GUEST POST: Daas Torah Does Not Work

Shmuel has submitted the following guest post detailing the failures of Daas Torah, the haredi ideology that claims near-infallibility for haredi sages:

1. The Destruction of Jerusalem

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, who might have asked for Jerusalem and its Beit Hamikdash, was considered by the rabbis in the Talmud in Gittin as having been inspired by Heaven not to ask for the right things, and they apply the pasuk from Isaiah that G-d turns aside the wise men from their wisdom. Wasn’t he the very embodiment of daas Torah in his generation? Was he mistaken?

2. The Maimonidean controversy.

 Weren’t the French/German rabbis daas Torah? Today’s Charedim would say so. Yet they burnt his books and excommunicated Rambam. It wasn’t long thereafter that the Talmud was burnt. Many thought it was Divine punishment for the ban and burning. Wasn’t Sefer Shaarey Tshuvah written as a posthumous apology of a sort? And isn’t Rambam indisputably one of the greatest rabbis and halachists and philosophers ever? Of course he is. Wasn’t he invited back to the fold? Yes. Right you can’t be a Rosh Yeshiva today unless you can “farenfer” a shvere Rambam? Right.

 Now, if a daas Torah Jew of today were to be transported back to France of the 12/13th centuries, and was confronted with the leading rabbis of the day about to burn Rambam’s books, knowing what he knows NOW, what should he do? Isn’t it pretty plainly evident that daas Torah back then was dead wrong?

3. Chasidim and Misnagdim

How about the Vilna Gaon’s ban on the Chasidim? I know they changed a bit, and don’t stand on their heads as often as they did, but he still banned them and refused to meet them. Now, we all know that (as quoted in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein) Chasidm have served to prop up and maintain Judaism over the years. Love them or not, there’s no denying the simple truth that they are needed and serve the Jewish people. We’d all be the poorer if they weren’t on the scene. So what shall I do now, seeing that daas Torah, none other than the Vilna Gaon himself, banned a group that 200 years later has added immeasurably to the growth and vitality of Klal Yisroel? Was he mistaken?

4. Shabtai Tzvi

Didn’t many rabbis of his day think he was the Messiah? Were they not daas Torah? Weren’t they mistaken? Most of the Jewish world thought he was Moshiach. Why did they think that? Weren’t they told so by their rabbis?

5. Jewish education for Jewish women

There was enormous controversy about this at the outset, and there were plenty of rabbis who opposed chinuch for Jewish girls. Sara Schnerir just kept fighting until she won. Now, Jewish education for girls is so matter of course that if a rabbi can’t get a job teaching boys, he gets a job teaching girls. And no one bats an eyelash. Yet they did @130 years ago. Why? Knowing what we know now, were they mistaken?

6. The Mussar movement

I’m no expert, but it’s well known that there were indeed great rabbis who opposed the new movement, thinking it was unnecessary, would take boys away from Talmud study. Look who won the day. There are lots oif “mussar yeshivas  today and they’re thriving. Were the opponents wrong in their assessment?

7. The Brisker derech in learning

Here, too, there was indeed opposition to Reb Chaim’s new methods. One rabbi criticized it vehemently as “chemistry” and not the mesorah of how Moshe Rabbeinu received and transmitted Torah. Today, learning in Brisk is what you need to do if you want to marry a wealthy girl. And who doesn’t want that?

8. The Agudah’s opposition to Zionism

a.There’s no denying this: we all know the Agudah effectively went 180 degrees from its original opposition. Today it sits in the Knesset and takes Zionist money. So cooprating with the Zionists is ok after all, especially when G-d seems to allow them to win? Were they mistaken originally?

b. Could the original Agudistim have foreseen a day when there would be tens of thousands of Jewish men learning Torah full-time in Israel? I guess not, or else they would have favored such a thing. Yet they opposed the creation of the state. With all its problems–and there are problems—you have more Torah being learned there than anywhere else in the world, and more than at any time since churban Bayit Sheni. Where was there vision?

c. The Hebrew language fight: it was bitter, but today there isn’t a yeshiva bachur in Israel who doesn’t speak Hebrew, and he can’t imagine what the fuss was all about. And neither can I. Now that we see that everyone frum in Israel speaks Hebrew (except for the linguistically challenged American yeshiva guys), who had the vision? Who was mistaken?

d. After 58 years, 4 victorious wars, aliyah of millions, tens of thousands learning Torah, an unbelievable buildup of Jewish life after 2000 years of dormancy in Israel, ongoing successful fighting against terrorism, and (for whatever the following is worth)a sea change in the attitude of nothing less than the Catholic Church (which considers itself the inheritor of the mantle of “Israel”) in its relations to the Jews and Israel, isn’t it fair to say that the creation of the State of Israel was G-d’s will after all? Were the charedi opponents then wrong?

9. America and Jewish immigration

a. We all know that European rabbis urged their townfolk and congregants not to leave for the treife medinah of America. Of course there was assimilation here, but it existed in Europe as well. Good thing my grandparents ignored those rabbis, or I wouldn’t be here today. Alive, that is. And neither would you. Where was the vision? Were they wrong? We have the privilege of debating it because our ancestors ignored rabbinical advice.

b. Rabbi Aaron Kotler had a vision of bringing back Torah lishma Torah study to the treife medinah of America. He succeeded. Is it fair to say that only he had vision, but the rest of his colleagues did not?

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Filed under Guest Posts, Haredim

29 responses to “GUEST POST: Daas Torah Does Not Work

  1. Anonymous

    Actually, Reb Aaaron Kutler was among those who said not to leave Europe. This does not take away from his greatness; it just makes him human.

    Also, the Rabbis did not criticize Reb Yochanan Ben Zakai. Reb Yoseph or Reb Akiva authored the criticism and it is recorded in Gitin.

    I also do not believe that a majority of Rabbis supported Shabsai Tzve, though I am open to a citation on this either way.

    In any case, this exercise is foolish. On every one of the issues you put forth there were rabbis, and perhaps a majority, who were on the other side. For example, the Ramban strongly defended the Rambam and disagreed with the French Rabbis. Who was “Daas Torah,” the French Rabbis or the Ramban?

    (Interestingly enough, you left out the Bar Kochba rebellion and the Revolt against the Romans, both of which, according to the Gemara, was opposed by a majority of the Rabbis, and both of which ended in disaster. Did you leave out these examples
    because they do not support your thesis, which appears to be that the best advice is to poll the Rabbis and take the other path, or because you consider Reb Akiva, who supported the Bar Kochba Rebellion, to be the true Daas Torah of his time?)

  2. Shmuel

    ‘For every issue there was a majority on the other side.’ Really?
    Re: Rambam, I show you the vast majority of Ashkenazi Rishonim—perhaps all of them!— banning and burning, and you show me a “majority” of opposing rabbis in the person of…Ramban? He’s the *majority* who fought it? One man? His letter was written to the chachmei Ashkenaz to rethink their opposition. The Ashkenazi rishonim were clearly the majority. If other Spanish rabbis disapproved –and they may very well have —what did they do? All we know of–all I know of— is Ramban alone voicing dissent. Where’s your “Majority”?
    Who is daas Torah, you ask? That is indeed the question of the day. The Litvish today would have to concede that their ancestors, the Tosafists, were the daas Torah of their time. But those same rabbis seemed to have acted incorrectly about a major issue of their day.
    I disagree that this is a foolish exercise: it goes straight to the heart of what children and adults are taught daily: the rabbis are always right, trust them with the most important decisions of the day, don’t trust yourself, politicians, etc. Follow the rabbinical leaders and you won’t go wrong. Am I incorrect that that is indeed the sentiment taught in charedi yeshivas? Seems to me that if you followed the rabbis on the above listed issues you’d be wrong every single time.
    I left out Bar Kochba because I plum forgot it. Let’s explore it.
    Rabbi Akiva was indeed the outstanding scholar of his day. So, if he was the undisputed gadol hador, the poseik achron for the Eretz Yisroeldicke kehilla, wasn’t HE daas Torah? And he was wrong on Bar Kochba. How do we really know how the other rabbis felt about it? Some may have adopted a low profile so as not to get killed by the Romans, but who knows? Maybe they all secretly agreed with Rabbi Akiva but didn’t have the courage to voice it? Chazal do bring down a rabbi who criticizes Rabbi Akiva for taking such a high profile.
    While we’re on that, how about the Chanukah story? Where were the rabbis on that issue? Did they support an uprising? We know of one family of cohanim—where were the zugos and the other rabbinical authorities? Silent? Opposed? Who won out?
    Someone once commented that it was amazing to ponder that no rabbis supported the Chashmonaim (and if any did, I need to see the source), yet they won (if only for a time, but they won), while Rabbi Akiva and his students fought for Bar Kochba and lost.
    At all events, YOU would have to concede that:
    1. Daas Torah depends on who your rabbi is.
    2. There seems to be rabbis on all sides of the issues; no uniformity of opinion on the major isues (so whom to trust? How can you know your rabbi is right?).
    3. Your silence on the other 9 examples is more telling than my omission of Bar Kochba.

  3. Anonymous

    I am sorry. You missed my point.

    First, I said that there were rabbis on both side of all these issues and said “perhaps” a majority, by which I meant, but was not clear, that perhaps a majority was on the other side of some of these issues. I did not maen allo and clearly quaified my comment by the perhaps.

    I really do not know if a majority of rabbis
    supported the Rambam or not. I have not studied the issue and have no knowledge whether any poll was ever taken.

    As to the other nine issues, there were rabbis who supported Zionism. Are these rabbis not gedolim because they are not from Agudah? The Jewish Virtual Libary states that Shabbttai Tzvi was expelled by the Rabbis of Salonica. Was Reb Chaim not a gadol or did he not support his own derech in learning? I think it is obvious that some gedolim, over time, were sympathetic to Chasidism. The majority of Rabbis probably did not support education for women nor did they support emigration to America.
    Some rabbis, at least, supported the mussar movement, others were against it.

    I do not concede (and why the capitals for YOU?) that there are rabbis on all sides of the issues and it depends on what rabbi you talk to. I do not concede it because that is precisely the point I was making. That is precisely why “daas torah” is meaningless.

    The exercise is foolish because the point, that rabbis, even gedolim, are not infallible is, I believe, obvious.

    I went to yeshiva and learned in beis midrash. I either was never taught or was absent for the lesson that a person should not make their own decisions but should trust rabbis on everything. It is probably unfortunate that I spent my time in Yeshiva with teachers who taught Torah and not politics. But then again, you can not have everything.

    If yeshivos are teaching that all decisions in life should be up to rabbis, even gedolim, that is unfortunate.

  4. As always, you misrepresent history.

    1. Shabbatai Tsvi was supported by the majority of rabbis in the world at that time. This is well-documented. Further, his opponents were not large in number. For the most part, the only known opponent during most of the heresy was Rabbi Jacob Sosportas, ***Who was persecuted by the rabbis of his community and elsewhere because of his opposition.***

    2. In every issue Shmuel mentioned, the majority of rabbis were on the wrong side.

    3. Even with Zionism, while the majority of AMERICAN, ENGLISH and FRENCH rabbis were Zionist, most of Eastern Europe was vociferously anti-Zionist. This is also well-documented.

    Lack of knowledge is not an excuse. Go learn.

  5. Yochanan Lavie

    Where is daas torah cited in the written torah? Where are rabbis mentioned?

  6. pharasee

    You’re all a bunch of stupid fools.

    Question for all you Shmarya types:

    Do you believe in the Yetzer HoRa?

  7. Anonymous

    ‘Do you believe in the Yetzer HoRa?’

    y are you reading this stuff it’s your yezer horah.

  8. Chozer B'She'ela

    As a point of history, the ideology of “Daas Torah” dates back to the late 19th/early 20th century, when Aguda was getting involved in politics, and needed a pseudo-scriptural basis for their mandate to do so.

    There is simply no basis in halacha or Jewish tradition for the omniscience or infallibility of rabbis beyond their purview, i.e., the interpretation of halacha. ‘Lo tasur’ refers to halachic matters decided by the full Sanhedrin.

    The famous Rashi quoted in defence of ‘Daas Torah’ says no differently, and may in any case be a misprint (or Bowdlerization?) that should have read “yachol afilu im yagidu lecha al yemin shehu smol v’al smol shehu yemin, talmud lomar ‘yamin u’smol.'”

    That rabbis have been and continue to be wrong on a variety of issues outside halacha is a matter of common experience and not something upon which reasonable people can differ. The fact that they disagree is proof that they are fallible; it is not even internally consistent to argue that diverse people with opposing viewpoints are all infallible.

    Outside of any formal authority structure, which has been absent since at least the fall of the Babylonian Exilarchate, it is impossible in many cases to determine which view is that of the majority. For that matter, Satmar claims a majority for its anti-Zionist views.

    Ultimately the verdict on who was right and wrong is dictated by history. From that perspective ‘daas Torah’ has a poor record.

  9. Anonymous

    If you read my posts carefully, I never said that a majority either supported or did not support Shabbatia Tzvi. I said I do not know.

    I also never said that a majority of Rabbis were Zionist. Perhaps I should write clearer or you should learn to read more carefully.

    The only way that it could or could not be documented as to whether a majority of Rabbis supported Shabbttai Tzvi would be if you first could identify who were rabbis in that period and then poll them. Does Gallup go back that far?

    If you have documentation which supports your view (and of course I do not really expect a Gallup poll) please tell me what it is and where it can be found. the same goes for whether a majority supported banning the Rambam’s works, including the Yad Hachazka and his work on Mishna.

    In addition, can you really say that a majority of Rabbis did or did not support the Briska way of learning? I suspect a majority could have cared less what derech in learning you chose. Please point to me the documentation that a majority even had an opinion on this matter (remember, you said all the issues).

  10. Again, you prove to the rest of us how little you understand history. (Try searching for this guy’s comments on other posts.)

    1. The Gershon Scholem book.

    2. The book Orot published.

    3. All academic research published so far.

    You don’t need a Gallup Poll, genius. (By the way, a poll would not prove majority. A poll is a *sample* that *reflects* but does not exactly mirror, the breakdown. What we have here is like rov poskim.)

  11. nachos

    Wow!! I thought that only the pope was infallable!!!

  12. Anonymous

    Please tell me what research, the journal year and page number and author. I do not have the time to go through all the academic research ever published.

    A quote from one of these books showing your point would be helpful. It has been years since I read Scholem’s book, I do not know where my copy is, and I am not familiar with Orot.

    I am still very skeptical that anybody could discern what a majority of rabbis were thinking about a partcular issue some 350 years ago. I am not even sure that one could definitvely say what a majority of rabbis think on any issue today, especially since there is pressure to publicly conform to certain views.

    There was strong pressure in support of Shabbtai which may have stifled public dissent.

    Also, Shabbati Tzvi was not a one month wonder. I would imagine that his poll numbers went up and down during the relevant period, and that his poll numbers after he converted were dismal. What period are you talking about?

    Polls are based upon statistical theory, something that I would not expect you to have studied. They are much more accurate then mere assertions, which ia apparently where most of your reasoning comes from.

  13. No, again you are incorrect.

    I gave you references as you asked. Look them up.

  14. Anonymous

    I will assume, until shown otherwise, that your references do not support your point since you are unable to cite any specific statement from them that supports your assertion.

    I am sorry you disagree with statistical theory and believe it to be incorrect. Or did you mean that I am partially incorrect. Plaese be precise.

  15. You can assume whatever you wish.

    You asked for references. I gave them to you. You are too lazy to look them up.

    As for your “statistical theory,” perhaps, if you actually studied the matter, you would see why it does not apply.

  16. Shmuel

    Re: Brisk and its opponents, here’s what I found so far: it’s taken from a speech by Dr. Marc Shapiro at YIVO on Nov. 13, 2002 and is published in Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s journal, Milin Havivin (1:120-126):

    “Perhaps the leading opponent of the new Lithuanian method of study was R. Jacob David Wilovsky (1845-1913) of Slutzk, known among other things for his monumental commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud. In the introduction to his responsa R. Wilovsky writes as follows:
    ‘A certain rabbi invented the ‘chemical’ method of study. Those in the know now refer to it as ‘chemistry,’ but many speak of it as ‘logic.’ This proved to be of great harm to us for it is a foreign spirit from without that they have brought in to the Oral Torah. This is not the Torah delivered to us by Moses from the mouth of the Omnipresent. This method of study has spread among the yeshiva students who still hold a gemarah in their hands. In no way does this type of Torah study bring men to purity. From the day this method spread abroad this kind of Torah has had no power to protect its students…It is better to have no rosh yeshiva than to have one who studies with the ‘chemical’ method.”

    That’s what I’ve found so far. I surmise that as the “leading opponent,” his group consisted of more than just him. In the spirit of the (Rosh Yeshiva and Rabbi of Pressburg, Hungary) Chasam Sofer’s “chodosh assur min ha Torah” I begin to conclude that there were probably plenty of rabbis, and those would include the leaders of the yeshivas of Kelm, Kletzk, Mir, Radin, Ponovitch, Slonim, Kaminetz, Baranovitch—the Mussar yeshivas (and, of course, Pressburg) (though not Telz and Slabodka, which adopted it) who didn’t go for it. So that’s the basis of my theory. Let’s see your documentation and reasoning.
    Oh, one more thing: Rabbi Kotler urged others not to leave Europe, yet he did and saved his life. Please explain how and why this occurred.

  17. SeekingEmet

    Regarding the comment about how foolish this discussion really is, I’ll ask the same question — Shmuel, what is your point? You seem to have a significant amount of time on your hands to do nothing else but tear down men who care, or have cared, for nothing more than the survival of Klal Yisroel and the bringing of the Geula Sh’leima. You seem to have a bit of a bone to pick. Did some chareidi rabbi steal your lunch money and bully you when you were a kid?

    Bottom line is your (or Shmarya’s) introduction to this post says it all. The chareidi ideology claims that the Great Sages are NEAR-infallible, not completely infallible. Keeping that in mind, I can’t recall anyone claiming that any of our modern Gedolei Yisroel, or even the Rabbonim and Tzaddikim going back to the times of the Rambam, have or had ruach hakodesh. No doubt you can find great sages in every generation who, in working to direct Klal Yisroel in the right direction (ie. toward bringing Moshiach) made mistakes. I think even Moshe Rabeinu may have made a mistake or two, and we know from whom he was taking direction.

    So, I will take upon myself a major responsibility, to admit for all chareidi Jews, that all Gedolei Yisroel, since the beginning of time, were and are human beings. Now that we’ve established this fact, your post becomes even more meaningless. I’m sure for every example you sited, there are an equal if not greater number supporting the leadership and wisdom of these Gedolim you so readily wish to condemn.

    I do somewhat enjoy how you and Shmarya get to be all arrogant and sarcastic here in this safe little world you’ve built on the Web. It would be interesting to see how far you’d get if you actually had to debate your points say, to the Tzadikim and Gedolim you love to bash here. No doubt they probably know all your sources and can certainly help you understand them better.

    Shmarya, if you took even half the time you spend here trying to destroy Chareidi and Torah Judaism and applied that to helping bring Jews who don’t keep Shabbos closer to Yiddishkeit, I believe we’d have Moshiach by now. Think about your mission, we could use people like you on our team.

  18. Been there, done that.

    Debated gedolim and rebbes? Done that, too.

    Gedolim are viewed in harediland exactly as described in this post – at least in public. Privately, I suspect many haredim are fed up with the gedolim. Time will tell.

  19. SeekingEmet

    “Gedolim are viewed in harediland exactly as described in this post…”

    Thanks G-d, any other secrets of the universe you want to reveal to us? You clearly must know more about everything than anyone else on this planet.

    But really, even if the post is true, again, who cares? Why are you dedicating so much of your life to THIS? What greater good are you trying to affect?

  20. Anonymous

    I have actually studied statistics. If there were a poll of all the rabbis at the time of Shabbattai Tzvi, it would tell us who was thinking what. In the absence of any poll I doubt that anybody could definitively say whether a majority supported him, opposed him or were agnostic.

    Shmuel, thank you for your post on Brisk. It is certainly interesting to read that opinion. I know at least one talmud chacham and posek who is still unconvinced of the wisdom of the briska method of learning.

    However, it is a big leap to go from a quote from the biggest opponent of the method to the conclusion that a majority opposed it.
    I do not think that you have put forth sufficient facts to justify the leap.

    For example, the laeders of the mussar movement also introduced something new. Might they also be sympathetic to new approaches of others.

    Interestingly enough, it was the Chasam Sopher, who said that Chadash is assur min haTorah, who also permitted milah without metzizah b’peh.

  21. We actually have records of what many rabbis thought and how they acted. See Scholem and Betzalel Naor’s Post Sabbatean Sabbateanism (Orot).

    The point, Ph.D., is that only a handful of rabbis publicly opposed Shabbatai. One can find dozens of Shu”t and other rabbinic literature supporting him and, for the most part, only Sasportas opposing him. Halakhicly, silence equals agreement – a protest must be made. Do you condent that these hundreds of protests were lost to the world without a trace, without a memory?

  22. Yochanan Lavie

    “But really, even if the post is true, again, who cares? Why are you dedicating so much of your life to THIS? What greater good are you trying to affect?”

    I can’t speak for Shmarya, of course. But I post here because I think Judaism is drowning in rebbe-worship, “gadol” worship (daas torah), anti-intellectualism (hatred of science and history),and the chumrah of the month club.

    “Conservative” and Reform Judaism are just political liberalism, plus holidays. Not a viable alternative. What does that leave normal people who need to believe in something? God doesn’t give us a mind just so we can close it.

  23. Shmuel

    Thanks, Yochanan. I was beginning to wonder, myself, why exactly I put so much time into discussing these matters.
    I join you in your concerns. I raised this topic because all you hear in charedi circles is the notion that daas Torah is infallible. Very few—if any— people who talk about daas Torah publicly concede that the rabbis are actually fallible.
    Look, I’m an observant guy. I learn Torah, I daven, I keep mitzvohs, I try to set a good example, I try to do chesed, I teach a bit, I love my religion. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be writing and debating this stuff. You are quite right when you say I have some time on my hands–thankfully. So I spend it in discussion with fellow Jews as we talk out a major issue. Nothing wrong with that, I hope!
    What I resent is a complete and utter rewriting of history by charedi revisionists, a glossing over of major errors made by our leaders, an attempt to obfuscate very clear-cut problems in their take on Jewish history. What passes for Jewish history in the charedi textbooks I’ve seen is a joke. “We were always right, never erred, they were always wrong, let’s eat.” I’m simply doing what I can, in a very, very small way, to combat what I consider charedi historical lies from becoming true history. That’s why I think it’s important, not foolish and meaningless.
    Take a look at charedi history books: no mention to speak of regarding the issues I raise. At least a discussion of the debates which occurred would be intellectually honest. They’re not there. That angers me. What happened, happened, and we should be brave enough to acknowledge it and learn our history honestly, without the need to constantly be “inspired” by it. Truth inspires me. Falsity infuriates me. Especially when it’s linked with what I consider the true religion. If the rabbis can’t teach us our history truthfully and dispassionately, how can I believe them on anything? It’s not just me asking that.

    What can I say? Charedi-ism scares me. I don’t see it as intellectually honest. And I do try, sometimes, to debate these issues with rabbis. And they don’t like the questions one bit, which makes debate…difficult.

    A note to my friend above: you’re quite welcome on the Brisk source. If it’s not enough for you–perfectly fair—I’ll keep searching. It’s the best I have at the moment. Your points on the topic are well taken.

  24. Anonymous

    Shmuel, thank you for your comment and kind words. I think we agree on many points.

    Unfortunately, I have been called an idiot too many times by somebody else on this website; even after I apologized for any offense I may have given. I am therefore not posting any more comments here.

    Thank you for your list; it certainly was interesting and provocative.

  25. Shmuel

    Thank you for your commments and input, too. I’m sorry that you won’t be posting here further. Perhaps we all (me, too) ought to take a deep breath, acknowledge the humanity and “fellow-brother” status of all the posters and readers here, and keep our comments as positive, courteous and respectful as we can. Unfortunately, often it is the case that anonymity, the freedom of cyberspace and a deep desire to win an argument (me, too) leads us to get a bit overbearing with our fellow Yidden. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure. Come on back as soon as you can. We need your thoughts.

  26. By all means, “come back.”

    Anyone who wants to see how often this person was called an “idiot,” see this post:

  27. popea

    WHATS wrong with learning the hole day #1 and not working they could take care of themself and the GUY of this website is seriosly screwd and really needs alought of attention so see a s.w. now ok looser

  28. popea

    WHATS wrong with learning the hole day #1 and not working they could take care of themself and the GUY of this website is seriosly screwd and really needs alought of attention so see a s.w. now ok looser

  29. Traci

    Hi There,

    I was going through some paperwork on my g grandfather Jamel Elvin Bankz, on his marriage registration in Alberta Canada his religion is listed as Protestant and in brackets beside it is (maen) Can anyone tell me the meaning or origin of this word?

    Thank you,

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