Friday, February 26, 2010

Chareidi Leadership

Amazing! Just a few days ago I wrote in a post about how the entire reaction to the Grossman debacle demonstrated just how much of a bald faced lie it is when the chareidi community defends its inaction on issues with the excuse that they don’t get involved in something that has nothing to do with their community. Now, only a few days later, they decide to step up and show the world just how much of a lie another one of their common excuses really is! What is going on?!

Today, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah Of America issued a statement condemning Rabbis Avi Weiss, a left-leaning Modern Orthodox rabbi for his recent activity of ordaining a woman rabbi. Now, just like with the Grossman issue, I’m not going to go into the merits of their position vis-à-vis the issue at hand. It’s really not germane to my point. I rather want to focus on the simple fact that they did issue this statement, and how it compares with other situations where there was noticeable silence on their part.

This past year, with so many scandals being frequently revealed in the chareidi world, it was not uncommon to hear the faithful lament (and the not-so-faithful accuse), “Why haven’t the rabbonim spoken out about these problems?! Where’s their condemnation?!” The issues are too numerous to even get through: molestation accusations, financial improprieties, corruption, sexual dalliances, embezzlement, drug smuggling, violence against women, rioting, worker mistreatment. The list goes on and on. And every time people ask why the rabbonim aren’t speaking up (not to mention, actually taking action), the response is always some lame excuse about how it’s not their job to comment on every issue that crops up.

And yet, here we have an issue – one which does not involve their community in any manner, one which does not actually hurt anyone or involve a crime of any sort; indeed, the issue at hand is one in which a woman is acting in a more spiritual and refined manner! - and yet they feel this is the sort of thing they need to speak up about and unequivocally voice their condemnation!

What the hell is wrong with these people? On issues of dire importance which are literally ripping apart their community, they provide zero leadership, repeatedly offering pathetic excuses for their silence and inaction! Just a few days ago, a leading Brooklyn rabbi who heads one of the most prominent chareidi girls schools in Brooklyn was charged with extorting four million dollars! Yet, when it comes to something relatively harmless, and which has absolutely no bearing on the life of anyone in their community, these chareidi rabbis loudly proclaim to the world their grave concerns on the matter!

Seriously, can someone please explain to me how these people have the slightest shred of credibility anymore?


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Charedi said...

Raboisai, this is truly something meaningfull from the gedoylei yisroel!! Based on the call of our gedoylim, we must focus on important things like this that have REAL importance, rather than triviual things like child abuse and financial scandals in the frum community. Finally our gedoylim have shown us how to get our priorities straight! Our gedoylim know what is important and what is not. If our gedoylim don't make statements on these other issues, we have to be mekabel their daas toyreh and not focus on those issues.

Shalmo said...

I thought you would be happy their community is being torn apart?

I don't expect Orthodoxy to collapse in our lifetimes, but I am fairly certain it will happen eventually.

m said...

An utter paranoiac fear of airing 'dirty laundry' in public, rather than a healthy relationship with problems that touch almost every society, one way or another.

I think this should be an op-edpiece in HaModiah. You think there'd be any takers?

Garnel Ironheart said...

Eh, it's an old story. The "gedolim" are surrounding by askanim who fawn over their every word and constantly remind them about what tazadikim and kedoshim they are. Their contact with the unwashed masses is through these askanim. They don't read the newspapers, listen to the radio and I won't even mention TV or the internet. So if these askanim tell them that all the hulabaloo over child abuse is made up and it really doesn't happen, then how could they think otherwise? But if these askanim tell them that a semi-Orthodox rabbi is ordaining women, well that's the crisis they've been waiting for.

The Hedyot said...

Shalmo, I am happy that the flaws of their system are being exposed, but I don't wish for a community to be destroyed. I'd much rather that they took proper steps and dealt with problems properly in a healthy, constructive manner.

JewishGadfly said...

Excellent, excellent, excellent post.

jewish philosopher said...

Check out the academic world. Looks like they have a few issues too.

But that's not a problem. After all, they allow masturbation, extra-marital sex, etc so who cares.

Abandoning Eden said...

I think thinking that this will lead to the community will fall apart is just wishful thinking based on our assumption that people won't put up with this forever. Sadly people will put up with a lot more than we would want them to, so what will actually happen is they will just get more and more extreme until they are living in small ghetto type areas that closely resemble parts of the middle east taken over by radical muslims.

Tova said...

Yesterday, yeshiva students were being rushed to emergency rooms nationwide to have their stomachs pumped.

Women are being trapped in marriages by 'husbands' on power trips.

Frum child molesters don't get reported, shunned, excommunicated, fired or prosecuted.

...But a woman can now pasken halacha and act as a spiritual or religious leader to some? This calls for immediate action!

Steve said...

This is a superb post and you have really hit the nail on the head.

dylanesque said...

OK, I'm all ears, I'm totally chareidi but I'm curious about you. Tell me why you should do anything if there's no binding rulebook from g-d called halacha? Because it "feels right?" Then you're living according the flavor of the month feeling.

The Hedyot said...

dylanesque -

First of all, do you really think you're the first person to ask the question about how one can be moral without god? People have discussed this issue for ages. Read a little.

Secondly, I have a question for you: If you think that morality is dictated by a rulebook from god called the torah, then I assume you don't have a problem with killing a little baby when you discover that it is an Amalekite, right? What would your preferred method of execution be? And you also wouldn't have a problem with your daughter being wedded to a man who rapes her, is that correct?

Brian said...

It makes perfect sense to me, they only respond to things that threaten to destroy their system, like alternatives to their religion.

dylanesque: that's actually irrelevant. Some people here might have different reasons for acting in accordance with the same code of morality, (with some of those reasons being good and others bad). Others might have their own individual systems they adhere to, also of varying quality, and accepted for varying reasons. Others might not believe that morality applies to them at all. Shoyn.

The burden of proof is on the person asserting something as true. The various Jewish philosophical positions each fail as the most reasonable explanation for the world we live in, though for different reasons.

In particular, the chareidi one tends to sacrifice consistency with modern scientific understanding in favor of adhering to the mesorah. If you want to find out what is wrong with it, ask a very knowledgeable modern orthodox Jew. Don't interrupt him (or her) to point out that his world view defies a rational reading of the evidence available regarding the authors' intent and does not approach anything with an open mind, instead doing violence to the textual evidence as it tries to shoehorn everything into a modern philosophy and lightly discards what doesn't fit. Just listen to him describe what is wrong with chareidism. Your being right about what's wrong with his outlook doesn't invalidate his criticisms of yours. It might be something along the lines of chareidim treating palpable reality with even more disrespect than the most liberal YCTer treats sexist minhagim.

In short: chareidim treat reality with the respect modernishe kofrim treat divrei chazal* with. That should give you a handle with what's wrong with orthodoxy: basically, its truth claims have been exposed as false.

A better question for you to ask others, as well as yourself, is the less loaded "what do you believe, and why?" I got out of it and good luck to all who try.

* As a side note, isn't it interesting that the lamed could be the prefix of any word? If I were making the acronyms I would have made it "chazalb."

Shmendrik said...

I would like to say that I mostly agree with you that Rabbanim need to take a stand on issues that relate between man and his friend, however they can not judge a man until the court prosecutes and finds him completely guilty so they can not publically denounce a particular person only an act. However, when a Rabbi purports to be something that the Rabbis want to distance themselves there is no reason they can't state that fact publically. There is a difference in what has occured and you should not blur the line of truth. Also your comments about marrying a rapist is missing details as that is only if the raped girl agrees. I did not see that fact mentioned. Also I do not see the fact that we no longer know who is from Amalek and most of the laws were for the past and in the future the laws will be in a future we all agree that we can't understand in our modern frame of reference. There is no reason to get hung up on a theoretical law that existed in the past, will exist in the future but not the present. I believe in the moto Live and enjoy the truth of reality.

dreikup said...


As you blatantly disregard the truth -you should learn the rule that Shit happens everywhere - no need to get worked up about it. The Rabbis do denounce all those things you mentioned and they are not complacent in any way. you make it sound as your entire life is spent in Rabbi's Hell Island. Most of Charedi reality is not as you make it out to be.

Tova said...


Kindly explain to me just what I have shown disregard for.

Additionally, I don't consider it unreasonable to be upset about the Yiddishe velt's problems and chillulei HaShem.

Perhaps when you get to know an aguna, rabbinical molestation victim or alcoholic bachur you will understand.

Your smug defense of Agudah will not alleviate any suffering.

dreikup said...

You have disregarded the truth that those things happen as a rare occurence and although very horrible - it is not indicative of the norm. Statistically, although people have those issues it is not true that being religious contribute more or less to those tragedies, they occur accross the entire spectrum of humanity. Your linkage of those isses with Rabbis not protesting is naive and mislead. Bad things will happen to good people and has no coorolation to religiosity.

Tova said...

You haven't shown any disregard for the rarity of these events on my part; you've merely proclaimed that this was so with no evidence.

By the way, your claim that rabbinical sexual abuse, agunos and the like have nothing to do with religion is laughable.

dreikup said...

The evidence is in the fact that a Rabbbinical protest about calling a woman a Rabbi evoked a response from you that linked other social ills (which occur accross all aspects of humanity, not only Orthodox) to Rabbinical scorn. Your comment linked social problems with Rabbis as if they were the cause for the abuse because they feel that a woman should not be called a Rabbi. This is misleading becuase there is no coorolation. Protests are indeed in order for social ills and Rabbis do make such protests in their proper setting. have you seen the several videos that condemn purim drunkiness? Have you seen the teshuvos that are written to release agunos after WW2, the middle ages and so forth? have you read the Gemaros regarding not cheating in business and the multitude of Sefarim that show how to be honest in business? Rabbinical literature has more condemnation againsst the ills that you write about and the one time the Rabbis proclaim their dislike for a change in traditional Rabbinical titles you scorn them as if they are at fault for lifes troubles. Women can hold exalted positions in Orthodoxy, but there is no reason to change tradition to prove a femanistic point.