Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ami magazine celebrates first year anniversary

In this weeks issue Ami magazine celebrates its first anniversary as publishers of a weekly, for the frum  orthodox world. In the editorial they write;
" We certainly recognize that errors are inevitable, and to pray that no mishap come through us is to pray for a miracle- a prayer that Halacha usually deems inappropriate. What we can ask for, though, and do, is that others not seize on our errors as a means to ridicule us in order to silence our message."
 A good thing to ask for , however through the first year, Ami has not shied away from controversies or discussing controversial topics that were not brought up by the current charedi print media. In this weeks issue alone, the cover story was about the city of Beit Shemesh in turmoil. The pictures posted along the article, about charedim clashing with police or a Charedi screaming portraying them as lunatics, is embarrassing. By trying to cover and appease the Ami of klal yisrael, from modern orthodox to Satmar from Litvish to Lubavitch, such a prayer is always needed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who asked you ? Who appointed you ?

      Many frum websites and blogs posted articles or op-eds by rabbonim condemning the violence in Beit Shemesh. Some of the rabbis  may be known while others are just anonymous. They may be right and well intentioned. However, a response should come from a higher authority- not by self appointed spokespersons  and opportunists who call themselves rabbis that are popular only online but do not have any real position of leadership.

Our Leaders are not created by websites or made popular by the many hits or like's they get on facebook. Our Gedolim are people who are looked up to by the klal; people who are true Talmidei chachomim and yirei hashem. We need to hear a condemnation from gedolim such as the Agudah response which has Gedolim sitting at its helm.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Agudah statement on recent events in Beit Shemesh

 Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement today:
Reports of recent events in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh are deeply disturbing. Violence of any sort, whether physical or verbal, by self-appointed “guardians” of modesty is reprehensible. Such conduct is beyond the bounds of decent, moral – Jewish! – behavior. We condemn these acts unconditionally.
Those who have taken pains to note that the small group of misguided individuals who have engaged in this conduct are not representative of the larger charedi community are to be commended. It is disturbing, though, that some Israeli politicians and secularists have been less responsible, portraying the actions of a very few as indicative of the feelings of the many. Quite the contrary, the extremist element is odious to, and rejected by, the vast majority of charedi Jews.
Lost in all the animus and ill will, unfortunately, is the concept ostensibly at the core of the controversy: the exalted nature of tzenius, or Jewish modesty. Judaism considers human desires to constitute a sublime and important force, but one whose potential for harm is commensurate with its potential for holiness.
In a society like our own, where the mantra of many is, in effect, “anything goes,” many charedi Jews, men and women alike, see a need to take special steps – in their own lives and without seeking to coerce others – to counterbalance the pervasive atmosphere of licentiousness, so as to avoid the degradation of humanity to which it leads.
It would be tragic were the acts of violence to lead Jews to, G-d forbid, reject the culture of tzenius that has always been the hallmark of the Jewish nation, to regard Jewish modesty as something connected to violence and anger, rather than to refinement and holiness.

Rav Elyashiv, our survival -separation from the secular way of life.

Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv,  in a letter  posted in the Tuesday edition of the  Israeli yated neeman said,  that he was opposed to the recent phenomenon of integrating secular college level studies with Torah education, and to institutions that encourage youths to enlist in the IDF or National Service (Sherut Leumi).

In his letter, Rabbi Elyashiv wrote that “the secret and foundation to the survival of Torah and of those who fear Hashem and live a life of Torah is absolute separation from the world of the secular, who have thrown off the yoke of Torah. As such we must protest and warn against all sorts of trends from the outside that seek to harm the pure oil of the hareidi institutions. These institutions must be under the control of the rabbis and must be guided by them, and must exclude all paths that lead to national service, secular studies, or the army, even if they assure a special framework for hareidi Jews. Such a framework will subject hareidi Jews to the control and culture of secular Jews who have thrown off the yoke of Torah,” he wrote.
The purpose of all these programs, Rabbi Elyashiv wrote, was to change the nature of hareidi Jewish life. “Thus they (the secular government) encourage all sorts of programs, academies, colleges, and the like which promise degrees, licenses, etc., intended to introduce goals and aspirations foreign to our way of life. This is in direct contradiction to the instructions of the the great rabbis of previous generations, who battled against all institutions that had these purposes, and removed them from the 'camp of Torah.' This is especially the case now, where the institutions make clear that their purpose is to change our ways of life, and to instill foreign aspirations – nationalistic and academic – that our forefathers never accepted, bringing us to make inappropriate connections with secular people, those of the 'culture of sinners.'”
The only true path for Jews, said Rabbi Elyashiv, was to “do the will of our Father in Heaven” and reject these efforts.

Translation from Arutz Sheva.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bostoner rebbe, Internet addicts to be treated,not expelled.

   During  his recent trip to Eretz Yisroel the Bostoner Rebbe addressed his followers this past Shabbos. He spoke on the current events and the current challenges we face from modern technology. Many rabbonim he said, are speaking out against the non kosher cell phones and the internet. Their approach of throwing those that have it out of shuls and expelling them from the community is wrong.

    He went on to say that internet addicts should be treated just as an alcoholic goes for therapy to rid himself of his addiction, so too internet and phone addicts must be treated from the root cause, which is addiction. It shouldn't be that a person in middle of davening shmoneh esrei will get an alert and hurry up his davening to retrieve the message. However the right approach is to treat them and not to throw them out of the community and the shul.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lakewood Schools postpone acceptance process for boys high schools.

 The menahalim and heads of mesivtos in Lakewood  have agreed to postpone the process of acceptance into High school. This change was previously done with registration for 4 year old playgroup (though for diffrent reasons ) and now its been done with entrance bechinos to High schools as well. The mesiftos will only begin accepting requests for applications starting on 23rd of teves. Chadorim, their Rebbeim and principals will not discuss or share any information of the 8th grade students befor Rosh chodesh Shvat. The mesivtos will only begin to give bechinos starting on Tu B'shvat.

The reasoning behind this is, until now the acceptance process began right after sukkos with many boys taking bechinos before Chanuka.  What ends up happening explained a mechanech, that the year was only a 2 month learning year since the boys that got accepted right away began to slack off over the course of the winter and were not motivated for the remainder of the year and in turn affected other boys too. By postponing the bechina process it minimizes this attitude. Another benefit is that boys who dont get in right away wont have a long time frame to worry.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Agudah mulls launching website. Told not yet.

A report claiming that leaders of the Agudah in America consulted with roshei yeshiva and admorim with regards to  launching its own website. There is alot of pressure from many younger members of agudah  to launch a  website to counter the constant attacks from anti torah blogs on the charedi community. They also recognize that the younger generations reliance on print media is dwindling and they get most of their information either online or through social media, thus getting harder for Agudah to reach out and spread its message and publicize its various programs and services to the community. They spoke with the  Skverer Rebbe and he said despite the challenges, it is not proper for Agudas Yisrael to establish a web site. "Although it is important that people get to know the activities of Agudas Yisrael,  by establishing its own site people  will say 'if Agudas Yisrael  is allowed why  cant anyone else have one too."

        Time will tell if this is only temporary and they will eventually launch a site. But for now we must commend them for following the advice of Gedolim regardless of the pressures to have a website.  The very fact that they are from one of the only frum organizations not to yet have a website (that should really have had one for a while ) somewhat keeps the battle of the dangers of technology alive.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Applying for school is both exciting and dreadful, but .....

Its that time of year again,when yeshivos open registration for the coming year.  After years of investigating and seeking advice, many young couples are applying for the first time to send their oldest child to yeshiva. While many have their eye on a particular school, reality dictates that you apply to at least 3 schools and hope you get into one of them. In many communities, especially the tri state area where schools are full and few new slots open, it is a bigger challenge getting accepted. During this time, parents go through a rough time, having many sleepless nights and constant worry,  affecting shalom bayis as well. Couples often blame each other on why their child did not get into the school of their choice. Its an ordeal that many parents dread and hope not to go through  at all. It has become such a worry that when a child is born, people often say  "I have BH 4 years to worry about getting him/her in etc.." 

            Unfortunately, we lose site of the simcha and the zechus we have to bring a child to cheder because we anticipate rejection letters, non stop phone calls, and the embarrassment of not having your kid in school. We should rather look forward when he's born to go through the process putting him in yeshiva.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New low for Williamsburg Sikrikim

Just when things cant get any worse after a tragic car accident claimed the life of 62 year old R' Meilich Weiss Z'L  Friday night on his way home from shul in Williamsburg. The Sikrikim proved themselves at the  levaya on sunday morning. Pashkevilin written in Yiddish were thrown along the route by some that are opposed to the Eruv in williamsburg. Since the Niftar was  on the commitee of the vaad  H'eruv of williamsburg. The Pashkevil claimed anyone who desecrates shabbos the Shabbos will avenge those who desecrate her by stoning them to death. It mentioned the Niftar by name, and called on all to stop the Chilul shabbos in williamsburg.

The machlokes over the Eruv untill now was fought in the Batei medrash among rabbanim. Apparently these sikrikim only know of one method.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Son in law of Rav nosson Tzvi promoted to RY at Mir Brachfeld.

Rav Noam Alone. Son in law of Rav nosson Tzvi finkel
 appointed RY at the Mir Brachfeld.

As the Mir  yeshiva in Brachfeld commemorated the Shloshim for rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, His son in Law Harav Noam Alone, was crowned  to serve as  Rosh yeshiva along side the elder rosh yeshiva, Rav Aryeh Finkel. After hespedim were delivered for the Shloshim of the petirah, a siyum hashas was held were the newly appointed RY of the Mir Yerushalayim Rav lazer Yudel Finkel Shlita announced that his brother in law will take the reigns of the yeshiva in Brachfeld. He said that is what my Father would have wanted. Rav Noam untill now gave Shiurim and served as a R''m in the Yeshiva.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A time to rebuke, a time to dance.

There is a time for everything says shlomo hamelech. the recent posts and comparisons of the Kinus hasheluchim and the Agudah convention in various Blogs has been that  the Chabad event was an uplifting joyous experience rejoicing  and upbeat  while the agudah convention was  depressing, full of Rebuke and Mussar with a  non stop cry of gevalt yidden weve lost our ways and we must repent etc. while in truth its not a fair comparison at all  the actual events are  2 diffrent venues. the agudah convention was uplifting too. The Thursday night session was about the dangers of modern technology and rabbanim spoke about responsibility for our actions and the concept of yiras chet.

Yet people seem to not like sitting and hearing some divrei Mussar. we've become a society where everything must be said nicely with a smile and no responsibilty for our actions whatever we do is ok. we've been accustomed to only singing and dancing as a way to serve hashem without ever taking responsibility .During the chet  haegel while they were dancing did Moshe rabbeinu uplift them and talk friendly, No, he was rebuking them for their actions. If a rav gets up and gives a Mussar shmooze people sitting there might not like to hear it but the truth hurts  yes that's what Mussar is. Obviously the  rabbanim feel that these words must be said and are driving home a point and making people aware. we may not like it we feel uncomfortable sitting in our seats listening to it, but it too is just as uplifting. You may ask why does this have to be at the convention ? well how often do people actually get to hear from the rabbanim and roshei yeshiva and get a chance to be uplifted.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A tale of two conventions

With the conclusion of  both the annual  Agudah convention  and the Chabad  lubavitch kinnus hashluchim that took place  over thanksgiving weekend, It seems both are headed in the opposite direction. What used to be the focal point in the frum yeshiva and baal habatish circles the Agudah convention has somewhat become just another event among many taking place throughout the year. It used to be the event of the year covered by all newspapers  an event not to be missed. It was followed by all,  Thousands flocked to the motzei shabbos keynote session in the Catskills , the Rye town Hilton and recently in new jersey. The convention though is still the same in regards to the gedolim in attendence the rabbanim and community leaders and activists. However it has lost its luster as the event of the year.

On the flip side  the kinus hashluchim over the last few years is getting bigger and much more publicity. Credit in large part  to social media and online publicity . It got coverage even among so called litvish yeshiva websites that are more in line with Agudah than Chabad. In fact this weeks AMI magazine ( while still establishing its identity which covers a broad audience from modern orthhodoxy to chasidim) featured a front cover story on the shluchim.
Not to minimize the need for agudah and the work they do on behalf of the Klal. The yeshiva community has grown tremendously and many of the newer generation did not grow up with the agudah as the previous generation did. Where  pirchei, tzeirei  and camp agudah  were an active part of life. The reliance is not what it used to be. The yeshiva world today  has a system of its own too. what used to be at the time The jewish Observer has now been taken over by many weekly newspaper and magazines that are not Agudah affiliated thus people are not reading only about the Agudah news as used to be. Or maybe the Convention is not what it once was.