Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Charedei Miscellanei #3

by @azigra, Chief Haredi Correspondent

Three posts by @azigra on the exalted state of Haredi intellectual life. 

Girls, Girls, Girls

I was at Cong. Beth Shalom in Lawrence this past Shabbos for Shachris, the Rabbi was away and so an Associate Rabbi named Skydell spoke in his stead. He began by referencing the last verse in the Haftora:

"וּמָה-יְהוָה דּוֹרֵשׁ מִמְּךָ, כִּי אִם-עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וְאַהֲבַת חֶסֶד, וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת, עִם-אֱלֹהֶיךָ" - "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

He continued: The most visceral word in our modern Jewish vocabulary is Tzniut. It makes us think of people checking skirt lengths with a ruler, rules about the thickness of stockings, wearing long clothing in the summer heat, and receiving 'dress modestly' cards with wedding invitations. (azigra: women sent to the back of buses, physical and verbal abuse of women in the street, women getting acid thrown in their faces, eighteen year old girls being forced to shave their hair, men being convinced God cares how many layers of clothing they wear in the summer ......) And this concept manifests itself in a way where people are confronted about their clothing, asked to answer for their sartorial choices. But if someone asks you why your skirt is too short you should just ask them "what is wrong with you?"

The Associate Rabbi shared his observations made at a Jewish political fund raiser attended by the then Junior Senator of NY, Hillary R. Clinton. Everyone knows she never wears skirts, and she was there dressed in her signature pants suites. None of the rabbis made prior requests to her assistant, ran out of the room, avoided talking to her, or the like. Everyone realized she was dressed very modestly, yes, the rabbis wouldn't let their wives or daughters dress in pants, but not purely for lack of Tzniut.

A problem that exists in parts of our culture is the sexualization of girls. But one community that actively portrays them in sexual contexts and another community that obsesses and focuses on the way girls appear and dress are equally guilty of the same exact thing. That is why our community must not focus on these things and instead focus on the true meaning of וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת, עִם-אֱלֹהֶי, to behave modestly, to be open to learning new things, and engage with others, this is how we show the world that Jews live ethical and moral lives as a principal of their faith.

Women! Know your Place!

I came across some book called Yad Vashem by Reuven ben Menachem Yazriel from Slobodka with the following paragraph on the last page. As a feminist, this gave me chills and I hope all modern men and women will realized how horrible and flawed this argument set forth by a WOMAN is.

The author records his wife's explanation of the morning blessing repeated by women, that God made them "C'ritzono" in his will or like his will. The obvious question (to this women) is that this blessing seems to indicate that God could have made women not like his will which is blasphemous. She therefor surmises that, "like his will" doesn't mean the will of God, but rather, women thank God, that he made them like the will of their husbands.

This is kind of reminiscent of that miserable essay published on JaneXO a few months ago. These women don't know what the alternatives are or they are lied to about how innocuous the alternatives really are.

Zohar Shmo-har

I dined Friday night with some people of Moroccan descent. Someone mentioned that guy Yoshiyahu Pinto and I said that he was just listed as one of the top ten wealthiest rabbis in Israel. The wealthiest is the son of Eliezer Abuchatzera, who was murdered last July, possibly for being a charlatan, and crook, and a thief. I didnt say anything about the true identity of Abuchatzera until someone brought out a Chumash and proceeded to show how a reference to his murder could be found in the Torah and not just anywhere in the Torah but in the very Parsha read during the very week he died. At that point, I couldn't hold back, I attacked the murder victim, and somehow ended up sharing the arguments about how the Zohar is a fraud, which was a huge mistake, since I spent the next two hours listening to people attack me for being an Am Ha'aretz, an Apikores, and having basic Emunah issues. 

They had no doubt the Zohar was written by R. Shimon Bar Yochai, that it is Torah M'Sinai and that holds is a central apart of the Torah canon. I never told them they must believe me but should rather seek out the studies and scholarship done by others and weigh the claims and come to some sort of conclusion on their own as I have. This was something they refuse to do since anyone who questions the authenticity of the Zohar obviously has severe issues with the Torah and Judaism and there is no benefit to be had by reading what they have to say. One of the gentleman went on to say that this is the same reason why he wont read anything by R. Nathan Slifkin, not necessarily because he writes heretical things, but because he is bitter about the bans on his books so his outlook can never be objective, his life's mission is now to discount and discredit any and all Charedi views.

I forwarded a few essays to one of the people at this meal on this topic to which he replied:
Ramban died in 1270, and Moses De Leon was born in 1250. The Ramaban learned Zohar. So on that basis alone your argument is flawed.

Second, the one to have propagated the idea that de leon, and not Rashbi, wrote he Zohar was Elijah Delmeggido, who was, for all intents and purposes, an apikores, whose student include Pico, a Cardinal.

De Leon himself was not considered to be a Talmid Chacham, nor was he widely accepted, or should I say accepted at all, within the Rabbinic circles.

(The Chida in Shem Hagedolim make no mention of either of them. Now while you will argue that the absence of a name is not proof, the fact that the Chida mentioned the most obscure people, even if it was just a birth and death year, of gedolim from the most unknown areas, perhaps is some proof)

To this end, Delmiggido's opinion is of no relevance to me, nor should it be to any person of intellect, as since neither he, nor De Leon were considered Talmidei Chachamim by their peers. Thus, them opining on a Torah subject, nigleh or otherwise, is tantamount to a grade 7 math teacher arguing with Hawking about some complicated physical idea.
Whether this is right or wrong is irrelevant, the person who makes the claim doesn't add to or discount from the argument. Each claim should be weighed and analyzed for its own merit. I dont know if this is the charedi way of looking at things since they truly believe a persons background discounts his arguments, or whether it is just a protective measure to keep out all outside ideas that may threaten their supposed Utopia.

Search for more information about @azigra at4torah.com 


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