Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Being Kicked Out

While in Miami, R' Nissan Friedman -- Rosh Mechina at Rabbi Zweig’s Yeshiva -- screamed at me (on two separate occassions, months apart) in the beis midrash that I was not to discuss anything with anybody in the yeshiva except gemara or tosafos; if Friedman saw me around the yeshiva, he would come over and stare at me, waiting for me to leave and ensuring that anybody who might come over to talk was dissuaded.

There’s much more to this story and this is certainly the al regal achas version. But the point is that I understood where Friedman (and the rabbanim who endorsed his position through their public posture of silence, shtika k’hodaah) was coming from. After all, it was known that I had treife MO hashkafos, and he had to make sure that the bachurim (who were interested in me because it had become known through a certain bachur that I had "controversial hashkafos") were aware that I was a deleterious influence. The way he shrieked at me wasn’t much different, I was told, from the way he had reacted when he saw bachurim hanging out in a video game shop across the street from the yeshiva: he had waddled in and started yelling about the Satan which is Noobie Games. We were both threats to the Judaism he wished to instill.

I hear the side of Friedman better than those who told me to forget about him. At that point, I just didn't believe in a lot of haredi craziness; now I don't believe in Torah. A.J. Heschel once wrote, "God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance;" for the fellow who doesn't believe in the community's hashkafas which they believe to be Torah MiSinai, is there a reason to be Jewish? If the community says, "Well, this is what being properly Jewish means," and I don't fit those qualifications, maybe it's time to heed their advice and just leave the whole thing? I never understood guys like Gideon Slifkin, because if you don't believe in it, so why not live out your convictions, as opposed to living in a community of people who believe in things you don't? Nice community, okay, but time to live out your life instead of hanging around people whose whole life is focused on a false ideal, no?
[Tomorrow: "Regarding Nice Jews."]


  1. The problem with rabbis like this is that they do more damage than they can ever imagine and cause far more sinning than they could possibly conceive.
    Koheles says that the words of the wise are heard when said gently. Does this rabbi disagree? When Moshe Rabeinu lost his temper with our ancestors one time too many he lost his place in Eretz Yisrael. Does this rabbi think that God should have instead encouraged more tantrums?
    As the old saying goes, don't judge Judaism by the Jews. Don't let one idiot whose halacha is limited by self-imposed blinkers ruin the wide beauty of Torah Judaism.

  2. I never understood why you shouldn't judge Judaism by the Jews. On balance, are we really that bad? And if we are, then what could be so great about Judaism?

  3. Maybe it's more accurate to say, "Don't judge Jews/Judaism by Charedim/Charedism."