Category Archives: BTs

An Idea Whose Time Has Come? A Shadchan For the Rest Of Us

BTA reports:

I’ve gotten word of an idea whose time is long overdue- a Formerly Frum/Ex-BT/Or Simply Skeptical Shadchan blog- for setting up men and women with similar worldviews, don’t buy frumkeit hook, line and sinker, but see the benefits in a tradition-based marriage.

No Need to Go "All the Way" Frum
I have often said that the biggest benefit that most BT’s are seeking is finding a strong, meaningful marriage. We live in a hectic, frenetic world, and Judaism and some of its more profound traditions can certainly enable a marriage to get over the rough spots in life. We don’t hear about "shalom bayis" in the secular world too often, even the skeptics must admit that.

But there are SO MANY men and women who, despite the apparent benefits, just can’t bring themselves to live a lie. And yes, we skeptics feel that living as if the orthodox version of things is all true is not being true to ourselves in varying degrees.…

BTA then asks for emails from interested parties, answering the following questions:

1. Gender
2. age
3. single/divorced
4. kids?
5. want kids?
6. keep kosher to any degree?
7. keep shabbos to any degree?
8. how long involved in some sort of observance?
9. how long have you been doubting "the mesora?"
10.Think the written Torah is most likely written by God?
11. Think/believe that Sinai really happened?
12. How badly do you want to get married (to the right person of course) in the next year?
13. Did you ever attend seminary/yeshiva? if so, for how long and which one?

He’ll forward your emails to the shadchan.

Will it work? There’s only one way to find out!

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BTs and Childraising

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz has an interesting column on BTs raising children within haredi and MO communities. The money quote is actually a quote attributed to his friend Rabbi Bentzion Kokis:

Refrain from jettisoning your personality, hobbies, interests, education, career – and sense of humor – as you embrace Torah and mitzvos.

Of course, in many haredi communities, this is far easier said than done.

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How Kiruv Works

From MentalBlog:

When you are taught by a person you respect that the world is nothing and the path to reach the devine is right in front of your nose it is so seductive that makes the rat race around you look soo meaningless that you just go for it. When the person who is teaching you pretends (and 99% are pretending) that they really live like that and look, they have a nice family with cute curls it is all the more seductive. Add a little maise, a little lechaim and magic happens, a new BT is born. I have a professor who told us that it always amazes her that in criminal investigations the interrogator who is taught which buttons to press and he does it and BAM magic happens, people confess, even if they did not do it. It’s the same sort of process with Tanya or Olga or Bagavat Gita.

That’s how it works. The person who has seen this process and knows that this is what will happen and does not warn the new victim ex. "please don’t take this to mean that you have to drop everything and really nobody lives like this, its a high ideal but there is reality, please don’t drop everything, take this as another bit in the grand Jewish mosaic that makes life interesting and meaningful!" is either stupid or a criminal. The few who do warn you are often tepid and cautious but are remembered fondly.

But I’ve spent a few years in chabad yeshivas and a few years on shlihus…

People spend so much personal energy and time (me personally only 8
plus years but its enough, I assure you) you have to be blind not to
see it. People understand that life is not a picnic. But we also
understand that we should not have to spend the rest of our lives with
sanctimonious assholes in order to feel "really Jewish". This is by the
way why there are not a lot of BTs. A lot of people see the truth
beyond the smoke screen.

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Filed under BTs, Chabad Theology, Outreach

Hanukka 2006: How Ignorant Are Haredim? This Ignorant

Rabbi Nota Schiller is a co-founder of and rosh yeshiva at Ohr Somayach, the "Harvard" of BT yeshivot. Rabbi Schiller was educated at Ner Israel in Baltimore, and has been a leading exponent of kiruv (missionizing) and haredism for 40 years. Yet, in a fanciful attempt to prove both the need for Jewish Otherness – separation from non-Jews – and the validity of the Oral Torah, Rabbi Schiller displays a level of ignorance that, even now, is truly shocking. In his attempt to explain what the midrash means when it says, "Write
upon the horn of an ox that you have no portion in the God of
Israel," Rabbi Schiller writes:

Historically, at Chanukah,
the Jews warred with the Greeks, yet there is no megillah,
no written work chronicling that battle
. Why? Because it is
a story that must be transmitted orally, for at the center of
this battle was the Greeks’ attempt to destroy the Oral Torah.

Instead of being conquered, we persevered and created a new holiday
that could only have been orchestrated through the mechanism of
the Oral Torah.

The blessing we say when
lighting the Chanukah lights is "…Who has sanctified
us with His commandments and has commanded us to light the flame
of Chanukah." Where are we commanded? Which verse in the
Torah mandates such? The oblique origin of this mitzvah is its
very strength: Because the Torah endows our Sages with the initiative
in each generation to legislate for the Jewish People, a mitzvah
such as Chanukah symbolizes the power of the Oral Torah. That
which the Greeks sought to extinguish is symbolized in the light
that illuminates the darkness of exile.

Well, no Rabbi Schiller, there are written works from those days describing the war and the victory of Hanukka. They’re known as 1 & 2 Maccabees. We did not canonize them, although we use them. Why weren’t they canonized? Because, one can easily argue, the books show two things clearly; 1. The sages did not participate in the war (if they even existed) and played no role in national life and, 2. the miracle of Hanuka was the victory. There is no mention in these contemporaneous documents written by believing Jews of any miracle of lights. In fact, mention of the "miracle" does not appear anywhere until more than 100 years later.

The holiday of Hanukka was this: The Maccabees were about to take back the Temple and expected they would in time for the Succor celebrations. They were delayed and took the Temple too late for Succor. To make up for the missed Succor celebrations and to remember the victory, they instituted Hanuka. (That’s why Hanukka is 8 days long – 7 days of Sukkot, 1 day of Shemini Atzeret.) That is what out Hanuka megillot say.

And there is no proof at all for Rabbi Schiller’s assertion that the "Greeks" sought to destroy the Oral Torah. It is unclear whether the Oral Torah even existed at the time of the Maccabees.

Rabbi Schiller continues with his foolishness:

Each holiday that Jews approach
is like a way station along the turnpike of history. The largest
distance on the highway had been between Succos and Pesach, between
which there was no holiday to stop off and refuel.
In the darkness
of exile, G-d in His wisdom provided us with two more fueling
stations, Chanukah and Purim. When we celebrate Chanukah, we
celebrate a holiday that reminds us that it is the wisdom and
genius of the Jew, expressed and refined through the Oral Torah,
that makes us Jewish.

Again, simply untrue. We had holidays then that are not celebrated now, or are "celebrated" by not saying certain prayers connected to sadness. One such holiday is Tu B’Shvat, which falls smack dab in the middle of the Succot – Pesach "gap."

Rabbi Schiller is a fool.

For an extensive post on the origin of Hanuka please see my posts, The Little Menorah That Didn’t: 1, 2, 3, & 4.

For DK’s coverage of Schiller’s idiocy, see his post.

[Hat Tip: DK.]

41 Comments

Filed under BTs, Hanukka, Haredim, Outreach

Hanukka 2006: How Ignorant Are Haredim? This Ignorant

Rabbi Nota Schiller is a co-founder of and rosh yeshiva at Ohr Somayach, the "Harvard" of BT yeshivot. Rabbi Schiller was educated at Ner Israel in Baltimore, and has been a leading exponent of kiruv (missionizing) and haredism for 40 years. Yet, in a fanciful attempt to prove both the need for Jewish Otherness – separation from non-Jews – and the validity of the Oral Torah, Rabbi Schiller displays a level of ignorance that, even now, is truly shocking. In his attempt to explain what the midrash means when it says, "Write
upon the horn of an ox that you have no portion in the God of
Israel," Rabbi Schiller writes:

Historically, at Chanukah,
the Jews warred with the Greeks, yet there is no megillah,
no written work chronicling that battle
. Why? Because it is
a story that must be transmitted orally, for at the center of
this battle was the Greeks’ attempt to destroy the Oral Torah.

Instead of being conquered, we persevered and created a new holiday
that could only have been orchestrated through the mechanism of
the Oral Torah.

The blessing we say when
lighting the Chanukah lights is "…Who has sanctified
us with His commandments and has commanded us to light the flame
of Chanukah." Where are we commanded? Which verse in the
Torah mandates such? The oblique origin of this mitzvah is its
very strength: Because the Torah endows our Sages with the initiative
in each generation to legislate for the Jewish People, a mitzvah
such as Chanukah symbolizes the power of the Oral Torah. That
which the Greeks sought to extinguish is symbolized in the light
that illuminates the darkness of exile.

Well, no Rabbi Schiller, there are written works from those days describing the war and the victory of Hanukka. They’re known as 1 & 2 Maccabees. We did not canonize them, although we use them. Why weren’t they canonized? Because, one can easily argue, the books show two things clearly; 1. The sages did not participate in the war (if they even existed) and played no role in national life and, 2. the miracle of Hanuka was the victory. There is no mention in these contemporaneous documents written by believing Jews of any miracle of lights. In fact, mention of the "miracle" does not appear anywhere until more than 100 years later.

The holiday of Hanukka was this: The Maccabees were about to take back the Temple and expected they would in time for the Succor celebrations. They were delayed and took the Temple too late for Succor. To make up for the missed Succor celebrations and to remember the victory, they instituted Hanuka. (That’s why Hanukka is 8 days long – 7 days of Sukkot, 1 day of Shemini Atzeret.) That is what out Hanuka megillot say.

And there is no proof at all for Rabbi Schiller’s assertion that the "Greeks" sought to destroy the Oral Torah. It is unclear whether the Oral Torah even existed at the time of the Maccabees.

Rabbi Schiller continues with his foolishness:

Each holiday that Jews approach
is like a way station along the turnpike of history. The largest
distance on the highway had been between Succos and Pesach, between
which there was no holiday to stop off and refuel.
In the darkness
of exile, G-d in His wisdom provided us with two more fueling
stations, Chanukah and Purim. When we celebrate Chanukah, we
celebrate a holiday that reminds us that it is the wisdom and
genius of the Jew, expressed and refined through the Oral Torah,
that makes us Jewish.

Again, simply untrue. We had holidays then that are not celebrated now, or are "celebrated" by not saying certain prayers connected to sadness. One such holiday is Tu B’Shvat, which falls smack dab in the middle of the Succot – Pesach "gap."

Rabbi Schiller is a fool.

For an extensive post on the origin of Hanuka please see my posts, The Little Menorah That Didn’t: 1, 2, 3, & 4.

For DK’s coverage of Schiller’s idiocy, see his post.

[Hat Tip: DK.]

38 Comments

Filed under BTs, Hanukka, Haredim, Outreach

Will Chabad Tefillin Stands and Aish Seminars Now Be Illegal?

The JPost reports:

The familiar sight of Chabadniks inviting youths to put on tefillin may suffer a serious setback if a bill proposed by Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines in the Knesset on Monday becomes law. The bill would prevent adults from placing pressure on anyone under the age of 18 to increase or decrease their religious involvement.

According to Paz-Pines, too much pressure is placed on youths to alter their religious traditions. Pressing youths to observe or discard religious practices can "cause the break-up of a family and cause damage to minors," he said.

Menachem Brod, a spokesman for Chabad in Israel, said Paz-Pines’s bill was absurd, and was intended to undermine religious Jewish life.

"Are they telling me that if someone is lacking a 10th member for their minyan, and they go out on the street and find a 17-year-old boy, they can’t invite that bar-mitzvaed boy in to complete the minyan? This is evil," he said. "Why do we insist on treating teenagers as though they don’t have the ability to make decisions?"

Ephraim Shore, a director of Jerusalem’s Aish Hatorah Yeshiva, disagreed with Paz-Pines’s reasoning, saying: "There are so many reasons for schisms in the family… We have a heritage that has lasted over 3,000 years and we believe in teaching it to people. This heritage has not traditionally caused schism in the family."

Shore rejected the assertion that some teenagers might be brainwashed into adopting religious practices.

"If you teach a Jew the beauty of Shabbat and he lights candles on Friday night, that is his choice, not some brainwashing," he said. "It’s a free country. We have a popular Web site that 2 million people visit a month. Should we change it to an ‘adult only’ Web site just so that teens won’t be exposed to the dangerous material we post there about Jewish life and traditions?"…

So let me get this straight. The organization that promotes the Torah Codes and uses other deceptive recruitment tactics claims it does not put undue pressure on people – adults as well as teens – to adopt a haredi lifestyle? Please.

As for the bill, if the age were dropped to 16, I’d be more comfortable with it. As written, the bill protects haredim from those who oppose haredism and urge radical change – like me. That should give some solace to Rabbis Shore and Brod.

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Filed under BTs, Haredim, Israel, Outreach, Religion

Will Chabad Tefillin Stands and Aish Seminars Now Be Illegal?

The JPost reports:

The familiar sight of Chabadniks inviting youths to put on tefillin may suffer a serious setback if a bill proposed by Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines in the Knesset on Monday becomes law. The bill would prevent adults from placing pressure on anyone under the age of 18 to increase or decrease their religious involvement.

According to Paz-Pines, too much pressure is placed on youths to alter their religious traditions. Pressing youths to observe or discard religious practices can "cause the break-up of a family and cause damage to minors," he said.

Menachem Brod, a spokesman for Chabad in Israel, said Paz-Pines’s bill was absurd, and was intended to undermine religious Jewish life.

"Are they telling me that if someone is lacking a 10th member for their minyan, and they go out on the street and find a 17-year-old boy, they can’t invite that bar-mitzvaed boy in to complete the minyan? This is evil," he said. "Why do we insist on treating teenagers as though they don’t have the ability to make decisions?"

Ephraim Shore, a director of Jerusalem’s Aish Hatorah Yeshiva, disagreed with Paz-Pines’s reasoning, saying: "There are so many reasons for schisms in the family… We have a heritage that has lasted over 3,000 years and we believe in teaching it to people. This heritage has not traditionally caused schism in the family."

Shore rejected the assertion that some teenagers might be brainwashed into adopting religious practices.

"If you teach a Jew the beauty of Shabbat and he lights candles on Friday night, that is his choice, not some brainwashing," he said. "It’s a free country. We have a popular Web site that 2 million people visit a month. Should we change it to an ‘adult only’ Web site just so that teens won’t be exposed to the dangerous material we post there about Jewish life and traditions?"…

So let me get this straight. The organization that promotes the Torah Codes and uses other deceptive recruitment tactics claims it does not put undue pressure on people – adults as well as teens – to adopt a haredi lifestyle? Please.

As for the bill, if the age were dropped to 16, I’d be more comfortable with it. As written, the bill protects haredim from those who oppose haredism and urge radical change – like me. That should give some solace to Rabbis Shore and Brod.

6 Comments

Filed under BTs, Haredim, Israel, Outreach, Religion