Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The closest Jews?

This afternoon I finished reading "Off the Derech" by Faranak Margolese and reported back to my chavrusa (him of the bovine persuasion). He asked me to sum up the book in one sentence, and I said, "If Lubavitch practiced what it preaches then virtually no Lubavitcher would ever go frie and many more people would be frum." It's funny, because a large part of the problem is people who think they're better than other people. So why am I saying what I'm saying? Because I think it's true. All the problems Mrs. Margolese describes in the book are theoretically not problems in Lubavitch. I say theoretically because of course we do the same stupid things everyone else does. Heck, I do the same stupid things everyone else does. So what's the solution? As Barack Obama says, "Change we can believe in." The fundamental difference between the change our president wants and the change the Jewish world needs is that A. We know what we want (or at least we should), and B. We know how to get there.

What is it that we want for ourselves and our children? A world where people want to be Jewish and work hard to be Jewish. Too often we're missing one or both of these factors. If this isn't what we, as committed (in some way, shape, or form) Jews, want for ourselves and our children, then that needs to be worked on.

How do we get there? We work hard at fixing our faults and following the words of our sages. This means, for starters, internalizing Perek Lamed Beis, applying it not only to the Jew we find on the street but also to the Jew in our shul, our classroom, and most importantly, our home. Unconditional love may not be the answer to all our problems, but it sure can solve a lot of them. Actually, that's not true. The temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. It'll be rebuilt because of baseless love. I'm not saying anything new here; unfortunately, I'm also not saying anything that doesn't need to be said.

You know, it's really not so easy to love every Jew as yourself. In fact, it's downright difficult. A lot of times Jews do things to you that are really not nice. If it was just anybody behaving badly we'd be able to shrug it off with a "what can you expect from a shikere goy?" (not that I condone such language or thought processes). However, when a Jewish person, particularly a "frum" person, behaves despicably, we condemn not only him but the G-d he so badly represents. It's very difficult to love such a person. Yup. And yet? You got to do what you got to do.
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OK, enough serious shtuff for once. Seems like this whole week I've been posting serious shtuff. Crazy.

As everyone by now probably knows, there were a fair amount of negative comments about my 27 Adar post which ended up on crownheights.info. I didn't respond on the posting itself because I didn't want to waste my time, but I figure that I might as well now.

First of all, if I had known it was going to be posted on there I would have removed the Lipa Schmeltzer thing. It's cute, and everyone here gets it, but the uneducated rabble outside doesn't.

Also, I would have insisted that the title be in Hebrew, and would have changed it to the correct passuk, "Yesomim hayinu, v'ain av," Eicha 5,3, and hopefully people would have responded to it better. The first time I saw that passuk used in this context was the front cover of the Kfar Chabad immediately following Gimmel Tammuz 5754. I was shocked to see it, expressing many of the same feelings people expressed here and there, but I soon recognized that A. It's a passuk, and B. Makes a lot of sense. Obviously the Rebbe is found more down here than before Gimmel Tammuz. And just as obviously, the Rebbe is not here. A dichotomy? Perhaps. But I don't know if you can be a believing Lubavitcher without these two incontrovertible (for a Lubavitcher) facts.

And no, I'm not depressed, and I do believe in Moshiach. Thank you.

Now, onto the criticism of "the immortal Lipa Schmeltzer". I resent whoever it was who suggested that I was not utterly sincere in my quoting of him, and using that title. All right, obviously I'm being minorly facetious, but still. I'm a huge fan of the guy, and I think he's done more for Jewish music than anyone since the eighties versions of MBD and Avraham Fried. This is of course another huge discussion, and one which I categorically refuse to partake in right now. Sorry.

65 comments:

le7 said...

People need to pay me to produce better Jewish music. Simple enough...

The Real Shliach said...

If only I had some money.

e said...

le7, start producing the stuff, and we´ll buy it!

trs: you qualified almost everything you said by writing that it would help ¨many¨ or ¨most¨ potential OTDs. So I have nothing to say.

le7 said...

If I can find a few other interested musicians I'll start making.

The Real Shliach said...

Exactly. Because at the end of the day, everyone has bechira chafshis.

Real and Wright said...

I wonder if Off the Derech on the smicha test next week. Keep studying hard!

Crawling Axe said...

We need a Jewish composer of music. Jewish. Composer. Music. (And Of, obviously.)

Now you need to read the stupid book about hidden lives of chassidim or vusever it’s called.

You know the thing that was written in one of those books about the Rebbe’s melamed (btw, across my grandmother’s house in Yekaterinoslav)? Whenever he heard something negative said about Jews (and not just your regular shtus, but real stuff), he got up and left the room. Maybe that’s step 1. (In the cases of the Jews whom it’s hard to love. Obviously, in cases when it’s easy, it’s easy.)

The Real Shliach said...

RAW: oh I will. Thanks.

CA: obviously.

Get it to me and I'll read it.

Step 1 is to make a machaah?

Crawling Axe said...

Umm, ever heard of bookstores? Or Internet piracy?

The first step seemingly is not to get involved in the bone-munching.

Nemo said...

Do you think that every kid who decides that he doesn't believe in Judaism or G-d is going to stay "on the derech" just because you give him more TLC? This book, and dare I say most of the Orthodox community, seems to miss an inherent problem ... that some people's discontent with Judaism has nothing to do with bad parents, teachers and friends or with a poor education system. Some people simply don't buy into it -- and, in fact, may find other paths more intellectually and emotionally compelling.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

le7: I second e

CA: no it isn't. To change yousrself and keep your hands pure while everything goes to hell around you is a very wonderful Christian virtue. If you're going to love everyone, that includes the bone munchers and therefore instead of being poresh as you suggest do something for them too, say changing the subject.

Also, if you mean the stupid book by Hella Winston "hidden lives of hasidic rebels" last i checked it was not available by internet piracy. Guess the pirates are too smart to want to read it. And TRS is to smart to shell out money for a copy if he could spend the money on le7s music.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Nemo, definitely true, but too many people have neither the brains nor the inclination to tackle that one and thus the TLC thing is the approach that will garner widespread catching onness among the great unwashed. As such, promote it.

Crawling Axe said...

Sometimes it’s not possible to change the subject. And if you always tell people what to do, eventually they will start avoiding you, preventing you from influencing them in future.

You can read the introduction to the stupid book here.

There is no need to buy the book. You can just go and buy a banana. Then take a banana and go to a local Barnes and Nobles. Sit down at a table with the banana, peel the banana, take a bite, open the book and start reading it.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

You're right. Obviously not to the point where it would be counterproductive. And calling it "the stupid book" implies htat there are no other stupid books out there, or at least that that was the stupidest one ever.

Halevai

The Real Shliach said...

Nemo: maskim. However, if we were doing things right, then the vast majority of people would stay frum. Most people who claim to frie out because of intellectual reasons are either using that as an excuse or don't know enough. If you're not zalman shechter then I'm not interested in hearing why you think Judaism is wrong.

Modeh: that is correct. Separating yourself doesn't work-you have to engage.

And correct, if I had any money then I would spend it on her music.

CA: obviously. But ever heard of hocheiach tocheiach es amisecha. And as Rabbi schapiro here said, when it says "ad shehika", it doesn't mean until you hit him-it means until you hit him. Kamayim hapanim el panim, strong ropes of love almost always work.

everyone's favorite heretic said...

Why is the unchosen a stupid book? because it describes a phenomenon you don't like? personally, that book literally changed my life--in a positive way.

Heretic said...

TRS, finding intellectual flaws in judaism does not require genius of z shechter's level.

The Real Shliach said...

Lol. Why don't you tell us about it on your blog?

Nemo said...

Aderaba, I wouldn't want any of Zalman Shechter's sappy contortions. I think any thinking person is capable of denying G-d's existence.

Crawling Axe said...

MBM, it was the stupid book I was talking about.

Heretic, it’s a stupid book, because it describes this phenomenon stupidly. I actually somewhat like the phenomenon described, because it makes me feel superior. See the story about Tzemach Tzedek and the chossid who wanted his einekel to be a chossid by default.

TRS — exactly. Look at the posuk (and the sentence) before. I am not talking about being blind. I am talking about ahavas Yisroel. Or are you talking about the gossipers themselves? In that case, like I told MBM, it’s a pragmatic question.

Crawling Axe said...

Any thinking person is capable of denying Pythagorean theorem. Any person with hands is capable of poking himself in the eye. ∴?

Crawling Axe said...

Intellectual flaws in Judaism.

It’s like saying that being married prevents you from shedding blood. Why is that a bad thing? Why would you want to?

Crawling Axe said...

Btw, I’ve been reading the title as Closet Jews.

Cheerio said...

you have been awfully serious - and focused on this education bit. pursue it. i wanna see what other opinions we can stir up.
and can we have it out about the music? devote a post to it. let us all rant and yell and repeat ourselves and depart with the same opinions we began. it'll be fun...

sarabonne said...

and Le7....no pressure. Not. We're waiting with baited breath.

fakewood inc. said...

i think its a waste of time to engage people who went off after a certain point. as they get older the bitterness and anger is so overwhelming that no matter how much love you show they just spit in your face. they bash the system and everything we belive in and then they come for kishke and cholent and for us to make the feel better when the world punches them in the nuts. enough is enough go get out of here. we tried and now its time to move on.

Crawling Axe said...

Fakewood, sometimes you just need to allow them to release the pressure. Blow off steam. Burst the boil. Get the poison out of their system. (Are you getting my metaphor yet? OK, I’ll stop.)

Sometimes it involves just listening to their tirade for a long period of time — but you need to make sure it’s not the just the same stuff they repeat, but the actual essence of their problem. Once they’ve release the pressure, sometimes they realize it was all emotional shtus and actually go back to seeing Yiddishkeit (or whatever) in the original light (i.e., they become nostalgic). This is where you capitalize and apply pressure.

If you get them to open up.

In theory.

meir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fakewood inc. said...

listen cherems where invented for a reason and sometimes in extreme cases you have to cut off the bad part.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Yes, and who is going to pasken nefashos on that? There is a reason cherems were allowed to atrophy as they did.

fakewood inc. said...

i dont want to be involved in thatl.

Crawling Axe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Wiked Witch of the West said...

Those who discuss putting others in cherem, belong in cherem muaahaahaaa!

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

I'd say that was le7 but she wouldn't mispell wicked.

The Wicked Witch of the West said...

Why would you even think I was le7? Sicko.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Apparently because I don't know either of you and you seem to have similar senses of humor.

The Real Shliach said...

Cheerio: Yeah, it's strange, I have been pretty serious. I don't know what's gotten into me.

Re: music: I have very little interest in doing that. Well, maybe I will.

Wiked: muahahahahahah

Modeh: How dare you suggest that?

Wicked: Right.

le7 said...

le7 doesn't even have a sense of humor!!

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

THereby proving yourself wrong.

le7 said...

Huh, le7 doesn't have a sense of humor hello. (I know these things since I happen to be le7).

Der Shygetz said...

BS"D

Sadly, sometimes removal of a problematic individual is in order if that individual is hanging around so he can convince others to join him or sounding off just out of spite.

Still it is a worst case, last resort scenario that applies to maybe 5% of those who have left.

The Real Shliach said...

Five percent? Sir, you're too harsh by half. K'babas shamrem b'einei Hakadosh Baruch Hu, every Jew has a cheilek Elokah Mimaal Mamash, and I don't think you'll find any sane rabbi who would advocate driving our brother's and sister's any farther than they already are.

fakewood inc. said...

you are wrong some people need to be cut off so they dont influence other people. the questions is how far do we cut them off not if.

Der Shygetz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Der Shygetz said...

BS"D

Sorry but if someone is endangering innocent lives physically or spiritually, he's gotta go. Ditto for anyone recruiting for a cult or another religion.

Go can mean to jail or boot camp, or it can mean to a community situation where his issues can be addressed.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Huh, le7 doesn't have a sense of humor hello. (I know these things since I happen to be le7).
That makes some of what you say really scary.

The Real Shliach said...

fakewood+sheygetz: Endangering lives physically? Maskim. Actively recruiting for another cult or religion? With the advice of a respectable rabbinical authority. But influencing other people? Let's say your daughter comes home one day with a seventeen magazine-you're gonna kick her out of the house? I didn't think so. Ahh, so you'll tell me that there's a line. Where is that line? How do you know that's where the line is? How do you know why someone is doing what they are doing. If you people go learn Perek Lamed Beis Tanya you'll see what the AR says. I don't think there's anyone nowadays who qualifies for being pushed away. I'm sure you people will disagree with me, and I'm equally sure once you mature a little/have kids you'll come round to my way of thinking.

Modeh: Yup.

fakewood inc. said...

that what the 5th chelek is for. i aware that a lot of people are lacking there but the mesorah hasnt been lost completly. yes it is a mesorah.

The Real Shliach said...

You mean the fifth chelek of Shulchan Oruch? There's a story from the Satmar Rebbe, I don't remember what it was exactly, but the punchline is that there's a reason Choshen Mishpat, and specifically the laws of putting people in cherem, comes last in Shulchan Oruch-because only after you fulfilled all the laws of Ahavas Yisrael as expounded before that can you even think of going the legal route.

fakewood inc. said...

i know a kid that was having doubts nothing major just a little disillusioned. he was sent to a yeshiva for kids that were on a lower level. he now spokes pot and does even less not out of lack of belief put peer pressure. had he stayed away from that influnce it would certanly be different. you start allowing them to stay in the community and eventually they start pulling people down. i dont mean throw them out completly i mean their interactions have to be restricted and supervised.

The Real Shliach said...

So what would you have suggested for this kid?

Bichlal, once you're dealing with teenagers, restricting and supervising, unless done very well, are usually counter-productive.

fakewood inc. said...

it has to be done right for example if you had a youth place and a kid came and you found out he offered drugs or even ideas to another kid. he should be warned he will be asked to leave. if it occurs a second time good bye you arent welcome anymore.

The Real Shliach said...

Drugs? Instead of kicking the kid out, get him some help.

Ideas? What kinds of ideas? Who are you to decide which ideas are good and which aren't?

Besides, don't you think that kicking a kid out will encourage the other kids there to follow him? Remember, why are they there in the first place?

fakewood inc. said...

nope it wont. kids do have a sense of fairness. kids dont follow one person it goes by the trend and obviously it has to go case by case.

fakewood inc. said...

r u in motown this shabbos.

The Real Shliach said...

Trend? Actually, teenagers will usually follow a trendsetter, meaning the most radical person. Bichlal, a kid's sense of fairness and an adult's sense of fairness are not the same.

No, I'm not. Why, are you?

fakewood inc. said...

yes visiting my brother.

fakewood inc. said...

look i went to a school like that and now i helped in one i thinks i have a tad more experience than you.

The Real Shliach said...

In which program is your brother? Will you be there Sunday too?

I also went to a school like that (Lubavitch Yeshiva of Minnesota) and I also worked in one (as a Shliach-Yeshiva High School of the Twin Cities). Let's just say we both have experience, and perhaps we should just agree to disagree.

Der Shygetz said...

BS"D

That is why I said 5% of OTD
cases.

Given that there really aren't so many, I think my criteria for removal affects maybe 50 kids per large community, of whom perhaps 45 would be out for the drugs, 2 for the cults, and 3 for just being a bad influence.

Crown Heights is my point of reference BTW.

And I would have no problem banishing any kid of mine who engaged in the (spiritually endangering) behavior I had in mind, which is running around and telling other kids that basically, Judaism is chas vesholom bubbamaases.

Banishing in this case means to send a kid to a school in a less pressured setting where maybe he has a chance of going straight.

Remember when Avraham got rid of Yishmoel?

And because no one kicks the troublemakers out or even makes them feel what they are doing is wrong, Crown Heights is the mess it is today.

There is a legendary, now tired out, askan called the Red Devil who is one of the biggest ohavei Yisroel there ever was. If the legends are true, he ran a handful of people out of CH in his younger days. And that is what is needed. Tough love.

If the kanoim would yell We Want Moshiach Now and we would scream Shygetz Aross (when necessary) Moshiach would come this second.

The Real Shliach said...

CH is the mess it is today not because of the OTD kids. They're merely symptoms (and sufferers) of the problem.

fakewood inc. said...

i will be in morristown sunday until 12 and my brother lives there not in a program.

The Real Shliach said...

Oh, interesting. I'll be coming in the morning, but I have to take a test in taaruvos and pack my things, so I might not have too much time for chatting. How about you daven in tomchei (9:30) and we meet around then? Interested?

fakewood inc. said...

my brother is davening for the amud at tomchei so i will be there.

The Real Shliach said...

Okey dokey.