneur Eidensohn from a manuscript located in the British Library. This the first time that Sefer HaNer on Shabbos has been printed or published. For a description of the nature and importance of this sefer click here.

T

Mekubal's Blog: Ezekiel 8 response to assertion that Orand's conversion vindicated Tropper


This is the purported response of the Ezekiel 8 group to a post on Mekubal's Blog  "Apologies are in order":
==============================
B'ezrat Hashem Yitbarach

Ezekiel 8 : Groups 12/13
Official Response

HaMekubal, your analysis is so factually baseless/mistaken it's almost an EJF-Tropper advertisement.

You seem like a an honest enough fellow; where do you get your rumours from that mislead you into this kind of blatant foolishness?

Let us point out some of the major fallacies you suffer and promulgate, in the hope that you will correct yourself promptly:

To be clear the conversion was done against Israeli Law, and against the stance of the Rabbinate.

You say this, what is your proof, do you know that that the Israeli CR didn't authorise this in advance? For the record, this BD was authorised in advance by the Israeli CR.

This Gadol stated clearly that if the tapes were true...

This Gadol obviously has some tremendous problems with Choshen Mishpat; if you/he can prove that he is privvy to ALL of the evidence, that still doesn't mean his conclusion is right, his opinion is worth no more and no less than any other uninvolved bystander. At best, he certainly was not able to see/hear all of the evidence here, "chachamim, hizharu b'dvarechem", v'hamevin yavin.

It appears that despite professional authentication of the audios and videos that they simply cannot be relied upon

These kind of statements are non-sequitors, you state something as a fact, then you draw a concrete verdict from it, with no basis. Even you "hedge", saying: "It appears", without explicity acknowledging that what "appears" is not neccessarily what is.

She was accused of ... allowing a surveilance[sic] team to set up cameras in her hotel room(on more than one occaision[sic]) to video her having illicit relations with a man and his wife.

1) Who "accused"? Why "accuse" someone of defending themselves? As it is, obviously many victims of erevRabbanim misLeaders have a difficult enough time believing hard evidence and hard facts, and it's also clear the "pilpul" dance of "make it go away" is really in full swing now.

Read and comprehend, please. She is NOT the only victim, she IS the only victim who has "gone public" (so far).

We are the surveillance team, and she and "her" hotel room wasn't the only persons or places involved, R"L.

What is more Rabbis who have recieved the full packet of evidence state that there are multiple videos of her also having relations with other men.

We repeat - THERE ARE MULTIPLE VIDEOS/AUDIOS OF TROPPER INVOLVED WITH WOMEN AND MEN (CANDIDATES FOR GIYUR, MARRIED AND UNMARRIED, AND OTHERS) WHO ARE NOT HIS WIFE, don't keep insisting that Rahel is the only victim, she is the only victim who has "gone public".

She also stands accused of taking money from an enemy of Tropper to make these recordings and videos. With verifiable email evidence to back those claims.

Again, you slander a victim. She herself admits part of the control exercised by Tropper was him paying her for participating in realising his perverse fantasies and fetishes, and let's not forget his worthless promises to help speed her "geirus"...

WE can verify beyond any doubt that she received no money from anyone, least of all "an enemy of Tropper", for any of her righteous actions in exposing EJF-Tropper criminal and immoral misdeeds. After all, we admit to taking any neccessary action in this matter at our own expense and initiative (and there is far more to this matter than the EJF-Tropper issues).

Make no mistake, this geirus is not recognized...

You make no mistake, siyag l'chochma - shtika.

bobX@anonymousspeech.com

EJF's response to Rav Dunner


5tJewish Times
5tJewish Times

EJF: Your interview with Rabbi Aba Dunner, the executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis (January 7, 2010), unfortunately twists the truth about Eternal Jewish Family International

Pinchas Shapiro: RAV DUNNER IS A HIGHLY RESPECTED VENERABLE RAV IN EUROPE. HE STATED THAT THE RABBIS OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE CER UNANIMOUSLY VOTED AGAINST EJF COMING INTO EUROPE. HOW IS THIS TWISTING THE TRUTH? [...]

Dybuk: Accusations against me are based on a forged document


הרב יצחק בצרי
כבר בורר שאתה לא הולך על פי דברי גדולי ישראל בגלל אתה מקיים
בלוג, ולא רק בלוג סתם אבל בלוג מלא אם שקר ולשון הרע. עכשיו גם בורר שאתה  שקרן. הכל שרוצה לדעת את האמת צריך רק ללכת לישיבתנו ישיבת השלום איפה הם
יכולים לראות הפסק דין עם חתימת הרה"ג שטרנבוך שליט"א שהוא נתן לאמהרה"ג
המקובל הצדיק יסודי עולם דוד בצרי שליט"א. תגיד לנו הרה"ג שטרנבוך שליט"א
נתן לך רשות לשקר בשמו

I received the following letter  purportedly from Rabbi Yitzchok Batzri which falsely states that my blog is full of lies and lashon harah and  that in particular I am a liar in claiming that Rav Sternbuch's view is that the so called dybuk is a manifestation of mental illness. He claims that he has the letter in his yeshiva with Rav Sternbuch's signature that he claims Rav Sternbuch gave to Rabbi David Batzri. He demands to know whether Rav Sternbuch gave me permission to lie in his name.


I asked Rav Sternbuch tonight at his grandson's bar mitzva about this "letter". He responded angrily that it is a forgery. If the letter writer has any interest in the truth - he can simply call  Rav Sternbuch and hear for himself.  I don't know who created this forgery but Rav Sternbuch said he did not sign such a letter. It is a shame that this letter writer who claims to be  Rabbi Yitzchok Batzri feels the need to be abusive and  to attempt to slander me when all he had to do was pick up the telephone and be told by Rav Sternbuch that my words are accurate.

It has been suggested that the above letter is quite likely from a troll i.e., it is fake letter sent by someone who is just trying to cause irritation and who feels important by intimidating others. That is definitely possible but there is also no question that Rav Dovid Batzri has the phony letter purportedly from Rav Sternbuch and believes it to be genuine.

I was just informed that Rav Yitzchok Batzri was contacted last night by a member of Rav Sternbuch's family and he was asked about the letter purported to be from Rav Sternbuch about the dybuk. He said he did not have any such letter.  Thus the above letter is phoney. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tom Kaplan - Coffee for Me, Worms for Her


NYTimes

UP AND SCRAMBLING Sunday is the designated morning for my wife to sleep in, so I make sure I'm up early, by 7:30, because one of the kids is usually up around then, and once one is up, the other one seems to follow pretty quickly. My day starts with us making something they call Papa's Special Eggs, which technically are scrambled eggs. I use olive oil, not butter, and some sea salt and a little bit of skim milk; I lean on the healthy side of the equation, but according to the kids, these are the benchmark of great eggs.[...]

Tropper is still running a yeshiva in Monsey!?


Horizons

Kol Yaakov Torah Center - Faculty


Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Leib Tropper, was born on the Lower East Side. He is a grandson of the Valbolneker Iluy, HaGaon HaRav Leib Forer zt"l. After graduating from Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef at the age of 12 ½, Rabbi Tropper attended the Yeshiva of Philadelphia and then the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland. Before reaching his 15th birthday, Rabbi Tropper traveled to Eretz Yisroel to learn in Yeshivas Torah Ore. Rabbi Tropper spent more than five years at Yeshivas Torah Ore, where he developed a close relationship with its Rosh Yeshiva, Maran Harav Chaim Pinchus Scheinberg.[...]

Chilul Hashem - requirement to publicize


[Soncino translation]

Avos (4:4) R. JOHANAN B. BEROKAH24 SAID: WHOEVER PROFANES THE NAME OF HEAVEN25 IN SECRET,26 THEY27 EXACT THE PENALTY FROM HIM IN THE OPEN.28 [IN THIS RESPECT, IT IS ALL] ONE [WHETHER ONE HAS ACTED] IN ERROR, AND [IT IS ALL] ONE29 [WHETHER ONE HAS ACTED] WITH PRESUMPTION, IN [A CASE WHERE THE RESULT IS] THE PROFANATION OF THE NAME.30

Notes:
(26) How can any secret misdeed be a profanation of the Name, which necessarily implies a knowledge of the sin by at least one other than the guilty person? Tosaf. Yom Tob says: When the sin can be committed only together with another person, e.g. prohibited sexual intercourse. L.: There are two kinds of ‘profaners of the Name’: (a) one who commits a sin, making it clear to others that he contemptuously disregards the divine commandments; (b) one who transgresses secretly. not because he is concerned for the Glory of the Name of God, but for his own reputation among his fellow men, by whom he wishes to be regarded as a pious man. The latter is profaning the Name in secret, and it is this duplicity that is to be exposed by punishment in public. V.: A sin committed in secret which, should it become known, would cause a profanation of the Name.
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Yoma(86b): One should expose the hypocrites to prevent chillul HaShem as it says in Yechezkeil (3:20):When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and he commits sin, I will lay a stumbling block before him.


Rashi(Yoma 86b): Publicize the hypocrites – These people are wicked but they represent themselves as righteous. Therefore if someone is aware of their deeds – it is a mitzva to publicize them because of chillul HaShem. That is because people learn from their deeds since they think they are tzadikim. Furthermore when they are punished from Heaven, people says “what benefit is merit to protect against suffering.”


Chofetz Chaim(Lashon Harah 4:7): All these laws which I have written apply specifically to those whose conduct and manner is to have regret for his sins. However if you investigate his path and discover that he has no fear of G‑d and he is continually doing things which are not good such as throwing off the yoke of heaven or that he doesn’t avoid doing even a single transgression which everybody clearly knows is prohibited – whether it is the sin that you want to reveal and has done it a number of times on purpose or he has done some other transgressions a number of times which is clear to all that it is prohibited – this clearly shows that he is not transgressing because his lust overcame him but rather that it doesn’t bother him that he is transgressing and he has no fear of G‑d. Therefore it is permitted to degrade him and to describe his shame either before him or not before him. Therefore if he does some deed or says something and there is a question of whether to judge it favorably or unfavorably – it is necessary to judge him unfavorably since he has established himself as completely wicked (rasha) in other matters. Similarly our Sages say that the mitzva of “Do not distress others” only applies to those who are equal to you in keeping Torah and mitzvos. Therefore someone who has no concern for the word of G‑d, it is permitted to shame him and to inform others of his abominations and to heap scorn on him until he repents. This is what the Rambam (Hilchos De’os 6:8) said. Nevertheless you should be careful not to forget the conditions that apply in this case (Be’er Mayim Chaim Lashon Harah 4:32).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rav Sternbuch: Dybuk is mental illness


I showed Rav Sternbuch various press releases which asserted that he had placed the Brazilian dybuk in  niddoi to protect R Batzri.  He categorically denied the story. He added this is not a case of a dybuk but of mental illness. He expressed dismay that thousands of people believed that this was a dybuk and were involved with R Batzri's ceremony. He urged me to please write an article regarding his denial and emphasized the urgency to publicize his denial of involvment with the proclamation of nidoi and that he viewed this is a case of mental illness.


Kaplan Foundation tax return 2008

$3 million to Rav Reuven's yeshiva and almost $5 million to Tropper's Horizons, $8 million to nefesh b'nefesh, $100,000 to Mirrer Yeshiva $100,000 to Lev l'achim.

Friday, January 8, 2010

EJF - Important background information


Read the end of the article

JPOST
A woman from Houston who got mixed up in a sex scandal with a prominent haredi rabbi from Monsey, New York, arrived in Israel clandestinely and was converted to Judaism on Sunday in Alon Shvut by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior and a third rabbi who preferred to remain anonymous.
[...]

NRG

Rav Sternbuch The Unique status of Jews

A student of Tropper defends his teacher


I was given permission by the sender to publish this anonymously - unedited - to provide understanding of the other side.
====================================

I wanted to thank you being a voice of reason in our current world where, unfortunately, it becomes more popular to align against our Rabbaim than to actually consider the consequences.

 A little about me: I am a Talmud of Rabbi Tropper, having learned in his Yeshiva for over 5 years.  The Rosh Yeshiva IS a very affectionate person who is very passionate about Torah values, Ahavas Yisroel and Kiruv. The tests on a Kiruv professional’s emunah and character are obvious. It is very, very easy to upkeep high standards living in a large Jewish community. Remove that community to be in a position of constant bombardment from secular values and viewpoints, and anyone can be vulnerable.  I’ve heard Rabbaim, working far from such communities in Kiruv, bewail about how they’ve had children who became Korbanos because of it …

 However, I have to say that all the collective interactions and experiences I’ve ever had with the Rosh Yeshiva tell me he is absolutely 1000% innocent of all these allegations. He has always maintained his emunah and character. What’s more is that he is a Talmud Chacham, and an uncompromising subscriber to Daas Torah.

 I noticed some responses to your blog concluded that, since he stepped down from EJF, he must be guilty.  This flaw is noted in the Chofetz Chaim’s Hilchos Loshon Harah in the case of one being defamed in public and remains silent.  The din, of course, is that the victim’s silence gives absolutely no basis to conclude that he/she is guilty.  Rabbi Tropper simply does not want to make matters worse for himself and his family, and apparently, he has made some very powerful enemies.

 As for the alleged  audio footage: audio technology nowadays can be edited right up to each millisecond.

 It is my hope that those who wish to harm him see their efforts for what they are and do Tseuvah, and that Rabbi Tropper’s name be vindicated.

 Again,
thank you.