Here’s a Lelov chassid in Bet Shemesh, outside Jerusalem, getting 39 lashes on the eve of Yom Kippur. It’s part of the process of atoning for sins which used to be in wide practice even by non-chassidic Jews and is now not nearly as popular.
We spent Yom Kippur in the holy, kabbalistically saturated city of Tzfat, where I davened with a dear, old friend at a chassidish shul, overlooking mountains and valleys and a tiny bit of the Kinneret.
Right after Mincha, on the eve of the holiday, this nice gentleman approached me asking if it won’t be too much trouble to lash him in honor of the coming Day of Awe.
It took some persuasion, I’ll tell you. I’m not the aggressive type, I don’t recall the last time I was engaged in any incident of violent confrontation. Like every decent human being, I channel all my aggression to watching really awful action movies where other people do all the hurting for me. So it took some persuasion. But I finally consented because, hey, you have to try everything at least once.
So the guy handed me his leather belt, leaned over a bench and waited. He told me not to go too easy on him, not to fake it, hit like a man.
So I smacked him one across the back and he quickly changed his initial instructions and asked for a little less hard.
I finally found my groove and started hitting quite expertly, one on the left shoulder, one on the right shoulder, one across the back, 39 altogether. In the end the guy was happy, and I found something new I could do if the writing thing doesn’t work out.
This is Yori Yanover with another report on Jewish life today…