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Sunday, July 31, 2005

El Blog de Rafael V. Rabinovich

El Blog de Rafael V. Rabinovich
Denuncio que, a sabiendas, Ariel Sharón pone al país entero en semejante peligro, sabiendo que el Rebe de Lubavitch le advirtió nunca rendir territorio alguno de Eretz Israel, y jamás permitir la creación de un estado o ente soberano independiente para la OLP.

Ontario Empoblog

Ontario Empoblog
Gentile Ben and Chanukah Hummers

Where do Gentiles learn about Chanukah?

* That nifty section in our Bibles called "Between the Testaments" that links Malachi to Matthew ("Antiochus IV sacrified a pig in the Temple. This happened over two thousand years before Austrian rock singer Falco wrote 'Rock Me Amadeus.'").

* Noted theologian Adam Sandler, who reminds us: "O.J. Simpson - not a Jew."

* Blogs of semi-practicing Jews.



(Aside: what does it mean to be a "practicing" anything? Would you prefer a practicing doctor, or a real doctor?)

So, let's visit the Empire's co-ruler Inland Empress:

So, where do Jews in the outer suburbs go to meet? Why, Target, of course.

And how do they celebrate Hanukkah? In a Hummer, naturally.

You didn't know this? You didn't realize our ancient ancestors gathered in big-box retailers and then paraded in SUVs the size of small planetoids?

Neither did I. But now that I've brushed against rabbinical greatness, sort of, I'm an expert in the ultra-Orthodox observance of this otherwise minor holiday and therefore feel obligated to enlighten you all....

It unnerved me that there was actually another person crowding the tiny display rack with me. Who was he? What did he want?

The man turns to me and says, "So, you going to the big lighting?"

What big lighting?

Twenty minutes later, I am armed with directions and a stern lecture that I must compete with Christmas lights and Santa or my son is doomed, doomed I tell you. I am obligated as a parent, as a Jew, as a carbon-based life form, to bring my son to "the big lighting," whatever that is....

The directions take me to the biggest intersection in town. I'd need a helicopter to find a menorah there. I'm thinking, no way a town of 67,000 that can count its Jewish population in the mere double digits is holding a religious shindig at rush hour smack in the middle of its busiest thoroughfare....

And there, in front of a car dealership, is an enormous line-up of Hummers, each with a giant menorah on top and a sign saying, "Happy Chanukah from the Chabad."

The Chabad is a community center for the super-duper, industrial-strength, extra-ultra Orthodox. You don't get much more kosher than a Chabadnik....

[I met] the rabbi's wife. It took 10 minutes of staring at her head before I realized she was, indeed, wearing a wig. They do that. They wear wigs. Something to do with only your hubby seeing your real hair, which means that the stereotypical ultra-Orthodox woman looks as if some exotic and badly groomed acrylic animal is nesting on her head.

Now I've known the Empress to write fiction every once in a while, and I have a Reed education, so I researched the whole wig thingie for myself:

What about the long sleeved, stockinged, and bewigged women?...

For women, these matters are tied up with the laws of Tzniut (modesty of dress and behavior). Varying traditions and interpretations play a role too. Thus, the different "dress codes" traditionally adopted by different communities. But covering the hair (for married women) and the body (for all women and men) is a matter of Torah law.

Some women wear a wig because they feel it is ultra modest, as it securely hides every strand of their own hair. Others prefer scarves and the like because they feel wigs are too natural-looking and attractive, which is the very reason that yet another set of women prefer wigs to scarves. I guess from every perspective, wigs are the hottest items (again, pun intended). On the other hand, some women wear scarves or hats in a manner that allows some hair to show, relying on the authorities that permit such and not wanting to appear too extreme.

OK, OK. But Hummers aren't dictated in the Torah...yet they're all around:

Hummer Limousine Mitzvah Scavenger & ice-cream feast

Making a difference: Ride in style and do Mitzvot at the same time (receive your own camera to record it all!)

Friday November 7, 6:00 PM

But wait! There's more:

For a question such as this, I resolved, AIM® or even iChat® wasn't going to cut it. I left my coastal villa and took upon myself the hardships of journey over the Mexican desert hills in my air-conditioned Hummer.

Upon arrival at the Guadalajaran Shteibl and Mind-Body Fitness Center, I prepared myself with the ritual immersion in the heated pool followed by the traditional shot of kosher tequila....

But, truth to tell, I found photographic evidence of the very Hummer Chanukah parade that Inland Empress mentioned:



No photos of the rabbi's wife, however...

Friday, July 29, 2005

Abstract - A tale of two orphans

A Tale of Two Orphans:

The Limits of Categorisation

by Joseph H. Berke and
Stanley Schneider

Joseph H. Berke Stanley Schneider
5 Shepherd's Close 5 Zvi Graetz
London N6 5AG P.O. Box 8428
0208 348 4492 Jerusalem 91083, Israel
jhberke@aol.com 00972 25 662 828
stanley@actcom.co.il
Published in: Mental Health, Religion & Culture (London)

Spring 2001 Vol. 4 No.1





A Tale of Two Orphans:

The Limits of Categorisation

by Joseph H. Berke and Stanley Schneider

Abstract

This paper describes an historical anecdote which occurred when Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber Schneersohn, the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe (known as the RaShaB) visited Vienna in 1903, prior to his meetings with Sigmund Freud.

At the time the RaShaB was suffering from a certain 'lowness of spirits.' One afternoon he went into a trance-like state from which he seemed to emerge with difficulty. The next day he went shopping for women's clothes and then travelled to a distant city to arrange marriages for two recently bereaved girls.

Taken out of context, the behaviour of the RaSHaB could easily be viewed as indications of psychiatric or neurological pathology. But when the totality of the Rebbe's personality and work are taken into account as well as the context of the events, it can be appreciated that he had entered an altered state of consciousness (ASC) in order to effect healing on both personal and mystical planes.

The authors point out the dangers of overhasty diagnostic conclusions, for it is clear is that the RaSHaB transcended any attempt to categorise his actions. Indeed, they exist on planes which psychiatry has yet to recognise, and may never recognise. These are phenomena which have nothing to do with illness or pathology, rather with experiences which lie beyond the normal. They therefore denote the limits of categories and the limits of categorisation.

A Tale of Two Orphans:

The Limits of Categorisation

by Joseph H. Berke and
Stanley Schneider 1

Introduction

In a previous paper the authors have detailed the visit of Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber Schneersohn, the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, to Vienna during the period January to April 1903 to consult with Sigmund Freud. (Schneider & Berke, 2000). The Rebbe, Known by the acronym RaSHaB, was the scion of a long line of outstanding Chassidic Rabbis. He was accompanied by his son, Rabbi Josef Yitzchak Schneersohn (known by the acronym RaYaTZ). At that time the Rebbe RaSHaB was 42 years old, and his son was 22 years old.

The RaSHaB had become the leader of Lubavitch Chassidim in 1882 at the age of twenty two, after the death of his father. He has been described as physically weak and frail throughout his life, a condition exacerbated, no doubt, because he took on the burden of communal leadership as a young man. He married at age fourteen to his first cousin, and was known for his devotion to self-sacrifice and striving for the truth, working long hours in study, teaching and service to his followers.

By the year 1902, it was noted that the RaSHaB was suffering from a certain malaise. In spite of his erudition and accomplishments as a Rebbe and founder of the Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim in Lubavitch in 1897, he felt that he was nothing and had accomplished nothing in comparison to his father (the 4th Lubavitcher Rebbe, the MaHaRaSH) and his grandfather (the 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe, known as the Tzemach Tzedek). He would often remark, "Where am I? Where do I turn? ( i.e. What have I accomplished?) What should I say?" (J. Y. Schneersohn, 1992, p. 42).

At that time the RaSHaB was under great pressure both externally and internally. The outside pressures were related to the many tangible dangers which the Rebbe and his followers faced. By the turn of the century the Lubavitch movement had been under threat from other Jews as well as from the Russian Government and the Czarist police. In addition to the vehement enmity of the Mitnagdim (religious Jews opposed to Chassidism), Lubavitch was also threatened by the Maskilim ('the enlightened ones'), militantly secular Jews who tried to spread modern European culture and secular knowledge. 2

As for the internal pressures: 1902 was the 20th anniversary of the RaSHaB's ascension to the mantle of leadership. (it was also the 20th anniversary of his fathers death). His son, the RaYaTZ, referred to his father as being very upset and low in spirits (quoted in M. M. Schneersohn, 1997). Around this period, the RaSHaB continuously complained to his wife that he was unable to study, that he was unworthy, and that he was deficient in his emotional attributes. By this the Rebbe meant that his love for his fellow man, and that his love and fear of God, were not as they should be.

It was at this point that the RaSHaB proposed to travel to Vienna to seek help for himself. This was a journey which he considered to be the equivalent of going into exile for the purpose of self-refinement or self-purification (J. Y Schneersohn, 1992, p.23).

In this paper we shall describe an historical anecdote which occurred before the RaSHaB met Freud. Taken out of context, the behaviour of the RaSHaB could easily be viewed as pathological. But when the totality of the Rebbe's personality are taken into account as well as the context of the events, we can appreciate that he had entered a profound meditative state. Consequently, we can vividly perceive the dangers of psychiatric categorisation.
Background

But before continuing, let us provide some further details about Chassidic Judaism, in general, and Lubavitch Chassidism, in particular. Loewenthal (1990) points out that Chassidism is a system of radical mysticism as well as a popular social movement. It originally aimed to replace a restrictive structure of Torah study with a culture that was able to uplift the daily life of men and women in the mundane world. This could be accomplished by attending to the inner, hidden, essential aspects of Judaism and openly communicating esoteric wisdom through the person of an enlightened leader to whom everyone had potential access.

Initially these leaders were direct disciples of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), which means master of the good name. The Baal Shem Tov had a profound knowledge and understanding of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. He also shared many characteristics of a shaman in that he was an expert in ecstatic healing practices. Later leaders were disciples of the disciples and so on. These leaders were called by the term Tzaddik ('the righteous one'), and also by the term Rebbe.
A Rebbe is far more than a Rabbi. The latter is a person who is knowledgeable about Jewish laws and practices. The Rebbe, on the other hand, not only possesses such revealed knowledge, but is also an expert on the inner essence of life, the concealed knowledge. The Rebbe is often described as a person touched by God, someone who possesses immense powers to sustain the lives of his followers, his Chassidim, on earthly and spiritual planes. The Chassidim, in turn, feel dependent on their Rebbe for guidance and help in accessing Divine grace about all matters -- spiritual and mundane.

A Rebbe may share some qualities with a psychotherapist. Both are experts about human nature as well as esoteric matters. For the Rebbe this includes spiritual or supraconscious realms, while for the psychotherapist this includes inner reality, or the unconscious. And both encourage intense real and transference relationships among their adherents.

The first Lubavitcher Rebbe and the founder of the Chassidic dynasty of Lubavitch was Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812). He liked to refer to himself as the Baal Shem Tov's spiritual grandson. He was also known as the alter Rebbe (the old Rebbe). The term signifies his contribution as the father of Lubavitch Chassidism by his creation of a highly intellectual system of mystical contemplation. Lubavitch Chassidim are also known by the acronym, ChaBaD. This refers to the first letters of the Hebrew words, Chochmah, Binah and Daat, meaning Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. According to the Kabbalah, these represent the higher intellectual emanations or qualities of God.
The Tale of Two Orphans

When the RaSHaB asked his son, Rabbi Joseph Yitzchak, the RaYaTZ, to accompany him to Vienna, the young man initially demurred, saying he was 'deep into learning' and wanted to continue with his studies. But his father replied that if he came, he would teach him 'mysteries' that he would never otherwise get to know or experience. So his son, who was noted for his paternal devotion, agreed to come.

The reason for the trip was to see the famous Professor Freud.3 The RaSHaB and his son arrived on the sixth of January 1903 and stayed for three months through the 5th of April. But before meeting Freud, a strange, unsettling series of events began to unfold, the details of which were related by the RaYaTZ, who was well known in the Lubavitch community for his phenomenal memory.

The story begins at the hotel where they had checked in after arriving in Vienna. The RaYaTZ recounts:

"My father's way was that he used to take a rest on the sofa after lunch. He didn't lie down, and he didn't sit, but he would lean. He used to refer to this as valgerinzich, roaming around.

Once after lunch when he was resting in this manner, he took a longer time than usual and I didn't know what to do. It looked like he was not in this world at all. He wasn't sleeping, he was lying on his side, his eyes appeared strange. I was afraid to wake him, but I was also afraid to leave him like this. So I started to pace back and forth in the room in a noisy manner, hoping that maybe this would alert him, but it didn't make a difference. Then I started shaking the table, but it still didn't help.

Suddenly he woke up and said, what day is it today? Which Sedra (weekly portion of the Torah) is it? (My father used to learn with me every week the Chassidic commentary from that weekly portion).

I answered him that it was Wednesday and also told him which portion of the Torah reading it was."

The account continues with the RaYaTZ describing what happened when his father woke up. The RaSHaB looked very confused. He prepared himself to 'davin Maariv' that is, pray the evening prayers, which he did for a very long time, like the evening service of Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year). Moreover, during the course of these prayers he sang a niggun (Chassidic melody) of the Alter Rebbe. All this left his son' wondering' (surprised, amazed).

On the next morning the Rebbe asked him if they had any money, because when they travelled, his son held their funds. The truth was that their finances were quite tight, but since his father obviously needed some money, he went to a pawn broker and raised a loan on his silver stick. (This was a walking cane, a present that the RaSHaB had given to his son and to which the the RaYaTZ was very attached). Having received a sum of money, he gave it over to his father. Afterwards the Rebbe told him that he wanted to go to a number of places. His son understood that he was not meant to go with him, so he stayed in the hotel and the RaSHaB went out alone.

Somewhat later a delivery man came with a package. He asked whether Schneersohn lived here, and I answered yes. He said he had a delivery for him and was instructed to bring it to the hotel. During the course of the next few hours, several more packages came from other shops. The RaYaTZ was surprised, for he saw that there were lady's garments. He surmised that his father had bought gifts for his wife and daughters.

Later in the evening, the RaSHaB returned to the hotel and told his son that he intended to make a trip, and that preparations should be made. Where to, he didn't say. So, the RaYaTZ paid the hotel bill, packed their bags, and they went to the train station where his father said to buy tickets to Pressburg (now Bratislava in Slovakia), which was some distance away. Then he relates:
"When we arrived at Pressburg, I wanted to hire a carriage at the train station, as we usually do, but my father said we would go by foot.

So I took our bags and we went. While we were walking down the street we met a young man, a yeshivah bochur (student) who was running and rushing.

My father stopped him and asked him directions to a particular hotel and restaurant.

But the young man said quickly, I have no time. Go straight ahead and you can ask over there

My father replied: "Is this the way to behave? Is this the way you perform the mitzvah (commandment) of hospitality? Don't you see that we are strangers, and that we are walking from the train station?

When the young man heard this, he understood that he had not conducted himself properly. So he stopped and showed us where to go. In addition he told us that the owner of this hotel had just passed away. My father thanked the young man and we walked further. Soon we came to the hotel and we saw that there was a woman and three daughters sitting shiva (ritual period of mourning). The servants at the hotel gave us a room, and we rested. Then my father said he would like to go and walk around the city a little bit.

We went outside and came to a Yeshiva (Jewish school) where there were a number of students sitting and learning. My father spoke to several of them, including the young man we had asked for directions. He was also there learning. Also my father got into a very entangled talmudic discussion (pilpul) with another bochur (student), and he praised him very much."

The next morning, the RaSHaB paid a condolence call to the widow and her daughters. The girls were sitting shiva on the floor. According to his son, he spoke to them and he comforted them. He added that he was just passing by and would be staying in town for one more day. He asked the widow if she should arrange for him to have kosher milk. So the two men remained in this town until the next evening, staying for a total of two whole days.

The RaSHaB visited the widow and her daughters a number of times. Once he went himself. When they asked who he was, he replied that he was a distant relative. When the girls asked him whether he knew their father, he answered that he issue was not important.

The conversations skirted around various subjects until the Rebbe spoke to the woman about arranging marriages (shiduchim) for her two unmarried daughters. The widow moaned about her desperate plight, especially now that her husband had passed away. She had little money and didn't think she could get appropriate matches. Clothes and other things were very expensive, and she didn't have the means to continue with the shiduchim that had already been proposed.

The RaSHaB comforted her and made suggestions. For the eldest daughter, Chayaleh Gela (in Hungarian: Katalin), he recommended the student with whom he had got into a very long, involved talmudic discussion.4 For the second daughter, Faiga (in Hungarian: Foge), he recommended the young man whom he had scolded in the street.5 As for clothes (trousseaus), he said the widow shouldn't worry, because he had already bought with him two sets of bridal clothes, as well as anything else that the orphans needed. All of this cost a few hundred rubles, which was a very large sum in those days. Having arranged the two marriages, the Rebbe and his son left Pressburg and returned anonymously to Vienna.
Five years later Yosef Yitzchak, recounted that he was travelling near Pressburg and decided to make a detour to the city, specifically to see how the two orphans, whose marriages his father had arranged, were doing. He recalled he could only find the third (youngest) daughter, Nachama. She told me that she too had married and was happy, but that her two older sisters were extremely happy. 6 Of the two husbands, one was a Rosh Yeshiva (Director of a Yeshiva, a very learned, prestigious position) and the other was a Rabbi in a certain city. Both families were living in very fortunate circumstances.

Yosef Yitzchak told this story at a farbrengen, or Chassidic gathering, some years after he had followed his father as Rebbe. Afterwards someone asked, Who was the hotel keeper who had passed away? The RaYaTZ answered: His name was Rav Avraham Bick.

Subsequently we ascertained that Rav Bick had been an eminent Talmid Hacham (Torah scholar) and was the author of many books on Talmud, Midrash and other exoteric and esoteric subjects. 7

As for Pressburg, It is also worth noting that the city was a renowned centre of Jewish Life. Indeed, at the that time, it was much more important than Vienna. The leading Torah scholar was the HaTam Sofer, and many learned men, Chassidic and non-Chassidic lived there.
It transpired that Avraham Bick died on the afternoon of 18 February 1903. He had been sick for at least a year, and we know from his letters that he was desperately worried about the shidduchim of his daughters and his lack of funds for dowries. 8

The events described in Vienna, when the RaShAb could not be woken by his son, also took place on 18 February 1903. The trip to Pressburg occurred a couple of days later, between the 20th and 22nd February. The persons and details we have documented come from Lubavitch sources as well as newly available accounts provided by direct descendants and relatives of the Bick family: Schneerson, M. M. (1997), Schneersohn J. Y. (1992), Marinowsky, (1991, pp142-144), Neumann, Y.Y. (1997, pp.17-18; 2000), Mundshein (1997, pp11-13), Kahn, (1997, pp.159-63) & Oberlander(1997, 1-3; 2000).
Discussion

The extraordinary features of this entire story extend beyond the actions of the Rebbe to arrange marriages for two young girls in a far off city after the death of their father. The key issue is what happened when the RaSHaB lay down after lunch and went into a trance-like, somnambulistic state, out of contact with the outside world. Although his son did try to awaken him, it was clear that the RaSHaB was in a world of his own, and impelled by a strange concatenation of forces.

Let us begin by to considering the incidents of the story without taking into account the person involved or the circumstances in which the events took place. Then the primary focus would be on the symptoms, or the peculiar experience and behaviour, of a highly successful professional man undergoing a crisis in his life.

For some time the man appears to be suffering from depression. He disparages his work and relationships and complains about feelings of worthlessness. He finds it hard to think clearly or concentrate. Concomitantly he evinces a state of emotional detachment.

Yet he retains a careful awareness of his condition and travels to a distant city with his son to seek help from a distinguished secular professor. Then, while waiting in the hotel before the appointment with Freud, he falls into a deep trance for several hours. Soon after waking up, he is confused about time and place. Later his condition changes. A prior lethargy turns into intense activity. He asks for sums of money beyond his means, goes on a shopping spree, and buys large quantities of ostensibly inappropriate woman's clothing. The following day he suddenly travels to another city whereupon he takes upon himself to arrange marriages for girls he has never previously met and gives them the clothes he had previously bought.

From the narrow perspective of contemporary symptomology and classification, this person could be seen as suffering from a bipolar affective state. This nosology would note a depressive phase of this condition, followed by a hypomanic episode. Nowadays the term hypo-manic would be used, rather than manic because, although agitated and driven,í the man had not totally lost touch with reality and was not psychotic. Certainly, one can discern a flight of ideas, disorientation and an inability to know basic status information (time, place, person). And the whole episode seemed to manifest a vague delusional quality. However, since it was of extremely short duration, it would be difficult to diagnose a hypomanic or manic episode, which require from 4-7 days of symptoms.

Another possibility was that the person concerned had suffered an organic, neurological event. Although we do not know fo sure, the apparent 'strangeness of his eyes' could have been due to fixed dilated pupils, which accompanied by a semi-conscious period of confusion, would points in the direction of a temporal lobe epilepsy. This is a disorder characterised by periodic motor or sensory seizures and sometimes accompanied by a loss of consciousness (American Psychiatric Association, 1980, p.38). Since this episode is a one-time occurrence, it would be hard to postulate a grand mal seizure. With regards to a petit mal seizure, the RaSHaB didn't remain in a confused state. In fact he accurately completed the evening prayers and sing a niggun of considerable complexity. This feat of memory, and prosody, alone totally argues against an organic component. So an epileptic episode seems very remote.

It is much more plausible that the RaSHaB went into an altered state of consciousness (ASC). Much has been written in the literature (Dennett, 1991, Tart, 1972) regarding the definition of an altered state of consciousness. The person who has experienced an altered state is unaware of his surroundings during the trance-like state. Afterwards, the person feels confused, is disorientated and is unable to recall details of the surrounding environment that were prominent during the altered state. Questions addressed to the person during his/her altered state will not be remembered. This seems to be the most logical possibility that describes the RaSHaB's condition. 9

The RaSHaB was able to enter into a deep, meditative space in order to communicate with a spiritual wellspring. In religious terms we can talk of communicating with a Deity in order to seek His Divine intervention. In Kabbalistic-mystical terms, this is communication with the upper worlds. George Klein (1959) explained this state as the artist who is able to enter an emotional state that transcends consciousness because there has been a departure from mundane awareness that allows for an emotional, latent unification with the hidden. We can utilise the term 'mysticism' to describe the altered state of consciousness of the RaSHaB.

James (1901/1958) attempted to define four characteristics of mystical states of consciousness:

.....It defies expression...no adequate report of its contents can be given in words...its quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others
.....Mystical states ...(are) also states of knowledge. They are states of insight...they are illuminations, revelations...
.....Mystical states cannot be sustained for long.
.....The mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power (p.293).

Underhill (1912) in a classic definition of mysticism wrote that: mysticism (is) the art of establishing one ís conscious relation with the Absolute...(p.97). Here we have the juxtaposition of mysticism, altered state of consciousness and a Higher Authority.

It is difficult to attempt to understand a mystical experience or altered state of consciousness because it is not scientifically quantifiable. This was one of the problems facing Freud (1933) when he was asked regarding his understanding of paranormal phenomenon. He wrote: "When they first came into my range of vision more than ten years ago, I too felt a dread of a threat against our scientific Weltanschaung, which, I feared, was bound to give place to spiritualism or mysticism if portions of occultism was proved true. Today I think otherwise." (p.54)

As we have already noted, the RaSHaB was great spiritual leader who possessed immense powers to affect the lives both of his followers, and others. From the standpoint of the Kabbalah, or Jewish mystical tradition, he was a Mekubal, a person who could directly receive the Ruach HaKodesh, the Godly forces which sustain the world. So his experiences and actions occur on a multitude of levels, earthly as well as spiritual. Thus, as we have shown in our previous paper (Schneider & Berke, 2000, pp 15-16), his lowness and sadness were preludes to a self-refinement that led to a tremendous creative upsurge in the last two decades of his life. Similarly the events that surrounded his trip to Pressburg are a remarkable attempt to renew the lives of two girls who might otherwise have been irreparably damaged by the death of their father.

An extension of this understanding of the RaSHaB's trance state will take us to explore the subject of the Tzaddik (righteous person). This is an honorific title earned by very unusually gifted people who are extremely close to God and can intercede in trying to changing the fate of the world.

The concept of the tzaddik as the righteous one appears only once in the Bible as an appellation for God: He is a faithful God, never unfair; righteous and moral is He (Deuteronomy 32:4). On the other hand, a righteous person as opposed to a wicked person appears numerous times in the Bible. The righteous live by proper conduct, obey God's precepts and have a positive interaction with God in that their prayers are answered.

The idea of the tzaddik as a interlocutor, acting as an active agent mediating between man and God, is a concept unique to the Hassidic movement of the 18th century. The tzaddik would have a following of people who would ask advice from the tzaddik, request prayers of intercession to be recited, request for healing of bodily illnesses, and ask for blessings. The followers of the tzaddik were fanatical in their devotion to him, which only exacerbated the reactions of the mitnagdim (the oppositioners --those who opposed Hassidism). From the beginning of the Hassidic movement, emphasis was now placed on the saintliness of the Rabbi, referred to as the Rebbe, and not only on his scholarship. As the verse in Proverbs states: The tzaddik is the foundation of the world (10:25).

The extreme mystical role that the tzaddik would be taking upon himself would, oftentimes, render him unresponsive to the outside, mundane environment. After all, how could a saintly tzaddik who is communicating with the upper worlds, be both in this world as well as in upper spheres? Idel (1995) quoting from various references, tells the story of the Great Maggid, Rabbi Dov- Ber of Miedzyrec, who used to drift off into extreme concentration, and also must have induced the Divine Spirit, by holding his hand upon his brow (p.198). We also have records of Rabbi Joseph Karo, the ARI (Rabbi Isaac Luria), the RaMCHaL (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto) and the GRîA (The Gaon of Vilna) , who entered into ecstatic meditative states and communicated with spirits while in this holy state.

Scholem (1991) tried to explain this phenomenon which he called Tselem: The Concept of the Astral Body. What is the nature of this element, which apparently not participate in the soul's wanderings, and is referred to in the Zohar and other writings as man's Tselem? Is this a Kabbalistic version of the doctrine of the self as the deepest spiritual essence within man, or is it a version of the idea of an astral body or psychic body within man, which constitutes a third, independent entity mediating between body and soul? (p.252). The tzaddik projects himself out in order to communicate with God on behalf of his followers. This somewhat dissociative experience renders the tzaddik detached momentarily from the mundane world in order to communicate with the upper spirits and upper worlds -- communication with God.

The transcendent powers of the RaSHaB were well known, although in practice he used them very sparingly. (Schneider & Berke, 2000, pp 4 &19). In current usage, his mystical abilities can be subsumed under the rubric of paranormal powers. This is a general term which includes telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, astral projection and psychokinesis. From this standpoint we can assume that the trance the Rebbe manifested soon after his arrival in Vienna, was related to events that had occurred or were about to occur in Pressburg, and about which he was able to foretell, In fact, when the young student told the Rebbe that the owner of the inn had just passed away, his son, the RaYaTZ, commented that: "This worked out to be exactly the time that my father was resting that afternoon, when he went into a trance."

Perhaps the RaSHaB experienced the death of the inn keeper directly during the course of this episode. This would account for what his son observed. He certainly seemed to be aware of what had happened, an awareness which led him to urgently purchase two trousseaus prior to leaving for Pressburg. It would also be consistent with the Rebbe's capacity as a Mekubal, a person who possesses a unique sensitivity to receive spiritual or paranormal inflows.

Dr. Peter Fenwick, a leading expert on paranormal and near-death experiences, with whom we have discussed this episode, has suggested that the Rebbe's trance state may not have been a simple example of his receiving or tuning-in to the passing of Rav Bick. (Fenwick & Fenwick, 1995; Fenwick, 2000) On the contrary it may represent a much more active attempt on the part of Rav Bick to reach the Rebbe by projecting his Tselem or astral body to get help for his daughters. As we have previously pointed out, in the year before his death Rav Bick was preoccupied with arranging marriages for them. He also must have known about the Rebbe, although we have no direct evidence that he had been in contact with him. However we do know that he had been in communication with other Chassidic leaders, in particular, the Sadeh Ger Rebbe and the Sanzer Rebbe. (Neumann, 1997; 4th article) This not uncommon form of paranormal event has been termed 'a death-bed coincidence,' and can involve a prolonged altered state of consciousness on the part of both sender (projector) and receiver. (Osis & Haraldsson, 1997)

Whether the episode represents such a near-to-death phenomenon, or not, the Rebbe's refusal to take a carriage at the train station and his meeting with the two bochurim (students) all seem part of an unfolding of relationships which he had foreseen and which would lead to two successful marriages.

Like a chess grandmaster, we can speculate that the RaSHaB was able to see five, ten, fifteen, sequences in advance, spiritually and temporarily, all of which leads to further questions. Why was the deceased father, Rabbi Abraham Bick, special, so that the Rebbe felt his passing and intervened in his future? What happened to his daughters, and sons-in-law, and their families? Did they survive the Holocaust? What influence have they had on the world, on history, on the Jewish people? Was all this connected with the Rebbe's decision to consult Freud? 10

In personal correspondence with Rabbi Yaacov Yitzchak Neumann, the son of one of Chaya Gela, one of the orphans whose marriage was arranged by the RaSHaB, Rabbi Neumann writes: "We don't know what connection the RaSHaB had with my grandfather (Rabbi Avraham Bick). But I do know that my grandfather came from Russia to Pressburg and was a famous man who visited many Torah giants and published several books.11 He must have met the tzaddik, the RaSHaB, and from Heaven it was shown to him (i.e. the RaSHaB) that there were orphans." ( Neumann, 2000)

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel, has discerned the deepest mystical meaning of the RaShaB's visit to Pressburg during a farbrengen in 1962. (addendum to the Rishimos, 1997) For him it was akin to of the mysterious trips that the founder of Chasidism, the Baal Shem Tov used to make to help Jews throughout Europe. He refers to the Book of Lamentations, where it says when the 2nd Temple was destroyed and the Jews were exiled, "We were orphans from our Father's, and our Mother's were like widows." (ref) 12

Indeed, at the turn of the 20th century the time, Jews were living in Golus (exile, darkness). It was a time of great conflict between the Chassidim and Mitnagdim (non-Chassids) and the religious and non-religious Jews. The work (avodah) of the RaSHaB had to do comforting the mourners (the disconnected) and with arranging the marriage of the orphans (the Jewish people) with their divine source. For Rav Menachem Mendel, the whole episode was a metaphor for, as well as the concrete embodiment of, this process. Thus the fact that the RaSHaB went into a trance during the evening, Maariv prayer, had to do with a going into to the darkness of exile. When he emerged it was to buy fine clothes, representing the adorning of the Jewish people with beauty and bringing out 'their true essence.' And the marriage did not just have to do with two girls, but with the need for all Jews to connect with their divine root.
Conclusion

What was the trance state the RaShaB entered? Why did he go to Pressburg and arrange marriages for two bereaved girls? In this paper we have considered the pathological, the paranormal and the mystical dimensions of these events. Yet, there are questions which are still awaiting answers, and perhaps, more questions. What is clear is that the RaSHaB transcended any attempt to categorise his actions, for they exist on planes which psychiatry has yet to recognise, and which psychiatry may never recognise. Why? Because there are phenomena which have nothing to do with illness or pathology, rather with experiences which lie beyond the normal. This denotes the limits of categories and the limits of categorisation, all of which depends on limiting perception and narrowing reality.

It is very hard to grasp transcendental phenomena, such as the RaSHaB experienced, or ultramundane revelations, such as Rav Menachem Mendel expounded. The urge to classify, control and pathologise, seem to express the fear of the unknown, a fear which psychiatry tries to contain. Too often this leads psychiatry and psychology to become victims of the metaphors they have created, and the conceptual worlds in which they operate.

Perhaps the reasons for this situation have to do with the metaphysical foundations of our science, which determines that there is no consciousness beyond the brain. As Rick Tarnas points out in, Passion of the Western Mind (1991), we continue to live by the primary quality beliefs refined by Galileo in the 17th century. Here 'reality' consists of an outside 'objective' world' comprised of matter and energy and delineated by mathematics. To really understand "A Tale of Two Orphans," we need a 'post modern metaphysics' where consciousness is not constricted by matter, subjectivity is not secondary, and 'meaning' means more than the manipulation of molecules.

REFERENCES
American Psychiatric Association, A Psychiatric Glossary. Washington, D.C., 1980, p.38.

Dennett, D.C. (1991). Consciousness Explained. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Fenwick, P. & Fenwick, E. (1995) The Truth in the Light: An Investigation of over 300 Near-Death Experiences, London: Headline Books.

Fenwick, P. (2000) Personal Communication, 3 July 2000.

Freud, S. (1933). New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis: Lecture 30, Dreams and Occultism. Standard Edition, vol. 22. London: Hogarth Press, 1981.

Idel, M. (1995). Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic. Albany: State University of New York Press.

James, W. (1901). The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Mentor Books, 1958.

Kahn, R. N. (1997) Extraordinary Chassidic Tales, trans. B. Majerczyk, New York: Ostar, Sifrei Lubavitch, Inc.


Klein, G. (1959). Consciousness in Psychoanalytic Theory: Some Implications for Current Research in Perception. JAPA, 7:5-34.

Loewenthal, N. (1990). Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Marinowsky, H. O. (1991). Al Avortaynu v'al Yichus (On Our Forefathers and their Backgrounds) Israel: Kfar Chabad ( Hebrew)

Mundshein, Y. (1997). Ha'Orot U'Beorim (Explanations and Comments), Vol. 732, Brooklyn, NY: Oholei Torah. (Hebrew)

Mundshein, Y. (2000) "Aynayne Mayseeach Daas Mayahnyanahv." ("I Do Not Stop Thinking of Your Situation") Kfar Chabad, No. 911, 11 Tammuz 5760 (13 July) (Hebrew).

Neumann, Y. Y. (1997) Ha'Orot U'Beorim (Explanations and Comments), Vol. 736, Brooklyn, NY: Oholei Torah. (Hebrew)

Neumann, Y. Y. (2000). Personal Communication. 21 May.

Oberlander, B. (1997) Ha'Orot U'Beorim (Explanations and Comments), Vol. 731, Brooklyn, NY: Oholei Torah. (Hebrew)

Oberlander, B. (2000) Personal Communication. 12 May.

Osis, K. & Haraldsson, E. (1997) At the Hour of Death, UK, Hasting House Pub.

Rosman, M. (1996) Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba'al Shem Tov. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

Schneersohn, J. Y. (1992) Sefer HaSichot: 1920-1927 (Book of Essays). New York: Kehot Publishing Society (Hebrew and Yiddish)

Schneerson, M. M. (1997) R'Shimos (Diaries) vol. 94. New York: Kehot Publishing Society ( Hebrew and Yiddish)

Schneider, S. and Berke, J. H. ( 2000) Sigmund Freud and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Psychoanalytic Review, 87 (1), pp. 1-21.

Schneur Zalman of Liadi (Slavuta, 1796) (Teaching) Bilingual ed. trans. by N. Mindel. London: Likkutei Amarim- Tanya Kehot Publishing Society (1973)

Scholem, G. (1991). On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead. New York: Schocken.

Tarnas, R. (1991) Passion of the Western Mind, New York: Ballantine

Tart, C. (1972) Altered States of Consciousness, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Underhill, E. (1912). Mysticism. London: Methuen.
© Copyright Joseph H Berke and Stanley Schneider 2000. All Rights Reserved.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOOTNOTES:

1) The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Peter Fenwick, Mendel Gordon, Simon Jacobson, Yehuda Kanar, Shmuel Lew, Tali Loewenthal, Yaacov Yitzhak Neumann, Baruch Oberlander & Morton Schatzman in the preparation of this paper.

2) Both groups regularly informed on the Lubavitcher Chassidim to the Czarist police. The RaSHaB and his son had been arrested and jailed on several occasions. In addition, the secularists brought about temporary closures of the Yeshivas in Lubavitch and were proponents of the emerging Zionist movement which attempted to replace religion with nationalism.

3) A further reason was to get medical help for a disturbing loss of sensation on the back of his left hand, which had been bothering him for some months. Mundshein (2000, pp. 47-49)

4) The name of the Chayaleh Gela's husband was Joseph Neumann. Their marriage took place on 15 June 1903, after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, possibly in Pressburg.

5) The name of Faiga's husband was Yaisef Lefkowitch. Their marriage took place in Vienna before the Rebbe and his son returned to Russia. it is possible that the Rebbe attended, although there is no record of this happening.

6) The younger daughter married Zev Wolf Neumann of Pressburg, 'a God-fearing Jew, but simple man.'

7) These studies included, Foundations of the Meeting Tent (several volumes), Ripe Fruits of Spring, Known to Understanding, Fruits of the Earth, Triple Blessings, I Take my Work upon Myself and The Right Arm of Moses.
Rav Bick also worked as a buyer and seller of Jewish books and manuscripts and, for many years, had his own printing press.
The name of Rav Bick's widow was Miriam. Her maiden name was Reiness. She too was part of a distinguished family. Her brother, Yitzchak Yaacov Reiness, was the head of the Mizrachi (Religious Zionism) Movement. Under his influence the Bick family had moved to Palestine, but they returned because of Miriam's ill health. The Bicks also had six sons, one of whom predeceased his father.

8) He was born in Moholov-Podolyin, about 25-30 miles from Uman, in the Ukraine. He died at the age of 65 and was buried in the local cemetery in Pressburg near his father, Yaacov.

9) Other Rebbes have demonstrated trance-like states, in particular, R. Dov Ber Schneersohn, the son of the Alter Rebbe, who became the second Lubavitcher Rebbe, also known as the Mitteler Rebbe. In one such incident it was observed that the Rebbe stood "like a stick, without any movement or feeling" for several hours. Loewenthal (1990) pp.114-116.

http://www.jhberke.com/tale_2orphans.htm

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bris Mila for son of Jewish Soldier in Venice

Shliach Chabad to Venice, Rabbi Rachamim Banin and several of the bochrim from Chabad of Venice helped arrange a bris for the newborn son of a soldier, in the US Army base in Vicenza, a base for many of the US soldiers who travel to and from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bris was held in the house of Dr. November. the Mohel was Rabbi Chezkiah Levy from Milan. After the bris several of the Doctors present, laid tefillin, one of them, for the first time in his life.

THIRD STREET: Park Slope Snapshot: Yeshiva Girls

THIRD STREET: Park Slope Snapshot: Yeshiva Girls

Smartmom is fascinated by the Yeshiva girls in long, dark skirts who ask, "Are you Jewish?' on Friday afternoons. They come from Ocean Parkway or Midwood - one of those neighborhoods closer to Coney Island. They walk around in small groups, sometimes holding religious paraphernalia. Sometimes not.

When she says, "No," they seem to believe her and walk away. She wonders if they say to one another, "She's so obviously Jewish. Wonder why she said, 'No.'"

Smartmom wonders who puts them up to this -- their rebbe, their parents, their school. She wonders what would happen if she said, "Yes."

Smartmom feels guilty when she says, "No." It is a big lie and she hates to lie. She just doesn't want to be bothered by the Yeshiva girls.

She's in too big a rush. She doesn't want to say prayers on Seventh Avenue. She's not Jewish in the same way that they are and they know it. And that's why they want to change her.

Smartmom feels guilty when she says, "No." It is a big lie and she hates to lie. She just doesn't want to be bothered by the Yeshiva girls.

posted by Third Street @ 6:15 AM 4 comments

4 Comments:
At 4:31 AM, red eft said...
Henry says No to them too, except we've only ever seen men and boys. Once, I got into a long explanation, "Well you see he is and I'm not and blah blah..." like I had to tell them the truth.

Maybe No is the truth, SM. Not the kind of Jewish they're looking for.


At 6:51 AM, Savtadotty said...
One day when Smartmom has time and enough curiosity, she could say "Yes," just to hear their spiel. But not to argue...nobody has that much time!


At 7:20 AM, mamainwaiting said...
I always say yes, but tell them I'm not interested. I think they want you to light candles or something I find them really intrusive and annoying. Yes, I am jewish, and no, I don't want to do it the way they want me to - whatever that is. I was accosted by a bunch of them in the Grand Army Subway station the other day. I like to say yes, because, after all, I am a part of the tribe. I am also proud to say, "no thank you". That's because I do it my own way, thank you very much.


At 1:43 PM, Little Light said...
I smile, say no thank you and keep going when Christians approach me me on the street with tracts. I know I don't have to say I'm not a Christian since they're not asking, but I understand what you're saying. I just try to keep in mind that they're doing what they believe to be the right thing and I'm doing what I believe to be the right thing.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

Shiminke!

Y o s s i !

Lazer Beams: Red Hot: Tefillin for everybody! Chabad's amazing new campaign

Lazer Beams: Red Hot: Tefillin for everybody! Chabad's amazing new campaign
"I can't remember when I felt so privileged to be a part of Hashem's chosen people: Within twelve short hours of posting Budd Gardstein's need for tefillin in the hills of Kentucky (yesterday), I already had eight offers (six in the USA and two in Israel) to send him tefillin. My esteemed friend Rabbi Eli Soble shlit'a was quickest on the draw, and has won the mitzva of 'ahavas chinam' by providing Budd with a brand new pair of tefillin, which are already on their way to Kentucky. Unbelievable! May The Almighty shower his blessings upon Rabbi Eli Soble and his family, and may the mitzva of tefillin be a guardian angel for Budd Gardstein and his family, amen on both counts.
Hold on, we're not finished yet. The Chabad Chassidim never cease to amaze me; my good friend 'The Hot Pepper', a Lubavitcher tzaddik who prefers to remain anonymous, writes:
If you didn't already know, there is an AMAZING program going through the U.S. right now (I'm not sure if it is in all the countries, just U.S. I'm sure about - though I wouldn't be surprised if this was worldwide) called the Tfillin Bank. Whoever accepts upon himself to put on Tfillin every single day WILL GET A FREE SET OF TFILLIN. FREE! These amazing programs that are spreading (there is also a Mazuzah Bank!) like wildfire are sure catalysts in the imminent arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu and the Geulah Hashleima. Much Hatzlacha, 'The Hot Pepper', A Chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita.
If you need tefillin or mezuzas - or you know someone else who does - and you need help in obtaining them, contact your local Chabad House or else check out the Chabad Shlichus Center website. To obtain the name of your local Chabad rabbi, contact my distinguished friend Rabbi "

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lazer Beams

Lazer Beams
Hashem, Moshiach has to come...now!
Our sages tell us that when you get signs of redemption on a public fast day, particularly on the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, you can believe that Moshiach is upon our doorstep. I had beautiful signs all day long, which really helped relieve that fasting in Ashdod's 91F and 88% humidity weather; allow me to share them with you:
***We are ready for Moshiach. When I arrived home at noon from my morning learning seder, a package arrived from Rabbi Eli Soble, a very special Lubavitcher chossid in the USA. Rabbi Eli sent me 4 beautiful volumes of the Rebbe's "sichos" (discourses) from 5751-52 (1991-1992). I was more excited than a little kid receiving a shiny new bike on his birthday. Using Chabad minhag, I closed my eyes, asked Hashem to lead me on the path of truth, and I took one of the volumes in my hands and opened it at random: Hold on folks, here's where I landed - at Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu's visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe (5752), where they are both on record as saying that we are ready for Moshiach, and nothing further delays his coming other than our own desire. The next few hours flew by, and for a while I had completely forgotten about the fast. Rabbi Eli, thank you from the bottom of my heart for these important volumes

CMI * Chiapas * IMC - noticias, 1 p�gina(s)

CMI * Chiapas * IMC - noticias, 1 p�gina(s)

Crown Heights: Chabad of Crown Heights?

Crown Heights: Chabad of Crown Heights?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Lipe Baila & Elka's Pictures

Lipe Baila & Elka's Pictures

Some thoughts

Some thoughts

Crown Heights; the View From Inside: Another One Bites the Dust

Crown Heights; the View From Inside: Another One Bites the Dust

Captioning : Deaf Cupids Keep the World's Silence at Bay

Captioning : Deaf Cupids Keep the World's Silence at Bay
By Nathaniel Popper and Rukhl SchaechterJuly 22, 2005
http://www.forward.com/articles/3676

Matchmakers are known for being a talkative sort, but when Sam and Rachelle Landau practice their art, it's all in the hands.
The Landaus, the world's only deaf Jewish matchmakers, ply their trade via fax machine, teletypewriter telephone and computer at their Elizabeth, N.J., home. Being cut off from the primary tool of modern romance — the telephone — comes with its challenges. Last week, when one of the Landaus' clients got lost on the way to a first date, the lack of a nearby TTY telephone left both parties wandering. The relationship was almost called off.

The occasional communication barrier between clients, though, is the least of the Landaus' problems in trying to bring together deaf Jews. There are, by most counts, no more than 20,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing Jews in America — most of them elderly — and few of them have access to a Jewish community that can address their needs. The general deaf community, on the other hand, is far more accessible, and it is there, the Landaus say, that most deaf Jews end up socializing — and finding spouses.

"In America, it's very difficult for Jewish deaf people to find each other," Sam Landau said through an interpreter. "The identity is usually, 'First I'm a deaf person, second I'm a Jew.'"
Despite this, the Landaus estimate that they have been the force behind 10 marriages and countless near misses in the course of their own 30-year union. The work has required quick thinking and a willingness to travel great distances. This past week, the Landaus went to Florida with many of their clients for what is perhaps the best place to find other single deaf Jews: the biennial Jewish Deaf Congress. But when that event ends, the Landaus are left more or less on their own with the task of crafting one of the most essential building blocks of Jewish life: the shidduch, or match.

The enormous distances their clients are willing to travel are evident from the personal ads listed in the newsletter the Landaus publish twice a year. A recent listing from a 36-year-old South African woman is nearly indistinguishable from those found ordinarily: "Loves long walks, travel... renting movies with captions and learning something new." But it ended with something you wouldn't find on JDate: "Willing to live in USA." In the Landaus' own case, Sam moved from Israel to come live with Rachelle in America.
Sam and Rachelle Landau publish the newsletter in their respective roles as coordinator and associate coordinator of the Jewish Deaf Singles Registry, which is sponsored by Our Way, part Orthodox Union's National Jewish Council for the Disabled. This is the only such program run by any of the religious movements, and everyone involved makes it clear that it is open to Jews from every denomination — as long as the mother is Jewish. Of the 58 personal ads in the May newsletter, only 13 were Orthodox. There was a Conservative Jewish woman in England and a man in Israel who labeled himself "not religious."
One of the Landaus' recent "projects" was Avremi Swerdlov, a 36-year-old postal worker from a Chabad Lubavitch family in Brooklyn. Swerdlov had tried dating a hearing woman in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn where he grew up but he said that "it was a waste of time." He had grown up in a hearing family from which he had felt excluded. He didn't want to re-create the same feeling in his marriage.

The turning point for Swerdlov came three years ago, after he was nearly killed by a fire in his parents' home. (He couldn't hear the alarm.) After being rescued he decided it was time for a change. "It hit me," he said. "I'm 33 years old. I should stop taking my time." He joined the Landaus' registry, and when he checked into the online chatroom he found Sandra, a Toronto woman from a Reform background. Initially Sandra was dating another man, but when that was called off, Swerdlov drove straight to Toronto. In September 2003, Avremi and Sandra were married.
The basic rule for the Landaus is that Jews marry other Jews. (When talking about their work, they often tug at their chin, as if stroking a beard — the American Sign Language sign for Jewish.) Intermarriage is, of course, an issue for the hearing Jewish community, as well, but hearing people can easily stop by any one of hundreds of Jewish communal institutions in America and find a single person to talk with. There is no such variety for deaf Jews. Chicago and Los Angeles both have deaf synagogues, though neither has services year round. New York has a deaf club — Beth Torah of the Deaf — that offers lectures and other activities. And then there is the Jewish Deaf Congress, which took place in Tampa Bay, Fla., from July 3 to July 10. The organizers there guess that during its 49-year history, the biennial congresses have been responsible for 50 marriages.
But a major problem facing deaf institutions both inside and outside the Jewish world is that they no longer have the power to attract members as they once did. At one point the Jewish Deaf Congress drew 525 people, but this year only 200 attended. In the era before the Internet, TTY telephones and closed captioned television shows, deaf clubs were the only forums for deaf interaction.

"Alas, flash to today," said Joseph Slotnick, president of Temple Beth Solomon, the deaf synagogue in Los Angeles. It was founded in the 1960s, before the TTY telephone. "Most young people today prefer other ways of getting together on Friday evenings than going to services, or they prefer going to movies with captioning."
Even in those cities with deaf clubs, singles face difficulties. Take Mordechai Weiss, who met the Landaus when he was a shy 13-year-old Orthodox boy who did not yet know sign language. Today, Weiss is an outgoing 28-year-old architecture student and the vice president of Beth Torah of the Deaf. Weiss, in an ad placed in the Landaus' newsletter, eagerly professed his desire to find "an Orthodox deaf girl that I feel is the right one for me." Despite all his efforts, however, he has thus far only landed four dates with Orthodox girls — including a woman the Landaus recently set him up with. "It has been very frustrating," Weiss wrote in an e-mail. "The Orthodox deaf girls want to marry hearing guys [who] go to Yeshiva."
Four years ago, one of the Landaus' clients had enough devotion to become a board member, but in the end she tired of waiting and ended up marrying a non-Jewish deaf man. The Landaus said they did not feel it was appropriate for them to attend the wedding.

In many cases, it's a wonder people are able to preserve the Jewish connections that they do. Taking part in the life of a community centered on discussion and call-and-response prayers is not easy when you cannot hear. Rachelle Landau was the only member of her family not to go to a Jewish day school. When she enrolled in an after-school program for Jewish study, most of the lessons involved reading out loud. The other students laughed when Landau tried, and she never returned. Even today she has difficulty at synagogue; she can't follow the service and has no way to talk with the other congregants.
Nevertheless she devotes herself to keeping the Jewish flame alive. Last week, when the aforementioned man and woman got lost trying to find their rendezvous spot, the man wandered around the city before eventually finding his way to the Landaus' home, uncertain what else to do. When Rachelle returned from work she found him waiting in her living room. The panicked woman had e-mailed Rachelle from an Internet café. After calming her down, Landau set up another date for the two of them for the following day.
With reporting by Mark Levenstein.

[Nathaniel Popper is a staff writer for the Forward. Rukhl Schaechter is on the editorial staff of the Yiddish Forward.]

Partial Transcripts: The De-Secularization of Vermont

Partial Transcripts: The De-Secularization of Vermont
As I type this entry, I am standing next to a 22 year-old who works for the rabbi at the Chabad House here in Burlington. Being that I have sadly learned of late that many campus rabbis - who usually head the proverbial Hillel House at universities - are far from Zionistic, this man, donning the full Hassidic outfit, shaking his head at the latest tragedy in London, explained that he was on a trip throughout Vermont to open up discussion on Judaism. He was, simply, a "breath of fresh air."

Doubtlessly, Burlington, the largest city in Vermont at 44,000, has the preponderance of Jews in the Green Mountain State, but since he and I both mused about the ignorance of big city Jews from here to Long Island, he was not concerned as much with them and their practices, or lack thereof. Rather, this genuine man was driving out to the rural areas for discourse and information. I thought that to be a splendid idea. The more rural Jew, the more Conservative, less influenced by the Liberal Elite at the Universities, thus the more open-minded s/he becomes.

Before we ended the conversation, the young gentleman, who hails from Detroit, asked me my job here at the University and was delighted to hear about my class, the objectivity of such and the fact that my students are 75% Jewish. He offered Friday night and/or Saturday services to them.

The Catholic boys and girls in our group go to Sunday services each week. How much do you want to bet that few, if any, of the Jewish students will partake in these important opportunities at the Chabad House?

I need not remind you of their socio-economic status, where they live and their parents' occupations and voting records. These are the sons and daughters of doctors and lawyers who attend Sidwell Friends, Great Neck North and Westfield High, but have Fox News banned by their parents and listen to their IPods when they are forced to visit Israel.

It's so sad the the more education one seems to have, the more ignorant and closed-mined they become.

zrevival: The Real Lawbreakers by Boris Shusteff

zrevival: The Real Lawbreakers by Boris Shusteff
Speaking to the Jewish Agency Assembly in Jerusalem on June 28th, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, "I am very wary of attempts by a small minority of lawbreakers. . . who wish to use force against the IDF and other security forces." Meeting later on the same day with leaders of Chabad, he brought up the issue of the lawbreaking again when said that, "There is a small group of extremists here that is trying to force its will on the nation."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Personal Observation on Recent Visit to Israel and Russia

Personal Observation on Recent Visit to Israel and Russia
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1. Dr Philip Bliss Jul 16, 8:20 pm hide options

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Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2005 10:20:27 +1000
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Personal Observation on Recent Visit to Israel and Russia


As you may be aware we have recently returned from visiting Israel for the World Zionist and Jewish Agency meetings in Jerusalem and the World Union for Progressive Judaism Convention in Moscow and St Petersburg.


I would like to share, briefly, some personal observations with you. I know you have been sent the WUPJ reports on the conference and being lengthy you may not have read through them.


Israel


Without question the situation with the proposed disengagement from Gaza permeates nearly every conversation and activity in Israel. Those against the pullout are vocal and in Jerusalem there are many cars and apartments with orange streamers showing their opposition to Sharon and the Government proposals. Those supporting the government fly blue and white streamers. For some reason some display both! The disengagement debate flowed onto various debates within the World Zionist meetings especially when it came to appointing a new chairman to replace Salai Meridor who was retiring a year early. Prime Minister Sharon put up the very successful mayor of Ra'anana, Zeev Bielski. Nathan Sharansky was put up by World Likud as they both opposed the disengagement and Sharon. The Progressive Movement as part of the 'New Faction' supported Sharon's candidate because not only was he an excellent administrator with a proven track record but there was more chance of him working successfully to re-organise the WZO and Jewish Agency. Sharansky has not been helpful in any way to the non orthodox and if he were to be at logger heads with Sharon over disengagement the WZO and Jewish Agency would have severe problems. Fortunately, Sharansky's nomination was turned down and to huge applause Bielski was voted in for the next year to lead the WZO and JA. Hopefully he will then take on a four year term at next years Zionist Congress meeting.


One of the most interesting sessions we had was actually organised by ARZENU for the Progressive Zionist delegates after shule services at WUPJ headquarters. The theme revolved around a Progressive response to the future identity of Israel, disengagement and speaking up for what we believe. There was very strong support for a two state solution with equal rights for ALL Israeli citizens. It was made clear that unless two viable states were created Israel would not have a Jewish majority and could only then exist in an untenable situation and only by force. By opposing disengagement the very viability of Israel was at risk. The Progressive movement had to speak up for a strong Israel while also seeking equality and pluralism for all of Israel's citizens Arab and Jew alike.


I spoke to several settler families who are fanatical about not giving up land and delight in seeing their children battling with the soldiers who are trying to keep the roads open. The right wing fundamentalism is scary and I will be glad when this Gaza plan in completed as at the moment it has all the hallmarks reminiscent of 1995. I was disappointed to read that the president of our Victorian State Zionist Council has made public statements opposing the policies of the Israel government. This brings the divisiveness to Australia. I never thought I would see a Zionist leader publicly oppose the Israel Government. I cannot see how he can maintain a Zionist leadership role and oppose the Israel government.


The Progressive movement is doing well in Israel and each year moves ahead steadily. I was surprised to see the Conservative Masorti movement fall into deep financial strife and having to sack their executive director. This is not good for the non orthodox movements generally and it would seem sensible to combine our resources for a brighter future. The wonderful educational and social programs of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism will be detailed elsewhere but needless to say we were all very proud of their leadership and commitment.


Russia


After a delightful wedding performed by Rabbi Uri Regev and held at Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem for the daughter of Penny and Andrew Jakobovits ( Penny is the immediate past president of the UPJ), a number of us then travelled onto the WUPJ convention in Moscow. We learned just before leaving that we had all been moved onto another hotel separate to the conference hotel as President Putin wanted 17 rooms for a Chinese delegation! Although our new hotel was in itself delightful it did mean that we had to travel by bus to the meetings. This could take anything from 12 minutes to over an hour depending on the horrific traffic conditions. When Putin goes to work all the traffic in the area comes to a halt. On more than one occasion our bus driver got lost.


Over 400 delegates from all over the world attended the convention and you have been sent details of each day. My overall impression was that the WUPJ having worked on a shoestring for the last 15 years has achieved some remarkable results. There are over 100 Progressive congregations throughout the FSU with 6 Russian born Progressive rabbis. Nearly all the congregations are made up mainly of young people. There is a Machon leadership centre in Moscow that trains leaders and para Rabbis some of whom go onto full training overseas in London and Israel. The machon graduates then go back to their communities and help develop the congregations. The president of the St Petersberg congregation is a 26 year old woman who has a Masters degree in business and commerce and works for a large international bank. Fluent in Russian and English she interpreted later at the induction of their new Russian rabbi, Michael Farbman who was trained at the Leo Baeck College in London. This was a very emotional and moving ceremony and there were many wet eyes around the impressive Hall of Poets.


It was very encouraging to see so many young people attending the Reform services and this is in stark contrast with most of the Chabad congregations. It was very telling when we visited the main (orthodox) synagogue in St Peterberg. It is a beautiful Sephardic style synagogue, recently renovated with funds from a London financier, we were greeted by a young lady who is the shule's official guide and she spoke of the history of this congregation. The rabbi is from Chabad and he determines whether you are suitably Jewish to attend. When asked her if she went to shule she told us that she only went on Purim. This was when Chabad provides free beer!!


It was unclear how the Jewish community celebrated Shabbat during the 'white night' period when sunset is after midnight and it stays dark for less than a couple of hours!


There is a real problem in Russia for the Progressive movement as President Putin has elected a Chabad rabbi as the so called chief rabbi ! He can dictate who is Jewish and who is not ( and of course does not consider the Progressive Jews as real Jews). In many ways he is the typical court Jew with all the distasteful implications that that evokes.


You don't have to scratch very hard to find antisemetism in Russia. The State prosecutor was threatening to bring charges against the Jewish community over allegations that the Shulchan Aruch was racist. World protests caused a change of heart but the mere fact that it was being considered left an unpleasant taste. The situation is not helped by many of the oligarchs being Jewish.


One site visit was to a town called Tula about two and a half hours north of Moscow, although as usual it took nearly 4 hours. This is the home town of Tolstoy but the reason for the visit was to attend the weddings of two couples who wanted to have a Jewish wedding. These were the first Jewish weddings in Tula since 1917. The ceremony was at the Jewish community centre. This is a joint centre that houses both the Reform and Orthodox congregations. The president began the Reform congregation in her home and it grew from there. We were welcomed by the orthodox rabbi of the community and the reform president and then the weddings were performed by Rabbi Joel Oseran director of the WUPJ and the chuppah tallit was held by other Progressive rabbis of the world movement. The two couples appeared very nervous but very excited at the same time. A wonderful four piece band played before and afterwards and I can say that the whole trip was worth it just to be present for this ceremony alone.


The Progressive movement in Russia needs much support especially as our movement is young and mainly made up of young people. Netzer is vibrant throughout the FSU and this summer there will be over 900 attending Netzer camps! There could be a lot more if there was more money to finance them. We had two Netzer leaders from Australia participating in the WUPJ youth programs for the conference and the experience for them was terrific.


Penny Jakobovits and Phyllis Dorey were both presenters at the conference and did us proud. Penny spoke about women in our Progressive movement and Phyllis spoke about our new leadership program. Both gave papers on Progressive Judaism in our region.


The WUPJ leadership changed with the new chairman Steve Bauman taking over from Ruth Cohen under whose leadership the whole WUPJ structure has been completely re-organised. Both Penny and I were elected to the world executive.


Overall a most stimulating convention not without it's problems but at times electrifying with deep insights into some of the challenges facing us today and into the future.


I will be posting some photos on the UPJ web site very soon.


Philip Bliss


Dr Philip Bliss
20 Anderson Road East Hawthorn
Victoria Australia 3123
T 613 9822 2691 F 613 9824 8163
philipbl...@philipbliss.com
www.philipbliss.com
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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Jewbavitcher: Macrobiotics...and Torah?

Jewbavitcher: Macrobiotics...and Torah?
Macrobiotics...and Torah?
[Editor's note: The following story appeared in The Bay News, part of Courier-Life Publications]

By Erica Sherman

Say “so long” to the cholent, kugel and matzoh ball soup at Friday night Sabbath dinner—and “hello” to brown rice, barley and miso soup instead.

Health-smart observers were served food for thought as they examined the mystical forces of the body, mind, memory and imagination’s impact on our health during a “Torah Health Seminar” presented by macrobiotic maven Meir Michel Abehsera at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center (MBJC), 60 West End Avenue.

Abehsera, one of the foremost pioneers of American macrobiotics—who received his boost early on in the form of a blessing from the beloved Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson—conducted a lively discussion in the Jewish center’s dining room and fielded questions from a curious crowd.

Born in Morocco and currently living in Jerusalem, Abehsera related that in 1969, when he went to visit Schneerson at Chabad Lubavitch headquarters on Eastern Parkway, the Rebbe, of whom he was very devoted, handed him a dollar. “This is for macrobiotics,” he said. “Figure it out,” he told the aspiring dietician with a smile.

Abehsera offered his take on a number of subjects, including the latest fashionable health crazes, sugar cravings (“If there is one food that is the worst in the world, it’s sugar”), and dairy (“cottage cheese—it’s invented by the Jews!”), and he urged his guests to, among other things, chew their food.

“People have lost this [ability],” he laments. “The neshama (soul), all life long tries to talk to the body and the body doesn’t listen.”

While the skeptical and the health conscious flocked to hear Abehsera’s ingredients for happy, healthy Torah living, Alan Weinberg, a member of the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, noted that, “This is the first time they’re coming to a format of this nature so they would have to acclimate themselves to this kind of a diet. It’s new to them and they don’t know anything about this because they’re used to eating their meat, their sugars, and this a diet based on whole grains, brown rice, millet, oats, kashi, and salad, with very little animal protein.”

As the soft-spoken but oftentimes funny Abehsera tackled a variety of questions from the crowd about what they should and shouldn’t eat, the holistic healer gently explained to the gathering—among them MBJC’s own Rabbi Asher Vale and President Rubin Margules—that, “the best enzyme in the world is happiness.”

“America has lost laughter, lost happiness—and if you have happiness, you can eat anything you want,” he smiled.

Weinberg, the organizer of the event and himself a subscriber of Abehsera’s teachings, explains that he “is one of the most influential healers of the generation.”

Weinberg first met Abehsera in 1986 while living in Florida. He recalls, “I was involved in the Macrobiotic Foundation in Florida and that was like the mecca of the movement. There’s something very magical about Meir Abehsera.”

After changing his eating habits and studying with Abehsera, Weinberg reveals that, “I felt more centered, clearer…I wasn’t as tense.”

Richard Klinger, 63, also showed some interest in the macrobiotic way of life. The retired pharmacist admitted with a laugh and a shrug that as he gets up there in years, he seems “to be putting on more weight. I’d like to eat food that’s more healthy and nutritious. My cholesterol and triglycerides were high, so I’m willing to try to get on a better diet.”

While he is recognized as one of the healthy lifestyle’s earliest proponents, the website homemaker.org also hails Abehsera as “one of the most dynamic personalities of this era’s ba’al teshuvah movement,” which is a return to Judaism.

And what is the connection between Judaism and macrobiotics?

“There will come a time,” Abehsera explained, “when the body will be more intelligent than the intellect…and maybe, if you’re in the right place at the right time, a good soup is higher than Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).”

Abehsera, a Kabbalist himself, also enjoys studying and quoting the chochema, or wisdom, of the Rambam, more popularly known as Maimonides, less popularly known as Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, the influential 12th century Jewish sage who penned the Guide to the Perplexed, and the Mishneh Torah, the first systematic interpretation of the Torah. The Rambam also served as the prime minister of medieval Egypt’s personal physician and composed a number of books on medicine.

In the tradition of the great medical thinker, Abehsera has written five books of his own: Healing Ourselves; Cooking for Life; Biological Transformations; Our Earth, Our Cure; and The Possible Man, available in most book and health food stores. He has also compiled songs for a CD, one of which he collaborated on with his son in memory of the Rebbe, who died in 1994, and is presently working on completing a full-length film.
For more information about Meir Abehsera, visit http://www.kosherzone.com/abehsera/index.htm or http://www.homemaker.org/shavuos_57/cover.html.

posted by erica at 5/19/2005 08:57:00 P

silberman: Perepetual Money Machine

silberman: Perepetual Money Machine
Perepetual Money Machine
Wouldn't it be nice to have a machine that produces money perpetually?
I mean who wouldn't want a golden purse?
Every time you opened it there was more money inside!

Unfortunately, we are told in our Holy writings that man was sent into this world to work (yeah, I know!).
In the grand scheme of things, our work is of a spiritual nature - not as we sometimes believe of a material nature.

When all is said and done.
When our time in this world is up,
What do we have to show for our labor in the World to Come?
Ofcourse, it must be our work - our deeds and actions in this world!!

---

For those of you who don't believe in talk of the World to Come I want to ask you a question.
No, in fact I want to make you a serious offer!
(I actually read this in a book of stories about Tzaddikim 'Righteous Men')
I am willing to pay each and every one of my readers $100 for their share of the World to Come.
After signing over a contract, witnessed by 2 people (according to Jewish Law), I will give you $100 in return for crediting my spiritual account with ALL the good deeds you have and will perform in your life!!

Sounds crazy right?
Well if you don't believe in a World to Come then it should pose no problem for you - its easy money - I must be crazy right?

However, I imagine most people wouldn't even consider this.
I mean what if there is a life after death?

Let me know if you are interested - silberman6000@yahoo.com
---

Ok. Back to the topic at hand!

If you page down my posts you will see a link to my investment letter.
I've been building a successful portfolio (so far thank G-d) and writing about it every step of the way.

One thing you will notice about my investment style is that I like to buy beaten down stocks!!
That is, when something is out of favor and cheap, I like to pick it up!!
This is called contrarian investing or going against the crowd.
Buying out of favor assets.

And that's exactly the same way I view my spiritual work.
We are down here in this world, surrounded by evil desires and constant temptations.
YET ALMOST EVERYTHING WITHOUT FAIL CAN BE TURNED INTO A GOOD DEED OR ACTION.
The Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe, Rebbe Schneerson of blessed memory said that it has NEVER been so easy to perform G-d's commandments.
Furthermore, never before have we been able to effect so much of the world as individuals.

I mean just think about my website.
The whole concept of me being able to write this to such a large audience - I get over 100 visitors per day - has never ever been possible in HISTORY.
Just think about it, if there is a reward in Heaven for doing a good deed or for performing a mitzvah (G-d's commandment) - which I firmly believe there is - and it is so easy to do, should you not consider doing the same??

Can this not be compared to buying a stock when it is beaten down?
The world at large no longer believes in consequences for our actions.
But we know different, GOOD DEEDS are of immense value.
THE TIME TO BUY IS NOW!!
They are going for an absolute song!!

---
FOOTNOTE:
We are told that when Moshiach comes (may it be soon!) that the world will be frozen in time.
What this means is that you will no longer be able to earn rewards for your positive actions.
Why do you think that is?
The reason is because the effect of our actions will be immediately apparent to us.
The rewards will be obvious.
Conversely nobody will sin because they will see the effects immediately and openly.
Another reason to get working now when the rewards are available.
---

Now I know I will get a ton of e-mails telling me that good deeds should not be performed for one's own rewards.
Yes, that's true. I know these arguments.
But we are also told that a good deed performed for selfish reasons eventually leads a person to performing good deeds lishmah (unselfishly).
Should a person be prevented from building his spiritual bank account because it may be selfish?
Ofcourse not, he should start immediately!

HERE'S WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO:

I want you to consider starting your own website.
Just like I have done, go to www.livejournal.com
Sign up for a free account.
And start writing about your spiritual experiences!!
Begin exploring your Judaism.
Tell people about it.
Believe me, people are HUNGRY to hear about matters of the spirit.
Please by all means use any of my material.
Feel free to offer free tapes or cards or advice from the Rabbi like I do in the top right hand menu.
I AM WILLING TO SUPPLY ANY OF YOUR READERS WITH TAPES, CARDS AND ADVICE FOR FREE!!
So if anyone orders anything from you, send it onto us at silberman6000@yahoo.com and we will happily fulfill it on your behalf!!

Do it even if you think you are an average writer.
People crave to read original honest thoughts!!

If you are a hopeless writer consider other avenues like audio recordings or music or art.
Use any means possible to channel your spiritual energy!
Offer your creative thoughts freely to the world; let them know that there is help out there for them.
Offer FREE JEWISH PROTECTION CARDS, FREE TAPES ON THE POWER OF SPEECH and FREE JEWISH ADVICE!!
(We will help you fulfill these requests for free).
Get your message out by speaking with friends and family, notice boards, bulletin boards, periodicals, search engines etc.
Ofcourse don't break the law and don't shove things down people’s throats in an unsolicited way!!
But I can guarantee you that if your efforts are true and honest; G-d will reward you richly!!
And I speak from experience on that one!!

We stand ready to serve your needs so there is NO excuse not to make YOUR most important investment EVER!
The investment in your own spiritual BLISS.

---

Ok, what’s that got to do with building a perpetual money machine?

King David of blessed memory, pleaded with G-d that his Book of Psalms be read by the Jewish nation for thousands of years.
He knew that the reader would benefit incredibly from G-d's kindness through his words.
But here's something else he knew,
King David knew that by helping others, in this world, he would also receive a spiritual BOOST.
What King David desired more than anything was to get closer and closer to G-d.
Even after he left this world, the soul of King David continues to rise to unimaginable spiritual heights whenever someone reads from his Book of Psalms.
Truly a gift only G-d can bestow!

May we merit to build our own perpetual Spiritual machines by taping into the opportunities I present before you today.
Through our efforts may we encourage people to return to the ways of G-d as outlined in His glorious Torah.

Dina Does Brooklyn!: Catch-up: Part 2

Dina Does Brooklyn!: Catch-up: Part 2

Mendle Moully's Photos

Mendle Moully's Photos

Frumpter: Don't ever tell me Chabad is a cult.

Frumpter: Don't ever tell me Chabad is a cult.
Don't ever tell me Chabad is a cult.

[I'm sorry for starting this entry on such a bad note, and mom -- if you read this, I am sorry for insulting your husband (be happy that this blog is anonymous).]

I have a new family member who has hated Lubavichers since I've known him. This guy doesn't know how to shut his mouth and to exercise a bit of discretion when relieving himself of his need to give his opinion MONTHS after being fought, debated, and most recently and the most current trend, ignored. As if he is a child in diapers with the need to pee, he just lets it out and he feels good and hot and wet until the next time the urge arises. He doesn't realize that like a mosquito that buzzes in someone's ear, one day he is bound to get swatted. I have been very careful what to say to him and what not to say. In fact, I don't think I've ever held my tongue as much as I've held it around this man. I hope the day never comes when I let him have a piece of my mind where I tell him what I think of him.

The topic of his tirade is my religiousness. For a while, he felt inferior that I was living what he used to refer to as "the diamond standard" of Judaism, where one lives his life as a Jew, doing daily what a Jew does. Around a year ago, he began to change his tone when he realized that the end result of my being what he referred to as "a work in progress" would not lead me to becoming more like him. Recently, he has been on this war path with me trying to convince me that Chabad Chassidim are all members of a cult. Playing on my obvious weaknesses and my religious frustrations (i.e. style of dress, abstinence with women, the shidduch system of dating, etc.) like an asshole would, he has twisted the truth into a disfigured and warped picture that could make any onlooker vomit from the disgust for one's own kind his picture portrays. He is a Jew hater and he is a self-lover.

If it weren't for the Torah that I have learned and the simple laws of halacha (Jewish Law) that is the basis of everything we are allowed to do or forbidden to do, I would assert that his logic is correct. Since I have become religious, I was molded into the typical Chassidic Jew. I was influenced to grow a long, uncut beard which I have not trimmed (and I do not intend to trim). I was taught about halacha, the stringencies, and the leniencies. I was also taught about the customs of various tzaddikim (ultra-spiritual religious individuals) whom we follow, and we have a Rebbe who we believe was on a higher spiritual level than most. It is this last point about the customs and the following of a Rebbe that my mother's husband can not understand and will never want to understand. He sees him as an academic Torah scholar and nothing else.

His comparisons objectively of Hasidic Judaism (and more generally in my opinion, all orthodox Judaism) being akin to a cult are dead on. I have been taught to seclude myself from the other sex. I have been influenced to follow a senior authority figure. I have been taught the benefits of subservience of the individual to a higher power, namely bitul (self-nullification) to G-d's will. I have been influenced to dress differently and to separate myself as much as possible from the temptations of the secular world (movies, television, etc.) This is not a set of secret rules for cult members; these are the rules that every religious Jew (even my anonymous friend, JMO, who loves to give me hard answers) are obligated to follow.

The individuals who are in my circle of influence are some of the most religious and morally upright people I have ever met. They are simple, religious Jews. I have nothing wrong with even making the observation that they are the highest quality individuals I have ever met. They are all striving to be the best they can be, and they follow halacha (Jewish law) in a way I aspire to one day be able to. They have a devotion that drives them like I've never seen before.

They live their lives sacrificing their own desires to help others have a closer connection with G-d. There have been many times that my Rabbi has told me that he wishes that he could have a real job that makes a good salary instead of living on donations and fundraising. The Rabbi here in Beijing (I could see it in his face) loved being back in New York with the other forty-five thousand Jews who showed up last week to pay their respects to the Rebbe and to spend their weekend in a little uncomfortable tent next to the graveyard in Queens where the Rebbe is buried. The learning I know that the Rabbi from Beijing, my Rabbi, and all of the other shluchim did last weekend (shluchim, a.k.a. emissaries of the Rebbe are individuals who are sent out to the far corners of the world to build Jewish communities and to provide services such as kosher food, a shabbos meal, temple service, and a friendly hello to various Jews who are spread out across the globe) could not ever be compared to the months of daily learning they do with the simple Jews teaching them the Aleph Bais (Hebrew alphabet) or the concept of Shabbos (the Sabbath). They basically give up their own desires of good learning, and being close to their parents, and they move out and do what needs to be done so that the world does not lose its spiritual richness. These people give everything up so that another Jew will know what it means to be Jewish, and these are some of the kindest and most giving people I have ever met.

Don't ever tell me that they are conspirators in a cult designed to overthrow the Jewish orthodoxy.

posted by Zoe Strickman @ 11:10 PM
1 Comments:

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous said...

I agree with your new family member. Your cult is filled with liars and cheats. They beg and profit for their own lifestyle. They treat woman like cattle and anyone other than people like them are in the wrong. Grow out of it and become a member of the human race.

Women on the verge of thinking: The Meaning of Death and the Nature of Burial

Women on the verge of thinking: The Meaning of Death and the Nature of Burial

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"...I assume the other ones got through as well; after all, we're on a mission from the Rebbe."

Arutz Sheva - IsraelNationalNews.com



Ezra to Katif : It's for Your Own Good
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 / 6 Tammuz 5765

Opposition to the Gush Katif closure: preparations for next week's mass march, and calls for people to continue streaming in. Meanwhile, Minister Ezra says the closure will "benefit" the residents.

Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, one of the signatories on the orders issued today to place a siege around Gush Katif, implied that the closure will help the Katif residents.

Minister Ezra condescendingly explained that the closure will help prevent the entry of “extremist right-wing elements,” and that, “in my opinion, this move is a step towards the residents.”

In response, Gush Katif Mayor Avner Shimoni said, “No one is doing us any favors, and we didn’t appoint anyone to this end. We greet with love and willingness everyone who wants to come to Gush Katif. We feel insulted, hurt and angered at the fact that the government is preventing the residents from reaching their homes in a normal fashion.”

Public opposition to the closure took place today in the form of sharp criticism by public figures, spontaneous protests in Kfar Darom and at the Kisufim Crossing, and continued plans to carry out the scheduled Yesha Council mass march on Monday from Netivot to Kisufim.

Though the planned march is the result of unprecedented unity on the part of many different nationalist organizations, today’s closure has elicited various reactions on the right. The Yesha Council says that its plans for Monday’s march need not be changed at all.

“There’s no need for us to jump around like fish out of water just because the government closed the Gush,” said Ephraim Goldstein of Gush Katif, who is responsible for overseeing Central Region preparations for the march. “The government made this move in response to what we are doing, and we are measuring our steps carefully. We are happy that the government is reacting to us, and not vice-versa.”

Asked how the closure will serve the purpose of bringing down as many families as possible to Gush Katif, Goldstein said, “Families will be able to come in as a result of next week’s march, with G-d’s help.”

On the other hand, some right-wing groups say that people should continue to try to come to Gush Katif even today. “In the time of the British, we found tricks and ways to come to the Land of Israel, and the same is true today,” says Nadia Matar of Women in Green. “Where there is a will, there is a way. No need to elaborate…”

“This doesn’t contradict the Yesha Council plan next week,” she emphasized. “Those who can’t come today or tomorrow should certainly come next week. But we should try to get another 100 families to come by this Shabbat, and they can live in the tent sites in Shirat HaYam, Netzer Hazani, and others.”

Despite the closure, some non-residents were able to get in. Four Belzer Hassidim said they were waved on by a policeman who did not seem to want to check their papers. Upon their arrival in N'vei Dekalim, they were promptly treated to a tour of some of the communities by a willing resident who happened to be on hand, Rabbi Yitzchak Amitai of Atzmonah.

Two Chabad Hassidim related their story: "We have been here for about a week, part of a large group who came to learn here in Yeshivat Torat HaChaim for a few weeks from New York. This morning, a group of around 12 of us were on our way to visit the Machpelah Cave in Hevron when we heard that Gush Katif was closed. So we immediately turned around and headed back. By miracle, we were able to pass two of the checkpoints, but then we were stopped again. So we broke up into smaller groups, and two of us just walked right through. I assume the other ones got through as well; after all, we're on a mission from the Rebbe."