Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Year in Defending the Honor of the Torah: Checking in on UTJ

It's been a year since Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ) joined the government, thus accepting upon themselves the yolk of defending the honor of the Torah.
Have they been doing their job? Let’s check out 5 legislative issues and see how they have been doing:
Issue #1: Supreme Court rules that Rabbanute Mikvaot have to open for Reform converts.
Response: R. Gafni announced that he will advance a bill designed to overturn the ruling, calling it a “serious breach” and saying “the High Court of Justice has declared war on the Torah of Israel.”
Analysis: The reason for opposing the ruling is self-evident: If a reformer dips into a mikvah, it probably makes the whole mikvah passul somehow. But R. Gafni did not go nearly far enough. Because while he may stop the reformers from frequenting official rabbaute mikvaot, what about all the other places they can go? Every ma’yan in the country has to be guarded to prevent such desecration. Not only that, but since according to Igros Moshe  bathing in the sea or the large swimming pool that are built in hotels and resorts, since the majority of them are not posul doreissa therefore the tevila is kosher min HaTorah,” R. Gafni should be passing a law that all swimming pools, as well as all the beaches from Rosh Hanikra to Ashdod must be shut down (of course, this only applies to the mixed gender beaches- there is no concern that a reformer would ever go to the separate beaches). R. Gafni, propose this ban immediately, the waters of Eretz Yisroel depend on you!
Is the Torah’s Honor Defended? No.
Issue #2: Bill put forward by that provides for at least one female representative among the kadis (judges) serving on the courts that rule according to Islamic law
Response: R. Litzman threatened that the UTJ use theright of veto, due to concern that the bill would create a precedent that could be applied to rabbinical courts.
Analysis: Clearly this law is dangerous. If we allow to serve on their courts, than Jewish women may serve on ours, which would mean that UTJ ministers would have twice as many relatives asking them for positions. But once again, they stopped short of what needed to be done. What about other Islamic practices that could creep into Judaism? The Shahida (“La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.”), which is all that is needed to convert to Islam, requires no lengthy classes, tests of arcane knowledge, or full kabbalas ol mitzvos. If we allow this continue, the next thing you know the Tzohar rabbis will be allowing Jews to convert with a simple statement in recited in Arabic as well. We need a kollel dedicated full time to studying sha’ariah law, to see which other rules may pose a threat to the Torah.
Is the Torah’s Honor Defended? No.
Issue #3: Bill put forward that declares “the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its aspirations for self-determination according to its cultural and historic traditions.”
Response: UTJ stated they will oppose the bill
Analysis: Obvious. No mention of Lakewood, Borough Park, or Monsey anywhere in the bill.
Is the Torah’s Honor Defended? Yes!
Issue #4: The High Court of Justice ruled that there cannot be any “deputy ministers with the status of a minister,”  (UTJ traditionally has not allowed any of its MKs to go by the title “Minister”, in order that it not be seen as party to  government decisions the party believes run counter to Jewish law, rather have called themselves “Deputy Ministers” when they run ministries, which obviously solves that problem.)
Response: The Council of Torah Sages decided to permit  R. Litzman to join the cabinet and accept the title of “minister”.
Analysis: The seculars thought they could stop R. Litzman from running the ministry by making him take this title, which for the past 60 years has been considered assur.  But that was before it would cost UTJ a ministry. But now it is mutar! Why? Because the moetzes says it is! That is keen analytical skills that we spend years in yeshiva honing.
 Is the Torah’s Honor Defended? Yes!

Issue #5:  The bill passed by the previous government limiting hareidi army exemptions.
Response: Put forth a bill delaying any measures that would increase chareidi army service.
Analysis: What? Why didn’t they call me about my great reality tv show idea?
Is the Torah’s Honor Defended? No.

Friday, November 13, 2015

But Who is Watching my Cheese?: An Expose’ into the Current Dairy Crisis within the OU

Push the Button!

Rabbi S. remembers the exact day when he realized that there was a problem. He was on a day off from his job as Assistant Supervisory Advisor to the Undersecretary of Field Mashgichim (Dairy Division) at the OU, when he noticed something odd on his computer screen.

At 9:30, his longtime coworker from the daily division, Avrohom Gordimer, posted a blogpost to Crosscurrents.

At 9:32, Gordimer  responded to a comment on the blog.

And again, at 9:34, and :9:35, and again every few minutes, until noon, when he posted yet another blog entry. Each of the entries exceeded 5000 words. Rabbi S. recalls feeling concerned, for Gordimer had been dispatched that day for a very important job:  to activate the rennet feeder for over 3 vats at a cheese factory. If Gordimer was online all day, who was pushing the “on” button on the rennet vat? If he did not do it, the cheese may fall into the category of “gevinas akum” (according to some rishonim).    

Around 300 pm Rabbi S. was relieved to see that an entire hour went by without Gordimer posting. But as he soon discovered, Gordimer was in fact not turning on rennet feeders, rather he was getting his makeup touched up for a photo shoot for a glossy Hareidi magazine. Rabbi S. later determined that the button on the feeder was indeed never touched by Gordimer’s unassailably Jewish hand.  


That there had been issues with the cheese supervision within the OU for some time now is something of an open secret around the mashgiach community, but nobody has spoken to the press about it until now. After days of reporting and a prime number of interviews, a complete picture of unboiled parmesian cheese lines, calf stomach linings, and unpressed buttons appears.


The Cheesehead

Avrohom Gordimer was known for years as one the top 20 cheese mashgichim in the Greater New York area, earning him such nicknames as “The Cheesehead,” “Gevinas Da’as,” “The Munster Rebbe,” “The Big Cheese,” and “Avrohom Farve.”  

“He could do hagala on a cheese line like nobody’s business” Rabbi W., a mashgiach, told me. But even years ago, according to Rabbi W., Gordimer displayed some questionable behavior. Gordimer had a lot to say about non cheese related issues, and was desperate to get his message out. Numerous Kosher cheese consumers lodged complaints with the OU when they found, included with their cheese, hand written screeds against the Nishmat Yoetzet Program, Philosophy professors in Yeshiva University, and Carlebach minyanim.  The OU looked the other way. After all, how many notes could one guy write? But that was before the fateful day that Avrohom Gordimer discovered the internet.



According to many reports, Gordimer was hesitant to blog at all, as none of his rebbes did so (and certainly not the tzaddikim from previous generations). But after much pressure from the Crosscurrents blog, he wrote his first post, “Women Belong in the Kitchen, Unless it’s a Big Industrial Cheese Kitchen, In which Case they are not Allowed and Doing so would Violate the Mesorah.” It was not long before an angry comment by a famous radical open orthodprax feminist was posted on the site. Gordimer replied. The feminist replied. And his cheese supervising skills were never the same.

“I remember the day when his name rose to the second most popular option on the google search autofill for ‘Avrohom.’” Rabbi F., another mashgiach told me. “He threw such a party. Empty cheese spray containers were everywhere. But tell me, whose signature appeared on the packaging? Who wrote the letter on the cover of each individual batch? Who applied the special coded insignias unique to the mashgaich and kashrus to the cheese?”

One oft told story, though yet to be confirmed by hard evidence, tells of a pile of young goat stomach linings in one of the factories for which Gordimer was responsible. Another has the OU being placed on Kraft’s “Bacon Flavored Cheese with Real Bacon Flavor”, whose source was a factory that Gordimer was responsible for “negative supervision”, in which mashgichim are sent to visit the cheese plant when it is making its regular, non-kosher products, to assure that kosher labels are not applied at such times. (Negative supervision is needed for all non-kosher facilities which schedule special kosher productions, but it is more critical in the case of retail cheese manufacturers.)

“I personally have stayed fleishig for over two years straight,” Rabbi W. told me, “Just so I could avoid eating cheese without anyone realizing the real reason- that I cannot trust its hashgocha.”


Closed Orthodoxy but Open Cheese- odoxy?

No one can possibly find fault with Gordimer’s persistent attacks on the open orthodox kofrim with their mishkav zachar and semichas nekeiva. But at what cost? Who is watching my cheese? I am more than happy to expunge evil from the community, but not at the cost of affecting my diet in the slightest way.

As Gordimer puts so clearly in his voluminous writings, Hakadosh Baruch Hu has a specific tafkid for everyone, and it is not for us to step out of our roles. You, Avrohom Gordimer, have clearly been put on this Earth to watch cheese. Please do us all a favor and resume your proper role.       

Saturday, October 4, 2014

New App to Allow for Halachically Permissible Creation of Halachically Problematic Apps

Two orthodox Jewish programmers saw a need. “There are a lot of frum Jews who want to create halachically problematic apps, but feel maligned by the community when they do so,” says “Ch,” (who wishes to remain anonymous).

“There are plenty of programmers who are helping facilitate for people do all types of issurim, but who is helping the programmers themselves?” adds his partner “Sh” (who also wishes to remain anonymous).

For this very purpose, Ch. and Sh. have created the “Moreh Heter App Creator” app, which, they claim, allows programmers to create their own problematic apps in a halachically preferable matter.

“The גרמא function, which enables a 5 second pause between uploading their app to the itunes or android store and its actual appearance there is only one of the features,” Sh. told us. “We also have the עיברי דנהרא  חד feature, which makes their app available in multiple versions so that they will not be עובר  on לפני עור.”

While Sh. and Ch. hope for some financial success from their app, they are primarily doing it to help those in need.
“All because someone wants to break halacha, “Ch. said, “is no reason to make them feel like they are breaking Halacha”.          

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Want to garner lots of LIKES and SHARES?
Want friends to day things like “EXACTLY what I was thinking” and “Good for you for saying what NEEDS to be said”?
Just fill in the…

Instructions: Fill in each blank with one of the three suggested terms found in the parenthesis.
Start being COURAGEOUS today!   

The importance of the recent news about the ________ (financial scandal/sex scandal/new chumrah) in the hareidi world is not because of its impact on ___________(investors/victims/Jewish practice), but because it shows the deeper flaws within hareidi society.
There is no other way to say it other than by clearly stating that Judaism, as it is preached in those circles, does not represent the true values of the Torah. In Hareidi circles, all of the power is concentrated into the hands of ___________ (isolated rabbis/ambitious politicians/zealous masses) as opposed to where it should be, concentrated into the hands of ________________________ (scholarly rabbis/practical leaders/the larger community).

Hareidim claim to represent the mesorah, but Judaism as it was practiced in Europe is _______ (irrelevant/much more similar) to modern orthodoxy today. This is clear from the undisputable fact that Jews in Europe would have had __________________ (no problem/a huge problem)  with ________ (mixed seating/eating kitniyot/texting on Shabbos). Is it clear that the only way to face our current challenges is to follow Judaism _____________ (as it really was practiced/in a new way).
 Halacha is __________ (meant/not meant) to change radically. The dangers of ______________  (adding new rules/applying outdated rules)  at the whims of ______isolated rabbis/the general public) is self-evident.

In truth, most __________ (major hareidi rabbis/common hareidim) agree with this sentiment, but they feel threatened by the _____________  (major haredi rabbis/ common hareidim).
This became clear to me when I heard an inspirational speech by Rabbi ____________________  (Nathan Lopes Cardozo/Dov Lipman/Rick Rubin). Here was a man with __________________  (ordination from a hareidi yeshiva/a beard/no agenda) who was not afraid to speak of the flaws of his community. It took true bravery to say those things with which the entire audience agreed.

It does us no service when we view our Judaism, and our selves, as _________________________ (second class/third rate/fourth place).  As much as it pains me to say it, it is time the Hareidi world owns up to its problems.

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Self- Righteous Accusing the Blogger of Sinat Chinam Talkback Generator            

Saturday, February 22, 2014

תפילה לפורים בית שמש

תוספת לתפילת העמידה ולברכת המזון, הנאמרת ב"פורים בית שמש", כוללת איזכור של הנסים שנעשו ביום הודאה זה

אשר הניא עצת זייפנים, ויפר מחשבות ש"סניקים,
בקום עלינו בן אדם כמו כולם, לשלוט עלינו מעל הקניון,
גזר להחשכיך אורינו, ונתן כספי ארנונינו לגבאים,      
דימה לנפשו לשלוט לעוד חמש שנים, וסיבב בעיר למצוא את ריעיו,
הוא אמץ כח ומצא חן, וגם לקח את האגודה בידיו, 
וגם ידידי מאיר עקבו אחריו, כי הזמינו אותם למסיבת "האח הגדול",
זממו כולם להוסיף קולות, וגילו פנים שלא כהלכה,
חיברו חוברות לתמוך באבוטבול, ומחבר ספרSucker Punch”" גילה את דעתו,
טמן בליבםּ שאין בהם כח לפני ההמון, אז הוסיפו חטאים על חטאיהם ואומרו,
יחזיקו שמות של שֶׁבַע אנָשִׁים בּדירה אֶחָת, לא צריכים לגור שם רק יקרא שמנו ברשימה,
בכח לא היה קול ה', כשהם הדפיסו תעודות זהות בשקר ברחוב שפת אמת,  
לקחו מהקנאים תעודות, והסתירו את פניהם במסכות ובזקנים שירדו ליעד ברכיים,
מסרו את התעודות להמשקיפים, ואמרו שאביהם ואמהם לא ראו ואת בנהם לא ידעו,      
נץ פרח ממטה אהרון, כהן צדק לשרת בקדש,   
שָֹמחנו באומרים לנו בית משפט נלך, ואלי כהן לא וויתר,
ערער לפני דיינים מומחים, ופסקו דין לצדק וּלְשָֹרִים לְמִשְׁפָּט יָשֹרוּ,  
פיהם פתחו כל יושבי הארץ, כי בחירות חוזרות יתקיימו בעירנו,
צדיקים נחלץ מיד פושעים, ואבוטבול צעק שבגץ מחוקים את הדמוקרטיה,
קבעו הבחירות בחודש אדר, זמן ששון ושמחה בכל שנה ושנה,
ראיתה את תפילת ציבורינו, והמזייפים בבית סוהר שמתה,

בית שמש צהלה ושמחה ועדכנו יחד סטטוס חדש,
תשועתם הייתה מבגץ, ותיקותם עד הבחירות הבאה,
להודיע שכל קויך לא יבושו, ולא יכלמו לנצח כל החוסים בך,
ארור העסקנים אשר ביקשו לגנוב בחירותי, ברוך רצ'רד פרס ודוב האמריקאי,
ארור חדש עיתון מפסידי, ברוך שופינג מקומי,
וגם אברהם לוינתול זכור לטוֹב: