Monday, September 19, 2022

You Won't Believe what The Gedolim said about Tzedakah Organizations

Approaching Rosh HaShanah, we are all solicited by many organizations. Some are extremely worthy, others are less worthy. Some support those who are poor through no fault of their own, others support those who are poor because they are ideologically opposed to work. Some offer a feeling of satisfaction for having done a good deed, others manipulate people into giving with (false) promises of good things that will happen to those who donate.

But what about the actual finances of an organization? How is one to know which organizations are using their monies ethically?

I was dumbfounded to read an email solicitation from the Vaad HaRabbanim of Lakewood/ Bnei Brak, with endorsements from Rav Gershon Edelstein and numerous other top names in the charedi Litvish and Chassidishe world, which bore the following title:

"Gedolim Say This Is One Of The Only Tzedaka Organizations You Can Trust"

Now, I have no idea if the rabbanim who lent their signatures really said that which is attributed to them. But the mere fact that a major organization would make a declaration in the name of the Gedolim that most tzedakah organizations cannot be trusted is shocking. Are they just out to trash other organizations? Or is this really how things are in the world of charitable organizations with which they are familiar? 

Perhaps it is indeed how things are in their circles. As you may recall, I discovered last year that some money which was removed from my bank account by a charity without my consent apparently went towards helping Yanky Kanievsky buy his luxury home. Ironically, this sort of thing happens precisely because these charities use the names of Gedolim to solicit funds.

Reading through the names of the Gedolim who allegedly made this claim and endorse this appeal, I was surprised to see the name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky's son, Rav Yitzchak Shaul Kanievsky. This is the same person who was taken to Beis Din by his own brothers for manipulating their father into secretly signing over his entire estate, worth many millions of dollars, to him alone. This is a person who is called upon to attest to the integrity of the Vaad HaRabbanim? And let's not forget that his brothers confirmed (as is obvious) that Gedolim's endorsements don't actually count for anything!

The endorsement also claims that because all donations go fully and directly to the needy, this is the best form of tzedakah. But the experts in charity that I know strongly dispute that assertion. Overhead is not wasted money - not only do you need good (i.e. paid) people to raise money effectively, but you also need to use donations effectively. You don't help people leave poverty by just giving them money. You need to assess their situation (my wife used to work as a social worker in that capacity), figure out why they are poor, and give them the tools to be able to get themselves out of that situation. Assuming, that is, that you believe that poverty is not a preferred way of life.

Meanwhile, the Vaad HaRabbanim also declares that "all those who generously donate $520 towards this campaign will receive a pure silver Challah knife just in time for Rosh Hashona, a well-known segulah for parnossah for the upcoming year, with the Bracha of Maran Harav Chaim Kanievsky ztz”l engraved upon it– A physical symbol of the timeless agreement between you and the late Gadol Hador z’’l." Now, without getting into the argument of whether a silver segulah knife really does have an effect on parnasah, I would like to point out that I don't believe that the people working at Vaad HaRabbanim themselves really think that it does - because you can bet your bottom dollar that they are giving poor people food and/or money, not silver segulah knives! So since they themselves don't believe that silver segulah knives have any meaningful effect, why are they using them to manipulate people into giving them money? Of course, I have no doubt that it's a highly effective fundraising tool, but I personally dislike supporting fundraising that reinforces superstition.

I prefer to donate to my local charity of Lemaan Achai. Primarily, this is because it is a charity that actually works to get people out of poverty, rather than perpetuating the exponentially-growing problem of charedi poverty by giving handouts. But in addition, I trust it, because it doesn't manipulate people with false or superstitious shtick, and it's professionally operated and overseen by people that I know personally. You can donate online at https://www.lemaanachai.org/en/donation.php

(Alternately/ in addition, if you'd like to support the Biblical Museum of Natural History, which inspires and educates tens of thousands of people annually about Torah and nature, you can do so at https://www.biblicalnaturalhistory.org/donate)

Tizku lemitzvot!

 

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89 comments:

  1. Hang on a sec. So all the money is being donated directly to the poor right?
    And if you donate you get a supposedly silver knife thingy right?
    So from where do they have the resources to hand out thousands of supposedly silver knives???

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    Replies
    1. I was wondering exactly the same thing. Who paid for the knives?

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    2. They have a donor willing to sponsor or subsidize the cost of providing knives, because they feel it will induce others to give. What exactly do you not understand?

      As for the bit about tzedaka organizations you can trust - first let's see the alleged quote in situ. Already in this one post Slifkin gives us two completely different versions: First "this is one of the only tzedakah orgs you can trust" and then "most tzedakah orgs cannot be trusted." Which was it, the positive or the negative? And what was the context? And who wrote it - someone of stature, or some guy in a marketing office? As we've learned many times from this blog, and its something no doubt every good rationalist believes in, don't believe anything until its been verified.

      As for giving to Leman Achai because its run by people you know personally - are you implying that this is a reason for total strangers like us not to give them?

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  2. "I don't believe that the people working at Vaad HaRabbanim themselves really think that it does - because you can bet your bottom dollar that they are giving poor people food and/or money, not silver segulah knives!"

    This might be one of the best sentences you have written on this blog. Shkoyach!

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    Replies
    1. It's like the old line about the guy selling "How to win at blackjack" books. Why isn't he in Vegas using his system?

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    2. Is it possible that for the segula to work, the person has to be working already? That might explain why they don't give the knives to the "poor".

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    3. You're out of the Chareidi loop for too long to know the good old answer to this good old question. It works only together with the Tzedaka.

      (In BP when you donate to the Breslov guy in the street he gives you one of his booklets that costs more than the donation. But you have to give to get. Go figure.)

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    4. That's the great thing about mysticism. It's bulletproof. You can just make up anything to answer any objection.

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    5. I was aiming for cynicism. Sorry if that didn't come across.

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    6. I hope my words 'good old a to this good old q' didn't come across as condescending. Indeed, Popper would have quite a hard time swallowing mysticism. But you sound like you're retracting a little bit, and maybe NAF is also.

      Personally, I don't go around chasing Segulos. In this case--Tzedaka--we do find that it works together with another Mitzva to benefit people. Namely, to give Tzedaka before Davening. In the words of Rambam Matnos Aniim 10:15,
      גדולי החכמים היו נותנים פרוטה לעני קודם כל תפלה ואח"כ מתפללים שנאמר ואני בצדק אחזה פניך
      This is from BB 10a & in SA 92:10. Now you can understand this to be some sort of Gezeiras Hakasuv, but Mefarshim say that that it enhances the effect of the subsequent Tefillah. If your point of contention is the Segula itself, fine. But if you say I could accept the Segula but then why only with the Tzedaka, it could work similar to way it works with Tefilla, they work in concert with Tzedaka.

      If I had more time I'd research the sources for what type of benefits accrue from Tzedaka. Of course there is צדקה תציל ממות and the story of R Akiva's daughter's wedding. (Full disclosure: I'm not shelling out $520 for these knives.)

      Delete
    7. “ That's the great thing about mysticism. It's bulletproof. You can just make up anything to answer any objection.”

      No true Scotsmanning segulos is mysticism, the same way “trust the science” is rationalism. Hint: they’re not.

      Delete
    8. Nachum - your comment can also be made about any finance writer, or any stock broker, or on countless other people: If they're so smart, why aren't they rich themselves? I think you're smart enough to know the answer, you're just letting your anti-charedi bias interfere with your thinking.

      Delete
  3. Maybe they should distribute challah knives (instead of money) to the poor.

    See here: https://www.hidabroot.org/question/214078
    היה מחלק סכינים בראש השנה להמקורבים לסגולה על פרנסה וכמו שכתוב חותך חיים לכל חי וכו'.

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    Replies
    1. @ephraim Doh!!
      And just to state the obvious.. in your link, no proper jewish sources were provided, just some rebbes from modern times. In order words, you just proved that this isn't a very authentic Jewish idea.

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    2. I'm not sure Hidabroot is the final word on origins of folk practices.

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    3. The eighth chapter of Yerushalmi Peah has a discussion of proper tzedakah collection for the poor. it isn't anything like what is done today.

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  4. I thought R' Chaim was a Kupat HaIr guy.

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    1. Same kettle of fish. Same owners, different marketing names.

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    2. No, they compete. Kupat HaIr is Bnei Brak.

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    3. Nachum: Same kettle of fish. Same ownership, according to what I read somewhere on an investigative report in Hebrew years ago.. Same advertising agency, same copywriters. Their "competition" is as phony as everything else about them is.

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    4. If true, I'm not surprised.

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  5. I have a novel idea . . . how about everyone just learn to take care of themselves, then all this insanity wouldn't be necessary.
    Oh wait, chazal already said that about 25 times.

    As an aside, I get the sense that the Rav Chaim Kanievsky mania bubble has already burst, at least in America. But I could be wrong. Artscroll can publish only so many fluffy, feel-books with his name slapped on the cover.

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    Replies
    1. "Rav Chaim Kanievsky mania bubble has already burst, at least in America"

      That's a little bit of an oversimplification of things. No one is detracting from the fact the R' Chaim Kanievsky was a tremendous tzadik, talmid chacham and masmid, but to those of us who are not card carrying members of the gimmel party, 'R' Chaim the manhig hador' appears to be a mirage created by Shuki and Yanki as a power grab.

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    2. I didn't mean to detract from his greatness either, things were just verging into avodah zara territory. When I first noticed RCK being called "Sar Hatorah" (whatever that means) I knew things were going in a weird direction.

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    3. @Rami

      And so is the State of Israel, are we going to obsessively harangue against its many shortcomings?

      Can't Lemaan Achai be promoted on its own merit?

      If this blog wants to become a second Failed Messiah, it should change its description and name. There is a need for something like this, bit not under the misleading claim to represent rationalist Judaism.

      Delete
    4. @Yakov

      Yes. I support criticism of the State of Israel.

      Delete
    5. @Rami

      Yes, ofcourse, but when it makes swnse and doesn't become an obsession.

      Delete
  6. Thought folks on this blog might be interested in this

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/haredi-mk-finds-himself-debating-maimonides-in-tv-interview/

    ReplyDelete
  7. There is fraud perpetrated by charity organizations all over the world, DL included. Universities, hospitals, social programs - you name it. Charedim are people too, you know, and are small fry compared to other institutions.

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    1. Silly me, I thought we were called to be a Mamleches Kohanim and Goy Kadosh. I guess Charedim are now talmidim of Ben-Gurion's וְהָיִ֥ינוּ גַם־אֲנַ֖חְנוּ כְּכׇל־הַגּוֹיִ֑ם

      CP

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    2. המאמר דן בהתייחסותו של דוד בן-גוריון למושג 'עם-סגולה'. עם ישראל מיוחד לא רק בשל הישרדותו ההיסטורית וסיפורו הלאומי אלא בשל הערכים המוסריים המנחים אותו החל מתקופת נביאי הכתב ועד ימי התחדשות הציונות. 'עם הבחירה' איננו עם שנבחר על-ידי האל, אליבא דבן-גוריון אלא עם שבחר באלהיו ובמצוותיו ולכן, העליונות של עם ישראל איננה נובעת מרגשות לאומיים אלא מהכרח לקיים את המצוות המוסריות בהם בחרו. 'עם סגולה' הוא קריאת כיוון ולא עובדה מציאותית היסטורית ולזו מחוייבת מדינת ישראל המודרנית: להיות 'מדינת מופת'.

      There is aspirations and reality. Both the secular and the religious societies are far from the ideal and RNS' obsession with the charedi malfeasance is out of proportion. That was my point. This is a general problem of the human condition and isn't unique to charedim.

      Delete
    3. To Yaakov and all those who have used this argument in the past:
      I am getting sick and tired of seeing this old shopworn dog-eared miserable excuse of an argument. It pops up in the comment section on almost every blog by Rabbi Slifkin in which he criticizes Chareidim and their lifestyle. Don't you guys get it? It's rarely a valid argument at all; it's more of a distraction (this case being an excellent example). Look up "whataboutism". More importantly, its premise is that Chareidim don't need to be better than any other group. Really now? That’s not what they claim. I bet that the Chareidi apologists who use this argument would be the first to claim (whenever they think they can get away with it) that Chareidim are the finest people in the world. Well, sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not. And your use of this whataboutist argument shows that this is one of the instances in which they are not. So, you are tacitly admitting that in matters of honesty and charity (yes, honesty and charity!), Chareidim are as corrupt as everyone else.

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    4. "More importantly, its premise is that Chareidim don't need to be better than any other group."

      This is pure projection. Making observations about reality and human nature is not making excuses. You believe Charedim must live up to what they aspire to as a group. That's a shortcoming of you, not us. At least we aspire, even when we don't measure up. You're okay with women and girls walking around in the beit knesset dressed like hookers.

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    5. Shimshon, there is a difference. When Jews fail, there is a chillul hashem. Chareidim, for better or for worse, are incredibly visually Jewish, and moreover, they hold themselves up to be the gatekeepers of Torah. Those are high aspirations, and that means, when there is failure, it hits harder.

      Aspirations are good. deflecting them by saying "others do it" doesn't make Chareidim look better. It makes them look hypocritical. Because it sounds like you are excusing bad behavior by pointing to others, that the standard has no been dropped.

      "Emor me'at v'aseh harbeh"

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    6. There will always be swindlers, charlatans and thieves in the Charedi community, like every other one.
      But Kupat Ha'ir is not 'Charedi society', it is the charlatan and thief of Charedi society, the armpit of Bney Berak, the moldy section of the Charedi fruit box.
      If you demand that no fraud take place at all, you are demanding perfection.

      The yardstick for 'a better society' is the vast majority, not a couple of thieves and scoundrels

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    7. @Rami, I imagine these things were going on before and no one was wiser till eagle-eyed RDS noticed and blew the whistle. If some wise one blows the whistle on the less visible you'll have the same Chillul Hashem.

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    8. Charedi charity scams are also more crass and childish, and have the scam built into their very business model to appeal for funds ("Give us money and get yeshuos and a magic knife!").
      I don't recall receiving anything like that from March of Dimes recently. (And they actually get audited.)

      Delete
    9. The failure to live up to higher standards hits harder, though. It's not matter of perfection. It's a matter that the Charedi community has those higher standards, and by virtue of those higher standards, failure to hold by them hurts more.

      This is no "whistle-blowing". This matter was public, done in front of a Bris Din.

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    10. Rami, I say 'whistle-blowing' about RDS's expose of the solicitation/flyer. Why are you bringing in the Din Torah?

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    11. That's almost a worse example - that email was sent out on-mass. It would be bizzare to say there was any sort of level of privacy to be expected.

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    12. Let's try again. Virtually no one has eyes as good as RDS. All those who read the email didn't realize any Chillul Hashem till he showed it. (Students learn a Gemara and think they know it. Then in Shiur the Rebi makes them realize that it contained much more than they thought.) That's what I mean by whistle-blowing. And to follow the plot, he could theoretically do it to those less visibly Jewish.

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    13. There was no grass-roots outcry. RDS was the first to notice.

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    14. Before Slifkin mentioned it, these Tzedaka scams were the joke of the Charedi world.
      I was the one who wrote the language of a Kol Kore that was published against one of these scams, in which they promised a shiduch for a sum of money, and Slifkin triumphed it as though he was responsible.

      People are not as stupid as the advertising companies think they are.

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  8. "I was dumbfounded to read an email solicitation from the Vaad HaRabbanim of Lakewood"
    There is no Vaad HaRabbanim of Lakewood.

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  9. Some Evangelicals encourage people to donate SEED money as charity to the MEGA CHURCH. The Evangelical then explains the donator will be repaid one way or another multiple times over the SEED money, so it’s a good deal for the donator. This rhetoric is parroted by some of other people of other religions, in this case the silver knife by some Orthodox Jews. I am quite certain convinced they are all full of BS and worse since some are outright grifters. ACJA

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  10. Shimshon? Happy? מכרכר?

    We have so many eloquent and nasty Chareidi commenters here who are able to so articulately point out all the shortcomings of our society. When it comes to the shortcomings of their society, they suddenly vanish.

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    Replies
    1. For an allegedly rationalist hangout, the proprietor and his sycophants have a monomaniacal fascination with Charedim and telling them how to live their lives. Is that actually rational, when the odds of even one "suggestion" being adopted by Charedim is 0%? I know one definition of insanity this sounds like. How is talking about fundraising pointing out the shortcomings of our society? Shortcomings of fundraising, which is often unsavory, perhaps. I don't know anything about the organization singled out here, or whether the quotes or approbations are genuine. Slifkin is about as reliable as the New York Times. And he doesn't even bother with the pretense of investigation by way of contacting people for on or off the record statements.

      I don't even know if the alleged conflict exists, or even if it does, the actual nature of it, of Rav Kanievsky's children regarding the Rav's estate. As far as Yanky specifically, well, the public record does seem to speak for itself that he has a materialistic and acquisitive nature at odds with the austere lifestyle practiced by his grandfather. And that the apple can fall far from the tree.

      One of the things about media hit pieces that escape the credulous is that even if the data points cited in them are 100% true, which is rarely the case, they are presented in such a way as to construct a compelling but otherwise 100% false and deceptive narrative. Like the recent NYT hit piece. Those true statements have been amply dissected and deconstructed to show manipulative they can be by two responses to that piece linked to in the recent post. Not that it will make a difference to the monomaniacal.

      Further, I just don't care. I keep my distance from unsavory people, I don't give to organizations like that, and it's not excusing anything to say that the charedi world has its share of grifters (even assuming this accusation is true, which is not a given), no differently than any other large group. You accuse us of being robots, and when we don't act monolithically and roboticly you protest. Retarded.

      Delete
    2. Shimshon, you write with so much poise and articulation, you would actually be pretty persuasive if not for your obsession with immature name calling. This comment of yours was actually pretty good. But when you go heavy on the 'retards', it will make an otherwise well written comment look ridiculous.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous, Thank you for the kind words and advice. You merely find it off-putting. But to the ones who the comments are directed at are extremely bothered by the usage. You could even say triggered.

      Those words are directed to those who will not be persuaded by anything, as has been amply demonstrated repeatedly.

      Since I mentioned Vox Day as a source of insights for my stylistic choices, he posted recently about an exchange he had on Gab where the word was introduced into the stream, because retarded.

      https://voxday.net/2022/09/15/retards-demand-respect/

      His Gab comment that started it all: "Everything evil that is not motivated by hedonism, greed, and attention-seeking is driven by fear of death."

      The exchange that follows is both amusing and telling. Close your eyes, tweak the subject a bit, and it could take place in this very forum, down to the use of the word retard and the predictable attempt to hijack the exchange by making it the subject of discussion instead of providing substantive responses.

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    4. Gab?? Good grief! Next you'll be quoting from the Daily Stormer!

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    5. PB&J didn't you just recently call for my banning or censoring here?

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    6. Nope, not me. I'm a fan of yours, I just think that your language and references to alt-right conspiracy theorists are out of hand.

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    7. PB&J, the reference was relevant and on-topic. You should read up on the Genetic Fallacy, even if your label were true, which it isn't. And thanks for the clarification.

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    8. Shimshon you are missing the point. I have no problem accepting the truth from one who said it. Just when you display that you are a follower of alt-right conspiracy theorists, you turn people off. Because the types of people that follow them are usually pretty loony. I'm not saying that you're like them, but you definitely will lead people to think as such by constantly referencing them. So let us just have Shimshon and keep Vox Day and the Q-ers out of here.

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    9. PB&J, I know you care, because I have know the reaction Vox Day gets upon mention for decades now. I still don't care. You think you know what you're talking about. You don't.

      Vox Day is many things, but loony is not one of them. He's 100x more accomplished than anyone here. He's publishing hand-bound leather (goat and cow) books for up to $500 a pop and has no problem selling out entire runs. He bought his own bindery equipment! He is an author of fiction and non-fiction (he has been compared favorably to Tolkien by more talented people than you), publisher (of books and comics), twice-nationally syndicated columnist, among many actual achievements. But to you he's a conspiratard. To me, you're just another retard for going on and on at length about how loony I am.

      I make no mention of anything even remotely conspiracy-related here, but retards like you (and I am equal opportunity in calling it like I see it) keep trying to troll me. I got a few comments banned at first for taking the bait. If conspiracy-mongering is banned, pointless conspiracy-trolling should be too.

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  11. Rabbi Slifkin, you once again hit the point squarely in this blog.
    The Rambam says that we should be more careful about tzedaka than any other mitzvas aseh. And yet, we throw around tzedaka and support organizations, not because of their work and track record, but rather due to the haskama of a particular gadol.
    I was raised in a world that looked down and negated anything but it’s own way
    BH, along the way, I matured enough to understand that “70 facets to Torah” is not just a poetic expression but rather tried and true,
    I can only echo your sentiments about Lema’an Achai. My family and I personally benefited from their true level of tzedaka by helping us in a way that we no longer need help. There were some in my former community that disparaged Lema’an Achai without giving any reason. It took my own situation to see first hand that they are an amazing group of people.

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  12. RNS - How about before Rosh Hashana you post about something positive in the general chareidi community (without any negative qualifications - which I know will be extremely challenging for you)? We've heard lots about the shortcomings already from you. Do you have it in you to say something completely positive? Do you have enough self-confidence yet to pull off something so daring?
    -D

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  13. Add to their crimes the fact that they used the phrase, "one of the only." Arrgghhh!

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  14. See R Dessler's Qunerus haChessed (Michtav meiEliyahu vol. I pp. 32-52 and 140-145 https://aspaqlaria.aishdas.org/.../Qunterus-haChessed.pdf) about what happens when one is dominated by the Will To Take. Even the act of giving gets tainted, as it has to be for the sake of taking. (Frankly, not a bad text to learn every Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.)

    Also, R Shlomo Wolbe's chapter on Frumkeit (Alei Shur vol. II, pp. 152-155; http://www.aishdas.org/as/frumkeit.pdf), or my blog post based on it (https://aspaqlaria.aishdas.org/.../what-is-frumkeit/) is all about the difference between true Avodas Hashem and being "frum". Frumkeit, R Wolbe teaches, is a self-serving instinct to be holier. And has little to do with da'as or a focus on Hashem's plan for the world.

    Citing the Alter of Slabodka, Alei Shur writes:

    “'Ve’ahavta lereiakha komakha — and you shall love your peers like yourself.' That you should love your peer the way you love yourself. You do not love yourself because it is a mitzvah, rather, a plain love. And that is how you should love your peer.“

    But we aren't talking about giving tzedaqah out of love for the other, nor even because it's a mitzvah. It's straight "al menas leqabel peras -- for the sake of getting a boon".

    Frankly, I think the gemara in BB (10b) would define this as paganism. They offer sacrifices to Mars to win a war, or Zeus to be spared from lightening strikes, and we...

    "... Any tzedaqah or chesed that umos aku"m (pagan nations) do is a sin for them, as they only act to aggrandize themselves thereby (lehisgadel bahem)."

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    Replies
    1. And how do you square all that with giving Tzedaka al MENAT sheyichyeh b'ni harei zeh tzadik gamur, in the same gemara?

      Delete
    2. Micha Berger, your peculiar spelling of ק with a q is a dead giveaway. Anonymous aint gonna help you.

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    3. Spelling ק with a q isn't 'peculiar'.

      J.K.L.M.N. correspond to י.כ.ל.מ.נ.

      O.P.Q.R.S.T. correspond to ע.פ.ק.ר.ש.ת.

      Thus, כ = k; ק = q. That's why you have places with such official spelling like Iraq & Bnei Braq.

      But I'm not Micha, I didn't write Anon 5:19 PM, (I did write Anon 10:03 PM), and I use the conventional spelling.

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    4. It's quite obvious. Al menat shyichye is a not very subtle threat. Its a polemic telling us how important the mitzvah is. Doing it is crucial to Hashem's entertaining our continued existence. Without it there is little to justify that existence. It is emphatically not a statement of implied reward as a reason for doing the mitzvah. It is simply saying that this mitzvah really is the one that counts.

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    5. "or my blog post based on it..."

      He admitted who he is. Just he pressed the Anonymous button by mistake.

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    6. The counter evidence is a polemic. The evidence is a polemic. Now we both can say whatever we please.

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    7. @Anon 7:42

      Not a fan literally says every Torah source brought by commentors on this site is a polemic. Now I know why some of the MO take the Torah so lightly.

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    8. No I don't. Why would you write such shtuyot?

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    9. Just to add this small point: if I have to point out here that the Torah sometimes uses the literary technique of polemics, that is because some of the other regular commentors on this blog insist on reading everything in the Torah literally. I guess that is what happens when they don't study literature (and perhaps also parshanut) : they are unable to dissect the text properly.

      Delete
    10. Not a fan, you once pulled the polemic shtik with me as well, when we were discussing the benefits of learning Torah L'shma, mentioned in משנה of כל הלומד תורה לשמה זוכה לדברים הרבה וכו. You unfoundedly dismissed the mishna as a 'polemic to praise learning Torah l'shma'. When I pointed out to you that all the 'literature and parshanum' seem to take the mishna quite literally, you went AWOL.

      If someone can be accused of not studying literature and the parshanim, it's those who baselessly dismiss ma'amarei chazal.

      Delete
    11. R micha, I most respectfully note that although you are an expert on RSS (& RAEK & perhaps others), you might want to study the tale about his contemprary RBDL. He asked a boy why he came late to Yeshiva. The boy said, someone was drowning in the river and I rescued him. RBDL told him, you did the right thing and a tremendous thing. And you were obligated to do it. But those learning in the Yeshiva at that time accomplished even more.

      Other evidence that your approach should change or be modified comes from Chovos Halevavos, Introduction to Shaar Avodas Elokim. He says that all human kindness (parents included!) comes from self interest. If someone gives charity for a knife he's exercising his self interest and if he doesn't do it for the knife he's exercising his self interest. Not much of a difference.

      See also the “Perakim” before Shaar 4 of Nefesh Hachaim. He sharply objects to those who belittle people who are doing good deeds for the wrong motives. In one case he calls such condescension an עון פלילי הרחמן יצילנו. Further he writes, וכן העוסק בתורת ד' אפילו שלא לשמה, אם כי ודאי שעדיין אינו במדרגה הגבוה האמתית, אמנם חלילה וחלילה לבזותו אפילו בלב. See there at length. (Some believe that he had Chassidim in mind, who put so much emphasis on לשמה.) (Earlier להבדיל the Christians fussed over acts as creating haughtiness. Better, they said, to just do nothing.)

      You also certainly realize that while R Dessler is talking about selfish *kindness* which would include charity, R Wolbe is talking about selfish *frumkeit*, which is somewhat distinct from selfish *charity*.

      And then ask the families receiving the funds, would they refuse money given impurely? (Satmar and Brisk only take/used to take “kosher” money, but they did so at their own expense. They refused treif money and exerted themselves to raise kosher money instead.) Do you daven at a Shul that has no plaques? That isn't named after some sponsor's relative?

      It's interesting that you mention Slabodka. Slabodka's virtual raison d'être was massaging the students' egos, with the agenda of motivating them to greatness. Chassidim likewise do things לשמה, while the movement massages them with אהבת ישראל. So a lot is going on.

      To return to RD & RW, their words apparently parallel what NHC (above) calls במדרגה הגבוה האמתית, something that every Ben Aliya should exert great efforts to achieve.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  15. as usual a superp article,

    you did not point out the contradiction I was sure you were going to point out but somehow its not in your article


    "all donations go fully and directly to the needy"

    "all those who generously donate $520 towards this campaign will receive a pure silver Challah knife"

    Are these knives supposed to pay for themselves, or were they simply stolen from the store? how can you give 100% of your donations to the poor and also spend thousands on pure silver knives

    ReplyDelete
  16. Can you spot the contradiction:

    "all donations go fully and directly to the needy"

    "all those who generously donate $520 towards this campaign will receive a pure silver Challah knife"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what the first commentor pointed out.

      Delete
  17. I’ve always said, new challah knives are not Parnassa Segulos for the recipient, but for the businessman selling them!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Chareidi website rejecting Gedolim!
    https://vinnews.com/2022/09/21/op-ed-musical-selichos-add-a-dimension-which-cannot-be-dismissed/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How is a site that was Pashkevilled years ago a 'Chareidi website'? And if you're being so generous about what passes nowadays as Chareidi, what's the big news that these 'Chareidim' went against the Gedolim?

      Delete
    2. Wow, that was swift backlash, they deleted the post!

      Delete
  19. Pasting in full in case they delete it.

    Op-Ed: Musical Selichos Add A Dimension Which Cannot Be Dismissed

    September 21, 2022 12:30 pm


     

    JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Several very prominent rabbis issued statements condemning the phenomenon of musical selichos which has spread in numerous locales, especially on the first night of Ashkenazi selichos but even on other nights during this period.

    Rabbi Gershon Edelstein sharply criticized  “those who “breach boundaries” to change and overturn the sacred gatherings of the Selichos prayer, [by transforming it] into a recreation event and holding “Selichos evenings” with the participation of singers and orchestras, both in synagogues and [outside] in the streets rather than fulfilling “shaking and trembling from the day of your coming (before Hashem for judgment).”

    Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi, a leading Sefardic rabbi, termed musical selichos “crazy madness” and said that such selichos “are like eating meat and milk, since the selichos were instituted to arouse heavenly compassion on us and not to hear music, recreation and entertainment. It is a shame and disgrace that some people exploit the selichos and glorify their names and voices.

    Leading religious Zionist rabbi Shlomo Aviner said that this is a “new custom with no basis” since “selichos are not a musical experience, they are a request for forgiveness with repentance and tears. Even in previous generations there were musical instruments and we are not more fearing of heaven and wiser than them.”

    Despite these reservations, the musical selichos continue to fill halls and shuls, with leading chazanim and singers demonstrating that it is possible to inspire through the ancient words in a different manner. Watching these “performances”, one realizes that there is more than one dimension to requesting forgiveness. There is the contrite and ashamed sinner who cries and wails about how lowly he feels, but there is also the confident son who knows that his father is “rachum v’chanun”- both compassionate and merciful. Such a son will not hesitate to sing his fervent love to his father when delineating his sins, since he knows that this song is a way of reconnecting and reestablishing the relationship. Anyone who has attended sephardic selichot cannot fail to have seen this dimension of selichot in their songs.

    It is true that this is a new custom, but not every new custom has to be treated with suspicion and censure. In this case one can hardly call the selichos a “recreation” since they take place at an hour when most people would prefer to be sleeping and generally last longer than regular selichos. All those who attend carry selichos with them and say the words, many of which are difficult to understand when recited as a prayer. It is obvious that they are not seeking entertainment but inspiration, something which will enable them to identify with the words while adopting the abovementioned second form of requesting forgiveness.

    In one such selichos gathering this week, the chazan, renowned singer Yitzchak Meir, did not face the audience at all during the selichos, but rather stayed with his tallis facing the back of the stage, which evidently was the direction of the Temple Mount. This was the opposite of a performance, this was a chazan leading, urging, inspiring and energizing his congregation to achieve new spiritual levels of penitence.

     




    © Copyright 2020 Vos Iz Neias | All Rights Reserved


    ReplyDelete
  20. Nathan, waiting for a full post treating this op-ed. I feel it's a paradigm shift in chareidi journalism reflecting the multiplicity of views in the chareidi world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's premature. Actually the post you're waiting for will be about the *steadfastness of the Chareidi street, who blasted away a non-Chareidi idea even though it came from one of their alleged own, and forced it into deletion.

      Delete
  21. A new sign in Shul offers these knives to those donating 150/mo 1800/yr to Hidabrut. Also features a photo of RCK holding and looking intently at a knife.

    I'd like to share something that I recently read about blessed objects. For some of our mixed crowd it'll be something to enjoy, for others it'll just annoy.

    When the Chassidic Baal Mofeis whose grave in Monsey is constantly visited, was living, he once attended a Sheva Brachos. They asked him to bless the Kallahs jewelry. (Since I'm not Chassidic, this is a culture shock for me, but on with the story.) He blessed them. The Chosson's older brother saw this, and he brought his wife's wedding ring to the Tzadik to have it also blessed. The Tzadik picked it up and looked at it but didn't bless it. The older brother/the husband asked why he wasn't blessing it? The Tzadik answered, cause it's already a gebenchter.

    The brother/husband had brought it to another renowned Tzadik, buried further upstate, and it was already blessed by him. And our Tzadik could perceive that. (Page 224)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Regarding how could 100% of your money go to the poor; who's paying for the knives? I was wondering about too, but I think it's standard procedure to have separate sponsorship for the gifts. In this case the knives were prepared at least half a year ago while RCK was alive. Someone paid for them at that time. Going forward 100% can go to the poor.

    I also wonder if they're claiming that the knives are pure silver or silver plate. Or being intentionally vague about it. On top of that, translations from Ivrit to English have a habit of not being faithful to the original.

    ReplyDelete
  23. “but I think it's standard procedure to have separate sponsorship for the gifts.”

    That's how all 'Chinese Auction' fundraisers work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So those who donate the gifts are at a disadvantage that 0% of their donations go to the poor; 100% goes to the overhead which goes on to the other rich. But they have the advantage of גדול המעשה יותר מן העושה which the regular donors don't have.

      Delete
  24. Anonymous at Sept. 20. There are many G-d fearing non -Jews who give charity without looking for alterior benefits.
    Understand the Gemarah accordingly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Searching for "AnonymousSeptember 20" resulted in 10 hits. If you meant 10:03 PM, that's me. If it's someone else you'll have to be clearer. Such as linking to the comment instead of putting it all the way down here.

      So if it's me let me address your comment, either to

      -concede the possible interpretation, & ask you to see my follow up at 9/22 10:21 PM, or

      -deflect that that's unique to pagans, or

      -(the politically correct need not apply) deflect that that's unique to gentiles.

      But I prefer that you see that other comment at 9/22 10:21 PM.

      Delete
  25. Shimshon at Aug. 20 at 10:30, when you don't agree you call it " projection" which the writer calls observation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moshe, calling this an observation doesn't make it one:

      "More importantly, its premise is that Chareidim don't need to be better than any other group."

      No one said that. That's not an observation. That's projection.

      What the Charedim said about Charedim were observations, not excuses.

      Delete

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