Saturday, September 28, 2013

Turning Parents and Children Against Each Other is Unacceptable


     I'm one of several moderators on the Off the Derech Facebook page for people who have left orthodox Judaism. This past Friday, one of our members, Deb Tambor, committed suicide. She was 33 and had left the orthodox community.
     What many don't know is that when you leave orthodox Judaism for the secular world, and you fight for custody of your kids, you don't always win. The ultra-orthodox community turns against you for leaving and then turns your children against you. That's what happened to Deb. The pain and abuse that she suffered at the hands of the community was too great for her to bear and ultimately drove her to suicide. My heart goes out to the friends and family of Deb Tambor. Nobody should ever be put through the hell that she endured. Abandoning Eden, fellow blogger and friend, writes:
Deb was a lovely woman who often posted encouraging words to others struggling with leaving the orthodox jewish religion, and posted about her own struggles. The last time I heard from her was when she was congratulating me for having a child.  And I got to know some details of her life over the years.  How she had several children with an orthodox jewish spouse whom she divorced. How her own father testified against her in the child custody case because she was no longer religious, and she lost custody of her children. How her children were told negative things about her because she was no longer religious, and how they began to treat her with the same disdain shown towards her by her former chassidic community. 
     I know that many will claim that this was an isolated incident. Except that the only thing isolated about this is the fact that it ended in suicide. Women who want to leave ultra-orthodox Jewish communities are often held hostage by motherhood. Being denied access to your children, or having to fight to retain custody is a powerful deterrent to leaving. I know several women on the many forums in which I post, who have been through, or are currently dealing with similar situations. These are good people who want nothing more than to be good parents but without being chained to a community in which they don't wish to belong.
     There is nothing Jewish about turning children against their parents, whether it exists in kiruv circles or in off the derech (off the path of orthodoxy) circles. This extremist madness has got to stop.

UPDATE: I was given permission to repost this Facebook status update from Chaim Levin, who waited to attend Deb Tambor's funeral:

Status Update
By Chaim Levin
We waited all day, we waited most of the night, we said we would wait until whenever it takes, until we can see our friend Deb Tambor off to her final "resting place."

I echo the sentiments of many of my peers tonight who feel distraught and heartbroken after standing for over 10 hours in front of a funeral home in middle of New Square waiting and hoping that someone who knew more than we did would tell us when Deb's funeral would be. The rumors were spreading like wildfire, it was almost as if the locals were having a fun time pulling up to us in their cars and asking us "So, when's the funeral?" And then pulling away with smirks on their faces. We were their exhibit, their game for today, their "action" as many of them so aptly described us foreigners invading their land because we just wanted to see our friend off on her final journey.

Even though most of us ended up leaving before her actual funeral, even and missed her actual burial that of all times took place at 4 o'clock in the morning after we left, I'm proud to have been part of a group that stood proudly and relentlessly albeit right outside the room where Deb's body was being kept until her funeral because that was our way of connecting with her and her final journey.

Some have dared accuse us as people simply turning this into a "media spectacle", charging that Deb's tragic death is becoming politicized in a way that they claim is unfair to her memory. I see this as just another excuse to feed into the horrendous silence that led to someone as kind hearted as Deb to feel like she was too much of a burden on the world, that she wasn't worthy of living anymore. By not acknowledging these tragic events we are doing injustice to her memory and to her legacy, Deb Tambor didn't have to die but the people who were supposed to love her unconditionally turned against her because she chose a different life for herself.

What Deb Endured as a result of those circumstances are enough to drive anyone over the edge; no one's perfect and almost all of us know someone who struggles with depression, and if you didn't until now and are reading this, hi, I'm one of those people; it doesn't make us handicapped, unable to raise children, or live normal lives like so many others do, it just makes us human. The way we support one another is by reaching out and not isolating or judging other people because their struggle is something we haven't experienced or personally understand.

Deb was the epitome of a modest person and never wanted to burden anyone with her own feelings but she was human just like all of us. Whoever dare blame her for her death and refer to her as a perpetrator because of the people she left behind should forever bite their tongues because they obviously don't understand the virtue of empathy and have not walked even one step in her shoes. Deb was first destroyed emotionally and then she was blamed for her death that was brought on by this torment that she had to endure.

I hope that for Deb's sake we'll spend less time arguing over whether we should or shouldn't be talking about this and remember that tonight was a turning point in history. #AfterDeb will always be remember as the time that so many of us stood up as a community with love and acceptance for one another because of what we believed in. #AfterDeb we must come together and do everything in our power to make sure that children will never be ripped away from the arms of their parents by evil forces who value control over what's best for the people involved.
Update to the Update: The burial didn't actually happen at 4AM and is currently going on, as per information from another source, seen at 1:04PM, Monday, 9/30/2013.
Failed Messiah states that
Deb Tambor was allegedly sexually abused by a family member before she left New Square. I'm told that when she told the Sqvere rebbe about the sexual abuse he accused her of lying and was exceedingly mean to her.
Sqvere leadership treated her horribly, allegedly heaping money and support on her ex-husband and demonizing Deb, all in order to make sure she did not get custody of or normal visitation with her children.
Sqvere won that fight, but the demonization of Deb did not stop. Instead, Sqvere rabbis and teachers worked to alienate her children from their mother.

Read Failed Messiah's full post on Deb Tambor here.
Update to the Update to the Update: Read Shulem Deen's "In Death of Ex-Hasid Estranged From Her Religious Children, a Mirror for Trauma of Many: A father reflects on his own efforts to stay close to his children after deciding to live a secular life" in Tablet. This is a very important piece. 
Read this: Ex-Hasidic Woman's Apparent Suicide Sparks Funeral Chaos With Skver Leaders: Deb Tambor Buried Away From New Square Amid Controversy
Haaretz: Writer Allison Kaplan Sommer quotes me in "Routine Emergencies, Online pain and outrage follows ex-Hasidic woman’s suicide."

113 comments:

  1. Deb Tambor did not take her own life. She was murdered. Murdered by a wicked system that takes children away from parents simply because they no longer want to live a religious lifestyle. These men and women endure years of mental and emotional pain as they fight endless custody battles, while their kids are systematically brainwashed and turned against them.

    The cost of leaving these communities has always been high. People risk losing support of friends, family members and even their jobs. This time a precious, innocent young woman has paid with her life. This is unacceptable and as daughters, sisters and mothers, we should be asking ourselves: if there is a god, is this senseless tragedy something he would really want?

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://imacher.blogspot.com/2013/09/for-deb-very-special-eulogy.html

    A very heartfelt post for a girl I barely knew, but it is important for us all to know about her and to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://hayleyamanda.com/2013/09/29/for-deb-for-life/

    my post for deb - hoping others will read and share to spread awareness.

    ReplyDelete
  4. AE updated her post:

    ETA: I've just learned that a young man named Yoeli Speilman, who had grown up chassidic and become modern orthodox, and who was disowned by his family as a result, killed himself the day after yom kippur. I don't even know what to say.

    That world is evil. Subjecting children to it is a form of child abuse, and should no longer be tolerated. Gradual change is impossible; it must be forcibly dismantled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for posting this.
      There is something very wrong when a larger religious community can turn children against parents, turn parents against children who no longer believe as they do, and, in the kiruv world, often cause huge familial upheaval.
      Devorah said above that this is murder. I'd have to wholeheartedly agree.

      Delete
    2. "Forcibly dismantled"? How do you propose that should be done? You reveal yourself so just as bigoted as those you condemn.

      Delete
    3. Shmoo - If you are as frum as you purport to be, why do you use a treyif animal as your avatar?

      Delete
    4. It has nothing to do with frumkeit, which I expect you, being a realist, know full well.

      I have had three pet rabbits over the years. I've also had a cat. And when I was a kid, I had a couple of turtles. Anything else you want to know?

      Delete
  5. Also see "A Mother's Murder" here: http://myderech.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/a-mothers-murder/

    ReplyDelete
  6. I insist that my firmly Orthodox neighbors not use the word "religious" when they describe their religion to me. There is nothing "religious" about this system.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is such a sad story. Thank you for bringing this horrible, yet not unique, situation to light. Ostracizing a parent who goes OTD needs to end now!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Among the most common faith groups in the U.S., Protestants have the highest suicide rate; Roman Catholics are next; Jews have the lowest rate. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/sui_fact.htm?vm=r&s=1#)
    Until you can show a clear causation between the 2-you are just speaking with no actual support for your statements.
    The fact is that one who leaves a religious group (whether it be devout Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, etc... is making a massive life shift and such a shift is very significant and a person who does not make that shift with proper help and guidance, will likely be in a difficult mental state--but don't blame the religion on it? Its definitely not what their followers want to happen to the person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This post is to raise awareness. This young woman did commit suicide and this is tragic. However, the bigger tragedy (and this tragedy is already huge,) is that drawn out custody battles and children who are turned against the parent who leaves the community is a horrible reality for many women (and men) who leave ultra-orthodoxy.
      How would you feel if your parent testified against you in court because you didn't share his/her beliefs? And how would you feel if the same community that your parents were from brainwashed your children against you?

      Delete
    2. I just want to add that there are probably fewer Jews than those in the other religions you mentioned, and so there's a good chance that fewer Jews would mean fewer suicides. Regardless of this, isn't it kind of heartless to say, upon hearing of a death, "well, at least there aren't as many suicides as other religions." I mean, this isn't a competition. If anything, even one suicide is too many.

      Delete
  9. Bec-first off its suicide rate--not total suicides--rate is a percentage, not a total. Second, aren't you practically doing the same thing by condemning orthodox jews? you have said just as many negative statements about orthodoxy as the people who have a problem with non-orthodox lifestyles. Its impossible for a liberal/open minded person to accept Orthodoxy, as its inherently a closeminded world view--Both views cannot coexist. Several of your commenters have referred to raising kids with deep orthodox views as a form of child abuse, because kids aren't being allowed to choose their own views, but inherently, that labeling is just as bad as what may have been done to these women--there is no way both sides can be right--and until you admit that, then there can be no valuable discussion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I stand corrected regarding suicide rates. Thank you for pointing that out.
      As for my negative statements about orthodoxy, (which ones are we talking about?) I believe that my points of view are generally backed up. This post is of a very different nature, again, drawing attention to a peer who committed suicide, and some of her life's unfortunate circumstances. I recently posted in a group that "there are communities who work together to keep children from parents, which may not directly cause one to commit suicide, but certainly serve to antagonize and cause suffering to the parent who is victimized in such a situation." Off the top of my head, I can name at least five women who have fought for custody after leaving the ultra-orthodox world. That's five without even thinking about it. I can name many men who've lost their kids, and many more people who are forced to stay in orthodoxy because, while they don't believe in it, they don't want to lose their kids or family. Certainly leaving the community based on ideological differences, and perhaps going to college, and becoming a professional doesn't sound like a good reason to rally the community against such individuals.
      You mention that my commenters find that raising kids with deep orthodox views is a form of child abuse. I'm assuming you're talking about comments about brainwashing kids against their parents. Raising kids in a way that turns them against anyone holding differing views is wrong. We're not talking about teaching kids that murder or stealing is wrong. This is about teaching that a skirt that falls too short, or has a slit, or socks weren't worn, or a collar bone was sticking out, or more than a tefach of hair was shown renders a woman a sinning whore who brings shame, death, disease, and all sorts of terrible things to her community. Or teaching that all non-Jews are evil and hate them. It's not so much that children cannot choose their views, as it is that they are kept ignorant of the rest of the world, and often denied adequate education opportunities to better themselves.
      In this case, I'd have to agree that both sides cannot be right. A parent who leaves orthodoxy should not be judged based on her (or his!) religiosity, but rather on his/her abilities as a parent--without the community (and one's own parents!) coming together to testify against this person, to keep her from her children.

      Delete
    2. Bec---the point you seem to be either ignoring or unable to comprehend is that in a world where the spiritual world is just as important as the physical, then killing someone vs. destroying their soul are not equal but to those who believe in the soul, in this way, then destroying the soul is much worse than murder, as it lasts for eternity. You are using your moral system to decide that murder is the worst thing possible, child abuse is very very bad and things like a modesty, or sexual relations outside of marriage, are just not accepted in their society, rather than facing the reality that immodest clothes, sexual relations, eating non-kosher food, etc.. all have damage to one's soul and that damage can be inflicted on the children as well. How can you or anyone who doesn't believe in the power or an after life, the way these people do, try to tell them that their responses are wrong--put yourself in their shoes, pretend you understand that they believe the impact to be eternal, and then try to come up with some form of a compromise that works? Its not as easy as you make it out to be.

      Delete
    3. I totally get it. In fact, I think I taught this lesson years ago. Is it fair to judge non-Western cultures by Western values? In the case of my topic, my classes usually decided that it wasn't fair--however, we were studying literature of other countries that took place in those countries. In this case, we're talking about a culture--one of various Chasidic sects--and their belief system and how different it is from, perhaps, a secular or non-(ultra) orthodox point of view. They see things very differently, yet they use the secular legal system to their advantage. I'm not sure that, even if it could be considered playing by the rules, is ethical, but yes, to them it is. That doesn't make it right or ethical.
      They may believe that the spiritual is more important than the physical, but again, that doesn't make them right, or ethical in their dealings.
      I'm not looking to change these communities. I don't expect that they'll change unless people inside organize because they feel it's time to change. But people on the other side should know what goes on.

      Delete
    4. How can you say that they are not right or ethical? Right in this case is subjective and ethics are also subjective. In their view/belief system they are both right and ethical. You are placing your beliefs and values on them and complaining that they are doing the same to these mothers? Seems rather hypocritical to me.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous - If you had the courage of your convictions you'd post under your real name.

      Delete
  10. For you and many of the posters on this site, there is not the same understanding of a spiritual world, a neshama, a world to come or any of these metaphysical concepts. There is only this world here, and what happens here. Therefore, when one causes damage in this physical world, in the name of the spiritual world, you have every right to be upset. However, for those orthodox jews, who truly believe and know that there is a world beyond this one, that is much greater than this one, then to them, the damage being caused by having a non-Orthodox parent in their child's/grandchild's life, is even more damaging then any physical abuse imaginable. If you were to place yourself in that view point for a minute, you would understand, even if you didn't agree with, the reasons why relatives who choose to no longer be orthodox, are treated so poorly. As an orthodox jew, I understand that there was no such thing as a world to come, or a soul the way that Torah World understands it, then you would be 100% correct in your complaints and everything you are saying. However, I know (you might say believe) there is a world to come and a Neshama and as a result, the potential damage being inflicted on these kids by parents who choose to no longer be orthodox is much greater then anything you can imagine. Its not something that will cause them problems in this life, but for eternity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This metaphysical world beyond which you speak of isn't predicated on adherence to manmade commandments most of which derive from a variety of ancient belief systems. Matan Torah didn't literally happen. Our place in the metaphysical world after we die is not dependent on Shabbos observance nor on whether or not we eat treif. It is all false. If it gives you pleasure to keep customs that Jews have kept for thousands of years in some shape or form, by all means do so. But those customs are binding on no one and do not affect anyone's soul save for making them feel connected to previous generations should they choose to do so.

      Do address us as though we are ignorant. We have, in full conscience, rejected the guilt-ridden, OCD-laden notion of binding mitzvot.

      Delete
    2. Chananechama,
      You are welcome to your opinion--but the fact remains the Orthodox Jews believe Matan Torah happened and its literal. Furthermore they believe that our place in the metaphysical world is dependent on Shabbos, Kashrut and mitzvot. Therefore, to ignore that view when discussing what an orthodox jew thinks or why they do things is just foolish. Once you add the Soul and the view of how mitzvot observance affects thing--it changes the argument. Its not to say whose right and whose wrong--but rather I'm trying to point out that you are not talking the same language. Much like non-orthodox jews want Orthodox jews to use their structures --Non-orthodox Jews must at least try to understand why it matters that a parent is no longer observant and what impact that might have on the child's neshama. To dismiss it so blatantly as you do above, makes you at least as bad as the people Bec is complaining about.

      Delete
    3. How dare you assume that your made up spiritual damage is worse than physical abuse. Ask any abused child and they will tell you they'd gladly have lived with anyone other than their abusive parent. They'd probably beg someone to take them out except in communities like yours, they would rather let the abuse continue as long as it is done by good frum people.

      Nice to know Torah observance covers abuse. Sick twisted set of beliefs.

      Delete
    4. Once again---your lack of comprehension of a spiritual world, is proof the lack of acceptance and understanding of non-Orthodox Jews of the Orthodox World. Your statement that its "made up spiritual damage" makes you a true bigot. I did not say anything about child abuse being acceptable--but rather pointed out that everyone on this blog is ignoring the existence of a metaphysical reality, because none of you believe it. So how can you have a fair and balanced conversation without accepting their beliefs to possibly be true. That would be like a Environmental pollutor not believing in Solar Warming, or Destruction of the Ozone Layer and then dismissing anyone who has such beliefs as made up. A true liberal would accept the premise of their argument as possible true and try to work within that context. A bigot would not--its clear where you fall

      Delete
    5. Christians know (you might say believe) there is a world to come and a Soul and as a result, the potential damage being inflicted on kids by parents who choose to not teach their children about Jesus is much greater than anything you can imagine. It’s not something that will cause them problems in this life, but for eternity.

      Yet Christians who tried to convert Jews, who took Jewish children from their parents in order to save their souls from eternal damnation in Hell are (rightly) condemned in the Orthodox and wider Jewish communities.

      I know that frum people don’t see themselves as equivalent to Christians. I know that suggesting to the members of the communities that keep OTD parents from their children that they are behaving in exactly the same way as Christians who took Jewish children to be forcibly baptized would be met with denial and anger: after all, it’s different. The Christians are wrong, and Orthodoxy is right.

      It’s that myopia and that unfounded certainty that’s the problem.

      The pain caused by separating a parent from his or her children is something that everyone can agree is real. The horror of a suicide is something that everyone can agree is real. The immorality of forcibly separating competent parents from their children for religious reasons is something that everyone, including the most right-wing frum communities, agrees is immoral – except when it’s them doing the separating. Then they hold it’s justified.

      A rebbe of mine in high-school told me the following story: There was once someone watching the proceedings in a court. A man came in and complained that his neighbor’s cow had gotten into his garden. The judge ruled that the neighbor had to pay for the damages. Later in the day, another man came in with the same complaint, and the judge ruled that the neighbor wasn’t responsible. The observer approached the judge at the end of the day and asked what the difference between the cases was. The judge replied, “In the second case, it was my cow.”

      The frum community doesn’t get a pass just because it’s their cow.

      Delete
    6. As a religious Jew, I have no doubt I have much more in common with a devout Christian, Muslim, etc.. then I do with the secular jews on this board. While I dont agree with their theology--the fact that they act based on a belief in God which permeates their existence is something I respect----I'm not suggesting that children be removed from their parents--but I'm pointing out that when 2 parents get divorced and one leaves the community--there is no compromise that works for the kids--its pick 1 belief system or the other--you can't have both--and if the parents had the children in 1 system--it would be unfair now that one parent is leaving that system to make the kids change--therefore the parent that is leaving, may not be able to have the same relationship they would want, if they were staying in that belief system
      If we reversed the situation, everyone on here would agree that 2 non-orthodox parents that get divorced, and then the father becomes orthodox and tries to make his kids orthodox, thats not right--so why is it the reverse is seen as acceptable? The answer--because everyone on this board is anti orthodox. They are not morally neutral or doign whats fair or right. The goal on this board is to attack the orthodox.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous - Can you provide me with an iota of historical evidence of Matan Torah or the Exodus? The mitzvot have nothing to do with spiritual enlightenment and everything to do with maintaining a separate identity and protecting a culture.

      Delete
    8. G*3 , you've won the OTD internet.

      Delete
    9. AnonymousSeptember 29, 2013 at 10:18 PM
      You stated: "So how can you have a fair and balanced conversation without accepting their beliefs to possibly be true. That would be like a Environmental pollutor not believing in Solar Warming, or Destruction of the Ozone Layer and then dismissing anyone who has such beliefs as made up. A true liberal would accept the premise of their argument as possible true and try to work within that context. A bigot would not--its clear where you fall."

      So, if you were to have a discussion with a Jew for Jesus, or maybe a Holocaust denier/revisionist, do you accept their beliefs as possibly being true? I'm just curious.

      Delete
    10. No--but I also admit that as an Orthodox Jew I have Bigoted Views. My belief system is based on God and what I know/believe God says and wants from me--therefore, i dont have to worry about whats fair and balanced, because nothing I do is based on my own views or what I think is right. I have a higher power that sets the standard for me. As all Orthodox Jews do. However, the flaw with your system is that every blogger on this site has their own view and there is no basis for it, except what each of you think is right. If you were to set a standard for whats correct, you would inherently be admitted you were a bigot. however, unlike me, whose bigotted views are based on my belief in God/Torah, yours are based on your own intellect, which makes you no better then racists or bigots you are so much against

      Delete
    11. AnonymousSeptember 29, 2013 at 10:27 PM
      You stated: "If we reversed the situation, everyone on here would agree that 2 non-orthodox parents that get divorced, and then the father becomes orthodox and tries to make his kids orthodox, thats not right--so why is it the reverse is seen as acceptable? The answer--because everyone on this board is anti orthodox. They are not morally neutral or doign whats fair or right. The goal on this board is to attack the orthodox."

      First of all, never in this post did I state that the Deb Tambor intended to make her children leave orthodoxy. It was stated that she had left orthodoxy and that she fought to retain custody of her children.
      Secondly, I always wonder (and have even posted about this) why, when a person disagrees with something in the orthodox world, they are deemed anti-orthodox? Are people not allowed to have different points of view? Perhaps you can shed some light on this subject.
      Third, if you think that "the goal on this board is to attack the orthodox," as you've stated, perhaps you should try reading the blog's header and description, and some of the other posts in order to make an educated statement regarding the goal of this blog. Please feel free to write up and submit your summary. Thanks!

      Delete
    12. " . . . unlike me, whose bigotted [sic] views are based on my belief in God/Torah."

      Here's some unsolicited advice. When you come across a posuk or ma'mar chaza"l that appears to be racist and/or bigoted, tell youself: "I do not yet understand this in a way that isn't wrong." And then look for that way.

      Delete
    13. > I'm pointing out that when 2 parents get divorced and one leaves the community--there is no compromise that works for the kids--its pick 1 belief system or the other--you can't have both

      Believe me, I know. My wife is frum, I’m Orthoprax. We could each do our own thing, but the kids have to be raised one way or the other.

      So perhaps the non-frum parent should agree to feed the kids kosher food and not take them to the movies on Shabbos. Fine.

      That’s a world away from conspiring to prevent an OTD parent from having contact with his or her child, or demonizing the OTD parent to his children in the way much of the frum world demonizes everyone who leaves.

      > however, unlike me, whose bigotted views are based on my belief in God/Torah, yours are based on your own intellect, which makes you no better then racists or bigots you are so much against

      I don’t think that “bigot” means what you think it means.

      Bec:
      > why, when a person disagrees with something in the orthodox world, they are deemed anti-orthodox?

      For the same reason that nutty Christians think that saying “Happy holidays” is a War On Christmas.

      Delete
    14. If we could win the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terrorism, we can certainly win the War on Christmas! Muwahahahaha!

      Delete

    15. Thanks, G*3. Good point: "> why, when a person disagrees with something in the orthodox world, they are deemed anti-orthodox?

      For the same reason that nutty Christians think that saying “Happy holidays” is a War On Christmas."

      Shmoo Snook:
      I guess we're doomed!!!!! :)

      Delete
    16. The terrorists had Carlos. We need the Grinch.

      Delete
    17. Bigot: a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
      I am bigoted against None-Orthodox Forms of Judaism as they are a perversion of God's Torah.
      Most of this board is bigoted against Orthodox Judaism because they don't like the views it has.
      However--my views are based on my belief/knowledge of Torah and God
      What are your beliefs based on?

      Delete
    18. Your beliefs appear to be based on a child's understanding of G-d. Your attitudes, well . . . as Abbie told Judge Hoffman, it's Jews like you who get Jews like me thrown into ovens.

      Delete
    19. P.S. Not a single Orthodox Jew I know (and I know a LOT) spells it out in English instead of using "G-d." I don't believe you are what you are holding yourself forth as.

      Delete
    20. Shmoo Snook - Bzzzt. When I was Orthodox, I wrote it out as "God". Stop with the shibboleths and "no true scotman" arguments.

      Anonymous - are you really arguing that a big group of people's cult of a partially ancient book is more indicative of God's will (assuming there is such a thing) than my use of my intellect to deduce the nature of the universe? Really? Because that seems a tad silly. "All these people are Orthodox so they MUST be right!!!!! You all kofrim are just doing what little old yous believe!!! Therefore, you are wrong!!!"

      So, tell me this then: why do camels appear in Bereishit yet there is no archaeological evidence for the domestication of camels until well after Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov would have existed according to Torah chronology? I'll answer for you: because these legends were written down after 1000 BCE (prob closer to 700 BCE). Why also is there no archaeological evidence for the exodus of a million people from Egypt? Answer: because a million people didn't leave Egypt ~1200 BCE. Addendum: Why would a million people leave Egypt to run to Canaan which was, at the time, ruled by...wait for it...Egypt? Hmmm?

      Delete
    21. Then you were the exception, chana, as I'm sure you're well aware, so stop being disingenuous. By the way, leaving aside the nature of the beliefs themselves, you are every bit a match for Orthodox "believers" when it comes to arrogance. Just sayin'.

      Delete
    22. Sorry I'm not slinking away from the frummie party, Shmooster. I have some anger over years of OCD courtesy of chareidi Judaism. I happen to agree with bec that kiruv does more harm than good especially now that the chareidi Judaism most kiruv organizations represent is moving further to the right - more misogyny, please!

      Oh, and thanks for the ad hominem without addressing anything of substance in my post. High five!

      Delete
    23. Sorry your experience was so miserable. I have had my own unpleasant ones, due in no small part to discovering that some -- not all -- respected leaders of the frum community are out-and-out right-wing racists and not the least bit apologetic about it.

      There was nothing of substance in your comment for me to address, since it consists of the same anti-Orthodox blah-blah-blah we've all seen and heard so many times. Other than the bit about "G-d", your comment wasn't even addressed to me, was it? Up high! Down low!

      Delete
    24. > Bigot: a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
      > Most of this board is bigoted against Orthodox Judaism because they don't like the views it has.

      No.

      Re-read the above two lines. Disagreeing with a given group, even condemning certain practices of that group, is not the same thing as utter intolerance of that group or their beliefs.

      Delete
    25. Shmoo - I hear you on the unapologetic racism. It was my first raised eyebrow after I frummed out. And, no, my comment wasn't addressed particularly to you. Peace.

      Delete
  11. Do you ever stop to consider the effect on children raised jointly by their parents in a certain belief system and lifestyle, when one parent abandons those beliefs and that lifestyle? When that parent wants to remove them from their community, their school, their friends, and raise them in what is, to them, an alien environment? I get the sense that you, and some of those who comment here, do not.

    If you believe that badmouthing the absent parent is substantially more prevalent on the part of the parent who remains observant, you are deluding yourself.

    The stresses on both the parents and the children when a marriage ends this way are enormous. I speak from experience. My ex-wife and I split up when my children were 9, 8, and 6 years old. Together we had raised them in an observant home and sent them to Orthodox schools. The judge understood the importance of continuity and stability regarding these, with the result that I was given physical custody, and my ex and I shared legal custody. We both had to swallow bitter pills. And in the end? Children grow up and they make their own choices. My sons -- 32 and 30 now -- both have strong sense of Jewish identity but are entirely non-observant, and I don't love them any less for that. My daughter, at 33, is still Orthodox but wears her sleeves somewhat shorter and does not restrict herself to Cholov Yisroel. And I don't love her any less for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is no reason why compromises and agreements cannot be made with regard to raising children when divorce happens. Obviously, you and your wife still agreed, and raised your children according to your shared views. Isn't it possible to reach a middle ground in cases where there's a difference in belief?

      Delete
    2. Chalav stam is not absence of adherence to kashrut. Many have argued that Chalav Yisrael is a chumrah.

      As for your sons not being observant, I guess the system didn't work for them. Which is why parents in some insular communities alienate the other parent. They will view your family as a cautionary tale. Oh, he didn't keep his kids from his no longer observant wife and look what happened! His sons are not frum and his daughter wears short sleeves!

      Delete
    3. You make it sound like its not a big deal, but sadly if Orthodox Jews are correct in their beliefs, then unfortunately his children will be suffering for eternity and his wife will be to blame. While that may not matter to you, it matters to many others
      And regarding Chalav Stam--according to many Jewish Law Authorities its not a chumrah (stringency) but rather the basic halalcha, it just happens that the most prominent rabbi in American History, did allow for the leniency in certain circumstances but not everyone agrees

      Delete
    4. It depends.

      By the time my ex left Judaism completely a couple of years later, we shared progressive political and social views and a belief in the importance of a comprehensive secular education, but not much else. My children share these views to this day. (Talk about nachas fun kinder . . .)

      But there are things on which no compromise is possible. An observant father, for example, cannot agree that when the kids are with Mommy, they can eat at McDonald's, go to a movie on Shabbos, etc. My ex-wife understood this. She had special dishes,silverware, and cooking utensils for the kids, etc. I am tremendously thankful to her for this.

      What happens, though, when the non-observant parent insists, for example, on the right to feed non-kosher food to the children, or to interfere with their observance of Shabbos or Yom Tov? It would become a nightmare for parents and children alike. (I emphasize again that I'm talking about a situation in which the parents together raised the children in observant home prior to the split.)

      Delete
    5. "Many have argued that Chalav Yisrael is a chumrah."

      That is incorrect. R. Moshe gave a heter for Cholov Stam based on government inspection. At the end of his t'shuvah, he said, "Those who, despite the heter, restrict themselves to Cholov Yisroel -- blessings upon them."

      Delete
    6. "[I] Orthodox Jews are correct in their beliefs, then unfortunately his children will be suffering for eternity and his wife will be to blame."

      This isn't true from an Orthodox theological perspective. Moreover, in my opinion, it reflects a rather childish notion of the Infinite.

      Delete
    7. This is not the place to discuss R' Moshe's Heter but it wasn't a blanket heter. It was written with regard to a expense of Cholov Yisrael in out of town communities-

      Delete
    8. That's the situation R. Moshe addressed in the t'shuvah. That doesn't mean his determination is limited to that particular town or its economic realities.

      Delete
  12. Why do you always bash the orthodox community before you do your research

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's from the Orthodox community! And with abuse cover-ups, the chaining of women to marriages they need and want out of, and the turning of children against parents, there is plenty bash!

      Delete
  13. Why are a bunch of fundamentalist ultra orthodox Jewish crazies reading this blog? Doesn't your rabbi prohibit you from reading reading opinions different than your own?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No--the overwhelming majority of Rabbis and Orthodox Communities are much more open then the image that is being portrayed on this site.

      Delete
  14. Really? How about you give us the names of those open minded rabbis? God knows, I can't find one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure--what specifically would you like the Rabbi to be open minded about--I know many many many many open minded orthodox rabbis. But what specific issues are you referring to? Besides merely reading the internet? What city and state would you like to meet an open minded rabbi from?

      Delete
    2. "How about you give us the names of those open minded rabbis?"

      How about you give us the names of those you've tried and rejected?

      Delete
  15. Well, for one thing I'd like free access to the internet, including porn. I'd like a subscription to People Magazine and Playboy. I'd like permission to masturbate. I'd like to attend a real college, not Touro or Lander. And I'd like them to stop recruiting secular college students.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for clarifying your concept of "open minded" in the context of Orthodox rabbis. Troll.

      Delete
  16. I think that what many people forget is that whether two people are married or divorced, there necessarily must be compromise on how one raises the children. I salute the father who worked with his ex wife to raise the children equitably, and the mother who despite her own lack of observance did not force this on her children and helped them to keep kosher and shabbat in her home. I spent many years as the frum spouse to a non-religious husband and he supported me all the way in my observance, but I didn't force my observance on him. I am no longer frum, but this had nothing to do with my husband, more to do with my own intellectual quandries, and we still have different philosophies/theologies that we each want to share with our children. We have core values that have been and always will be important to both of us, which is why I married him in the first place, he is a true mentsch and I saw past the lack of ritual observance. No one is going to hell, god forbid, for treating a fellow human being with respect and compassion. No one is going to hell for eating treif/breaking shabbat. A loving just god cares more about how we treat one another than what we do for god.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well put, Suzanne. I am still observant, but over the years my core belief has evolved. It is this: When our time on this plane of existence is over, what will matter is not how far we've come or what we've brought with us, but rather how much effort we made to ease the journey of others along the way. The key is compassion, and if we show it only to those who are like ourselves, that is not true compassion. If we are picky about to whom we show compassion, we invite G-d to be picky, too. To be a racist and a bigot -- as far too many in my own community are -- is to spit in the face of the Creator.

      Delete
  17. Actually Shmoo Snook, you are the troll. The people being recruited by kiruvniks mostly believe that People Magazine, Playboy, masturbation, and attending real college is just fine. So do their parents. Only an arrogant egomaniac cult leader would worm his way into a college student's life and drag him into the world of ultra orthodoxy. That is the vile practice I abhor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does it say something about your society that you think Playboy magazine and going to College are the same? FYI--very few Orthodox Jews go to Touro, and what makes Touro any less of a college then the 1000+ colleges in America that were founded by different religious groups? (BYU, Georgetown, Harvard, etc...)

      Delete
    2. There is no coercion involved, unless you consider the food at a Shabbos meal too addicting for a person to resist.

      Anyway, I invite other readers here to read my comments and those of this particular "Anonymous" (you'll know them when you see them), and decide for yourselves which of us is a troll. No need to state your conclusion here.

      Delete
  18. Touro College is a third rate college, if that. Shmoo, pull your head out of your ass & read the facts about kiruv. This entire blog is about exposing kiruv lies, deception and manipulation. Making a blanket statement about there being no coercion with kiruv just makes you look ignorant and stupid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No longer going to respond to the comments of such a putz. Ba-bye now!

      Delete
  19. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    ReplyDelete
  20. its a very sad story. now there are children that wont have a mother. sad for her and her children.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As always when an individual commits suicide, a lot of attention is diverted to blaming institutions, secular and religious beliefs, the lack of Torah mitzvot and the eternal struggle trying to convince your fellow that your view is the correct one; actually if you can shove it down their throat, it will make you feel good for a couple of minutes after you think you've won a battle defending your beliefs.

    Yet, after all this, a woman is still dead and her children have been orphaned from their mother. Regardless of your beliefs or where you come from, regardless if your parent is OTD or Orthodox, they still need to be treated with respect and dignity. Your parents gave birth to you, raised and took care of you when you were most vulnerable and offered you what they were able to offer. For this, they merit appreciation and respect, regardless if they are religious or not. Whatever your beliefs are, disrespecting these very facts and discrediting them shows a huge arrogance and a fatal approach to life, if you are secular, and disrespect to God and His creation, not to say utter contempt, if your are religious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for writing this, Razvan. I wish I had.

      Delete
    2. going otd is just as cruel, they do not care about the anguish and pain of their parents, spouses, siblings, friends and even children, just because they want their own way, isnt that selfish ? so why should the spouse or the grandparents of the children just give up their right for bringing up the children in their way ? i do not understand this whole debate. this is indeed a very tragic story, but there was nothing wrong done by the family. period. they did not turn against her to cause her pain and pressure, they just wanted the children, and i am plenty sure that the parents shed many many tears for her during all those years and now after her death, much more then all the people here online

      Delete
    3. Thank you, Razvan. It's very sad that so many people commenting have missed the point of the original post, and instead became defensive. Rather, they should be asking how this can be prevented in the future and seeing Deb's death for the tragedy that it is. The fact that they cannot, speaks volumes.

      Delete
  22. They "just" want the children? Like what's the big deal? Ultra Orthodox Judaism does not own people's children. Parent child relationships should supersede religious relationships. Children belong with parents, not with a fundamentalist church. Whether ultra orthodoxy separates children from OTD parents or by kiruv telling children they do not have to respect or keep relationships with "non-religious" parents, it's wrong. It is absolutely WRONG. Even more so for a religion that claims to by all about family.

    ReplyDelete
  23. its the fathers children just as the mothers, why should the father not fight for his right to raise the kids as he desires the same way she fought for it ? taking away the children from him is just as a tragedy as taking them away from her. and above all, this situation was not his choice. just a little common sense.

    ReplyDelete
  24. FYI: An update to the original post was made.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Please note that the reverse of this happens too. When a secular Jewish family has a daughter who becomes religious, they get together to take that child from the daughter too - so this has more to do with communities and family standards than it does with religion IMO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But thats not as big a problem, because you are removing the child from the fanatic parent, who is trying to brainwash the kids. All these religious people are just brainwashing with the made up beliefs.

      Delete
    2. > But thats not as big a problem, because you are removing the child from the fanatic parent, who is trying to brainwash the kids.

      It is absolutely just as big a problem. Most people in the frum community lead happy, fulfilling lives - just like most people in any community. Separating a child from his parent because you disagree with the parent's beliefs is despicable, whether it's a chassidishe community keeping children from an OTD parent or a secular family keeping children from a BT parent.

      Delete
  26. It also happens with barely adult children who are deceptively swept into religion by kiruv organizations. They brainwash the child into abandoning their family, friends & communities, convince them to marry withing the ultra orthodox sect that recruited them, and to breed like rabbits. The entire family of the BT is excluded from the life of their child and grandchildren because a fanatical ultra orthodox religious group brainwashed the BT.

    I have never heard of a secular family using the courts to remove grandchildren from their brainwashed child, but I really hope you're right and that this becomes the expected response to kiruv.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Deb was destroyed She was not emotionally able to handle such hatred :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nobody should have to be put through such hell.

      Delete
  28. The truth needs to be told - I think most posters here might be missing an important point:

    This isn't a story about treatment of "OTD" members of the community.

    New Square / Skver acts this way to ANYONE that...

    1) Once belonged to the community, and ...

    2) Dares to publicly express doubts about their false version of Orthodox Judaism.

    It his nothing to do with going OTD. Really.

    They did the same parental alienation thing to me - a STILL 100% ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEW.

    I was punished for getting disgusted by the ongoing moral lapses, financial shenanigans and deceptions that constantly go on in the upper echelons there. I knew what was going on, since at the time I was affiliated with several of their organizations and - at one time - a confident of the Rebbe.

    I knew that the Rebbe was (and IS) a fake, because he supported - and continues to support - frightening ethical & moral lapses, INCLUDING SERIOUS HALACHIC AND HASHKAFIC LAPSES.

    When I refused to stay silent, a campaign of demoralization, deception, dehumanization, and "gaslighting" followed.

    They're experts at "blowing off" any concerns that don't fit their agenda, and making you feel like trash. Tearing families apart? Fair game.

    There is nothing sacred in their book, once you dare to expose their failings. They will do EVERYTHING to demolish you, including spreading false rumors of the worst kind.

    Ms. Tambor writes:
    My very own father,
    Not only has he betrayed me
    He made up lies

    They betrayed me, too - BECAUSE I REFUSED TO STAY SILENT!

    Many INSIDERS feel as i do, but that would never dear to speak up, because they know that their social life would be DEMOLISHED.

    So... let's call a spade a spade, ok?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yokel,
      I want to thank you for commenting and stating all that you have. I know that even talking about these experiences publicly, even with a pseudonym, takes a lot of courage, so thank you. It's horrible that you were put through such hell.
      I also want to thank you for writing about the community of New Square. Many readers probably know very little about this community and how it operates, and I want to thank you for providing more insight that only an insider can have. Many of us are shocked at what Deb Tambor was put through, and have no idea of the magnitude of the problems within the community--even for those who never go off the derech and who never plan to leave orthodoxy. I applaud you for speaking up in this forum, and I hope you'll continue to speak up in order to educate people about what really goes on.
      I hope you'll one day have the strength to tell your story.

      Delete
    2. Oh, man, Yokel. I could tell you stories . . .

      It shakes a person's world when he becomes acutely aware of deep hypocrisy in those he's been led to believe are spiritual exemplars. When you confide such experiences with somebody you trust, the response is often, "Well, there are people like that in every community" -- as if chassidishe yidden can't be expected to have higher moral standards than the general public.

      I'll give an example: I live in Chicago. In the early 90's (I don't know about now), there was a scheme that relied on the fact that depositors at a bank had the first shot at shares of stock if the bank went public. They could then benefit from the initial "bump" in the price. I got a call from a rov out East offering to pay me to go open an account with such-and-such bank and send him the passbook, for which task I would also receive a percentage if that bank went public and profit was made on the shares. I said, "Look, I don't live or work anywhere near that bank. They'll see my address and ask me why I want to open an account there."

      His answer: "Tell them that you have clients in the area and want the convenience of having a bank account nearby." In other words: LIE. And because I was in dire financial straits at the time, I did it. It literally nauseated me, and I couldn't get out of that bank quick enough.

      A person is faced with a horrible choice: between staying silent in the face of it and remaining in the community, or speaking up, knowing that, as you say, your social life will be demolished and your ties to that community will be severed. I guess it comes down to deciding which is more important -- staying a member of that community or maintaining your self-respect.

      Of course, it doesn't mean that person has to chuck the whole thing. You haven't. I haven't (though there are some things I have chosen to be meikil on myself about). For me, choosing no longer to associate myself with that part of my community didn't involve moving away physically. In the case of New Square, I suspect, it pretty much has to. I'm sorry.

      Delete
    3. Shmoo - I somehow missed this post of yours before.

      I'm obviously with you on this 100%. I choose to keep my self-respect, although it also entails weathering vicious slander. And leaving the community didn't help - because now I'm also slandered for not "belonging" to any community...

      My heart is torn to shreds from the pain of watching a young generation growing up without the lifeline that a moral, principled life offers. The resulting emotional instability is truly heartbreaking!

      Delete
    4. All we can do is try to set a good example, and speaking out against moral hypocrisy and corruption, as you are doing, sets a good example. Nobody can be forced to learn from it, but we hope and pray that they do.

      Delete
  29. Dear Bec:

    Your warm words are VERY much appreciated, but besides for our shared dislike of New Square, I can’t help but wonder aloud what else we share, belief-wise.

    Take for example the very first comment by chananechama about the “guilt-ridden, OCD-laden notion of binding mitzvoth” and “adherence to manmade commandments”.

    I think she’s missing certain points: 1) Mitzvohs can be binding and still not guilt-ridden and OCD-laden. 2) Her opinion about Matan Torah doesn’t give her free license to insult all those that believe in the Ramban’s proofs that it did happen and are ready to give their life for that belief.

    I wonder if she would make her comments about “guilt” and “OCD” if she was familiar with the original sources that state that the impetus for truly religious practice is based on BEST EFFORTS as a sign of GRATITUTE to G-d for His goodness and NOT guilt. Obviously, since G-d doesn’t seem to be so good….. all religious belief systems include answers to the question of “why bad things happen to good people”.

    I’m bothered that places like New Square don’t allow exploring the answers to these questions, and use the guilt motivator instead of gratitude since it suits them better.

    I’ll bare my soul a little bit more – I sometimes struggle mightily to feel that gratitude. I wonder if most posters here feel it’s worth struggling for.

    Many studies have shown the benefits of “intrinsic” religion, where TRUE belief rules, and a person has a deep, PERSONAL relationship with G-d. Allport has published extensively on the subject, as have Francis & Pocock. You might want to check the Wikipedia entry on Psychology of religion.

    Martin Seligman (former President of the APA) has done extensive work on Positive Psychology. He writes that the deepest and most enduring happiness is that of A MEANINGFUL LIFE. Heartfelt religious practice is an excellent example.

    My problem with places like New Square is (among other things) that they FORCE cookie-cutter EXTRENSIC practice, and squelch any attempt at meaningful individuality WITHIN the Halachic rules of Judaism. Their disregard for truth serves as a terrible example to motivate their adherents to try living truly RELIGIOUS lives.

    I’m open to any discussion, but I’ve tried noting the source of a bit of queasiness on my part. Is my uneasiness displaced? Please tell me so!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What are the Ramban's proofs?

      The only "proof" I've ever seen put forward specifically for matan torah is the Kuzari. Is this something different?

      Religion does many useful things, including providing comfort and a feeling of security. That religion is useful has no bearing on whether its origin is divine or "manmade."

      Delete
    2. The way we understand mitzvos (strangely enough I still think of it as "we") is different. There is a component of gratitude, but the word "mitzvah" invokes tzavsa v'chibur -- it is how we "connect ourselves" to the Infinite. That won't make much difference to those who just plain aren't interested in connecting themselves to the Infinite through their Judaism.

      I've arrived at a new bottom line when it comes to religion. If it works to make a person a more compassionate human being, I don't care if he prays to a tin can. If it doesn't, there is little or no spiritual value in all his stheig'n g'mara un tracht'n in chassidus.

      Delete
    3. P.S. I would characterize my own current relationship with G-d as trying to stay under the radar and not calling attention to myself. If I don't fly low enough, He'll think, "Hmmm. What have I done to Shmoo lately?" And He'll think of something to do, and I won't like it. :-)

      Delete
  30. Shmoo

    To me it sounds like you're coming from Chabad. It's a pity that the Rishonim like Chovos Halvovos - aren't studied BEFORE the Achronim like Tanya.

    The C"H puts gratitude at the VERY CENTER of what דshould motivate observance, as witnessed by the fact that שער הבחינה is the second שער of the Sefer, right after שער היחוד, which deals with philosophic proofs of G-d.

    Your utilitarian characterization of religion - even praying "to a tin can" doesn't do much as far as giving life purpose in times of real stress.

    An example of the benefits of true belief as far as dealing with life challenges would be that believing in G-d's mercy makes "cognitive reframing" (which is an integral part of cognitive therapy) so much more real.

    Cognitive therapies happen to be EBT's - evidence based therapies that are proven to work. Their downside is lack of motivation to do the difficult cognitive work. True religious belief solves that problem, but I'm afraid that the utilitarian type doesn't.

    So it goes back to working through the basics: Can such a complex world run on its own? If G-d is running it, why is there so much injustice and pain? Does it make sense that he wants nothing "back"? Since it makes sense that he probably does want something - Where can we find the "instruction manual"?

    As far as the Ramban on Matan Torah:
    דברים ד-ט: כשתגיע אלינו התורה מפי הגבורה לאזנינו ועינינו הרואות אין שם אמצעי, נכחיש כל חולק וכל מספק, ונשקר אותו, לא יועילהו אות ולא יצילהו מופת מן המיתה בידינו, כי אנחנו היודעים בשקרותו.... כי כשנעתיק גם כן הדבר לבנינו, ידעו שהיה הדבר אמת בלא ספק כאלו ראוהו כל הדורות, כי לא נעיד שקר לבנינו ולא ננחיל אותם דבר הבל ואין בם מועיל, והם לא יסתפקו כלל בעדותנו שנעיד להם אבל יאמינו בודאי שראינו כולנו בעינינו וכל מה שספרנו להם

    So in short - it's hard to fake a mass revelation and give the account such wide coverage going back so many years without getting numerous versions of the occurrence way back. If it was indeed fake, why couldn't Christianity and Islam blow the cover story 1000 yrs. ago? Why are all the versions of the Bible so close to each other, as opposed to to the splintering of the New Testament and Koran?





    Once we truly believe in השגחה פרטיות we're open seeing the silver lining in things that happen to us.

    Personally, I found the reframing concept very powerful for dealing with inborn or ingrained bad habits, since "sublimation" of bad habits means that every bad habit has two sides to it, and the same tendency can be used in powerful ways for good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So it is the Kuzari. Okay.

      > why couldn't Christianity and Islam blow the cover story 1000 yrs. ago?

      Why would Christians or Muslims try to disprove maatan Torah? If maatan Torah didn't happen, that fact would undermine the basis for Christianity and Islam as well as Judaism.

      > Why are all the versions of the Bible so close to each other, as opposed to to the splintering of the New Testament and Koran?

      They're not. At least, they're not if you include all of the early versions and the translations, like the Septuagint and the Samaritan version. After the establishment of the Masoratic text there's almost no variation, but that coincided with the invention of the printing press, so it's likely that it was the existence of printed versions sofrim could copy from that kept the text from drifting.

      Delete
    2. to my question: why couldn't Christianity and Islam blow the cover story 1000 yrs. ago?
      G*3 answered: Why would Christians or Muslims try to disprove maatan Torah? If maatan Torah didn't happen, that fact would undermine the basis for Christianity and Islam as well as Judaism.

      Sounds like circular reasoning to me - why did Christianity need to base their religion on a Jewish-centric Bible, it they could just as well claimed a NEW mass-revelation? Why couldn't they say that maatan Torah was a fantasy? Because mass revelations are had to "create and also hard to refute.

      As to versions of the Bible: 1) I was talking about original HEBREW texts that had wide exposure BEFORE printing presses. Septuagint was a greek translation, Samaritan versions stemmed from a breakaway religion.

      "After the establishment of the Masoratic text there's almost no variation, but that coincided with the invention of the printing press,"

      Not quite. See wiki on "Masoretic Text" -
      "The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries CE. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early 2nd century (and also differ little from some Qumran texts that are even older)"

      Even 7th-10th century was WAY before printing presses.

      Differences were mostly in diacritic markings, since they were never in the Sefer Torah, with only minor differences in consonants.

      Please tell me about another ancient text in such wide circulation and with such uniformity.

      Delete
  31. I assume that your remarks regarding Matan Torah are directed at G*3, rather than at me.

    Needless to say, I find your statement that it's a "pity" we don't study Chovos HaL'vovos before Tanya highly offensive.

    Striving to become a more compassionate human being DOES give life purpose at all times. Well, maybe not for you, but that's you. I'm glad you found something that works for you.

    One can find comfort in believing in hashgachah pratis in difficult times, of course. On the other hand, it can make people too accepting of the status quo and unmotivated to bring about change.

    One of my teachers said that the question "why do bad things happen to good people" represents a fundamental misunderstanding. "There are no 'bad things.' For example, there's no such thing as a 'bad dog.' Good and bad are >moral< qualities, qualities of what people do, not of things.'Bad things' don't happen to good thing. Very painful things, yes. Things we don't understand the reason for, yes. But those things aren't 'bad.' "

    I understand a bit about cognitive therapies. My undergrad degree is in Psychology.

    Anyway, I would hope you would show the same respect when addressing the way I see things as I strive to show when talking about your perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  32. typo correction, 5th paragraph, 1st word of second to last line: people (not thing)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Shmoo said:
    "I assume that your remarks regarding Matan Torah are directed at G*3, rather than at me".

    That's correct.

    Shmoo said: "Needless to say, I find your statement that it's a "pity" we don't study Chovos HaL'vovos before Tanya highly offensive".

    I apologize, no offense was meant. My Lubavitcher friends weren't offended, so I didn't think you would be, either. Their answer was more like "here we use our own sources". I feel using Rishonim makes things more universally acceptable, sort of like quoting the Constitution vs. State statutes.


    Shmoo said: "Striving to become a more compassionate human being DOES give life purpose at all times. Well, maybe not for you, but that's you. I'm glad you found something that works for you".

    I wasn't contrasting gratitude with compassion - Look back & you'll see I was comparing gratitude to the construct of praying to a tin can. In difficult times when we're at a breaking point real purpose is hard to find in beliefs that aren't deeply rooted. Are you disagreeing with that?

    Shmoo said: "One can find comfort in believing in hashgachah pratis in difficult times, of course. On the other hand, it can make people too accepting of the status quo and unmotivated to bring about change".

    I wholeheartedly agree - EVERYTHING in life has the capacity to be used well or misused.

    Shmoo said: "One of my teachers said that the question "why do bad things happen to good people" represents a fundamental misunderstanding. "There are no 'bad things.' For example, there's no such thing as a 'bad dog.' Good and bad are >moral< qualities, qualities of what people do, not of things.'Bad things' don't happen to good thing. Very painful things, yes. Things we don't understand the reason for, yes. But those people aren't 'bad.' "

    So? Sincere religious belief would still need to answer the question of.... Why do PAINFUL things happen to good people?

    Shmoo said: "I understand a bit about cognitive therapies. My undergrad degree is in Psychology".

    That's great!- Does that mean that you're agreeing that good Hashkafa helps for cognitive reframing? And while you’re at it – how about the positive role that good Hashkafa has in the reduction of cognitive distortions, development of effective problem-solving strategies, managing affective states, developing adaptive thinking processes, and improved victim perspective-taking due to the centrality of COMPASSION in intrinsic religion?

    As an aside - Are you familiar with the work of APA's Division 36, "Psychology of Religion"?

    Shmoo said: "Anyway, I would hope you would show the same respect when addressing the way I see things as I strive to show when talking about your perspective".

    Once again, my apologies. No offense was - or is - meant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I said, my undergrad degree is in Psychology. I'm a lawyer, so no, I haven't kept up with the literature. If you want to talk about what Framers really intended with 2nd Amendment, then I'm your guy.

      The word with which I took issue was "pity." If your friends don't take offense at that, it may be because they're your friends. From what you say, they don't respond in kind ("What a pity you folks don't learn p'nimius haTorah, starting with Tanya.")

      Chovos HaL'vovos is a very different book than Tanya, in approach and content. I don't see this as a matter of Rishonim and Ach'ronim as it would be in the context of halachah, much less as the Constitution versus state law.

      "In difficult times when we're at a breaking point real purpose is hard to find in beliefs that aren't deeply rooted. Are you disagreeing with that?" No. I'm disagreeing with the idea that belief in the intrinsic value of growing in compassion can't be deeply-rooted whatever religious system or lack thereof a person chooses, inclusive of when that person is under extreme stress. It's a function of the person, not the deity. Yes, the tin can is an extreme example, but no less valid on account of that, in my opinion.

      "So? Sincere religious belief would still need to answer the question of.... Why do PAINFUL things happen to good people?" That's right, but it's a matter of cognitive reframing. :-)

      Thank you explaining what you meant. I'm sorry I misunderstood your intent.

      Delete
    2. Shmoo says: The word with which I took issue was "pity."

      When used as a noun, google has two definitions for "pity":
      1. the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others. As in: "her voice was full of pity".
      Or 2. a cause for regret or disappointment. As in "what a pity we can't be friends".
      What made you assume I meant the first - negative - connotation?

      My analogy to The Constitution vs.state law was based on what the Shoproner Rov says in תורת א' that Chassidus only clarifies Rishonim (I think in Chabad you use the term "גילה", correct?)

      Shmoo says: " I'm disagreeing with the idea that belief in the intrinsic value of growing in compassion can't be deeply-rooted whatever religious system or lack thereof a person chooses,"

      Moral Humanism aka Peter Breggin woud probably agree with you, and I would agree - but only to a certain extent. I think that a principled, moral life can be deeply-rooted, but defining the values of what compassion entails without a religious compass is often tricky.

      Take, for example, the issue of mercy killings - is it compassionate? Any "man-made" rule would probably be based on a large degree of emotionality and therefore the term "deeply-held" would perhaps be misplaced, in contrast to a deeply held religious set of rules.

      Delete
    3. Actually, I assumed the second definition, which to my sensibilities is just as offensive due to its condescension. I know your intent wasn't to offend.

      One of the Anonymouses has pointed out that our discussion has left the topic of the blog post far behind. We should probably leave the field to comments about that. Be well.

      Delete
    4. Agreed!
      It was a pleasure1

      Delete
  34. Shmoo wrote: "I would characterize my own current relationship with G-d as trying to stay under the radar and not calling attention to myself. If I don't fly low enough, He'll think, "Hmmm. What have I done to Shmoo lately?" And He'll think of something to do, and I won't like it. :-)"

    I know where you're coming from, but since I sincerely believe that the option of "staying under the radar" isn't viable with an all-seeing G-d, my only choice is to strive to figure out the minimum requirements of what "behaving" entails, by separating עיקר from טפל WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF HALACHA. I'm cognizant of the fact that maybe I'm misjudging, but I firmly believe that we have no other option except to use our G-d given intellect for that purpose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was speaking tongue in cheek. I thought that was obvious from my tone.

      Delete
  35. Interesting how this has become a conversation about religion. The original post about turning parents against their children and children against their parents in the name of religion seems to be lost. Was that intentional?

    ReplyDelete
  36. You're right, Anonymous. It has strayed pretty far afield. (I wish there was some way to distinguish one Anonymous from another.)

    ReplyDelete
  37. No more silence on a topic too important. See also
    http://mimslemay.tumblr.com/post/63965361610/there-but-for-the-grace-in-memoriam-deb-tambor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing! Great post!!!!

      Delete

Your respectful comments are welcome.