Monday, August 15, 2011

Whose side is R Shafran taking? R J Rosenblum vs R A Shafran

Do We Really Need Another Round of Shafran v. Rosenblum?

By Jonathan Rosenblum, on January 13th, 2011

One of my wittier friends commented that my recent exchange with Avi Shafran on President Obama’s Israel policy struck him as a mental health issue. “I mean its not like you and Avi are major players in the American foreign policy establishment, whose views are likely to have any impact of the Obama adminstration’s Israel policy,” he remarked.
I will confess I did not find any of the points made by defenders of the president’s foreign policy to be compelling or even very interesting — the defenders seemed far more eager to attribute low motivations to the president’s critics than to offer their own substantive defense. And I’m genuinely surprised that there were those who learned something new from Avi that they did not already know about Obama’s stance towards Israel. But I’m nevertheless delighted to find that the president has his defenders and that Orthodox Jews are not the victims of thought control or quite the automatons that we are caricacturized as being. Hopefully some of that independence of thought and multiplicity of viewpoints will reflect itself in communal debates, and not just in areas where our voices are not likely to have a major impact. In the meantime, it is always good to be reminded that no political party or politician embodies the Torah viewpoint or its opposite.
I do take to heart Avi’s admonitions about the difficulty of shaking oneself from settled views or even exposing oneself to counter viewpoints. All of us have a problem changing our minds once we have formed an opinion. That’s why we so badly need a chavrusah who is ever ready to contest our words and understandings with whom to learn Gemara. Similarly, any issue worth debating inevitably encompasses a number of perspectives. I’m therefore grateful that Avi has allowed himself to be pressed into service as my chavrusah on the Obama administration’s Mideast policy.
Avi now claims to have had a very modest goal in mind in his first piece on the subject: to provide readers with a few facts they may not have known about the actions of the Obama administration towards Israel. Had he done nothing other than point out some good things President Obama has done for Israel no one would have or could have disagreed, certainly not I. But his goal was larger than that. In his first piece, he only conceded that opprobrium towards the administration might be justified on fiscal issues, about which he professes to understand little. He did not concede any basis of criticism with respect to Middle East policy, about which, by contrast, he apparently considers himself to be sufficiently knowledgeable. I would respectfully submit it is Avi who has now gone far beyond his original “did you know these six things about President Obama and Israel” who is digging in his heals and putting forward a series of weak “terutzim” in response to my treatment of the major issues of the administration’s foreign policy, which found no place in his original piece.a


  1. Who cares about the political differences between R. Shafran and Jonathon Rosenblum on American policy?

  2. What the heck is JR talking about? I can't follow him!

  3. R. Eidensohn -

    Interesting NY Times article today, discussing a famous fully practicing Catholic famous major-leagues baseball player from 50 years ago (still alive), always brought up as Catholic and never knew otherwise. Until the Times reporter researched his family, and it turns out his mother is Jewish -- born in Hungary as on of 12 siblings who had brises with the names of the mohel and sandek still recorded in their town. Mother came to America in 1901 and converted. Never told her son. Some of the mothers siblings died in Auschwitz.

    You may wish to consider for posting:

  4. The Hungarians were largely never the most frum people around. This is in due in part to the yichus of many of them coming from the Kuzarim and because the Neolog movement was so strong there. I speak of Hungarians from the Unterland (the Oberland are really displaced Yekkes). Many of them, including the chassidishe are similar to many Sefardim who like to show outward signs of frumkeit & traditionalism but are not frum deep down. There are Munkatchers in Brooklyn and Monsey for instance that are mechalel Shabbos in the kitchen, hide cholov stam ice cream in the back of the freezer and drink coffee from goyish restaurants in treif ceramic mugs (ben yomo). You wull also find that the most brazen ganovim from among us being reported on in the secular press are by and large Hungarian.

    There are large numbers of Hungarian Catholics that have Jewish backgrounds. This includes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

  5. The Hungarians were from the frumest Yidden in Europe. Even the Neologs, which were the Hungarians oisvurfs, were never as bad as the Reform in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

    The Kuzaris were from the Russian lands, not Hungary,and were always a small and insignificant percentage anyways.

  6. MOK, you obviously don't know Hungarians or history very well. It is easy to be deceived by outward appearances like black clothing and twirly payos.

    Yes the Kuzarim originally lived in what is now Asiatic Russia but after they were smitten by Genghis Khan and his horde, the survivors were pushed to the Western extreme of Mongol conquest which was Hungary. It is not spoken about much because it gets the Hungarians hot under the collar. See the hakdama to Sefer Hakuzari from Targum Press.

    The Neologen were even worse than the Reform because of their fake outward signs of acting more frum when they are the same apikorsim. There is a posuk in Nach that Hashem despises people like Neologen more than the Reform types who are at least more honest that they are not religious. Neolog is very similar to the Conservative movement.

    The Satmar Rov knew many of his chassidim were peasant-like who did not act in the spirit of the Torah. He was known to give them digs about it. And how do you explain the chilul Hashem of the current Satmar leadership always at each other's throats in secular court over money?

  7. Believe it or not, the old Neologue yeshiva in Budapest is still in operation. You don't hear about it much because it's mostly locals who attend. One graduate is an Amnon Khaimov in Queens who calls himself the Chief Rabbi of the Bocharian community in NY. There are actually three people who make the same claim. Khaimov had a shechita out of Boro Park and gives hashgocho on a couple of grocery stores. He is officially rabbi of a shul in Corona which is over 100 years old. The original mispalelim who are Ashkenazim, average age about 95, say that Khaimov and his followers stole the binyan from them. There was a NY Times article about it.

  8. An adam gadol who if he was still alive today would be about 100 told me something about Hungarian / Romanian chassidim that sounds very similar to what the blogger Hakuzari asserts. When I expressed shock to him about some Vizhnitzers being mechalel Shabbos in private, eating treif etc, he was not the least bit surprised. Then there is the story of a family who claims lineage from a Rebbe in the 1800s who is not well known outside Hungarian circles. Their behavior is so immoral that another adam gadol (still living) said he suspects they do not shtam from Klal Yisroel. When he was asked from the Yam shel Shlomo in Kiddushin that in yeridas hadoros you only need one siman of three in rachmonim, beishonim, gomlei chasodim. He felt they did not have any siman. The family has been publishing the Rebbe's kesovim which a rov with dayanus from Lakewood told me he went through and found to not be lomdish at all.

  9. Hak: I know them quite well. Far better than yourself, in all likelihood. It isn't just appearance. The frumkeit of the Hungarian Jews is very deep and ingrained.

    The Kuzarim didn't travel too far. And in any event, as mentioned, they were a very small and insignificant percent of the Jewish population.

    The Neologs indeed were not nearly as bad as the Reform. It is true the Neolog were similar somewhat to the early Conservative movement i.e. when the Orthodox Union (OU) shared leadership rabbis with the Conservatives. And the Conservatives then, like the Neologs, were no where near as terrible as the Reform.

  10. When it comes to Satmar + Munkatch, I am the biggest misnaggid in the world.
    Nevertheless, isn't this discussion sliding into Loshon Hara?

  11. The only ones I'm a "misnaged" to is the MO.

  12. Eddie, plenty of people have been burned by crooked Ungarisher and Romanisher. If you were victimized you would understand how it is letoeles. There is a lot of truth to the old joke that you need to count your fingers after one of them shakes your hand. One shul in NY comprised mostly of Americanized Munkatchers may have the highest percentage of any shul in the world of convicted felons and others who were investigated to the hilt. Many of the heimishe bandits who made front page NY Times davened in that shul. Their ranks include David Schick who even stole from keren yesomim & almanos. The Mirrer rosh kollel screamed about it in a Shabbos Shuva derasha. Schick and at least one other mispalel of this shul have been massering on the others to shorten their own sentences. Who said there is honor among thieves?

  13. Dovid: The Hungarian's have the least amount of folks with bad ethics amongst Klal Yisroel. I also noticed the MO have some of the biggest crooks. Their lack of bein adam lmakom carries over to bein adam lchaveiro.

  14. Shemesh, what is your agenda to stick up for Hungarians? It is well known that they are not so nizhar in inyanei Choshen Mishpat being that Hungarian yeshivos focus on seder Moed instead of Nezikin. It's a joke that you go on to attack the modern orthodox. A large portion of membership in modern shuls today are the children of Hungarians. Their parents davened in the shtieblach of small time Rebbelahs who never gave musser to their flock.

  15. Yes, well, don't forget that Satmar and Munkacz were so anti Zionist, they forbade their dumb flocks to escape form Hungary, thinking they were under Divine protection. When the Nazis came, these populations were massacred.

  16. Sunset, what is your agenda to stick up for the MO's or attack the Torah community? It is well known that the mo are not so nizhar in inyanei Choshen Mishpat, or many parts of the Shulchan Aruch for that matte. It's a joke that you go on to attack the Hungarians. A large portion of membership in Hungarian shuls today are the children of non-Hungarians who loved their derech.

  17. Funny, Eddie, since the Hungarians have the highest survival rate of the Jews under the Nazis.

  18. Ben "Torah" - not funny at all, but very sad.
    You must be either very uneducated, or one of those Holocaust deniers.

    "Two-thirds of Hungarian Jewry was destroyed between 1941 and 1945. More than half a million people fell victim to the labour service, the deportations organised by German Nazis and their Hungarian henchmen, the brutality of the Hungarian authorities, the death marches, the gassings in Auschwitz, the mass executions, and the terrible circumstances of the concentration camps. Hungarian Jews were murdered on the Ukrainian snow-fields, on the streets of Budapest, in the countryside ghettos, behind the barbed wires of German concentration camps, in the gas chambers of Birkenau, and on the country roads. Every tenth victim of the Holocaust and every third victim of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi extermination camp, were Hungarian. "

  19. More Jews than that were killed in the countries outside Hungary. Comparitively the Hungarians had a higher survival rate.

  20. BT

    Depends which country you are talking about. German Jews had one of the highest survival rates, presumably since they saw the writing on the wall.
    It also depends on when the nazis invaded each country, and began their murderous destruction.

    The previous talkback claimed they had the highest survival rate - which is a ludicrous claim. Perhaps this is based on the misleading and anti Torah view of the Satmar rebbe, who promised his lemming followers that they would be saved because of their anti-zionism.
    Rambam equates this behaviour of deliberate sacrifice/ suicide to the lowest level of Avodah Zarah!


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