web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Rabbi Menachem Froman: Not What You Thought

Remembering a great man whose love for his fellow human beings knew neither religious nor political bounds, and was happily reciprocated by all.
Menachem Froman (L), stood with copies of the Koran at a roadblock outside the village of Yasuf, near Shchem, December 13, 2009, after copies of the Koran were vandalized in the local mosque.

Menachem Froman (L), stood with copies of the Koran at a roadblock outside the village of Yasuf, near Shchem, December 13, 2009, after copies of the Koran were vandalized in the local mosque.
Photo Credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90

Share Button

First and foremost, Menachem Froman was a community rabbi who dealt with questions of what is permitted and what is forbidden.  Although he seemed to exist beyond time and space, he refused to permit anyone who arrived after sunset to hold Mincha prayers in his synagogue.

The many young people who flocked to Menachem, thinking him a great reformer, ought to take note: you can’t take home only the easy things.

When Menachem participated in Shabbat camping programs, he kept a copy of Keeping Shabbat in hand for reference when dealing with any problems that came up.  He received his ordination from two great luminaries who were exacting regarding things great and small: Rabbi Shlomo Goren and Rabbi Avraham Shapira.  And as Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who went to visit Menachem during his illness, said, Menachem was a skilled halakhic decision maker. During that visit as on many other occasions, the two old friends found themselves in a political argument.  I can imagine that was said: I had often had such arguments with Menachem in the past, ever since he went to the Madrid Conference, calling for a compromise with the Palestinians, while we terror victims took the opposite position, calling against talks with terrorist organizations.  But it was impossible to argue with Menachem for very long.  He put an end to any disagreement with a bear hug.

In Rabbi Levinger’s words, Menachem was not a great politician, but he had a big heart, which is why Rabbi Tvi Yehuda Kook loved him so much.  Because of his good heartedness, he refused to believe that it was impossible to find some good on the Palestinian side.  Menachem thought that through love and planned encounters he could reduce the tension, forgetting that one does not go to the political marketplace with love.

The Palestinians have political aspirations that do not mesh with ours, aspirations that do not allow for Jewish statehood in a place where they and Sha’ariah law hold sway, but only for individual Jews living under protection.

Those on the other side shook his hands and kissed him as is customary in the East, and some truly respected him—but they made no concessions to him.

There also were times when Menachem adopted a more hawkish stance.  He worked against the Schalit Deal with me in my capacity as head of Almagor, both in talks with politicians and with prayers.  When the deal did go through, he took it hard.

So where did his good heartedness and daring make a difference?  Among Jews.  Menachem’s approach brought to Judaism the young, the estranged, people from one end of the ideological spectrum to the other.

At his funeral, Yehuda Etzion, one of the heads of the Jewish Underground and a leader of Gush Emunim, stood side-by-side with Naftali Raz of Peace Now, who was heard to join in the singing of “A Woman of Valor,” which Menachem had instructed be sung at his funeral as a final thank-you to his wife, Hadassa.  At the words “Her children rise up and praise her,” the assembled joined his children in applause for their mother as they shouted “bravo” mid-verse.

At how many funerals have we seen a husband being lowered into his grave leave a final song to his wife, thanking her for all her long, loyal years with him?  For one who knew Menachem, it stands to reason that it was the practice at his home every Friday night to shout “bravo” for his wife: one of many novel customs that he instituted in Tekoa.

Another was to pause prayers in the synagogue for whatever comments, dancing, and hand motions came to his ever-active mind and warm heart in his very personal relationship with God.

Odd, you say?  Strange?  Menachem wouldn’t have cared.  He’d have dismissed you as “meshuga.”  Menachem transcended all that.

And what about some dignity?

That came in the form of a kind of eccentric, theatrical costume that he made out of white robes and a white shtreimel.

Theatrical, you say?  So what?  Who said it’s not appropriate to put on some theater for God and his people?  You want us to be serious all the time?  He is our father, after all.

Menachem made it legitimate for young people to experience both rises and falls in their personal and religious lives.  As one of them said to me, “His brand of religiosity allowed us, the second generation of settlers, to connect.  We became his chassidim and he became our rebbe: the rebbe of Tekoa!” So it was that last Hoshana Rabba eve, the Tekoa basketball court filled with thousands of national-religious and formerly religious Israelis of various stripes and all jumped around energetically along with him and his music stars, roaring, clapping, jumping, as Menachem moved about contentedly on the stage.

At first I thought these were just a bunch of young people who had come to hear Jewish rock, enjoying themselves with the eccentrically dressed dear rabbi as he took hold of the microphone and put on a show.  As a casual acquaintance of Menachem’s, I was somewhat embarrassed for him, until it became clear to me and my wife, whose family we were going to meet, that these were his followers.  A community had sprung up around him.  He had become the leader of a certain sector of the Tekoa-going religious youth.

But not only the religious.

On the way back from the funeral, at which hours of songs full of joy accompanied the rabbi to his grave, a young woman from the high-tech industry remarked to me that she is not religious, but she and many others like her came to Tekoa to spend long nights studying the Zohar with Rabbi Menachem.

“Nu, and you understood what he was teaching?”

“No,” she said, “we came to learn from his happiness and excitement.
A version of this article was published in Mekor Rishon, March 8, 2013. Translated from Hebrew by David Greenberg.

Share Button

About the Author: Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor is CEO of Almagor Terror Victims Association. In his extended career of public service, he has worked as a journalist, founded the Libi Fund, Sar-El, Habaita, among many other initiatives, and continues to lend his support to other pressing causes of the day.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

4 Responses to “Rabbi Menachem Froman: Not What You Thought”

  1. John Keytack says:

    What? So now, we’re supposed to make nice with the muslims?

  2. rebbe nachman spoke of tzadikim who step in the dust of insanity.

  3. a decade or so ago I attended one of his lectures and asked him if tahe Arabs have a concept of YIRAT HASHEM = fear of G-D? I never hear the arabic eqivalent HAF ALLAH! He doid not answer me – I realize now that my tonne was antagonistic.

  4. Larry Snider says:

    Thank you! He was a great man and a bridge builder. I am one of many who miss him and continue to work to realize his dream……

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Blue Valley High School, Overland Park, Kansas, the school attended by 14-year-old shooting victim Reat Griffin Underwood.
Kansas Shooting Suspect a White Supremacist, Indicted for Murder
Latest Indepth Stories
Lebovic-041814

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Benveniste-041814

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

Dann-041814

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

Not one world leader holds Abbas accountable for his part in the breakdown of negotiations.

The 1948 re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty was a modern day Exodus and Parting of the Sea.

Spies who caused American deaths and worked for enemy states received lighter sentences than Pollard.

Christie’s “good friend” is an Imam who supports murderers of Jews and defames Israel and Christians.

One grey night it happened, Bibi caved no more
& Poof that Foggy Bottomer, he vanished from our sight

More Articles from Meir Indor
Omar Barghouti BDS

By warning of a boycott, “Israel’s captains of industry” are actually encouraging one.

Zeev (Zambish) Chever, a friend of late former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, eulogizing him.

Sometimes one must love with one’s eyes closed.

The message from the recent episode near Eish Kodesh is clear: violence pays.

“Arise, Reb Yechiel—honored with the firing of one bomb!”

Instead of being treated as common criminals, Palestinian terrorists receive an exceptional degree of autonomy within the prison walls.

Instead of giving new young couples some time in public housing until they’re ready to move forward, they want to give away the apartments to people who have been reaping the benefits for years.

Terrorism has become a military tool of states, not just sub-national organizations.

The top Israeli advocate for letting the terrorists out of jail is none other than Shimon Peres.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rabbi-menachem-froman-not-what-you-thought/2013/03/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: