Sunday, May 12, 2019

Kerestir Kerfuffle - People Speak Up For Sanity

It is heartening to see people questioning and pushing back after the latest assault of propaganda, this time from and for Kerestir. At Matzav and Yeshiva world multiple parties posted comments showing that they are fed up from all the over the top marketing and infomercials.

It's one thing if a Rebbe could perform a public service, such as the alleged rodent suppression matter. But to give people the impression that everyone must run to his resting place, thousands of miles away, at great cost of time, money, and more? I think the Rebbe himself would object.

There is hope. Some Jews are still thinking.

Halevai veiter.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Old-Fashioned Purim of a Litvak - Common Modern Purim Misconceptions Debunked

In recent years certain new and questionable ideas masquerading as mainstream Torah have seeped into parts of the Jewish community, even among some devout Jews, frum Yidden.

One area in which this is particularly evident is on Purim.

Sometimes people don't even realize that they are being fed new and questionable ideas, posing as authentic Torah, as if they were תורה מסיני, rather than recent creations and concoctions. People are so busy and harried, that it is difficult for them to think things through thoroughly, to give these new ideas a proper evaluation.

So, to make it easier on the ציבור, some of these questionable ideas and proper approaches to them are gathered below. So we should hopefully have a proper Purim, rather than a fantasy one.

(Some have previously been discussed here, while others are new)

1) In the future, other ימים טובים will be בטל, but Purim will never be בטל.

Reality - Incorrect, see our previous post on the matter.

2) On Purim one can ask הקב"ה for anything.

Reality - One can ask Hashem for anything anytime, not only on Purim. ה' יתברך is close to us all year, as the pasuk in ספר דברים says.

3) On Purim one is guaranteed that he will get whatever he asked for from Hashem, as it states כל הפושט יד נותנין לו.

Reality - So one can ask to win the lottery and be guaranteed to do so? To know ש"ס בעל פה by next month? There is no such guarantee.

4) Why is there no הבדלה on Purim? So the simcha will stay all year.

Reality - Incorrect, see our previous post on it.

5) How can we have unbridled joy on Purim, doesn't the gemara say that אסור לאדם למלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה (it is forbidden for a person to fill their mouth with laughter in this world)? Supposed answer - Purim is not from עולם הזה, it is from עולם הבא.

Reality - even on Purim there are limitations, we do not accept a free for all ח"ו, the בית המקדש is still lacking.

(See other similar Purim related material here)

Wishing you a גוטען חודש און א פרייליכען פורים, of real simcha, not delusions and הוללות ח"ו.

לחיים 🍷

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Newsflash - Rav Chaim Kanievsky Does NOT Know When Moshiach is Coming!

I was happy to just see at an Israeli website that a son in law of מרן שר התורה שליט"א, Rav Yitzchak Kolodetsky shlit"a issued a statement that Rav Chaim (like גדולי גדולים מדורי דורות before him) doesn't know exactly, for certain, when Moshiach is coming.

That came in wake of a widely disseminated recent dubious report, allegedly in the gaon's name, that Moshiach would come before the approaching Israeli election (scheduled for less than two months from now אי"ה).

Rav Kolodetsky explained that Rav Chaim, as other גדולי ישראל, when asked about something beyond the immediate future might remark, in a hopeful vein, that משיח will have already arrived by then. However, that is not a concrete prediction, but rather an expression of hope and deep yearning for, and belief in, ביאת המשיח. Rav Chaim is not a נביא (prophet), his son in law said. He additionally shared that רב חיים שליט"א himself regularly states that only a נביא can say exactly when Moshiach will come.

This is not the first instance of this nature in which questionable things publicized in the gaon's name, were actually inaccurate. Instances which debase the name and reputation of מרן שר התורה שליט"א, and כבוד התורה in general.

People who act irresponsibly in disseminating such things are עתידים ליתן את הדין.

May we be zoche to the fulfillment of the words in Tehillim, תאלמנה שפתי שקר.

Friday, February 1, 2019

How Is This Segulah Different Than Other Segulos? Thinking About Zera Shimshon

One of the 'newer' segulos in the segulah marketplace (there are various segulos - alleged and actual - competing for people's attention and patronage) seeking the attention of the masses is connected with the sefer זרע שמשון.

People are being implored to learn the sefer, and told great stories about how it has helped people.

Even Artscroll was running an advertising campaign for it a while ago, connected with its publication of related works by a well known storyteller, R. Nachman Seltzer (volume one and volume two).

That surprised me, as I didn't recall that publishing house hawking segulos in such a manner in the past. In my mind, Artscroll was run, generally, broadly speaking, in a Litvishe way, especially under its founder, R. Meir Zlotowitz z"l, in which tradition such things are not stressed.

Keep in mind as well that זרע שמשון is just one of a number of works that are considered segulos. There are other seforim of which it is reported that their authors promised benefits to those who learned and/or printed them too.

Now let's be clear about something. Zera Shimshon is a precious sefer. That is not disputed.

However, there is a danger that people will concentrate on a segulah, as a type of magic, placing excessive faith in it. And that is religiously problematic.

And, perhaps more importantly, learning any type of Torah is a great thing and a segulah.

If people feel connected to a certain part of Torah, that is where they should learn, as discussed here in the past.

Lest a reader say that I do not know from what I speak, let me share that I have looked into and learned some זרע שמשון. It made a favorable impression on me. However, to encourage every person to drop what they are doing, e.g. other לימודים קדושים, and start learning דווקא that work, strikes me as lacking in responsibility.

As Rav Yaakov Moshe Hillel shlit"a was once heard stating to someone who was asking him for a סגולה - why do you need a  "segulah", we are the עם סגולה?

Have a great Shabbos and a freilichen chodesh.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Hijacking of Heimish

It has been going on for some time already, but knowledgeable people realized that it was incorrect, or, more bluntly, a scam.

People were going around and claiming that the Yiddish word היימיש - heimish - meant, or was some type of synonym for Chasidic.

Those in the know realized that it didn't add up. Those in the dark, e.g. people lacking in knowledge of Yiddish, were vulnerable to being duped.

Occasional protests against the misuse notwithstanding, the misappropriation of the word in some circles continued and continues.

And then, I saw the internet post.

A fine and prestigious website had fallen for it.

Now is a time to speak out, I thought. Time to correct things and protest the hijacking of היימיש.

So here we go.

The real meaning of היימיש/Heimish

Looking at Yiddish dictionaries, one sees meanings such as cozy, comfortable, familiar, and intimate given for it.

(See here, and here, for example)

Applied to a person, in our context, if a person is described as heimish, or as a heimishe Yid, what it means is that the person evokes an old fashioned coziness and comfort, spiritual, psychological, as well as physical, with their behavior, mannerisms, and surroundings. Perhaps they speak Yiddish, or at least throw in some Yiddish words into their English, have a samovar in plain view, or otherwise seem like some quaint throwback to an earlier, simpler, more spiritual era. From a frum perspective it is like visiting your grandparents, or great grandparents. It is like visiting with one of the gedolim in the אלטע היים, in pre-modern Europe, for example. Or with a גדול of our era maintaining the same way of life.

The term was/is used by various types of Yidden. Litvaks, Galitzianers, Poylishe, Hungarians, Chasidim, Misnagdim.

To now claim that not only does it mean specifically חסידים, rather than any old fashioned, cozy and quaint, עהרליכע אידען, but also that it means bedavka (specifically) modernized Chasidim, as opposed to more old fashioned versions, is a linguistic crime and travesty, that should be denounced and soundly rejected.

May Hashem help us from all fraud, scam, deception, and distortion.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Chasidic Backlash Against New High Shtreimel Style Gains Momentum

A while ago, we reported on the Vizhnitz opposition to the recent trend toward high shtreimels.

Now, it seems that other Chasidic groups have also come out against the new style.

Behadrei Haredim reports that Karlin has, and notes that Bobov (see here re the Bobov 48 Rebbe's stance) has in the past as well.

See there also re shtreimel history and how they have changed over the centuries.

Yud Tes Kislev Brings Misnagdim To Light

Do Misnagdim still exist today?

Well, they do exist, I have even met some during my lifetime :), but they don't usually go around with big signs and bullhorns proclaiming their beliefs. 

However, at times Hisnagdus comes out into the open.

A few days ago, before יט כסליו, two such cases were seen on the internet. 

We share the details with you below, courtesy of Chabad-Lubavitch.

So not only do Misnagdim still exist today, they exist in places and forms that people may not be aware of, e.g. among other (non Lubavitch) Chasidim, and among Dati-Leumi Yidden. The Misnaged today is not necessarily your sterotypical Litvak.

May we be zoche to see the light bikarov.

A freilichen Chanukah.