Monday, March 8, 2021

Unorthodox Unorthodox: The Sequel

The response to my previous post, Unorthodox Unorthodox, about the extraordinary former Satmar girl who overcame the odds to become a social worker and now a medical student, was overwhelmingly positive. And I don't just mean in terms of people liking what I wrote and sharing it on Facebook. Many dozens of people contributed to Nisi Goldstein's fundraising campaign to help her through medical school. I received the following message from Nisi:

Just an update: I feel so honored and humbled. Your article is leading to many positive and welcoming responses from people. It's opening my eyes to see how big and diverse and loving our Jewish family really is. I have you to thank for launching this snowball effect. Also, a good friend of mine is a staunch follower of yours and he has advised me not to read any of the comments because you have a couple of haters too. On that note I just want to commend you for speaking truths in the face of the hate. It can be brutal. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, but please keep doing that. It is so important. I'm also planning to speak with Efrat - there's a 1.5 year old organization for Jewish orthodox people in medicine (don't necessarily have to be orthodox to join). They offer seminars for premed orthodox students and health education in the charedi community. I want to get on board with them and do good things.

Kudos to all those people who donated, or who reached out with offers of hospitality or other assistance!

Some people, unfortunately, were positively hostile to my post. There were some extremely derogatory comments that I did not allow to be posted - I'm fine with people insulting me, but not with them insulting others. One person raged against Nisi's non-tzniyus attire and loose hair(!). Another cited a verse from Malachi: "We account the arrogant happy: they have indeed done evil and endured; they have indeed dared God and escaped.” I'm pretty sure that none of these people experienced growing up in Satmar.

Several others objected that since she is not currently observant, observant Jews should not be supporting her medical studies; they should only support her if she was still Satmar or at least observant. Apparently they are under the misconception that the only reason to support someone is if they carry your values. I wonder if they would equally say that non-observant Jews should never donate money to Orthodox Jews? Furthermore, it's precisely because of the problems of certain Orthodox communities that people like Nisi need extra support. If you consider Satmar to be broadly in the same tent as yourself, then you also have a responsibility to help those that have been harmed by Satmar.

But there's a much more direct reason to help Nisi and people like her, and it relates to another objection that some people raised. They asked how I can be supportive of helping a non-observant medical student and simultaneously opposed to supporting kollel students. The answer is very simple.

Supporting a medical student is helping someone who will be majorly contributing to the society. This is all the more true for someone like Nisi Goldstein, who does not plan to be a private physician for the rich and becoming rich, but rather took an oath to be a compassionate healthcare provider specifically for people from under-served communities. And the fact that doing this required overcoming huge obstacles that were created for her by her Orthodox Jewish community makes her case even more compelling. 

In contrast, the average kollel student (not someone training to become an educator) is not going to be contributing to society. On the contrary; they will be draining resources from it. And they plan to raise children who will likewise not contribute to society, and who will drain further resources from it. There's no comparison.

I would like to stress again that the people with the negative comments were in the minority. They were vastly outnumbered by those who responded positively. As Nisi wrote, this shows "how big and diverse and loving our Jewish family really is."

You can read more about Nisi and support her at this link. To quote Nisi's mantra from when she was in premed and was wondering if she could ever catch up with others: אויב יענער קען קענסטו אויך. Which means, If someone else can do it, so can you!

If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you. 

102 comments:

  1. A donation to Nisi is an excellent investment for both Her, Humanity, and your own personal growth as a Jew, and may I add an excellent investment in your own Olam Habah...
    David Ilan

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    1. While its nice to support fellow Jews, I don't buy that it will secure Olam Habah. Judaism never asked for money to buy salvation. It's a Christian notion.

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    2. He never implied that salvation comes from him giving money to Nisi, in and of itself, but rather he implied that the act of giving money to someone who has the potential to help people in need of medical assistance that only a doctor can provide, would be somthing Heaven would view favorably. Dumbing down Judaism to a black and white system, of "if one does this then G-d likes,if one doesnt then G-d doesnt like" is the very reason the educated 85% of Jews who are are secular cant take Judaism's halachic system seriously. Halachah is not a base formulae of cause and instant effect or a secretive magical hocus pocus. Its about your hearfelt intention that counts - not being a automaton. This is just insulting to Heaven.

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    3. I would like to edit what I said above.

      "is the very reason the educated 85% of Jews who are are secular cant take Judaism's halachic system seriously" -

      My edit is the add on - "when prsesented as you presented it"

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  2. "Several others objected that since she is not currently observant, observant Jews should not be supporting her medical studies; they should only support her if she was still Satmar or at least observant. Apparently they are under the misconception that the only reason to support someone is if they carry your values."

    According to these people, Rabbi Twersky never would have been able to be a psychiatrist!

    "However, several years into his studies at Marquette University’s medical school, Abraham J. Twerski could no longer afford the tuition.[8] His assistance would come from a most unlikely source, as he would later describe in an interview with the Pittsburgh Quarterly:[9]

    By that time, I had several children, so my dad and some members of the congregation helped me to pay for school. I applied for a scholarship through a foundation, but it didn’t come through, so in my third year, I fell two trimesters behind on tuition. One day, I called my wife at lunch as always, and she asked, “What would you do if you had $4,000?” I said, “I’m too busy to talk about fantasies.” She said, “But you really do have $4,000!” I said, “From where?” She said, “From Danny Thomas.” “Who’s Danny Thomas?” She said, “The TV star.” Then she read me an article from The Chicago Sun. Local officials had told Mr. Thomas about a young rabbi who was struggling to get through medical school. Thomas asked, “How much does your rabbi need?” They said, “Four thousand dollars.” He said, “Tell your rabbi he’s got it.”[10] So, I did my internship in general medicine, went to the University of Pittsburgh Psychiatric Institute for three years, and then worked two more years for a state hospital."

    https://seforimblog.com/2021/02/the-medical-training-and-yet-another-previously-unknown-legacy-of-rabbi-dr-abraham-j-twerski-ztl/

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    1. It's amazing how badly I've heard Twerskis (brother,nephew) speak about Gentiles...

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    2. RNS: Didn't you just say in the post above that you do not allow people to insult others, only you?
      Please delete the above baseless comment.

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    3. @BreadFromTheLand Source, please? Repaying kindness with hate is a disgusting trait to say the least - chiddush alert - even if you say "Oy, Oy" and wear a streimel.

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  3. Apparently they are under the misconception that the only reason to support someone is if they carry your values. I wonder if they would equally say that non-observant Jews should never donate money to Orthodox Jews

    Huh?? Comparing non-observant Jews to observant Jews as if they were the same thing?! As if there are only different, equal "values" between them?! You are saying there's zero difference between good things and bad things.

    Also, it's an ignorant misconception that the average kollel student doesn't contribute to society. They contribute to Torah knowledge both within their own bais medrash as well as the wider world. And we consider that an extremely valuable contribution. Whether perhaps there could be a more appropriate division of labour is a different question.

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    1. The average kollel student contributes very little if anything to the world beyond his kollel. (I'm not talking about community kollels.)

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    2. No, RNS, that is incorrect. Every person contributes to the Torah knowledge in the bais medrash (in my experience). And even if only some of the kollel members become rebbeim or rabbanim or give shiurim or write seforim for the wider world, their Torah knowledge was GREATLY enhanced by everybody else in the kollel. הרבה למדתי מרבותי, ומחבירי – יותר מרבותי, ומתלמידי – יותר מכולן.
      Thus the outside world benefits.

      Similar to how you would say that an internal accountant for a non-accounting company contributes nothing to the world beyond his company. But that would be incorrect.

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    3. What if there was a kollel student who DID contribute and improve society. Would you give money to him?

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    4. RNS, I don't think it's right for you to state unequivocally that "the average kollel student contributes very little if anything to the world". Even if you disagree, there is a widely accepted approach that many believe in that learning Torah benefits the world in a metaphysical way. Again, you don't have to subscribe to that worldview, but I would say you're not in position to utterly reject it.
      If you're looking for examples of "tone", you can put this one on the list in my humble opinion

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    5. Rationally speaking, the most perfect human to have ever lived contributes nothing to the cosmos but an infinitesimally tiny ripple of entropy: A broken shard, dried grass, a puff of wind, a passing dream.

      All is futility, so, to considerably paraphrase Koheles, you might as well lighten up on judging the choices of others insofar as they do impinge upon you directly as you labour out your days under the sun.

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    6. Okay Raymond, so I will modify it as follows. The average kollel student contributes very little if anything to the world, except according to the recent mystical perspective that there is supernatural benefit. But even if you adopt that perspective, you run into the problem that the exponentially increasing mass kollel phenomenon is unsustainable and causing enormous, ever-increasing problems for the charedi community and for the entire country.

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    7. But you cannot GoFundMe your way out of the mass kollel phenomenon. That would be more financially unsustainable as kollel itself.

      Remember the foundation story of Chassidim. These were the poorest Jews, and they bonded over the snobbery of the predecessors to the Yekkes. Likewise the Old Yishuv types who merged politically with Chassidim.

      That class divide is still alive, actively policed by both sides. For every totemic doctor in training that you welcome there are 100,000 deliberately dressed not to fit in that you don't. Promoting davka the person with the cultural flex to fit in with the middle classes is actively policing the other side of the border through cultural aversion.

      If you set up a medical school on Charedi terms with remedial pre medicine class and gender segregation you would be overwhelmed by applicants. But there's no financial incentive for the middle classes to expend funds to provide privileges which compete with their own sinecures.

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    8. happygoluckypersonage, an average kollel student learns with his chavrusa and sometimes publishes his own chiddushei Torah (in most cases, these works don't contain philosophical or halachical innovations, you can compare their real value to a coursework written by an undergraduate student). Where is the great contribution?

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    9. RNS, I appreciate that you amended your statement, but honestly, as someone who appreciates your objectives and abilities, it pains me to see that you just don't seem to get it. You write "except according to the recent mystical perspective" which makes it sound like we're talking about a group of poeple who are one class above an internet anti-vax chat group. We are talking about Torah giants here who believe in this approach. As long as you are so casual in you dismissal of them, you will never be taken seriously by most amongst the groups you hope to improve.
      You often talk about respecting other opinions, yet in this particular case, your dismissal is in my opinion extremely disrespectful and comes off as arrogant. I hope you can appreciate the difference between strong opposition vs dismissal. Do not fear being respectful to those with whom you disagree. It will not take away from your stature, rather it will raise it.

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    10. Shaul, not sure what type of kollel you were in, but in my experience, the average kollel student speaks in learning and gives chaburahs to other members of the kollel. So everybody benefits.

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    11. Talking Torah with other people in kollel is not serving the community.

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    12. RNS, you are 100% wrong here, I'm afraid. When some of the kollel members become rebbeim, rabbanim, mechabrei seforim, or give shiurim, the entire community benefits from that talking in learning.

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    13. ***********************************March 9, 2021 at 11:51 PM

      The Hat;

      "But you cannot GoFundMe your way out of the mass kollel phenomenon"

      As you will no doubt know, there are on average three Charidy matching compaigns advertised every week, for organisations linked to the 'kollel phenomenon", from the three new feeder yeshivos that spout up every few months, to the chessed and medical organisations that provide medical advice and treatment (and other services) that a penniless inner city non Jewish person can only dream of to those within the society of the 'kollel phenomenon".

      And they all claim to be successful.....

      So it does seem to be funding.....

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    14. @happy

      apart from the fact that they dont pay taxes so they actually deprive the community of resources....

      I think the issue is who you define as 'community'.
      If community is, in your sense, highly localised, then maybe yeah, the kollel benefits from his insights. But if your community takes into account people from a wider circle, then no there is no benefit to kollel learning.

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    15. No Fozzie, you are incorrect on several counts. They pay taxes on the income they make. Especially in Israel where there is a VAT. True, they are poorer than average, so what. But the benefit from kollel students is not from their taxes, it is from the Torah knowledge they produce.

      As I said before, a kollel benefits the wider community very, very greatly via the rebbeim, rabbanim, dayanim, mchabrei seforim, and mosrei shiurim they produce. And for those people, their understanding of Torah is enhanced IMMEASURABLY through the discourse with the other kollel members (and I speak from experience). Therefore the ENTIRE community benefits from ALL the kollel students, not just those who become rebbeim, rabbanim, dayanim, mchabrei seforim, and mosrei shiurim.

      Similar, l'havdil, to the stupid actuary at the stupid insurance company. Who does he benefit exactly with his stupid spreadsheets? Who even looks at them, who understands them? Only a few people in the company. So is he only benefitting the company and not people "from a wider circle"?? And in fact, many jobs are like this.

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  4. It is a little strange the way you phrase things in the article. In your previous article you indicated that Nisi harbored no ill-will toward Satmar, and that she did not want you to be overly critical of them. Yet at the same time, you consider her to have been "harmed by Satmar." Harmed in what way exactly? Does she agree that she was "harmed by Satmar?" I would like to understand this better.

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  5. "Supporting a medical student is helping someone who will be majorly contributing to the society........ In contrast, the average kollel student (not someone training to become an educator) is not going to be contributing to society. .....


    Is this your own idea, or do you believe that you have the Torah's backing for it? because if you think you do - then My G-D!!!

    Providing a poor man with a way of buying food or marrying of a kid is a Torah commandment - whether or not you believe he has himself to blame for the situation he currently finds himself in. All the more so when it is an observant Yid.

    On the other hand supporting someone in medical school may be kind-hearted but as you said yourself "There's no comparison".

    Also, I never actually realized that she wasn't observant. Without passing judgment on a person I've never met please be aware there are certain Halachos with regard to Charity for people who have left the fold. Thy can be found at the beginning of שולחן ערוך יורה דעה הלכות צדקה סימן רנא. I'm sure you took them into account before writing your post as I doubt you would want to be Machshil anyone.

    Also you write in your post "(not someone training to become an educator)".

    I'm just a little confused. The post I referenced in the comments section of you're previous post, was about you snubbing someone who was a Rebbe i.e. an educator. would you care to clarify?.

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    1. So I've discussed this in the past with a head of a charity organization. He said that when people are collecting at my door, they do not require food. They aren't going to starve if you don't give them. They are asking for money to help sustain their lifestyle.

      Regarding your citation of Shulchan Aruch - I'll wager that you are highly selective as to which aveiros qualify in your eyes as meaning that someone has "left the fold."

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    2. Regarding the case of the Rebbe who came to my door collecting - he wasn't collecting to help himself become a Rebbe. He was collecting to help his kids be in kollel.

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    3. Did the head of the charity have a PhD in the fridges of others?

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  6. Who are the underserved communities that she plans to help?

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    1. I asked her and here is her reply:
      "When I first started med school my impression was that global health was something that happened in remote villages in third world locations in the world. Turns out, global health, public service, and committing to underserved communities can happen within NYC even, in Israel, in Canada. For me what it means is to find the people in whatever community I'm in, who are at the most disadvantaged end of the spectrum, the people who need care most but simply can't afford it. That's what it means to me to serve underserved communities."

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    2. In NYC everybody, even the single males, qualify for Medicaid, if they are low income. Medicaid is universally accepted. I still don't understand who are these communities and how she is planning to serve them.

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    3. Try following Blimi Marcus on Twitter.

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  7. Hey, Lamport Auditorium! I davened there every morning when I was in high school.

    Your wife went to Wurzweiller, right> I imagine not at the same time.

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    1. No, my wife graduated many years earlier. We're old ;-)

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    2. Hey, you're only a month older than me. :-)

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  8. Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
    I really enjoy your content on a steady basis and your books really changed (i.e. saved...) my life! (of course I'm referring to the 'Judaism' and 'Observant' part of my life).
    I never commented on your blog - though I read every post and usually I also scroll through the comments.
    I just decided now to comment to let you know (you probably already know it but still...) that for every negative comment somebody posts there's a multitude of people with positive reactions who are not commenting - as myself...
    Thanks for your continuous hard work, it's greatly appreciated!
    One of your (many) Chassidisheh fans,

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  9. stop contorting truthMarch 8, 2021 at 11:18 PM

    You are so anti orthodox Jews who are to the right of you who don't fit your mold that you harp at senseless things.

    It makes perfect sense for someone to want to know if the recipient of their hard earned tzikdakah money is or isn't frum. The mitzvah of tzidakah doesn't apply to just anyone, and some people come before others.

    The silly observation: Perhaps the unorthodox shouldn't donate to orthodoxy in like manner. Listen, Judaism isn't some feel good religion where everything has to be a two way street. It actually has guidelines.

    Non-orthodox means Jews that do not keep halacha. They are 100% wrong. Thus it makes perfect sense for a halacha abiding Jew to investigate before giving them charity. On the other hand, a Jew who violates halacha (i.e. non orthodox) should consider themselves lucky for the opportunity to give charity to a halacha abiding Jew in need.

    The halacha abiding Jew is the better person. Perhaps that grates on your nerves but the truth isn't going to change.

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    1. I'm not sure if you're capable of grasping the true response to your point. So instead I'll just share this fact with you. It's approaches like yours which cause people to distance themselves from Judaism.

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    2. What if Nisi became observant tonight because of all the nice donations and support from frum people? Then would you donate money? No one asked you to donate anything. Just give support. Why are you so hell-bent on stopping fellow Jews? Should we support all Jews, even if they are non-observant? We need to respect all people. At least medical students improve society unlike others who contribute nothing to society.

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    3. Rather than deflecting why not offer a coherent explanation as to what exactly is factually incorrect with the comments that you responded to?

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    4. @stop contorting truth, I suspect the "true" response is that according to the Rationalist position, the purpose of the mitzvos are to make us better people and improve society.

      Therefore, somebody who who contributes much to society, even if he is mechallel Shabbos, is actually BETTER than the one who is shomer Shabbos, but doesn't contribute to society (such as somebody in kollel), or doesn't contribute as much. So really, many non-observant Jews are better than many observant Jews. And they are certainly better than chareidim and chasidim, who try to separate themselves from wider society. Ad kahn divrei ha'Rationalistim.

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    5. "The halacha abiding Jew is the better person"

      Personally, I leave those evaluations up to HKB"H (for what I would hope are obvious reasons). I would strongly recommend you do that too.

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    6. @Happy, I don't even need to go as far as accepting the rationalist position that you describe. The fact is that the entire frum world takes it as a given that certain halachos, espcially those regarding non-Jews and secular Jews, are basically "cancelled" nowadays, for various reasons.

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    7. Are you trippin? Whatever you just wrote is insane and makes zero sense, but I digress.

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    8. The allocation of tzedaka funds is a very complex question which halacha provides some general priorities for but no neat algorithm. One's personal choices tell more about them than about halacha
      KT

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    9. It's relevant to cite this from a post of a few months ago:

      Rambam's harsh approach to heretics was primarily targeted towards Karaites, the heretical sect of his day who rejected the authority of the Oral Law. And yet, as Rambam grew older, he dramatically softened his approach and re-wrote parts of his works. He redefined the ruling about killing heretics to make it effectively both prohibited and inappropriate; scholars have shown that these are later changes to his works. Rambam's way of nullifying his ruling was to argue that descendants of the Karaites are not accountable for their false beliefs, since they are equivalent to the tinok shenishbah, the child captured by idolaters, who has been raised to believe false doctrines and is rated as anus (sinning under duress).

      Fascinatingly, Blidstein observes that this is flawed as legal comparison, since in the actual case of a tinok shenishbah, Rambam does not rule him to be an anus but rather a shogeg (inadvertent sinner). Furthermore, the leniency for a tinok shenishbah is usually not applicable once the person has been freed and re-educated, whereas Rambam is willing to extend this leniency to Karaites who are exposed to rabbinic thought. However, since Rambam's initial harsh approach to Karaites was not founded in Talmudic law, it's easier for him to walk it back!

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    10. A few years ago, Rabbi Slifkin put in a good word for a person who was looking for work in writing & editing.
      This person was formerly religious--but then later left the fold, and put together a series of blog posts that were expressly anti-religious (such as, for instance, arguing against the Kuzari argument and Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb's articles on it).
      I argued that, just like it's preferable to give tzedakah and parnassah to Jews over non-Jews, the same would apply with preferring a religious vs. an anti-religious person.

      I would say that this is certainly not the case here: even if Ms. Goldstein is not observant presently, she still has a liking for Orthodox Jewish life, and is very grateful for the support the Orthodox Jewish community has shown her, both financially and emotionally. I would not be surprised if she would return to an observant lifestyle at some point in the future.

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    11. @RNS, I have no idea what you mean by halachos being "cancelled". But you write you don't "even need" to accept the approach I describe. That means you actually do accept it?! That a mechalell shabbos with a job is better than a Shomer shabbos without?! Oh well, you should have been there to tell those who lost their jobs to keep Shabbos in early 20th cent NY! Their sacrifice was worthless!

      Also, what you quote from Blidstein is some of the biggest nonsense I have seen on this site. If kollel students contribute to Torah knowledge, Blidstein = negative contribution.

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    12. Yes, I was also wondering about RNS's comment, "... that certain halachos, espcially those regarding non-Jews and secular Jews, are basically "cancelled" nowadays, for various reasons. I hope we will be able to read a detailed blog on this theme, giving examples and naming authorities. It would be interesting to have a rational discussion about dealing with Jews who do not follow halachos. I don't think they see themselves, or their rabbis as heretics, or as a tinok shenishbah. We are grandstanding when we make such statements, more for our own satisfaction than convincing others.

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    13. @Yehuda P. I agree, it is good to unconditionally support other Jews, regardless of whether they are shomer Shabbos or not. It can only serve to draw them closer to yiddishkeit. מתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה. And certainly, the good that comes out of being mekarev even one Jew is better than a thousand doctors.

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    14. @The Hat

      Funny story, but once when my wife was in the hospital, I davened in a frum shul with a membership that was nearly entirely medical students and their spouses. Maybe you should have been there to tell them they aren't really observant.

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    15. @Happy

      Regarding your comment "Ad kahn divrei ha'Rationalistim"
      You are exactly right.
      I don't know if Hashem sees it that way, but I do.

      And I don't think it's a position to mock. I think you should consider the implications of your (opposite) position very carefully.
      You could also read Rabbi Daniel Sperber's book on 'Bein Adam LeMakom vs Bein Adam leChavero' as a starting point for doing an honest appraisal of your position.

      not to mention the views of, for example, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev and consider that you should warm up to those who contribute to society but don't keep shaboos

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    16. @Fozzie, thank you. I think it is a position worthy of endless mockery. I basically took the Reform Judaism position that I found on Wikipedia, called it Rationalist, and Rabbi Slifkin (seemingly) gave his hearty approval.

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    17. I love reading the comments on here because it re-enforces my belief that Haredi Judaism isn't really Judaism at all, rather a perverse, East European, Rabbi-worshipping cult with a seriously misplaced superiority complex. Time to turn Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh into autonomous regions - Bantustans if you like. Places where you can live your "torah true" existence without interference from the secular State authorities and their irreligious doctors, soldiers and public servants who - by all accounts reading a lot of the comments on this blog - are sub-human and less worthy of compassion and support. I think it will be a wonderful experiment.

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  10. Did she graduate already? In that case, mazel tov!

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  11. Dear RNS,

    I didn't get your point about the insulting. If you say about a donkey that it's a donkey, is it an insult? If I say about a secular person that he/she is secular, is that an insult?

    Anyway:
    1. Assume she would be a serial killer and child molester. Would you support her, based on claim that it is "majorly contributing to the society"?
    Why desecration of Shabbat, for example, is lighter in your eyes?

    2. Your claim about "majorly contributing" is wrong. There is always plenty of people who want to become physitians. If she will not be, someone will be instead.

    3. In contrary, the Sages in the end of Kiddushin say that learning of Tora does contribute to the society.

    (Yet there is another issue: the people who learn shall not demand money from others and the kollels system is a sin, indeed).

    There are a lot of wrong things in the Haredi world, but it looks like the hate against it sometimes blinds you. That shall not occur.
    Please notice, I don't insult her, I insult you :-)

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  12. Nisi is not observant? I got the impression that she was a shomeret Torah V'mitzvot, just not chasidishe.

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  13. I think there is something a bit strange about an Orthodox rabbi championing a cause like hers, but I won't say more. I wish her the best of luck

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  14. I have to admit - and it must reflect my naïveté - that I'm rather shocked and disgusted by the vile, hateful, and vulgar comments of so many supposedly frum - supposedly very pious Jews - towards their fellow Jews. Makes one want to embrace Chabad all the more in spite of their issues.

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  15. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I have been appreciating much of what you write in this blog, and by no means am I trying to be disrespectful. Am I mistaken in thinking that your comment about the Kollel person is very much in line with the dictum "מאי אהנו לן רבנן". I understand your position vis-a-vis the need for a person to work but do you really see no value for society in the Torah learnt by a Kollel person? Why are you able to have compassion and admiration for the non-orthodox student that will help society by being a doctor, despite the fact that you obviously believe that she should be keeping kashrus, Shabbos etc.. why can you not have the same outlook for the Kollel person. Clearly you feel that they should be working, but why do you not give any credit for the good part of what they are doing? I don't know if you realize it, or intended it, but you are implying the following belief : working in medicine is better than learning. Not working is worse than not being Torah observant. In addition, you don't blame the student because she was a "victim" of Satmar, but in your worldview, the Kollel student is as much a victim of the Charedi Leadership. The compassion and rallying for Nissi juxtaposed with the intolerance for the Kollel student is, quite frankly, upsetting, particularly because I do feel that I have learnt much from what you have written.

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    1. Okay so there are a few misunderstandings here.

      First of all, regarding "מאי אהנו לן רבנן" - people in kollel are not Rabbanan! It's as simple as that.

      Second: Yes, I see no value for society in someone learning in kollel. How is he benefiting society? Again, I'm not talking about a community kollel (like Torah MiTziyon) or a rabbinic training kollel. And even if you want to adopt the recent mystical perspective that there is supernatural benefit, you run into the problem that the exponentially increasing mass kollel phenomenon is unsustainable and causing enormous, ever-increasing problems for the charedi community and for the entire country.

      Third: You have to differentiate between different aspects of a person. Supporting a secular medical student is not supporting the lack of mitzvah observance; it's supporting a medical career. But supporting a kollel student is supporting a career choice (or lack thereof), Giving money is precisely supporting and encouraging that aspect of his life which I believe to be inconsistent with Judaism and incorrect.

      And, yes, the kollel student is a victim of the charedi leadership. But that doesn't change the fact that the only way to get people to work is to make them realize that they need to work and they can't just rely on other people believing that Kollel students should be supported.

      Delete
    2. nice point MayerMarch 9, 2021 at 6:44 AM

      Mayer, wait for no reply from him or some contorted logic worded like its the most obvious thing in the world.

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    3. "Third: You have to differentiate between different aspects of a person. Supporting a secular medical student is not supporting the lack of mitzvah observance; it's supporting a medical career"

      Correct. But do you not think the two are somehow linked. Do you believe that had she remained observant, she would have still become a doctor?

      You commended her for "overcoming huge obstacles" to get to her current stage. You are surely referring to the obstacles that don't allow observant Charedi women to become doctors. But then again do you not think that overcoming those obstacles, at least for her, was part and parcel of her becoming irreligious? Or do you believe that she became a medical student totally independent of her decision to abandon Torah UMitzvot?.

      My point being that despite the wrongs you believe exist in her Satmur community, if at the end of the day the choice is between a narrow minded Satmurer with all of its idiosyncrasies, yet still religious, or an unobservant worldly medical student, do you not think it better to remain Frum?

      And if you do, then even without judging her personally, do you not find it at the very least distasteful to champion her cause, and celebrate her life's chosen path.

      Rally against the issues she faced if you believe it worthy, but don't turn someone who overcame those very issues by becoming irreligious as an individual to aspire to, to encourage, and to help out.

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    4. "But then again do you not think that overcoming those obstacles, at least for her, was part and parcel of her becoming irreligious?" I think that you've got it exactly backwards. Had she grown up in a healthier religious Jewish environment, the path to becoming a medical student wouldn't have involved becoming irreligious.

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    5. You can't take blood samples, write notes, check pupil reflex or even open the door on shabbos and Yom tov. A strictly observant medical student is like a pacifist marine.

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    6. RNS, Did you intentionally misunderstand what I was trying to say?

      I agreed that in principle the thing that stopped her becoming a medical student was due to her belonging to a Charedi community. However considering that for better or for worse she DID grow up Charedi and in her situation going to study was part and parcel of her becoming irreligious, then her path was an incorrect one albeit that in your opinion a non Charedi religious upbringing would have been more ideal.

      Hence my wonder as to why you celebrate her cause.

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    7. "You can't take blood samples, write notes, check pupil reflex or even open the door on shabbos and Yom tov. A strictly observant medical student is like a pacifist marine." So we should insist that all our doctors be non-Jews and not contribute to the education of Jewish doctors? Does that make sense to you?

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    8. @The Hat,

      What you wrote is only true of Dumb-Ass Judaism.
      Intelligent Judaism recognizes that we need doctors and that there will have to be some compromises in order to allow that to happen.
      A strictly observant but intelligent medical student would rather open a door and save lives, than not open a door and not save lives. And so would any half decent posek. (Well maybe not a posek who lives in chutz la'aretz where they often avoid responsibility for being part of society. In Israel, a non-dumb-ass posek would understand the issue.

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    9. Nope. No sense at all.

      Hatzolas nefashos is an ideal we should all get behind, but there's not a practical Halachic framework for treating Gentiles on shabbos (drawing blood is deoraysa).

      For the most part, people just do what they have to do, as far as I understand, and what goes on in hospital stays in hospital.

      But if you have the strength of character to be a pacifist marine, speak to Dr de Wolffe - it's obviously a passion of his.

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    10. Whoa, Mr. Hat. As a religious doctor, I can say that in my training, I can say that one does not have to work on Shabbos or Yom Tov. I definitely did not as a student. As an intern and resident: I switched calls, begged favors, and paid back double so that I would not work on Shabbos. (There was that one time I had a Shabbos goy working with me!) I now am in a subspecialty where I do not have to worry about it, as many frum doctors do. (Those who end up in a specialty that DOES require chillul Shabbos are driven more toward real lifesaving aspects and have a different pikuach nefesh cheshbon that a basic med student, but perhaps that is a different discussion.)

      And more than "just" not violating Shabbos: there are medical student or doctor minyanim, shiurim (by and for), and chessed arrangements (like Shabbos food). The frum medical people often help out with the local bikur cholim organizations (though not always).

      A strictly observant medical student... is absurdly common nowadays.

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    11. I was wrong. It was the US Army, not the Marines.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Doss

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    12. Mr Hat - that's ridiculous. I went throught medical school in the UK with no shabbos violation whatsoever. And that wasn't even difficult because I wasn't expected to do melacha.
      After graduation obviously expectations of activity change and there were challenges, but manifestly surmountable. You clearly have not surveyed the halachic literature in the slightest about working in chu'l on Shabbos, because if you had you'd know R Moshe gave clear guidelines, followed by current poskim. I completed my junior doctor years in the UK with no forbidden Shabbos activity. There's a nurse somewhere who still thinks she needs to turn on XRay screens for frum doctors on a Tuesday lunchtime.
      Yes I know there was at least one posek in the UK who forbade doctors working on Shabbos. And no that's not mainstream.
      Pacifist marine my foot.

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    13. Well, Mr Bradley thinks I am wrong, and he is in a position to comment better than I am. I'm glad he found support in at least one of the 4 six monthly rotations from what seems to me from my peculiarly jaundiced point of view to be the only nurse in the NHS who does not honour the devotion which seems to be widespread in nursing circles to the life and works of Joseph Stalin by responding to the suggestion that she should do your job with a complaint to HR and a Datix to boot.

      I found Dr Yosef R's post an absolute masterclass in how to appear to be my saying one thing and actually say another. I genuinely had hana'ah from reading it. I'm rereading it now as I enjoyed it so much. I might keep a copy above my computer screen.

      I should of course accept that I was wrong. With supportive colleagues and a strong personality, and by avoiding specific specialties, it is possible to keep Shabbos as a junior doctor.

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    14. Hat - Well, if you're nice to people and do your job well they're usually nice back. That's a consistent observation in the NHS and elsewhere. I worked in A&E on Shabbos consistently for a few months since there was absolutely no way to swap out, and applied da'as v'din in addition to help from colleagues. Not easy, but possible for anyone motivated. I did melacha, just to be clear, when it was mutar and in fact obligatory.
      Yasher koach on being modeh b'emes by the way. That's in short supply

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    15. RNSRNS
      I don't wish to comment on your actual post but just wanted to point out the following:
      1)It looks like her family are not being hostile to her which should be commended especially in Satmar where I assume this is not the norm.
      2)מאי אהנו לן רבנן does not mean Rabbis but rather people dedicated to learning Torah see rashi there: והם אינם יודעין שׁעולם מתקיים עליהם see also the continuation of the Gemorah:אם לא בּריתי יומם ולילה etc.see also
      פּסקי ריא׳ז וכן המיקל בּחכמים ואומר וכו׳ ואין לנו הנאה מהם

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    16. רבנן means rabbis. Like, that's what it actually MEANS. Then you're trying to read back later interpretations into this phrase. "Keeping the world running" doesn't mean via mystical energy. It means that they keep civilization running by providing moral guidance and law.

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    17. רבנן always means ת"ח, not just people with semicha or teachers. Your only way out of it is to say that nowadays nobody (or very few people) have a din of ת"ח, which is actually a very viable halachic position. So why not just go with that?

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  16. How refreshing!. How inspiring. As a Chusid from Boropark I can say I fully support those brave souls who buck the trend and do their own thing. It does not matter to me what her current level of observance is, she might become fully Chasidish again or might not, none of our business. what I do know is she is Jewish, Heimish from "our circles" and is doing something that his hard, had to jump over many obstacles and go against the grain, going to med school is definitely a noble cause and will benefit humanity. Period! I made a small donation, my only regret is that at the moment I could not make a larger donation.

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  17. Please connect Nisi with the wonderful women at Jewish Orthodox Women's Medical Association. They are a group of Jewish doctors and medical students that provide mentoring, connection, and community action. They were, for example, instrumental in helping to treat the measles outbreak in Yeshivish and Chassidish communities in NY/NJ.
    https://www.jowma.org

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  18. HaRav Asher Weiss has said (I heard from him myself) that although the greatest thing a person can do with his life is become a Talmid Hacham who teaches others, the second greatest thing is to become a doctor.

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    Replies
    1. Head from R' Michael Broyde that the third position in the hierarchy is someone who works in agriculture, to feed others. Bonus points if they do it in Israel so they can keep mitzvot hateluyot ba'aretz.

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    2. With all due respect, where is the halachic, haskafic source or otherwise for this? Is this just his opinion?

      Delete
  19. Im not sure I want this comment published. I support Nisi and her actions but this post has triggered a thought which may feed the trolls. Maybe you can address it as a side note in another blog post?
    Halachically is it acceptable to give money to an irreligious person knowing they will use it to fund their lifestyle which could include aveiros? IE can I give money for a Jewish person to use an Uber on Shabbos, have a cheeseburger etc
    Counterpoint can you give money to a kollelnik knowing their lifestyle teeters and often tips over into aveiros too? Witholding eduction from children, tax fraud etc

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  20. Very proud of her for going to medical school and having great goals in her life. But her donation page is making it sound like her getting through medical school DEPENDS on her getting these donations. She doesn't need this money to finish medical school. She'll finish medical school regardless, the same way tens of thousands of people finish medical school every year - loans. Obviously loans suck, but it's the way the majority of people pay for medical school. Totally okay to want to not have to pay as much in loans back, but we aren't helping her become a doctor by donating. She's becoming a doctor with or without people donating.... Not really sure how her satmar background makes her need the money.

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    Replies
    1. affirmative action... it unbelievably difficult for a Chasidishe person to go through med school. so support IS warranted.

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    2. What part about her being from a chasidishe background makes her entitled to taking out less in loans than her classmates? Medical school is expensive for everyone

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    3. na - I love what you wrote upthread, but I'm not sure what you mean in this one. Affirmative Action? What does that have to do with paying for school? Sure, AA alters the landscape on who gets admitted, but not who gets out!!

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    4. i just think those who face insurmountable challenges deserve the extra encouragement from us all.

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  21. The goyim will do it in Shabbat and Yom Tov for us and we do it on their Holidays for them. In my 20 years as a programmer I did production support for the Christians on Sundays and their holidays. There are ways to resolve these issues. Was Twersky מחלל שבת?

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    Replies
    1. He was my uncle. No, he was a shomer shabbos. His condition of employment as medical director at St. Francis Hospital was that no phone calls can be made to him from sundown Friday until nightfall on Saturday for any reason, at his insistence upon accepting the position.

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    2. It was a rhetorical question. Obviously he wasn't.

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    3. Was the condition that they would *never* call him, or they would only call him in a medical emergency? I've been at Shabbat meals in Israel where one of the hosts was a doctor who got emergency calls, one had to leave during dinner to attend to a patient but was back in time for dessert.

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  22. How do those who claim doctors advise and don't make lockdown policy explain this unelected doctor dictating policy to members of parliament https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/36060029-abe4-42ce-b3e7-71a1e5b27359

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  23. If a med student that has loans, commits to 10 years of public, community service(i.e. not private practice), the US Government has a program where ALL the loans are forgiven. Not sure why she needs tzeddaka at all.

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, the public service loan forgiveness program is absolutely a failure in practice. In theory, it's great. In practice, almost NO ONE gets approved for forgiveness. (See https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/public-service-loan-forgiveness and https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamminsky/2021/03/11/borrowers-face-huge-delays-applying-for-student-loan-forgiveness-program/?sh=4758b43930f6)

      I sincerely hope the program is improved. But with the current approval rate of about 2% (!!!), it is certainly not something I would advise any current students to rely on.

      Delete
  24. Medical Student from WilliamsburgMarch 11, 2021 at 5:14 AM

    As a medical student myself and one coming from a chassidish background (there are more of us) and coming from a poor upbringing, I commend Nisi for making it this far. I know how hard it must have been and how many obstacles she had to overcome. But I am very shocked and frankly disappointed with this campaign. Most students in medical school take out loans. This is commonplace and expected. Additionally, even with all her obstacles, she is in a position of privilege. She is going to be a doctor with a bigger salary that most of the people donating. How can she be asking for money from people that largely have less than her. If she is so eager to serve underprivileged communities, which generally pay less, there are community service and loan forgiveness options. Side point, if she goes back to Williamsburg and works for the community I would understand more why the community should support her but is she actually planning on doing that?

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    Replies
    1. I forwarded your comment to Nisi and here is her response:

      That is a fair question.

      Here is how this idea for a campaign was launched.

      Of course the plan for me was to take out federal loans and that is what I am doing.

      Last year my schools loans were suspended. At the time we were advised to take out private loans to continue paying tuition. As most medical students must know, private loans are a completely different ballgame. There is no income based repayment and no forgiveness.

      I was in a state of disappointment. I thought that I was at the point of dropping my studies. Of course there were some of my classmates who were in a similar boat as me but when I looked around me I noticed that most of my classmates were not. Not everyone, but a good majority had parents to fall back on, parents who had careers and made a large sum of money to be able to support their children should difficulties arise.

      In the end, our loans did return after a year. During that year I lived extremely frugally. I did not want to resort to private loans whatsoever.

      When our loans returned a weight was lifted off my shoulders. This meant that I did not have to take out private loans and therefore had the option of income based repayment or forgiveness in the future.

      So I dropped my campaign at first. But then, I realized that I did want to set it up even though loans came back. I realized that although all medical students take out loans and are in a very similar situation, my case was different to the majority of my classmates that I was talking to, not the only one but yes I was one of those students who literally had nothing or nobody to fall back on.

      I'm not saying I'm special or more deserving than anyone else. But I think it's ok to share our story and see if it inspires anyone. I welcome others to do that as well. I am in no terms asking for donations from people who are unable to give. I am simply putting myself out there to tell my story as it is and for it to attract the people who might be inspired by my story and are able to give.

      Again - I am not saying I am special. All I did was put out my story and I own it. There is nothing anyone can say that will make me feel small or ashamed for putting myself out there. I don't think there's anything wrong in asking for help when it's for a good cause. I welcome anyone to do that.

      With regards to student loans forgiveness and income based repayment - of course I am looking into all of those options and my plan is to absolutely apply for those programs. At the same time I also wanted to take out the least amount of loans possible regardless of this forgiveness because I still think it is the responsible thing to do.

      Furthermore, ideally I would like to yes pay back my loans in their entirety if I will be able to. And that is what I am currently planning for.

      With regards to do I want to serve the chassidish community, the answer is a very simple yes. In fact, right now, for part of my schooling I was placed in a charedi Yiddish speaking community for medical training.

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  25. This is a true trailblazer, not Nisi.

    https://youtu.be/6PezVzaQzeQ

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