Reply To: BREAKING: Lipa to do another concert – “The Event”?

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OK, I think must certainly be time for my two cents. After all, I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath to hear what David Bar-Magen has to say. 🙂

Brooklyn19: Your enthusiasm is to be commended. In an era where too many reject the concept of intuitive limitations, it’s nice to see that there are those who still rely on the wisdom of others. However, it might be helpful to you to know the facts of the last Lipa fiasco.

1. First of all, Sheya Mendlowitz has arranged many, many concerts in his time–all of which featured standards acceptable to the Orthodox community. There has always been separate seating, a no-alcohol policy, and various staff on hand to discourage the intermingling of guys and girls before and during the concert. They have always been family-oriented, with none of the drunk-and-getting-high-at-two-in-the-morning atmosphere that your more mainstream concert would feature. So what went wrong?

2. There have been, and probably always will be a large of number of ignorant, hateful people who like to think of themselves as “askanim” and “pillars of the community,” mostly because of their upwardly mobile financial situations. These people passionately disliked Sheya Mendlowitz and Lipa and told Sheya directly–as per his account on Nachum Segal–that they intended to bring down “him and the sheigetz.”

3. Obviously, gedolim are expected to lend an extra-careful ear to pillars of the community, and so it was quite easy for these askanim to present R’ Kamenetsky, along with many other rabbanim, with a formal complaint about the “to’evah” that was going to happen in Klal Yisrael, explaining to him that boys and girls would mingle and become intoxicated at this event. They even submitted a form for him to sign; a ban whose exact Hebrew and Yiddish wording was lifted from an Israeli ban of Avraham Fried and MBD that was produced in Meah Shearim about five years ago.

4. R’ Kamenetsky, as per his OWN STATEMENT to his talmidim and community, did not adequately investigate the truth of these stories. We need not fault him for this; gedolim are very busy at all times, be it with answering she’elos or offering guidance to girls over the phone. 🙂 The fault lies with these self-proclaimed askanim, who are nothing more than hateful control freaks and thugs who dare to put on a hat and jacket and lie directly to a gadol’s face. It is not Lipa or Sheya who lacks emunas chachamim, it is them.


What has been good enough for Sheya’s concerts for the past 20 years should still be good enough now. He works in close conjunction with many gedolim, all of whom have had a say in his concerts for years. Those same guidelines should hold true for any of his concerts without necessarily running out to ask a six-month she’ela every time.

Understand that a tremendous amount of personal and municipal funds were lost because of the Madison Square Garden fiasco last time. It wasn’t a big kiddush Hashem and a result of emunas chachamim; it was a result of us allowing ourselves to be misled by a bunch of self-righteous shtarkers who prey on the masses’ zeal to prove their obedience to Halacha. Yet it wasn’t halacha that caused this loss; it was a sham.

Yes, we are expected to turn to our gedolim for guidance but no, we do not nor have we ever asked their permission for every life decision. If that were the case, we might as well worship human beings just like the pagan religions of old.

We are charged to learn and know halacha just as the gedolim are charged to. While we turn to them for guidance because of their much broader scope of knowledge and understanding, we are not expected to negate our very lives and morality to them. If halacha developed through blind obedience, why are there so many disagreements and alternate opinions in the gemara? Why does the word “machlokes” even exist?

We all strive to be ovdei Hashem, right? Maybe it’s time to act like it.