Volume 65 Number 38 
      Produced: Wed, 25 May 22 13:05:16 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

After Extremists Tear Down Meron Safety Barriers, Police Shut Meron 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Branches of Judaism? 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Chillul HaShem In Eretz Yisroel 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
    [Martin Stern]
The Pitfalls of Frumkeit 
    [Immanuel Burton]


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, May 22,2022 at 03:17 PM
Subject: After Extremists Tear Down Meron Safety Barriers, Police Shut Meron

Professor Levine (MJ 65#37), after citing a report about safety barriers in
Meron being torn down resulting in celebrations being halted, asked:

> I ask you, "Is this behavior consistent with Torah true Judaism?"  Clearly it is
> not!  Yet those who act like this think thay are observant Jews. IMO, they are
> not. What do others think?

Seems to be par for the course with the direction that society is heading, i.e.
my rights are the only ones that count, and my rights always trump whatever
rights you think you may have. It sounds to me that the light we are supposed to
be to the nations is being extinguished by the importing of non-Jewish values.

I get the feeling that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai would be turning in his grave if
he saw such behaviour.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Sun, May 22,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Branches of Judaism?

The Rav's (Rav Shimon Shwab, ZT"L) disdain for Sheker [untruth] was at the core
of his thinking when contemplating the so called "branches of Judaism" against
which he spoke publicly at Agudas Yisrael forums. The following excerpt from his
writings highlights this:

> The official version of the Jewish establishment in America has it that there
> are three branches within the Jewish religion: Orthodox, Conservative, and
> Reform. This is common knowledge. It looks as if the Jewish religion per se
> is merely a neutral entity which has no conscience, no strong convictions, no
> dogmas. and no absolutes. It is just a base for three branches. One a Torah
> branch: one a non-Torah branch; and one in the middle - Torah, yes, but ...
> And why not add in the future some additional branches we can only count up
> to three? Could not the Jews for J ... one day claim to be a branch of
> Judaism, since their main objective seems to be to present a picture of unity
> to the outside world and to display unlimited [love] for all of our fellow
> Jews?
> Let us state here unequivocally that the term "Orthodoxy" is false and
> misleading. There is no Orthodox Judaism. There is only Judaism. Reform and
> Conservatism is non-Judaism, or anti-Judaism. Without the fundamental
> conviction that the whole Torah is handed down to us from Sinai, there is no
> Judaism. There is nothing. Nothing but a stark lie and absolute darkness.
> Without Torah min Hashamyim down to us from Sinai, there is no Judaism. There
> is nothing. Without Torah min Hashamyim life to a Jew makes no sense and has
> no value. Therefore, Torah Judaism can never be a branch, Heaven forbid. It
> is not a sub-division of a neutral "faith." The Reform or Conservative
> clergyman or clergywoman is not a colleague of the Orthodox Rav, as if each
> one could just put his or her own ecclesiastical flavor into a nondescript
> soda water. The Torah-true kehillah, synagogue, and school must never be an
> equal among equals under the same umbrella organization that serves all
> branches. Any recognition that the Torah allows the existence of branches or
> that the Torah itself is merely a branch is already heresy. The gulf which
> separates Torah from the branches is much wider than the distance that
> divides the various Christian denominations from each other.
> Jewish unity, yes - but between Jews and Jews only, and not between
> different "Jewish" religions or philosophies. Any child of a Jewish mother
> is part of the Divine Covenant and bound by reason of birth to accept the
> Torah in theory and practice. That allows even a sinner to remain a Jew
> forever, for the Divine Law ties him to the Jewish Nation, the nation of G-d,
> the nation of the Torah. The obligation to live a Torah life makes him and
> her our brother and sister, regardless of personal performance. Torah is the
> only basis of Jewish unity. It is only because of the Torah that we
> rightfully proclaim chaverim kol Yisroel.
> But unity between Torah Judaism and non-Torah "Judaism"? Never!



From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Tue, May 24,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Chillul HaShem In Eretz Yisroel

The fights that some Gerer Chassidim have been involved in last week was a huge
Chillul Hashem. To appreciate how serious a Chillul Hashem it was, consider the
following excerpt from Rav Shimon Schwab's article on Chillul Hashem


> The second sentence of Sh'ma Yisroel begins with the command: "You shall love
> Hashem", which is interpreted by our Sages: "Let the name of Hashem become
> beloved through you." In other words, we are supposed to lead the kind of
> exemplary life which would contribute to the universal adoration of G-d and
> which would, in turn, enhance the glory and Lustre of the Torah, adding
> respect for the dignity of the Jewish people as a Kingdom of Priests and a
> Holy Nation.
> The very opposite of the sanctification is the desecration of the Name as
> condemned by the Prophet with the scathing words (Yechezkel 36): "They came
> to the nations and desecrated my Holy Name, so that one said to them, is this
> the people of G-d who came from His land?"
> Every form of Chillul Hashem lowers the awareness of the Divine Presence in
> the world.  But if the desecrator happens to be a professed Torah observer or
> even worse, a so-called scholar of the Torah, then the Chillul Hashem not
> only weakens the respect for Torah on one hand but strengthens on the other
> hand the defiance of the non-observer and adds fuel to the scoffers, fanning
> the fires of religious insurrection all around. Chillul Hashem is responsible,
> directly or indirectly, for the increase of frivolity, heresy and
> licentiousness in the world. 

> Therefore, we should not be surprised reading the harsh words of condemnation
> we find in the Talmud: 
> "He who has committed Chillul Hashem, even Teshuvoh, Yom Kippur and suffering
> cannot fully atone for his sin until the day of his death." (Yoma 86)
> "Better to commit a sin in secrecy than to commit Chillul Hashem in public."
> (Kiddushin 40)"
> "There is no delay in the Divine punishment for Chillul Hashem, whether
> committed knowingly or unknowingly." (ibid.)
> "If one steals from a non-Jew, swears falsely and dies, his death is no
> atonement for his sin because of Chillul Hashem." (Tosefta B. Kamma, 10)
> "He who desecrates the name of Heaven in secrecy is punished in public."
> (Avoth 4).
> "All sins are forgiven by G-d but Chillul Hashem He punishes immediately."
> (Sifri Ha'azinu)
> This is but a small selection from the many fierce condemnations addressed by
> our Sages to the desecrators of the Divine Name.

Let me add the following:

Many years ago, Rav Dovid Kronglass, the mashgiach of Ner Yisroel Yeshiva in
Baltimore, told me that whatever mitzvah you do in EY is worth more than doing
the same mitzvah in Chutz L'Aretz, because the land has Kedusha. However, any
Aveira you do in EY is much worse than doing the same Aveira in Chutz L'Aretz.
"You just don't go to EY," he concluded, "You have to be on the proper spiritual

IMO this approach to how bad it is to commit a Chillul Hashem should be part and
parcel of all Torah education and repeated at least yearly in yeshivas and Bais

I must ask, "Why this is not the case and why rabbinical leaders in EY are not
condemning the Chillul Hashem committed by some Gerer Chassidim loudly and

Yitzchok Levine


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 24,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Kaddish

Abe Lebowitz wrote (MJ 65#37):
> In response to Martin Stern (MJ 65#36):
> I once came across a novel called "Murder in the Minyan" by Shulamit E.
> Kustanowitz which deals with someone in a Conservative shul who becomes
> obsessed with saying kaddish for his mother. As he needs a minyan, which often
> is not present, he decides to murder older members of the congregation. He
> assumes that their children, also needing to say kaddish, will flock to the
> shul guaranteeing a minyan for him.

This satirical note unfortunately encapsulates the attitude of all too many
of our more unlearned brethren, who considered saying kaddish to be the main
expression of religious piety, to which I alluded (MJ 65#36):

> I suspect that the current unfortunate multiplicity of kaddeishim is a
> consequence of this former practice as communities became larger and the
> number of aveilim consequently increased, so extra ones were 'invented' to
> accommodate all. As time passed even this became insufficient and it was not
> uncommon for aveilim to come to blows over the 'right' to say kaddish
> ...
> To avoid the unseemly brawls, many Ashkenazi communities, from the late 17th
> century onwards, adopted the Sefardi custom of several aveilim saying kaddish
> together.
> ...
> Thus arose the unfortunate situation where the various aveilim would say
> kaddish in competition, so that it was often impossible to hear any single one
> at all. Since the main point of the kaddish was to prompt the tzibbur to
> respond "Amein, yehei shemeih rabba ...", the kaddish yatom [orphan's kaddish]
> became itself an orphan whom nobody could answer.

On the contrary, the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh writes (26:22):

> Even though saying kaddish and leading the prayer service are helpful for the
> deceased, they are not the most important practices. These are that the
> children live upright lives through which they give merit to the deceased
> parent
> ...
> Therefore a person should instruct his children to take on a specific mitzvah
> to be particularly careful in performing it and, when they do so, it is
> considered (by HKBH) as more valuable than reciting kaddish. This good
> practice can be carried out by daughters as well as sons.

Martin Stern


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Fri, May 20,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: The Pitfalls of Frumkeit

Professor Levine wrote (MJ 65#35):

> One hears people say (with admiration): "He is so frum". "She is so frum". "That
> family is very frum".  Is Frumkeit really a positive trait when it comes to
> authentic Torah Judaism? It seems that it is not! As the saying has it "Frum is
> a galach [Catholic priest who has a tonsure (shaven head)]- ehrlich is a Yid!"

I have heard my father observe that some people confuse frumkeit with 
menschlichkeit, i.e. religiosity with human decency.

My father also told me that Catholic priests are called galachim not because of
the tonsure that some sects adopt but because, unlike Rabbis, they do not
generally have beards and are clean-shaven.

Immanuel Burton.


End of Volume 65 Issue 38