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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Satmar Rebbe’

Price of Hosting the Satmar Rebbe Overnight: $1.1 mil.

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Next week, one of the the Satmar Rebbes, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, is expected to visit the Zionist state on the occasion of his nephew’s wedding, as well as to fortify and strengthen the Haredi institutions in their righteous battle to avoid serving in the impure army while staying on the dole.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, the Rebbe’s visit will last one week, during which he will meet with leading Haredi rabbis and speak words of encouragement as well as some rebuke before his own Chassidim. Central point—you guessed it—the decree of yeshiva students serving in the army.

The Rebbe is expected to spend one day in Jerusalem, and so the Chassidim have been bidding for the privilege of hosting him in their homes overnight.

The winner, according to Kikar Hashabbat, following a heated bidding war among all the rich men of Satmar, is the honorable dignitary Rabbi Aher Lev, son of the honorable dignitary Rabbi Yeshiahu Wolf, head of the London Satmar community.

The honor will cost the winner $1.1 million, which he pledged to the Satmar institutions in Jerusalem, for support to yeshiva and kollel students.

The Rebbe will be staying in R. Asher Lev Wolf’s luxurious apartment on Minchat Yitzchak Street in Jerusalem, where he will be receiving visitors next Wednesday.

Satmar Getting Ready for Metzitah B’peh Court Fight

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The Satmar Rebbe R. Aaron Teitelbaum instructed his followers to each give $100 towards legal cost of the Metzitzah B’peh (oral suction of the cut following the circumcision) lawsuit, Jacob Kornbluh tweeted.

The Satmar Live tweet confirms this, asserting (over several twets which we condense here) that “every Rosh Mishpucha (head of household) has to give $100 – Koifer Nefesh (lit=ransom, fig=atonement). The money will go for the legal cost of Metzitzeh B’Peh. For those who fast the price will be $72, which has to be paid till Y”T Shvies (Shavuot). Yoim HaTanis: This last Thursday of Shovevem Truma-Tetzaveh. L’Hikuhel V’Lamoid Al Nafshieny! (to gather and defend our souls).

Mind you, this entire uproar on the part of Satmar, complete with war images and fasting, is not over the banning of Metzitzah B’peh, rather it is about the mohel-ritual circumciser informing the parents of the procedure and having them sign a consent form.

The Mishnah (Shabbat 19:2) mentions two steps in the Bris Milah, following the actual circumcision: P’riah-the exposure of the crown and the severing of the membrane under the foreskin, and, Metzitzah-suction. The Gemorah teaches (Shab. 133b) that a “Mohel who does not suck, should be dismissed from practice.” Rashi explains that this step is in order to squeeze some blood from deep inside the wound to prevent danger to the baby.

Mordechai Halperin, writing for the OU Jewish Action (Winter 2006), explains: “Immediately after incising or injuring an artery, the arterial walls contract and obstruct, or at least reduce, the flow of blood. Since the arterioles of the orlah-foreskin branch off from the dorsal arteries (the arteries of the upper side of the organ), cutting away the foreskin can result in a temporary obstruction in these dorsal arteries. This temporary obstruction, caused by arterial muscle contraction, continues to develop into a more enduring blockage as the stationary blood begins to clot. The tragic result can be severe hypoxia (deprivation of the supply of blood and oxygen) of the glans penis.

However, this third procedure in the Bris Milah need not necessarily be done orally, with direct contact. Many mohalim have long since adopted Metzitzah with an instrument, which is just as effective.

Read also:

Consent Forms For Metzitzah B’Peh: Empowering Parents Or Interfering In Religious Practice?

In Defense of Parental Consent fo Metzitzah B’peh

Will Observant Judaism of the Future Look Like Satmar?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

A friend of mine (by way of the internet – I never met him personally) once told me never to predict the future based on linear projections. That was a very wise observation.

One of the things that many people seem to believe is that the exponential rate of growth of the Charedi community is so vastly greater than the growth of any other segment – that ultimately the future will be theirs. Meaning that the rest of Orthodoxy will either be absorbed by them, or will become so small in comparison that it will become either irrelevant, or extinct altogether.

I am one of those people. The Charedim have won. By their growth and sheer determination they are the wave of the future. But I have a modified version of that prediction. Moderate Charedim will populate the the new mainstream majority. It will also contain those I have called RWMO (right wing Modern Orthodox). And evolve into a sociological demographic I call the New Centrists. Rabbi Berel Wein was first made note of this phenomenon. And it is already in progress.

In brief  what is happening is that both communities have adopted modalities of the other. So that even if our Hashkafos are somewhat different, our lifestyles are not. Moderate Charedim and RWMO are both generally are well educated in Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol. Both generally have solid careers where many are professionals.

We are both Koveiah Itim (establish fixed times for Torah study); Daven in the same Shuls; send our children to similar – and occasionally the same schools; are very often good friends, trust each other’s Kashrus; and our families  interact socially each other. It is not that uncommon to find a Chavrusa  beween a moderate Charedi and a RWMO learning together at night in a community Kollel. Our differing Hashkafos are not a divisive issue socially. The extremes on both the right and left may continue to exist, but in my view will at best be marginalized.

Nothing new here.  I have mentioned all this before. Many times. But what I have not mentioned in this context is another demographic that is perhaps the fastest growing demographic of all. One that has absolutely nothing to do with the above phenomenon.  The exponential growth of Satmar and like minded Chasidim. Does that mean that I believe that Satmar is the wave of the future… that eventually they will overtake the rest of Orthodoxy by their sheer population size?  Based on linear projections, one might say that will indeed happen. But I don’t think so, despite their continuing and phenomenally rapid growth.

Currently Satmar Chasidim live in their own world and prefer to keep it that way. The same is true of other Chasidic sects like Skvere.  They will not ‘assimilate’ into any new grouping.  Their values are not the same as the New Centrists at all. They live in a world apart from the rest of observant Jewry.

They are not well educated in Limudei Chol. And although they do work, they generally do not work as professionals. They do not attend colleges and universities. They work at jobs that often do not pay a living wage. Certainly not for a family of 12 or 13 is which is a very common family size. So a great many of them live in poverty…. isolated from the rest of the world.

While it is true that there are some very wealthy Satmar type Chasidim in trades like the diamond industry, construction, and other businesses (like the wildly successful B&H) – they are the exception and not the rule.  Most Satmar Chasidim barely eke out a living and more often than not have to be aided by free loan societies.

There is an article in the Forward by a Frimet Goldberger. She was raised in the world of Satmar. Ms. Goldberger describes  Satmar Chasidim as not only living isolated lives, but as living very religiously demanding lives. More than any other religious demographic. Lives that are stricter now than at any time in the history of Satmar. They have taken upon themselves Chumros that that did not even exist during the life of their founding Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum. And he was pretty Machmir  requiring the rejection of the outside world in its totality.

His purpose was to insulate his Chasidim form the slightest taint of non Jewish culture.  His method was to not only live in a tightly knit neighborhood  - but to be as different from the rest of the world as possible. That would make it virtually impossible to see any commonlaity and thereby assimilate.  That – combined with their extreme Tznius measures makes them culturally incompatible with -  not only the secular world, but even   the moderate Charedi world. Not to mention the Modern Orthodox world.

Here is how Ms. Goldbeger describes it:

(The Satmar Rebbe) had railed against married women growing their hair underneath the turbans and wigs. After his death, most Hasidic women finally adhered to this rule – many out of fear of the severe ramifications of defiance. It is now the acceptable practice in Satmar to expel children from school if their mothers do not shave their heads. The Satmar Rebbe also decried the thin stockings and uncovered sheitels worn in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Now, most Satmar women wear thick, seamed stockings.

The latest Chumra is the blurring out faces of little girls in their photos. Which did not exist when the Satmar Rebbe was alive. She calls such radicalization alarming and not to be ignored.

In my view, all of these factors are the reason that we should not project a victory for the Satmar way of life. This lifestyle is not the wave of the future. Despite their rapid exponential growth. Insuring the isolation that has kept this demographic together and intact, is no longer possible. The internet has just about assured that. Especially now that one can access it in the palm of one hand.  Bans of technological advances like I-phones no matter how harsh the consequences simply are probably honored more in the breach than in adherence.

I am not saying that young people will drop out in significant numbers. Although going OTD  is a growing problem for them like it is for every other religious demographic. But I do think that they will gradually see what the rest of the even Frum world has to offer and many will seek it out. The poverty and strictures particular to this community will accelerate that process. They will see that it is possible to be religious and not be as isolated as they have been in the past. Modernity will catch up to them. Their increasing poverty that their current lifestyle practically guarantees them will motivate many of them to try another way.

They will see a growing new Centrism and realize that there other legitimate ways to practice Judaism. I am not saying that they will all eventually become new Centrists. Although not likley – it is not out of the realm of possibility once they start seeking to better their lives materially. More likely is a scenario to create their own version of a centrist society – rebelling against that part of their culture that keeps them poor – by seeking a better education and pulling back a bit on their radically different appearances… like the insistence that all their married women must save their heads.

I can’t predict the future. But what I think I can predict is that this demographic is not the wave of the future as they are currently constructed.

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Does Elu V’Elu Mean Tolerating the Intolerable?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

These men, too, are my brothers.  Although it is getting more difficult than ever to think of them that way. Most people know the issues I have with Satmar. There are many. But for purposes of this essay I will focus on their strident opposition to the existence of the State of Israel.

As I have said many times, they have every right to believe as they do, and state their case loudly and clearly. It is a view based on the now deceased Satmar Rebbe, R’ Yoel Teitelbaum. The  3 oaths mentioned in the Gemarah (Kesuvos 111a) prevent the Jewish people from any right to rule in the land of Israel. So under any condition, even if the state was ruled entirely by a Charedi government, they would still be opposed to it. As much as I vehemently disagree with them, I respect their right to hold these views. Elu V’Elu.

What I do not respect is the stridency by which they express those views… and the extent to which they go to make their point.

It started with the Satmar Rebbe himself, who referred to Rav Kook as an Ish Tzar V’Oyev because of his pro State views. This attitude has spread far beyond Satmar and is used to justify one Chilul HaShem after another by the Satmar Rebbe’s admirers in Meah Shearim and elsewhere. The very same attitude is responsible for the fringe Neturei Kartaniks who embrace people like Iran’s Ahmadinejad. Who espouses wiping Israel off the map… something I’m sure would get the approval of Satmar and all their sympathizers if done in a peaceful way. They have clearly stated that this is their goal.

Yesterday they did it again. They called for a rally in Manhattan. This was a rare moment of unity between the feuding brothers Teitelbaum – each claiming to be the heir to the Satmar throne. They called out their ‘troops’ in this cause. The result was a massive rally as can be seen in the photos at VIN. I’m sure they would call this a tremendous success and Kiddush HaShem.

Their stated purpose for this protest was their opposition to the Israeli draft of Charedim. In this they have the support of many Charedi rabbinic leaders. But their underlying antipathy for the State should not be over-looked. I believe this was true motivation for this rally. Here was yet another opportunity to bash Israel.  I’m sure they relished the moment.

The Centrist RCA condemned the rally. No surprise there. But many Charedi rabbinic leaders opposed that rally too, starting with R’ Aharon Leib Steinman. R’ Chaim Kanievsky added his name to R’ Steinman’s. And in America so too did Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky.

Back to Satmar. I do not see how a protest like this benefits Klal Yisroel in any way no matter how one feels about drafting Charedim. How is a public demonstration in Manhattan going to impact in any way on the government in Israel’s decision to equalize the draft? Especially if the protest was made by people who believe in dismantling the State?

Do they think Netanyahu will say, ‘Oh, Satmar is opposed to the draft… What was I thinking?!’ Or do they just think a rally like this will catch on with the greater Charedi public because of their leaders’ own strident opposition to the draft? Or perhaps they believe that a massive demonstration by a monolithic group of Chasidim that have separated themselves from the rest of the civilized world will somehow strike a chord with the American people?

Why did they do it? The answer to this is – I believe – of an entirely different nature. This was simply an opportunity to capitalize on something they thought would have universal appeal in the Charedi world. It is a sort of ‘I told you so’ moment… saying, ‘See how evil the Israeli government is?’ ‘You thought co-operating with them and getting funded was worth it?!’ ‘Well… what do you say now?!’ ‘Come join us in our goal to dismantle the Jewish State.’

I don’t think it worked. As I said, mainstream Orthodoxy condemned it, and Charedi rabbinic leaders were opposed to it. I hope they were as appalled at this demonstration as I was. But even if they were as appalled as I was and expressed it publicly, I doubt that that would sway Satmar in any way.
The only question is – how is this going to affect the relationship between mainstream Charedim and Satmar in the future? Will there ever again be a call from a Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva (or Mashgiach) to invite Satmar to one of its own rallies? … as was the case with the internet Asifa last year? Will they still chase down Satmar and capitulate to all their demands on how to conduct an Asifa, just to get them to attend?

Isn’t it about time to realize that Satmar is so far away from mainstream Orthodoxy – and even mainstream Charedim – that they should never again want to participate with them on any matters? Isn’t standing on the same stage with them in some way legitimizing them? I have heard that said in other contexts!

Like I said, this is not about Elu V’Elu anymore. This is about tolerating antics that are anathema to the Torah world in the name of their Shitos. In my view it should not be any more acceptable to stand with Satmar than it is to stand with Neturei Karta who have made clear their love affair with the President of Iran.  They may not go that far themselves. But the hatred of the Jewish state is the same.

Update
Apparently the speaker in the photo above is Rav Eli Ber Wachtfogel. He is a Litvishe Charedi Rosh HaYeshiva. I’m told that there were also many other non Chasidic Litvishe type Charedi rabbinic leaders there too – like Chaim Berlin’s Rosh HaYeshiva, R’ Aharon Schecther.

Rav Schechter has walked in lockstep with Litvishe Charedi rabbinic leaders in Israel with respect to their bans. I recall his strident attack against Rabbi Natan Slifkin at an event held at a Modern Orthodox Shul in Teaneck a few years ago.  Rabbi Slifkin was viciously attacked for having the Chutzpah to challenge Israeli Gedolim with respect to the ban on his books. And yet yesterday he decided to ignore the call by some of these very same Gedolim to not participate in this demonstration. I find this very hard to reconcile.

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Haredi Rabbi Revealed Why Six Million Died

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The ultimate Jewish response to the Holocaust is summarized by the verse: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says God. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9), which Maimonides relies on in his Laws of Repent (5:5): “Man is incapable of perceiving the Creator’s ideas, as the prophet said, “for My thoughts are not your thoughts nor your ways My ways.”

Nevertheless, we accept the notion that God does not base His world on chance. The hand of God is involved in history. No one is claiming to be thinking God’s thoughts and conducting the divine bookkeeping, but we were brought up believing that troubles don’t befall a person by accident, even when they don’t understand it. Everything is a sign from Heaven, including the worst state of “hester panim,” the obscuring of God’s face, in total chaos, in the trampling of Jewish honor and the humiliation of the Torah of Israel.

It would be extremely difficult to suggest that the catastrophe that befell our entire nation – Ashkenazim and Sephardim; Eastern and Western Europeans and North Africans; Torah scholars, sworn heretics and the completely assimilated; Hasidim and Misnagdim; day old babies and the elderly; Capitalists and Communists; the educated and the ignorant – absolutely every strata of the nation – was an accident.

In extremely Haredi circles, those madmen who travel to Tehran to embrace the enemy Ahmajinedad, there are no doubts regarding God’s message: the Holocaust happened because of the creation and the existence of the Zionist movement, whose heavy sin is the breaking of the “three vows.”

According to tractate Ketubot 111a, when the Jews went into the second exile, in the year 70, three vows were taken by them and by God: the Jews would not conquer the land of Israel by force, they would not rebel against the nations of the world, and the non­Jews would not oppress the Jews too much (yoter midai).

That was the view of the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum (who, ironically enough, was saved from death in the Holocaust by Hungarian Zionist official Rudolph Kastner, who made a deal with a deputy of Adolf Eichmann)

In his book, “Va’Yoel Moshe,” Rabbi Teitelbaum argues that even if all the citizens of Israel were adhering to all the commandments, totally righteous, if all the government ministers wore shtreimlach, settling the land of Israel would still constitute the breaking of those vows.


WRITTEN IN AN ATTIC

It’s easy to write such delusional things when you’re sitting in New York City, which protects even the rights of crackpots. It was much harder to comment on the same topic from the darkness of a hiding place in an attic in Budapest, Hungary, while Nazi thugs were hunting down the last remaining hidden Jews of the city.

Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal (1885-1945), an extremist Haredi who was close to the Satmar circles, was watching the Gestapo hunters through a narrow crack in his hidden attic, and, through a spiritual and physical review of his terrifyingly lowly reality, reached a brave conclusion: it was the erroneous concept typical of his Haredi pals regarding the resettlement of Eretz Israel that had brought on us those cruel tortures and grotesque deaths.

Rabbi Teichtal began his rabbinic path with an adherence to the philosophy that was common to most Hungarian rabbis: everything new was forbidden by the Torah, including aliyah to Eretz Israel, and certainly coalescing with the secular Zionists to rebuild the land. But following the horrors his eyes had seen, he changed his views 180 degrees. After reexamining his own beliefs, he investigated the issues regarding resettling the land of Israel and natural redemption (“geula b’derech ha’teva), and reached the conclusion that the reason for the Holocaust was that the nation of Israel was called by God to ascend to Eretz Israel, but because it had fallen in love with life in the diaspora it turned its back on Eretz Israel.

He wrote his conclusions while in hiding in his dark attic in Budapest. His books were not with him, and so he had to cite from memory thousands of Torah sources supporting his new position. Unfortunately, the brutes finally reached him, too, and sent him to his death. He was murdered on a transport train during the final days of World War II. But his writing became the monumental, 500-page sefer Eim HaBanim Semeichah – Eretz Yisrael, Redemption and Unity.

He wrote:

The Purpose of our Affliction Is to Arouse Us to Return to Eretz Yisrael

…The sole purpose of all the afflictions that smite us in our exile is to arouse us to return to our Holy Land. This can be inferred from the story of King David and the plague. During the plague, God sent him Gad the prophet. And God came to david…and said to him, “Go up and establish an altar to the Lord” (II Samuel 24:18). The Misrash explains:

This can be likened to a father who beat his son, but the son did not know why he was being punished. After the beating, the father said, “For several days I have been commanding you to do something and you have ignored me. Now go and do it.” So, too, the thousands who fell at the time of David died only because they did not demand the building of the beit haMikdash. From this we can derive a kal vachomer (an a fortiori inference). If they, in whose days the Beit HaMikdash was neither built nor destroyed, were punished for not having demanded its construction; then we, in whose days the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed … certainly [deserve punishment], for we do not mourn nor supplicate (Midrash Tehillim 17).

Rashi on Hoshea (3:5) cites the following:

R. Shimon ben Menassiya said: “The Jewish people will not be shown a good sign until they once again request the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of the House of David, and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. It is thus written, Afterwards, the Children of Israel will return and seek out the Lord their God and David their king (Hoshea 3:5).

Behold, our desire to return to Eretz Israel encompasses these three elements. Firstly, “He who dwells in Eretz Israel is like one who has a God” (Ketubot 110b). Also, the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash will occur (with God’s help) when we assemble in Eretz Israel, as explained in Megillah 17b-18a. Afterwards, Mashiach, who represents the kingdom of the House of David, will arrive, as I will demonstrate in this volume. First and foremost, though, we must strive to return to Eretz Israel and then, with God’s help, we will attain these three objectives.

Rabbi Teichtal wrote his piercing words literally during the Holocaust. But he was preceded by many gedolim, who warned of the approaching Holocaust, years before it began. The great Meir Simcha Ha’Cohen of Dvinsk (1843–1926), author of the Ohr Somayach, ruled that the “three vows” were nullified by the San Remo Conference of 1920, empowering Great Britain to put into effect the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

The latter warned, 25 years before the Holocaust, that the day would come, in which “the Israelite [in diaspora] will forget his origins and be counted as citizen [of the world]… Will think that Berlin is Jerusalem… Then a stormy wind will come, uproot him and subject him before a faraway gentile nation.” (Meshech Chochma, Vayikra 26).

The nation of Israel preferred, sadly, life in diaspora over the promised land, and paid for it an unbearable price. This excessive affection for diaspora was expressed in this popular Jewish joke: One day a Jewish villager comes home and tells his wife that the Rabbi in shul was saying that when Moshiach comes, he will lead all the Jews to Eretz Israel. So his wife becomes very upset, asking what would they do with all their barnyard animals.

We’ll leave them to the Cossacks, says her husband.

Well, if God likes us so much, he should let us stay here and take the Cossacks to Eretz Israel, says his wife.

Much like those two fools, the nation of Israel chose to remain spread among the nations, for which we were sentenced to a reeducation camp the likes of which we will never forget.

Purim And The Tyranny Of Beauty: A Plea to Mothers of Girls in Shidduchim

Monday, March 19th, 2012

I know I’m going to be crucified, but if the appeal I make below helps even one girl in shidduchim, then it will be worth all the fury and outrage that shall inevitably descend upon my soon-to-be beleaguered head.

The other night, I was invited to a fascinating new shidduch initiative. Endorsed by leading rabbonim and spearheaded by a few righteous women valiantly trying to transcend the spiraling “shidduch crisis” in some small but meaningful way, the concept was to bring mothers of eligible young men together with young women looking for shidduchim (members of both groups were pre-screened and issued personal and discreet invitations by the organizers) in both a balabatish setting and a dignified way.

Everybody knows that the experiences of boys in shidduchim–in contradistinction to their female counterparts–is vastly different. This is the harsh truth: The mothers of “good boys” are bombarded with shidduch suggestions on a daily basis – a veritable barrage of resumes either flooding their fax machines or pouring out of their e-mail inboxes– while those with similarly “top” daughters sit with pinched faces anxiously waiting for the phone to ring. The disparity is bare, bold-faced and veritably heartbreaking: In the shidduchparsha,” boys are constantly being courted and pursued, while the best girls’ resumes barely elicit a modicum of interest.

As a friend recently told me: “When my nephew was 19 and started shidduchim, he went out with 19-year-old girls. When he turned 20, he still went out with 19-year-old girls. He kept getting older, but the shidduchim that he was “redt” continued to be 19-year-old girls. Now he is 24 and baruch Hashem just got engaged –to a 19-year old girl.” Sadly, women do not have this same recourse.

To rectify this inequity, a few concerned mothers brain stormed together and concluded that “shidduch resumes” (which never even existed as a concept when I was dating 35 years ago) fail to accurately capture the essence of the person being “summed up” and often–especially in the case of the girls– get lost in the shuffle. One organizer told me: “The boys’ mothers barely give the girls’ resumes a passing glance–they are so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers coming their way–and it becomes a daunting task to sift through them. And the resumes themselves are severely limiting. Can you really get a genuine sense of who the girl is from the resume? What does it tell you about her personality, her character, her intellect, her neshoma? It is demeaning to reduce a girl to a few sentences.”

The rationale underlying the new shidduch initiative was this: If eligible girls would be given personal and meaningful “face time” with prospective mother-in-laws, they would be able to present their qualities far more efficaciously than a cold and lifeless curriculum vitae.

Now for my full disclosure: I am the mother (baruch Hashem) of a great boy. He is continuously sought out, “in perpetual demand” (kinehora). I should be grateful that in shidduchim, he “wields the upper hand.” But as a woman who identifies with and feels great compassion for the throngs of girls in a parallel universe who are not being chased, I feel a little sad each time the fax machine cranks out yet another resume for my son. I know full well that there are fantastic girls out there who are his equals–perhaps even his superiors–who are NOT receiving comparable treatment. They are neither being hounded nor pursued half as vigorously as he, and they are denied the latitude of choices that he receives every day. I ache for their mothers who repeatedly call the shadchanim who never call back, but are visibly more responsive if you are the mother of a boy. Inwardly, I rail against the unfairness of it all (although the shadchanim are completely innocent of any wrongdoing, whatsoever; it is the system that is at fault– not they—the stark realities of supply and demand). Thinking of the mothers who do not have the privilege to wade through as many resumes as me, I try consciously not to revel in the continuous stream that cascade over my desk. I know how fortunate my son is, and I feel for those who aren’t.

So, when one of the extraordinary women who organized this event invited me to participate, I was actually reluctant to attend. Quite simply, there was no need. But because I like and respect this woman so much, and wanted to validate her efforts, I RSVP’d “Yes.”

“How are you going to work this?” I asked. “How are you going to ensure that all the girls get equal time? Are they not going to feel degraded? Is this process not going to end up even more demeaning than a resume?”

The organizer assured me that there would be facilitators on site who would introduce each girl to every mother. The facilitator would escort the mother to the tables where the girls sat, and be hyper-vigilant that no girl gets bypassed. I wondered how many girls would feel comfortable with this arrangement and actually show up, but as I said before, I wanted to support my acquaintance’s endeavor with my physical presence, so I went.

Just Two Words

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Many moons ago, when I established Hineni, kiruv – outreach – was a foreign concept. The Orthodox world looked askance at the idea. “You’re wasting your time,” I was told. “Maybe they will become observant for a day, or even a few weeks, but then they will go back to their former life style.”

But I was determined to charge ahead. Encouraged by my saintly father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, and my beloved husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, I consulted the Torah giants of our generation, from Reb Moshe, zt”l, to the Satmar Rebbe, zt”l, and, fortified with their berachos, Hineni became a reality. We proved all the naysayers wrong, and today, Baruch Hashem, kiruv has become a powerful reality of Jewish life.

Not once or twice but countless times I have met rebbeim, rebbetzins, Torah teachers, etc., who tell me their parents and grandparents experienced their very first awakening at a Hineni program, or from a column of mine in The Jewish Press, or at Madison Square Garden where I launched my very first Torah happening. So, Baruch Hashem, not only have ba’alei teshuvah passed Torah on to future generations, they have also taken on leadership positions.

But as much as outreach has become popular and accepted, there still remain challenges that have to be overcome, one of them being that kiruv work is an endeavor limited to professionals since most people do not regard it as a personal obligation. The Torah, however, mandates differently. Just a few weeks ago, the parshah reminded us of the awesome mitzvah of returning a lost item. This obligation pertains not only to every object that may have been lost but – as our sages teach – to all Yiddishe neshamahs that may have been lost as well.

If we consider the pain of our Heavenly Father who has lost His children, who among us can feel that he or she is not responsible to bring them home? Still, many will argue that since they have no training as kiruv professionals, they cannot undertake such a task. But even as one does not require schooling to return a lost item, one need not be trained to return a lost Yiddishe neshamah. The only credentials required are hearts that are filled with love and feel the suffering of our Father who is waiting for His children to return.

But can it really be done? Allow me to share an experience I had which demonstrates that no specific knowledge is required.

I live in a neighborhood in which ninety-nine percent of the residents are shomer Shabbos. I moved there shortly after my beloved husband passed away. I decided to make that change since two of my children reside there and thus,Baruch Hashem, I am able to be with them on Shabbos.

To be candid, I do not really know my neighbors. My speaking engagements take me all over the world so I do not have time to socialize and I do not have small children, which would give me the opportunity to interact with other parents.

A few weeks ago, walking home after the Shabbos seudah at my daughter’s house, I saw a man working in his garden – an unusual sight in my community. I paused to wish him a good Shabbosand he looked at me with bewilderment, his expression indicating he was not accustomed to such a greeting. Most passersby would just ignore him. I moved on, but he hastened to catch up with me.

“How do you know I am a Jew?” he asked.

“Our sages teach that eyes are the windows of the soul – your neshamah spoke to me.” I told him.

Now he was really taken aback.

“What is your Jewish name?” I asked.

“Yitzchok ben Dovid HaKohen” came his answer.

“What a magnificent name!” I replied. “Yitzchok, who ascended the altar and was prepared to offer his life! Yitzchok, who taught us the meaning of sacrifice and lived by a higher calling. And Dovid, the king of Israel who wrote psalms and opened our hearts to G-d! Dovid, who enabled our people to sing songs to G-d and who touched not only every Jew but all of mankind.

“And more – you are a kohen, a descendant of the glorious priestly family of Aaron who was chosen to minister before Hashem and represent the Jewish people. So how could I not recognize your Yiddishe neshamah?”

His eyes became moist and I repeated, “Have a good Shabbos!”

Two little words that can awaken a dormant neshamah two little words that can ignite a spark, bring tears to the eyes and launch a Jew on his journey back to Sinai.

So the next time you pass your brother or your sister, say those two magic words: “Good Shabbos!”

My best wishes to all our readers and Klal Yisrael for a kesivah v’chasimah tovah – a blessed New Year.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/15/06

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

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Dear Rachel,

I am a 36-year-old Italian Jew from Northeast Philadelphia. My occupation is in education. I am Conservative-to-Modern Orthodox religiously. I go to several Orthodox synagogues in my area and have been unable to meet someone. Family and children are very important to me, and at my age (not to sound like a woman) it is time to settle down. I have consulted the local rabbis, and they always tell me I’m not there yet maybe in a few years. By then I’ll be a senior citizen, and it will be too late. I celebrate Shabbat every weekend, try to stay kosher and wear tefillin and tzitzis. I have tried the popular shidduch sites, have been to singles mixers and speed dating – all to no avail.

People in the neighborhood have also set me up with several dates, but they were not compatible. I must say that I do not wish to end up like some of the residents here, who seem happy on the outside but are really not. These are the single, never-marrieds, with no children, in their late 30′s-to-early 50′s.

I would like to start a singles group in the area and need advice on how to do so. This is a great community if you have a family or are married, but seems to offer nothing if you are single.

Thanks again for any advice/help you can give. Also if you know a single woman age 21-35 who is looking for an honest, caring, fun and reliable man, please let me know. Thanks.

Dear Rachel,

I have my MSW (Masters in Social Work) and am in the process of obtaining my licensing soon, G-d Willing. I am always intrigued by the interesting questions and comments you receive. I am a mature (well, for the most part) male single and find myself (as I’m sure many others do) in a constant struggle between my physical drives and my “higher” spiritual side. It gets to the point at times where I’m literally on the brink of insanity, trying to control my evil impulses.

Some time ago, a good friend of mine suggested a book entitled The Light of Ephraim, by Simcha H. Benyosef. I was fascinated by the fact that it actually discusses these problems at length and attempts to give the reader not so much as a solution (G-d Knows the only real solution is to get married and even then, from what I’ve heard, it is still a problem) as much as ideas and suggestions on how to curb one’s physical “appetite.”

While reading the book, I had this idea of forming a discussion forum/group for single, observant men who find themselves experiencing similar challenges. Quite frankly, I personally have tried almost everything else that I could possibly think of, and this is the only idea that I have not yet put to practice.

Essentially, my objective is to have “learning classes” where some guys would meet on a weekly basis for one hour. This time could be divided into about three or more segments that would include an open forum on how we can improve the singles crisis, tips on dating, etc.

Added incentives can include refreshments and speakers. I need some advice, suggestions and (constructive criticism?) as to how to proceed. If anyone is interested in finding out more about this idea or to contribute his own input / suggestions, please send e-mail to Chazak5765@hotmail.com.

Thank you.

Dear Lonely Guys,

Though this column was not designed to act as a bulletin for singles ads, your appeals – and appeal – have won me over. Each of you seems to have something individually unique to offer, and perhaps someone within our wide reading audience has the wherewithal to assist you in realizing your honorable goals.

Your hishtadlus is most praiseworthy, but one mustn’t forget to leave some juggling up to Hashem. Sincere and heartfelt prayer coupled with a genuine emunah in His capability to “pull the strings” will ease your anxieties and make life more serene as you await the telling moment.

To paraphrase a commentary by the devout Satmar Rebbe, R’ Yoel Teitelbaum z”l: The Gemara says that the “pairing of zivugim is as complex as the splitting of the sea.” Why Krias Yam-Suf, one may ask – were there not other miracles that could have been used as a parallel?

We learn from Chazal that the stage was set for Krias Yam-Suf during Sheshes Y’mei Braishis – when Hashem created the world. The sea was given its orders way back then to split at a given moment and not a moment sooner. The first individuals to leap into the waters were submerged up to their necks, for that moment had not yet arrived. But when it did, the waters parted smoothly and effortlessly – a phenomenon that had seemed unlikely to occur just seconds earlier.

Correspondingly, when it comes to a shidduch, one must exercise patience while awaiting the defining, predestined moment. For as with Krias Yam-Suf, when the right moment (for zivugim to come together) presents itself, it is palpably sensed and smooth sailing prevails.

May you both soon set sail on your voyage through life with your intended, with the waters of Torah as your guide!

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