Ever wonder how those haredi wall posters known as pashkvillim that announce bans, excommunications, deaths, and other news get distributed? In Jerusalem, it happens this way.
Category Archives: Bans
On the left. the leader of Lithuanian haredi, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. On the right, the Litvak’s number two, Rabbi Aryeh Lein Shteinman. I have seen dozens of pictures of these two and one video, but I’ve never seen either smile. The video was taken at a siyum for daf yomi, hundreds of other rabbis, including many haredi leaders were singing, dancing and clapping (many of them very weakly, though). These two sat almost motionless, looking like dried up, very unhappy prunes. Rabbi Shteinman is the rabbi who a year or so ago did not know what a credit card was. Run away from these men as fast as you can.
Haredi rabbis, led by the evil one of Jerusalem, Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, have set out to ban women’s clothing they find offensive, even if that clothing conforms to halakha. Ha’aretz reports on the results of their da’as toiyroh:
…In Jerusalem, the response went further than just the
Mea She’arim poster warning against "the Parisian designer getting his
nails into us," to acts of violence. A clothing store near Shabbat
Square was recently set on fire, while Geula neighborhood patrols are
armed with containers of bleach to damage the clothing of women who
break the dress code.
It is not clear how organized the
patrols are, but an elected Haredi official in Jerusalem recently
complained to the police of an "atmosphere of terror in the streets."
He called on the police to intervene.
Bnei Brak also has a
local Bleach Underground. The desire to be fashionable exacted a price
from Bnei Brak resident D.: "At the end of a day around town I
discovered three large bleach stains on my new skirt," she
reconstructed. "The next day I heard from friends that women with
syringes and baby bottles are spraying bleach on clothing they don’t
like for some reason." According to D., her sin was that her "skirt was
pretty, not particularly short."…
Just how picky are these madmen? This picky:
Miri, the owner of an eponymous clothing store,
earned approval, but only after she removed a substantial portion of
her goods from the shelves. "Anything made from jersey, spandex and
denim is prohibited," she explains.…
Several respected rabbis
weighed in on the matter last week, writing, "Recently a variety of
foreign garb has spread among the women and girls; this is immodest
clothing. Knitted fabrics are not appropriate for daughters of Israel."
At that time, the list of dozens of approved stores was published.…
A haredi thug, leader of a gang of haredi thugs who terrorize the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, is convicted of crimes of violence against another haredi gang. The reason for the violence? A war over pashkvellim, the notorious wall posters that line the neighborhood. The thug is sentence by a shomer shabbat judge to house arrest, and must wear a monitoring bracelet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – including Shabbat. The thug and his rabbis – including the leaders of Badatz Yerushalayim-Edah Haredit, major Lithuanian ‘gedolim,’ the Ashenazi Chief Rabbi, and even a Chabad rabbi – oppose the monitoring bracelet on religious grounds, arguing it is a violation of their freedom of religion to force this criminal to "violate" Shabbat by wearing it.
But the highly respected Zomet Institute, which deals with the interface of modern technology and halakha, ruled the bracelet is permissible to wear on Shabbat. (For this, the head of the institute has received threats from – anonymous haredi thugs.)
Matthew Wagner of the Jerusalem Post reports:
… In a letter to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) called the use of the bracelet on Shabbat "anti-religious coercion."
"Zomet’s approval of the use of the bracelet on Shabbat is, of course, baseless from a halachic perspective," said Porush. "Halacha forbids the use of an instrument that causes [electronic] currents on a computer on Shabbat," he added.
Rabbi Haim Kanyevsky, one of the most respected in the Lithuanian community, ruled by proxy that use of the monitoring system on Shabbat was prohibited.
Metzger, quoting Kanyevsky, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landau, and Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, head of the Edah Haredit’s Rabbinic Court, joined the opposition against the monitoring system. However, none of the rabbis explained why the Zomet Institute’s halachic opinion was wrong.
In contrast, Zomet’s Rosen explained why he permitted the use of the bracelet. "In the prisoner’s house there is an electronic receiver that constantly receives broadcasts from the ankle bracelet," explained Rosen.
"The prisoner’s movements do not activate anything. As long as the prisoner does not leave the perimeters of the house he remains within broadcast range of the electronic receiver and no alarm is activated. There is no difference between the ankle bracelet and any conventional battery-powered wrist watch."
Rosen added that it was possible to deactivate the bracelet without removing it, if a prisoner had permission to do so.…
If so, why did these rabbis (including Landau, who is Chabad, and Yona Metzger, the scandal-ridden chief rabbi) rule against it? Maybe because of this:
Rosen said that he had received anonymous phone calls attacking him for
rebelling against the rabbis. "But nobody bothered to find out how the
monitoring system really works," he said.
Another reason may be that Zomet is a Religious Zionist institution and haredim a virulently anti-Zionist. Predictably, the consequences of trying to enforce the law when dealing with these haredim are violent:
Haredi sources predicted that if the court refuses Zarbiv’s request, extensive haredi demonstrations against what they perceive as a violation of Zarbiv’s religious freedom will break out in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
Supporters have already vented their anger over Zarbiv’s predicament. On Friday, December 29, Zarbiv forcibly removed the bracelet. Moked 99, a private security company that operates the house-arrest monitoring system for the police, responded immediately. Officers from the security company confronted a crowd of angry haredim that surrounded the patrol car, turned it on its side, and slashed all four tires.
Apparently, violent beatings of political opponents, destruction of property, threats and other violence are permitted under haredi understanding of Jewish law.
This really is Orthodox Judaism. Run away from it as fast as you can.
Rabbi Without A Cause, the RCA-affiliated rabbi so loved by Rabbi Gil Student (and so ridiculed by many of Gil’s readers and by me) has this to say about the behavior of the ‘gedolim’ in the Rabbi Slifkin Ban:
[L]abelling books kefirah and someone a kofer is well-within halachah, as is refusing to meet,if the claims are well-grounded. Read the position of Rabbi Akiva in Perek Chelek.
In other words, a shomer Shabbat Jew with recognized smicha wrote a series of books that quoted Rishonim and later authorities. Gedolim labeled those positions heresy, and Rabbi Slifkin a heretic. They refused to meet with him or his representatives. And, when pushed by others to explain themselves, they were left with saying that what was permissible for Maimonides or Nachmanides or Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch to believe is not permissible for us.
These rabbinic fools tried to destroy Rabbi Slifkin. They did so with no due process granted to the man they condemned. And who defends their misbehavior? An RCA rabbi.
This is Orthodox Judaism. People, run away from it as fast as you can.
Paul Shaviv writes:
Whether we read the tangled tales of our “founding family,” or the mystical account of the origins of morality in the Garden of Eden, Genesis has always been the most engaging and the most challenging of the Five Books of Moses. But no part of it has exercised more attention than the account of Creation described in its opening 34 verses.
Way back, I was comfortable in understanding Genesis – Bereshit – as a majestic, spiritual account of Creation, containing in its short texts infinite spiritual truths. It was not a literal account. In the mid-1960s I first encountered Lubavitch-Chabad Chassidim who argued that the world was exactly five-thousand-and-some years old, and that God created fossils. But no one I knew – including several Orthodox rabbis – took them seriously. It was an exotic sideshow to the Chabad “gig,” which we all loved, in its uncomplicated, pre-Messianic incarnation.
A little later on, I encountered the “Orthodox Jewish scientists,” who sought to demonstrate by elaborate interpretations that the text of the Bible did not contradict any scientific theory. It was noticeable that as the scientific theories changed, so did the explanations. While, again, the arguments were sometimes fascinating, I could never understand why they were necessary. But every year, I loved those few weeks in the fall when the New Year began with the reading of the powerful account of the beginnings of the world as we know it. I could listen to Bereshit being read from the Torah without being troubled.
I am still not troubled, but others are troubling me. For in today’s Orthodox community, there are strong and insistent voices saying that you have to believe the world is 5767 years old or you are a heretic, with all the exclusions that are implied. Whether you are meticulous in observing the commandments or not is no longer a sufficient yardstick.…
The Challenge of Creation is important for two reasons.
The first is that it powerfully and rationally argues that to be Orthodox need not – indeed, must not – mean abandoning reason, nor need it mean rejecting science. That is – as indicated – a courageous statement in an Orthodox world that has been hurtling in the opposite direction for the last 30 years or so.
Rabbi Slifkin’s courage brought a firestorm down on his head. But his book is a powerful injection of calm common sense into an increasingly eccentric community. The small group of Orthodox who yearn to hear voices in Orthodoxy to whom we can relate – we feel like one of Rabbi Slifkin’s ecologically endangered species – owe Rabbi Slifkin a huge thank you.
The second, less immediately apparent reason, is that it is a practical complement to recent, and important, books by Menachem Kellner and Marc Shapiro, demonstrating that the parameters of Jewish definition have always been fixed by tests of practice, not tests of belief. Being Jewish was always about what you did, not what you thought. That idea sharply distinguished Judaism from most branches of Christianity, whose test of faith was belief, and it can only be conjectured whether those who want to reverse those parameters actually understand what damage they are doing. (Given the equally strong movement against the study of Jewish history in the same circles, it is entirely possible that they don’t.)
…This civilized, respectful, erudite, well-argued, beautifully structured book is a revelation in a controversy that has been marked by crude and adversarial public mud-slinging. His opponents could learn major lessons from him in derech eretz, let alone in Torah.
A kibbutz adopts the philosophy of Anthroposophy, a cult (or cult-like group) that follows the teachings of Rudolph Steiner, and early 20th century social philosopher and occultist. The kibbutz goes into the organic produce business and is successful. Tnuva then buys out the kibbutz and employs the kibbutzniks. The produce and foodstuffs get kosher certification from the Rabbinute. Time passes. Yad L’Achim, the haredi anti-cult organization, goes to the haredi rabbinic court Edah Charedis in Jerusalem. Edah Charedis issues a statement banning the produce from the kibbutz and labeling it non-kosher.
1. If the food is inherently kosher, how can it become “treife” due to the beliefs of the growers?
2. Outside of wine, which would be kosher without supervision if not for a specific rabbinic enactment made at the time of the Mishna to forbid non-Jewish wine, are there any other foods that have been banned because of who produces them?
[Cheese needs supervision because of the coagulating agents used, but others assert the reason for this rabbinic enactment from Mishnaic times was to separate Jews from non-Jews. Milk also has a kashrut reason, although some also hold this ancient rabbinic enactment was made to prevent intermarriage. Meat needs supervision because kosher meat and treife meat are indistinguishable and the incentive for cheating is high because of the price disparity between the two.]
3. Halakha does not ban the produce of idol worshippers, even Jewish idol worshippers, and does not question its kashrut status. Indeed, even prepared foods of idol worshippers are kosher, as long as the ingredients are kosher. What basis is there in Jewish law for Edah Charedis to declare Harduf foods non-kosher?