Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Celebrating the Torah

Walking the street enjoying the sights of the flowers and the smell of dairy delicacies it occurs to me that while the other festivals are offshoots and commandments of the Torah, only Shavouth is the festival of the Torah itself. It is when we celebrate the Torah given to us on Mount Sinai though the Torah does not make the link and, like most things, comes to us by rabbinic deduction perpetuated by culture and custom. Perhaps like a birthday boy or girl who do not organise their own party, the Torah kept silent on the issue and left it to others to throw the bash. And what a bash it is!

Other Holidays go on for what seems a lifetime and come with truck loads of rules restricting what we can eat, when we can eat, where we can eat and sometimes whether we can eat at all. Pesach supposedly celebrates freedom but enslaves us weeks in advance in preparation and weeks after in paying the bills. Succoth celebrates the shade in the wilderness so we Jews decided to commemorate it by erecting booths during rainy and cool Autumn.

Shavuoth however is different. It's short lasting only 2 days; it's tasty with an abundance of cheesecakes and other dairy savouries; and it's colourful with beautiful flowers and foliage adorning homes and shules. So much so that the Talmud tells us that unlike other Holidays there is no dispute that Shavuoth must be enjoyed materially as well as spiritually.

For this reason Shavuoth has hardly any rules or special prayers and we're home early for lunch. Those prayers that there are like Akdomuth come with a special chant. The Akdomuth itself is one half glorification of God and his celestial creations and one half a recitation of the delights to expect when our time comes. A feast of the Leviathan and the Wild Ox, assuming they’re not endangered species, washed down with wine from the days of Genesis and held in halls of splendour. Unfortunately there is no debauchery to go with it and while others get 70 virgins all we get is a waltz with the righteous who as we know can't dance.

To top the beauty of the Festival is the reading of the book of Ruth, surely the most exquisite and beautiful story of the entire Bible both in content and style.

Since I seem to be giving a sermon there must be a moral at the end and here it is: Shavuoth is celebrated in the manner that the Torah ought to be before the killjoys decided to ruin it: short, simple, colourful and palatable. Leave the 'deeper meanings' to your slumber during the Rabbi's speech for Shavuoth needs no rabbis. The Torah has simple and pleasant meaning and that is just how we celebrate the Festival commemorating its presentation to us.

Good Yom Tov!

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30 Comments:

At 14 June 2011 at 17:16 , Anonymous Martin Braun said...

What a sad old heretic... You should consider assisted dying. Check it out Dignitas.

 
At 14 June 2011 at 17:33 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No mention of Padwa/Pinter/Joe?? Martin is right in the first part, though not sure where Dignitas comes in. You are an heretic and I applaud you for not concealing it.

 
At 14 June 2011 at 21:12 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

Martin, at least people come here to read rather than just look at the pictures...

 
At 14 June 2011 at 23:52 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

Anon, why would I mention them 3 when talking about Torah?

Padwa is interested in horses and banning eiruvs niether of which is remotely related to Torah, Pinter is just an ignoramus and as for Joe, well where do I start?

I can empathise with people who tire of reading of the same people time and again. It's just how we all feel opening the weekly papers.

Some people may think that public figures can pretend to represent us without any scrutiny even while robbing us blind. I'm afraid this blog is of a different view. The onus is on those who disagree to explain why local bigwigs are exempt from norms that apply to public life elsewhere.

Are our public figures immune from criticism, do we not deserve any better or perhaps we're just too frightened to make ourselves heard.

 
At 15 June 2011 at 18:48 , Anonymous JD said...

"IfYouTickleUs said...
Martin, at least people come here to read rather than just look at the pictures..."
Well said - though it is likely an imposter, as he is a proud heretic himself. The second part with Dignitas does fit him, so I am a little confused ;-)

BTW, Kudos for not censoring comments even when they arent very complimentary or well mannered. That gives this blog an air of integrity.

As someone who lives on the fringes of the community, regarding the big 3, I dont really know much of the Rabbi Padwa or "Joe", however I do think that Rabbi Pinter has done many great things for the community, not only on the PR level. Yes, I am sure he has his shortfalls, but dont we all. The question is always ether in the big picture he provides value for money, I think, yes.

Although some time ago, I did benefit a substantial favor from him (He didnt even know me). When I met him, I found him surprisingly unassuming, and highly intelligent. Just my experience.

Please keep blogging - this is my main connection to the community.

 
At 15 June 2011 at 22:32 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

JD, I have no doubt people have benefitted from him and no one has suggested he is pure evil. But that is a large part of the problem round here. If you control a public institution you must be subject to scrutiny even if you are as pure as Mother Theresa. Whether it is Hatzole, the various gemachs and other institutions every single one of them is a closed shop hiding behind the fig leaf of the wonderful good they do.

It is all the more so with a bully like Pinter who wields absolute power in the institutions he treats as his own. The number of distraught families without a school for their child due to his arbitrary admission decisions simply beggars belief. Yet he parades about as a media darling, pretending to be a spokesman for this community, criticising those he dislikes yet will not answer any real questions about himself or account to anyone.

These are the real issues not whether someone has had a favour from him or how much good he has done.

 
At 16 June 2011 at 18:00 , Anonymous JD said...

I see your position, but persumably there is another side to that story too.

Sorry for my ignorance, but I understood that the YHS is state funded, does that not mean they would be forced to be open to scrutiny?

In Hasmonean High Scool, everything is automaticly transparent due to it being state funded. Mind you there are many who would have the leaderships' heads for perceived unfairness and "bullying", but thats probably the nature of the beast.

 
At 16 June 2011 at 20:31 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Pinter, Go!

Nasty suckers like this blogger are excellent at hiding behind pennames, and slagging everything off, WHILST SITTING ON THEIR BACKSIDES RUNNING SOME TAX EVADING PROPERTY EMPIRES!

Personally I think you are FAR too lenient in the schools intake, but if you are managing to cause this antagonism from lowlifes as this blogger, you are probably getting the balance right.

For the sake of all us decent SH'ers, PLESAE KEEP STRONG!!!!!!

 
At 16 June 2011 at 22:54 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

JD, if there is another side to the story I have yet to hear it. Pinter is not generally media shy but when Geoffrey Alderman wrote an article about admissions to YHS Pinter kept shtum. Why? He managed to pen (or ghost) an article in response to Alderman on chareidi demographics so why the the silence on something he personally is responsible for? Plenty of comments here have tried to defend him here but so far they have all turned on the blog rather than answer legitimate questions.

The usual defence proffered is that any school needs a gatekeeper who will never be popular due to the invidious choices that have to be made. It is all the more so at a school catering for a closed community like ours and I concede that there is truth in that.

It however does not justify the bogus criteria he has created for the sole purpose of exclusion, the lack of any transparency or accountability and the utter disdain with which he treats rejected applicants. The school is indeed state aided and it is about time that someone reminds him of that.

 
At 16 June 2011 at 22:59 , Anonymous Burich said...

Although I'm not so au fait with the situation in SH, in GG we do indeed have problems of accountability and the autocratic mehalech in which many mosdos and other organizations are run, and also with the concentration of power in the hands of one or two families.

Certain charismatic members of these families have managed to cultivate an aura of being 'above the law' and beyond any possible reproach. Anyone with even the slightest bit of awareness of history or human psychology would realise that this is a recipe for trouble. As the saying goes, 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely'.

One only has to take a look at the inner workings (or mysteriously opaque accounts) of Kedassia, or contemplate the condescension that greets honest enquiries into their halachic policies ('we discussed this be'koved rosh, and that was our decision') to understand that we are being taken for a ride.

Try getting a proper answer as to why the recent tumult over the anisakis worms in fish, which all America and Israel is aflame with, has been dismissed with a shtickel Torah here and a ba'alebatishe shiur there.

The very fact that 'Hakohol', the Kedassia annual, is full of potshots and score-settling, together with politically motivated tracts on 'Eruvei Chatzeiros' should be raising a red flag to any perceptive observer.

The way that tactics from other pseudo-halachic ma'aroches that have been fought in other kehillos me'ever la'yam have been picked up by people who should have no natural kinship with these things, merely serves to illustrate the depths that have been reached.

So yes, as unfortunate as it may be, blogs such as these are truly necessary, both for the truth to come out, in all its ugly glory, and to galvanize public opinion.

 
At 16 June 2011 at 23:09 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

Anonymous, your defence of Pinter serves only to enforce my point. If I hide behind a pen name it is no one's business but my own. I invite you however to find a rejection letter of YHS signed by Pinter? The nasty anonymous threats that come the way of anyone who is too persistent are also not signed by the one you seek to defend.

I do not delete comments like yours becuase they show how vacuous Pinter's defenders are. If it is right to reject 'lowlifes' like me let the school governors (assuming they exist) appoint an admissions committee, set out hte criteria and apply it fairly and squarely, not make people grovel in front of an individual and then admit them if they've been slavish enough.

 
At 17 June 2011 at 15:49 , Anonymous Proud YHS Parent said...

Well, to quote a cliche, "I never write in, but I had to this time"

@IfYouTicleUs

I enjoy and appreciate your satirical style, however in this instance I really feel that you are being unfair and spreading misinformation - hopefully unintentionally.

I am a parent at YHS, and have a good knowledge of its goings on and procedures.

To start with; one thing I cannot allow you to accuse Rabbi Pinter of is unfairness. I don't recall a person who in the name of fairness is (perhaps naively) prepared to break every taboo and really get into hot water. I assume you know the school and its parents and will be well aware of children from the most financially elite families, even large financial supporters (personally, I am unsure if this was justified - hakaras hatov), who have been turned down due to not meeting the criteria, just the same as the average Joe.

Bring me ONE child who was not accepted on social or economic grounds. That they were "not well connected", Sephardic or not financially well to do. There was NEVER such a case.

The whole issue surrounds the debate of what is considered acceptable tzenius in SHill. This issue is wide open and different communities have different guidelines. The school has a very structured Tsnius guideline - based on Rabbi Falks tsnius guide.

Personally I am a little left of that, but I realise that to have the priviledge of having my child in a school where they are sheltered and protected from secular corruption, where boyfriends/latest TVseries/Movies are not discussed, I need to conform (rather my wife needs too :-)) and that I do.

All the cases of turned down children, as far as I know - and I think I know atleast the big ones, were parents who refused, for what ever reason, to conform to the tsnius guidelines.

Educationally there is no reason for these people to send their children only to YHS, as they can send to Lubavitch which is an excellent school or to NW London - or even open their own school.

Their claim of moderner Lubavitch "corrupting" their children, deserves the simple reply that we dont want their exposed children to corrupt ours.

From personal experience, regarding acceptance: R' Pinter is NOT the one involved in the acceptance procedure. Anyone who knows him will know that he is not that clerical type. In the Primary here IS a committee who vet all applications. Controversially their identities are not known - to keep them safe. In the Senior department it is done by the Headteacher (His wife - nothing wrong with that) and board of Govenors.

Rabbi Pinter is just the figurehead and public face and becomes involved when the problems occur. Yes, when the school turn down a (proverbial or not) bully boy and the threats and pressure start rolling in, then Rabbi Pinter is there to save the day. Kudos to him!

I cannot put this in better words than you yourself:

"Any school needs a gatekeeper who will never be popular due to the invidious choices that have to be made. It is all the more so at a school catering for a closed community like ours."

I wish I would know your identity and you mine, as you sound like a reasonable and honest person. I would love to realy understand what is behind your hatred of Rabbi Pinter and authority. You seem to have been burnt badly in the past, perhaps with acceptance, but I will guess you understand deep down that the system has to be in place via Rabbi Pinter or someone else. I think if you would be involved in acceptance you would have a similar blog against yourself.

p.s regarding the Alderman article, I think his meek, anonymous and unevidenced accusations didnt deserve a response. Kudos again to YHS for some media savviness.

 
At 17 June 2011 at 15:58 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHA!! LOL LOL LOL!!!!!!

ProudYhsParent writes:
"Controversially their identities are not known - to keep them safe."

SO HOW DO WE KNOW THEY EXIST?????

Irrelevant, I actually agree with the rest of your comment. Dont put yhs in the same basket as keddassia and Pinter does a great job and he is a fantastic guy. 'nuff said.

 
At 17 June 2011 at 16:45 , Anonymous Proud YHS Parent said...

@Anonymous

Originally many voiced that suspicion, until one committee member was outed and underwent a targeted harassment campaign and she subsequently resigned.

BTW did anyone find the latest kehillah publication with the 3/4 page write-up documenting the brilliance of Premiere Meats factory very weird? There are 2-3 other Keddassia factories eg. Eksteins, why were they not mentioned? Was that paid communication?

 
At 17 June 2011 at 17:12 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

F*CK PINTER!!!! HE DIDNT ACCEPT MY KID JUST BECAUSE MY WIFES SKERT TOO SHORT AND SHE WARES BOOTS! HOW DID HE KNOW IF HE DOESWN LOOK????? NONE OF HIS BISINESS WHAT IM DOING IN MY HOME. PEOPLE LYE TO HIM AND HE BILEEVES THEM.

 
At 18 June 2011 at 13:58 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup. Didnt accept my kid too. I eat choolent, but my wife doesnt look right. In essence they were right as i am posting this on shabbes koidesh, but they didnt know this...

 
At 19 June 2011 at 02:41 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

Proud, you raise several issues but fail to answer the main point. Who gave him the right to call the schools his own? That is at the core of the rot. Perhaps if he ran the schools fairly people may have complained less but he doesn't.

He treats the schools as his playthings, as platforms for his own aggrandisement, as tools of social engineering if not worse and as a crude method of reward and punishment for people who don't fall into line or who seek to rise beyond what he thinks ought to be their station.

Parents are entitled to select a school of their choice and the school is entitled to apply a criteria. The criteria must however be clearly defined and applied by a committee of people who are accountable. Selecting or rejecting a child based on whether you would 'be zich meshadech with them', which appears to be the current criteria, is abhorrent.

I don't think that treating rich and poor with equal disdain can be termed 'fair'. Besides that with Pinter there is a fundamental difference between internal and external pressure. I know of a case where a rejected family was related to a very wealthy macher in the broader community and he admitted the child in no time. It is our community which he purports to represent that he treats with contempt and as no more than fodder to gain access for broader publicity.

Other than appearing in the press every other day what does he do so much? GG, Manchester and Gateshead manage very nicely without a similar figurehead and are no worse off. Before you mention the voluntary aided school he helped establish, Menorah was offered VA status and turned it down. Why? Because he can only get away with it by being unaccountable and lacking any transparency. Others thankfully are more scrupulous.

The Falk criteria is bunkum and dredged up when he is forced to give a reason. Stand outside the school gates and you'll see all skirt lengths from the knee downwards as well as blouses that would have Falk munching on his worms. Even Falk's mad universe has no criteria for hats yet kids have been rejected because mum wears a woolly hat over her sheitel.

As for a committee, I have no doubt that it does not exist. He may have some spiteful hags whose femininity was disposed of with the placenta of their 5th child and then went on to have another 7 who act as his eyes and ears. It is however he and only he who decides. None of the local rabbonim, not even Padwa or his brother Chaim have any sway over him.

It is not only the actual rejection, it is the method he goes about it. Not replying to an application at all, sending rejections without a reason, making people chase him like dogs and then shooing them away, playing good cop and bad cop with his brother Chaim, ignoring all reasonable arguments, anonymous threats and so on. And then for the lucky few that are accepted it is only after utter humiliation and degradation.

He is indeed media savvy and he didn't respond to Alderman because he has nothing to say. He knows very well how to open his mouth often spouting utter nonsense but he is smart enough to know that once he becomes the story he's done.

 
At 19 June 2011 at 04:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ifyoutickleus, you make some valid points regarding Pinter, but why only him? What about Beis Chinuch, are they any better?

Proud, did anyone ever receive a rejection letter from either YHS or BC which oulined the reasons for rejection? If you're going to reject someone at least write why you're doing so and give them the opportunity to defend themselves (it might be unrue), and perhaps even to change.

 
At 19 June 2011 at 14:33 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

AFAIK Beis Chinuch is not run by a local strongman and has a committee to determine admissions. BC was set up for unaffiliated frummers like 69ers while YHS historically occupied the middle ground. BC is one of many local schools albeit unafilliated to a chasidus while YHS is the community school. The chasidic schools all have children from parents who would be and have been rejected by YHS.

Pinter has unilaterally taken YHS to the right to out-frum BC due to the lack of a grassroot base in the community. The voluntary aided school has additional obligations yet it is run just like 'his' private schools.

Although what he has done reflects changes in the local community and the chareidi world in general, it is the arbitrariness and the way he goes about it that I most object to. Most jarring of all is his rank hypocrisy. All smiles to anyone without a beard or yarmulke especially if holding a microphone or camera while to his own constituents he is a bullying thug.

 
At 19 June 2011 at 19:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Tickle, if I may be so informal, I wonder whether the essence of what you write is this.

The Jewish faith, unlike other religions, is not a hierarchical one. We answer to Hashem alone, and all men are equal. We have no equivalent of bishops, or popes, or cardinals.

This is just as well, because the Jewish mind does not respond well to being told by others what to do. That is why we traditionally find occupation as tailors, and taxidrivers, and shopkeepers, and watch makers. We are hopeless as employees. It is not our way. Even in sport we do well (as boxers, or chess masters) where we are reponsable for ourselves, and hopeless in team games.

Likewise we are useless as politicians (the only exceptions..Disraeli, Michael Howard, Nigel Lawson) are those who have renounced the religion (more or less). All the leaders of the 19th century anarchist movement were Jewish.

So in short we don't like people in our community, however saintly, kind, wise, learned or charitable, who set themselves over others in a self appointed fashion. In short it is not the Lobensteins or Padwas per se that you object to it is the self appointed hierarchy that gives you the pip.

Please correct me if I have misunderstood

 
At 19 June 2011 at 20:12 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Tickle, it is clear that you have a personal vandetta here. Was your snotty daughter not accdepted??

 
At 19 June 2011 at 23:17 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

I sometimes wonder if people don't suffer round here from Stockholm syndrome. Let us say that my daughter was indeed rejected and I feel terribly aggrieved at the injustice that a publicly funded school is run in this way. What exactly is wrong with that? How does it make it a vendetta?

Anyone who is in the least bit familiar with the YHS admissions process will know that not only is what I say true but that I have barely scratched the surface. Go and speak to Padwa and watch him raise his eyes in helplessness.

Rather than dwell on my motives accept that it is high time that change is brought about. That there is no place in public life for any family never mind a mediocre family like this one to dominate several schools for no better reason than that this is how their father ordained it and so it must remain.

 
At 19 June 2011 at 23:58 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

NAH, but if you got motive you cant be objective, then we cant really believe your version of events. Simple as that.

You can go and invent any lie you want.

Its very interesting how you go from an intelligent satirical writer to a ranting wounded animal.

For me, your integrity is gone.

 
At 20 June 2011 at 06:16 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yhs is a better school than Beth chinuch will ever be. Or beth malka or traina. Its not to Rabbi Pinter but his wife. Now their new 'sem' has more or less ruined the old London one and most likely Gateshead as well in time. Even satmar are queuing to be accepeted there.
Why dont you give credit where its due. You want to send your daughter there so why not admit its a good school. Yes my daughters were accepted there. Does that make me biased. Why should they lower their standards to accept your daughter. They are not short of children and have no need to.
You havent given one reason why they should accept you. If they did it will turn out like Lubavich where everyone knows even the children from the frum parents who are FFB are today all kaput. Wearing denim clothing and long skirts to copy the halbe goyim with whom they associate with.

 
At 20 June 2011 at 07:58 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

I have said quite enough on the subject. The school is not the issue but the unfairness and injustice in its admissions process is. And particularly the role of a single self appointed individual in it.

If you have any doubt in the truthfulness of what I've written go and speak to the many who've moved to NW, or Manchester or Antwerp for lack of a school for their children. It is no less a form of ethnic cleansing to force any future challenge to his hegemony out of the area. The government is not funding the school to cater for every petty prejudice but for a fair and open admissions system based on the communal ethos in the broadest sense of the word.

I make no apologies for the stridency of my tone. To those who are unhappy, please point me to the forum where such matters can be aired in a more convivial manner. Please point me to the rabbi to whom Pinter defers. Please point me to the committe that appointed him and is in a position to exercise control over him.

In the meantime I rest my case.

 
At 20 June 2011 at 08:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You havent replied to what I wrote it will turn into lubavich.
Why not send your daughters there. As long as youre nominally Jewish they will accept you. Its only because you also dont want your daughters to grow up halbe goyim that you dont. But you expect the present children in YHS to.

 
At 20 June 2011 at 16:47 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 20 June 2011 at 16:58 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

Anonymous, if you have something useful to say, say it. What I won't have you doing is abusing people unrelated to this debate whether explicitly or by insinuation.

 
At 22 June 2011 at 12:50 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup. Didnt accept my kid too. I eat choolent, but my wife doesnt look right. In essence they were right as i am posting this on shabbes koidesh, but they didnt know this...

18 June 2011 13:58

Mr Tickle
For this Chilul Shabos alone you should shut your blog.

 
At 23 June 2011 at 09:22 , Blogger IfYouTickleUs said...

I waited bichdei she'yase before reading it.

 

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