Why I Created FrumFollies
This blog exists to say out loud what many believe; a lot of narishkeit is passing itself off as frumkeit. Hence the name frum follies. I am not saying frumkeit is folly. I want to expose hypocritical frumkeit which is used to cover up folly. The targets of Frum Follies include:
- Cover-ups of molestation and domestic violence
- Crooked behavior at the expense of Jews, non-Jews and the government
- Exploitation of the rules of kashrus to generate personal income or power
- Sordid fights for leadership positions motivated by personal ambition
- Exploiting torah lishmah to support men regardless of their diligence, ability, evidence of good character or the burden they place on others
- Failing to respect people who pay their own way
- Contempt for others including modern-orthodox Jews, other Jews, non-Jews, Sephardim, BT, and women, and people of color)
- A double standard for loshon horah (the rules against gossip) which allows it against those outside the community or those who challenge the community
- The reckless extension of chumras (stringencies)
- Distorting Jewish history to make it look like gadolim were perfect
- Distorting Jewish history to deny the legitimate place secular knowledge had in the past
- Banning books by members inside the community without even reading them or allowing their authors to defend themselves
- Deferring to wealthy people at the expense of others
All of these problems can be solved with candor, accountability, the courage to say the truth and the courage to defy social pressure.
Many people sin by omission and don’t stand up for the truth. Often they do this to protect their position in the shidduch market. It is a treif market because it favors money and status over character. It is treyf because it bribes people to decieve themselves and others.
Who I Am and What I Care About
I am writing anonymously under the pen name Yerachmiel Lopin. Alas, I am intimidated. I know this blog will infuriate some people. If I ever reach a point that I can accomplish more by revealing my identity, I hope to find that courage.
For those that need to know more about me I will provide a sketchy background. I was raised in the heart of one of the largest frum neighborhoods in America. I learned a lot from seforim and a lot from admirable rabbonim, balabattim and balabustos. At some point I moved to the world that combined torah and derech eretz/maddah. I now live in a smaller community outside the chareidi world. But I keep up some connections through people I know and reading. My great passion is learning tanach, halachah, siddur, chassidus and mussar. I also love Jewish history. I read or study both traditional sources and non-traditional sources including non-Jewish sources. This was the practice throughout most of Jewish history by most literate Jews including most of the rabbonim whose seforim are in everyone’s bookcase. I also seek to learn by the attending to and observing great ones by which I mean people of temimus, people of great character. The are people whose word is good, whose reputations are unblemished by any accusations that they mistreated anyone else. Such people have chumrah, Even when the halachah permits they wont say something unless it is absolutely truthful. They are people who dont have to defend themselves by saying they were misunderstood. Their zehirus includes quickly running from kavod, and when it chases them running faster. I am talking about people who refuse to be called gedolim because that is boastful. I am talking about the people whose inward character is a fullfillment of the obligations of the heart (chovot haliavot) of Bahya ibn pakuda. These are people who accord great respect to talmidei chachomim of character, balabattim of character, and non-Jews of character, because as Bachya writes, he learned some of these things from a non-Jew.
I try very hard to live up to the standards of these walking mussar seforim. Yes, most of these gedolim do not use ridicule. But I know some who convey a great deal with raised eyebrows and asides. They also take care to keep their distance from certain self promoting shucklers. Since they they are modest you can learn a lot from noticing which hot personality they avoid. They are not impressed by the size of someone’s olam. In fact that often makes them suspicious. They are much more interested in the size of a heart and a soul and the decency that characterizes a community. Most of these great people are painfully aware of how low we have fallen.
The wisest of these great people understand that there is no one way for everybody. In fact they feel many people fall short by being not being true to themselves. Each of us has to find a path that combines our highest values and our own character. Each of has to accept that sometimes trying to look better makes us worse. There are seventy faces to torah. They all require being true to yourself. In my case being true to myself includes speaking truth to power, saying for others what they need to say, and what others are hungering to hear. When I write satire I am exaggerating to convey an essential truth. When I ridicule someone by name I will work hard to be sure that the characterization is accurate. I will try to resist ridiculing a fault that is not of consequence to others. Ridicule just for its own sake is cruel. I hope my writing I will help restore wholeness to the frum world so it can fullfill itself.
What You Can Do for FrumFollies
I am not paid for producing this. I am glad to offer my writing to you. If you feel you have gotten something of value from reading a post, I would appreciate repayment in kind and I don’t mean money. I would like your comments. Praise is lovely, but equally useful is criticism, suggestions for improvements, information on how this is affecting you or why it isn’t, sharing of other information that might matter to readers, and so on. Most important, if I have made mistakes, please correct me. As necessary I will correct my posts, and credit those who advised me.
Rules for Comments
Don’t insult others. Don’t hock away. If you have made your point and someone doesnt agree, don’t dump the same thing ten times. You are just shouting in internet fashion. We don’t bully each other. Don’t call someone an ignoramous. By all means share information and explain why you think it it relevant.
Made up names or your real name are fine. Passing yourself off as another real person is slimy. Don’t do six posts in a row under six different names to make it seem like five people agree with you. That is another form of screaming and monopolizing. It is even worse because it is deceptive.
Please use links rather than pasting in large chunks of material. Follow that with a brief description. This method respects other people’s copyright and allows the comments section to focus on the thoughts of our readers.
I will enforce these rules. At my discretion I will issue warnings, delete individual comments and ban serious or persistant abusers. At my discretion I will explain my decisions. Since I am doing this on my time I will not feel obliged to waste it by arguing about it with bullies who try to get their way by wearing down other people.
I have installed comment moderation because some readers severly abused the above policies. In some instances they even named victims of abuse and gave their addresses out. While I did eventually delete the material, I am no longer willing to accept the problem that it can take several hours or in rare cases days before I discover and correct the problem. I will not disclose the algorithm used to determine which comments are or are not held in a queue. But I believe I have come up with a good compromise between protecting victims and promoting free flow and debate. I am not censoring controversial opionons including some pretty obnoxious ones. I prefer refuting bad arguments to censoring them. However, obnoxious commenters do not get to repeatedly say the same thing to the point that it is hocking rather than arguing.
Fair Use of FrumFollies Material
Please do not paste big chunks of my stuff elsewhere. Instead post a link. (make sure it is to the post, not the whole blog by clicking on the the title of the post. It gives me credit and readership and respects my copyright. I regularly edit older posts. I am new at this. I also am eager, too eager, to share my newest brain storms. If you post links, you will get the most recent version.
Other blogs are invited to solicit permission by contacting me (by one of the methods described on the upper right of my home page. I will respond to all requests within several days. Feel free to print out up to two copies for non-commercial use. Please request permission for heavier use. If you feel you have an urgent use that I would support you can print multiple copies for non-commercial use. But you must inform me within 7 days.
I have seen some reproduction of my material. More galling is that it refers to frumfollies.com or frumfollie’s. Neither of those work. Folks out there please correct it to either Frum Follies or FrumFollies.wordpress.com.