My Jewish Ethos

Yehuda Halevi ms facsimile from Taylor Shechter Archive

Yehuda Halevi ms- Cambridge Taylor-Schechter Geniza Collection

I love being Jewish. Judaism becomes real when its ideals are lived. I have been privileged to see some real gedolim, living sifrei torah, whose conduct perfectly demonstrated the ideals of Judaism. Personally, they were anavim (modest people) but they were strong, very strong, when it came to fighting for what was right. Some were lay people, others, rabbis or professionals. Their writings, and utterances were clear and rooted in the truth, as best they could know it.

My love of Judaism includes an appreciation for the deep investigation of the Talmud, the analytic clarity of Maimonides, the aching beauty of Yehudah Halevi’s poetery, the wittiness of Reb Yoelish (Satmar Rebbe, Joel Teitelbaum), the moral clarion calls of R. Michoel Ber Weissmandl, the grandeur of Abraham Isaac Kook’s vision, the staunch philosophical integrity and rabbinic brilliance of the Rav, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, and of course, the many and varied beauties of the tanach (Hebrew biblical scriptures).

A new vulgar barbarism has invaded the Jewish community in which greed and the hunger for power with its flashing lights, has displaced the sparks of spirit. The old ideal of erlichkeit (decency and integrity) has receded. Frumkeit (ritual observance) has turned into a spade in a competitive battle to out-frum the other guy. Torah has also become a spade with which to bury opponents.

Almost all human beings are selfish and self-centered to some degree but our new vulgarians go way too far. We are all entitled to mistakes, but they abuse the privilege.

Because I love being a Jew I will keep on challenging people who cloak themselves in my Judaism to lord it over others and cover up hideous crimes and dysfunction.


7 thoughts on “My Jewish Ethos

  1. Well put.
    Unfortunately, because of the ‘mass marketing’ of Gedolim nowadays, it is very hard to know what statements and edicts are actually from them, and which are from the surrounding people (Askanim, gatekeepers, wannabes, filters, whatever…)

  2. Yerachmiel, beautifully written. I have a difficult sh’ela. or as Hagashash Hachiver would have put it, sh’ela m’od sh’elatit.
    Imagine that you were today (and what do i know) a young Chatan young children 2,3, 4,5, years old 5 is age of gan,., where would you send them to school?????
    Personal, to be sure, and i would love to hear the responses of many others, but I have you here captive, so to speak, <>. where oh where??????
    Homeschooling? difficult you need to work and she has a bunch of others to care for, even if you are not one of the charedim with 12-13 count litters. You are, just you, as you come across (major compliments). Where in the name of Hashem, would you send them to be educated? in US, and if you wish to fantasize, even in eretz Yisrael.
    Where? Of course there are those on these boards who would answer public school in a good community, Great Neck et al. But, clearly, that is not my kavanah in asking this question? can you project?

    • Good question. Sadly, your hypothetical parent is up the creek. I do not know of a single yeshiva that could absolutely be trusted to do its best to prevent abuse, to always take any allegations seriously, and to report all credible abuse directly to the civil authorities. At best some have been known to fire molesters, and even then it is not clear if this is what they always do.

      In contrast, these days, there are many secular schools that go all out to prevent, detect and report molesters to the police.

  3. YL, I am glad your blog exists and I am more than glad that you show signs of becoming an improved version of Rosenberg’s Failed Messiah blog. While he was courageous in the face of strong opposition and his exposure of e.g. child abuse was exemplary, he did not always try to be fair. You do. I only hope that you expand the scope of your reporting to cover frum dysfunction generally, and not merely the dysfunction that results in abused children.

    • I am not becoming an improved version of FM. I was always focused on child abuse and covered it with more research and depth and with quality writings. I did a little aggregating, but that was a minor portion of my total work and postings. I did in-depth original reporting on Shmuel Borger, Baruch Lebovits, Nechemya Weberman, Yisroel Moshe Weingarten, Yosef Kolko (and Belsky’s disgraceful interventions), Dovid Weinberger, and the Meisels seminary scandals, Yaakov Yagen, etc. I have been blogging since 2009 and have racked up ~1,200 posts.

      I have no intention of also covering the other genuinely disturbing dysfunctions of the Haredi world. It should be covered and I applaud those who do it. But my work is time consuming. The posted output is the tip of the iceberg. The submerged portion includes time spent researching, networking, supporting victims and survivors, assisting in both bringing cases public and exerting pressure in private. I also spend time helping other activists and bloggers working on this issue. I also care deeply about the quality of my writing and that takes time. I am focused on how to somewhat reduce my load. I would love some suggestions on that instead of the disease of “oughtism.”

      I am not hostile to your hopes but there are too many consumers who are not imaginatively thinking about how they can be the change instead of consuming the work of others. there are so many wonderful new vehicles and crowd sourcing options. Lets turn our thoughts to those possibilities instead of looking for another shmarya to do the work for us.

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