Thinking About Chanah Before Rosh Hashana

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Rosh Hashanah Scrimshaw Alaska

This post below first appeared on Frum Follies in 2012

The approach of Rosh Hashanah makes me think of Chanah, barren like Sarah. Before she could glory in her triumph she was misjudged as a nobody by Eli, the cohen gadol (high priest). He mistook her unvoiced words for drunkenness when they were actually a prayer full of pain and power. But she triumphed and bore a son who would eventually eclipse Eli. Continue reading

JTA Is Wrong: Elimelech Meisels Was Not Sued for Sex Assault, But… (from the archives)


A year ago, today, I posted this story. You may want to go back to that original posting for the comments. 

JTA, which bills itself as “The Global Jewish News Source,” first neglected the Meisels story and then blew it. Their August headline, “Orthodox educator Rabbi Elimelech Meisels sued for sexual assault” is wrong. None of the plaintiffs is claiming they or their daughters were sexually assaulted by Meisels. Yet the JTA article starts: “Rabbi Elimelech Meisels, who runs four religious seminaries in Israel for young Orthodox women, is being sued for sexual assault.” The Forward piled on with a subhead, “Lured Teenage Girls to Late-Night Coffee Meetings” Continue reading

Shabbos Goy Hynes Calculates His Take from a Hasidic Fundraiser

Hynes email re expected Ben Barber yield july 2013

From the Frum Follies archives two years ago (8/9/13)

On July 23rd Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes estimated a take of $7,500 from a fundraiser with Hasidim hosted by  Boro Park Hasid, Ben Barber .

It was at this fundraiser on July 29 that he declared himself a “real shabbos goy” meaning someone who could anticipate and deliver prohibited acts to his orthodox constituents without even being asked. Continue reading

My Questions About the Mitzvah of Redeeming a Captive (Pidyon Shvuyim)

From my archives, five years ago in May

The blogger DovBear asks whether Rubashkin is a meshichist (messianist) and if so, does the mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives) extend to his case? Many modern orthodox Jews ask why there are no ultra orthodox campaigns for Gilad Shalit? Unlike Rubashkin who was not siezed for ransom, Shalit is indeed being held by Hamas for ransom under terrible conditions. If the choice of “worthy” prisoners is driven by ideology, in this case, hostility to Zionism, why not also consider the ideological issue of meshichism?

Is it even correct to use the term pidyon shvuyim when talking about a person given due process in a medinah shel chesed? Continue reading

Shiduchim and Yichus in the Book of Ruth

From the Frum Follies archives (5/15/10)

Part I

Once upon a time two young widows were given some good shidduch advice. “Turn back to your mother’s house…[and] find security in the house of a husband.” Orpah took Naomi’s advice and she is lost to history. Ruth ignored the advice and made history.

Ploni almoni was a practical man when it came to shidduchim who didn’t want to be bothered with caring for Ruth. He passed on the opportunity and he too is lost to history.

Boaz was a different sort of man. In him stirred the blood of Judah, a man who took responsibility for his child with Tamar. He was a descendent of Nachshon who stepped forward while other’s hesitated. Where Ploni blew his chance, Boaz took it. His descendents made history. Continue reading

What Chicago Can Learn From the Skvere Rebbe- (From the archives)

Skvere Rebbe on chair

Skvere Rebbe
David Twersky

This post first appeared in January 2014. Since then Frimet Goldberg wrote an excellent description of New Squares shameful handling of sex abuse.  Shulem Deen’s brilliant memoir, “All Who Go Do Not Return” also describes the cult of the Skvere Rebbe.

The Skvere Rebbe, Rabbi David (Dovid) Twersky, will be coming to Chicago on February 20, 2014 to spend a week dispensing his pearls of wisdom and graciously accepting donations. The Rebbe needs this money for himself and his Hasidim because:

The rebbe eats his meals on silver platters with golden utensils, owns a number of latest model Cadillacs for himself and his family, and lights his Hanukkah candles on a massive six-foot-tall sterling silver menorah that community members told me cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most of his followers… rely on food stamps and Section-8 housing vouchers for basic subsistence.

Here are some of the things the Jews of Chicago can learn from him.

HASHGACHAH PROTIS (Detailed Intentional Supervision) and CHESED (Kindness)

Aron Rottenberg

Aron Rottenberg

Chicagoans believe that Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern and started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which killed over 300 people and left over 100,000 people homeless. In New Square, the legally incorporated village dominated by the Rebbe, there are no such accidents. The Rebbe’s butler (“hois bochur”), 18-year-old Shaul Spitzer attempted to burn down the house of the dissident Rottenberg family, while the family was asleep inside. As a result of the attack, Aron Rottenberg suffered third-degree burns on over 50% of his body. Continue reading

A Kosher for Passover Pesticide!

Pesticide- Certified Kosher for Passover

Pesticide- Certified Kosher for Passover

It is hard to believe but it is true. A pesticide which is not even supposed to be used indoors was certified kosher for passover. I am not just posting this to mock it. I want to ask how did it become OK for the OU to certify toilet cleaners and others to certify pesticides. It makes a mockery of kosher. It exposes kosher agencies as mercenaries willing to sell their stamp for a few bucks even when there is no possible rationale for requiring certification.

When I first spotted the kosher pesticide I wrote on FaceBook, “If anyone got paid for this hashgochah they should be forced to eat it.” I take that back. I really don’t want anyone’s death on my conscience. Continue reading