Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Current Events

I am going to interrupt the chronological order of my postings to underscore the HIGHLIGHTS of current day events in the orthodox world.

1-Jew against Jew on the appropriate way of performing bris milah.

2-Jew against Jew on reconciling Science & Torah.

3-Jew against Jew on the shechita issue.

4-Jew against Jew on what constitutes orthodoxy;-kippah srugah or Borsalino(black only-4 inch brim)

5-Kashrus agency against kashrus agency on the" important" issue of handsoap requiring pesach certification or not.

6-How many rabbis needed to authenticate the origin of hair for sheitels?(I will give you a hint-must be more than five.)

7-What constitutes sexual harassment for rabbis?Is there a different standard for laymen?

8-How many kashrus agencies should certify a kosher slaughtering house before we are allowed to eat their chickens?

9-What IF a rabbi who is affilliated with a particular slaughtering house permits Indian hair in sheitels,should that nullify his trusworthiness as a Rav Umachshir?

10-What if this same rabbi forbids the use of a tube to do the metziza by a bris;does that increase his" right wing" status and now cancels out his psak that permits Indian hair in sheitels-enabling us Orthodox Jews to rely on his hechsherim?

11-What if this same rabbi has praised a book that has been banned by the REAL right wing-do we let him continue to be a rosh yeshivah?

12-If a rabbi gives a lecture at Yeshiva University,do we take away his black homburg and force him to change his family name?

13-What if we discover that a rabbi's claim to fame is being a "Jewish historian";only to find out that HIS history does not really mean that it is FACTUAL?

I'm getting a headache,stay tuned.......

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Beth Din and the Judges

My grandfather had invested money with his rebbe.This rebbe acted as a broker for a conglomerate of nursing home owners who guaranteed a certain amount of return per bed.

In other words he was convinced by his rebbe that if he invested his life savings with him,he would receive a monthly income which was secured by a lien on the real estate .

In his hometown in Europe the rebbe was as close to G-D as Moshe Rabbeinu.
Zeidy was a laborer, a simple man with emuna pshuta.
So if the rebbe said something,it had meaning...so much meaning that he took all his hard earned money even the emergency money from the refrigerator(wrapped in aluminum foil)and gave it to his rebbe.

Not long after, the monthly stipend stopped."HIS beds were losing money".

My father arranged for a din torah.After a year of stalling and promises,the beth din convened.
I went with my father and grandfather.

I would never forget,ever,what came next.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Rabbis And Money-Part Two

I grew up in an era when hasidic rebbes became rebbes by default.They came to the U.S. after the war,and were the last remnants of their families.

There were the precious few rebbes that deserved to take over where their father or grandfather left off.Two of the most notable tzaddikim were the rebbes of Satmar and Klausenberg.

The majority of the other people who became rebbes because of their name,were in fact totally undeserving of their self proclaimed titles.
One was a former Kapo or Nazi collaborator who went on to make a fortune in the nursing home business by freezing bodies after death while he continued to collect their social security checks and government allotments.

Another was arrested on shabbos,thrown into the back of a police car in handcuffs during mussaf, for cashing checks from incapacitated patients in his nursing facility.
Their dynasties live on by their families as they pretend to be holy men.

Many of them wound up in the jewelry business and moonlighted as rebbes on shabbosim.
There were many scandals by these guys that included smuggling,money laundering and racketeering that were hushed up by local politicians.

The pretense that this group were in fact one step closer to G-D than the rest of us,nauseated me even as a child.
To be continued.......

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rabbis and Money

Somewhere along the way we met a rabbi whose primary income was writing gittin(get-jewish divorce document).
This guy was primarily the only show in town.

He had a policy-financially rape anyone in need of giving or getting a get.

There was no official GET organization at the time,so he named his price and got it.

Rich or poor,he raped you.Unfortunately a family friend needed a get,and contacted this sleaze-bag before she informed us what was going on.

He told her it would cost her $10,000 if the husband was agreeable and $25,000 if he was not.
He offerred her financial advice after she swore she was flat broke and had eight kids to feed.
"Get a second mortgage on the house",and gave her the phone number of a local banker that he knew personally.He assured her that many people did that and went on to say how important it was for her to get on with her life.

This creep dropped dead about six months later in his house while administrating a giving of a get for the bargain-basement price of $8500.How is that for Divine retribution.
To be continued....

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Growing Up Quickly

As the son of a prominent person,i got to meet all the major players of Judaism.
Prime ministers,chief rabbis,chassidic rebbes,rosh yeshivas and pulpit rabbis,were on our visit list.
Access was relatively easy.I do not know how much money was given to charity in those years,but I learned early on ...it was ALL about giving money or the potential of getting large sums of money,that got us in any door.
It was so obvious,it really hurt.
There were a few saintly people..but they needed money to operate their businesses.
So by the time I was Bar-Mitzvah,I got the whole picture.
The guys with the money got the respect,the final say in the schools and shuls,the mizrach vant in shul and were the guests of honors at jewish functions,period!
Only a fool would not see what was so obvious.
There was no observance criteria for any one.
The presidents of many Orthodox shuls were barely Torah-observant.
Lunatics were on the mizrach vant.
Hashgochas on food were sold on the cheap.
Members of the board of directors of many yeshivas openly ate in non-kosher establishments.
Adultery scandals were hushed up.
Guests of honor at yeshiva banquets were mechalel shabbos.
All this by the time I was thirteen years old.

Monday, March 07, 2005

My first negative observation

My father had given me the tuition payments to give to the tuition collectors,at the time were all males at this particular yeshiva.

I observed after a period of time,if they were paid by a check,a receipt was given and the check went into a draw.

When cash was given,no receipt was given and the cash went into his shirt pocket.
I was eight years old.

I did not figure it out until years later.

That person is now the executive director of a well known yeshiva racked with financial scandal.

Torah and racketeering should not go together.

Corruption comes in all forms.

Nepotism is corruption,if the people that wind up teaching are incompetent.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Orthodoxy.....ad nauseum

We have lost our minds....from our leaders(whatever that means)to the regular jew in the street.

Everything has got a label,from where we do not know.

Everything has big money involved,from kashrus to Daf Yomi gatherings.

Public lectures are given by people who are ignorant on the topics they are supposed to be experts on.(of course there is an entrance fee)

Offspring of yesterday's rabbi's are cashing on on their family name.

Ignoramuses are publishing books.

Most American yeshivas are run by below average wannabee rabbis,and in the most cases are family businesses.
Lay leaders are the guys with the biggest mouths and too much free time on their hands.
Give me one truly religious and honorable Jew,and I will give you one hundred thousand who do not have a clue.

More to come.......