Friday, September 08, 2006

Why Monsey is screwed (2)

Why Monsey is screwed (1)

My favorite story about Yisroel Salant goes like this:

He was a guest for shabbos at some mansion, and when the time came for the assembled guests to wash their hands for bread, the Rabbi was very careful to use the absolute minimum amount of water. Just a splash on his fingertips was sufficient.

When asked by the host to explain his reliance on a leniancy, Rabbi Salant pointed to the non-Jewish maid who was responsible for bringing water to the house from the well. "I don't want to collect my reward on her back," he said.
One of the cardinal principles of Jewish communal life is the prohibition against tircha detzibura - causing hardship to the community. We don't impose stringancies on other people, and we don't accept stringencies on ourselves if it means the community will be inconvinienced.


We take out 2-3 Sifrei Torah when we read from different places is so as not to cause hardship to the congregation while rolling the Torah scroll from passage to passage. We celebrate just one day of Yom Kippur in the disapora, because a two fay fast is judged to be an insurmountable burden. Moon witnesses for Nisan and Tishrei must transgress Shabbos for the sake of the congregation. And we're told by the Talmud that the Sages would intimidate moon witnesses into changing their testimony whenever it would cause the holidays to fall on days more convinient to the community. [Source: see #3]

But in Monsey other rules are in play. In Monsey, for example, many shuls and schools refuse to take the easier path and accept the OU. An extra "heimish hashgocha" is required, and this, of course, costs money, and the cost is passed on to the consumer. In Monsey, leniancies, in general, are frowned upon. As a result, people are forced to spend more money on their esrogim, on their kitchens, on their meat, and on their wardrobes.

And in Monsey, this week, the faithful have been instructed to go through the burdensome, and likely expensive, procedure of cleansing or replacing EVERYTHING IN THEIR KITCHENS if they purchased ANY POULTY from the bad butcher at ANY TIME. It's all tainted. All of it. Damn the expense. Damn the hardships. All of it must go.

The modern, intellectual decendants of the great Sages who forced witnesses to lie to allow their people fresh vegetables on shabbos (see the source above) appear lacking in self-confidence and intimidated by their own sense of piety. Unlike their predecessors, who were sensitive to the needs of the community, these Wise Men of Monsey appear unwilling to use their power to make things easier for the men and women who rely upon their instruction. This is a failure of rabinic will and a triumph of the incorrect idea that stricter is always better. Along with the bad chicken, this, too, is cause for alarm.

Why Monsey is screwed (1)

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