Why I Created Frum Follies, Who I am, and What You Can Contribute

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.

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4 thoughts on “Why I Created Frum Follies, Who I am, and What You Can Contribute

  1. THANK YOU FOR FRUM FOLLIES -YOU BROUGHT DEFINITE AWARENESS OF THIS ONGOING SERIOUS PROBLEM TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY.
    I USED TO GO TO BORO PARK AS A CHILD TO VISIT ALL MY DAD’S FAMILY EVERY SUNDAY LIKE CLOCKWORK-WEATHER PERMITTING.
    SO TO READ ABOUT THESE VERY HORRIBLE THINGS HAPPENING IN A PLACE OF WORSHIP IS SO VERY SHOCKING-BOTH AS A GRAND- DAUGHTER OF A COUPLE THAT WERE SOME OF THE FOUNDERS FROM HUNGARY, A MOTHER OF 3 GROWN CHILDREN MYSELF AND AS A JEW AS WELL.
    WHAT HAPPENED TO RELIGIOUS MORALITY IN THE 20TH/21ST CENTURIES?
    HAVE THEY BEEN BLOWN AWAY BY THE WIND.

  2. Dear Yerachmiel,

    Good morning.

    This is Alan Busch from Skokie, Il.

    I did tune into the Zev Brenner show the other night but do not recall any listener input. then again I may have fallen asleep at the keyboard.

    Anyway, I applaud your work here. Having read your statement of purpose, I’m going to point out that you’ve several minor sentence infractions. I’d be more than happy to point them out with your consent. Let me know if that would interest you.

    On another matter, I have written what, I guess, in contemporary English, is called a rant. Inspired by a shiur given by Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik whom, you may know, is a passionate advocate for children’s defense, I have been thinking about an appropriate venue for posting it, … and thought of you.

    It may or may not interest you. I direct my words to no one case in particular and have not researched the specifics of any one case as you do so very well.

    I’ll gladly share it with you but, as with the other matter, with your consent only. I don’t wish to be a bore.

    Keep up the very good work. I am,

    Sincerely yours,

    Alan D. Busch
    Alandbusch@aol.com

  3. Yerachmiel,

    I’m new to your site. I stumbled on to it while researching the Wingarten case. I would like to share with you some comments in private.

    First I wanna applaud you for taking your time and writing on issues that needs to be talked about in our community but for some reason are taboo.

    In many articles you write names of Rabbunim with out a “Reb”. Somehow it does’t feel right. It sounds like Der Yid or the Tzitung quoting “Ovadye Yosef” without Rav before it. I don’t see the harm in adding those 3 letters to official Rabunim even when you disagree with them.

    Regarding those defending YMW. I believe the concept is good!
    There should always be someone defending the worse sinner. Even under false reasons such as he is innocent. (I would like to be defended regardless for what I did).
    The truth is out there for whoever who wants to see it. So if Rabbi Wissmandel etc. chooses to look on Rabbi Shalisinger’s “lack of sleep” instead of YMW Kids lack of sleep, so be it.

  4. I cannot begin to tell you how it wonderful it feels to see your blog online. I have also grown up in a frum NY family with a father whose mindset was not the typical (in a great way)! I don’t fit the mold though I can blend in anywhere. Much of what you say, but especially where you say they are many different paths to yiddishkeit, is something I have held as a major truth for a long time. I am finally coming to a place where I can be open to ehrlichkeit and emeskeit from sources that I never heard of when growing up.

    I think there is so much pain in our community because people feel they must fit very highly defined molds in order to be accepted, and the repercussions for living the life of a lie is showing in the problems that cannot be swept under the rug any longer.

    Again I want to thank you for being there and doing the work you do!

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