Friday, March 18, 2011


Junior goes to a Charedi-Leumi gan, where the truly wonderful ganenet (she teaches Midrashim to the kids, but stresses that they are not peshat!) is an Israeli Sephardi. Today, she gave out a red thread to each parent, along with a page of segulos, with an earnest description of how these are invaluable segulos for our child's chinnuch. I present the page to you; be sure to read the second part.

Words fail me.


  1. I truly don't understand what bothers you about this second half? I'm personally more bothered by the red string, and other modern day segullas, including giving charity to particular trusts, or reciting a non-regular prayer for 40 consecutive days, etc.

  2. Wha is right.
    I don't read Hebrew well, so would appreciate a translation if you have the time. Todah rabah, shabbat shalom, and purim sameach.

  3. You sure this isn't Purim Torah?

  4. R' Slifkin, can you translate the second part? I understand about 60% of it but am having trouble reading much of it.

  5. Chaim C., I think that you must have missed what is being said in the first sentence of the second part.

    Knitter, I really feel uncomfortable translating it!

    Gershon - no, it's not Purim Torah.

  6. The quality of the scan isn't as good as it could be, I'm still a bit out of it from the fast yesterday, and I looked a word up in the dictionary to see if it really meant what I think it meant. And I still understood the second half, particularly its first sentence, and I joint you in saying "WHAT"? I don't remember righteous women in Tanakh behaving like that.

  7. My daughters go to a "Charedi-Leumi" school as well. I would actually categorize it as a "nothing" school - because:
    1) They are not Charedi
    2) They are not Leumi

    If it actually were "Charedi Leumi" I would definitely not be sending my daughters there, because then they would be indoctrinated with the worst of both worlds!

  8. I wonder where the teacher got it from - I agree with you not translating that last part
    Joel Rich

  9. R Slifkin,

    I read the first sentence of the second part. I get the idea but I'm not sure I follow (or can read) the last four words of that sentence. Could you translate that?

  10. Translation of second Page:

    The words of the Steipler to the holy mothers:
    "There is no such thing as spiritual child rearing"(translator's note: meaning that more than teaching, the mother should worry about watching her own behavior which will be a merit and an inspiration for the child's proper spiritual growth).

    * Proper child-rearing is dependent upon the mother acquiescing to her husbands wishes in the most private of places, without offering any opinions. (translator's note: the term "B'Chadrei Chadorim" means literally "in a room within a room" and has been translated here as "in the most private of places". When used in Rabbinic literature in the context of husbands and wives, it often refers to intimate marital relations.)

    *Children who grow up in a home where the mother prays with careful enunciation of each word understand Gemara and Mishanayos better than any of their peers!

    *Children who grow up in a home where the mother says each Bracha slowly and calmly, have better personal character traits and are less impudent.

    *A mother who prays each day and lifts up her eyes towards heaven, her children are more successful than other children.

    *Children who grow up in a home where the mother acquiesces to the father's wishes without offering her opinions, have good personal character traits and spiritual sustenance that is higher and holier than any other children.

    *A Jewish mother saying the Bracha of "SheHakol Niyhe BiDvaro" out loud in her home is more important than all other child-rearing techniques.

    *Children who grow up in a home where the mother says the "Grace after Meals" loudly, have a protection (from heaven) from illness and car accidents, and a mighty [blurry word]from heaven.

    *A mother who constantly mentions G-d - "Praised be his name", "With G-d's help", etc. , her children will exhibit the charm and appeal of the righteous Yosef upon their faces.

  11. I love the one which says that if mothers say brachot slowly, their kids wont have any chuzpah... if only!

  12. I was speechless for a while but now I am coming back to myself. Two points - both are empirical and personal observations.

    We have been talking about different cultures alot on this blog. The Sfardim in general are never really religious or secular. The most chilonim of them have faith in G-d and the most religious ones are too primitive to be truly religious and can easily slip.

    As far as Dati-leumi or Charedi-leumi is concerned, with all my sympathy for them and what they are trying to do, they are like a duck that is neither a fish but can swim, nor a bird but can fly, nor an antelope but can run.

    So dear Rabbi you've got a double whammy here. Was it her own idea or the school's initiative?

  13. What is wrong with the first sentence of the second part? If I understood correctly it is saying that the mother shouldn't argue with the father even in the privacy of their own home. This seems like good advice in raising children.
    Also is no one bothered by the halachic problem of hefsek between the bracha and eating?

  14. After reading this, my comments are as follows:

    1) Perhaps someone can reference sources in halacha where this is discussed.

    2) In general, the Stiepler was very interested in positive attitude towards marital intimacy and wrote about it, and against asceticism.

    3) In general there is a concept of children being affected by parents activity in this realm, as discussed in Kesuvos, and IIRC, by the Ramban regarding Yaakov's sheep.

    I wonder what Junior will bring home next from school ! :)

  15. I don't understand why you have a problem with this. By disparaging it you are mocking the Steipler Gaon. The Steipler Gaon!!!
    If I recall correctly, the Rambam forbids denegrating talmidei chachamim. And you can't argue that he was not one.

  16. I was under the impression s'faradi women did not in fact make b'rokhos or engage in ritualized davening where they articulated the formal prayer. is that incorrect? if correct, why is your s'faradi gannenet purveying this stuff - the ostensible benefits of which would be unavailable to her own brood. Of course proper subservience still conveys a few rewards but most of those entries describe the benefits for acts traditional s'faradi culture has proscribed and she'd be missing out on big ticket items like intellectual ability to learn talmud, freedom from disease, lessened chutzpoh etc.

  17. For those of you having trouble with the scan, there's a typed copy elsewhere:

  18. The first sentence of the second part has abuse written all over it. The source is the Gemora that says 'isha tova osa rzon baala'. Look, women were not considered equal human being then and I don't have a problem with the Gemora reflecting those views, but today that they are a mutually satisfying relationship is what is appropriate to recommend for a couple. Why would any man want anything less?

    I also have a different explanation for that Gemorah. It is talking about a man that simply cannot satisfy his wife. So the Gemorah reads as follows: 'Isha tova (tzadekes) osa rzon baala(at the expense of her own needs). So the Gemorah is telling all these less than adequate men to value their righteous wives for putting up with them. This is pretty awesome!

  19. "The first sentence of the second part has abuse written all over it."

    Considering the source, that is not even in the realm of the possible.

    "I also have a different explanation for that Gemorah"

    Who are you, or any of us, to have an interpretation, especially when it conflicts with one of the greatest Torah sages of the last century?

  20. Mike,

    Not sure if you were being sarcastic in your "denigration of the Steipler" comment. However things like this are classic examples of why a healthy does of skepticism is important. Questions to consider:

    1) Did the Steipler actually say these things? What is the evidence to that effect?

    2) If he did say them, are they in his recognized writings or are they reports of things heard?

    3) If they are reports, are they direct quotes or paraphrasings of things he said in his native yiddish?

    4) If he said them in yiddish is it entirely possible thta much of the original tone and intent has been lost in the translation?

    Just some thoughts about this and many other things we hear said in the names of gedolim.

  21. Simcha, this is the way it is taught nowadays in kalla classes. Are you disagreeing with that? In contemporary western culture this is considered abuse.

    It doesn't matter who I am. You should consider the message not the messenger. This is an agadatta and I am giving it a contemporary interpretation. This is what makes it Toras Chaim. Human rights, which include women's rights, are universal and NOT culturally relative.

    Here is a story to boot. My daughter's friend married a gerer chossid and was told AFTER the weeding that the gerer MINHAG is too have conjugal relations once a week on Shabbos. In addition, that once a week is done in a manner that puts her off. Now, you tell me if this is not abuse? This is a crime imo. If this is what you want you have an obligation to tell the girl up front so that she can decide if this is what she wants. The people who do this are wicked.

  22. very inappropriate, only something that could happen in Israel.

  23. WADR, your sons Morah is now an acceptable source for the Steipler?

    Research is necessary before publishing such claims.

  24. I don't know what the whole brouhaha is about. The Steipler is saying that kids succeed when they are reared in a functional home, and he is describing the highest values of Chareidi society home life. You don't think this makes a functional home? Shkoyach, but if this is your societal ideal then of course you think this is the best circumstances in which kids can be raised.

  25. To Carol: I just love your casual racism in: " the most religious ones are too primitive to be truly religious ".

  26. The fact that she chose this piece of might have your wife ask her, in a discreet way, if she is being abused. Or, if she is abused on Purim due to intoxication.

    If she says "no", apologize and believe her....but leave the door open that she should have a resource in case something she's worried about comes about.

    Gary Goldwater

  27. Carol, you're absolutely right. In another life I taught women's self defense, worked on the crisis lines and did my share of extractions from dangerous homes. "Shut up and do what you're told, woman" is the cornerstone of abuse. Supporting your spouse does not extend to slavish subordination.

    Forgive me, Rabbi. There's no polite way of stating what needs to be said here.

    The "intimate marital relations" interpretation offered by Meturgeman is even more troubling. If accurate, it means these rabbis condone, no celebrate rape. Your own desires and personal integrity mean nothing. Lie there and take it no matter how much your soul cries out to G-d in agony for the brutality to stop. If you don't you're a bad mother and disobeying your Creator.

    This is evil. Pure. Simple. Plain. Evil. Rape is terrible. It is life-changing and often life-shattering. It's bad enough that minority of times when it's committed by a stranger. When someone you love betrays that by treating you like a piece of meat it's much, much worse. Any Rabbi who orders a woman submit without complaint should be removed from the Rabbinate immediately. He is a danger to every woman and child within his influence.

  28. Simcha writes:
    Considering the source, that is not even in the realm of the possible.

    And why isn't it? Don't say "Because thousands revere him." Don't give me some threadbare variation on "Just shut up". This isn't obscure points of Talmudic Law with whipped Kabbalistic cream and a Simple Emmuah Cherry on top.

    This is pretty basic stuff - brutality, rape, abuse, power. You don't need Daas Torah to understand. My beloved Papillon (ztl) had a firm grasp of the important parts. And she had four legs and said "Woof!"

  29. There's no way the Steipler actually said that. See a letter on intimacy where the Steipler rebuked husbands who were not listening to their wives here.

    Hurrah for the Steipler!

  30. One, I actually had a bigger problem with the first half -- taking brachos which have a very specfic and clear purpose/meaning and turning them into something completely different.

    Two, the second half is just a list of segulos, which I find a bit cute, especially understanding that they come from a sephardi. In a way, I admire sefardim's simple religious faith and find it inspiring to a degree.

    Three, a school should never, ever hand out something like this to parents. It's none of their business. Their business is educating children, not informing adults what segulos they should perform or not perform if they want good children.

    Considering the first sentence (if it was translated properly -- my Hebrew is less than perfecty), I would reiterate my point even more. A teach has absolutely no place in the world telling mothers this. It's not that I object to the idea so much (I don't agree with it, but I don't think it's the end of the world -- different cultures are different), but I don't think a teacher should have any business telling a mother this.

  31. There is no problem with having a prayerful attitude and good intentions in making berachot. It is, in fact, very laudatory. Prayer is not a silly segulah, and shouldn't be so characterized. The red string is a completely different matter. It is a custom that some have that appears to stem from pagan sources. The quicker eliminated, the better.

    The citation from the Steipler Gaon is puzzling in that the tone suggests that proper behavior and kavanot are a segula for good children. Anyone who knows something of reality can attest that good intentions and actions don't necessarily dictate future behavior. What can be said is that such intents and actions may lead to a divine blessing on one's offspring. No guarantees are given, however.

  32. Wha...

    Carol said:

    The Sfardim in general are never really religious or secular. The most chilonim of them have faith in G-d and the most religious ones are too primitive to be truly religious and can easily slip.

    Words fail me...

  33. I just IM'ed my wife ( who happens to be Moroccan, deeply religious, a brilliant doctor - in my humble opinion, and knows how to both stand up for herself and how to defer to her husband like a wife should ) about the crazy feminist reaction here and her comment was:

    "their problem.....jealous of the sephardi women..."

  34. Dan and Robert, please. No racism was intended - the difference is cultural. The comment was prompted by RS mentioning that the teacher was Sefardi. You will be hard pressed to find and a dati-leumi or charedi-leumi Ashkenasi woman disributing this type of sgulos. That's all. I am for complete integration of all Jews. In the secular Israeli and dati-leumi society there is equality and integration. Not so in the charedi world. The Sefardi charedei leadership instead of demanding integration and equality chose the part of separation thus condemning the younger generation to second class status. This is what really was bothering me. I stand by my personal observations but maybe should not have voiced them.

    Robert, I am not sure what you mean by a 'crazy feminist reaction'. Human rights are universal and not gender specific. I would expect the same reaction from a man. All feminism is to me is standing up for the rights of the weaker half of the human race. We read on this post that the sin of Amalek was that he attacked the weak and the helpless. Shouldn't a real man be a feminist? Would not that be chivalry in modern terms?

  35. Would not that be chivalry in modern terms?

    "I admit it is better fun to punt than be punted, and that a desire to have all the fun is nine-tenths of the law of chivalry."

    Dorothy L. Sayers

  36. Carol said...

    Dan and Robert, please. No racism was intended - the difference is cultural. The comment was prompted by RS mentioning that the teacher was Sefardi. You will be hard pressed to find and a dati-leumi or charedi-leumi Ashkenasi woman disributing this type of sgulos.

    We have been talking about different cultures alot on this blog. The Ashkenazim are usually either Atheists or Charadi fanatics. The Atheists want to destroy faith in G-d and the Charadim all believe in primitive ideas like Daas Toarh where every Rabbi is an infallible mini-Pope and no-one can so much as wipe their own tuchus without asking a shaila of their Rav.

    Do you understand the problem yet? Maybe it's the Hasty Generalization fallacy?

    ... I stand by my personal observations but maybe should not have voiced them.


  37. Robert, I am not sure what you mean by a 'crazy feminist reaction'.

    You and Todd, etc. are just reading too much into things and overreacting. All the first point on the second page is saying is that if you want to have a harmonious home to raise your children in then the mother needs to keep her husband satisfied. Anyone who's studied the subject knows that halachicly it's a two way street, but this handout was addressed to women not men.

    The idea that it's advocating abuse or rape just seems like an absurd overreaction.

    While handing something like this out to kids in gan to give their parents is indeed shocking and over the line, I can actually see a justification for needing to make this particular point; many Charadi girls ( and boys apparently ) are raised to view marital intimacy as a kind of necessary evil that should be minimized as much as possible instead of viewing it as an important glue that helps bond husband and wife together.

    The point is that when each partner in a marriage simply takes care each others taavot - instead of criticizing or demeaning them, then it helps to create a harmonious home and acts as a barrier against sin.

    Common sense really.

  38. Yoelb, please.

    In his monumental study of Chivalry, The Broad-Stone of Honour, Kenelm Henry Digby offered the following definition: "Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world."

  39. Robert, I really don't think I'm reading too much into this. The attitude is deeply embedded in many places, particularly in highly religious communities with a strong tradition of female subservience.

    Talk about minhag and tznius and Rambam all you want as excuses. And yes, I'm familiar with the essentials of Torah which say "Be nice to your wife." I'll skip past the part where you talk about how women get their way by persuasion and are on a more elevated spiritual plane. Heard that song in Yiddish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Spanish and English already.

    The simple fact is that the seeds for domestic abuse and marital rape are already deeply rooted here. The offhand way in which complete subordination and quite possibly "Lie back and enjoy whether you want it or not" are absolute classics in abusive cultural attitudes.

  40. Robert, let's not fight. Let's be friends, ok? We really don't have a substantive disagreement here.

    In the defense of Todd, I think in this particular case his reaction is appropriate and is in the spirit of chivalry. This is how a real man is supposed to react. IMO.

    The text of the sgulos is on the blog. We both voiced our opinions so let everybody judge for themselves.

    Just one thing I have to say. You wrote: 'The point is that when each partner in a marriage simply takes care each others taavot'. Yep, this is the language that they use. It has a terrible connotation and makes me sick. Why call love taavot? I hate it!

  41. I really think that before publishing things that could make Gedolei Torah look bad, you should verify that the gadol in question, did actually say what he is supposed to have said. Doing otherwise will stir up unwarranted hatred towards the gadol in question. Rav Slifkin-you would hate it if someone were to plaster things on the internet said in your name, that you never actually said(this has happened to you before, I'm sure).

  42. The funny thing about all this about marriage equality and Sephardim is that one of the most popular current shalom bayit guides (Garden of Peace, by R' Shalom Arush, a Sephardic ba'al teshuvah who is a prominent Breslover rosh yeshivah) seems to be completely devoid of calls for women to defer to men -- indeed, it's the other way around in many respects. I haven't read the version of the book for women, so I can't know for sure, but my wife is reading it, and she would not read a word of it if it told women to shut up and just do what their husbands say! I recommend the men's version wholeheartedly, even for rationalists, since much of it is based on practical experience and trial-and-error (as opposed to mystical principles), and is remarkably wise and effective.

  43. " Why call love taavot? I hate it!"

    Because what position you want to be in, or what outfit you want to wear during so, is not love.

  44. Ameteur, oh no? says who? And for what reason?

  45. Why call love taavot? I hate it!

    Love is putting up with the other person's taavot that you hate.

  46. Robert, bravo! Any source other than kalla classes that shares this idea in the context spoken here?

    When R.Akiva says that Shir Hashirim is kodesh hakodoshim it's because human love brings out the best in people similar to the faith and love of G-d. This is why one can be a moshol for the other. He learned it from his relationship with Rochel and he meant her when said those words. He became R.Akiva through her. This is love. Read a code of chivalry and you will find the same idea. This IS love.

  47. Maybe you should switch to a rationalist gan!

  48. Thank you for the kind words, Carol.
    I don't know that it's chivalry so much as experience of the "Oppress not the stranger for you were strangers in Mizraim" variety. Personal experience of this sort of evil whether directly, professionally or seeing it in the lives of friends and loved ones gives a certain sensitivity to the subject.

  49. R slifkin,
    1) Your mention that she is Sefardi is unnecessary and inappropriate.
    2) Some of them are kabbalistic ideas mentioned in the Ohr Hachaim al haTorah.


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