Friday, May 22, 2015

Todrus Gyrnhaus: Why did the community turn to a psychologist instead of the police?

 update - added official view of Gateshead Rav which disagree with the original guest post






just received this letter and explanation:

Hello. your guest post about the Gateshead Rav is a complete misunderstanding of his position. i was debating a long time about whether to send you this one-page summary of a Shiur he has given on the topic of reporting molesters, but now it seems that it would be a good idea, This summary has already been circulated and has the Haskama of the GR.
כללי הלכה נעביד רודפי ילדים

א. מסירה - הנה מסירה הוא ערן חמור מאוד ואין לו חלק לעוה"ב - אמנם זה כשעושה כן באיסור אבל לפעמים הוא מותר ולפעמים הוא חיוב למסור - רע' בחו"מ ס' שפ"ח ובספרי התשובות עליו - ובאופנים המותרים הוא מיציר לרבים - הצלת נרדף - לאפרושי מאיסורא - טסקא דמלכא ועוד - וע"כ צריכים לדון כל עניך ע"פ ההלכה אחר לימוד בעיון ובעמל ובשימוש חכמים - ולא לדון מתוך רגש או שמועה ששמע בילדותו או ע"י לימוד שטחי

ב. רודף ילדים - יש בו הרבה אם לא כל הטעמים הנ"ל - רע' בירחון ישורון חלק ט"ו, וכ"ב וכן בנשמת אברהם ח"ד תשובות מגדולי הוראה של כל החוגים הן מא"י והן מחוץ לארץ שהסכימו לזה - ועל כולם הוא פסק של הגרי"ש אלישיב זי"ע שמלבד כל הטעמים הנ"ל מוסיף ומכין ועונשין שלא מן הדין באופן שהדור פרוץ בכך, ומחליט שזהו מציאות כהיום ר"ל

ג. עדות - הנה דברים האלו לעולם לא נעשים בפני עדים כשרים - ולעולם שומעים שמועות מפי נשים וקטנים - אמנם אין אנו ונין על הרודף לעונשו אלא ונין כאן אם יש חיוב של הצלת הנרדפים - ובוראי אם שומע מפי כמה באופן וניכר ואמת חייבים להציל נרדפים וכבר העיר לנו עיינין הגרי"ש אלישיב זי"ע רכל שבגדר שיש רגלים לדבר ]ולא דמיון[ מחויבים להציל אפילו ע"י מסירה למלכות

זאת ועוד מה שאשה פסולה לעדות היינו שאחר א"א לעשות ולענוש על פיה אבל בוראי היא בעצמה יודע המציאות מה נעשה לה - ואם היא שואלת לפי דבריה ויש רגלים לדבר שנכרים דברי אמת בוראי מותר לענות ולהורות לה לפי דבריה

וכ"ש בנדון ששמעו הודאת בעל דין - ואין לדון מדין אין אדם משים עצמו רשע כי אין אנו ונין אם כשר לעדות אלא אם מחויב להציל אחרים, ופשוט וצריכים לקבל דברי רוצח ורודף לעניך זה לדאוג לשמור על הנרצחים והנרדפים

ו. תשובה - האם צריכים לחשוש שעשה תשובה ובפרט כשהוא ת"ח שעבר עבירה בלילה, הנה זה לא נוגע כאן, ראשית כי אין ונין על האדם אלא אם חייבים לדאוג לנרדפים, שנית דמי שהכשיל אחרים בדאורייתא אין נאמן שעשה תשובה עד שיוחזק כמבואר ביו"ד סי· קי"ח, שלישית דמי שמושקע בהשחתות אלו הוא חולה במחלת נפש אשר קשה לרפאות אמנם הוא דבר שבגדר רפואה ואין עניך תשובה אלא לחטא ולא למחלות

ה. רחמנות - הנה בוראי מסימני זרע אברהם הוא רחמנות - אבל כמובן א"א לעשות על חשבון אחרים וכבר העידו חז"ל "כל המרחם על אכזרים לבסוף מתאכזר על רחמנים" - והנסיון כבר העיד שבעניך זה האכזריות על הרחמנים אינה לבסוף אלא הוא תיכף ומיד ובבת אחת ה· ישמרנו

ו . אפשר לחצילו כאחד מאבריו - בוראי גם מי שהוא רודף אין להוד גו אם ניתן להציל נרדפים באופן אחר וע"כ כשיש עצה בדוקה ובטוחה להציל נרדפים חייבים לעשותו אבל אין לסמוך בזה על עצות שאינם בטוחות לחלוטין כי אין אנו ושאין להפקיר נרדפים וילדים שאינם יכולין להגן על עצמן ע"י סברות ורצונות בדויות ) wishful thinking ( ומי שעושה כן הוא אינו בעל אחריות

ז. הראוי לחורות כזה - איתא בחז"ל רבים חללים הפילה הוא ת"ח שלא הגיע להוראה ומורה - והוא תלוי בכל הלכה ושאלה בפני עצמה - וע"כ אף מי שרגיל להורות בדיני איסור והיתר השכיחים או אפילו ת"ח מופלג שבקי בש"ס הוא לא הגיע להוראה בעניך זה ורק מי שעמל על דינים אלו ומתחיל מן הש"ס וראשונים ומסיים בלימוד חושן משפט ותשובות עליו כ אשר הנסיון מעיד לוקח לפחות מחודש עד חודשיים [ וגם לרבות ששימש ת"ח גאוני ההוראה בעני"ז רשאי להורות בזה ובלי זה הוי בגדר רבים חללים הפילה

נכתוב מתוך דברים ששמענו מהגאון אב"ד דק"ק גייטסהעד הרב ש .פ. זיממערמאן שליט"א





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Guest Post:
Todros Grynhaus: The Gateshead Rav testifies against him in court"

What did the Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Zimmerman mean when he said,

"I realised it was beyond competence and let Dr Schauder handle it."?

Part of the tragedy of the 21st Century (a perspective which unfortunately has even damaged the Jewish world) is the belief that aveiros and middot can be "cured" by "therapy".

Rambam in Shmoneh Prakim and Hilchot Deot compares bad middot to illnesses, and doctors to Sages only as a MASHAL !! A mashal, or analogy, metaphor or model in English is only an illustration not a true description of the state of affairs.

Rambam definitely did not imply that, for example, a baal gaavah can be literally "cured" by medication! Nor do we take the metaphor 'choleh nefesh' literally and perform bikkur cholim for a baal taavas!

Now in modern times the mashal has come to be regarded as mamash concrete reality. Inappropriate behaviour is now regarded as "illness". Sure, perverse behaviour with children may be called "sick", but "sick behaviour" is, in the English idiom, a metaphor or figure of speech, as we've just said, a Mashal! We can also say that the economy of a country is "sick" or that a joke is a "sick joke". We can also say of drug abuse, or internet pornography "it is a cancer in our society".

The definition of "therapy" is treatment of a real illness, The behaviour in question is not a real illness at all (Was it diagnosed by a laboratory? Is there a pill for it?) and therefore any change in behaviour does not come under the definition of "therapy", whether attempted through talking, confining, drugs or electric shocks.

Behaviour is located in the domains of Hallachah, Musar, Derech Eretz, morality and ethics, politics and human conflict, and cannot be cured. Behaviour is not illness.

In this context we must point out that, Dr. Schauder, with all due respect to his academic credentials, and good intentions to do chesed, and mekarev, is not a real doctor treating a real illness, nor is he a baal musar guiding the teshuvah process, nor a kabbalist nor a rebbe, nor a posek! (This in a community with more qualified people in all these categories!).

A community with emunah shleimah in psychologists, only enables and extends the bad behaviour and further damages the victims, by failing to report it and naively waiting for it to be cured.

So, what, actually is this Game? After all, Dr. Schauder is an expert in Transactional Analysis, which is based on the priciple of 'Games People Play'?

Is the Gateshead Rav calling into question, Heaven forbid, the adequacy of 'Orchot Tzaddikim' and 'Mesillat Yesharim', recommending Pavlov's dog instead? Has the principle of S'char v'Ones been abolished? Is a graduate of Pretoria University a better baal musar than a Yeshiva graduate? Maybe we should appoint behaviourists as mashgichim ruchani in our Yeshivos?

One thing is clear, The Rav and community have now, given full recognition and endorsement to psychology and psychotherapy, something missing from Torah the last 3,500+ years, but what for?

When Rabbi Zimmerman said,

"I realised it was beyond competence and let Dr Schauder handle it." Did he mean, "Oh shame, the poor fellow can't help it, he's sick"? Or "Maybe a doctor's opinion will get us leniency in court"? or "We'll get him sentenced to hospital instead of being treated in prison"?

Shavuos: Points to ponder

Selections from my Daas Torah

Why were the Jews forced to accept the Torah

Shabbos (88a): And they stood under the mountain - Rav Avdimi said: This verse teaches that G d held the mountain over them like it was a barrel and told them: If you accept the Torah then it is well - but if not then this will be where you are buried. Rav Aha said: This coerced acceptance is a strong justification for not being obligated to keep the Torah. Rava said: Nevertheless they reaccepted the Torah willingly in the days of Achashverus [because of the hidden miracle of Purim and thus the Torah is fully binding on us]…

Tosfos (Shabbos 88a): And the mountain was held over them like a barrel to force them to accept the Torah. Even though they had already accepted the Torah by saying “We will do and then we will understand.” This forced acceptance was necessary because they might have retracted their acceptance when they saw the great fire at Sinai which caused their souls to depart their bodies… But why does the gemora say that the Torah was reaccepted during the days of Achashverus? In fact Nedarim (28a) states that Moshe established a covenant with them and they took an oath to keep it! Furthermore Sotah (37b) says that the Jews reaccepted the Torah at Mt. Grizim and Mt. Eivel [which was still during Moshe’s lifetime]? Rabbeinu Tam answered that these latter events were in response to G d’s commands and thus could be viewed as forced acceptances. However in the time of Achashverus they accepted the Torah because of the love engendered by the miracle of Purim. The other apparent exception is that Yehoshua made a covenant with them to serve G d? However that was only that they agreed not to worship idols [and was thus not a full acceptance of the Torah]…

Na'aseh v'nishma  - acceptance of Torah before understanding

Shabbos (88a): When the Jews readily accepted the Torah by saying na’aseh v’nishma (we will do whatever you want even before understanding why) , 600,000 angels came and tied two crowns on the head of each Jew - one for the na’aseh and one for the nishma….When the Jews said na’aseh v’nishma, a heavenly voice proclaimed, ‘Who revealed to my children this profound secret that is characteristic of angels?’

Tosefta (Bava Kama 7:3): We find that when the Jews were standing at Sinai they wanted to deceive G d. When they said regarding the acceptance of the Torah, na’aseh v’nishma (we will do whatever you want even before understanding why) they were being deceptive - as Moshe Rabbeinu noted, (Devarim 5:25–26) “25) And G d heard your words, when you spoke to me; and G d said to me, I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you; what they have said they said well. 26) Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” But how could this be since everything is known to G d? It has been stated (Tehilim 78:36–37), “That they lied with what they said to G d and their hearts with not with Him and they were not faithful to their covenant - nevertheless G d is merciful and forgiving.”

Why the Jews received the Torah as a primitive people - not an educated nation?

Chasam Sofer (Derashos - BeShalach): G d took the Jews out of Egypt which was the lowest type of society that did all types of disgusting abominations which G d hated. The Jews at that point were a despised lowly people - not even a distinct nation. In Egypt, they were primitive slaves working with bricks and mortar and were without doubt devoid of even minimal knowledge of culture or science. They even lacked elementary knowledge of civilized conduct. Our sages (Yoma 75b) say that the Jews in Egypt were comparable to chickens pecking in a garbage dump until Moshe came and taught them the concept of meal times - breakfast and dinner. [Seforno - they were like animals]. We see that they were totally primitive like the slaves of the barbarians. So how could this debased people be immediately brought to Sinai where they were shown the most profound secrets of the universe and became prophets with unbounded understanding of spiritual issues? This question is reinforced by the fact that they remained primitive and uncultured people as we can see from their lowly behavior and outrageous complaints during this time? Wouldn’t it have been better to gradually educate them in civilized conduct to the level of the best of the nations of the world. They should have at least been raised to the level where they could be considered a nation. Once they were civilized, they should then have been refined level by level until they were prepared for receiving the Torah at Sinai? In truth, it is impossible to keep the Jews as a distinctive people unless they are completely separated from the other nations. That is accomplished by not learning knowledge which is common to other nations even Bible on the level of translation. The natural tendency to assimilation can only be prevented by going to the opposite extreme. If G d had first educated the Jews in worldly knowledge, they would never have acquired the truth of the Torah and faith. Before they would have reached, this final goal they would have already rejected them because these studies would have given them the universal identity common amongst all the nations. Moreover, even if the Jews had understood that the gods of the nations were worthless illusions and reject them, nevertheless they would also have completely rejected G d also.


Importance of the Redemption from Egypt and Revelation at Sinai

Kuzari (1:25): G d introduced His words to the entire Jewish people by saying that He was their G d Who took them out of Egypt. He didn’t say that He was the creator of the world and the creator of the Jews… Therefore that which obligates all Jews to keep the Torah is the experience of the redemption of Egypt and the revelation of Sinai which was they witnessed with their own eyes and afterwards transmitted through an unbroken chain of tradition through the generations - which is equivalent to actual seeing with one’s own eyes.

Rav S. R. Hirsch (Shemos 19:4): Faith - which is inherently vulnerable to being undermined by doubt - is not the basis of either your awareness of G d or your awareness of yourself. Both are in fact your direct knowledge of that which you have experienced directly through your physical senses. [This verse is describing the direct experience of the Exodus from Egypt]. The exact same idea is expressed later concerning the revelation of Torah - (Shemos 20:19), “You have seen that I have spoken to you from Heaven.” All of Judaism rests upon these two pillars of truth - the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation of Torah at Sinai. These two pillars stand firmly on your own direct experience with your physical senses which excludes the possibility of deception. They were witnessed simultaneously by 600,000 people. These two pillars both have the highest degree of certainty and are excluded from the realm of mere conjecture or faith. They are in fact in the realm of direct knowledge and are therefore facts which are incontestable in the same way as the indisputable facts that we exist and the physical world exists are incontestable…

Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 8:1): Moshe Rabbeinu was not believed by the Jews because of the miraculous signs that he did. That is because one who believes because of miraculous signs still has doubts in his heart that perhaps they were done by means of magic or trickery. In fact all the miraculous things that Moshe Rabbeinu did were because they were needed and were not meant to validate his prophecy…The entire basis for belief in Moshe Rabbeinu was the revelation at Sinai which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears - and not those of strangers - the fire, the thunder and the lightning. We witnessed Moshe Rabbeinu entering into the enveloping darkness and heard the voice of G d speaking to him saying, ‘Moshe Moshe go tell them such and such’. Thus, the Torah (Devarim 5:4) says, ‘Face to face G d spoke with you’. Furthermore the Torah (Devarim 5:3) says, ‘G d didn’t make this covenant only with your fathers [but even with us who are all here alive today’]. How do we know that the revelation at Sinai was the necessary and sufficient proof that Moshe’s prophesy was entirely true? The Torah (Shemos 19:9) says, ‘Behold I come to you in a thick cloud in order that people will hear when I speak with you that they may believe in you forever.’ This implies that before they witnessed the revelation, the people had only an imperfect belief in Moshe Rabbeinu that contained doubts and second thoughts…

Rambam (Letter to Yemen): The preserving of the memory of the Revelation at Sinai is a Divine command. He told us not to forget the events at Sinai and He commanded us to raise our children with the awareness of its greatness as well as to teach them its greatness in their studies. This is explicitly stated in Devarim (4:9–10)… It is the correct thing, my brothers, to emphasize to your children this great Revelation at Sinai and to publicly tell them about its greatness and magnificence since the foundation of our faith rests on it and the awareness of it leads to truth. And its greatness is above all else since we see that G d Himself raised it up (Devarim 4:32). My brothers it is therefore critically important that you should know fully about the Covenant and the Revelation at Sinai. Equally important is to know that it has been validated by the most reliable testimony - the like of which never existed before and will not occur again. The entire nation heard the words of G d and they saw His glory directly with their eyes. G d made this happen in order to strengthen our faith to such a degree that it would never waver in times such as now, when there are terrors and pressure to convert, so that we would be able to overcome these horrible pressures…


Faith and not forgetting about the Revelation of Mt. Sinai

Ramban (Sefer HaMitzvos Forgotten Mitzvos Negative #2): And don’t misunderstand what it says in Kiddushin (30a) concerning the requirement of teaching Torah to your children and grandchildren that one should never forget any part of the Torah. Because in fact the learning of faith is learning Torah. Therefore, understand this and take the proof from their words that this requirement not to ever forget about Sinai - is a perpetual mitzva. It is necessary to talk about this in every generation in order for it not to be forgotten. It must be learned to the degree that everyone can see the events at Sinai and can hear them. This information must be carefully transmitted from generation to generation. This mitzva was stated in the Baal Halachos (170) but the Rambam forgot it.

Jewish are inherently skeptical and hard to influence

Rashba (4:234): We learned from our forefathers not to accept something which contains the slightest doubts or uncertainties until it has been thoroughly investigated and the truth is ascertained. This we see concerning the acceptance of Moshe as a true prophet. They were uncertain whether to believe him - even though he came to announce that they were to be rescued from the horrible servitude of Egypt. This is why Moshe said they won’t believe me. This is because it was known that they were inherently skeptical and did not believe anything except that which was unquestionably true. Therefore, even though G‑d did incredible miracles in Egypt until they were taken out with an outstretched arm and awesome events - it was not sufficient to remove the doubts about Moshe from their hearts. These doubts were caused by the fact that all that occurred in Egypt were possibly just coincidental or natural events or from magical powers. Because of these doubts, they did not have unconditional faith in Moshe until the Splitting of the Sea - as the verse says, “that they [now] believed in G‑d and Moshe His servant” (Shemos 14:31). The Targum (Shemos 14:31) says they now believed in the prophecy of Moshe that it was true and was not the result of natural events. This event removed the last vestige of doubt that the miraculous events in Egypt could have been the result of random natural events. It was obviously impossible that the sea could have been split at night and the next day return to its normal state. Therefore, the splitting of the sea removed the doubts from their hearts - for the time being. However soon after the Splitting of the Sea, the doubts returned. They thought perhaps Moshe, who was more knowledgeable than any other man had ever been, knew how to do this by natural means which they couldn’t ascertain. The only remaining option for clarifying the truth of Moshe’s prophecy was by their own prophecy and this is what in fact occurred at the Revelation of Sinai when they final established the truth.

Converts have greater love of Torah than Jews from birth

Rav Tzadok (Machshavos Charutz Chapter 19): R’ Akiva is the foundation of the Oral Law…He had to be a descendant of converts because love of Torah is most manifest in converts. We see that from the fact that despite G‑d’s redemption of the Jews from the slavery of Egypt and making them into a kingdom of priests, when He brought them to Mt. Sinai to get the Torah He had to force them to accept it (Shabbos 88a). Even when they eventually accepted it out of love in the time of Purim - it was because of the love of the miracle and salvation. In contrast, the convert leaves the tranquility of the world and the total freedom to fill his lusts as a non‑Jew. He willing comes to restrict himself and to attach himself to the Jewish people who are lowly and despised in this world. … It is only because of the convert’s love of Torah that he comes close and accepts the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven… Furthermore, we see in Medrash Tanchuma (Noach 3) that the Jewish people had to be forced to accept the Oral Law since it requires so much effort. The only ones who learn it are those that have great love of G‑d with their entire heart and soul - and not someone who loves wealth and pleasure… We see then that G‑d had to force the Jewish people to accept the Oral Law even though in their inner soul they really wanted to accept the Oral Law…Nevertheless in the revealed aspect of this world which is the world of free will and effort - the love of Torah is more manifest amongst converts. Similar Pesachim (91b) states that converts are more careful in their performance of the mitzvos than Jews from birth…. Therefore, Rabbi Akiva who was descended from converts merited being the foundation of the Oral Law. In addition, we see that the description of the acceptance of the Torah was written in the section of Yisro - who was the head of all converts - and manifested great love of Torah. He left his high status and wealth to be in the Wilderness with the Jewish people…

Why was belief in Moshe necessary in addition to belief in Gd

R’ Elimelech of Lizensk (Letter): And they believed in G d and in Moshe His servant (Shemos 14:31). What is the relevance of the Jews believing in Moshe - even though G d promised that this would happen. Isn’t the main issue that the Jews should believe in G d? The fact is that the holy Torah is telling us a major idea that it was absolutely necessary that Moshe be believed. G d’s intent in saving the Jews from Egypt was so that they would accept the Torah. To that end they had to be purified by various trials… and Moshe sanctified himself, reached the highest level of prophecy, ascended Mt. Sinai and then brought the Torah down to the Jews. It is obvious that not all the Jews were on the spiritual level of Moshe to accept the Torah through prophecy. However because they believed in Moshe and attached themselves to him, he was able to able to influence them through ruach hakodesh and it was as if they were on the level of prophecy. Therefore, by means of this attachment and unity with Moshe they were all able to accept the Torah.

Importance of Emunas Chachomim


R’ Moshe Chagiz (Emunas Chachomim 506:61b): The phrase emunas chachomim has two different connotations. Firstly, it means the faith of the chachomim i.e., to have the same beliefs that the sages have. The second meaning is to believe what they say because we see in their actions that their words must be true. This latter view is the emuna of our forefathers as it is written in the Torah, “They believed in G d” [The first meaning] “and His servant Moshe” [which is the second meaning.]. Moreover, in preparation of the awesome assembly at Sinai, G d said to Moshe “Behold I am coming to you in a thick cloud in order that the people can hear My words with you and may also believe in you forever.” That means that they shall consequently believe not only in you, but the prophets that succeed you and the sages throughout the generations who will replace the prophets. Consequently, there is an unbroken chain of emuna.

Rashi (Devarim 11:22): Is it possible to say that a person should cling to G d when He is all consuming fire? Rather it means to cling to Torah students and sages and this is counted as if one is clinging to G d.

Eilu v'Eilu: How could conflicting views be given at Sinai

Ritva (Eruvin 13b): Eilu v’Eilu (both) are the words of the living G d. The Rabbis of France asked: How is it possible that the opposing sides of a dispute can both be the words of the living G d when one says the object is permitted and the other says it is prohibited? They answered that when Moshe received the Torah on Sinai he was shown 49 aspect of prohibition and 49 aspects of permission for each and every issue. G d explained to him that the final decision amongst these different alternatives was given to the sages of each generation. Thus, both permitting and prohibiting were both given on Sinai for each possible case and therefore both sides of the dispute are true. This explanation is correct according to the drash however according to kabbala there is a profound secret in this matter.

Piety and the power of visualization


Kuzari (3:5): The pious person makes his powers of visualization conjure up vivid images of holy things based on information in his memory. He should picture such things as the Revelation at Sinai, Avraham and Yitzchok at the Akeidah, the Tabernacle of Moshe, the service of the Temple and the glory of the Divine Presence in the Temple. He then commands his memory to store these images so that they are not forgotten…

Yeshiva is artificial institution - Rav Hutner (translated)

originally published May 18, 2012

Click here for Yiddish - © Translation by Daniel Eidensohn

Yeshiva represents a failure of ideal state of father to son Torah teaching. Discusses two aspects of Matan Torah - 1) Father to son 2) Direct from G-d

A question for Shavuos

Guest Post

It is axiomatic that we are moser nefesh for our children. We spend exorbitant sums so that we can send our children to Jewish schools so that they may obtain a proper education. One of the main lessons that they are taught is: "Torah is #1, there is no #2." Everything must be seen within the eyes of a torah-dik hashkafah. Our children are regaled with stories of tzadikim who put their lives on the line so they could learn one more passouk, one more tosfos. 

Nonetheless, when it comes to Shavous, I feel torn. Shavous is the pinnacle of celebrating the Torah. We have a whole holiday dedicated to learning and rejoicing not in a singular event (ma'amad Har Sinai), rather in the daily event of reengaging in our commitment to the Torah. 

Our leaders who preach that Torah learning should be the primary endeavor of our lives close their schools the day before yom tov. Simply put, our educators are being disingenuous. Yes, I agree that all the morahs and rebbies need to prepare for yom tov. Yes, I agree that people may wish to go away for yom tov. But what message are we sending our children? People who work in the secular world don't take off before yom tov and are still able to manage. My wife and I both work- she much more than I- yet we are able to plan and execute. Let us call a spade a spade: cancelling yeshiva on erev Shavous is hypocritical. 

But wait, it gets worse! Many schools have a late opening (or no opening for the girls- maybe their learning isn't as important?) on the day after Shavous. Again, what is the message that we are sending? These are the same schools that open on Sunday even after a late ending Shabbos.
All that I ask for is intellectual honesty.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shulem Deen: Truthseeker who had too many unanswered questions or an apikorus skillful in deceptively leaving out most of the important details needed to understand who he is

Dovid Din
update - added video of Shulem expressing his anger at religion and the need to be free of it

Update - added comment of Midas HaDeen

"Shulem Deen has a fascinating story to tell, and he tells it with exquisite sensitivity. All Who Go Do Not Return gives us not only an insider's glimpse into a shrouded world few outsiders get to see, but also a movingly told narrative of one man's struggle toward intellectual integrity. The setting may be the world of Hasidic Judaism, but the drama and the insights are universal."
—Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction  

I first need to state some facts up front. 

1) I have now read all of Shulem Deen's well written book about how he went from being a pious  chasid to an apikorus. My initial impression just got reinforced as he went into more detail later in the book 2) I knew his parents from Yeshiva Shor Yoshuv - in particular his father Dovid Din 3) This book is different than others written by formerly frum people. The author comes across as genuinely likable, upset that he lost his faith and so far not explicitly advocating that others follow him in his path. 4) The main reason why I am writing this post is because of the strange reaction I got from Prof. Shaul Magid a former student of Shulem's father - who wrote a review of the book in Tablet Magazine.

My concern is to understand why this book was written. What was Shuleem Deen's motivation in describing his loss of faith and describing in great detail the words and acts of his friends and family - even when they don't come across as very positive? It is presented as someone who asked questions in a world where questions are forbidden. While that contains some truth - you need to realize that is not where he comes from but where he deliberately placed himself. 

His parents are both baalei teshuva - former hippies - who were very good at dealing with questions. His father in particular was very well educated in the secular sense and was involved in kiruv of all sorts - in particular answering questions dealing with faith. In addition his parents had a large number of contacts with top notch kiruv experts who deal with all sorts of questions. So far there is no evidence in the book that Shulem took the trouble of going to these people to get answers. Why not? 

In short - Shulem Deen took it upon himself to move into the world of Square Chassidim who strongly believe in simple - non intellectual - faith. He wasn't born into that world and he clearly did not belong there. He says he did it because they didn't require an entrance entrance exam! And yet when boxed into a non-thinking world where he didn't belong - proclaims that he left because he couldn't get answers to his questions!

One other point - there is the underlying theme that in fact there are no answers for his questions. because they are so devastatingly powerful. Basically if one doesn't have simple faith - then there is no faith because there are no honest rational answers to his questions. This is simply not true. 

This is a reflection of my basic concern - he is setting up straw men, avoiding presenting the full story - because he in fact has an agenda. He is presenting himself as doing what any truly honest man would do when faced with the questions and the anemic answers - giving up a phony religion. In sum he implies that, only someone who accepts that faith means believing something that make no sense - can truly be religious.

My last point for now is how he depicts his relationship with his father. As noted before his father was very intelligent and involved in asking questions and kiruv of those who had questions. He was very articulate. However there is no indication that he ever engaged his father in a serious discussion - even when given the opportunity. While it is true that his father died when he 14 - there were ample opportunities because there were many people who his parents knew that are experts in dealing with questions. The book so far only indicates a single individual that he discussed his questions with - why? Why didn't his father prepare him to be able to deal with questions? It seems that in fact his path is a reaction against his father - though he doesn't spell it out. Is there more to the story than he is telling us? What in fact was his relationship with his father and is his heresy the result of his relationship with his father?

I remember learning the Maharal together with Dovid Din with Rabbi Yosef Rabinowitz. The Maharal strongly states the importance of asking questions and not silencing them. And yet Shulem Deen ended up with a type of chassidim who live very closed isolated lives - that think the opposite of many other frum Jews - including his father. His failure to be able to live a closed intellectually barren form of Yiddishkeit led him to reject Yiddishkeit - why?
 ==========================
This video indicates that Shulem Deen didn't regretfully leave the religious world but in fact is celebrating his freedom from a repressive religion and culture - which he hopes to save others from.



=====================================

update by an commentator Midas HaDeen

I just read the post on Shulem Deen.  I did not read the book, and I know nothing personal of him or his parents.  But the subject is actually very relevant to all of us.  Questions about faith.  We are obligated to address this matter, as it is a pillar of our very existence.  We reaffirm this with recitation of kriyas shema daily.  We are the עם הנבחר, and have a special relationship with our Creator.

Our emunoh involves several aspects.  If we are conscious of them, we can pursue being “people of faith”.  If not, we are groping in the blind.  For starters, we are born into emunoh.  Dovid Hamelech A”H notes, מבטן אמי קלי אתה, drawing attention to the faith that existed at birth.  If we further recognize the drosho of Rav Simlai that the fetus studies the entire Torah in the womb prior to birth.  On top of that all, we enjoy our earliest years being exposed to values of Torah and kedusha.  This emunoh is labeled in sforim as אמונה מתוך קבלה.  It is that faith into which we were bred and born.

We then engage in exploration of our own, wondering, questioning, investigating, studying.  If we are fortunate to have the proper direction, rebbes, talmidei chachomim, healthy resources, we receive the guidance and direction to develop אמונה מתוך חקירה.  The sforim explain why neither of these two alone is adequate.  But both together can be quite powerful.  Either alone is balanced on a pointy base, and there is great risk that even minor breezes can topple it.

The best, the most frum, the most erudite and learned, of the holiest stock of yichus and upbringing require both of these foundations to achieve the level of an “עובד ה'”.  They bear the same obligation to recite the 13 Ani Maamins every day, and cannot point to their choice “frum” levush as the badge of faith.  It requires constant effort and maintenance.  Yes, questions, exploration, not completely taken for granted.  This is explained at great length in many great works that address hashkofoh, including Chovas Halevavos, Moreh Nevuchim, Tanya, Nefesh Hachayim, Maharal, etc.

The baal teshuvah begins the entry to a frum lifestyle with a handicap.  He/she starts with only אמונה מתוך חקירה, having missed the privilege of הורתו ולידתו בקדושה.  The complete faith of this individual is founded on only personal exploration, with the requisite limitations that result from this.  There is a very different basis for living as a Yid, with questions about the same basics that FFB’s take for granted.  The stereotypical baal teshuvah who asks questions about everything is seeking to compensate for the background that is lacking.

I don’t know Shulem Deen, nor his family, nor his life experience.  I can feel sorry for his missing out on a guiding light of mesorah which many of us are fortunate to have.  His efforts to seek truth are not missed by me, a mortal observer, and I do not question whether there is some reward in “yeneh velt” for that.  However, I do feel quite strongly that his failure to find the embracing warmth of קבלת עול מלכות שמים  in his pursuits is not a model for others.  Making this into a book to show others is not, in my opinion, wise or constructive.  It may be his defense to assuage his guilt, where he points to a system that failed to “answer his questions”.  I do not defend the “system” either.  It seems to have been ill equipped to provide answers that would meet the needs of the missing mesorah.  Perhaps far more serious is the observation that the present level of יראת שמים as should be expected from the average Yid, in which there is an appropriate level of דע מה למעלה ממך עין רואה ואוזן שומעת וכל מעשיך בספר נכתבים  is insufficient.  This is obvious when one examines the desperate need for filters on computers and phones, as well as the “history” discovered by computer technicians on the hard drives of the most observant of חסידים ואנשי מעשה.  As a community, we are not offering enough for the FFB.  This is apparent in the struggles of some mainstream FFB’s, and in the foibles and follies that occasionally get publicized of “frum baalei aveiroh”.  If it is not enough for those who are born into a completely “frum” lifestyle, it is inconceivable that it will suffice for the incoming baal teshuvah who is missing that background.

No, I will probably not write a book about deficiencies of the frum community.  Another dirt throwing book is neither needed, nor welcome.  The books to write and the direction change that we sorely need are about the abundance of wealth that exists in being close to HKB”H.  It is the אהבת תורה  that must be instilled in our children.  It is about the precious privilege of being able to daven and perform mitzvos.  It is about the all encompassing life of mitzvos that give us the ability to connect with HKB”H in every single facet of our lives.  It is about the enjoyment and gratitude that we can have in our everyday lives, knowing that HKB”H is the force behind every event, who granted us the greatest gift of all existence, מתן תורה.

After being caught molesting young girls Todros Grynhaus was sent to therapy by community leaders and police were only notified two years later

Daily Mail  A respected rabbi who indecently assaulted two teenage girls was sent for therapy by community leaders when allegations of his crimes emerged and was only reported to police two years later.

Todros Grynhaus, 50, a prominent member of the Haredi Orthodox Jewish community in Salford, Greater Manchester, abused the girls, then aged 14 and 15, in the 1990s, the court was told. 

The offences were brought to light when one of the victims told a psychologist about the 'litany of abuse' in 2009.

When senior members of the community heard of the accusations, they suggested Grynhaus, a father-of-ten, receive treatment at a local clinic. They told the court 'no one wanted to report it'. [...]

Schlesinger Twins: Support letter from Rabbi Dovid Eisenberg of Manchester



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Todros Grynhaus found guilty of all seven charges of sexual assault

Jewish Chronicle     [This is a historic moment for British Jews who are about 10 years behind the rest of the world in dealing with abuse. ]

  [I have received a copy of an 8 page letter by an insider that describes in great detail allegations of his disgusting behavior -  at this point I am not sure whether to publish excerpts.  ] 

Todros Grynhaus was convicted on all seven charges

A Jewish teacher turned businessman is facing a ''substantial'' jail sentence after being found guilty of seven sex abuse charges on Tuesday. 

Todros Grynhaus, 50, was convicted of five counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault against the girls when they were aged around 14 and 15. 

Grynhaus, a prominent member of the Charedi community in Salford, was accused of a course of conduct against the two alleged victims over a number of years which involved touching them inappropriately and forcing himself on them. 

He denied the allegations, saying he was the victim of a “revenge plot” and that the girls, now adult women, were lying.

But he was convicted after a two-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Wearing glasses and dressed in a black suit with open-collar white shirt, Grynhaus showed no emotion as he was unanimously found guilty of three charges of indecent assault, and of the four other charges by a majority verdict of 10-2.[...]

Rav Dovid Eidensohn Shiur #8 Telephone Conference – More on Negation of Marriage - Wed 9:30 p.m.

Shiur #8 Telephone Conference – More on Negation of Marriage  because of a Blemish

Wed 9:30 PM – Call 605-562-3130 then enter code 411161#

1.       We discussed in Shiur #7 last week that HaGaon Reb Moshe Feinstein is lenient but many Gedolim are strict about whether a major blemish negates a marriage. Today we want to look into this further.
2.       Gemora Kesubose 57b -  A woman is an Aruso, married to a man, but stays in her father’s house until the Chupa, when she becomes a NISUO, fully married.  If it is discovered that the Arusa has a major blemish, the marriage is negated. See Rashi there.
3.       This would seem to be a proof to Reb Moshe that a serious blemish can negate a marriage. However, this is only about an Arusa, but perhaps once someone has Chupah the conditions for negating marriage are themselves negated, as we discussed last week at length. See Shulchan Aruch EH 38:35,36 and Yevomose 107. A pious Jew does not want to have relations with a woman without marriage, and he cancels his conditions.
4.       Tosfose Kesubose 72b ד"ה על מנת  writes that even though the gemora says that a blemish can negate the marriage, the gemora in Kesubose 73b brings two opinions. One is that the woman’s marriage is negated and turns into a doubtful marriage, and she needs a GET. The other opinion is that the Torah permits her, but the rabbis require a GET. The Rosh 72b says that the opinion that it is a doubt is a sin diorayso to remarry without a GET and Tosfose Kesubos 72b  ד:ה על מנת says the same thing.
5.       If so, a marriage negated can still require a GET. Bais HaLevi and Ain Yitschok disagree with Reb Moshe  as he quotes in Igeres Moshe EH I:79:1. Ayin Yitschok of the Kovneh Rov I:34:7:44 quotes those who forbid her remarriage as the Chavass Yoir, Besomim Rosh, Rashbatz and Shevuse Yaacov. Thus, the gemora and the many authorities who forbid the remarriage based on a blemish would prevent a woman from remarrying even if her husband has a major blemish, even if there is a possibility that the marriage is negated, as is taught in Kesubose 73b.
6.       The gemora Kesubose 73b says that a woman who has a blemish of nedorim that a husband doesn’t tolerate, and therefore by the Torah the marriage is negated as the husband did not know this before he married her, nonetheless, Rabo holds that she needs a GET by rabbinical law. Rovo says that there is a doubt in the Torah itself if she needs a GET in such a case. Thus, even if the marriage is blemished, she needs a GET.
7.       Reb Yosef ben Leib considered the rebbe of the Bais Yosef writes in volume II:19:3 that the custom of rabbis is when rabbis argue about if a woman can remarry that even if a majority of rabbis permit her to remarry, if a minority forbid it, we are stringent and the woman cannot remarry. In a case of a person with a blemish, the majority of rabbis forbid a woman to remarry, and in that case, surely the woman has a problem remarrying.
8.       Tosfose there in Kesubose 72b says that some blemishes require a GET and some do not. Tosfose mentions the blemish of EILENUSE [whereby a woman can have biah but cannot have children, as she has a blemish in her entire system and is not like other women] does not need a GET. But other blemishes do not free the woman without a GET.
9.       Some rishonim hold that even when the husband did not know that she is an Eilunes, and he discovers that she is, even though this is a serious blemish, she needs a GET.
10.   Rambam Ishuse 4:10 – If one makes kiddushin whether the man is a Serise Chamo or Seris Odom, and so with an Eilenuse who is married with Kiddushin [Erusin] these are complete marriages [the couple is married by Torah law].
11.   Magid Mishneh quotes on the above Rambam that Rabbeinu Tam ruled that an Eilunes who was not known to be one and married with Erusin, that she needs a GET.
12.   Rambam Ishus 24:2 “One who marries a woman and does not know her blemish and she turns out to be an Eilunes, she does not get a Kesubo nor does she get the Conditions of a Kesubo, but extra gifts from the husband to his wife she does keep.”
13.   Rambam ISHUS 7:8 One who makes kiddushin [erusin] to a woman, and it is discovered that she has a blemish that render a woman unfit or one of the oaths that she made renders her unfit, and afterwards he discovers that she has this blemish, the marriage is a doubt if it is negated [because he did not make a clear condition].”
14.   From this we see that if the husband or wife did not make a clear condition and then it is discovered that they have a bad blemish, the marriage is a doubt, maybe it is negated, maybe not, and she needs a GET and without it she cannot marry.
15.   The Magid Mishneh explains that the Rambam paskens like Rovo that if it is discovered after the Kiddushin that the woman has a bad blemish it is a doubt and she requires a GET to remarry. The gemora there says clearly that she needs a GET if no specific condition was made to negate the marriage if she had this problem.
16.   This again is a proof that even in serious blemishes we don’t allow the woman to remarry without a GET, and many poskim hold like that, not like Reb Moshe.
17.   Rambam rules Ishuse 7:23 that if a man made a condition in Erusin that he did not want a wife with certain blemishes, and the wife had them, the marriage is negated. But if afterwards  he married her with Chupah or took her to his house and they were together and then he did not make a condition, the woman is married and she needs a GET. Thus, even if there is proof that Erusin is negated by a blemish, if there is Nisuin the conditions may be negated and the woman needs a GET. Thus all people who want to negate a marriage because of a blemish, if they did not make a clear condition before the Chupa, they are married and the wife needs a GET. How does this agree with Reb Moshe’s lenient negation of marriages, that seem to mean even if they were married a few years and maybe even if they had children, the marriage is negated?
18.   The Meiri Kesubose 72b D “H “One who marries a woman, etc.” says that when a man marries a woman who has the blemishes of oaths that men don’t tolerate, and he did not know about them, the marriage is negated and no GET is needed. This is a proof to Reb Moshe that a strong blemish negates the marriage.
19.   Reb Moshe and Chelkas Mechokake EH 39:9 say that the woman must immediately leave the marriage if she discovers a major blemish in the husband. But how do we know that she did leave immediately?
20.   Thus, the issue of a blemish to negate a marriage has various aspects and opinions. The majority who discuss this do not permit the woman to remarry without a GET. Then we have the opinion of Tosfose Kesubose 72b that it may depend on the level of blemish. If so, who can determine what the thoughts of Chazal were in considering this?

Blu Greenberg seeks to overthrow Rabbeinu Tam's views of divorce laws

JPost     [This article is an embarrassment of journalistic ignorance and biased reporting - presenting the feminist view of halacha i.e., the Torah as given by Blu Greenberg]

According to Blu Greenberg, a visionary leader of Jewish Orthodox Feminism and co-founder of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), “where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halachic way.”

At the forefront of her struggle today, which is gaining wide-spread rabbinic support, is to solve the issue of women with recalcitrant husbands who refuse to grant their wives a “get” – a Jewish divorce document.

A study done by Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, director of the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University’s Law Faculty, found that one out of every three women in rabbinic courts in Israel suffers from get abuse, when the husband threatens to withhold the get, cited Greenberg, who sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss Orthodox feminism.

The problem, she said, stems largely from the attitude of the 10th-century halachic authority, Rabbeinu Tam. His hard-line approach is what paved the way for stringent rulings to this day, according to Greenberg. At the time, the principle of a husband’s absolute right over his wife was deemed inviolable and many rabbis over the years, and still today, understood that being faithful to halacha – as it is interpreted in their eyes – was more important than any given woman’s particular situation.

This attitude of being stringent in the cases of agunot, Jewish women who are “chained” to their marriage, is something she calls “horrific.” [...]

Rabbi Simcha Krauss, Rabbi Yosef Blau and Rabbi Yehuda Warburg have been operating the International Beit Din, a rabbinical court dealing with cases of recalcitrant husbands worldwide. The court has been operational for only a few months and has already resolved some 20 cases.

The International Beit Din utilizes two halachic tools to resolve cases. The first is by declaring the witnesses from the wedding not kosher. The second option is declaring that there was a preexisting flaw in the husband that was not disclosed to the woman prior to the wedding, and therefore the marriage was a mistake.

Both of these tools are halachically acceptable and used by other rabbinic courts around the world, but this court is interpreting cases with wider latitude, making it their mission to find the flaws that can provide the halachic loopholes to apply them.

Other courts err on the side of caution, according to Greenberg, and women are hurt in the process. [...]

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

4 Cancer Charities in F.T.C. Fraud Case allegedly spent more than $187 million in donations on personal expenses

NY Times     The Federal Trade Commission and all 50 states on Tuesday accused four cancer charities of being “sham charities,” charging that the groups had deceived donors and spent more than $187 million in donations on personal expenses, in one of the largest charity fraud cases ever.

In soliciting donations through telemarketing calls and direct-mail, the F.T.C. complaint says, the charities described specific uses for the money they solicited, like transporting patients to and from chemotherapy or purchasing pain medication for children. “These were lies,” the complaint says, and the money went to the people running the charities for expenses like gym memberships, college tuition and dating website subscriptions. “Donations have enriched a small group of individuals.”

The charities — the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society — were created and controlled by the same network of people and led by James Reynolds Sr., the F.T.C. says. [...]

According to the complaint, Mr. Reynolds devised the fund-raising scheme in 1987 and recruited his son, friends and members of his church congregation to participate in the years that followed. The F.T.C.’s finding of $187 million in misspent donations reflects the charities’ activity from 2008 to 2012. In that time, the charities spent less than 3 percent of donations on cancer patients. [...]

Mark Hammond, secretary of state for South Carolina, said that the revelations were a reminder: “Be vigilant when giving to charity.”