Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ari responds to Rabbi Genende

Guest post from Ari - who states that his parents and grandparents were/are CHC members.      (AJN Watch has edited this post slightly.)

Caulfield Shul members would've received the following message from Rabbi Ralph Genende a few days ago. (It also appears on their website.)

Reading it over Shabbos, it seemed to me that the rabbi is getting himself involved in matters not of his concern as well as showing that he has very little understanding of the ways and practices of Chareidi Jews.

He writes:
The digital erasure of the two women (Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomasen) from the iconic photo in the Situation Room at the White House raised hackles but also some interesting issues. It got us thinking about the image of women in the Chareidi world, its ramifications for Orthodoxy (if not Judaism) in general. It also has implications about the boundaries between private and public, respect for the truth and the Chareidi mindset.

While modern Orthodoxy has long-championed the greater inclusion of women in Jewish public life, the Chareidi (ultra-Orthodox) world still struggles with, if not out rightly rejects it. While they have the right to read the Torah through their lenses, they don’t have the right to impose this on others as the “Torah-true way”. I don’t have a problem with the Chareidi world wanting to maintain standards of tzniut or modesty (and we could all do with a little more modesty and a lot less exhibitionism),

Thanks for that and may I suggest that Rabbi Ralph takes on some of his own advice. Wouldn’t the average observer say that the Purim photographs of him displayed on the CHC website “could do with a little more modesty and a lot less exhibitionism”? (I can just imagine what “Di Tzeitung” would do with such images!)
Anyone know what the rabbi is supposed to be representing here?
(I sure hope it's not what I think.)

I do have a problem with their zealotry, their conviction that they have the G-d given right to make women sit at the back of the bus or pressure them to move out of their allotted seats on an El AL plane because they don’t want to sit next to them. I have a problem with those Chareidim who are so obsessed with the depiction of women that they minimise essential Jewish and Halachik concepts like “kavod habriyut” (respect for humanity created in G-d’s image).

We often find that preachers of “Ahavat Yisrael” and “Kavod Habriyut” usually practice it far less than those people they are aiming aim. No sector of Jewry can match the Chareidi world's incredible and often heroic acts of Chesed and Tzedaka. This is something which the so-called Modern Orthodox communities can only dream about. (Even here in Melbourne, the Chesed of the Chareidi/Chabad communities outshines the rest by miles. It may be me, but I cannot recall any major "Ahavat Yisrael" project initiated and run by the rabbinate or members of the CHC.)

Talking of “kavod habriyut”, rabbi, I have a shaaloh for you. How far does this excuse go? Eg, what if an immodestly dressed woman turns up in your Shul in shorts? Would “kavod habriyut” trump the requirement of kavod Beit Haknesset and respect for a Mikdash Me’at? Do you have some measure by which you weigh up political correctness and the Halachah? If so, it would be interesting to hear of it.

This photograph, which I found on the Shul's website, may (or may not) answer the question:

Having grown up in CHC (and still attend occasionally), I well understand that talking to your members about tzniut and dress modesty would (sadly) make about as much sense as teaching the Zohar to a horse. But that is no excuse for your preaching to and criticizing the hundreds of thousands of Halacha-abiding Jews worldwide (BH the number is growing) who DO follow the laws of Tzeniut?  

 To airbrush out pictures of women (which is done regularly not only in Di Tzeitung but also in other Chareidi publications) is a distortion of the truth which in Halacha is called gneivat da’at (being deceitful) and midvar sheker tirchak (keep away from falsehood).

“Gneivat da’at”? Come on, rabbi. Every reader of a Chareidi publication knows that this is newspaper policy and not only does he/she have no problem with it but expects it to follow these standards.

The apologetic statement of Di Tzeitung Issued after the event does little to assure me: “Our photo editor…did not read the ‘fine print’…forbidding any changes in the photo (by the White House)…The readership of the Tzeitung believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like”. I am not assured by this because the Tzeitung producers and readers are ‘fine-print’ shmekkers; they often focus on the most stringent minutiae of Halachik practise.

For a rabbi to be so sarcastic is not nice. Yes, Chareidim do focus on “the most stringent minutiae of Halachik practice”. However, instructions from the White House publicity department don't qualify as “Halachik practise”.

And anyway, who said that the Tzeitung's photo editor was a Chareidi? Maybe he – or even she – was some bungling, inept or even junior Modern Orthodox?

And I am not assured by their reverence for what women do because this is usually restricted to a very narrow area. And anyway shouldn’t men be entitled to the same appreciation for they who they are rather are rather than what look like?

Sadly it seems that the rabbi has absolutely no idea of the Chareidi world’s position and perspective on Tzeniut values. Maybe it's time to drop into Golds and pick up a few seforim that discuss these issues from the authentic Torah angle and gain a little more knowledge and understanding of these things.

Being a rabbi in a Shul where 80-90% of the members are not observant, attending only 3 times a year and whose most fervent prayer is that their child doesn’t marry out may make a sermon demanding Tzeniyut a bit awkward. But so what? Who said that a rabbi's job is always simple and uncomplicated? When we have a situation that 90% of couples registering to be married by you (and the other so-called "MO" rabbis) list the same (prior-wedding) address for both Chatan and Kallah, shouldn’t the rabbis be concentrating on changing this way of life? Shouldn't you be sermonising again and again about marrying first, and only then moving in with each other and establishing a family? One has the feeling that rabbis are afraid that talking about this lest they be accused of chalilah vechas having "Chareidi-extremist" views.More worrying is the attitude of a large segment of the Chareidi world towards women and modesty in general. A group of Chareidi women and girls in Bet Shemesh have begun to wear Muslim garb covering their whole body (including their heads and faces) with rabbinic approval.

That is simply untrue. Here and here are a couple of links to prove that.

There is an increasing tending in the Orthodox world to separate the sexes at schools, weddings, funerals and shule events. This was not the norm in the Orthodox world in the past.

Really? “Increasing tending”? Maybe a quick glance at, say, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch - written about 150 years ago (and sourced from Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim - all who belonged to the "past") will enlighten you. Regarding mixed weddings see Ch. 149:1 and re the mingling of the sexes at funerals Ch. 198:10. So much for your “not the norm in the Orthodox world in the past”!

And may one suggest that for one of the few rabbis who allows and supports the Minhag Hagoyim of "double ring" ceremonies under the Chuppah, talking about “not the norm in the Orthodox world in the past” seems strange. 

Not only was this "not the norm in the past", but it is absolutely prohibited by the greatest Posek of recent generations Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in his Igros Moshe (Even Ha’Ezer vol 3:18). Rabbi Feinstein was by no means considered an ‘extremist’ or ‘Chumra” posek. And he writes it is Assur. But obviously Rabbi Genede has a different opinion.

While modest, respectful, appropriate behaviour between men and women is what the Torah expects, it does not expect a total separation of the sexes.

Come on rabbi. You know very well that you are preaching to those who not only don’t read your stuff, but  hardly know you exist. Why waste your precious time?

Wouldn't it be far more beneficial and productive if you spoke and wrote to your own flock about issurei arayos, pritzus, tumas niddah? Have you EVER dared to sermonize about Chilul Shabbos?  Far safer to preach about the lack of “kavod habriyut” and the “gneivat da’at” by primitive Chareidim.

As for your comment about “gneivat da’at (being deceitful) and midvar sheker tirchak (keep away from falsehood)” can your inform us about the last time you publicly - and honestly - spoke or wrote about the Torah’s “retribution” for Shabbos desecrators – “Mechaleleho Mos Yumos”? Or explained the "unadulterated" (non-gneivat da’at) Torah view about homosexual behavior?

Too risky, eh, rabbi? Far easier to criticize a Yiddish newspaper in Brooklyn.

Total isolation leads to a warped worldview and ironically an unnecessary emphasis on sexuality as the defining mark of humanity. As Rabbi Marc Angel has recently remarked: “It reduces all humans to sexual objects unable to conduct themselves with propriety, decency and morality…this philosophy is grotesque…if we do not stand up against these tendencies to isolate the genders, then don’t be surprised if they become accepted among the rest of Orthodoxy.”

I would be willing to bet any amount that Chareidi Jews “conduct themselves with propriety, decency and morality” in far, far more than any other group. Rabbi Angel should compare the numbers with his MOs. He’s in for a shock. (And whilst I know very little about Rabbi Angel and his congregation, I'm willing to bet that all the issues I have raised with Rabbi Genende are just as relevant to him.)

He also notes that such views cause more Jews to become alienated from Orthodox and Halachik practise.

What nonsense! Who has EVER heard of an observant Jew leaving Yiddishkeit or joining the Reform because Chareidm don’t put pictures of women in the newspapers?

The Zeitung debate highlights a wider issue: the breakdown in the walls between public and private. In an internet world you can no longer hide behind the walls of your community; anything you print goes viral immediately. As the wise rabbis of Pirkei Avot advised long ago: “Be careful with your words”. Hopefully the Chareidi world will become more sensitive to this and to the recognition that their views and opinions are impacting on all Jews and our relationship with society. Let us in the modern-Orthodox world encourage them to be more inclusive in their ways and views. You need fences for protection but you also need gateways and openings so that you can grow and move freely in Hashem’s varied and colourful world.

Message from the Chareidi world to Rabbi Genende: Thanks but no thanks. We are mochel your encouragement and suggest that rather than advising us on how to run our lives, spare your strength for your home turf to work with your own congregants. Presumably that is why they pay tour salary. Get them to understand and accept some of the basics, ie, observe the Shabbos, eat Kosher, put on Tefilin, Taharas Hamishpacha and you’ll have achieved something positive. You are wasting your time trying to “downsize” Chareidim.

PS. And if you feel that talking Torah and Mitzvot to your parishioners is too 'risky' or an absolute waste of time then I suggest you continue to invest your efforts with the Christians and Buddhists (information I found whilst reseaching this post. There is a higher probability that that they will heed your advice than will Chareidim. 

Finally, I apologise if some of my words seem overly harsh, but I have relied on Chazal who teach us “Bemakom sheyesh Chillul Hashem ein cholkin kavod larav”.

  With respect
       Ari (who really wants to return to the Shul of his youth)

PS. Someone has just brought to my attention that Isaac Balbin has also has his say on Rabbi Genende's piece. As Sholomo Hamelech once said "tovim hashnayim min ha'echad".


  1. B'H
    Good piece of writing with excellent content. Ari brings up some very important points.
    Not a believer in interfaith meetings or seminars, I agree with my Rav who sees them as having an agenda which is the prosleytisation of Jewish participants ultimately.
    Having experienced two years of intense Christian indoctrination at a boarding school in my early teenage years which served only to vaccinate me against all future forms of Christian pressures and brainwashing, I have a nose (no pun intended) for the infection of foreign concepts infiltrating the more authentic Jewish lifestyle and thinking.
    It concerns me that many mainstream rabbis do tend to play to their audience otherwise they would lose their main source of income. However one does not have to stoop to the level of Rabbi Genende's Purim dress. I can only say that I am literally aghast. It shows so little respect for himself and his office as to be obscene.
    That is all I am going to say on this matter.
    Images of females in Hamodia are air brushed for reasons of respect for women, modesty and so that the paper serves its community purpose and does not become what so many of the popular goyishe newspapers represent. I as a woman am very appreciative of that and respect that.

  2. He's dressed up as a sumo wrestler. How is it that such a frum guy as Ari could think it's something worse?

  3. Actually, I also thought it was something 'worse'. But now that you mention it it could well be a sumor wrestler, though isn't the sheitel problematic?

  4. Ari, thanks for your post. You certainly make some excellent comments.

    Like you, it has always bothered me that rabbis - both in the mainstream shuls, eg Toorak, Caulfield, Elwood etc,are loathe to state the Torah truth - about Shabbos, issurei arayos, niddah etc.

    Chabad House rabbis do sometimes broach these issues, but they too are not doing anywhere near what they should to alert people to the many issurim committed in their lives. Sure, not everyone will listen to teh rabbis, but some may - why not give them a chance to know the seriousness of it all.

    Where Chabad and mainstream rabbis should really be concentrating their efforts are upon Sefardi Jews - most who know and have a tradition and are far more likely to listen.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents wroth

  5. Greenie, you missed the point, which is not that rabbis should be telling people what they're not ready to hear — Chazal already told us ואל תאמר דבר שאי אפשר לשמוע — but rather that rabbis who understandably don't do so are in no position to call the harmless alteration of a photo geneivas da'as.

  6. Joan, the wig is obviously meant to resemble the unique hair style of sumo wrestlers.

  7. CHC has already flirted with a charedi Rabbi who preached the type of sermons that Ari espouses. The result was a massive exodus of members, division in the shul, bankruptcy, and the exposure of corrupt charedi dayanim who disgraced themselves in a farcicle din torah.
    CHC Executive Member

  8. I strongly disagree with airbrushing women out of photos, particularly when the women in question are not themselves charedi. It comes across as a major insult.

    If charedi papers insist on a "no female images" policy, I'm afraid they have no choice but to pay the price. No photos of Netanyahu's cabinet. No photos of Obama's war room. This may or may not be the way to go. But to airbrush women out is totally unacceptable, and extremely insulting to the women in question.

    As to the "no female images" policy in general, I don't agree with it. But changing it means making judgement calls - and no one wants to undertake that responsibility. Besides, if you ask me, I consider the world of Israeli charedim somewhat extreme. I wonder what the (non chassidic) american gedolim would say. Would Reb Malkiel Kotler, for example, seek a similar blanket ban?

  9. B"H
    Oh Really, I definitely thought it was something much worse. A SUMO wrestler????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! }:-O

    I thought he was meant to be an overweight, topless, maybe I should not go on here as it is all from the TV days and the worst sort of movies which is one of the reasons I have not had a TV since 2007 and mostly choose G rated if I go to the movies. There is too much I do not want to see. Why would a Rav chose a costume with so much revealed flesh....?

  10. Caulfield Shules flirtation with a Chareidi rabbi ended in disaster due to the stubborn streak that rabbi possessed and unfortunately, not enough common sense. Having said that any respectable rabbi whose reason d'etre is to elevate his community, and whose bread and butter was dependant around on his successes as a rabbi and who does not at the same time moonlight in other sciences but has a good concept of the suitable outreach appropriate for his congregation, would do wonders for CHC. Right now, all that appears to be taking place is the pandering to the lowest common denominator and the extension of Purim festivities, all year round.

  11. Ari is correct about the double ring ceremony. How does rabbi G get away with introducing reform and conservative shtick at a chuppah? Why is there no outcry from our rabbis?

    Now just imagine if it was G but RM Rabi doing this. There'd be proclamations and bans and special meetings of the RCA.

    Maybe someone can forward my question to our rabbis and also to rabbi mosher gutnick in Sydney.

  12. Talking of rabbis, I am surprised that ajnwatch hasn’t picked up on the flow of emails doing the rounds in Sydney re the denunciation by Chabad rabbis against one of their own for daring to participate in a yom haatzmaut torch-lighting ceremony. It seems that they are scampering for cover and saying things that I find hard to believe that they really mean.

    I have received the chain of emails 4th or 5th hand so there may have been some editing done. In any case it makes interesting reading and again begs the question, how much of their principles and standards are our rabbis prepared or willing to drop for the sake of a position or parnoso?

    Subject: Chabad rabbis denounce one of their own for lighting torch at Israel Independence Day ceremony | Israel | Jewish Journalhttp://www.jewishjournal.com/israel/article/chabad_denounces_rabbi_for_lighting_torch_at_israel_independence_day_ceremo/

    What is the position of the Central Synagogue rabbi (Chabad rabbi Levi Wolf) to this I wonder?
    From: Stanley
    Hi Peter
    Why don’t we ask Levi ? I’ve recently been engaged in an email battle with Carl Reid re KTC’s similarly incomprehensible policy.
    On 4 May I emailed 3 Rabbonim, including Rabbi Wolff, with a request for at least a half-plausible explanation,
    but so far none have answered. I’ll cc this email to all 3 as a reminder, and let’s see what happens ….


  13. From: Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick [mailto:rabbig@ka.org.au]
    Dear Stanley (and Peter)
    Unfortunately we have not been able to make verbal contact – I would have preferred to do this verbally so that there could be questions and answers but it would appear that the matter may be getting out of hand so I will do this via email – and if there is more to discuss we can do so then.

    Furthermore I can really only speak for myself and Rabbi Levi , as I believe we share similar views – I cannot speak for the other Rabbis.

    I am not worthy to speak for the Rebbe , but I will do my best to explain what I believe to have been his views.
    Chabad is not a monolithic entity with a single hierarchy , and there will therefore be differences of opinion .

    Chabad is not like other chareidi groups that require blind adherence – Chabad by definition requires one to think, question and understand.
    Each of us has our way in which we understand the teachings of the Rebbe and sometimes we can arrive at different conclusions; each one certain that was the intent of the Rebbe.

    I am in a unique position in that my father had a very close relationship with the Rebbe, unusual in its closeness and intensity, and therefore I believe that my father understood and transmitted to me ( and others) the Rebbe’s teachings accurately. This understanding has been re-enforced to me especially in the last five or so years when I have devoted much time in studying both recordings and texts of the Rebbe’s teachings.

    I would like to quote at the outset Yehuda Avner , former Ambassador of the State of Israel to Australia and advisor to many Prime Ministers –
    who had numerous audiences with the Rebbe on behalf of those Prime Ministers, who said at a gathering of some four thousand Chabad Shluchim
    at which Rabbi Levi and ZI were present – that he has never met a “more radical Zionist in his life than the Lubavitcher Rebbe” to which he received sustained applause from those present.

    How does this tie in with HaTikvah , the flag , Yom HaAtzmaut etc ? It is now 1am and I have a flight to Perth tomorrow and will be taking my trusty laptop with me.
    I will continue this email and send you a detailed answer to the best of my ability which I will send upon landing ….

    But the fact remains the Rebbe was one of the most radical Zionists of our time. I consider myself a radical Zionist – and you will get confirmation of that from Ron Wiser.

    I would proudly give my life in defense of the State and people off Israel and the only reason I am living here is because I believe I have a duty to this community that transcend my personal desire to live in Israel, and I am sure the same goes for Rabbi Levi because we have discussed these matters together.
    Our devotion and loyalty is unimpeachable.

    Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick

  14. From: Peter Wise [mailto:pwise@wiselegal.com.au]
    Dear Rabbi Gutnick,
    ---However, I do ask that you consider an adjunct matter. In the article I forwarded to Stanley, the last paragraph reported:
    “We are Zionists. But not the so-called Zionists who created the State of Israel, rather we are Zionists who pray thrice daily that ‘G-d lay His eyes upon Zion,’ “ Drukman wrote. “The difference is immense.”

    May I presume that the “Zionism” to which Rabbi Drukman referred was one which recognises the ingathering of the Jews when the Messiah comes.
    This would appear in conflict with Zionists who see their role as settling, or at the very least encouraging others to settle in Israel before the Messiah comes/Messianic age arrives.

    Rabbi, you of course in no way have to justify your position, but I must say that I am confused by what is meant by a “radical Zionist”. Can you please elaborate.

    Many thanks and I look forward to reading your thoughts on singing Ha Tikvah, taking part in Yom Ha’atzmaut and displaying the Israeli flag and a continuation of your most interesting and considered introduction tonight.

    Peter Wise

    From: Rabbi Wolff [mailto:Rabbi@centralsynagogue.com.au]
    Dear Stan and Peter, I apologise for being off air last night and only catching up today/tonight with my emails.
    In response, let me firstly state, that Rabbi Holztberg’s presence at Mt Hertzel and his acceptance of the honour of lighting the touch is certainly much more in sync with what Chabad internationally feels. I am personally proud that he accepted the honour (I spoke about it in Shule the week before).
    In fact, last year Chanie and I were on Mt Hertzel at that very occasion, where we wept tears of joy and could not have felt more proud as Jews.

    If a few Rabbis in Israel have chosen to condemn him, I can tell you one thing, they don’t speak for the Chabad movement!
    Chabad HQ in NY has distanced itself from these particular Rabbis, clearly stating that “they do not speak on behalf of the movement”.

    Moshe expressed it best by saying Chabad by definition, requires one to think, question and understand.
    Each of us has our way in which we understand the teachings of the Rebbe and sometimes we may arrive at different conclusions; each one certain that was the intent of the Rebbe.

    I don’t think we should get caught up with an article in a left wing newspaper, trying to create a sensational news story.
    The facts speak for themselves.
    The late Rebbe was a confidant of almost every single Israeli PM, each of them travelling to Brooklyn, seeking his advice and wise counsel.

    (in fact as I write this email, I am looking at a picture in my study of President Zalmen Shazr holding up a cup for a L’chaim to the Rebbe at a Farbrengen in Brooklyn.
    These great leaders of Israel turned, to the Rebbe precisely because they knew that in him they found a man that displayed unmatched love and concern for the State, its leaders, its soldiers and its people.


  15. I would be very happy to give you recently released DVD’s containing fascinating interviews with Israeli generals,
    leaders and members of the Shin Bet each of them speaking about what the Rebbe shared and taught them about Israel, its wars its economy and its security.

    Here is a link to just one small segment with Menachem Begin. http://home.jemedia.org/update.asp?aid=1438896

    The Rebbe instructed Chabad Chassidim to vote in the elections and not only encouraged them to serve in the IDF,
    but said it was Halachcliy forbidden to avoid serving in the IDF unless pressing circumstances prevented it.
    (many of my uncles and relatives in Israel, indeed have served).

    I don’t think there was a single public talk over the 50 years of the Rebbe’s leadership, (and there were many!) that he didn’t speak of and encourage our love and commitment to Israel.

    The Rebbe established numerous settlements in the State of Israel, encouraging people to move and live there.
    Today they are among the most thriving villages in Israel, home to thousands of families who pay their taxes, work the land and serve its people.
    Personally, my great grandfather Rabbi Shalom Posner - a true Chabadnik in every sense of the word – physically helped build the roads of Petach Tikvah.
    His grandchildren and great grandchildren live there today and battle with day to day life in Israel.
    I smile at the so called “Zionists” living in the Diaspora in the lap of luxury, telling them who is and who is not a real lover of Israel.

    And now a word about Hatikvah; firstly let me make it clear that I sing Hatikvah at Central!
    If you wonder why there are some very dedicated lovers of Israel, who have differing opinions on the matter,
    let’s not confuse them with the Neturie Karta who have never accepted the modern state of Israel.
    Let’s remember that as a people, from the day we departed Mt Sinai, we have argued and debated what the word of G-d meant;
    from the laws of Shabbat, to what we eat, and even which words to include in songs we sing!
    (I have no doubt Moshe will elaborate on that)
    We should not interpret an ideological difference, as a difference in belief and commitment to our homeland.

    Let’s not forget, that the Israeli national anthem, which ought to encapsulate the true hopes of the entire Jewish People in the Holy Land and beyond,
    has unfortunately fallen short of achieving that goal.
    The fact is, it does not even mention the Creator Himself, nor his Torah without which the State could not exist – and this was not an inadvertent omission.
    I think it might be unfair to expect all Jews to celebrate their relationship with the Holy Land by singing a song, which was designed by a non-believer to suit non believers.

    For many believing Jews, including the father of all religious Zionists Rabbi Kook, it was an anathema, (he disagreed with the attitude that it conveyed.
    He wrote an alternate poem incorporating G-d, Torah and Mitzvoth and hoped that it would replace Hatikva as the national anthem)
    although he later accepted it, it was with a hope to one day being able to modify it.

    I appreciate that the above might seem strange to mainstream Jews, but let me refer you to the American Declaration of Independence and its anthem;
    if only our “Israeli Fathers” whould have learned from their American counterparts, to add the words “one nation under one G-d”,
    I can assure you that Hatikvah would have been embraced across all religious spectrums.

    Just as we ought to expect “Frum” Jews (I hate those labels) to be tolerant and accepting of their brethren, “Secular Jews” who might not keep Shabbat etc,
    we also ought to expect that no Jew be bullied into using a secular template as the ultimate sign of who may be a Zionist or a true lover of Israel.
    Basic respect dictates, that we respect the fact that there are many different views and ways to express the same thing.

  16. FINAL

    So let me conclude, in the spirit of the upcoming weekend of Lag B’omer a day dedicated to the words of Rabbi Akiva “Love your fellow Jew as you love yourself, is the principle of the entire Torah”.
    Let us again focus on the 99 percent that we agree on, not the 1 percent we may differ on.

    As Jews we have experienced and have once again been reminded in the news today out of Israel,
    that we have enough enemies in our surrounding borders, who can’t wait to (G-d forbid) harm us.
    Let us together strengthen each other, support one another, for that will help usher in the day of ultimate peace.
    May it be speedily and in our times!

    I hope I did not come across too harshly. If I did - it was meant to be that way! –just kidding, please forgive me.
    G-d bless you,

  17. Dover bay boy, can you get us the further emails?

  18. This week rabbi Ralph is preaching to Straus-Kahan, Katzav and Madoff.

    Is everything is his own shul and community really so perfect that he can take time off to improve the rest of the world?

    Or as an alternative to study a mesechta gemara? Isn't he and his membership embarrased that every pre-Pesach season the CHC advertises for a (Charedi?) person to make the siyum on Erev Pesach?

    Isn't that something that every rabbi does in his shul? Or is that only charedi rabbis?

  19. Let me set the record straight for all you self-righteous misinformed, blinkered charedi spreaders of hatred. CHC does not advertise for a charedi person for the Erev Pesach siyum. Fortunately we manage to obtain the services of normal people for this purpose, who have genuinely studied and concluded a Mesachte and do not have to pretend they have. Rabbi Genende, who you are all so obsessed with attacking is very particular that this mitzvah is carried out correctly. He is perfectly capable of learning gemarrah, but his time is fully taken up with serious communal work, unlike the majority of posters on this blog who prefer to spend their time searching our website for any opportunity to unleash their hate-filled venom.
    CHC Executive Member.

  20. Rabbi Genende may have "hit the nail on the head". "His" media is full of Strauss-Kahan, Bernie Madoff and President Katzav, whilst the charedi media amply covers "major" world events, and, as an added bonus there is much Torah published.Would you rather your children/grandchildren read Hamodia or the Herald Sun?

  21. CHC executive member, you are not doing your rabbi any favours by saying that he is too busy to learn gemarrah.

    Limud haTorah - especially for a rabbi should be his first priority - or at least highe rup on the ladder than sermonising to the outside world - who don't know or care about him.

  22. No doubt the rabbi by criticising everyone except his own membership, makes them feel great about themselves - without the need for too much genuine "jewishness" in their lives.

    This problem (of lack of "jewishness") exists in most 'mainstream' shuls and even many Chabad houses - though their rabbis aren't known to belittle others in the process

  23. To Mr. Anonymous, I did not say that Rabbi Genende was too busy to learn Gemarra. He in fact learns and gives excellent shiurim regularly. What I obviously didn't get across to you is that if has not managed to complete an entire masechta by Erev Pesach he is would rather call in someone who has rather than not carry out the siyum correctly. BTW I have observed over the years that many of those in the charedi community who are supposedly so steeped in gemorrah learning are total amhoratzim in Tanach. Ask the average bochur or kollel member what this week's haftorah is about and mostly you will be answered witha a blank stare.
    CHC Executive Member.

  24. Regarding DBB's emails re Chabad and Zionism, here's an interesting story which has been doing the rounds on the net which clearly shows that the rebbe was no zionist, far, far from it. Rabbis Wolf and Gutnick may sing their hearts out at Hatikvah and may be be happy to volunteer for Zahal, but their rebbe was having none of it.

    Lubavitcher Rebbe regarded Zionism, with a "fanaticism that was greater than Satmar's"

    by Rabbi Yehoshua Dubrawsky

    This happened many decades ago. I was working then for the "Shulsinger Brothers" famous printing and publishing establishment. They had acquired a reputation for the number of sefarim they had printed as well as the quality of the printing and binding, "good ink on good paper," which had become the standard in the Jewish world.

    The two owners of the printing company, Michel and Shmuel Shulsinger, had a great share in the dissemination of Toras Chassidus Chabad - of the Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe nasi doreinu - after the war. At that time, Shulsinger Brothers invested over $30,000 a year, an enormous amount at that time, to print various sefarim (Chassidus, sifrei chinuch, pamphlets etc.).

    The truth is that on more than one occasion they really went "all out" in order to do what the Rebbe wanted (for example, printing a book or pamphlet as quickly as possible, and sometimes impossible ... and remember, this was when printing was done with molten lead, not with high speed computerized machinery). Thanks to their efforts, they had the privilege of enjoying an especially warm relationship with the Rebbe Rayatz, and then as a natural extension of that, with the Rebbe.

  25. -2- Rebbe..

    However, they were "farbrente tziyonim" (ardent Zionists), and as such, they did not manage to absorb the pnimiyus of the closeness they enjoyed with the Rebbeim, which led to the following incident.

    One day when I arrived at the printers, the brothers attacked me with complaints and a hue and cry (as though I was guilty for something). Mind you, by nature they were excitable fellows.

    Their main point was: we never realized that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is such a kanai (fanatic), even more of a kanai than the Satmar Rebbe!

    What had happened to elicit this outburst? It took some time before they calmed down and could tell me what happened.

    At that time, the Shulsinger Brothers were pioneers, and for quite some time they were the only ones, who published Jewish calendars. Their satisfied customers were Jewish organizations, particularly those involved in fundraising, that used the calendars for advertising.

    Lubavitch had ordered calendars. Rabbi Chodakov a'h would carefully go over every single item under the Chabad name (Kehot, Mercas L'Inyonei Chinuch, etc.). The Shulsinger Brothers always wrote "Yom Ha'Atzmaut" (Israel's Independence Day) for the date 5 Iyar. When they brought the proofs for the Chabad calendar to R' Chodakov, he noticed those two words near the date for 5 Iyar and he erased them so vigorously that not a trace remained of them.

    When the proofs were back at the printer and they noticed this correction, they went crazy. They were simply furious and they resolved that this would not be allowed. They set off for 770, went into R' Chodakov's miniscule office, and began shouting: How could he?! They screamed all the reasons why noting Yom Ha'Atzmaut on the calendars was a sacred principle for them.

    R' Chodakov, in his usual unflappable manner, heard them out and when they were done, he responded calmly though resolutely, saying that it was out of the question for those words to appear on a Chabad calendar. Without getting into a debate with them, he let them know that if they would stand on their principle, Chabad's order was cancelled.

    The brothers realized they had wasted their efforts in the wrong place, because he wouldn't change his mind (one of them said dismissively, "speaking to a Yekke like him is like talking to the wall"), and they decided to go over his head.

    In those years it was still relatively easy to get an appointment with the Rebbe, especially for those who had enjoyed such a close relationship. Within a short time they had an appointment with the Rebbe. This is what the Shulsinger brothers told me that day:

    First of all, how could Yom Ha'Atzmaut be erased from the calendar? The day the state was established was in the way of "ischalta d'Geula" (the beginning of Geula)! How could it be ignored?!

  26. -3- Rebbe

    The Rebbe responded sharply: "Ischalta dGeula"? Chas V'Shalom! It was not the ischalta d'Geula!

    The brothers began arguing: Nu, fine, it wasn't the beginning of the complete Geula, but it was still a day of salvation and redemption for the Jewish people! Why should it be erased?

    Again, the Rebbe responded sharply: No! It was not a day of salvation and redemption for the Jewish people! (there were some other phrases which I don't remember now).

    The brothers remained dissatisfied and even raised their voices (as they themselves told me), and tried to plead with the Rebbe that even if it wasn't an actual yeshua for the Jewish people, it was at least a festive day, and it represented salvation for many Jews.

    I think the Rebbe also raised his voice - the talmidim in the yeshiva who sat in the small zal, not far from the yechidus room, said that they could hear the voices of the brothers the entire time, but then suddenly they could hear the Rebbe speaking loudly. This is what the Rebbe said which the brothers repeated to me:

    "Not only is it not the ischalta d'Geula; not only is it not a Yom Tov and a day of salvation for the Jewish people etc. - but this delayed the Geula for such and such a number of tens of years!"

    One of the brothers remembered a certain number the Rebbe had said, though he said it with reservations, "I think .." while the other brother remembered a different number, and was also doubtful. It's interesting that they didn't remember the number precisely (maybe due to their emotional state at the time).

    (and for me too, so many years later, it's hard to pinpoint what they said, but I think that the number was forty-five years).

    That was when the brothers finally understood how the Rebbe regarded Zionism, with a "fanaticism that was greater than Satmar's" - while at the same time, how precious every Jew is to the Rebbe, even those who still believe in Zionism.

  27. Is it true that our Charedi friends want to edit out all the women featured in the Chumash?

  28. Thanks dovber for that interesting article. I think the true Chabad views about zionism and israel have at least in Australia always been kept under wrpas so as no to harm relationships with donors and for our rabbis to live 'comfortably' with their shul boards.

    But seeing how much leftwing and even a new type of anti-israel feeling is going thru many section sof teh community eg the NIF, the rabbis may soon be able to speak more openly

  29. From Rabbi Ralph: " I have a problem with those Chareidim who are so obsessed with the depiction of women that they minimise essential Jewish and Halachik concepts like “kavod habriyut” (respect for humanity created in G-d’s image)" So Rabbi Ralph seems to be using the same argument that trhe Chareidim must have photographs of Ladies in their papers as our Reform Clergy are using to claim that we need same sex marriages! Seems that Rabbi Ralph hasn't taken an interest in this preverted claim re same sex marriages. He must ne too busy worrying what the Brooklyn Chassidim are doing.


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