Monday, December 21, 2009

Tropper's an easy opponent

A guest post by Rabba bar bar Chana
The JBlogosphere for the last week has been obsessed with the Tropper scandal. And there’s no doubt (assuming the allegations and tapes are real) that the revelations are disgusting and shocking, exposing Tropper for a complete and utter hypocrite and fraud. After all the book banning, conversion revocation, and strong-arming of the RCA into capitulating to the Israeli Rabanut standards, there’s something satisfying in seeing that it’s all fake, that he’s a disgusting excuse for a human being.

But the thing is, for every Tropper out there, there are thousands of sincere Charedi individuals who are just as sickened as anybody by his behavior. They are just as shocked and appalled. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll turn their backs on the hashkafa that Tropper espoused. They still believe that conversion should be according to the strictest Charedi standards. They still feel that wearing only skirts, covering hair and sending kids to approved yeshivas are among the minimum criteria for conversion. They still believe that the world is exactly 5,770 years old and that books even hinting otherwise should be banned.

And those sincere people aren’t just in the super-insular Chassidic communities. The vast majority of the Yeshivish community, even in the US, agrees with these fundamentalist notions. Flatbush and Monsey are chock full of them.

So ultimately, it’s not the ideas of a Leib Tropper that need to be opposed. Self-destruction of hypocrite perverts takes care of that. But the hundreds of thousands of Charedim, (whose numbers keep growing despite an increasing rate of “dropouts”) are not so easily opposed. There’s no dirt on most of these people, no hypocrisy waiting to come to light. They’re sincere people, generally kind and generous too, who simply believe deeply in a fundamentalist version of Judaism.

So how do those of us with a more open approach combat their increasing influence in all sectors of public Orthodox life?

Search for more information about opposing fundamentalist Jewish beliefs at

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