Monday, 3 December 2012

Cast adrift

And so it appears that we have reached the endgame. Weeks of plotting and intrigue have left us a stage looking like the aftermath of a Greek tragedy. Halpern slain in one corner, Padwa struck down in another, his signet ring carrying the Kedassia seal beside him splattered in blood with another Halpern swinging his sword indiscriminately in the last throes of death. As for the other players, they are like dancers at a masked ball fading into the night, though unfortunately no assassin amongst them.
Enough, probably too much, has been said about the accused and the nature of the allegations and it is time to move on. Let's ignore for a moment every one of the allegations of which the vast majority of us haven't heard first person. Let us also ignore every statement we haven't been given the opportunity to read, every meeting we didn’t attend and the many quotes from rabbonim we haven't spoken to. We shall instead concentrate on the few incontrovertible facts in this sorry saga.
This much we can be certain about. That Chaim Halpern resigned "in his own interest" from all public positions bar his own beis hamedresh; that the letter in his own hand refers to complaints relating to marriage counselling but which it fails to deny; that no one has stood up to defend him publicly and on record; and that rumours of the most heinous nature are circulating about him.
Even if every single allegation is discounted, every halachic trick conjured up to disqualify such evidence that there is and the spin his camp is putting out is accepted in its entirety, the above facts alone are unprecedented in the annals of our community or of any chareidi community anywhere. They demand a response from responsible leaders and this has not been forthcoming, which gives us one more incontrovertible fact. That these people are neither leaders nor responsible. As I quoted in my last post, it is not the rodent but its hideout that is at fault. And the size of this rodent is matched only by the size of its hideout: the rabbonim who continue to shield him.
We have never had much confidence in our rabbonim who have created a dunghill from the matters swept out of sight and it can’t be said anyone is really surprised, since not much was expected from them in the first place. Like Avrohom, Padwa could plead with Rav Ehrentreu to rescue his own Sodom but to speak up for the victims has proved too much of an effort. The humanity in his father's Cheishev Ho'eifoid, vol. 3 seems to have passed to another brother while he grabbed for himself just the throne.
But those who orchestrated these happenings do not fair much better either and for reasons of their own are also keeping their counsel. Last week a letter emerged signed by an anonymous group where guidance is sought on the issue from Reb Chaim Kanievsky. Putting aside the ungrammatical Hebrew and clumsy drafting and without meaning to be rude, or, rather, with every intention of being very rude, the questions posed in that letter fit into the category of, 'Teacher, may I go to the loo'. Except that this is not addressed to a primary school teacher but to the chareidi equivalent of the Lord Chief Justice.
If they are convinced in the truth of the allegations do they not possess a modicum of common sense and decency to provide the victims with the justice they deserve and the general public with the protection they require without being told so by Rav Kanievsky? And if the allegations are in doubt how on earth will an octogenarian thousands of miles away make them any wiser? They might as well have addressed their enquiry to Rav Elyashiv at his graveside and any reply would have been just as authoritative.
And so a bewildered community wanders about from blog to tweet perplexed at the turn of events and desperately seeking an explanation, knowing that an answer is too much to ask for. If we had a free press they would be yelling in headlines reminiscent of the days following the death of Diana, "SPEAK TO US, RABBONIM." "Show us you care." "The people have spoken, now you must." The multitude of comments show that there are still many who cling to the hope that given time and space the rabbis will prove their worth but I hate to say, their optimism is not only misplaced but their faith in this lot is nothing short of madness.
Turn to your rabbis to sell your chometz and for the odd query over a Shabbos hotplate but for little else. Just read the comments and hear the voices of a public begging for guidance but their rov has jetted off to the USA so that his senior rabbi can fiddle while Rome burns. Except that we are not Rome, chas vesholem, we are Jerusalem. Rome is them lot who bothered listening to the victims and spoke to their representatives and at least made an effort but it is we who apparently are the purest embodiment of Judaism.
To say they are not fit for purpose would be stating the obvious. If they came with a warranty we would be queuing for our money back. Running a chol hamoied merry go round would be too much for them and how on earth can an entire community be entrusted in their hands?
If this saga has shown us anything, it is the abject failure of leadership which itself is no more than a reflection of the lack of leadership in the entire chareidi world. We have all come to learn the hard way that da'as torah is clueless, loi soguru mipnei ish makes them recoil in fear, chielo d'oiraiso equals cowardice and apathy and emunas chachomim just beggars belief. They aren't spineless; their entire being consists of jelly.
Now is not a time to defer to our leaders but to raise question for ourselves. How have we come to be landed in a situation where universal crimes such as murder, rape and theft don't count if committed by bearded or bewigged members while idiocies of worms and skirt lengths occupy our finest brains? When did we reach a situation that to commit the perfect crime one needs only seek out a chareidi neighbourhood to carry it out? How has it come to pass that the only allegations we will deal with are when one side of the equation fails to sport a beard or doesn’t clad himself in a dustbin liner for a me'il.
Whatever is currently being alleged has been alleged over the years but most of us had not heard about it. It is only thanks to the medium they are desperate to ban that we can discuss it freely. But the chilul hashem is caused by us bloggers and commenters, not the po-faced rabbonim and supine communal leaders. Why do we write here anonymously? Because every one of us is frightened of the pack of hounds in full cry that might be unleashed by those same rabbonim who do nothing in the face of these most atrocious allegations. Kedassia issued only last week another of their imbecilious notices over chodosh and yoshon in products including Marriage’s flour but have nothing to say when their marriage counsellor allegedly comes close to deflowering virgins.
Our system is morally and spiritually bankrupt and would be so financially too if it didn't kowtow to those sustaining it with their rotten millions. They too had better realise that the days when they could treat us as their vassals if not their tenants are coming to an end. It may have worked to stop the Stamford Hill eiruv and other shenanigans but those days are as numbered as their grandchildren’s housing benefit cheques.
This is the world we have created, this is the world we sustain and this is the world which will continue until we see it for what it is. If we won’t it will be left to our emboldened youth who are already doing so in droves.
Welcome to the Torah world but not for much longer.

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Friday, 23 November 2012

It’s Friday and I don’t know what to do…

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
This is a comment left on the previous post. Any suggestions?
Ok fellow DC members. It's Friday morning, a time to make decisions about this shabbos, and about the future. I think it is fair to say that GG is a different place this shabbos than it was last shabbos. The dramatic developments have been a game changer.

Last shabbos everyone was gung-ho. We were confidently stating that the whole thing would blow over somehow. This shabbos RCH is critically wounded, possibly fatally. His brother MH has become an object of public ridicule like never before. REH either has or has not resigned from various public posts, but is certainly on the warpath in favour of his family, a position that has minority support in the kehilla at large, if any. Our shul is in complete disarray. Kedassia in GG is at its lowest ever ebb possibly since its inception. All this in just one week.

And yet we still have no public guidance from any local rabbonim. You can ask a GG or Hendon rov privately and get an off-the-record response, but 'don't quote me!' Crucially, there is still no public evidence that RCH is guilty of the heinous crimes he is accused of, only hearsay and speculation, and well-founded svoros based on the lack of support for the accused by his colleagues, and his complete capitulation without any real explanation.

Where does this leave us? We are being pressurised to give full support this shabbos to our rov, but I'm beginning to feel a bit like the Libyans last year who were press ganged to publicly demonstrate their support for Gaddafi while they already knew very well that his days were numbered. Its a horrible comparison, but I just feel that we are being taken for a ride. Used and abused. Is this really kovod hatorah? Also, how far does hakoras hatov stretch? When is it alright for us to say that we don't want to be a part of this mudslinging contest and bow out of this sordid saga?

Our friends are watching us. Our wives. Our families. This is no ordinary shabbos. This is a shabbos that we will remember for the rest of our lives. As will many other people. How will we look back on the decisions we made for this shabbos? Will we be proud of them? How will we feel about them next year Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur?

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Monday, 28 November 2011

Words words (kosher) words

Letters (not) published in The Write Lines, the famous letters page that arrives from parts other publications won't acknowledge to exist

CCI27112011_0000 - Copy

Dear Editor

Like all heimishe yieden everywhere I was overwhelmed by hakoras hatov for the dedicated chosheve askonim who have made available the kosher dictionary. I immediately went out to the Hill to get one so that my children ke"h should no longer cholilo come across posule words when doing their homework. (Mentioning homework reminds me of the letter I wrote last year about the geferleche load of homework the girls are given so that they can't help their mothers in the evening, but now I am writing about something else.)

I had barely sat down to browse the new dictionary when I landed on my behind after noticing the word 'bum'. I didn't chas v'sholem go looking for such words but it literally stuck itself in my face. Luckily my children were not yet home so I could stick the pages together because oi lorosho v'oi lishcheino and I can't bear my children knowing other words that are tome from sitting so close to that disgusting word. But it made me realise that, like lettuce, how important it is to check even something with a hechsher. If rachmone litzlon that word crept in who knows what else might chas v'cholilo have been overlooked.

I am mamesh trembling with shock after searching a bit deeper at some of the words the Rabbonim didn't get to notice. I know I must be careful at the words I use in your publication which spreads yiros shomayim and ruchniyes to our kehille but it is equally important that parents are not chas vesholem nichshel. I ask those with heilige oigen to please look away but how can we tolerate our teiere neshomelech looking up words like 'butt', 'buttock', 'bottom' and 'breast'? I am ashamed to say this but even the word 's-x' was not taken out. What kind of chinuch are we giving to our precious kinderlech by including such miese verter? My father olev hasholem would wash our mouths with soap if we mentioned much more eidele words and here we have the worst possible words noch with a hechsher!

I immediately called my husband who told me not to do anything until he comes home from koilel because it's a sha'le if you must put it in sheimos as it has a hechsher or whether you are allowed to burn it because of those words. He agreed absolutely that such a book has no place in a yiddishe shtib and we must be so careful not to fall into the hechsher trap. I can now understand how meat from the same hechsher came to be transported with dovor acher after seeing those chazerishe words in a book certified by a lemehadrin authority.

What I think is even more shameful is that I saw in the Tribune by my friend's house (we don't buy beshite any papers) that Rabbonim who are fluent in English went over this dictionary before giving it a hechsher. First of all are such Rabbonim really suitable for us erliche yieden? And second of all how can we now trust a rov if we know he has sifted through all this shmutz? Maybe that's why there is no haskome because even the Rabbonim were ashamed that they had to read such treifene books. And third of all maybe that’s why they left in all those words and it's a simen they can't even talk such good English. They for sure can't talk French because they left 'lingerie' lying about in full view of the boys and rachmone litzlon even 'thong' was stuck in. Do they know the achrayus of publishing such a book? No wonder so many children are going off the derech if their precious neshomolech get to see such tomene words.

But I don't want to be nichshel with loshen hore and rechilus and also we must be dan lekaf zechus. The Rabbonim did include ‘spank’, beat', 'pinch', 'smack' and 'hit'. Boruch Hashem the Scrooges shlito also remembered to leave out 'Christmas' and even had the seichel to cut out 'fossil'. But couldn't they also remove 'evolution'? Isn't there enough kfiro that we need some more with the best hechsher in the world?

I also hoped at least they would include some heimishe English words like cheder, yeshive and shiduch. No wonder those chachomim from Oxford were so nispoel of the request for such a dictionary (besides that they required the cost of 2000 copies to be underwritten). The Rabbonim allowed them to teach our children narishe words like 'lugubrious' and 'rumbustious' which no one will anyway ever use but were ashamed to allow Hashem and mezuze? The Tribune thinks it was a kidush Hashem but it's really a huge chilul Hashem if you can't include 'God' and not even 'G-d'!

May we be zoiche to kedushe and to be nitzel from all the nisyoines that today's dor produces even with a hechsher.

A Dedicated Yiddishe Mame

***

Dear Editor

I heard rachmone litzlon that some children have developed a new game where they have to guess words and then look it up in the kosher dictionary. If the word’s in they lose a point and if it's out they gain a point. My eyes are filled with tears writing this that such a michshoil could come out from a koshere dictionary and the musar haskeil is to avoid using Rabbonim who can speak English which boruch hashem is not so bad by us.

An Experienced Mechanech

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