Saturday, February 27, 2010

From Skinhead to Orthodox Jew


WARSAW — When Pawel looks into the mirror, he can still sometimes see a neo-Nazi skinhead staring back, the man he once was before he covered his shaved head with a yarmulke, shed his fascist ideology for the Torah and renounced violence and hatred in favor of God.

“I still struggle every day to discard my past ideas,” said Pawel, a 33-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jew and former truck driver, noting with little irony that he had to stop hating Jews in order to become one. [...]

Benefits of depression & negative moods


The Victorians had many names for depression, and Charles Darwin used them all. There were his “fits” brought on by “excitements,” “flurries” leading to an “uncomfortable palpitation of the heart” and “air fatigues” that triggered his “head symptoms.” In one particularly pitiful letter, written to a specialist in “psychological medicine,” he confessed to “extreme spasmodic daily and nightly flatulence” and “hysterical crying” whenever Emma, his devoted wife, left him alone.

While there has been endless speculation about Darwin’s mysterious ailment — his symptoms have been attributed to everything from lactose intolerance to Chagas disease — Darwin himself was most troubled by his recurring mental problems. His depression left him “not able to do anything one day out of three,” choking on his “bitter mortification.” He despaired of the weakness of mind that ran in his family. “The ‘race is for the strong,’ ” Darwin wrote. “I shall probably do little more but be content to admire the strides others made in Science.”[...]

Former Takana member discusses Elon scandal


Dr. Hana Kehat began her fight against sexual harassment within Israel's religious sector even before initiating the Takana forum, from which she has now resigned in the wake of the Rabbi Mordechai Elon affair. Kehat is a founder and board member of Kolech - a feminist, religious Zionist movement established more than 20 years ago which aims to achieve equality for women within the religious community.

Kehat, a lecturer in Bible and Israeli thought, started taking on sexual harassment at Kolech, where she exposed how such harassment on the part of Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen, head of the women's religious college at Bar-Ilan University, had been handled. The affair nearly led to her firing from Orot College by its director, Rabbi Neria Guttel, and demonstrated the great need to establish the Takana forum. Kolech put pressure on Bar-Ilan; as a result the university set up an investigatory committee headed by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, today one of Takana's leaders. [...]

Dual justice system for secular and religious Jews


Religious Zionism presents: a show of arrogance. For about three years, they kept their dirty laundry at home, but now they have been so kind as to display it for everyone to see. The fact that in the State of Israel there is an alternative law enforcement system such as the Takana forum, which investigates and metes out punishment only to religious Zionists, is intolerable. The fact that this system is run by the heads of a movement that in vain regulates to itself what is morally, ethically and culturally permissible is another sign of its arrogance.

A high school teacher at a secular school who sexually assaults his students would be turned over to the police. A rabbi at a yeshiva suspected of the same thing would be turned over to Takana. Perish any connection between them, but the criminal underworld also has its own judicial system with the means to investigate and punish. In that respect, there is no difference between the underworld and Takana. [...]

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chareidi society & challenge of the internet


There is no clearer sign that leaders have lost control than when they and their people can no longer trust each other. This breach of trust is at the root of an increasingly frantic campaign on the part of ultra-Orthodox rabbis against the Internet. The latest edict, announced at a gathering of rabbis and senior Haredi educators this week in Jerusalem, demands that all parents enrolling their children in ultra-Orthodox schools sign a written commitment that their home computers are not connected in any way to the poisonous web.[...]

Secular Israeli society & violence


Last week, an 18-year old boy went out to a movie at a Petach Tikva mall with two friends. They encountered a group of teens demanding a cigarette. The boy said he did not have one. The response came immediately: Blows to his entire body that prompted his hospitalization, putting his life at risk. The boy underwent three surgeries and regained his consciousness only five days later.

And it happened because he said he had no cigarette.

Two days later, the victim's father was interviewed. The interviewer referred to the attackers as "normative teens" from "good families." In the news, after the violent attacks, they are always described that way. Yet the truth is that a more fitting description would be "human animals devoid of morality and values" and perhaps also "violent whippersnappers." Describing them as "normative boys" is outrageous. [...]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bill against sexual harrassment by rabbis


MK Orlev, who initiated bill, says: From now on, rabbis will not be able to shirk their responsibility and maintain limitations on preventing sexual harassment. Orlev careful to deny any connection between timing of bill and Rabbi Mordechai Elon harassment affair

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday passed two similar bills in a preliminary reading stipulating that offers or treatment of a sexual nature suggested by religious or spiritual instructors to their students be considered sexual harassment. This also would apply if the recipient does not expressly decline the offer.[...]

Hamas founder's son was agent for Shin Bet

Commentary & critique of main article

The son of a leading Hamas figure, who famously converted to Christianity, served for over a decade as the Shin Bet security service's most valuable source in the militant organization's leadership, Haaretz has learned.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas founder and one of its leaders in the West Bank. The intelligence he supplied Israel led to the exposure of a number of terrorist cells, and to the prevention of dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts on Israeli figures. [...]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

R' Yair Hoffman audio :Grossman execution

Oylem Goylem wrote: Could Rav Eidensohn possibly give R. Hoffman's audio it's own post?

After the op-ed he wrote for VIN, here is the audio of R. Yair Hoffman speaking on the Martin Grossman saga on the Dov Hikind show.

He's makdim with showering praise on attorney Zweibel and the Moetzes, that he agrees with them on everything except this. A smart move since he would be blacklisted otherwise or worse.

He cites the Noda Bihudah that murderers must be killed otherwise murders will become a hefkerus.

He says that rabbonim were misled with biased information from Grossman's lawyers overstating the case in favor of their client.

He argues there are so many other causes of pikuach nefesh we should get together to fight for first before Grossman - causes that are 100% justified and not "ekeldik" where someone beat a woman to death and burned her body.

This case created tremendous aivah since:

A. Goyim see frum Jews advocate for the death penalty except when it is one of their own

B. Killing of women and police officers generates a lot of moral outrage among the public

R. Hoffman mentioned how numerous meshugoyim had attacked and harassed not only Gov. Crist but also the family of the murdered officer.

At this point, Dov Hikind's behavior was more than I could stomach. He vociferously protested that there are no such thing as meshugoyim in the frum community, (pandering for obvious reasons) especially not among his radio show audience. He got his assistant Charnie to chime in seconding his motion. Why won't many be surprised what a politician does here for votes and ad dollars?

Dr. Katz from the 5 Towns speaks up at this point saying that there has never been a jury who acquitted someone purposely murdering a woman police officer and opines that trying to save Grossman's life goes against dina demalchusa.

We get some comic relief with Dov Hikind mistakenly referring to Shafran as "Dr." Avi Shafran.

Dr. Lipner's critique of the Elon scandal

I recently asked Dr. Asher Lipner whether he would have handled the Elon case differently. Below is his reply which he has given me permission to publish.

Dr. Lipner wrote:

I would have publicized it as soon as I knew there was Ragalyaim Ladavar and avoided two things.

1. Elon's ability to hurt more people.

2.The Chillul Hashem of people seeing that Orthodox Jews prefer to cover up their mistakes rather than protect people. Not only do they not care about others....they don't even care about their own children. Like a police officer in Baltimore said "Jewish parents are worse than Catholics. They protect their rabbis rather than their own children." We are back to the times of Aycha where "the hands of righteous women cooked their own children."

Secondly, if, bedieved, I had screwed it up, I certainly would not BRAG about it the way Rabbi Lichtenstien did, saying that "our first most important priority was to keep it quiet and protect the reputation of the alleged sinner". First of all, I'm not sure why this is a priority at all, other than the real reason that all rabbis want to protect the image of other rabbis because it protects their own power. Secondly, it certainly is not the first priority of a civilized people, especially ones who are commanded by their G-d to protect innocent people, save lives, love neighbors, heal the sick, stop sin, pursue justice, speak the truth, etc.

Let's make this simple: Hillel said that you should not do to others what you don't want them to do to you.  That's the WHOLE Torah. If the Takana gang had family members who were going to Elon over the past four years for "private counseling" (no matter where he had been 'banished' to) would they have allowed that to go on undeterred? I think not. I suspect that they would warn their own friends and family to stay far, far away. How could it be then that these "Torah observant" Jews, refrained from warning OTHER people's friends and family's? The letter published by one mother of a victim full of shock and pain was enough for anyone with an ounce of compassion to realize the travesty that was done in Israel. Rabbi Lichtenstien actually cried publicly about what? About his mistake? About the people who were traumatized? Nope. About the fact that he was forced to do a mitzvah! That he had to stop the rasha and protect innocent people.He should have been making a seudas hoda'a that he had such a zchus. The Torah, once again, has been distorted, twisted and bastardized into some form of Avoda Zara that is cruel and inhuman. What is practiced today is barbaric.  It is not Judaism. It is a much more dangerous thing than Reform or Conservative Judaism which do not claim to be the mesorah.

On the positive side, at least Takana did eventually admit the truth because it was about to be exposed by the secular press.  This shows they still maintain a degree of "busha" one of the three midos that define a Jew.  There is therefore some hope for the Modern Orthodox to get back on track, learn from this fiasco and not let it happen again. The Agudah Gedolim on the other hand....not so much. They have no busha left. None. They will never admit they goofed with Tropper. I told Rabbi H. that "Daas Torah means never having to say you're sorry." He corrected me. "Daas Torah means you never did anything wrong to begin with."