A Friend Opts Out

I had an extended email conversation tonight with a non-Orthodox friend. The focus? For the most part, abuses in the haredi community. My friend is absolutely revolted by the scams, fraud, sexual abuse, lies and cover ups. So revolted that Judaism itself has become disgusting. My friend did not learn about these things from this website – quite the contrary. My friend learned about them first hand, through contacts at work. What does my friend long for? To to return to a self-described very non-Jewish existence that preceded contact with haredim.

This is not about observance or lack there of or where on the spectrum of Jews my friend fits. My friend was not and had no intention of becoming Orthodox in any fashion. It’s about being anywhere on that spectrum at all, about what it means to be a Jew – and about what haredi malfeasance does to that.

Maybe last year I would have had answer. But I don’t today. All I have is a gaping void and sadness.

But this is all a numbers game, right? Lose a few sensitive, caring, smart people but retain or trap others. As long as the retention and inflow is greater than the outflow, we’re ahead, right? Isn’t that the calculus? It’s not about the individual, it never has been – it’s about the community, just like with Stalin, right? That’s what the abuse coverups are all about.

Maybe the Novominsker can help me. After all, under such a big shtriemel must be a big, moral, honest  brain, nu?

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26 Comments

Filed under Haredim

26 responses to “A Friend Opts Out

  1. chakira

    this post is so fucking ridic
    shut the fuck up with your emotive bullshit

  2. chakira

    this post is so fucking ridic
    shut the fuck up with your emotive bullshit

  3. Anonymous

    All this crap your going through is cuz you can’t get a date.

  4. DK

    What is disgusting is not the abuses, but the way traditional Jews who should know better shrug it off.

    Tee Orthodox Union is partnering with Aish HaTorah. They don’t care about all the bullshit fundamentalism Big Aish believes in and espouses. They don’t care how destructive they are in their intensive insitutions.

    They are partners in Kiruv.

    Why is the OU okay with being Big Aish’s little bitch?

  5. TM

    Um, a vast proportion of Israeli and American Jews manage to effectively ignore the Haredi community so I’m assuming that your hysteric friend could do the same. It’s a little absurd and certainly bizarre that he rejects all of Judaism because he dislikes one group.

  6. Bayit_Bourne

    Warning: Heresy to follow.

    It is, I have found, entirely possible to live a religious life, including obeying all the written Torah and whatever Rabbinate rulings one finds worthy, without being affiliated with Orthodoxy at all. A covenant relationship with God doesn’t even involve them, contrary to their opinion.

    Isaiah 56 says: Thus says God- guard right-ruling and do righteousness…Blessed is the one who does this, and the child of one who lays hold on it, guarding the Sabbath so as not to profane it, and guarding their hand from doing any evil. And let not the child of a foreigner who has joined themselves to God speak and say “God has certainly separated me from his people,” …Also the chldren of foreigners who join themselves to God to serve Him, and to love the name of God, to be His servants, all who guard the Sabbath and not profane it and hold fast to God’s [written] covenant…God who gathers the outcasts of Israel declares…

    Your covenant is with God, not with the Rabbis, as much as they will deny this. God is your judge, not them. And will you not agree that a God who is capable of designing the water cycle, salt pumps, and gravity is perfectly capable of getting the words He wants in a book? Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. He gave us the manual – it is what the Rabbis have done to it that makes Judaism both disgusting and useless: they have broken the commandments not to add to the Torah or to take away from it. Plain and simple.

    And by the way, have you ever talked to Nehemia Gordon? There is a “sola scriptura” sect of Judaism you might want to check out, although just typing their webpage will send the heredi who read this into spasms of apoplexy: http://www.karaite-korner.org

    I had corresponded with Gordon in his capacity as a linguist working with the Dead Sea Scrolls as part of my college degree, and later read some work he did on the ancient Hebrew texts of Matthew and found out he was a Karaite. Their philosophy appears to be clean and simple, and I am liking what I see of it. It may not be your cup of tea, but don’t you agree that anything the Rabbinate fears so strongly is worth looking into? They hate it because it puts your relationship with God back into your hands instead of theirs – on God’s terms, of course. Cut out the middle man and go straight to the source. As you have pointed out, there is a lot of non-scientific nonsense in the Talmud and Mesora, superstitious bologna, because it is the work of man, not God. It’s admittedly man’s work, so why equate it with real scripture? You don’t have to live a life of empty pointless nit-picking. I seriously don’t think that’s the way God wanted Judaism to be at all. Think about it.

  7. Steven

    I couldn’t agree more with Bayit Bourne’s comments. I myself have been so disgusted by the rabid rabbinate that I have felt to throw the whole thing away. But I believe in God’s Torah, not the Rabbis, and so while I struggle, I try to maintain some *personal* relationship with the God of Israel and to keep at least the basic commandments.

    As for the “rabbis” most of them can go take a long walk on a short pier. The Karaites do indeed make more sense than the “talmudic mind.” Take one example from the Talmud: “David did not commit adultery.” Then why did the prophet Nathan say “Thou art the man!” ? Does it not say that David sinned? If not, why was God angry with him, and Bathsheva lost the child? But the talmudists to this day have to invent stories about Uriah not giving Bathsheva a “get.” Where is this stated in the Tanakh? It is nothing but verbal gymnastics. The black hatted crew are as black in their hearts as they are in their souls. I don’t condemn everyone of them, but I think that a good portion of them are nothing but hypocritical fiends who take advantage of gullibel Jews. As I’ve posted here before:

    STUDY THE TORAH DILLIGENTLY AND DO NOT RELY UPON MY OPINION – Rabbi Anan ben David

  8. ElishaBenAvuya

    Your Karaite literalismm may sound appealing at first. The only problem though is that the Tanach was clearly written in both literal and metaphorical language. When the torah speaks of G-d’s outstretched hand, I could reply, “Well since I take the torah literally, then G-d must really have a hand.” What you end up with is thousands of torahs, each person with their own interpretaion, freely deciding what Hashem really meant; what they think is literal and what is metaphorical. There would be no point in G-d giving the torah if it can be interpreted in whatever way each individual Jew wishes to interpret it. Even the accusation that the rabbis have “broken the commandments not to add to the Torah or to take away from it” is merely an interpretation of that passage, but one based not on tradition, but based simply on the feelings of Bayit Bourne. There is a set Jewish law that Hashem wants us to follow, and the closest thing that you will get to it is the tradition of the rabbanim that has been passed down throughout the history of the Jewish people. Don’t look to the Karaites and others who try to change halacha as they see fit. They try to trace back their tradition, but the best they can come up with is, “maybe we came from the sadducees?” Anan made up his own shulchan aruch, and many Karaites historically disagreed with him, and had their own literal interpretations. Rav Saddiah Gaon destroyed the heresy of the Karaites, and they’ve never been able to recover since. Without the rabbis and the Talmud, the torah and its laws and their implementation, would be lost and sealed forever.

  9. S.

    >the best they can come up with is, “maybe we came from the sadducees?”

    Slight, pedantic correction. The Karaites do not believe they came from the Sadduccees. On the contrary, they reject the Sadduccess.

    Not that this is convincing, but their belief is that they descend (literally or spiritually) from a group they believe always existed who were called Tzadikim (as opposed to Tzedukim). The reason they reject Tzeduki origins is because they did not believe in the afterworld and resurrection, which Karaites do believe in.

  10. Anonymous

    “Karaism is the original Judaism which has existed throughout history under various names incl. Righteous, Sadducees, Boethusians, Ananites and Karaites, all of whom obeyed the Torah with no additions.”

    This was from a Karaite website, so some definitely do specualte that thet have saduccee origins.

  11. Anonymous

    “What you end up with is thousands of torahs, each person with their own interpretaion, freely deciding what Hashem really meant; what they think is literal and what is metaphorical.”

    That’s the party line. But no reasonably intelligent person looks at any of the 613 commandments and thinks any of them is metaphorical. The problem here is not the commandments, which you, on your own authority, claim that there is only one way to fulfil, in spite of there being no written comment from God whatsoever to support that statement. No, the problem here is all the superstitious garbage the rabbinate is trying to pass off as Torah. There is no commandment anywhere that says anyone has to believe any sort of kabbalistic mystical mumbo-jumbo to be part of God’s covenant. [Your fear of people thinking God might have “hands” is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction against christianity, and has nothing to do with the actual ability of God to manifest however and wherever and in whatever form He pleases. You put limits on God – God has no limits.]

    You claim you have “special, secret” knowledge of how God wants the commandments to be carried out – God says his Torah is not hard, not far, and not secret. Who is lying, God or you? Maybe it’s the rabbinate’s pathological need for control and power over others that makes you think God requires identical service from everyone in every age. Yeshayahu 29:13 …this people has drawn hear with its mouth, and with its lips they have esteemed Me, but it has kept its heart far from me, and their fear of Me has become a commandment by men, from learning!

    Your talmud is your idol, you worship it instead of God, you elevate it above God and His real words. What does God really want? Just, law-abiding, moral citizens – and where does that put the Rabbinate?

    Far from God. Tell me, Rabbi, why does your “interpretation” say that your wife can go down to the welfare office and claim to be an unwed mother so she could improperly collect welfare benefits? Does God approve when you make your wife and dauthers look like sluts to the goyim for money? Does God approve when the girls drop out of high school so they can collect bigger welfare checks? Out here in the real world, that’s fraud, it’s stealing, and it gives Jewish girls and God a bad name to the goyim. That’s just one example amoung hundreds – your “interpretation” is disgusting and God abhors it. Your “tradition” handed down from the middle ages is not God’s word, it is only the “interpretations” of greedy scammers who use religion as a cloak for greed and exploitation of women and the taxpayers. As I said, that’s just one example among those too numerous to count here.

    The rabbinate has made Judaism odious to people, as the original post recounted. You are responsible for the damage to Jews and to Judaism that results. When you take some responsibility for that, then you can talk about “metaphors.”

  12. Anonymous

    “no reasonably intelligent person looks at any of the 613 commandments and thinks any of them is metaphorical”

    Do you know where the amount of 613 commandments comes from? From the talmud. Furthermore, if you feel that no one thinks they are metaphorical, then look up Rambam sefer hamitzvos commandment 174, “Obeying the Supreme Jewish Court” which lasted until Hillel II (330–365 CE). This Sanhedrin, which we are commanded to obey, helped put together the Talmud, and had scholars going back forth between babylonia and Israel. So if you say the 613 commandments are not metaphorical, then you must obey the rulings of the sanhedrin, which comprise a large amount of the Talmud–which it was a partner in creating.

    “God says his Torah is not hard, not far, and not secret. Who is lying, God or you?”

    Again, this is you taking passages from Devarim chapter 30 and interpreting it however you want. You trying to interpret the torah passages literally whenever you feel like it is like someone finding a 3000 year old document, and then translating it and assuming they know when the author was speaking in metaphor and when speaking literally. You just can’t do that; who are you to say? The only logical answer is there is a tradition passed down on how to intepret this holy book. Otherwise you end up with thousands of torah interpretations, and every person behaving however they interpret torah law.

    “this people has drawn near with its mouth, and with its lips they have esteemed Me, but it has kept its heart far from me, and their fear of Me has become a commandment by men, from learning!”
    That pasuk could have been referring to any number of generations (maybe Isaiah’s) and for you to apply that to the talmud is foolish. Do you know how many Jews who followed the Talmud gave up their lives to serve G-d? I wouldn’t say their heart is far from G-d. Furthermore, I could quote a verse like Isaiah 66:3 “Whoever slaughters an ox has slain a man; he who slaughters a lamb is as though he beheads a dog; he who offers up a meal-offering is [like] swine blood; he who burns frankincense brings a gift of violence; they, too, chose their ways, and their soul desired their abominations.”
    I could use this passage and say, “See, the Jews disobeyed G-d because he says very literally that he doesn’t want sacrifices,” which is clearly not what this passage is saying.

    “What does God really want? JUST, law-abiding, moral citizens”
    Well I find it interesting you think that you have knowledge of what G-d wants. And when you say “moral” that’s defined as your morality, not G-d’s. Again you need a tradition, you can’t just decide what G-d thinks is moral–that’s what suicide bombers do too.
    Finally, you have no right to Judge the entire Orthodox world based on the cillul Hashem that what one sect decides to perpetrate for more money. “why does your “interpretation” say that your wife can go down to the welfare office and claim to be an unwed mother so she could improperly collect welfare benefits?” That’s not my interpretation, and not the interpretation of the vast majority of the Orthodox world.

  13. Bayit_Bourne

    Oh brave soul who would not even leave a fake name, much less an email address, stop spewing the party line and think for yourself for a minute or two. We’ve all heard the party line, over and over and over and it’s still self-serving crap on the part of the Rabbinate.

    “Well I find it interesting you think that you have knowledge of what G-d wants.” I find it interesting that you think ordinary people don’t. That’s part of your arrogant rabbinate mentality.

    “Finally, you have no right to Judge the entire Orthodox world based on the cillul Hashem that what one sect decides to perpetrate for more money.” Have you not been reading this blog? How about the blog of UOJ? As I said, this is one of many, many such rulings, far too numerous to count. And I can criticize this culture from experience, thank you. I have seen up close and personally what the real attitudes and goals of the black hat cults are.

    [PS: Are you, by chance, legally married? FFB? Just curious, because even our Rabbi in Monsey wasn’t. I don’t know where you are, brave soul, but this particular phenomena is widespread here. In the “entire orthodox world” scheming against the government, against the IRS, and against corporations and insurance companies is also widespread, as is common knowledge here and from many other sources. Are you blind and deaf? Or just ignorant?]

  14. Anonymous

    First off, i did leave a name on my first posting above, ElishaBenAvuya, and secondly, if i choose to remain anonymous, what’s it to you. If this offends you so greatly that you now wish to refer to me as “brave soul” then by all means, go right ahead. You turned to name calling to compensate for your lack of an arguement.
    “Well I find it interesting you think that you have knowledge of what G-d wants.” “I find it interesting that you think ordinary people don’t. That’s part of your arrogant rabbinate mentality.”
    Yea, I don’t think ordinary people know what G-d wants. If they did, then G-d wouldn’t have had to give us the torah. And if they do know what’s best, then is it ok for them to do whatever they want? I doubt that you would say that its ok for them to perform beastiality, or cannibalism. Oh but wait you say, thats not alright. I see, so now you are drawing the line what is right for people to do and what isn’t. That’s because those who preach universal tolerance mean THEIR universal tolerance. And the moment you say it is immoral for a person to do something, then YOU are the one with the “arrogant meantality” because you then limit them, just like the rabbis do. The only difference is, the limitations of the rabbis are based on halacha and a tradition passed throughout the ages, whereas you are just guessing, based simply on what you feel is right.

    “I have seen up close and personally what the real attitudes and goals of the black hat cults are”
    Its unfortunate that your experience with Orthodox Jews has been so bitter for you, but when you judge all Orthodox Jews based on what the UOJ and this website comes up with, you’re not being fair. The vast vast majority of rabbis and orthodox Jews I’ve come in contact with have been the most loving kind people I’ve met. You can’t judge the entire Orthodox world just because there are foolish Jews who do wrong.
    By the way, I grew up in both the secular and religious worlds and I’ve seen both sides of the coin, and the Orthodox way of life is by far the best thing I’ve found.

  15. Bayit_Bourne

    “Yea, I don’t think ordinary people know what G-d wants. If they did, then G-d wouldn’t have had to give us the torah. And if they do know what’s best, then is it ok for them to do whatever they want?”

    Your argument makes no sense. In case you’re so busy spouting the party line that you’ve forgotten the point of the above posts, the point was that yes, God gave us the Torah and no, we don’t need any secret, special rabbinic interpretations to interpret it. So what’s with the crap about cannibalism and all that? Are you saying that ordinary people would read the Torah and think cannibalism and beastiality is ok? What a crock of bull! This is exactly what I was talking about in the first place – your asinine argument has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue being debated, you just indignantly spout mesora about your supposed authority as if that proves something.

    The Talmud is full of such self-serving drivel, such as:

    Even if they instruct you that right is left or left is right, you must obey them (Sifre Deut. 154 on Deut 17:11) Pretty convenient that “God” said even if they are so screwed up that they can’t tell left from right, they’re still correct.

    Deut 31, by the way, makes it clear that the Torah was written in such a way that it would be completely comprehensible to the ancient Israelites simply by hearing it read to them.

    Midrashic interpretation is largely irrational and abuses the plain sense of the text, such as the Rabbis ruling that Ex 23:2 “really” mean that we should always incline after the majority, when in fact it says just the opposite. God commands us to do what is true, even if that’s not what everybody else is doing. You are everybody else.

    The takanot and ma’asim are not scripture and do not come from God, and claiming they do is simply a lie. They are man-made enactments designed to maximize the rabbinate’s power and control over people.

    And I notice that, once again, in your zeal to establish your supposed authority you conveniently neglect to actually address the point of the original post or my posts: namely that the vast majority of JEWS, not to mention the goyim, are disgusted and embarassed by the activities of the Rabbinate, and instead of excommunicating these slimeballs, everything is made hush-hush. You take no responsibility for giving Jews and God a bad name, you just whine that the vast majority don’t do that. Actually, they are culpable because they don’t make sure things like that AREN’T done. They are happy to benefit from the cheating, fraud and scams either directly or indirectly, and too afraid to speak out about the horrendous crimes against children and the exploitation of women that everybody can plainly see. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. You shall not stand by while your brother’s blood is shed. They are guilty, guilty, guilty. When every scam is shut down, when every fraudulent welfare and insurance claim is paid back in full, plus the 20% additional required in God’s word, when every pedophile is behind bars and each child, girl or boy, given their life and peace of mind back, then they will be innocent. Until then, there are no innocent bystanders. Until then they are covering for evil and are therefore party to it.

    And that includes you.

  16. Yochanan Lavie

    I sympathize with the Karaite point of view, but I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Alongside the mumbo-jumbo, there is some good in the rabbinic tradition. Furthermore, there is only one Karaite synagogue in the USA, and if you don’t live near it, you are isolated and w/o a community. Spiritually, that is never good, as it leads to self-indulgence and navel-gazing.

    I also think that some parts of the tanach, such as the account of Bereishit, contain allegory and should not be taken very literally the way Christian fundies do. The rabbinic tradition is helpful here, too.

    I look forward to a post-rabbinic Judaism that would blend the best of both the Karaite and Rabbanite traditions.

  17. Bayit_Bourne

    PS – I presume you live in America and are married, since you didn’t respond to my last question. You also neglected to mention whether or not you were legally married with a proper license from your state. The law of the land is Torah, remember? So, does the government consider your kids illegitimate and your status as “shacking up?” If so, why are you bringing shame on us by making the goyim think that?

  18. Bayit_Bourne

    I did not say none of the tradition had merit, Yochanan. In fact, I said specifically at first for the “friend” in the original post to proudly adopt whatever takanot and ma’asim they found to have merit. The point is that they do so voluntarily after reading the Torah and deciding for themselves, not just because some “Rabbi” told him he had to.

  19. Neo-Conservaguy

    “That’s the party line. But no reasonably intelligent person looks at any of the 613 commandments and thinks any of them is metaphorical.”

    For bonus points, can anyone name the major commentators that have DIFFERENT listings of the “613 mitsvoth”? You knew that, right?

  20. Bayit_Bourne

    Rambam’s and Rashi’s lists are different, if I recall correctly. But actually, I didn’t get my list from the talmud, I got it from my torah software which lists them in order as they occur from Beresheit to Deut. Anybody who can read and who can count could easily do it by hand themselves. The point, of course, being that God didn’t give us instructions we couldn’t understand. Extra bonus: what’s wrong with the brave soul’s interpretation of the text that supposedly says we “have to obey the great sanhedrin?”

    (And I really love his complaint that he signed his earlier post – as if we can all psychically intuit that they were written by the same person. Hasn’t he figured out all rabbis sound alike? LOL)

  21. Anonymous

    i used canabalism as an extreme example. I was saying pretty much that there are things that you would say are not ok to do, but you complain that the rabbis do that as well. Futhermore, the talmud you quoted is simply telling us that the true torah leaders of the generation, people like Moshe Feinstein, Chofetz Chaim, Vilna Gaon, Rambam, etc, and whoever is the top posek of the generation, listen to them even if it sounds strange, becuase they are men of great integrity. At the same time there is a principle that you must question these rulings to make sure they are valid. But nontheless, you can be sure that these types of leaders will be right in the end.
    You bring up Hakhel, when they read before the people every 7 years. I am sure when the people heard passages like, “you will bind it as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes,” they had to stop and ask questions to figure out what they meant. This applies to so many other details in the torah. So even here, it is clear that this reading was only a preliminary process of learning the torah.
    The rabbis have a right and a duty to protect the people from harmful influences. Notice that when the torah was given on Mt. Sinai, G-d told Moses to put a fence around the mountain to ensure no one would even get close enough to touch it. The Rabbis do the same thing, putting up fences to protect the people. Furthermore it states Devarim 17
    8. If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your God, chooses.
    9. And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment.
    10. And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the Lord will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.
    11. According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left.
    12. And the man who acts intentionally, not obeying the kohen who stands there to serve the Lord, your God, or to the judge that man shall die, and you shall abolish evil from Israel.
    13. And all the people shall listen and fear, and they shall no longer act wantonly.

    Who are our judges today? The Rabbis. If they are shady and corrupt, we don’t listen to them, but if they are honest, good people and are fit for the title rabbi, we must listen to them.

    Finally, no I am not married. And when I do get married it will be licensed by the state. And i 100% agree with you about these scumbags who perpetrate heinous crimes and corruption that they should be held accountable, and pay for their crimes. I personally feel the hesitation in the Orthodox world to speak up against these animals stems from a history of Jews being murdered in pogroms whenever the slightest opportunity arose. I think it is only recent that the Jewish world is waking up to the abuse that goes on in the Orthodox world, and I know that very soon, it will be uprooted by the masses. I guarantee, go up to any Orthodox Jew you meet and tell them the stuff about child molestation, and other criminal activities, and 99% of the time, they will instantly jump back in horror and insist that such people be brought to justice. That has been my experience with every Ortodox Jew I have spoken with about this.

  22. BraveSoul

    By the way, if you want a classic example of takannot in the tanach, the book of Esther is full of them. Clearly takannot are part of the torah tradition.

  23. Rowan Berkeley

    The guy who runs Karaite Korner is a terrifically gung ho zionist. Can one assume that this is a case of identification with the oppressor (like the pro-zionist Druzes?)

  24. Joseph

    >>As for the “rabbis” most of them can go take a long walk on a short pier. The Karaites do indeed make more sense than the “talmudic mind.” Take one example from the Talmud: “David did not commit adultery.” Then why did the prophet Nathan say “Thou art the man!” ? Does it not say that David sinned? If not, why was God angry with him, and Bathsheva lost the child? But the talmudists to this day have to invent stories about Uriah not giving Bathsheva a “get.” Where is this stated in the Tanakh? It is nothing but verbal gymnastics. The black hatted crew are as black in their hearts as they are in their souls. I don’t condemn everyone of them, but I think that a good portion of them are nothing but hypocritical fiends who take advantage of gullibel Jews. As I’ve posted here before:

  25. Joseph

    >>They are happy to benefit from the cheating, fraud and scams either directly or indirectly, and too afraid to speak out about the horrendous crimes against children and the exploitation of women that everybody can plainly see. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. You shall not stand by while your brother’s blood is shed. They are guilty, guilty, guilty. When every scam is shut down, when every fraudulent welfare and insurance claim is paid back in full, plus the 20% additional required in God’s word, when every pedophile is behind bars and each child, girl or boy, given their life and peace of mind back, then they will be innocent. Until then, there are no innocent bystanders. Until then they are covering for evil and are therefore party to it.

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