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  • in reply to: Some notes about what it means to be truly poor… #1001003

    ZD: You begin by assuming I came here to be “applauded for schnorring,” and then say that you’re not trying to be mean. A little too late for that, don’t you think?

    Here are the mistakes you and many, many people tend to make:

    1. I HAVE a job, and am on benefits. All that accomplishes for me is keeping me steadily destitute instead of homeless. WITH Food Stamps, WITH WIC and WITH Medicaid, I still am not bringing in enough to meet our needs. People like yourself think that’s impossible; people like yourself have this fictional idea that all poor people are either too lazy to get on benefits or too lazy to look for a job. In your fantasy world, both of these things are easily remedied and therefore not problems.

    2. So clear is your assumption that I need your approval that you even involve speculation about when we should or shouldn’t have decided to have children. Is that TRULY any of your business, or even a polite topic to bring up with someone? Am I so far below your exalted station that my most personal of issues may be chewed over by you?

    Honestly, my questions are rhetorical and I’m not even angry. Your assumptions and the way you speak to me are shared by many, many people. It’s a common misconception: that somehow people only get to my situation by slacking off somehow. Here’s the skinny: my wife and I are both well-educated with degrees. We started off our marriage with decent numbers in our bank accounts and now, a few years later, we’ve lost it all. It’s not an uncommon story in today’s economy, unfortunately, but it’s quite illuminating to see how people choose to react to it.

    in reply to: I'm not a Chillul Hashem; they're just racist #900736

    Again…I feel like there’s either a joke or a backstory that I’m not getting here. Popa: what chillul Hashem were you accused of making? I’m legitimately confused here.

    in reply to: Shocking Study of Modern Orthodox OTD Rate #941466

    Hey, no need for anyone to leave the CR. Just do what I do: take everything with a grain of salt and only post once every two years or so. (I’m going for some kind of record lately, though.)

    in reply to: I'm not a Chillul Hashem; they're just racist #900731

    Popa–didn’t follow your story. How is it you were supposed to have made a chilul Hashem??

    in reply to: Artscroll Gedolim biographies #981835

    Personally, I have very mixed feelings about Artscroll’s contribution to the Jewish world.

    I find their gemaros to be invaluable for “bekius” learning, and their language to be concise and crystal-clear. It is a pleasure to reap the benefits of their efforts to promote regular, accessible Torah study for all, and I am grateful to them for it.

    That said, I WISH that their contributions were just to the area of limud Torah. I find their Holocaust treatments, for one thing, to be highly glossed over, distilled tales of religious heroism, compacted for our easy consumption to deliver neat little moral lessons. This man had emuna and tried to keep Shabbos, so he survived. Obviously, the other man was lacking in his emuna, so Hashem let the Nazis kill him. I sometimes feel that I’m peering into a historical fiction world wherein only frum Jews suffered and died in the concentration camps and only the tzaddikim amongst them merited inexplicable open miracles.

    I have met and spoken to a good number of Holocaust survivors, frum and otherwise, and their stories generally have one running theme in common: desperate, brutal hanging-by-the-nails survival. There was murder, cannibalism and betrayal by unassuming men who set next to them in shul. There was heroism and moral values exhibited by “quarter-Jews” who likely never entered a shul in their lives.

    Oftentimes the Nazis themselves were too busy recording the facts and figures of their final solution, so they left the barbarism to the hands of other Jews to wreak upon their own brothers and sisters.

    Basically, what I’m saying is that there is no neat, storybook, cut-and-dried version of the Holocaust. It was a GEZEIRA. It was a desperate, hellish, indescribably evil time in our history that is now, in the distance of time, being used to further an agenda.

    I feel the same way about the gadol “biographies”. These books COULD be inspirational, motivational stories of human beings who were born with both their feet planted upon the same modern world as us and yet rose above the noise to become great men. Instead, they are tales of angels given human form who were capable of great feats of brilliance and virtue at an age that most of us still haven’t mastered the bathroom. By the end of chapter one, most of us are already nodding to ourselves resignedly and dismissing the tale from the bounds of any relevance whatsoever to our own lives and experience. You can practically sit back and play a drinking game with the term “paragon of humility” or “bastion of Torah.”

    So yes, I think Artscroll is slowly revising and reshaping the Jewish world in its own distinct, politically-acceptable image. I think they have now reached soaring popularity with the second generation born into a world where Artscroll has always existed. This generation lives and breathes the stories they tell and speaks in the terminology they have taught them.

    Well…I guess you know where I stand on this issue by now.

    in reply to: Separate seating at Weddings #1037957

    I’m not sure how this discussion veered off-topic so quickly. The original post was discussing mixed seating, not mixed dancing.

    Anyway, yeah, I really enjoy those weddings I attend where I can sit next to my wife. Especially when I don’t really know anyone.

    in reply to: Unfiltered Internet #876694

    DaasYochid: The difference between avoiding those paths where women are inappropriately clad (as described by Chazal) and installing an internet filter is the reasoning behind the move.

    Making a conscious decision to avoid areas where women dress inappropriately is far MORE comparable to making a conscious decision to avoid websites of the same nature. Installing a filter is more comparable to Chazal instructing us to post guards on the roadways leading to these women; guards who bludgeon anyone who attempts to cross.

    Because guards are likewise an artificial moral construct in that they exist because outside forces have decided they must, the free will of CHOOSING to avoid those paths is removed. It is highly possible that, in time, these guards themselves will be seen as the mitzvah and the purpose of the avoidance they enforce will be lost.

    My intention in noting that Chazal do not demand that we avoid sitting next to women while traveling or interacting with them altogether is to point out that Chazal themselves–the ultimate authorities on human nature–believed that we are capable of self-control.

    As I implied in my earlier post, I do NOT simply lock myself in a room with the computer and wage some kind of pitched battle against primal human urges. I MODERATE my own self by either avoiding the internet altogether or using it in the presence of my wife.

    A filter is insulting. It implies that God created mankind lacking the ability to overcome their baser instincts without the help of a nanny. It implies that He hands us challenges that are so impossible to bear that we must simply remove ourselves from the battle altogether.

    in reply to: Unfiltered Internet #876680


    All I can say is “wow.” Things have certainly been moving along since I last checked in.

    DaasYochid and Middle Path definitely win the award for most respectful and polite disagreement on this forum. I, like MiddlePath, was a bit confused by the vehemence and general closeminded “nopenopenope” attitude that my statement seemed to generate in some people. To those people–whom I do not seek to make famous by mentioning their names–I will only say this: please try learning how to argue your points so that your arguments graduate from schoolyard posturing to actual content. Then we will talk.

    Next, a few points:

    1. The whole concept of “use a filter” is an artificial moral construct, despite what anyone says. It’s not the same thing as “keep kosher” or “keep Shabbas,” in that the action of installing a filter does not automatically make you kosher v’yosher in the eyes of God.

    Someone decided that filters are the be-all and end-all of internet safety. Wake up, people: no they’re not. Any fifteen year old that knows about by-proxy locators or how to torrent and seed would laugh you out of the room. Filters present as much barrier against going where you want to go on the internet as a “Do Not Cross Between Railway Cars” sign presents to subway riders.

    2. “But DBM,” I hear some of you bleating, “are you saying that we mere mortals can trust ourselves not to seek out the forbidden? Don’t Chazal say that we cannot police ourselves in matters of arayos?”

    Well, if it’s nose-to-nose with you, yeah. Few, if any, human beings can resist THAT sort of temptation. Notice, however, that Chazal did NOT say that we cannot police ourselves in, say, talking to a woman, walking on the same side of the street or even (gasp!) seating oneself next to a woman on a bus. Do you why? Because WE HAVE THE HUMAN CAPACITY TO SET LIMITS AND BIDE BY THEM.

    If you read my original post, you will notice that I mention simply not going online or going online in the presence of my wife as deterrents to visiting improper content. Those are natural–not artificial and pandering–means of self-control.

    (To the one sick soul who derived from that post that I was confessing to not being able to help visiting certain sites: shame on you. Are you not aware of the many interstitial advertisments and banners that one encounters in the media?)

    3. To tout a filter as the device that does what we ourselves are meant to be doing is to create an artificial moral construct. Why?

    Imagine for a moment if it suddenly became fashionable to drink only boiling water in order to avoid the infinitesimal concern that a living organism remains in it. Imagine the signs popping up in restaurant windows throughout the Jewish world. WE ONLY SERVE BOILING WATER. GET IT WHILE IT’S SCALDING.

    Basically, we are buying into the idea that a good Jew drinks his water at the boiling point. We HAVE to, you see, because otherwise we will fall prey to our ta’avos to drink unboiled water. We are all intrinsically animals who cannot control ourselves when faced with clear, sparkling goy-water that isn’t even properly steaming. It follows, of course, that only an awful, morally corrupt Jew who has drunk cold water so often that he’s become desensitized would dare regard plain, common-sense filtering as sufficient.

    To recap: Someone creates a pious thing to do. Everyone buys into the piety because nobody wants to be That Guy Who Shouldn’t Even Be Jewish. Anyone who questions the new piety by examining it using actual brainpower is a heretic.

    in reply to: Unfiltered Internet #876679


    All I can say is “wow.” Things have certainly been moving along since I last checked in.

    DaasYochid and Middle Path definitely win the award for most respectful and polite disagreement on this forum. I, like MiddlePath, was a bit confused by the vehemence and general closeminded “nopenopenope” attitude that my statement seemed to generate in some people. T

    in reply to: Unfiltered Internet #876646

    Spoken in true testament to your username!

    I actually replied to both of those guys in detail, but the moderators have yet to post it, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

    in reply to: Unfiltered Internet #876640

    Yes, I do not have a filter. Would you like to know why?

    Because when there’s a will there’s a way.

    Back in the days before instant accessibility of everything, those who were determined to feast their eyes on certain images FOUND A WAY. Those who truly wished to violate the Torah FOUND A WAY.

    Whenever I feel like misbehavior is the direction I’m headed, I DON’T GO ONLINE. If I must be online, I make sure to do so in full view of my wife or others, if I’m out of the house. Do you know why? Because I’m normal. I’m not some half-deranged maniac with little or no impulse control; I’m human. And, as a human, I make my own conscious decisions about morality and I bide by them. Not ALWAYS–as I AM human, after all–but most of the time.

    You know, the same as everyone else both pre- and post-internet.

    It’s always easy to find a new technology to demonize, but the demons are within us and therefore within our control.

    in reply to: Smoking Habit #670648

    Let me preface by saying that, despite tremendous peer pressure, I have never and hopefully will never lift a cigarette to my lips.

    That being said, I believe people must be very sensitive toward smokers. Remember that the classical, fallback explanation of why people smoke–they’re just trying to be cool–is an outdated old aphorism that doesn’t apply nearly as much as it once did, when cigarette billboards and commercials were commonplace.

    Smoking is an addiction, as is caffeine and, sometimes, overeating–both of which are likewise abused, on occasion, by yeshiva bachurim. If one wishes to take an altruistic approach and question why yeshiva bachurim don’t heed the call, “venishmartem meod es nafshosechem,” they should likewise be fiery advocates against the high-caloric meals served daily in yeshiva and capped off by pastries, chulent, kugel, kishke and beer at the end of the week. We are no longer Polish day laborers who burn thousands of calories a week, and heart issues are the leading causes of death. Rabbanim across the world should be demanding that an hour or two of physical exercise become mandatory in all yeshivos.

    In addition, there was someone in this thread who wrote that, categorically, “anyone who smokes is a murderer.” It is exactly this sort of attitude that encourages smokers to continue smoking; they know that anyone who speaks this way is so far removed from the realities of nicotine addiction that nothing that person says needs to be taken seriously. Most people can’t “just stop” smoking without an openly medical impetus, no matter how many heartwarming tales you once heard or read about those who did.

    Finally, we must remember that those who do triumph over their addiction have not suddenly opened up their whole lives before them in a new, shining and beautiful way; they have managed to control their body’s need for a substance that, throughout the rest of their lives, it will still crave deeply in times of emotional or social stress. For this reason, it is wrong to try telling a smoker how much better and cleaner his/her life will be once smoking is gone from it. Anyone who understands nicotine addiction also understands that quitting does not mean that one will immediately never want to smoke again; it’ll be like having a perpetual itch that they are being asked never to scratch.

    Yes, smoking is filthy, dangerous, unhealthy and foolish, but do not presume to treat those who do it as “bad people.” You do not know their stories, and you do not immediately have the moral high ground. Let’s daven that yeshivas will really start pressing home to their bachurim how terrible a thing it is to even start. Let’s hope that yeshivas will someday stop intertwining Purim with smoking, as though it’s some sort of mitzvas ha-yom. Let’s hope they also begin providing regular exercise and extracurricular activities to keep their boys healthy and occupied.

    If people really, truly, cared to preserve the lives of smokers, these things would already be the norm.

    in reply to: Labels – How Do You See Yourself? How Do Others See You? #662583

    I feel that they (labels) should ideally carry a reliable kashrus symbol. Otherwise, I don’t like ’em much.

    in reply to: College, Secular Studies & Judaism #1169536


    If that is the case, then there shouldn’t be any argument; no more than there should be an argument over which Yeshiva someone goes to or which town has the best pizza places.

    Everyone is different, and it is not the task of the YWN Coffee Room to set up a timetable to delineate how long each of its members spends away from Limud Torah–especially since the fact that there IS a Coffee Room means that all of us are currently not learning.

    The boundaries are drawn wherever each person, in his unique set of circumstances, draws them.

    If the question was whether college is permitted for the sake of its most basic function–earning a living–then that question has been dealt with sufficiently.

    in reply to: College, Secular Studies & Judaism #1169533

    There seems to be a bit of a misconception here.

    Most posters on this thread seem to agree that college is permissible for the sake of making a living.

    Now, I don’t know what sort of early Athenian democracy some of you think we live in, but here’s a news flash: MOST students in college right this minute are in college to gain the tools to make a living; they are not seated together with hundreds of Greek elders, trying to uncover the secrets of the universe. What, then, is the big issue here? If a person wishes to be a working professional with an on-the-books means of employment, that person will have to go to college. End of discussion.

    It is also, quite frankly, absurd to believe that someone would dedicate years of his life to a profession and be in it “just for the money and prestige.” Do not pretend that Jewish doctors don’t care about medicine or that Jewish lawyers don’t care about law. Perhaps, in a worst-case scenario, they started out for the prestige. Guess what? They will probably not survive the grueling years of academic labor necessary to gain any prestige. It isn’t the same thing as clipping a cherry light to the roof of your car.

    All I’m saying is that college appears to be permitted by all opinions for the sake of earning a living, and that secular studies in general appear to be permitted as a way to pass spare time. That pretty much covers the needs of most adult members of the human race.

    Now, what’s the argument again?

    in reply to: Espionage in the CR #793025

    Come to think of it, I was in a shul recently that had–if I remember correctly–a “coffee room”! If that’s not blatant lifting of YWN technology, what is?

    in reply to: Women’s Dancing on Simchas Torah #1018073

    Why on earth shouldn’t they dance? They do at chasunas. What they want to do behind the mechitza is their business. Besides, it’s their Torah too.

    in reply to: Tznius Standards #651410


    I’ve thought a while about the letter you reposted, and I’ve decided that–however uncomfortable this might make some people–there is no practical purpose in sharing it. Why, you ask?

    It is never appropriate to decide that you and you alone know the real reason for Hashem’s gezeirah. The best and only action to be taken should you–G-d forbid–find yourself subject to an obviously harsh decree is to look within yourself and fix what needs to be fixed; looking outward and judging others is not the answer.

    As a letter detailing the poor young woman’s introspection and teshuva, it is a painful and sobering piece. She acted appropriately: she acknowledged what she felt to be her sins and truly regretted them. It is questionable, however, what lesson is supposed to be learned by applying this letter to EVERYONE. “If you dress immodestly, Hashem will kill you”?

    If that is not the conclusion to be drawn, and I am mistaken, than please do explain what the purpose of publicizing this letter could possibly be.

    in reply to: Sign Of The Times?(!) #650378


    Hi, everyone, it’s David Bar-Magen, infrequent poster. Why infrequent? There’s rarely any point.

    Cantoresq, if you haven’t already realized it by reading certain posts in this thread, the answer to your original question is yes.

    To those posters, you know who you are:

    Take some time to cool off a little and read your own statements over to yourselves. Ask yourselves if you’d draw similarly grand and sweeping conclusions about people you meet face-to-face in the street. Oh, well, you probably would.

    in reply to: Oh vs Oy #953893

    The subject is a bit of a sore spot for me and, I suspect, many others. I can’t count how many times, in yeshiva, I was mocked and imitated for my pronunciation of the cholam as “oh.” Something so simple and so clearly stated in dikduk has become a pivotal point by which a person’s level of frumkeit is assessed.

    The “oy” is a comparatively recent phenomenon, born out of the Eastern European dialects of Yiddish. Anyone with a clear grasp of linguistics (not stressed in many yeshivos) or history (not stressed in many yeshivos) would be able to confirm this. Yet, many of those same bachurim who were so stringent on chalav yisrael that they would refuse to eat at the table with someone eating chalav stam never took the time to examine the rules governing the words they recited every day.

    It takes a special level of shallowness for a ben Torah to treat the entire beis midrash to an Oscar-winning performance of his krias shema–complete with moving the head in four directions, scrunching up the face as though being tortured and doing things with the “ayin” that would send anyone knowledgeable in dikduk diving for cover–and then turn around and mock his fellow for saying “oh” instead of “oy.”

    in reply to: Women Wearing Costumes on Purim? #1008079

    Yes, in the face of a halacha, sarcasm has been known to help a great deal in one’s understanding of it, and it is certainly very respectful to the Mishna Berurah to employ it; this must be one of the lessons you imbibed in school. See, that’s why I just used it myself.

    Tzippi, you don’t need any source other than the Rema to establish the chiyuv of women to be mekayam ad d’lo yada on Purim. Obviously (at least it should be obvious) I am not condoning drunken, rowdy women weaving through the streets on Purim. As I said, and said clearly, ad d’lo yada can nearly always be accomplished by simply drinking more than one is accustomed to and then taking a quick nap. This goes for men as well.

    You have also neatly ignored/avoided/simply neglected to read the main thrust of my last post, which is to point out that we have halacha for a reason. Anybody can crouch over their keyboards and weave interesting yarns of what women are and are not allowed to do, but there is only one Mishna Berurah, thank God. How the mitzva can be fulfilled by you personally may be determined by asking your LOR, but what you have chosen to do instead is to deride the source of the halacha and set up a straw man argument; i.e. that I am conveying my desire for all women to become extremely drunk on Purim.

    in reply to: Women Wearing Costumes on Purim? #1008066


    If the Rema states that women are mechuyavos in the mitzvah of ad d’lo yada, then they are. Obviously, the drinking aspect of Purim as well as the costume aspect of it may be done–within reason–by women. They, like the men, have the option of drinking a little more than usual and then taking a short nap. Ad d’lo yada accomplished, and no need to get humiliatingly plastered.

    A generation ago, it was considered “unbecoming” of a Bas Yisrael to go out into the working world where they are highly likely to be noticed and interacted with by unrelated men. Now, with the rise of the kollel lifestyle, this concept has mysteriously ceased to be an issue. My point is, don’t allow other people who fancy themselves the newest chelek of Mishna Berurah to determine, as per their whims and personal preferences, what is or isn’t appropriate for a Bas Yisrael. There are guidelines for every community, and one is expected to keep to them.

    There is no reason a woman should not fulfill her–equally valid–mitzvas hayom because some anonymous armchair philosopher decided he doesn’t like it.

    in reply to: Women Wearing Costumes on Purim? #1008058


    First of all, it is inaccurate and misleading to state that “getting drunk is a mitzva,” so why should it be banned. If you went to a standard yeshiva, I’m sure you are well aware of the many interpretations of “ad d’lo yada,” none of which allow a Jewish man, married or unmarried, to get so embarrassingly plastered that he cannot learn or daven. The Mishna Berurah also encourages us to remember that things like stealing do not become suddenly permissible because it’s Purim.

    That being said, it might make more sense to say that “being mekayam ad d’lo yada” is a mitzvah, and should not be banned–taking into account, of course, that ad d’lo yada is not supposed to be a blanket allowance to drink within a pint of alcohol poisoning and then pass out in a pool of your own vomit on the Beis Midrash floor.

    It seems to me that some people are far too quick to find some way in which they can blame women for the debauchery that can sometimes occur on Purim–most of it the result of too much alcohol and too little self-monitoring. Yes, girls have worn and probably will wear costumes that some deem too provocative, but let’s remember that dressing provocatively is an issue to be contended with 365 days a year, not just on Purim. And, just like all the other days of the year, it is incumbent on the men to avoid encouraging or gaping openly at those attired inappropriately.

    So your question is really a non-question. Can women wear non-provocative costumes? Yes, they can, just as men can. If it bothers you that you have to share the mitzvos and minhagei hayom with the opposite sex, I’m terribly sorry for you, but it’s their mitzvah too. Can women dress provocatively and inappropriately? No, they can’t, and that is not a concept unique to Purim.

    in reply to: What we do for Shidduchim #660696

    Will Hill: Gavra@work’s point was, I think, that wearing the hat was MADE a part of shidduchim–which is frankly ridiculous. If one wants to wear a black hat during all of one’s mundane activities, that’s one’s prerogative. But it’s a pretty sad day when a shidduch is turned down because some busybody saw the girl’s or boy’s father shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, etc., without a black hat.

    in reply to: Random Questions #1078873

    You did say it respectfully, I thought. I guess the mods were using their powers of prophecy to determine the probable path on which the thread would’ve taken the CR.

    in reply to: Random Questions #1078870

    Why WAS his topic closed? I guess because it probably would’ve degenerated into, “You know what MY pet peeve is? YOU.”

    in reply to: Revealing Personal Info in the CR #633984

    It is indeed the way of the world–but especially in the Jewish world, where it is assumed that you’re probably only a few friends and relatives away from figuring out who another poster is. The fact that most posters on YWM identify as Orthodox Jews makes the job that much simpler, since they’ll mostly be centered in a few geographical areas.

    However, there is no excuse for someone to actively participate in the bullying and unmasking of a poster who clearly does not wish to be unmasked. It’s cruel, embarrassing, and it shouldn’t be a source of personal pride. While some, like Will Hill and SJSinNYC, are clearly neutral on the idea of being identified, the majority of people that come here seem to come here for an open, honest, ANONYMOUS discussion.

    I think what happened to Brooklyn19 is shameful, though it may be argued that she provided too much information in different posts. Even so, it is nobody’s business who she’s dating, where she works or how old she actually is. I, for one, care about the answers to these questions exactly as much as I care about knowing similar information about any random girl in Brooklyn who happens to pass by.

    Imagine yourself arbitrarily stopping a Jewish girl on the streets of Brooklyn and interrogating her to find out her personal information.

    Would you feel like a big, macho man then?

    Or a sleazy creep?

    Think about it.

    in reply to: BREAKING: Lipa to do another concert – “The Event”? #630165

    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.

    in reply to: Stop the Lashon Hara #625657

    Yes, please do go for it. I am tired of big talkers on ANY subject lining up to speak widescale lashon hara on anyone who doesn’t agree with them. If people would so much as open a Sefer Chafetz Chaim, they might learn some halachos they haven’t picked up from those other sefarim he wrote…

    in reply to: The Bowling Alley #625510

    Again: process the fact that you have NO idea what was going on. As I already stressed, I am not justifying their decision to visit the bar–I am pointing out that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else on these boards including the originator of this thread has any idea what the exact story was.

    And yes, you DO need to know the story, and yes, it DOES make a huge difference. There can be a bigger chillul Hashem caused by yeshiva guys going to a kiddush (a seudas mitzva) than a bar. I’ve seen it many times.

    Lgbg began this thread with, “Maybe it’s none of my business…”

    So far, that’s the most admirable statement I’ve read.

    in reply to: The Bowling Alley #625507

    To all of you who are immediately salivating over your keyboards to judge these bachurim, consider the following two scenarios:

    Scenario 1: Three yeshiva guys go to a kiddush on Shabbas afternoon, get embarassingly drunk and spend over an hour catcalling at all the girls going in and out of the kiddush.

    Scenario 2: Three yeshiva guys, bored on a weeknight, go bowling and then relax with a couple of beers in the adjacent bar.

    I have seen both scenarios play themselves out in Lakewood many times. I can tell you which scenario I felt was the wronger of the two, but I probably don’t have to. Before you spend 150+ posts debating the wrongness or rightness of a bar, process the fact that you have absolutely NO idea what motivations lay behind those bachurim being there.

    Note: I am not saying that they were right; I only seek to point out that NO-ONE HERE knows the whole story.

    in reply to: Facebook #691121


    Are you really that surprised? To the minds of those who have converted to Assurism, anything that CAN be treif is just the same as bona fide tarfus. Hence, the McDonalds/Facebook comparison which, to the logical mind, is hilarious.

    Don’t believe me? Watch this:

    Step One: Bakeries are certified by hechsherim, and are ostensibly kosher.

    Step Two: Women go to bakeries.

    Step Three: Men who go to bakeries might mingle with the women.

    Step Four: The Torah says, “Lo sasuru acharei levavchem v’acharei einechem.”

    CONCLUSION: Bakeries are assur.

    (For all the scientific-minded, the equation is: Control plus Dependent Variable plus Unfalsifiable Hypothesis equals Issur.)

    in reply to: Facebook #691081

    Illini07: Thanks, but I’m not sure why I bother. Doubtless the next response to my comments will make it clear to all that I am nothing but a “modernishe” liberal with “krum shittos” who’s trying to “be mattir shiksoys and zoynoys.” There will definitely be something in there about toiveling with a sheretz in my hand.

    There is a dearth of reasonable people willing to speak with me, though there’s quite an abundance of people willing to speak AT me.

    in reply to: Facebook #691078

    Really? I don’t see THEM speaking lashon hara about YOU without knowing a blessed thing about you. You don’t seem willing to afford them the same courtesy.

    in reply to: Facebook #691076

    Nameless: Then your friend is of the same mindset as kitzur-dot-net; namely, that anything that CAN be used to access something assur is intrinsically assur.

    Here’s a news flash: shutting out everything and anything in the world will not help, nor does it make you better than your neighbor. Especially in contemporary society, it is next to impossible for anyone other than the Amish or perhaps a tribe in the rainforests of the Amazon to completely remove themselves from the world.

    What we CAN do–and should do–is MODERATE our exposure and our children’s exposure to different forms of media. USE your head, instead of hiding it in the sand. While it’s certainly easier to pretend that MySpace is the exact same animal as Facebook, anyone who has actually used both services knows very well that they are not in any way alike.

    A few immediate differences:

    1. Facebook profiles can only be accessed by friends that YOU approve of. MySpace profiles can be accessed and even hacked by complete strangers.

    2. Facebook does not allow complicated profiles with background music and photo wallpaper. MySpace does. While Facebook users may post videos and music, these things can only be accessed by clicking on them, once again leaving your exposure to imagery and/or music that you don’t approve of to your OWN DISCRETION.

    3. Facebook began as a college-wide effort to connect students with one another and continues to serve that purpose in an expanded capacity for students, family and friends. MySpace was never intended to be a facebook, and was always a social networking site for the purpose of meeting new people.

    4. MySpace has traditionally been fertile ground for pedophiles and stalkers because of the anonymity inherent in it. Facebook users generally have accounts under their REAL NAMES, and cannot interact with people they haven’t “friended.”

    They are both sites for social networking but are not in any way alike. Process that.

    Thinkinghelps: I have already heard that speech, and the Rav makes some very good points. Facebook CAN be and HAS been misused, just like ANY tool can be, including YWN. That’s why it is our duty to use our own discretion (thinking helps, indeed) to understand how to control these tools. And in that discretion, it would be helpful not to immediately and knee-jerkingly ban anything and everything under the sun for the reasons that:

    A) it ends in .com, or

    B) that you absolutely no working knowledge of what it actually is.

    in reply to: Facebook #691073

    Kitzur-dot-net does an excellent job of proving my point, i.e. that there will always be swamps of people with burrs in their britches, chomping at the bit to assur any new development.

    I’m only going to repeat this once again: Facebook gives its users complete and utter control over who their friends are. If you don’t want to see images of “zoynos/shiktzos,” your best recourse is NOT TO BE FRIENDS with those who befriend them. It’s quite the no-brainer. (I also have my doubts about whether these zoynos/shiktzos you speak of are actually that. Extrapolating from your response to this thread, one might assume that you are very quick to place people and things in categories where you feel they fit, disregarding accuracy.)

    A person who truly had a “drop of yiras shamayim” would try to engage his brain before hitting “Send Post” and casting aspersion upon thousands of perfectly fine and upstanding Jews who use Facebook.

    in reply to: Facebook #691065

    Aidle maidle: One might ask, why do people feel YWN is a heter for lashon hara? Any forum in which people socialize and exchange views is a potential springboard for lashon hara; this is not a phenomenon unique to Facebook, or even to the internet. With Facebook or any other socializing agent, you must pay close attention to who your friends are and whether or not you really want a more personal window into their lives.

    If one feels that one is spending too much time on Facebook, that’s an issue one must deal with on his own; it isn’t Facebook’s fault for being a stimulating website.

    in reply to: Facebook #691059

    abcd: I second illini07’s assertion. As a veteran Facebooker, I can assure you that connecting with strangers is not the purpose of Facebook. Unlike MySpace, Facebook does not allow complete strangers who haven’t been “friended” to view your profile. I and many, many others use Facebook as a handy tool to keep up with distant family, friends, coworkers and others with whom I feel close enough to care about their lives. It’s fun, it’s convenient, and I have complete control over what content is allowed on my profile.

    While I’m sure there are any number of people chomping at the bit to find a reason to “assur” it, Facebook is one of the most effective tools of friendship maintenance out there and is in no way objectionable.

    But I reiterate: if one is not the social networking type, Facebook is not for that person. But don’t project your own distaste for socializing into an imaginary issur.

    in reply to: The Riddle Thread…. #1067742

    Q: What can travel all around the world while still staying in one corner?

    A: A postage stamp.

    in reply to: Facebook #691044

    Joseph: Why does anyone require Facebook? It’s a social networking site, and people (even kids) like to be a part of an online community of their friends and relatives. If that’s your type of thing, well and good. If that isn’t your type of thing, there’s no reason Facebook should change that.

    in reply to: A Humorous Item #1171675

    How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: “Ah, don’t worry about it. I’ll just sit here, in the dark, alone…”

    in reply to: Important Announcement for Lakewood Residents! #624782

    I have this strange feeling that this will turn into a discussion of feminism anyway. 🙂

    in reply to: Upcoming Election & Growth of Lakewood #623505

    To all:

    I have mentioned this once before, but it bears repeating.

    This is an internet forum. Although the words being spoken are expressed in impersonal black type on a screen, there are real, often volatile, emotions behind them. In addition, there are many types of people from many walks of life who will inevitably find their way here. These people may challenge your deeply-held convictions and speak in a manner that violently offends you.

    Do not speak any differently to them than you would speak to a real-life individual, standing before you and spouting views you do not agree with. If you are truly concerned for that person’s spirituality, a private e-mail or a phone call will go miles farther than an internet forum.

    Remember this.

    in reply to: Moshiach Rumors? #1074748

    Blue Shirt:

    I was at that funeral. I explicitly and unmistakably heard R’ Elya Svei say,

    “I have a kabala from my rebbe, Rav Elchonon, that Mashiach will come in the year two-oh-oh-nine.”

    Many people in my yeshiva discussed those words for a while, and some made unflattering comments about R’ Elya not having such a firm grip on sanity anymore. Nobody, however, questioned his use of the Christian date. If you don’t like it, that’s your prerogative, but please refrain from casting infantile insults toward Just Smile for the crime of speaking the truth.

    in reply to: Kid Off The Derech #625188

    To all participants in this discussion, esp. Gitty and Shindy:

    Although this is a discussion taking place on an internet forum amongst relative strangers, it is important to remember that emotions are running high. Let us attempt to refrain from making judgmental and polarizing statements in either direction. Let us acknowledge a couple of ground truths that have emerged in the past several days alone.

    1. It is disingenuous and unhelpful to state that “all children who have gone off the derech are intrinsically unhappy.” As many have pointed out, kids go off BECAUSE they are unhappy, and the relative freedom that they find is exhilarating and relieving. So yes, they ARE happy in the sense that they have removed an extremely painful thorn from their sides. The concept that “all secular kids are unhappy” is a party line heard many times in yeshivas, and many of the off-the-derech youth I’ve met are extremely derisive of it.

    2. Conversely, it is wrong to assume that “all frum people are narrow-minded and only see things their way.” The very fact that Gitty’s issue can be discussed from so many different angles is itself a refutation of this assumption. If it were true, ALL responses to Gitty would’ve been in CAPITAL LETTERS AND HORRIFICALLY MISSPELLED, as we have seen here often. We all know what narrow-mindedness looks like on the internet.

    Having said that, here is my take.

    Shindy: My heart goes out to your pain. All I can say in response to it is that, sometimes, a child has to swing all the way in the opposite direction before he or she can return to the middle. It is a long, painful process until equalization is reached, and I hope Hashem gives you the strength to hold out until then and the tolerance to accept the ups and downs of your daughter’s life with love and forgiveness. It is not my place to theorize what your relationship has been like before now, but I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping the door to your home wide open to your child no matter what. Have faith, and pray for strength!

    Gitty: I will not be so condescending as to tell you that you are unhappy. I will tell you, though, that you are changing. A different lifestyle–whether a more religious or less religious one–creates many subtle changes within one’s personality that may or may not prove favorable. Hold on to who you are and stay firm to your convictions. Draw a red line that you will not cross no matter what, and mind your step. Do not be so open-minded as to allow your brain to flutter out the gap. Do not be so close-minded as to be unable to look at those you despise and attempt to see things from their perspective, however self-serving and corrupt it may be.

    I must add: I have indeed read Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell,” and in fact I’ve done a review of it. I do not find it to be ultimately critical of religion; Dennett merely posits that one should not shy away from analyzing the role religion plays in a scientific manner. He does not suggest that one should best be irreligious. Though I do not agree with much of what he says, I respect his method of approach to it. Most writers that are critical of religion–primarily a certain egotistical sack of hot air named Christopher Hitchens–have clearly abandoned religion because they are under the impression that THEY are God. You can be better than that.

    in reply to: Physical Discipline in Yeshivos #622817

    Cherrybim writes:

    –What do you call: “…when a mechanech should administer (deserved) petch.”?–

    I call that Joseph’s words, not mine. I’m not sure what your point is supposed to be.

    in reply to: All Quiet on The YWN Front #622739

    If I may:

    Scathing, insulting replies are ALWAYS wrong, no matter how justified they may seem to be. Especially on these boards, all hateful replies just look like the illiterate rantings of a high-schooler who has too much time on his hands. Especially if the offending comment you wish to reply to is well-written and intelligent-sounding, it is important to have your reply be equally compelling. If someone were to write as follows:

    –Poster One: I don’t believe rabbis have the right to tell us what the Torah meant to say.–

    And you reply:


    Who do you think looks smarter in that exchange?

    If you can’t reply intelligently, at least reply nicely. If you wish to argue, logic and cold facts go a long way.

    in reply to: Physical Discipline in Yeshivos #622809

    Mayan Dvash:

    To be fair, my original post (which started this thread) depicted a slap, which is more abusive than, say, a light tap on the hand given gently and following an explanation of why it is being done. I suppose that’s why others are treating this as a discussion of child abuse. If the question were to be whether or not child abuse is acceptable, there would be no thread. The answer is an unequivocal NO, as you and others have expressed.

    My actual, underlying question is whether a child may be touched for disciplinary purposes AT ALL. I do not even wish to discuss whether he may be slapped; there is no argument there.

    in reply to: Internet vs. Yiddishkeit #627484

    Internet VERSUS frumkeit? It doesn’t need to be a battle. Moderate, moderate, moderate. If one feels he cannot control himself, best to stay away. If one is a better self-regulator and requires the internet, he should have it. The only thing that makes the internet incompatible with Judaism is one’s actions on it. Otherwise, it’s an exercise in absurdity for anyone with anti-internet views to be posted an anti-internet message on an internet forum. Think about it; it’s not a tremendous leap of logic.

    in reply to: Physical Discipline in Yeshivos #622796

    Mayan Dvash: I apologize; I did not in fact finish your post, since the vast majority of it read exactly like the sort of nonsense I’ve been hearing for many years about how any and all abuse should be allowed because the Torah says so, and that anyone who doesn’t think so is “modern.” (How I despise that term!) There is a very large body of contemporary halachic work (including the Steipler) that decries the use of aggressive force against a child in today’s day and age. This has zero to do with modern society and everything to do with common sense. You simply cannot smack a kid smart, but you CAN ruin his sense of stability and self-esteem.

    Now that I have read the last line of your post, I’m curious: exactly what sort and degree of physical force do you advocate, and how is it not abuse?

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