Sunday, May 17, 2020

"He Had A Gold Mine In His Hands And He Crushed It"

A very significant article about how Rav Chaim Kanievsky's court operates was published in the Hebrew paper "The Marker." It was translated for this website by Elisha Loewenstern:

"He Had A Gold Mine In His Hands And He Crushed It": 
The Mistake Made By Rabbi Kanievsky's Grandson 

With a lot of faith, determination and elbows, Yanki Kanievsky paved his way to the top of the court of his grandfather, known as the "Minister of Torah," and controlled the budget, meetings and politics with a strong arm. 

By Liat Levy and Bini Ashkenazi 

About six months ago, 25 people gathered in the ancient synagogue in Motza, which sometimes serves as an event hall. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of the most powerful people in Haredi society: Yanki Kanievsky, the grandson of Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, who is also known as "the Prince of Torah." The invitees included family members, as well as MK Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, and Yosef Haim Kalaf, Arye Deri's close adviser. As is common in celebrity affairs, the guests were requested not to take photos of the event; indeed, there is no mention of it on the internet or social media. Various sources with whom we spoke said that the event was proof, for those who still needed it, of the great influence of Yanki Kanievsky.

About two months ago, Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, the leader of the Lithuanian Haredi community, became a household name and figure of interest among the wider Israeli public as well. A video posted on the web, in which he is heard giving instruction not to close the Haredi yeshivas and educational institutions, contrary to the instructions of the Health Ministry, went viral and caused much anger on the Haredi street. The video shows the 92-year-old rabbi alongside his grandson Yanki, who says to him: "The whole state wants to say now that all the hederim should not hold studies... until they know what will happen with this epidemic ... The question is whether Grandpa thinks that the hederim should be canceled because of this?" Rabbi Kanievsky is seen in the video answering his grandson, "God forbid." "So can I tell them on behalf of Grandpa that the hederim must remain open for the sake of the children's studies?" the grandson continued; and the rabbi nodded in agreement.

This approval of the great halakhic authority sowed confusion and intensified the power struggles between the different courts of Haredi leadership. On the one hand, this was a ruling of the Gadol Hador, the "leader of the generation." On the other hand, it was a blatant violation of the Health Ministry's instructions, a potentially life-threatening decision. At the thick of this controversy stood the Haredi politicians, who were afraid to defy him.

"I believe in his blessing," says a close associate of the rabbi. "Not because he studied medicine, but because of the power of his Torah. The Torah defends and saves; that's not just a slogan. Though not at the price of lawlessness, the Torah must be adhered to under the guidelines of the Health Ministry."

"In retrospect, Yanki received a lethal blow here," says a source proficient in Haredi politics. "The video created a crisis of trust between the Haredi public and government directives, which is why it took the Haredi public time to internalize that they must obey the instructions." This interval came at the expense of the health of not a few of his followers. Only a few days later, Rabbi Kanievsky's court issued a statement that the Health Ministry's instructions had to be obeyed. The court, which had thus far been the most influential in the Haredi sector, was caught with its pants down. On Haredi social media, the grandson Yanki was accused of manipulating his grandfather. The ruling was another attempt at consolidating the rabbi's standing as the main halachic authority in the Ashkenazi Haredi community, and Yanki's status as his manager; but there are those who claim that this time, Yanki had gone too far.

Yanki Kanievsky, only 30, is the person who officially runs the house of Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, also known as the House on Rashbam Street, since it is located on Rashbam Street in Bnei Brak. He is the eldest son of Shuki Kanievsky, the youngest son of the rabbi. He has three brothers and four sisters. Kanievsky is married and lives in an apartment he owns in Bnei Brak. As a young man, he studied in a yeshiva in Hadera; but although he was listed as a member of the Kollel, he lived and breathed sectoral politics from an early age. Although he is one of the rabbi's younger grandchildren, he is in charge of the goings and comings in the rabbi's home. He is the one approves and arranges meetings with the rabbi, decides who will get a photo with the rabbi, who will be blessed and who will receive a video of support.

Controlling which nonprofit will receive the rabbi's blessing and which radio station will advertise the House's activities and fundraising is worth a lot of power and money in Haredi society. In the sector, Yanki is described as the community kingmaker, the one who pulls the strings and whose authority is undisputed. He has the power to arrange who will be employed in the sector's various educational institutions, public events, political institutions, and also who will be fired and where will budgets be channeled. He recommends PRs, advertisers, producers, photographers, strategic advisors, journalists and lawyers, such that no one wants to quarrel with the House, because that could mean a loss of livelihood. He was crowned a political strategist when he led the move known as the "Sephardi-Lithuanian axis," an unnatural collaboration between Shas and Degel HaTorah in the municipal elections in October 2018, aimed at strengthening the political power of Degel HaTorah in the municipalities. Yanki wove this move together with Yosef Haim Halaf, and it was successful in many municipalities, including Jerusalem and Haifa.

Grandson Kanievsky even maintained contacts with political figures at the national level. Hod Betzer, Benny Gantz's chief of staff, and who during the last Knesset election campaign was responsible for communication with various sectors, was a guest at Yanki's sister's wedding in the midst of the third round of elections, with rumors of contact between the two in the background.

Another meeting proving Yanki's political aspirations took place in May 2019. Immediately after the first round of elections, he arrived at the headquarters of Yisrael Beitenu in Jerusalem. Back then, the bad blood between the Haredi parties and Avigdor Lieberman was almost solely concerning the draft law, and Kanievsky came to examine the feasibility of a compromise on the legislation that would enable Lieberman to enter the government. "There was a desire to see whether Lieberman was willing to modify his statement that he would not agree to change even a comma or a period in the draft law," says a source proficient in the details. He said that if Rabbi Kanievsky had accepted the bargain, the issue of recruitment would have been resolved, there would be a government today, "and we would not be dragged into this ongoing election saga." Lieberman refused to compromise and the political consequences are well known, but it was another landmark for the Kanievsky grandson's attempt to establish his grandfather's status as a political leader.

"Yanki is a sympathetic and poignant person, but also forceful," says a source familiar with the balance of power in Haredi society. "He'll burn you if he wants to. A lot of people know that you don't mess with him."

Yanki took on the task of managing the House about five years ago, accompanied by a well-oiled PR system that includes distributing SMS messages through a hotline about his meetings with senior officials, as well as messages that are clearly intended to glorify his considerable public influence. His dominant character is even more apparent when juxtaposed with his cousin, Arye Kanievsky, with whom he splits the shifts of staying with his grandfather. Arye is considered to be the calm and gentle grandson, who helps his grandfather no less than Yanki, but does not interfere or make public decisions in the rabbi's name and in his stead. "Arye does not treat his grandfather as an axe to grind," says a source familiar with the conduct of the House. "During his shifts there is no selection of visitors; his conduct is fair; no shtick like yes or no photo with the rabbi; no shady deals. If Arye had more influence, everything in this house would look different."

"Yanki treats his grandfather as a business" 

For many years, from the time of Rabbi Shach, the Lithuanian community was led by its rabbis, its Gedolei HaDor, who kept their distance from the political world and engaged in Torah study. The concept was that anyone who devotes himself to the Torah does not engage in political matters. When the Lithuanian community needed public decisions, they turned to Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv. After the latter's death, the leadership was split between Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman, who died in 2017, and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who died in 2018. Today, there are two courts competing for leadership: Rabbi Kanievsky (whose late wife, Batsheva, was the daughter of Rabbi Elyashiv) and Rabbi Gershon Edelstein – head of Yeshivat Ponevezh, which is considered the flagship of the Lithuanian Haredi Torah world. "Rabbi Kanievsky was never a figure who made political decisions," explains a source who is knowledgeable of the balance of power in the sector. "He is a tzaddik, not a leader. He is primarily concerned with giving blessings. Rabbi Edelstein is an old man and a Torah scholar, but also capable of asking and making decisions. He is a practical figure. "

"For anyone who wants a blessing, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky is the address," explains another source. "The man is detached from this world, and people believe that his blessings are fulfilled." Among the veteran blessing-seekers of the House are Gideon Sa'ar, Arye Deri, Minister Naftali Bennett and former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, all of whom were photographed with the rabbi, who thereby grants them legitimacy on the one hand and whose political status in enhanced on the other. "But between this and deciding whether to join the coalition or to open institutions during the epidemic," the source adds, "there is a fine line."

Yanki, sources say, is the person who decided to change his grandfather's image from that of a famous rabbi, the Rebbe of the Lithuanians, to a politically influential figure – and it seems to have been quite successful for him. During the last election year, the rabbi became a popular destination for blessings. Among those who came for photo-ops were Minister Yisrael Katz, who said after the visit, "The rabbi heard about my activity as the Minister of Transportation;" Minister Rafi Peretz; Raz Kisenstilich, mayor of Rishon LeZion; and even Yonatan Orich and Ofer Golan, advisers of the Prime Minister. Yanki told his grandfather that the two are helping the Prime Minister with Yiddishkeit (preserving Jewish values), and that the police and the state attorney are pursuing them to prevent them from helping the Prime Minister.

Besides the political power, Rabbi Kanievsky's house is a junction that sits on a lot of money and large budgets. The rabbi's name, blessing, and pictures are used to encourage various activities, from donations to charity to sifrei kodesh. "Yanki treats his grandfather as a business," says a source close to the community. "Rabbi Kanievsky is an important name. An organization that campaigns with Rabbi Kanievsky's name receives more donations."

From information that came to our attention, it appears that Haredi PRs and advertisers are also making commercial use of the rabbi's house. Among others, the advertising company 360 Links, owned by Racheli Greenwald, the daughter of Lithuanian businessman Motke Levi, offers its clients collaboration with Kanievsky's house as part of a strategic consultancy package. There is no detail of what this collaboration includes, but the language of the offer indicates that the rabbi is one of the means of promoting the product. Greenwald denies the details and said in response to our request: "There is no such thing. Whoever wants can go to the rabbi's door and stand in line. The line is sometimes long, because all the people of Israel want to be blessed by the rabbi. I engage in a vain field, selling advertising and public relations. I do not sell spiritual or holy services. Neither donations nor blessings. Only material things. "

Markerweek has provided evidence of PR offices offering customers the rabbi's blessing of a successful endeavor, a process that includes a filmed documentation of the event and its dissemination in the Haredi press, as a means of producing a kosher stamp on each service. These services do not always have a separate price tag, because they can easily be deemed a desecration of God's name in Haredi society. Sometimes the service is payed for as part of a larger strategic package; other times, it is sufficient to pay the rabbi's house by donating a Torah scroll, or donating to one of the funds that the rabbi wishes to support.

A source knowledgeable of the details says that getting customers into the rabbi's house is an accepted practice. Sometimes this happens through the Haredi sector journalists, who also serve as middlemen. "When there are problems in the House, it needs someone who has a newspaper to write and put in items for it," the source explains. He hints at the crisis that has occurred regarding the opening of educational institutions, and the House's need for a journalist to publish clarifications or positions intended for the public, even if they do not match the rabbi's exact messages. "For example, a press release that says the rabbi said there will be no more minyanim, not even on balconies. The House needs it to be published, and that same newspaper now has an open door with the rabbi."

Donate and you will not get infected 

The most well-known enterprise that the rabbi is signed on to is Kupat Ha'ir, the city fund of Bnei Brak - the most well-known charity in the sector, which aims to financially support the needy and orphans. In 2018 alone, the fund had a turnover of NIS 128 million, 70 million of which came from donations inside Israel. The fund is so branded that, among the Haredim, it has become synonymous with charity. Its fundraising events are well-publicized festivals, with radio broadcasts and newspaper ads alongside promises of health and redemption to donors by Rabbi Kanievsky himself.

In the midst of the closure following the coronavirus outbreak, Kupat Ha'ir promised in the name of Rabbi Kanievsky that anyone who would donate substantial sums of money to the fund, he and his household would not be infected with the virus. In a conversation that journalist Nir Gontagez had with representatives of the fund, later published in Haaretz, the fundraiser is heard saying: "Rabbi Kanievsky said that there is a measure for a measure. Whoever donates... he makes sure there are no ill people in his home... Rabbi Kanievsky said that in order for the 'measure for a measure' to take effect, the sum should be significant. Possibly ... he said (NIS) 3,000." The representative explained the high amount, reasoning that "this is the average monthly support necessary for an ill person. We request that a standing order of 3,000 be paid."

With regard to how the funds of the Kupa are distributed, there is a difference of opinion. According to the organization's financial reports, NIS 113 million were distributed to charity; however, there are voices in the sector that claim the distribution of the funds is a well-kept secret. In 2018, the Kupa received government support from the Ministry of Welfare at an amount of NIS 1.3 million designated for Kimcha DePischa, food distribution before the holidays. One source deeply involved in Haredi society claims a lack of transparency and discrimination in the distribution of the funds, in favor of those affiliated with the Lithuanian Haredi society, despite the obligation of charities that receive support from the state to meet the criteria of transparency and equality.

Another source, also familiar with the Haredi street, claims that the Kupa actually supports all parts of the Haredi sector. One way or the other, Kupat Ha'ir has become synonymous with the mitzvah of tzedakah, so important in Haredi society, as an implementation of the Talmudic dictum "charity will save from death."

Kupat Ha'ir is also invested in 12% of the Megureit real estate foundation: it invested NIS 12.5 million in the purchase of the Megureit's shares, and despite criticism of the move – using donations to invest in a real estate company – an examiner on behalf of the Registrar of Foundations determined that the Foundation acted in accordance with the procedures in its decision to invest in the company. Besides Kupat Ha'ir, there are other organizations that are associated with the House, such as Arevim, a fund for widows and orphans that is run by members of Kupat Ha'ir, and Ateret Shlomo. Last February, the Prime Minister' attorney Amit Haddad arrived at the House with his partner Ariel Roth. The two happened to arrive at a fundraising event for the Ateret Shlomo institutions. As befitting of such a publicized event, the Haredi press reported that Rabbi Kanievsky had asked them to support the institutions. The two quickly wrote a check for a total of NIS 1 million for Ateret Shlomo's benefit, and also had a photo-op with the rabbi. Haddad apparently thought that a photo of him in Rabbi Kanievsky's house would benefit him, because at the time he had left his home office, following the passing of Attorney Yaakov Weinroth. Weinroth himself, a popular figure in the Haredi sector, was close with Rabbi Kanievsky; the two had studied together sometimes, and Haddad was in need of recognition from the rabbi. A person familiar with the balance of power in the House says that immediately afterward the donation check was torn up. Haddad rejects this claim, saying that the donation was given.

The person who was obviously present in the pictures was the grandson Yanki. A few months earlier, Haddad represented the chairman of Ateret Shlomo, to whom he wrote the check, Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotskin, in a lawsuit he filed against El Al for its Shabbat flight, a flight that took off from New York to Tel Aviv in November 2018 and had to land in Athens to prevent the desecration of Shabbat, and Sorotzkin was among its passengers.

Rabbi Kanievsky's image is displayed under the name of many other foundations as well. Some are more familiar, such as Hidabroot and Matnat Chaim, the kidney donation foundation headed by the late Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, and some less known, like Yad Eliezer. When it comes to big nonprofits unassociated with the House, the rabbi's support doesn't come for free. "When it comes to large organizations, getting Haim Kanievsky's name involves 'getting along' with Yanki," says a source in the world of advertising.

"Getting along," sources say, could be done by a gift or a donation to a third nonprofit. That is what was required of A., a young Haredi man whose father wrote and published a halakhic book, and he accompanied him to a meeting at the rabbi's house to obtain an approbation for the book. Such an approbation is a kind of qualification for a halakhic work's legitimacy; if a Gadol HaDor signs on it, the book is praiseworthy. After a brief meeting, the rabbi confirmed that he would give his approbation, and sent A.'s father to Shuki, the rabbi's eldest son and Yanki's father, who, among other responsibilities, drafts the letters that the rabbi signs. But Shuki did not give him the letter of consent. "My father did not understand why he wasn't receiving the approbation for his book, even though the rabbi said that it should be given," says A. "Then someone explained to my dad that the approbation costs money. They just told him: Just offer a sum." A. relates that his father was hinted that he should give NIS 100,000 to the rabbi's house, but his father refused and remained without the approbation.

A source from Rabbi Kanievsky's house rejects the claims. "It is true that unfortunately things are published about this issue of money, and that there are also organizations that advertise that they will pass on questions and names to the rabbi for money and they do not pass the questions and names for blessing. I know that," he says. "But realize that we spend money ourselves. We run a system, we pay the secretary who receives emails and faxes and makes appointments for people to receive a blessing from the rabbi. We try to help every Jew. Even during the period of the coronavirus, the rabbi receives dozens of questions a day, and we try to help. Money is irrelevant."

"You can see that Rabbi Kanievsky is no longer entirely 'with it'" 

Alongside Kupat Ha'ir operates a national fund called Shutafim LaTorah. It was supposed to be an umbrella organization for small Haredi institutions from all sectors – Hasidim, Lithuanians and Sephardim – who would join forces to become one major fundraising organization whose income would support Kollel students. This is how the system works: Institutions pay membership fees to the fund, which raises donations and supports the institutions equitably. The membership fee for each institution is between NIS 12-18 per listed student. To this day, the head of the foundation is Shuki, Yanki's father, who is also a board member. A source involved in the organization's activity says that Yanki is seen in its offices regularly. "It was clear he was giving the instructions," he says.

In its first year of operation, 2015, Shutafim LaTorah raised NIS 3.3 million from donations and membership fees. It placed designated, ATM-like donation machines in popular donating locations, enabling people to enter names into the machine for Rabbi Kanievsky to bless them, in exchange for a donation. This machine was called a Brachomat, a combination of the Hebrew words for blessing ("bracha") and ATM ("kaspomat"). The startup organization seemed to be booming; the nonprofit's offices were located in luxury offices, plasma screens were distributed to the various yeshivot, and they began planning strategic moves to raise donations, including, among other ideas, using the name and image of Rabbi Kanievsky as the figure behind the system, leading its campaigns. However, a review of the foundation's financial reports reveals that during the same year, scholarships worth NIS 1 million were distributed, including checks carrying Electra Air Conditioners' logo; while an additional NIS 930,000 were allocated for salaries and NIS 1.6 million for fundraising and the establishment of a relief fund.

In March 2016, in a laconic email sent to the administrators of institutions who paid their membership fees, the foundation announced it was canceling the collection of fees. According to its financial reports, NIS 673,000 were collected via the membership fees various institutions in 2016. One year later, no membership fees were collected, but the foundation raised NIS 1.23 million in donations, of which only NIS 10,000 – 1% of the donations – were allocated to the purpose for which the charity was established two years earlier. On the other hand, according to the financial reports, NIS 540,000, almost half of the sum of the funds raised, were allocated to payment of salaries in that year.

In 2018, the foundation's situation seemed to have recovered, and it was able to raise about NIS 2 million from donations, half a million of which were donated by Daniel Dedon's Seldat Inc. In that year the organization allocated NIS 500,000 in scholarships, but again, a much high amount went to salaries, fundraising and administrative expenses.

Moshe Horn, CEO of Shutafim LaTorah, sent in response: "The Shutafim LaTorah Foundation distributed NIS 1,000,000 to the needy in 2016-2020, according to clear criteria and orderly distribution. In addition to offering this vast scope of financial aid to those in need, the foundation assists organizations operating in the field of education and Torah study, and operates in accordance with its goals throughout the years in an orderly manner. All the financial reports are monitored and managed by the accounting firm BDO, one of the largest in Israel."

The video in which Rabbi Kanievsky gave the instruction to open educational institutions was not the only one that was recently publicized and caused discomfort among the public. A few days before the last election, in March, the rabbi was photographed inside a vehicle, his dominant grandson again beside him, telling him: "There is some kind of epidemic spreading around the world, called coronavirus. Many people have died and thousands of people are sick from it. Some people have a great fear that it will affect them, too, so people are asking if anyone who votes for United Torah Judaism in the election, will it be a safeguard for him that he will not catch this disease? " Rabbi Kanievsky seems to nod his head in affirmation. The promise that those who vote UTJ would be protected against the coronavirus irritated many people.

This video, like its predecessor, was considered by many to be further evidence of the problematic conduct of Yanki, and it further deteriorated his status in Haredi society. "Yanki is maintaining a brand (Rabbi Haim Kanievsky; LL and BA) and this brand may have been hurt among the general public, but in the Haredi community, such a brand is not harmed by one mistake," says a source knowledgeable of Haredi politics. "However, within the internal WhatsApp groups of the Haredi community, Yanki has become a highly despised person."

"Yanki had a gold mine in his hands," adds another source. "All the rich people who came to his grandfather's house went through him. Rabbi Kanievsky has no official reception protocol, and Yankee is the one who decides who will come in. It's a booming business, but now the good taste is spoiled. The rich people see that Rabbi Kanievsky is no longer 'with it'; in the videos he looks senile. I think many people will stop giving him money."

It is not only within the internal Haredi WhatsApp groups that the grandson's status is at a low. In the midst of the coronavirus period, Ya'ir Sherkey of Channel 12 News revealed that Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the head of the Lithuanian Ponevezh Yeshiva, ordered the Yated Ne'eman newspaper not to publish a letter from Rabbi Kanievsky that demanded the immediate resumption of the Haredi educational institutions. Rabbi Edelstein's standing up to Rabbi Kanievsky is considered quite a precedent, and it may even imply that the Rosh Yeshiva assumed that the letters coming out of Rabbi Kanievsky's house are not necessarily his full initiative and under his control.

Translated by Elisha Loewenstern, Phone # (972) 50-408-3257 

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  1. If true, the episode of 'haskamah for cash' is revolting

  2. And what is the point of this lengthy post other than another manifestation of אַל־תּ֣וֹכַח לֵ֭ץ פֶּן־יִשְׂנָאֶ֑ךָּ הוֹכַ֥ח לְ֝חָכָ֗ם וְיֶאֱהָבֶֽךָּ which continues here for some 15 years?

    1. To stop people from elevating Rav Chaim to Prophet status, resulting in people asking him to make decisions for them - even matters of life and death.

    2. It seems to me that this whole enterprise violates the klalim of loshon Hora brought down by the Chofetz Chaim in הלכות לשון הרע כלל י. For example, the first of 7 conditions he brings down is "שיראה זה הדבר בעצמו, ולא על ידי שמיעה מאחרים..."

    3. Listen with only 34 deaths (let's face it in the world of statistics we are dealing with fairly negligible, probably more lives then that saved with less cars on the road plus the ages of death are people that may have died anyway), despite bnai braks incredible density and in general being of lower economic class which always affects health results, and them being maybe a week late on the closing because of the misunderstanding/miscommunication or whatever you would like to call it, I think we really see tangibly tsaddik gozair vihakadosh boruch hu mikayem. It's really a shockingly low number. It's a real life mofais. I would love his bracha. Very very impressive.

    4. Lets consider your "mofeis", Anonymous - Of the cases of Covid-19 in Eretz Yisroel, well over 60% were Chareidi. Aryeh Deri stated this publically last week.

      Lets contextualise that figure. The Chareidi population of Israel is between 540k and 900k approx - between 6% and 10%.

      Lets be generous and assume a 10% chareidi population. There were a total of 16,621 cases in Israel according to the latest figures. So 10% would be 1662 cases. But the actual number of cases in the Chareidi community is more than six times that number - in other words, more than 10,000 of the 16,000 cases. Doesn't sound like anything to celebrate.

      Then there is this: while it is true that "only" 272 died a Chareidi death count of 34 is 12.5% meaning they are still over-represented in these figures too.

      And then there are the numbers of those more than 10,000 Chareidi cases who were seriously ill (lets define that as requiring hospitalisation). I have not been able to find precise figures on this but given the case and mortality numbers, it seems reasonable to assume over-representation there too.

      Not sure what the real life mofeis is...

    5. Aryeh Deri has said that 70% of corona cases in Israel are among Charedim. (Who account for less than 10% of the population.) That's some "mofais." Seems to me like the tzadik was gozair and Hashem decided to davka save those who *don't* follow him. Hashem does have a sense of humor.

    6. If by "It's a real life mofais." you mean "the numbers in Bnei Brak were far worse than the rest of the country, but it would have been possible to be even worse than they were", I'd rather not have that "mofais"

      Of course it is also possible that Rav Chaim's Bracha that Torah protects cam true, however very few people in the Charedi World are really learning Torah, so the Bracha didn't protect them. By that logic of course, a much greater number of DL and "Chofshim" are learning Torah in Israel, but if you have ever seen how serious guys are in many top Dati Leumi Yeshivot, that wouldn't surprise you.

    7. Lazar, you say that this blog has been manifesting אַל־תּ֣וֹכַח לֵ֭ץ פֶּן־יִשְׂנָאֶ֑ךָּ for 15 years.

      1- Does that mean that from now on you will stop offering תוכחה, in light of the Pasuk forbidding it?

      2- Are you open for an alternative reason for what the blog manifests other than simple לצנות? There's a saying, "a liberal is a conservative who wasn't mugged yet." I.e., liberals will defend criminals till they are the victim themselves. This goes not only for liberals towards criminals, but for anyone-- you admire and are friendly to others unless and until they harm you. If you consider from RDNS's perspective (after all, you are picking his brain, figuring out his conduct) how outrageously he was treated, how is it even possible for him to comment positively about Chareidim?

      You are content with your perspective. Don't think that it's invulnerable. If CV they 'mug' you like they did to him, you might join him and outdo him.

      Anyway, this theory is at least as good as yours. And it means all your comments are misguided and counterproductive. Your comments exacerbate the 'mugging'; such that you have a hand in his continued negativity, if you want to call it that. Try better to figure out how to 'unmug' him.

    8. @chaim
      1- My post was a question, not a statement.
      2- Various Rabbonim were criticized on various occasions and usually accepted the views of Gedolim (listen to the judges of your time and don't deviate right or left). Like, R'Steinsaltz accepted criticism and retracted.

    9. @Lazar, 1- very clever. 2- I can't review how the ban against RDNS is different from virtually every other ban in Jewish history. You hint to זקן שבימיך and לא תסור. Applying them to the issue at hand has been roundly refuted in the past.

      Various Rabbonim ... usually accepted the views of Gedolim
      Such as?

      R'Steinsaltz accepted criticism and retracted.

    10. Let me change that:

      Various Rabbonim ... usually accepted the views of Gedolim
      Such as?

      Instead of "Such as?", make that, "How many do you know of?"

      Ty & Kt.

  3. I've sometimes wondered who exactly are the askanim that control the homes/courts of different rabbis. On a slightly different note, is there a difference between the video of Rabbi Kanievsky nodding at the suggestion of voting for UTJ as a means of being saved from the virus and what Shas always do where they say that Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef zt"l said that putting a Shas card in the kalpi will save one from Yom HaDin?

    1. And if there's no difference, does that matter?

    2. No. Just wondering. I think it's equally not right, but I'm not a posek in any sort of way, neither halachically nor hashkafically.

  4. corruption is rampant amongst the Haredi sector and it has nothing- nothing- to do with Torah and mitzvos. Anyone who still believes in this fake prophet only have themselves to blame if their expectations fall flat.

  5. Hard to believe no one's mentioned Weekend at Bernie's. The description of R' Chaim shlit"a gives off that feeling.

  6. כותב לדורותMay 17, 2020 at 8:27 PM

    i see the same facts in a different light. Mr Kaniyevsky set himself up in business, using his grandfather as a commodity. God came down in His Wrath and smashed that business model. You can trust God to stop his creations from botching up too bad.

  7. Even if any of this article is true, it would be impossible to know which parts. It is full of the false secular perception of Haredim such as "Rabbi Kanievsky ... is a tzaddik, not a leader. He is primarily concerned with giving blessings." One thing for sure is that his primary concern is NOT giving blessings; he is happy to give blessings, but his primary concern is learning Torah. So whoever wrote this clearly knows nothing.

    Furthermore, this article is full of one of the hallmarks of fake news: an abundance of anonymous "sources say".

    So (assumming you don't mind accepting lashon hara), now that nobody knows what to believe from this long slanderous composition, what is anybody supposed to learn from this?

    1. you mean to say that the Kanievsky clan is pure as the driven snow? As snow only falls on Bnai Brak once every forty years, so should this authority be followed-once every forty years.

    2. waterman613, you're spot on. I'm actually disappointed that Rabbi Dr. Slifkin publishes garbage like this. It's one thing to defend oneself from slander, and quite another to publish anonymous slander in retaliation. Very disappointing.

    3. Profundus,

      First of all, the fact that you did not answer what I *did* write in my comment shows that you do not have an answer.

      Secondly, I never made any comment about the Kanievsky family. I am merely saying that the idea of posting such a hit piece full of obvious lies in which it is impossible to discern the truth (if there is any) is a useless thing to post if one is seeking the truth. (So even if you could have found a toelet to put this article in the category of permissable lashon hara, the toelet is moot.)

      Therefore, the person who reposted it here (and we know who that is) is obviously not only not seeking the truth, but will use any source -no matter how poor (to put it mildly)- to bolster his argument. This is a reliable sign that he does not have a good argument.

    4. Had the same thoughts as Waterman. Websites are to Chilonim what Pashkevllin are to Charedim. Is there some truth to them? Maybe. Is there some exaggeration to them? Maybe. Do they mean anything to anyone other than those inclined to believe them? Not in the slightest.

  8. I notice the question to RCK regarding keeping chadorim open was phrased as the ('evil') medinah wants the chadorim closed, not that it's a health matter.

  9. I have no first hand knowledge whether any of this article is true. But clearly something is very wrong in the way the affairs of Rav Kanyevsky are handled, that has been obvious for a long time, but has now got to the point that it has cost dozens of lives.

    If this article is true, it is very refreshing that the problem seems to be primarily with a corrupt grandson, which is bad enough, but better than if the incompetence was sanctioned by Rav Chaim himself.

    1. No.
      It's up to the family to maintain the (grand)father's honor.
      Or the Gedolim Association.
      If he'd join MO DL, they'd be after him in no time.

    2. jewish orbserverMay 19, 2020 at 6:16 PM

      "If this article is true..."

      My rule of thumb is that the reliability of an article is diminished by an order of magnitude for every anonymous source that is untracable and unaccountable.
      (Surely Yanky Kanievsky has made some enemies and I'm sure they were quite eager to give Haaretz their negative take on his way of operating.)

      I counted about 15 such sources in this article.
      15! This passes for journalism??

  10. in republishing this article, you are undermining your original argument against daas torah. originally you argued that there is no such thing as daas torah, and therefore even if RCK was of sound mind and given accurate information, his opinion regarding the proper course of action would be of no special value or authority.
    by republishing this journalistic hit piece you are implying (and in your comments you say so explicitly) that RCK is no longer reliable either because he is no longer of sound mind or because a nefarious interlocutor is manipulating the information that reaches him. in other words, absent those factors, there is some special value to his opinions. but that is accepting the principle of daas torah, but merely arguing that in these unique circumstances it doesn't apply.

    1. No, anonymous, it's just an addition. Or if you want, an את"ל.

    2. In reality RNS thinks more highly of RCK then any chareidi. Whereas a regular chareidi guy knows RCK is a human being and by definition not perfect, the rants on this blog show us that he believes R' Chaim is actually a malach - How else do you explain why it's incomprehensible to him that R Chaim should make a mistake? The only logical explanation is that he fully believes he can't. As for a regular chareieldi/Chasid of RCK's daas Torah, they will continue to seek his guidance in all matters.

      As a personal plea I really liked this blog for its stated purpose of exploring rationalism not all this hooplah, please revert.

      Question for RNS: what will you do if RCK or someone who follows his daas torah is revealed as Mashiach?

    3. Dov B., he'll do the same thing you'd do if he (RDNS) is revealed to be Mashiach.

    4. That Mashiach question came out of left field.

      Obviously, R' Kanievsky himself is not the Mashiach. He cannot lead soldiers or govern or whatnot.

      But if someone with a chareidi bent? Well, I would assume that Mashiach is going to be one who understands and empathizes with all Jews and who "allows" religiosity in many forms. Therefore, if it turns out to be chareidi, it would be someone who does EXACTLY AS RNS HAS REQUESTED over the years: someone who while he himself might "pasken" a certain hashkafic way (such as Chazal knew Everything), he understands and holds that those who hold a different way (Chazal knew Science of Their Day) are not kofrim.

      Anyone who is more interested in putting down those who hold differently is simply a false messiah.

  11. Natan you fit into the Rambams category of "baalei loshen hora"
    This post from beginning to end is Stam rechilus. Someone who consistently speaks rechilus forfeits his portion in the world to come.

    1. Cardinal LustigerMay 18, 2020 at 7:21 AM

      Idiotic. NS can support his Gatekeepers argument with evidence like this.

  12. Methinks the charedi world could use a good dose of Anglo-Saxon polical theory. You know, the whole "yesh chochma bagoyim" thing...

  13. Muzzle not the ox which which plows the field.

  14. Judaism was 100% perfect - pristine, accurate, legitimate, truthful, mesorah-based, non-financial, heavenly, kadosh, letter-for-letter from Sinai ... all good things...

    ... Until JUST NOW.

    Never any self-benefit, self-aggrandizement, financial interest, misuse of names, abuse of authority, ... etc... before this... UNTIL JUST NOW.

    The Talmud in its accuracy - perfect, until JUST NOW.

    (That's what we'd have to believe from anyone critically reading this article. Yeah, good luck with that.)

    1. Not at all. Charedi extremism is but one of a long line of aberrations that have come from classical Judaism.

  15. Translating and reprinting this kind of article is beneath you, Rabbi Dr. Slifkin. Disappointed. Am a big fan of your scientific and rationalist approach to religious Judaism, and this seems to be the opposite - full of "sources" that no doubt contain some truth, but mixed with enough conjecture and rumor to be the very definition of "fake news."

  16. It is typical of Haaretz to write completely normal things in ominous-sounding ways. For example: "He lives in a house which he owns", "He is seen often coming to the office, some people we spoke to say he takes decisions", "They have a charity organization", etc. Could someone please summarize what is so bad? TL;DR

    1. He's thirty and owns his own house, for example. Most Israelis get *exactly* what that means.

    2. It is not at all uncommon for Ashkenazi charedim to own their own apartment at the age of thirty, or even before - generally paid for (partly or fully) by their parents.

    3. So who is guilty here? The snakeoil salesman pitching hope and cures to the weary and ignorant, or the people for being sheep and not thinking for themselves?

      You're pitching so-called Rationality to the people in the RCK bubble. Perhaps while you are doing this, they have something on you. Like all of that hope.

      Just like the people of Organia.

    4. His dowry must have included a ten bedroom apartment, free and clear.
      Grandson of THE Gadol haDor, for those of that bent.

  17. Just wondering if permission was needed from Haatetz to publish a translation of an article, that has a subscription wall?

  18. For Thee but Not For MeMay 18, 2020 at 10:22 PM

    Clearly this young man truly believes in the haredi dogma-for-the-masses about universal kollel learning and spends nearly all his time studying Torah and almost none of his time in money-making ventures.

  19. הררים התלוים בשערה

  20. An excellent essay about a very important topic concerning Haredim:

  21. Natan, we once hung out in your home in RBS A back in 2014 and discussed many of these issues that you are STILL hung up on (as was I at that time). You need to realize that Odox - in ALL OF ITS FORMS - is a cult based on sayings of figures of authority from 2000 years ago.

    The fact is you were raised British MO, flipped out, and got caught knowing too much and trying to use your brain. You didn't realize you were in a cult, and now you continue trying to resurrect the dead by apologizing for Odoxy by highlighting the minority of ancient thinkers that used their brains a bit. But, truth is, Odox, even the rational kind, doesn't have much to offer to make the world a better place than secular humanism, and Odox, even in the "rationalist" form, is ultimate based on the irrational process of creating halachot from thin air via hermeneutics. Bro, you're a good guy. It's time to open yourself up to the fact that maybe Odox is based on lots of incorrect, subjective assumptions that you mistakenly believe are objective because of your background and experience. Use the trauma of your being kicked out of Haredidom to re-examine your first principles and base assumptions. I'm telling you, its the only way out of the (hopeless) defensive struggle you are engaged in.

    1. ”But, truth is, Odox, even the rational kind, doesn't have much to offer to make the world a better place...”

      I have to disagree. Personally, I am convinced that rational Judaism will make the world better, if you will. For example, Republican representative of Ohio, Rep. Vitale said that he ”won’t wear a mask because it dishonors G-d.” he added, ” This [America] is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles. One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of G-d. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask.”

      This guy ought to read Guide of the Perplexed 1:1, where Rambam explains that the ”image of G-d” refers to the intellect and not the face.

      He also could have looked at one of the 23 marble relief portraits [Maimonides] over the gallery doors of the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol.

      Sigh. This is what happens when an American legislators does not study Rambam and Jewish philosophy. Had he done so the world would had been this much better.


      Slifkin,wondeful things you're achieving here on this blog sir.
      Tremendous kiddush hashem.

      But tell your pal not to worry. He'll be pleased to know that you will in fact be joining him in the religion of "secular humanism" - please send us all a link to that blog by the way..

      Its astounding to see the pace in which you are transitioning from stage 6 ( כופר במצות) to stage 7 (כופר הכל).. its actually fascinating to witness. Sad. But fascinating..
      Ps. Apologies if I offended in quoting the "hermeneutics "of Rashi in last weeks sedra.

    3. @Bread, it doesn't matter to the Odox if hermeneutics are irrational, as long as they (or more correctly, the actual system) are (is) divinely legislated.
      As to your (non-problematic, as I just said) assumption that hermeneutics are irrational, I can't see Malbim et al agreeing.

      @Avid, RDNS doesn't take responsibility for Bread's comments; and you might want to clarify if Bread is Oprax. Also, if there is a line in between stage 6 and stage 7, where do you see anyone already crossing it?

    4. @Chaim, the Kuzari actually says nobody in his generation understand how Hazal engaged in drash, so . . . .

      @Avid, are you talking to me? Do you know me? If so, I'd love to speak with you personally and understand why you believe Odox is so compelling, or how Odox has made the world a better place than secular humanism. Also, I'd love to hear how drash is anything more than Rabbis subjective opinions about how to understand psukim. Let me know... I have a phone, and I'm game for a thoughtful conversation.

      @Turk Hill, I've learned Moreh Nevukim and the entire Mishne Torah - just saying cause you called that into question. But I'm at a lost to understand how Rational Odox would produce a better world that we have now - notwithstanding its imperfections. For example, do you REALLY aspire to a future where you are governed by unelected judges, or hereditary king? Do you REALLY aspire to a time where people who are gay are stoned to death? Or Jews who do averot bein adam l'makom are lashed into obedience? Or where women have no right to testify in courts? Or where women have no right to govern?... I mean, seriously, the world aspired to by rational Odox doesn't seem too appealing, even in theory. Perhaps because we've been waiting in vain for it for so long we just psychologically gloss over the reality of what we're asking for. As the rock song goes, "Be careful what you ask for, cause you might just get it all.", or, "I had a dream.. I got everything I wanted... it might have been a nightmare."

    5. You left out that it was originally based in a typically cultic practice indigenous to the ancient near east...

      But on the positive side, it did evolve around two thousand years ago into more of a law-based system that modernized. As a result of that significant acceleration of the associated thought-exercises played by people who were in the process of losing their land, their culture, and their lives (war) to the dominant peoples around them, they ended up with a system that discovered some universal truths that formed the basis for western civilization, evolved cultural norms based on the family unit, property ownership, equal justice under the law, protection of various-minorities (come on, let's give the establishment of kesuba and the elimination of Yibum some credit!). Kids growing up in a family-based until built around God, values, law, requirements, responsibilities, value of learning, etc. are likely to end up in a better place and less likely to end up saturated in whatever culture you have around. It's survivable.

      It's not perfect, but it is an evolved culture that does give one the opportunity to "lashevet yitzara" - conquer the land, take off a day a week to refresh, be a professional (or not), stick to one spouse, dedicate some family time, etc. You get the point.

      One may be professional under this system (when we're not getting beaten up by the host nations, of course) or waste away (or "learn" or whatever).

      But it has a certain appeal....

    6. Secular humanism needs to be ... edited.... Hitchens was a commie sympathizer, so he may not be the best spokesman...

    7. Anna Nommin,
      you wrote " let's give .... the elimination of Yibum some credit"
      i'm wondering in which version of odox Judaism yibum was eliminated.

      signed: cwase

    8. @Bread regarding your questions to TH: I think you make a good point about how original sinaitic judaism or even original rabbinic Judaism has many features that could (and possibly should) be seen as less than ideal (or possibly even repulsive) to a modern rationalistic Jew. In truth there are many depictions in pop culture of how perceived utopian experiments can fail miserably. I personally love the Simpsons episode in which Lisa and her MENSA friends believe that Springfield should be governed by the brightest of the brightest leading to chaos and riots and requiring Stephen Hawking to swoop in to save the day.

      However, Judaism has evolved greatly in many ways from the way it was “back then”. Similar to how the US has a constitution interpreted in new ways daily by its courts, elected officials and, not least of all, its citizens, so too has Jewish laws and theological underpinnings been interpreted and reinterpreted over the centuries and millennia. Even RMbM famously questioned whether all aspects of biblical Halacha was ideal or would even be re-enacted in the time of Moshiach (think Korbanot). There is no reason to limit the evolution of Judaism to simply that one question.

      Many of the points you raised are simply not important enough in a world where Judaism and Halacha do not have the authority of the state behind it to have been seriously questioned or debated in practical ways. However, I have little doubt that in the event that moshiach were to arrive or were a true halachik society to be built, many of your concerns will be able to be dealt with by relating to them and interpreting them through modern lenses.

      Judaism as created by the rabbis is robust enough to grow with the times. All it takes is the dedication, passion, strength, courage, and integrity of modern Jews. I, for one, believe that rational orthodoxy can rise to the challenge.

      As Jewish pioneer Blu Greenberg famously put it, “where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halachik way.”

    9. Anonymous, you ignore the obvious. While it remains "on the books", it is legislatively dead. It is only there as a relic of the past, the appendix of the digestive (?) system, in order for us to apply more thin-air hermeneutics and build layer upon layer. But it is culturally inert.

      I'm guessing you missed that part where Talmudic scholars (not all, but for the most part) pretend that twelve year old boys were never subject to some strange parental discipline, and simply legislate it away as some verses to use for logical analysis.

      Yes, the outcome is determined. Now we just need to create the proof as required.

    10. Anna Nommin,

      i'm not sure what you mean that it remains "on the books". if a jew today has relations with his S-I-L under circumstances that match the laws of yibum, is there a stream of orthodox jews that would not recognize them as legally married? how is that "remains on the books"?

      signed: cwase

    11. Jefferey, you are wrong. Rationalism cannot "win" or even "rise to the challenge." (Oh, and Blu is a stereotypical idiot who doesn't understand fundamentals about how Judaism has worked or works.) You may play your rationalist game. But so long as humans are involved, and their pesky brains with their subjective perspectives and prejudices exist, their irrationality must persist as well. They must be managed. But it cannot be actively managed because that would be too rational. The system must prevail, as it has for over 2000 years, but you cannot rationally manage it. That's the whole point.

      You (or Blu) cannot be a pioneer unless you understand this at a fundamental level (and you, and Blu, and most people reading this, do not). Rabbis have tried to legislate away a number of things - how about Kapparat, for example - to no avail.

      Judaism cannot "grow" nor does it have a need to. It will accommodate the MO, and it will accommodate the cults. It will function with the "boys learning" and with the nobel prize winners. You need to do your thing, period. You need to live your life, period.

      You need to understand the entirety of the system. It's more complex than "pioneers" can handle. Stop trying to innovate and change a system you do not understand.

    12. BFTL -

      Are you saying that it is impossible to *be* rational as an Odox Jew, or that maintaining rationality is impossible, or that rationality is a new invention because of the irrational ancients.... or .... is rationality just irrelevant?

    13. Anna,

      I disagree. Judaism has changed/evolved plenty over the last 2000 years. It changes in hashkafik ways such as inventing Chasidim and religious zionists in the very recent past. Categories that did not exist thousands of years ago. Halacha changes every day with every new psak and every new technological and worldly development. In just the last few years orthodox women are being elevated to recognized Formal clerical positions previously unheard of. Openly gay Jews are proud members of orthodox shul’s and have children in orthodox shul’s with two mommies or two daddies. A likely reason many Orthodox Jews even suggest a return to the times of “lashings” for failures in Ben Adam lmakom as @bread questioned is because They aren’t seriously considering it as a practical scenario. Jews, for the most part (Admittedly, there are a few fanatics) are repulsed by the suggestion that Judaism could be as backward as the Taliban. Most Jews merely pay lip service to a return to the ways of the Sanhedrin and strict Talmudic/torah (sharia) law. They are fine with saying it, because they doubt it will ever really happen. But if a halachik society would ever really emerge, Halacha will change very quickly to meet and harmonize with the modern world.

    14. Jeffrey, what halachic changes/evolutions have we seen in the past 2000 years that lead you to the conclusion halahaca "will change very quickly to meet and harmonize with the modern world".

      Also, your remarks regarding women and gays seem to ignore the mass and cultural power of the Haredi world over Jewish thought and practice. Have you learned for many years in a Haredi yeshiva? Or have your children? Have you got to shiurim by leading Haredi Rabbaim? By "Gedolim"?

      Don't forget, just 200 years ago Jews were being subject to corporal punishment in Europe (eg stockade) for intrasigence against the Rabbis, who the Czars and their like had granted authority to punish.

      Curious as to your thoughts...

    15. Anna, Haredi Odox is a cult that does not accommodate MO. MO think they are being accommodated, but what Haredi say behind their back??? MO's nobel prize winners are just MOs with little learning compared to a Haredi, with even less learning in Kabbalah. There only use for Haredi is to be poster-boyed when necessary to gain new acolytes (eg Kiruv) or keep the FFBs in check (we also are amazing in secular studies).

    16. @Bread,

      Some of the the Halachik changes and adaptations that I was referring to I had already stated: the women who have been formally recognized as clergy and gay Jews being welcomed into Orthodox shuls. There are plenty more examples, how about The Pruzbul? Or takkanot Rabbeinu Gershom? Or Jewish medical professionals treating non-Jewish patients on shabbos? As society requires a change, changes happen.

      My remarks didn’t ignore the “mass and cultural power of the Haredi world over Jewish thought and practice,” rather my point was that precisely despite any such power, nevertheless those changes I mentioned (such as women clergy and openly gay Jews participating in communal Orthodox activities) have occurred and are expanding.

      Your note about the czars 200 years ago is precisely my point. At that time in history in that cultural milieu, corporal punishment was acceptable. (Same was true in Puritan Communities in colonial America - and to a lesser degree more recently) There has been and continues to be sweeping worldwide changes (including civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, prisoners rights, etc. movements) with personal liberties being recognized for all classes of people globally in a way that now makes That sort of punishment unacceptable in most modern societIes. Again, despite any lip service to the contrary the average Orthodox Jew On the street including Haredi, (with few fanatic exceptions) would not, in today’s world, accept a return to such backward conduct.

    17. Jeffrey, you didn't answer my question re Haredi yeshiva...bro, if you think these guys are ever gonna go for gay ok and lady Rabbis, you don't know who you're dealing with ... There's zero benefit in it for them to make a change...pruzbul, one wife, treating gentiles? Benefit of money, sex, life?

      If the US government granted Rabbis authority to lash their fellow non observant Jew, do you believe they wouldn't do it if you were clearly guilty according to halacha?

    18. @Bread, all of Rabbinic Judaism only survived because of adaptations to the realities of the modern world. You can start at the beginning with R. YoChanan ben Zakkai ending korbanot. He single handedly was courageous enough to permit a cult of sacrificial worship to survive in a new reality in which the Beit haMikdash no longer existed. Hillel and Rabbeinu Greshom were likewise courageous individuals who understood change was necessary to survive. For the last 200 years or so, Haredi Judaism
      Was born in the ghettos. Haredi leadership feared the haskala and the reform, etc. and believed the opposite, the only way to continue to survive was to be reactionary and avoid all change. And they may have been right. For a time, that reaction may have Been necessary to maintain and bring at least some of The Jewish Civilization into the current world. But those forces are no longer at play. Now, the fear that Haredi leadership feels is unfortunately against a growth of torah rather than a rejection of it.

      The reality is that those changes I mentioned are actually happening. There really are openly gay people in the Haredi world. There really are women clergy in other orthodox
      Groups and it is only a matter of time
      Before it gains wider acceptance.

      Ultimately It will be more courageous leaders, not fear mongering, who will continue propel the Jewish world forward.

      To answer your question, I Have not learned for many years in haredi yeshivot. Nor am I part of the Haredi community. I do not need to be part of that community to know that the average Haredi on the street would be repulsed by a Taliban like world.

      Recall, I was responding to your questions about hereditary Kings and lashes, and women not being permitted to testify. I think your questions are baseless to begin with because they will not happen in reality. People pay lip service to such ideas only in a world where they don’t have to actually contend with them.

    19. Jeffrey, as a person who was put in herem by his Haredi Odox community for expressing slightly non conformist minority halachic views (and supporting them!), and whose family suffered immensely and a consequence, you are DREAMING. Look at the what NS had been pushing against for decades to no avail.

      That said, I appreciate your honesty re your background and experience. Trust me bro, if you knew what I knew about the Haredi world you'd have a different opinion.

    20. @Bread, I do not doubt that the immense suffering you experienced was not only terrible but also undeserved. However, I also have a feeling that perhaps “we” (the Jewish world) has been harmed as well - by the fact that that cherem has taken from you your independent strength and replaced it with a cynical resignation that things will never and can never change.

      I prefer to believe we can have positive change on our world. As Willy Wonka said “we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams”. I think that’s the message I get from RNS writing this blog. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all?

    21. I agree with Jeffrey. I disagree with Breadofland.

      My rabbi explained that many of the biblical laws were changed over the years by the later rabbis. For example, Jeff pointed out the laws of sacrifices. Maimonides felt that G-d neither needed nor wanted sacrifices and only "allowed" them because of the primitive nature of human beings. It was a concession that should be stopped as soon as the Israelites became more sophisticated. For example, after the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70EC the rabbis discontinued sacrifices. They could have continued if they felt it was necessary. Thus, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, as Jeff correctly pointed out, realized that Temple-oriented Judaism had ceased when the Temple was destroyed. Yohanan ben Zakkai established “Rabbinic Judaism.” Amongst much else, he replaced the temple and sacrifices with the synagogue and prayer.

      Other changes in laws include the laws of slavery, the law concerning a city that had people who worshipped an idol, and so on. Maimonides knew this. Therefore, we as modern Orthodox (rational) Jews support the messianic age, knowing full well that we won't have to go back to the times of "an eye for an eye."

      No, bread, we are Rabbinic Jews, not Torah Jews. The Torah will endure but how it is interpreted will change.

  22. Ok, so there are way too many obvious questions about the veracity of this article (well more like one big question regarding every single line and anonymous "source") but lets ask the big knock-out one: How exactly does one go about "crushing a gold mine?"

    1. Good question!
      How does one fit a gold mine in their hands in the first place?

    2. @MV
      Exactly! Hello, where are the fact-checkers!?
      Anyway, as someone or other once said, "A bad analogy is like a leaky screwdriver."


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